Heart of a Lion

This maybe one of the most personal posts I’ve ever written but this week, someone said something to me and I felt so ashamed and unworthy of her comments that I almost wanted to cry, but they were the most sincere heartfelt comments I’ve heard anyone tell me in a while…

Wednesday, I went to a Toys for Tots benefit being held at a local restaurant. There weren’t a lot of people there, but from the minute I walked in, I could feel the Christmas spirit and the love that filled the place… Coincidentally, the restaurant’s name is The Place, but that’s another story…

I’d been there a few minutes and at first I felt completely out of place, sitting off by myself by the dance floor like I always do, looking for the right opportunity to take a few pictures… A couple US Marines were there helping with the benefit and they posed for a couple pictures, when a waitress friend of mine walked over and wanted to have her picture taken with me. Well, next thing I knew, I was the man of the hour, for the next couple hours….

Anyway, while I was handing the camera to somebody to take our picture, I noticed a woman standing off to the side and I motioned for her to jump in the picture with us… My waitress friend and the other woman knelt down, and I noticed the woman I asked to join us had put her hand over my heart… I didn’t think much of it at the time until we started talking.

After we took the picture, the waitress went to check on a few other customers and the my new friend and I started talking… She said she could feel my spirit and that she knew I was going to soar with eagles one day and that I had the heart of a lion. She said she could feel it while we were taking the picture. Now understand, I’d barely known the woman five minutes, and to have her say I had the heart of a lion? Come on… I’m just an ordinary guy, trying my best to fit into society.

IMG_7738She said that my heartbeat was so strong and that I had touched her heart that night. I told her thanks, but that I wasn’t anything special… I told her I just do the best I can with what life gives me and try to make a difference in the world. She said I could do anything I set my mind to and while we were talking, she kind of brushed my face and touched my forehead and my heart and mentioned that I have a good mind and a good heart and to never give up.

Later that night, when I got ready to leave I told her goodbye and asked if she wanted to dance with me before I left. She asked me how, and I kind of pulled her in close and showed her that even a guy in a wheelchair knows how to slow dance… Well, she and I kind of stole the spotlight for a few minutes, and except for the time I spend with my best friend Rebecca, they were the most precious moments I’ve had in a while.

While we were dancing, we talked again about how I had the heart of a lion and would soar with eagles, but all I could think about was how unworthy I am of being someone with the heart of a lion. Lions to me are some of the most dangerous predators in the world and I’m just a lost lamb looking for my place in the world. To even be considered as someone with that kind of influence is totally inspiring to me… The woman said I had really touched her heart and again she placed her hand over mine to feel my heartbeat and said it was beating strong and loud (I was probably nervous getting all the attention. I’d glanced around and every eye in the place was looking at us…). When I turned my eyes back to meet her’s she kind of grabbed my hands and placed them over her heart to let me feel how I’d touched her that night. Right then, I almost started crying because except for a couple people, I’ve never been told what a difference I had made in someone’s life.

IMG_4622To be honest, for a while now, I’ve been wondering where I fit into society and whether I mattered to someone. My best friend Rebecca has told me on several occasions how much I’ve impacted her and has even let me share some of my personal story with her about my disability… But I can honestly say that after those precious moments the other night, there is not a doubt in my mind that I belong in the world… It would just be nice to hear it from someone other than friends, coworkers or someone I just met.

This Christmas, if you have a spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, child or grandparent who has a disability or is suffering from a disease or has cancer, I hope that you would let them know how much they mean to your life and let them know how they’ve made a difference in your life. Those few words of encouragement would mean so much to them and let them know that they do matter to someone. You have no idea how much you will change their perspective on life and perhaps save them from making a life or death decision that neither of you can ever take back.

Sugar’s Lessons for Life

With the release of my fifth book Sugar’s Night, the third in the Sugar Series, I guess some would say I’m an author. I guess I’ve never considered myself an author as much as I’ve considered myself a writer. The funny part is I never had any intention to become either. I’ve always liked to write, but never to the point that I felt an uncontrollable urge to get these characters out of my head into the pages of a book. But in the winter of 2011, after I underwent the amputation of my left leg, it was like they were set free. Now, I’m not claiming that the anesthesia went to my brain and when I awoke I was a literary genius. It’s more that with the loss of my leg, it freed the rest of me. It freed me to leave that part of my past behind and look forward to a new future. With that future came a lot of souls vying for release. I suddenly become obsessed, and I do mean obsessed just ask my family, with getting them out of my head and onto the pages. I needed to tell their story and, to be honest, after that I really didn’t have a clue what I’d do with them, but I needed to write them down. 

