Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Motivating the Cadets at Riverside Military Academy

Today, I had the honor and privilege of speaking to the cadets at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Georgia.  I was invited to speak as a part of their character development series, after a referral from my friend and colleague, Dr. Bill Lampton.  The experience was something I’ll never forget. 

My speech was entitled "It's All About the Attitude."  I shared my story and discussed the importance of a positive attitude and overcoming challenges.  This was the biggest audience I've had the opportunity to speak to, with over 350 cadets (grades 7-12), as well as staff members, faculty and some parents.  Also, Jacob, my parents, and few of my colleagues from Brenau University were in attendance as honorary guests.

And I must add, saying we were treated like honorary guests is an understatement.  From the moment we arrived, everyone was so kind and definitely among the most respectful group of people I've had the pleasure of spending time with.  After my speech, we were invited to stand next to the President, Dr. and Colonel Jim Benson, as the cadets performed an amazing Pass and Review.  I was so impressed by the young men and so honored to stand with my husband beside the Colonel.  

After the cadet's demonstration, we were all hosted for lunch in their beautiful dining hall.  My heart was warmed as person after person approached me and expressed that they enjoyed my presentation.  Having the opportunity to inspire those cadets to take advantage of their own potential was something I am truly grateful for.

President of Riverside Military Academy, Dr. Jim Benson, COL, and myself in the dining hall.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Two Down, One To Go...

Unbelievably, we are beginning the third trimester!  I'm seven months pregnant and lately, time seems to be flying by.  In less than 12 weeks, if we hit the due date, we'll be holding our baby girl.  While everything around me (and inside of me) confirms that this is reality, it all still feels like a dream.

I am very noticeably pregnant to everyone around me now, and I love it.  I feel very natural as an expectant Mom and I'm extremely proud to be carrying this baby in my belly.  Don't get me wrong - I have my moments of doubt in which I promise my husband I'll be back to my fit self that was pre-pregnancy, however, most of the time I feel healthy and beautiful.   The picture above was taken two weeks ago, already, so I'll post another picture this week to show how quickly I'm growing.

If you've been following my blog, you know that I've started making adjustments in my life to keep up with my changing mobility.  Well, remaining independent has gotten increasingly tougher in the recent weeks.  I'm having a lot of trouble getting dressed, although I can still manage.  Transferring into and out of my wheelchair is getting pretty shaky and I can tell that I'm just not as confident in my movements.  I'm still taking it one day at a time, though, and I'll seek extra help as I need it.

I'm still feeling really good, all things considered.  I am starting to get much more tired again, so I'm paying attention to sleep in a little when I can and give myself a break when needed.  I also did some research on pregnancy and spinal cord injuries and found that some of my exhaustion could sometimes be related to a lack of oxygen.  Many people with spinal cord injuries at my level and above often have weaker breathing than most people because of the lack of muscles supporting the diaphragm.  I read that this can be exaggerated for women who are pregnant, as there is extra pressure from underneath.  Plus, things are simply getting crowded since I am almost always in a seated position (my sources report that she is approximately 2 1/2 pounds and 15 inches long!).  So, when I notice I'm short of breath or extremely tired all of a sudden, I've been making a point to stretch myself out some and take some purposefully deep breaths.  It seems to be helping.

We haven't even had our baby showers yet and our home is starting to fill up with baby stuff.  It's so much fun going through it all and imagining the days to come.  And speaking of exciting, we absolutely love feeling our little girl move all the time!  She is so active, letting us know she's awake and healthy each and every day with all kinds of little movements.  If I'm having a moment of tension or getting a little frustrated about something, she always seems to move around a bit, to bring a smile to my face and remind me what a miracle this is.

Thanks again for reading, friends.  Please feel free to share this and know that you can always contact me privately for more questions.  I appreciate the opportunity to share this experience.  Have a great week!