Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thanks for the Laughs

I know this isn't breaking news, but I still wanted to make a post about it.
Death is obviously a natural part of life, but it's always shocking when someone well-known or someone you personally know dies. That's how I felt on August 11 when news of Robin Williams' death broke. He was only 63, which really isn't that old for someone in seemingly good health. After Robin's death his wife revealed that he had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Finding out that you have an incurable disease would  be a major blow.

Robin was an incredible actor and extremely talented at doing voices and impressions. His hilarious antics on-screen could make anyone laugh. Off screen he struggled with depression, which is ultimately what led to his death since he ended his life by hanging himself. I don't know what it's like to suffer with depression on an ongoing basis, but I've heard it's terrible. I know what it's like to feel sad, though, and the thought of waking up every morning knowing that you're going to be plagued with bleak, hopeless feelings would make for a miserable existence.
Robin was quite the philanthropist. He used his time, money and celebrity status to help others and was involved with more than 50 charitable organizations and causes. Robin worked with Comic Relief to raise money for the homeless. He also worked with the USO and toured the Middle East five times to help raise morale among our troops.
He worked with the Livestrong Foundation and Child Athlete Foundation. In 2010, he donated 100% of the proceeds of his shows following the devastating earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand to all the people affected by the earthquake.
Robin supported St. Jude's Children's Hospital and never charged a fee for his participation in any events or activities for them. Whenever he had an opportunity to meet patients and their families he would do it just to cheer them and help them forget about their diseases for a while.
When Robin studied acting at Juilliard performing arts school, his roommate was Christopher Reeve and they developed a deep friendship. After Christopher Reeve broke his neck in a riding accident and became a quadriplegic, Robin went to visit Christopher in the hospital. He walked into the room dressed as a doctor, claiming to be a proctologist. Christopher said (of seeing Robin) that that was the first time he'd laughed since becoming paralyzed.

Robin served on the board for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation for several years, and would do several fundraising events each year to raise money for spinal cord injury research. The CEO of the foundation said that many celebrities he'd worked with had requirements for cars and who they would talk to, but Robin would show up on his own and talked to everybody. He was also very generous and quietly donated a lot of his own money to the foundation.
Robin Williams had such a wide range in his acting abilities, from serious to laugh till you cry funny. Dead Poets Society was my favorite Robin Williams movie. I was also a big fan of Hook, Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire and Jumanji. I also really liked Robin's portrayal of Teddy Roosevelt in the Night at the Museum movies. Jack, Awakenings and Patch Adams were all really good, too.
Robin overcame addictions to drugs and alcohol. He was the father of three and an athlete. He won an Oscar (best supporting actor for Good Will Hunting) and was nominated for three others. He was extremely talented and loved by so many. Even though he was a celebrity, he used his wealth for good and was generous, thoughtful and seemed to get a lot of satisfaction out of helping others who were less fortunate. He's gone too soon and could've gone on making great films for another 20+ more years. Robin Williams  made the world a happier place and will definitely be missed!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Social Media and Crowdfunding

When I had my accident in 2003 Facebook had yet to be invented, and while blogs existed, it wasn't until after my accident that I actually heard the term "blog" and learned what they were. (I distinctly remember asking, "What's a blog" once, which now seems ironic.)

Sometimes I wonder what it would've been like if sites like these had been around when I had my accident. My mom sent mass emails to my family members to keep them updated on my progress, but a blog (or Facebook posts) would've been an even more convenient way to spread the word about what had happened and how I was doing each day. I would've enjoyed going back through those posts to read what happened on a daily basis. Sure I have my own recollections, but time has a way of dulling even the most vivid memories. And if iPads had existed at that time my mom could've given an up to the minute play-by-play of things as they were happening!

In 2003 there were also no online crowdfunding websites (like gofundme) where people can donate to a special cause or person. I imagine someone would've set up one of those accounts in my name to help raise money for my expenses. Those sites are so nice since you can quickly and conveniently donate to a good cause in just a few minutes. Than you can post and/or tweet about it on various websites to help spread the word about who you are raising money for and why.

The Internet is truly a marvel. It's amazing how you can spread information so quickly. But you better be careful, because once it's out there, it's out for everyone to see! There are definitely some sites and scams that will get you into trouble, but overall the Internet is truly a remarkable invention. Think about all the places you can go and things you can do all from the comfort of your own home. It's amazing and offers a lot of possibilities to someone like me who can't get up and go as easily as an able-bodied person.

Monday, August 18, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

In the last week I've seen tons of videos on Facebook of people pouring buckets of ice water over their heads (or other people's heads). I've even seen celebs and other well-known people participating in this frigid challenge on TV. I quickly caught on to the fact that it's to raise awareness for ALS. It's interesting how fast fads and other challenges like this spread. I've probably seen 15 videos just on Facebook today.

Initially, I wasn't quite sure what the point of dousing yourself in a bucket of ice water was, and how that raises money for charity, so I did what I always do when I'm curious about something. I consulted Google, of course! Here's what I learned: People make a video of themselves dumping a bucket of ice water over their head, then they upload it to a social media website and challenge their friends to do the same within 24 hours OR donate $100 for ALS research.