The first soul who found her way onto the page was Sugar DuBois. She’s a ballroom dance instructor from the Twin Ports of Lake Superior and her story started in 2011. To say writing Sugar’s Dance was cathartic would be very accurate, and I felt very satisfied SugarsNightwhen I hit publish on her story in fall of 2011, at least for a few days. Then I started to feel like maybe her story wasn’t done, so I wrote the next part of her journey, Sugar’s Song, and when I hit publish on that I knew there was one more to be written. She hadn’t found her light yet, and I knew her story wasn’t told until she did. So, I sat down to write Sugar’s Night. Sugar’s Night was filled with a lot of turmoil for me; partly because my life was very much in turmoil as I tried to write it and partly because it was the last book of the series. I needed to tell her story, and I needed to do her justice and make everyone feel satisfied with her final dance. I couldn’t do it. What I had imagined the book to be is a far cry from what it actually is. When I finished the book I set it aside and really pondered if I would even publish it as it stood. I was very much in a no faith stage. No faith in myself, no faith in the reader and no faith in Sugar. I sent the book out to a couple of trusted readers and held my breath, for days, while I waited to hear what I knew they would say, they hated it. When the e-mails started coming in it was very much the opposite and although they gave me some great tips and ways to make the story stronger, as a whole they all agreed it was perfect. Perfect except for one thing, the ending. Oh boy, the ending, the grand finale, the clincher at the end of the series! And they didn’t like it? Well, no, that wasn’t actually the case at all. They loved it, they just didn’t like that it ended. So, I pondered and prayed and found the solution that I think will make all the readers happy in the long run.

So as I ponder the “Noah didn’t see the rain either” moments with Sugar’s Night I understand deeply that she’s taught me a lot about being a writer, but I’m still not that good of an author. I guess mostly because if I have to choose between promoting my books and writing, the souls that want out always win and I continue to be the writer. Maybe someday I will be a better author than a writer, but I hope not, because when and if that happens then it’s time to hang up my pen because for me it’s always about writing first and publishing second. Sugar has also taught me a lot about myself, my life, my dreams and my fears and I will always be thankful for that. 

Here are the top ten things Sugar has taught me: 

  1. Don’t live in the past. It’s a dark place filled with things you can’t change that only bog you down.
  2. Don’t blame yourself for things you can’t control. There is never anything good at the end of that road.
  3. Take time to tell the people you love how much they mean to you. Never assume there will be a tomorrow.
  4. Forget about what you THINK you should be doing and do what you KNOW you should be doing, personally and professionally.
  5. Build a support system of friends and family who will always be there whether you are laughing or crying.
  6. Never assume that because you are handicapped you can’t live your dreams. They are YOUR dreams and therefore YOU know how to achieve them. Don’t let the words “I can’t” become your motto.
  7. A good legman is worth his weight in gold. 🙂
  8. Always, always, always have faith in yourself. You are who you are for a reason, embrace it.
  9. Have hope, all day every day.
  10. Love often, forgive easily, cry together, and keep your heart open to all the new opportunities that await you.

Blessings this holiday season from me, Sugar and her gang. And now these three remain; faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is…..to be continued.

Legato_28June2012_BRFMHAbout Katie Mettner

Katie Mettner grew up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and moved to the Northwoods where she now resides with her husband and three children. As a young adult Katie enjoyed ballroom dancing and like Sugar she didn’t let her physical limitations hold her back from what she loved. Katie writes The Sugar Series, Sugar’s Dance and Sugar’s Song, a Christian romance series. Her stories are a reflection of her love for family intricately woven with life experience. When the gales of November blow early you can find her at the computer with a cup of joe, listening to Michael Bublé and working on Sugar’s next adventure. 

Amazon E-book $2.99 and paperback $12 

Barnes and Noble E-book $2.99

Hope Will Persevere

Last week on any given news channel or social media page you saw the image of a young couple caught on camera as the woman gave her husband a piggyback ride. This couple turned out to be Jesse and Kelly Cottle, and Jesse is a double above-knee amputee Marine who was getting a ride back to his legs from his wife Kelly. The image we saw was of a couple in love, and I think for many people it was a sign of hope. Hope for the world and hope for the human race. 

Katie_S_8040_1editedAs an amputee myself I saw so much more. I sat down to write a blog post about it and when I asked Sarah Ledford for permission to use the photo, she sent me three. The last one was a photo many haven’t seen, but for me it finished their story. It said, “We will stand tall against whatever the world throws at us. We will persevere.” Ability Dynamics was kind enough to host my blog post because they too believe in hope. Hope for a better foot for amputees so their amputation doesn’t limit their life. I can assure you Jesse Cottle certainly hasn’t let his amputations limit him. People like Jesse and Kelly Cottle show us all how to live life without limitations. Let me hear a HOORAH! 

Read the full blog post here.

