Four days ago, I received this lovely journal and pen as a token of appreciation for helping a dear friend. For this I am grateful.
The Serenity Prayer and the beauty of the cover inspired me to fill the baby blue colored pages with beautiful words. So, I’ve decided to use my new journal for something I’ve meant to do for a while.
I started a Gratitude journal and tonight I made my first of many entries. Yay!
Before bedtime each night, I’ve decided to reflect on the day and write down at least three things that I am grateful for.
A day that begins with mediation and ends with reflections of gratitude can only bring about more positive energy in my universe that, hopefully I can share with others. 🙂
For me, a tranquil long outdoor ten-mile run cures nearly anything that is broken on any given day. But what if I can’t run? What if time doesn’t permit? What if the cold temperature at the jersey shore is at its worst and running outside is unhealthy? What if my treadmill is broken? What if running is not an option? What if it has been a week since my last run?
My world shifts and, similar to sliding on first base, I safely and recklessly slide into off kilter mode. The slightest stupid comment, that I would normally ignore and laugh off, annoys the heck out of me. I find myself on edge sitting in the front seat of a high-speed emotionally and terrifying roller coaster. I am the back-draft of a deadly fire. Beware. When I feel like this, I should wear a shirt with neon lights with the words “warning” flashing. Folks will know to steer clear and walk around and avoid me because I’m not feeling my normal cheerful self.
You probably won’t know that I am off kilter. I still wear my predictable smile that I am known for; however, underneath the smile rest agitation at its best. In this mode, I work hard to suppress my real feelings because I don’t want people to know how I’m really feeling. If you ask me how I’m doing, I won’t tell you the ugly truth. I’ll lie or exaggerate (depending on how you look at it) and say, “I’m okay.” When the truth is I am miserable.
One morning at 7:15 a.m., I am off kilter, driving to work. A sweet whisper in my ear tells me to turn the car around, go get my running sneaks but don’t bother changing my clothes. Just RUN! Don’t worry about sweating out my outfit of the day. Running in makeup for one day won’t kill me. I might look ridiculous running in a skirt, but I’ll feel a heck of a lot better. I will just make up some dumb excuse about why I am late for work or why I didn’t make it into work. For sure, the run would fix everything. In my CD collection (Yes, I still use CD’s -LOL) and on the radio, I randomly and frantically search for the right song to sooth my crazy mindset.
I love music. I could sleep, eat, and work with music 24/7. The right song can bring me to peaceful place, make me want to never quit running, or help me with deep cleaning around the house.
On this particular day I arrive at work feeling twisted and knotted like a bunch of sheets just pulled from the washer. However, as the school periods go by, several melancholy situations instantly diminish the negative thoughts and energy floating around in my head. I remember that life is bigger than the spoiled runner who can’t get her run on today. I move along in my day pushing my personal gobbledygook to the rear of my mind where it belongs. “Life is bigger than you Chica! Get over it!”
With the help of my girl Oprah, a few days later, I suddenly grasp the fact that, while I’ve been loyal to my commitment to eat clean (avoid processed foods and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables), lately I have neglected my mental and spiritual psyche. My early morning and days end rituals of meditation, daily devotional reads, or stillness and quiet time has been invaded and assaulted by negative energy zapping substitutes. The likes of reality TV shows like housewives, other pointless shows, and the negative side of social media has distracted me from handling my business of staying on course. I don’t know how, it just happened… and without warning—I think.
Although the incredible high from endorphins can temporarily infuse my spirit and make me feel happier and more balanced, the real fix isn’t just a run. The real fix is restoring balance; the balance of physical and mental/spiritual fitness.
My focus this week is reconciliation. Restore the balance that I am use to and avoid getting sucked into the negative energy again, even if I am unable to feed my addiction of running.
Enjoy your week!
Bill whips his car off the ramp and enters into the school’s busy parking lot; he quickly pulls into a space. It is around 7:25 a.m. He exits his vehicle and nonchalantly walks to the employee entrance.
Me: “Good Morning Bill”
Bill: “Good Morning Mrs. Cain
Me: “How are you?”
Bill: His face brightens with a warm smile, “I’m good!”
We enter the building and head toward the supervisor’s office to sign in on the daily sheets. After initialing next to our names on the sheets, we exchange well wishes for the day and move on in opposite directions.
Why am I writing about seemingly ordinary exchanges between me and a colleague? Because Bill is anything but ordinary; he’s quite an incredible guy who just might stir you enough for you to reflect on your personal and/or professional life.