You might be thinking exactly what I was at first, "How is that going to raise money for ALS?" since it's clear from the number of videos going around that lots of people are opting to go the ice bucket route. As with any trend, many people are fans and others have pooh-poohed the idea. I saw this meme on Facebook earlier today:
Okay, that's a valid point. It's sad to think about how we really take clean water for granted here in America and to think about all of the waste there is when it comes this the resource. I guess people could do far worse. The ice bucket challenge has been fairly successful, though, since it has raised over $20 million this summer, not to mention tons of awareness. I guess this challenge is pretty clever after all. ;)

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is one of the cruelest diseases. Imagine one day experiencing weakening in your muscles and you slowly become paralyzed. Not only do you lose the use of your limbs, but you also lose the ability to breathe, swallow and even speak, all while your mind stays sharp and intact. It's truly like being trapped. I much rather become paralyzed in an accident since you can still live a relatively long and healthy life than to develop ALS which progresses relatively quickly (average life expectancy after diagnosis is roughly two to five years).

One final meme to end this post because it made me laugh:
Still shot from the Captain America movie

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Different Kind of Canvas

I saw something amazing online a few days ago that I just had to share. I'm not sure who the artist is or where they got the idea since there weren't any details listed, but someone is doing something pretty amazing with their hands ON their hands (or possibly somebody else's hands).

Take a look at these incredible animals paintings painted on hands held in different positions. The details are phenomenal and they really do look like the animal they're supposed to be.
I would definitely have a hard time washing this hard work off of my hands!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Longtime Friends

I love it when old friends (or should I say longtime friends) come to visit. Last Friday my mom and I were able to catch up with our longtime family friends, Dirk and Janet Burton, who were in town for a few days. They came over and had lunch and dinner with us and stayed for seven hours. We had so much fun talking about what's new in our lives and it was fun to hear about what each of their kids are are up to. We also spent a lot of time reminiscing about old times and I probably said the phrases "remember when…" and "I have such fond memories of…" a dozen times each!

We also reminisced about Dirk and Janet's last visit with us back in 2010. It's hard to believe that three of the four kids they brought with them on that trip have gotten married in the past four years. Something else that's hard to wrap my head around is that I am now older than Janet was when I met the Burton family back in 1991. That  is crazy! 

We took some pictures. It was funny to look at them when I loaded them onto my computer. Mom, Janet and I basically kept the same pose in all of the pictures, but funny man Dirk struck a new pose in each shot. That's Dirk for you!
Dirk has an impressive collection of hats (close to 400) and most of them are extremely unique. Even though Dirk was only in town for 2½ days he brought five different hats with him. He brought one of his oldest hats–a turtle hat–with him. (This was always my favorite hat of his when I younger.) He put it on my head when we were taking pictures. I look awfully cute, but I still think Dirk wears it better!
I will conclude this post the same way I ended the post about their 2010 visit: "It's nice to know that although the years go by, some people never change!" Very true!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Blog Turns 5!

On August 3, 2009 I made my very first blog post. It's hard to believe that that was 5 years ago! On one hand it doesn't seem like that long ago, but on the other hand a lot has happened over the course of the past five years. Time is sure a difficult thing to wrap your head around since sometimes it crawls at a snail's pace and other times it goes faster than you can believe!

I've been making fewer and fewer blog posts over the years. In 2011 I made 254 posts. Last year I only made 136 posts and I hope to at least break 100 this year (this is only my 65th post of the year). I guess I'm running out of things to write about! The first several years I wrote extensively about my accident, and basically included the entire story. I've also written lots of posts about paralysis, answered FAQs and explored how my life has changed in the past decade since my accident and how I manage to keep a joyful perspective. I'm fresh out of ideas!

I also don't go out as often as I did several years ago, and you can't document adventures you're not having! My movie reviews have fizzled a bit because I don't see movies at the theater near as often as I did a few years ago. And I haven't had time to read/listen to as many books, either. I'm pretty boring, what can I say?! ;) I still stay extremely busy and never seem to have enough time for all of the things I want/need to do, but it's just stuff that isn't very exciting and therefore wouldn't make a very entertaining post. I still cover all of the highlights of what I'm currently up to and try to include significant happenings in the world and other things that I find intriguing or thought-provoking. Writing posts takes a lot of work, but I do enjoy it. I just feel like I've covered all of the most interesting stuff already and don't want to waste time writing about not-so-interesting things just to make another post. That being said, I do try to make a post every week to give those faithful followers something to read if/when they check in on my blog.

The best thing about blogging BY FAR has been the correspondences I've had with complete strangers across the country and even the world. It seriously fills me with awe when someone I've never met contacts me to tell me how something I've said on my blog has had a positive effect on them or has made them realize that they can get through their challenges and hard times, too. Comments and emails from people are THE BEST and are definitely appreciated!

I've had two interesting blogging-related experiences this year where I've been contacted by two random people who found my blog after searching the Internet for information on paralysis. The first experience was earlier this year when an author who lives in Germany contacted me because he wanted to ask me some questions. (He's writing a novel and his main character has an accident, breaks their neck and ends up a quadriplegic.) English is not this man's first language, so that was interesting. His English was pretty good, so I hope there wasn't too much that got lost in translation.

The other experience has occurred just within the past few weeks. A movie producer from Los Angeles emailed me to consult me about my experiences as a quadriplegic for an independent film he's making about a quadriplegic. I never expected to become paralyzed and I really never expected to be consulted by an author and a filmmaker. I may not be an expert on paralysis, but I'm happy to do what I can to help!

Blogging technology is amazing and it's so fun to be a part of the world from the comfort of my own home. Thank you to everyone has been a part of my blog these past five years, especially those faithful followers near and far that keep coming back for more. It makes all of the time I spend on my blog worth it a million times over!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...