Editor’s Note: The previous post was submitted from my dear friend, Katie Mettner, who is one of the most remarkable, amazing, sexy and inspiring women I have ever known. Katie, thank you and the Cottles for giving all of us a little hope. You really inspire me!!!

Three Simple Words

I know I’ve been away from the blog a lot recently, but I’ve been working a lot and been doing a lot of thinking about my grandfather, my friends and family but really about life in general. One of the things I’ve been really thinking a lot about is how truly blessed I am to live in a country where I am free to live my dreams and not worry about what other people think of me. For the longest time growing up, in elementary school especially, I was stared at a lot, and that really made me sad thinking other kids saw me as a monster or somebody not worthy of their friendship.

Some days I would get home from school, go into my room after getting a snack mom made me, do my homework and wonder if I’d ever have any friends at all. Now, granted, the teachers and a few kids were nice to me, and I’ll never forget how much my teachers and friends back then meant to me, but there were some kids who walked around with their nose in the air like they were God’s gift to society. Nothing made me more frustrated than seeing somebody walk down the hall and not give two hoots about me, no matter how nice I tried to be to them.

IMG_2477Later on as I got older, I started coming out of my shell more and started telling people about my disability and my testimony, but I still couldn’t help feeling like the last kid picked for a game of basketball, only about ten times smaller than he or she was. Only until recently, in the last four or five years, have I started to notice that it’s not what’s outside, but what is on the inside of a person that really counts. I love talking to people now and have even started getting back in church, thanks to a beautiful, amazing friend who invited me for Easter Sunday. She and I met at a restaurant she works at, and everytime I see her, she always comes over and says “Give me some loving” and just totally makes me forget about my disability. I wish the world had more people like my best friend Rebecca because she has the most amazing heart of anyone I’ve ever met. The fact that she has the prettiest, most mezmerizing blue eyes doesn’t hurt matters either 😉

Anyway, got off in left field there for a minute… back to the title of this post, “Three Simple Words.” You’re probably asking yourself what this means. Well, sit down in your favorite recliner, grab a glass of lemonade and I’ll tell you.

All my life I’ve struggled to fit into society, no matter if I was going to school, at a local restaurant or one of my favorite bookstores, and some days I wish I could just crawl into a deep dark hole and go to sleep forever. But whenever I hear someone say “I love you, Jason” or “I’m proud of you, Jason” that means more to me than all the money in the world. You see, that’s all I think anybody wants or could ask for, especially if you have a disability, is to have somebody to be proud of you and to love you unconditionally.

My best friend Rebecca is one of those people, who looks beyond my disability and will help anybody she can. I remember a couple months ago, the lift in my van broke down and I had to call my dad to come help me… I started to feel really lonely and a little sad because bad things always seem to happen to me, but something inside told me to text Rebecca. A few minutes later she texted back and said, “You are an amazing person. You are not a quitter.” Those few words gave me more courage and strength than anything I could possibly imagine, and every IMG_4622time she sees me she always tells me she loves me. When I hear those words, I realize that yes I do matter to someone and I will always have someone I can depend on when I have a problem or just feel like giving up because of my disability. Rebecca has truly blessed my life in ways that she will never understand, and I just hope she understands how much I admire and respect her.

In a way, Rebecca has made so many of my dreams come true and has made some of my biggest fears disappear, just by her amazing friendship and the way she supports me whenever I see her. I’d have never dreamed I’d be back in church or feel as confident as I do about conquering my disability every day. Now every day when I wake up, even if I feel like I got run over by a Mack truck, I just think of Rebecca’s beautiful blue eyes, imagine her sweet voice saying “I love you” and I know everything will be okay.

As a final thought, next time you see a friend or a loved one, tell them the magic words and see if their face doesn’t light up like a Christmas tree. And if you think you don’t matter, just wait until you’re at your favorite restaurant and your favorite waitress steals a French fry or two, then you’ll know!!! 😉

Rebecca, I love you!!!

Seeing Through God’s Eyes – A Re-Post

Every so often we meet someone who opens our eyes to a different view of the world or changes our perspective about people and the way society works. I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Michelle Dobbins for a few months on Twitter, and she has really opened my eyes and has made me see that we are all human and we are all perfectly made in God’s eyes. Michelle has definitely earned my respect and is a true angel on Earth. She was gracious enough to share a very inspiring story with my readers earlier this week about her cousin Brian, that almost made me cry. I truly hope you like this post that Michelle has allowed me to re-post from her blog. I hope after reading that everyone sees yourself through God’s eyes. I also hope you will visit her blog and tell her Jason sent you. Michelle, God bless you for uplifting so many lives and changing the world, one heartfelt word at a time.

What Would Happen If We See With God’s Eyes?