Born at the Jersey Shore 39 years ago, Bill arrived in this world kicking and screaming like most newborns. However, Bill’s life has been extraordinary. He was born with two legs, two feet, but no arms. His birth defect is thought to be linked to Afrin Nasal Spray. Bill has one sister that is five years older. She was born without any birth defects.
Immediately after giving birth, typically a mom seek reassurance from the doctor that her baby is okay and instinctively count fingers and toes to make sure that all other faculties are in order. Can you imagine the shock and disbelief his mother experienced? I can. My daughter was born with amniotic band syndrome. She has grown up to be a witty, beautiful, and confident young woman.
Bill is a normal, self-sufficient adult living a productive life. In 1997, he earned a B.S. degree in Geology. He is now employed as a science teacher in the same urban high school where I work. Over the years, Bill taught himself how to swim, to ski, and to play soccer. He was also a pinch runner for a local baseball team. His passion for soccer lead him to coach soccer in his community for nearly 10 years and to work as assistant soccer coach for our high school soccer team.
He did not use his physical challenges as an excuse to limit himself. I love it!
Here I am with all of my limbs; know how to swim, but fear deep waters in the worst way. Every time I attempt to swim through the deep end of my pool, I freeze up and doggie paddle to the side and hold on to the ledge with one hand while I paddle through the deep end with the other hand. My heart races as if I ran 10 miles. I now realize how ridiculous my actions are. This summer when I swim in my pool and hesitate to swim through the deep end, I will think of Bill and push myself right through it.
For a few years now, I watched Bill, drive into the parking lot, enter the building, sign in and simply go about his every day routine… which appears to be effortlessly. I often tell my children, that sometimes parents make being an adult seem to be easier than it really is. In Bill’s case, the situation is probably the same.
His feet function as a substitute for his arms. He styles his hair, shaves; types, read, and can do just about everything that you or I can do. Prosthesis is something Bill never wanted. His parents tried to make him use them, but he resisted and does just fine without them. He says prosthesis are awkward and difficult to maneuver.
For the longest time, I desperately want to get to know Bill and to hear his story. Finally, one day I found the courage to approach him and asked if we could talk—I told Bill about my blog and that I wanted to write about him. Graciously, he agreed.
Anyway, each time I see Bill, I am amazed. I am enthused by his courage, his will, his energy, and most of all, his positive attitude. It is difficult to imagine the emotional, physical, psychological challenges that he’s gone through to progress to his current place in life.
Seeing Bill daily and thinking about him helps me to maintain my appetite and eagerness to worker harder to carry out my personal and professional goals. It’s hard to explain, but seeing him makes me question myself.
Am I being the best person that I can be? Am I pushing myself hard enough? In what area in my life do I lack confidence? How can I be better? Honestly, I never thought that someone whom I haven’t spent a great deal of time with, would affect me this way.
Bill was blessed with two incredibly loving parents Smart parents who nurtured him and figured out the best way to raise him. They figured out how to help him to evolve into the man that he is today; a man with an “I can do it” attitude.
Due to his physical challenges, he started his schooling at a special service pre-school. When it was time to start Kindergarten, his parents fought (with the help of an attorney) for his right to attend public school. Bill was the first disabled student in Atlantic County to gain admittance to a public school. The feat opened the doors for others.
Because he was learning how to use his legs and feet to perform daily tasks, his parents required him to wear a helmet (for his own safety). Was he teased in school? “No more than the average kid.” Amazing right? It would have been easy for Bill to feel as though he was teased because of his physical condition, yet he did not. Attitude is everything!
I was curious about how his students respond to him in the classroom … A supervisor commented, “You have the wow factor!” When students first walk into Bill’s classroom and see him, they are surprised and curious. However, once the school year settles in and they realize that he can hold his own and is the same as other teachers, they can move beyond the initial shock.
I sincerely hope that his mere presence and optimism in the classroom is contagious and motivates students to try to to do their very best.
What’s next for Bill? While continuing his career in education, his next goal is to obtain a Master’s degree in Special Education.
The next time you feel as though you can’t do something, I urge you to think of Bill. As the saying goes, “Whether you think you can or not, you are right.”
Bill’s advice to others,
“If there’s something that you want, go for it. Try hard. You may not achieve your goal, but you can get as close to it as possible.”
I am grateful to Bill for sharing his story with me and for allowing me to share his story with you.
Thank you Bill! Enjoy your summer break!