Category Archives: dance

My Challenge: K

Today’s Challenge is from my friend “K” who prefers to remain anonymous. She is a young woman who one day soon will change the world with her writing, her heart, her well just awesomeness. K was a contributor to the Challenge program at Abby’s school. Allowing us to use her essay, The Little Dancer, that had such an impact on the Junior High students. 

“K” has Cerebral Palsy. She is one of the reasons the What’s Your Challenge? program at Abby’s school was so important to me. I wanted people to stop looking just at a disability and see the person first. I thought for sure I knew what her challenge would be. Of course, per usual, she surprised the heck out of me. 




I sat in the corner of the shoe store and broke.

            “I can’t do this anymore.”
            I was surrounded by boxes and boxes of shoes, shoes that weren’t made for people like me.
            Somewhere in the background, the sales associate was staring at me, and there was an odd expression on her face. Pity? Revulsion? Embarrassment? Or maybe she was just grateful that she wasn’t my mom, who stood over me with an armful of rejected shoes.
            It was 5:00 p.m., the evening before I was to give my senior project presentation, a presentation that determined whether or not we would graduate from high school. The rubric for the presentation included a phrase that made my heart sink: “Must wear formal footwear.”
            To make matters worse, as I was leaving, my teacher called over his shoulder: “Remember, no boat shoes and no sandals! The guys should wear dress shoes and the ladies should wear something like a nice pair of heels.”
            Many girls my age owned a closetful of shoes that fit that description, but I only had two pairs of formal shoes that I could wear safely: a pair of boat shoes and a pair of sandals.
            “I can call the school in the morning,” my mom offered, “and ask them not to penalize you for your shoes.”
            “I don’t want them to make an exception for me,” I said, my tone desperate.
            So my mom took me to the mall for a last-minute shoe-shopping trip, my own personal version of hell. Each store was the same…the sales associates approached us with their fake, overly-cheerful smiles, all too eager to help, and returned with a pair of shoes for me to try on. Then they’d hover over me, watching closely as I tried to cram shoes on my feet, and their chipper smiles would fade into blank stares as they watched me walk.
            I had told myself that I would be strong, and I managed to keep it together for four stores in a row. And then, at the fifth store, the associate brought out a pair of heels.
            “She . . . those won’t work for her,” my mom said.
            Tears sprang to my eyes, and I turned away to hide my face.
            “It’s not fair,” I whispered. “I just want to wear pretty shoes like everyone else, and I’m tired of people staring at me like I’m some kind of freak.”
            My mom set down the shoeboxes and looked me in the eye.

            “Listen to me,” she said, just loud enough for me to hear. “This is your challenge. I know it’s hard, but I’ve seen you overcome so much in your life and I know you can overcome this. Shoes don’t matter. You could wear a pair of sneakers with your dress and you’d still be beautiful.”
            With that, she took my hand and turned to the still-gawking sales associate:
            “I think we’re all set, thanks.”
~
            The next day, I slipped on my boat shoes and presented my project to the panel of judges: a teacher and three members of the community.
            As I presented my project—I had joined an acts-of-kindness group whose mission was to help others with theirchallenges—I spoke of Tanner, a boy with cerebral palsy who was homebound after surgery. His mother didn’t have the financial means to purchase Christmas presents for him and his sisters, so our group banded together to buy them gifts. I bought Tanner’s present—a basket brimming with DVDs and popcorn, because he was a movie buff—and signed an anonymous note explaining that I had CP as well and I understood what he was going through.
            When I finished, one of the judges looked at me with tears streaming down her face.
            “Thank you,” she said, her voice breaking. “For Tanner. My daughter has CP too.”
Just then, I knew that what my mom had said was true. Shoes don’t matter. Shoes don’t define us.

People do.

****
Alright, who wants to take K shoe shopping with me? As in shop til she cannot shop anymore. And if we cannot find shoes that are beautiful and comfortable we knock on Manalo Blahnik's door and demand he design something immediately. Or some other famous shoe designer's door. I'm sure we can find at least one.