Once I heard a woman describing how she was standing in a checkout line at a store, next to a woman who had been disfigured by fire. She turned to put her items on the counter and when she looked at the woman again, she was perfect. All of the lady’s burn scars were gone. This woman had the gift of seeing the perfection that existed within the burn victim. This made me wonder, how wonderful would it be to see everyone as God sees them? Not to see the scars, the extra weight, the wrinkles, or the fashion disasters that might cause me to judge. What would it be like to only see the perfect light of God that lives within each of us when I looked at someone?

photoI began to intend for this to happen and I asked myself more questions. How fun would it be to see everyone as God sees them? How would my interactions change if this happened? How much bliss would I feel? Would others be able to sense that I saw God in them? What would our world be like if we all saw everyone as God sees them?

I assumed that I would see everything like I was Shallow Hal. In this movie, Shallow Hal saw everyone for the true beauty within them. Some who were really pretty appeared ugly and lots of nice, but unattractive girls appeared gorgeous. I figured I would see everyone as gorgeous movie stars, because I believe we all have God’s light in us somewhere, even if we try to cover it up. Heavy people would be thin. Everyone would have smooth, peaches and cream skin. All of people’s flaws would be gone in my eyes, and I would see them as the beautiful beings that God sees them as.

One day, I was feeling quite blissed out from meditation and I went to Wal-Mart to do some shopping. It happened! I saw everyone in this store as the radiant creations that God must see them as. Here’s the twist: They weren’t any different. They all looked the same. They still had crooked noses, missing teeth, polyester pants, etc., but guess what? They looked beautiful! Glorious! Just as they were. So in order for me to see people with God’s eyes, the way they appeared didn’t change my idea of beautiful, I just saw them as beautiful they way they were. I had the best shopping experience of my life. People were nice, I found everything easily, the lines moved quickly and my checkout clerk was a doll. Yes, I was in Wal-Mart.

I don’t always have this experience, but I know how to create it now and it’s my intention to make it a habit. In fact, that’s my main New Year’s Resolution for 2013; to see myself and others as God sees us as much as I can.

Michelle 2012I hope you get a chance to see yourself as God does, because I can say for certain that you are more beautiful than you could ever imagine.

Love and Miracles,


About Michelle Dobbins

Michelle Dobbins is a pre-published author, who shares tips for positive living and true stories of magic, creation and love in everyday life on her blog. You can connect with her and get her Magic Question of the Day on Facebook and Twitter.

Souls Are Perfect

Souls Are Perfect

By Michelle Martin Dobbins 

In the Hamrick family, we’ve been blessed in many ways. We are a quite unique collection of people, and we have always been closer than most extended families. We have disagreements, and we have hurt each other unintentionally, but we always forgive. We hold family as important, and we get together often, even though we are scattered around the country and sometimes the planet. Homer and Roena Hamrick, my grandparents, knitted us tightly together.

My cousin, Brian, drew us in, too. Brian had cerebral palsy, and he spent his life in a wheelchair. He was a bright and shining light in our family, and we all loved him beyond measure. He loved music and was almost always smiling. When I was little, though, I was afraid of him. I was afraid of his chair and the sounds that he made, and I couldn’t understand him. I thought he was different from me.

BrianOne rainy afternoon with Brian changed how I saw him and the world forever. We were watching a parade, but as often happened in our town, the weather did not cooperate with the local festival. My aunt parked a camper along the parade route and the children watched the parade perched in the loft of the camper, peering out of the window. At one point in time, it was just me and Brian. He looked at me and clearly said, “Why are you afraid of me? I’m just like you, except that my body is different. It just doesn’t work the same way as yours.” Normally, I had difficulty understanding Brian’s words, but that day they rang our perfectly clear to me. He spoke to me from his heart. Although I was sometimes still shy around him, I learned something from him that day I will never forget.

I learned that all souls are perfect. Bodies can be disabled, minds can be damaged, and spirits can be crushed, but souls are created by God perfect and remain ever perfect. This knowledge welled up in me and overflowed as a desire to work with special-needs children. I went to college and spend eight years teaching special-needs children, until I left to have my own children. I loved my job, and I adored those kids. They lit me up. I saw my students differently than most people did. I connected with them on a soul level, and I could feel who they were. I didn’t see their disabilities. We can all do that with anyone if we try. I don’t know why we all come in to this life with different challenges, but I have experienced that many people who have physical or mental disabilities have stronger spirits. We all have challenges to bear, and people without apparent disabilities are no exception. We all have gifts to share, and people with disabilities are no exception. We are all more alike than different, so reach out and connect with everyone you can.

Brian died, unexpectedly, a few weeks after his fortieth birthday. Our family was sad to lose the person he was, but his perfect soul still exists and this gives us comfort. I am thankful for the love he shared with our family and how his spirit made us all closer to each other.

