This past week, while on vacation, I had the privilege of meeting in person some great friends! We had already made friends online because we are all paralyzed. We have all walked different paths on the same journey. They have encouraged and inspired me and I hope I have them! They are all accomplished and beautiful women and I want my readers to know them!
I met Karen online first. We met on a forum for paralyzed people the first year I was paralyzed. We hit it off on the forum and became Facebook friends. We have a lot in common! She really wanted us to come and stay with her in her home so we could meet her husband and daughter. She and Bubba have been married for over 20 years and have 2 beautiful daughters. Her husband is 7 years older than her. Jimmy is 7 years older than me. Their anniversary is December 6. Ours is December 4. We enjoyed those similar facts! Karen was in a car accident just 2 weeks after she and Bubba married. Her guy is great. I already love him for loving her for who she is! She is a quadriplegic and is very independent! She has a beautiful home and was a precious hostess. Her home is on an island and her house sits between the inlet river and the ocean. It felt like we were at a resort! She made us her famous meatballs and boy were they good! Her family was so nice to ours! She drives, cooks, stays home during the day and takes care of herself, and has raised two amazing girls. She just recently got back from a skiing trip to Colorado where she loves to sit ski. Karen has always been a role model to me because she has overcome a lot of challenges and lives a beautiful and fulfilling life doing what she loves. We are looking forward to an adventure together sometime in the future! I am so glad to have finally met her in person. Now, I love her even more!
I met Christine through Facebook. Somehow we made a connection a couple of years ago and enjoy chatting to each other. She was the victim of a violent crime. A man came into her home and as she ran away from him, he shot her in the back. As she lay in the road paralyzed from the bullet, he got in his vehicle and ran over her. He got prison for life and she got a wheelchair. You know what is the most amazing thing about my friend Christine? She is not bitter. As I talked to her yesterday and asked her where he is, she told me that he was in prison for life. I told her that he should die (I know that sounds harsh but that is how I feel when I hear her story!) She said to me, “Alicia, someday he will stand before God and he will get all that is coming to him.” Wow. She lives alone and is 100% independent. She gave me a tour of her beautiful home yesterday. She is an unbelievable gardener and her yard looks like a tropical paradise. She had an amazing accessible kitchen with a sink I could roll right under and reach! That was a first! She is quick to figure out a solution and have it made (like the thing that hung over her bed to help her turn in the night). She drove me to lunch yesterday so we had extra chatting time. I admire her strength….both physically, emotionally and spiritually. I don’t think I could have ever went back to that house, but she did and has made it her paradise. She is about to handcycle a marathon! And here I thought I was cool with my little 5k. I am honored to be her friend.
Deborah is my newest friend. I met her through a Facebook group for paralyzed people and was instantly drawn to her “let’s make this happen” attitude. That is my kind of girl! Not only has she been a wife and mom and raised two daughters! She is a busy business woman and has several online websites for the disability cause. She currently runs Push Living, PhotoAbility, and TravAbility. All three sites are committed to helping those with disabilities to be included in travel, commercial advertising, design, and life! Deborah is making some noise in the industry and is being heard. She is also a world traveler and my hat is off to her bravery to face so many inaccessible countries and leading the way for those of us to follow her example. She recently made “Person of the Year” for New Mobility, which is a popular magazine addressing the world of the disabled. I enjoyed talking with her and running some of my ideas by her about a project I have in my mind. She was not only encouraging, but she was ready to jump on board and help me out. Now that is a friend! I highly respect her outlook that does not sit around soaking in benefits, but is doing all she can to give of her time and resources to make “our” world a better place.
I wanted you to meet these gals because not only are they my friends, but they are living proof opposite of the typical stereotype that is out there about women with disabilities. They are accomplished and gorgeous women who are leading productive lives…and just happen to use a chair. Life really is about ditching the excuses and changing your attitude about your circumstances. When you can do that, life is very rewarding!