"K" is one of those gorgeous people. Inside and out. She is the reason I wrote the letter for Boo. I am happy to call her friend and hope that my daughter Abby grows up with "K"s character. You can read more of "K"'s writing at her blog, Transcending CP: Shattering the Limits of a Disability



What's your challenge is a series that was inspired by a program I created at Abby's school. I am amazed at how honest and hopeful the challenges have been. Thank you to all who have contributed. To submit your challenge, please e-mail me at firebailey@gmail.com

Filing under what the heck was I thinking?

Attention: Anyone in your 20’s this might not be the post for you. See, right now you have a rockin’ bod. A bod to die for that you don’t have to do any real work to maintain. Oh you also have time for the gym. 

Anyway, I am  22 years past the prime of the 20-year old. And I put on a bathing suit for the first time this year. It was not pretty. I am sure that the pasty white skin didn’t help the image. And yes, I could use a little self-empathy.

I asked the always reliable husband: Do I look fat? Ladies, especially, those in your 20’s do not in your 40’s ask a man you have been with for too long to remember for his “honest” opinion. He will give it to you.

“Well,” he said without a moment’s hesitation, “If you are asking me if you have put on weight in the past 3 or 4 years, yes. But you are not fat you just have a pouch and flabby legs”.

Yes he lived. Because, well, he was right. I haven’t run in over a year and the only aerobic activity I have done since Boo’s birth look like this:


Now friends, in the interest of honesty, I know I am not fat. I do not really have a weight issue. Things just aren’t where they used to be. I am in no way trying to be dismissive of those who struggle with their weight on a daily basis. But I am not happy with the “pouch”. So I did two things…

I signed up for a 5K with only 2 weeks to train. I’m an idiot like that. I outted myself on Facebook for accountability and I asked my nephews if they thought that was time enough to train. One replied, of course. The other one said: sure if you put down the wine. Guess which one is my new favorite?

Next, I contacted the always reliable and exercise-aholic Tia. She agreed that the 40’s have not been kind to our bodies. She then recommended the on-demand videos that are 10 minute work-outs. Surely I can find 10 minutes, right?

Well, the last time I tried a video workout I ended up watching it on the couch with some Gelato and a glass of wine. But this time I was going to do it. I could find 10 minutes,  I will, I will.

The other night I picked Allie up from school, ran errands and made it home before Boo and hubs (he had therapy duty, yay him). Started dinner and said, hey wait I have 10 minutes now.

Choose the cardiac dance video and proved once again why Allie thinks I cannot dance. Marching, I did that step perfect. The slide, yup got that down. Then they moved onto something and I, well, mis-stepped. I have no idea what move I was trying to make but I landed on the floor. Then with perfect timing, Allie comes in…

Allie: Mom what are you doing?

Me: I am exercising

Allie: I don’t think that is what exercising is supposed to look like.


Yes, she lived. Because she was right. But I got up and finished the last 7 minutes of the workout. Yes, friends, I fell in minute 3. As soon as you stop snorting wine you can finish reading….

Oh you are back!

This morning I got up and found another 10 minutes. So I did the Thin-in-10 core work out. Twelve years ago I did Pilates and Yoga 3 times a week. This should be a breeze. Let’s forget that the last Pilates/Yoga work out was 12 years ago.

I could not do a sit-up. Not one without heaving my legs off the floor for momentum. I did manage to some of the other torture moves. Thankfully there were no witnesses.

But I am determined to carry on. I will find 10 minutes every morning/evening and find time to train for the 5k.

Because I will wear a bathing suit this summer and I want to tan my pasty white skin.

And if you haven’t had a chance yet and feel bad for me and my pouch please take a moment to “like” me! I am nominated for the Best of the Blogs. Just visit this link and “like” with Facebook.

http://www.babble.com/mom/a-letter-to-new-special-moms/

You can only like me once, though. So thanks to everyone who already likes me!