Michelle 2012About Michelle Dobbins

Michelle Dobbins is a pre-published author, who shares tips for positive living and true stories of magic, creation and love in everyday life on her blog. You can connect with her and get her Magic Question of the Day on Facebook and Twitter.
Michelle, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting my readers know that, yes, souls are perfectly and wholly made by God, and that we are indeed perfect in His eyes. We do all have something special to give, and I want to sincerely thank you for opening my eyes and showing me that everyone has their own struggles and difficulties. Sometimes I’m guilty of “assuming” that nothing is wrong with someone else, because I cannot physically see a disability. Thank you for your amazing gift that you’ve given me, the ability to see through to the soul of someone who’s truly a role model for others and has inspired not only me, but the countless students you’ve taught. God bless you.

Everyday Hero, Doing My Best

One of the things I get asked most often, especially if I am out taking pictures and writing an article for work about the local Veteran’s Day or Fourth of July parades on the Square is if I am a veteran. Most of the people who ask me are veterans themselves, currently on active duty overseas or having served in Korea, World War II or Vietnam. Now I can totally understand why they would ask… I’m in a wheelchair and could have suffered an injury fighting on the front lines in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Jason BourneI really hate to “burst their bubble” and tell them that I’m not a veteran (in the most-common sense of the word), but after talking with several veterans the past five or six years, I’ve come to understand that, in truth, I really am a veteran of a much bigger war. The war of everyday life. Let me explain because I know you have that “deer in the headlight” look right about now, thinking “What is this guy talking about?”

As most of you who’ve followed my journey may know, and for those who just joined the journey, I was born with spina bifida and have been in a wheelchair for more than 25 years. Every day when I get out of bed, I’m fighting some kind of battle, whether it be an aching back, not getting enough sleep, a stomach ache that never stops or seemingly trying to play catch up with the ever-changing pace of society and their attitudes toward people with special needs. No matter how much I get done at work, it seems like I’m always running on empty when I get home and just want to crawl in bed and go to sleep for eight solid hours. But I think I do have one thing in common with the U.S. military, and that is my work ethic and my determination to never give up and keep fighting because I know I’d be letting a lot of people down, epsecially my friends, family and co-workers.

I really hate to put my name in the same sentence with the U.S. military because nobody can compare to the bravery and courage of our men and women in uniform, but some days I feel like a soldier in the infantry on the front lines near Baghdad. I may just be “infantry” but I know the man right beside me, or the person in the next cubicle, is depending on me to get the job done and do it right. Sure I may make mistakes, but that’s one of the best things about being a team, whether in the desert of Iraq or at the office working the daily grind of a nine-to-five shift. A team sticks together and helps each other be the best they can possibly be, and God knows I would not be where I am today without the encouragement and support of my co-workers and friends. I’d probably be sitting at home, looking through the want ads for another job or out picking up trash on the side of the road, and definitely would not be living my dream and having the best job in the world.

In my line of work, I meet a lot of co-workers, in different departments, and have developed what I think are great relationships and friendships with most of them. Like I’ve said previously I’m out on the streets a lot, or in other departments, talking to people about what’s going on in the city where I work, and apparently from the e-mails and feedback I receive from co-workers, I must be doing something right. Here are several e-mails from friends and co-workers I’ve received the past couple years.

IMG_2477Heroes come from all walks of life and are heroes because someone thinks they are. We all think you are.

I know you’re a fighter.

Keep smiling. Don’t let the energy vampires sap your strength!!! They are everywhere, and positive people are their enemy. Fight on! 🙂

All your efforts are greatly appreciated, Jason.

A couple months ago, I went to an event celebrating Gone With the Wind, and met an author whose aunt worked as technical adviser on the movie back in 1939. She said I am a real hero. I don’t mind sitting here today and saying that I felt almost ashamed when she called me a hero. I haven’t done anything special. I am just living life and trying to beat spina bifida any way I know how. You have no idea how unworthy I am of being called a hero. Every day, police officers, firefighters, paramedics and the military put their lives on the line to keep our cities, counties and nation safe.

I’m sure everybody remembers the tragic events the past few months in Oklahoma, Texas and Boston. The men and women who saved countless lives after these tragic events are the REAL heroes and deserve so much more respect than I do. I’m just a man, doing the best I can with what God gave me. Sometimes it feels like I can do so much more, and sometimes I just want to go up to a soldier or a police officer and thank them for everything they do to protect the freedom I love so much. Next time you see a soldier, police officer, firefighter or paramedic, take a few minutes and thank them for everything they do every day. Most of them hardly see their families, and I cannot imagine how hard it must be for a family to sit and worry whether their loved one is coming home.

I remember a couple days after I talked to my author friend at the GWTW event, I e-mailed a co-worker for something and told her what the author called me. A few minutes later, my co-worker wrote back and said, “You are a hero and I applaud her for recognizing that!! With all the challenges you face each day, you still get up each morning, come to work, do an outstanding job and all with a cheerful, helpful, positive attitude. Do you have any idea how many people NEVER do that? You are a hero to me, too!”

I felt so humbled and honored that people do actually see me as a hero, but please understand something… I don’t do what I do for recognition or praise or awards. I don’t go out every day, beating my chest saying, “Hmm, I wonder who’s hero I can be today?” And I sure as hell wouldn’t put myself in the same category as the U.S. military or law enforcement. My accomplishments pale in comparison to what these people do for each and every one of us every day. I will say it again. I just take it one day, one step at a time and try to do the best I can despite the obstacles that are thrown in my way. I genuinely love helping people and if I can offer a hug, a word of encouragement, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to listen, then that’s what I’m going to do.

IMG_4622One thing I’ve learned the past few years is that a little pat on the back, a word of thanks, a hug or someone saying I’m proud of you can make all the difference in someone’s life, especially if that person has special needs. You have no idea how good it makes me feel to get an e-mail from a co-worker, a text from a friend or a thank you from someone I come across in the community. If you have a family member or a friend with special needs, please, please take the time to tell them how much they mean to your life, even if it’s just “Hey, thank you for coming to eat with us today. We’re really glad to see you.” Or “Hey, great job on that project at work. I know how hard you worked on it, and you’ve really done a great job. Keep it up!!” You’ll never know how big these seemingly small words can be to a person struggling to face their challenges every day.

As I close, I want to dedicate this post to anyone who has a disability or knows someone whose life has been impacted by a disability or cancer. You can do anything you set your mind to. Sure we may look a little different, or talk a little bit different, but one thing I can guarantee. We’re doing alright for the shape we’re in!!!

Do yourself a favor and connect with me on Twitter or send me an e-mail letting me know what you thought about this post. I’d love to hear from you 😉

This Blog is Under Review

After further review, I’ve decided to keep blogging, sharing my story and hopefully inspire others to life their lives to the fullest with no regrets. I truly hope this blog inspires you like it has inspired Jenn Brink, a wonderful friend I met on Twitter a couple weeks ago. She was gracious enough to review the blog and give her feedback about different pages and aspects of what I’m doing right, wrong or changes I need to make. Thanks for the constructive criticism Jenn. I really am glad you love the blog and weren’t afraid to tell me what I need to change 🙂
Jason’s blog is great! He posts about his struggles with Spina Bifida in an uplifting and positive way. He also interviews indie authors living their lives in this crazy world we share. I love that it is about him, Spina Bifida and others that he has met on his journey. Jason is a positive and real inspiration for us all. Check it out! 
I loved your blog, and I’m not a big blog reader. The reason, I get bored because it’s like reading only books by one author, no other POV, no other subject, me, me, me…. That’s what I love about your blog. It’s different and ultimately more interesting to people like me. 
IMG_2500 2 (2)On a different note: Take or leave as constructive criticism.
Use the pic on your blog to represent you. The one on the porch. It’s great! The outdoors is such a relaxing background and not too busy. It also creates endorphins making people associate your image with relaxing and being happy. 
Your heading: “A look at my life with spina bifida and daily musings I have”
1.  Capitalize Spina Bifida. It is a recognized name, like Jason. 
2.  The sentence is grammatically incorrect and does not make sense or a good statement for someone writing a blog. Rewrite it with a better catchphrase, a “hook.”  Something more active and exciting that embraces all that you do with your blog or your goal. 
3.  Too many author interviews one after another, with the same questions is monotonous. Cushion every interview with something you wrote about whatever. It could be your own review of an author or a book if you want to promote indie authors or one of your musings. Also, interview some male writers and use different questions. Mix it up.   
Check out Jenn’s blog, buy her books on Goodreads, find out what she’s interested in on Pinterest, become a friend or a fan on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and connect with her on Google Plus.
As long as you’re still here, grab a Coke and check out what other people are saying about the blog.

Karen Magill: MS Survivor, One Woman’s Journey

I recently sat down with inspiring author, blogger, writer, friend and survivor, Karen Magill, and talked about her books, how she finds the time to write, where she draws inspiration and her advice for new writers. Through talking with her via e-mail I found out she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This is her story, and it reminds all of us to stay in the fight, keep our head up and keep surviving.

I am not a cancer survivor and hope I won’t ever have to face that. I have multiple sclerosis.

On June 5, 2000 – exactly three weeks before my 35th birthday – I woke to find myself partially paralyzed on one side of my body. It was if someone had drawn a line down the center of my body, and one side was fine while the other was wrong.

I went to work and made a doctor’s appointment for later. He sent me to the emergency room at the hospital across the street where I sat for around six hours until they could get to me – St. Paul’s is downtown Vancouver, and there are many emergencies!

No one could give me an answer and after another hour, I was ready to leave. I had seen an emergency room doctor who told me it wasn’t a stroke and didn’t look like a brain tumor (My maternal grandmother died of a brain tumor, and it has always stayed in my mind). He called an intern from neurology who looked at me – did the same tests the previous two doctors had done – then left. He called a neurologist and made an appointment for me in two days.

On June 14, I had a MRI done and when I later went into see the neurologist, he told me it was a suspicion of MS. And that was it. As with many diseases that not a lot is known about, it is up to the individual to find out information.

I connected with the local MS chapter and took five weeks off work. After the five weeks, I went back to work and worked my full-time schedule. I had been warned that if I went part-time and had to go on disability, the pension would base my income on the part-time hours. So I stuck it out, but I couldn’t do it for long.

At the end of September 2000, I went to the MS Clinic at UBC – University of British Columbia. My MS specialist and I decided that the best thing for me was to go on disability, so that’s what I did.

That didn’t make my life any easier, at least not right away. I had months of stress while I tried to get the benefits due me. Part of the problem was that my diagnosis happened on the one-year anniversary of my hiring, which was when all my benefits became available. I will admit that this is a fact to be questioned – it looks as if I had known about the disease beforehand. But we got that straightened out.

206990_6171996245_1695_nMy turning point came when a social worker visited to help me emotionally with all this. I explained how frustrating MS can be. Symptoms appear and disappear; it makes a person wonder what is really going on with his or her body. When the social worker left, she said that at least now I was admitting that I was making up my symptoms.

That upset me so I left a message on her machine cancelling our next appointment, informing her I didn’t need her help any longer. It may have been around that time that I realized I had been given a gift.

Because I had been a government employee, I have disability insurance, extended health and numerous other benefits in place. Now I get to write and not worry about how I am going to pay my bills. In January 2001, I wrote a poem that appeared in the MS Newsletter. It wasn’t much, but it got me started.

There have been bad times over the last thirteen years and good ones. Some of the negatives can be blamed on MS, and a lot can’t. That’s life.

Having a chronic illness can make a person more understanding of others. I know when I walk and someone is walking slowly in front of me, I am more patient if they have a disability. I know how it feels to not be able to make my legs work the way I want them to. I also know that coming down with a chronic illness is not the worst thing that can happen to a person.

I know a few people with MS, and the ones who concentrate on how bad it is to have this disease and how unfair it is are usually the ones that have the most problems. Though there are exceptions.

If you are inflicted with any disease, try to find the bright side to it. Some days when I can’t walk properly or am exhausted and just lay around, it is hard to remember that there is a positive spin to all of this but there is.

Limit your exposure to negative influences. Recently, I realized that watching a lot of reality shows has a bad effect on me. It is so easy to be caught up in the drama, and it has a depressing consequence on me. In order to stay positive and focused, I try to surround myself with happy, upbeat entertainment. I am also always trying to improve myself, my writing and my life.

I dreamed of living in a downtown apartment and being able to stay at home and write for a living. Of course I didn’t mean living in a second-floor apartment in east Vancouver (I was thinking a penthouse right downtown or historic Gastown), and I wasn’t intending on living on a disability income, but I presume that is what it means when a person is told to be careful what they wish for! I am free now to spend my days writing, and it is a true test on whether I can make a career out of this.

me 001About Karen Magill

Karen Magill is on a mission to make the paranormal, normal. Everything she writes shows extrasensory powers as a common ability because she believes that these attributes are within us all.

Forced to leave the workforce in 2000 by the onslaught of MS, Karen saw this as an opportunity to explore her lifelong desire to write. Initially she explored other areas of writing before deciding that her future lay with creating novels.

Missing Flowers is the start of a new series in which Karen will combine paranormal fiction with historical facts.

Karen lives in an eclectic area of Vancouver Canada and draws inspiration from the history and stories around her.

Karen, you are a true friend and inspire so many, including me. Thank you for being one of life’s heroes.


“Are you there God? It’s me, Katie.” Judy Blume was always my favorite author as a child, and I would often find myself praying that sentence off and on for 20 years. I bartered and begged with Him, but for the life of me I couldn’t get Him to answer my questions. I was so sneaky, I started asking the question “why” using fancier words; that’s what authors do, ktdanceright? I found this more productive; I’d ask a question, and He would put someone in my way with the answer. This went on for years until February 16, 2011, when I was laying in a hospital bed as a left below-knee amputee. That night I reverted to “Are you there God? It’s me, Katie. Now what?” I was waiting for an answer when a nurse came in with a CD. I will be honest with you and say that I hadn’t listened to music in nearly 10 years. The reason was as a former ballroom dancer I couldn’t stand to hear the rhythm and not be able to dance. But this nurse refused to take no for an answer and insisted this CD would help me sleep. I laid there and listened to the voices of Michael Bublé and John Mayer, and this peace washed over me. His answer was obvious, “Now we dance.”

So you might be asking yourself what this has to do with being an author. My series of Christian romance, The Sugar’s Series, features Sugar, a midwestern ballroom dancer who, like me, lost a lot in life and found herself “dreaming with a broken heart.” I began to write Sugar’s Dance while waiting to walk again and found her story came faster than I could type it. My intention was not to write Sugar’s story as a Christian romance, in fact I really had no intention of even publishing it. My intention was to write it for me. As I wrote I found Sugar asked “Why God?” a lot. I was pretty uncomfortable with it, but since this was her journey I carried on. Then one night I said, “Are you there God?” and I poured my heart out Legato_28June2012_BRFMHabout how I wasn’t sure if it was “right” to write a book that could be construed as a Christian romance, if I ever did publish it, when the underlying theme of the character’s relationship with Him was, “I’m still mad at Him, and He knows that. I can agree to be friends with Him, but I haven’t figured out how to love Him again.” When I got up the next day I avoided Sugar like the plague. I didn’t want to admit to myself maybe there was a little of me in Sugar, so I put my MP3 player on and the first two songs were “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Say.” I blew out a breath and opened the document. Without even thinking this is what came through, “That is one of the most frank admittances of imperfection I have ever heard. You are a surprise around every corner Sugar. The fact that you still come out here to talk to Him and you believe in that higher power is admirable considering what you have been through. I’m inclined to believe that He loves you for your honesty because I don’t believe He gets that from a lot of his worshippers.” And with that we began to waltz.

As the days turned into weeks Sugar’s story flowed, and I continued to let her ask “Why?” As her story progressed she began to see the reasons why, and so did I. By the time I had the first solid 14 chapters of the book written I was up walking on two feet again, just five weeks after that night in the hospital, lucky to have a very talented friend helping me. When I hit chapter 25 I needed to do some hardcore research of the Twin Ports. We spend a lot leg 002of time in the Duluth/Cloquet, Minnesota area because it’s where my husband grew up. When I decided Sugar would live there, I knew the book had to be as close to 100 percent accurate as I could make it, and that meant lots of trips north. It is summer now, and I’m holding my husband’s hand as he walked me through Canal Park. I’m smiling as I see another reason for the last 20 years; appreciation of the simple things like holding hands. By the time summer comes to a close I have the final chapter to write. Needing to get this scene EXACTLY right, I found myself staring down the sand-covered path that led to the beach on Canal Park. Sand isn’t easy for an amputee, but with some slipping and sliding I found myself standing in Lake Superior! As I stood there with the cold water lapping over my foot, smiling for the camera, I was sure our waltz was over and I had the reason!

Nope, not even close. After much painful consideration and encouragement from friends I hit publish. Okay dance over, her story is told! Nope. Don’t get me wrong, it felt great, but I was comfortable now in the dance and knew there was more. I started getting e-mails from people reading the book who told me Sugar had changed their perspective and validated their own struggles while others asked me to finish her story, so I answered Him with Sugar’s Song. Once again He put people in my path that I needed to meet in order to finish her song. So many friends from Sugar’s World (Duluth) shared their struggles and triumphs with me as well as shared their love of the region helping make the story true to life. I met two wonderful groups of authors, locally and virtually, who became the lamp unto my feet during a time this summer when I was again asking “Why?” As my father struggled back from a devastating injury I struggled to finish her Song. One of my author friends suggested a song for the new book, and I found myself listening to “I Cry” by Flo Rida. My summer 2010 012heart was once again filled by Him when I heard “When I need a healing I just look up to the ceiling, I see the sun shining down and know its all better now.” Once again He kept me dancing when I was ready to quit. It’s November now, and I hit that publish button again feeling very at peace with how her song ended, but this time I didn’t question if I had the reason, because I knew I didn’t. Sugar had an encore to dance and I sat down to write Sugar’s Night. As the words poured out He laid Sugar’s “why” right out in front of me. BAM! I got up and walked around before reading it again, and there it was in black and white. Being a good author I’m not going to tell you Sugar’s “why,” for that would ruin the journey. I will tell you I have found the answer to mine. As I type this short waltz through my last two years another opportunity to help fellow amputees has arrived in my inbox. There was no way I could know that 25 years ago when I took to a ski hill just how that one day was going to change the course of my life, but He did. He has put me in the places I’ve been because He knew I needed all of those experiences to do His work. So each morning when I get up I no longer ask “Are you there God?” Now I simply say, “I’m here God, lead on.”