peeks into my life dealing with everyday life and obstacles as well as obstacles of dealing with disabilities and accessibility obstacles, Chronic Pain due to broken spinal rods, living on pain medications, dealing with anxiety/depression, experiencing the newness of love, and fighting for my right to live and love my life in an ableist society.
As the year 2022 closes and the year 2023 opens, I wanted to go over and recap my year; How I’ve grown and flourished, even though it didn’t really start until May, I have opened myself up to new dreams, possibilities, and opportunities. I have also made many new friends and aquaintences.
Even though I continue to have massive stage fright and social anxiety in large crowds, I have started public speaking and helping out for or at events for 2 really amazing organizations/programs: Guns Down Power Up- Founder Eric Williams, and #The BullyBox A passion Project- Founder Shauna Sias: Through these programs and events, people I’ve met and talked to, have inspired new ideas, passions, inspirations, and possible opportunities to “open doors” to achieve my dreams!
In other news, I also been doing some projects on my cricut- I am still learning new things about it, and if I could just ignore the pain to focus, I could do alot more crafting and creating. It is just so hard to get myself distracted from the pain and focus on crafting. the pain is in the back of my mind nagging when I try to fight through the pain sometimes..it is annoying. I also went to my first Comic con in October and had a blast and now I am hooked! I am going to the next one in March and may even cosplay this time!
My godchild is getting older and breaking my heart (haha just kidding). I cannot believe he is 14 already. I also cannot believe that David’s oldest niece, “skybaby” is gonna be a teenager in April! I still remember meeting her for the first time when she was still 7! and now she has 2 younger sisters who I also adore like crazy.
My bestie is coming in from Italy sometime this month, I cannot wait to spend time with her! I missed her like crazy. I miss our fun high school shenanigans and craziness, but then she wouldn’t be married to her husband or have her beautiful little girl who I am also crazy about. I cannot wait to spend as much time as we possibly can while she is in.
I cannot wait to see what fantastic adventures God has in store for me in 2023. Here is to good vibes and hoping I continue to discover more about myself and flourish into the person God wants me to be. Only through his grace and will…Amen.
Okay, so the last post I did was about Fortitude and public speaking events and such. well, right before my Guns Down Power Up event, I managed to hurt my ankle- It was so swollen and hurt bad. Not broken though thankfully. The diagnosis eventually was “Soft Tissue Swelling” because i had fell on it when my legs gave out (my disabilities make my legs give out sometimes.) Anyway, I ended up going to the event in my wheelchair and NO SHOES because my ankle was so swollen i couldnt get shoes on. The event went fine, we didn’t have many turn out- but the ones who did seemed to understand my talk. I enjoyed learning more about Eric and his story too.
I also been helping #BullyBox and Ms. Shauna and them with promoting their events, making flyers, making stickers on my cricut for them, going to events I can and talking to the kids about disabilities and bullying. In addition to that, I been helping Eric with Guns Down Power Up program, promoting his events and making flyers for him, as well as helping him edit the book he is writing, stuff like that. Just doing what I can with my limited mobility and pain, to help these 2 amazing programs help with the youth of my hometown that I love and care about so deeply. Aside from that, I also do some creative projects on my cricut- iron on shirts, iron on wallets that mom makes, greeting cards, stuff like that- I am still learning new tricks on the machine. I also enjoy creative writing and occassionally “tweaking”/editing my book about my life with disabilities or writing new poetry (when I don’t have “dry spells” in my creative writing).
In September, I went to St Louis, Missouri, for my yearly spine check up. It was a new doctor as my last doctor moved back to San Diego, *Sad face* (why is it, every 3 years the orthopedics in St Louis decide to move on and that ends up shuffling me down the line to the next doctor to try to solve the medical rubix cube that is my life?). Anyway, this doctor says my rods in my spine look stable, they haven’t moved even though one is broken- it is stabilized by a different rod or some other medical mumbo jumbo i dont understand; Long story short, the rods look fine and I don’t need to go every year now- my next appointment is in 3 years, if no problems arise (and if this doctor doesn’t decide to move also.) I sadly did not have time to visit with my “St Louis Peeps” as they were busy and we were only there for a day.
We sadly did not have time this year to put up our halloween/fall decorations, but definitely will for Christmas. Hopefully we put up my Christmas Village pieces. It brings me so much joy to look at and rearrange. I definitely cannot wait for Mom’s homemade gingerbread cookies! YUM!
Anyway, that is basically it, Pain but trying to push through when I can. I mostly do alot from the computer or my phone. I do try to make events, even if it means begging someone to pack me in my wheelchair and bring me- which I HATE! I miss less pain and being more independent, being able to drive more than I am now. Yes, I am angry and Mad that this is my life now, slowly losing more and more of my independence with each year; having to live on pain medication just to get through the day, insomnia because of pain and not getting comfortable in bed, oh the list could go on and on…. but tis life, I cannot change it, so I might as well just try to accept and adapt..even if its hard!
over the last couple of years, I use the word fortitude a lot. I will tell yall why:
Back in 2017 I had subbed for my mom’s CCD class and they were learning about the virtues and the one for that week was fortitude- doing it in fear. It was my first time doing the CCD class by myself so I was nervous- nervous the kids would try to take advantage or not-take me seriously. Which it went fine.
The next day– I had been on an online dating site and got a message from someone who would now be my fiance. asking to go on a date. Again, I was nervous and scared. But again Mom reminded me of the virtue of fortitude -doing it in fear. (and yes we did go on a date, public – La Hacienda.)
So now anytime I do something outside my comfort zone and I’m nervous as heck–what word rings in my mind. Fortitude. And if it doesn’t on its own, Mom is right there to remind me of the word.
The latest thing I have had to do with fortitude is I started public speaking. Now don’t get me wrong, there have been times I have had to public speak before learning about fortitude. Even though I was nervous about it, opportunities continually pop up as if it is like God saying “HELLO THIS IS WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO.”
In the past, before learning about fortitude, I would still do the things but I didn’t know what “doing it in fear and nervous” was as far as virtues, and after the events I did, I never pursued or looked at public speaking as a career, further.
The first time I ever did any type of public speaking was in college for my Communications class- I made C’s because of nerves and read off my cards too much.
The next time was when I was asked to do what’s called “familiarity visits” with patients coming into Shriners for Halo traction- while I was in halo traction. Familiarity visits are telling the incoming patient what to expect: pain-wise, the routine during the week, how to do “pin care,” etc. That was easy because it was just like chit-chatting with peers; was I still nervous? yes! I worried I’d forget something important to mention or something, but still, I did it.
Another public speaking opportunity while in Shriners hospital during the time I was in halo traction was when the Respiratory Department Director asked the different patients to come to say a few words at the conference about how Shriners Hospital, the Halo traction, and especially the respiratory department affected us and helped us. I was nervous and with no filter, I told everyone there about my first weeks in traction and how I compared the respiratory department director to “Hitler of Respiratory” and the consequences once word had gotten back to her about me saying that! I had the entire room in giggle fits. The director and I may have had a rough start, but now we are best buds, and it’s our inside joke now.
In 2013, one summer while my godson was down from Texas, I happened to be wearing a tank top and he saw my scar sticking out from under my straps; he then proceeded to play “20 million questions” and I answered most of them until I got tired of answering and said “okay, that’s enough. go play, you’re giving nanny a headache!”
In 2015, one of my cousins at 4 years old noticed my spine sticking out during family Christmas eve and he was sitting behind me. I feel him feeling at my spine that was sticking out (The hump) and then suddenly feel him starting to punch it. His mom freaks out “_ Don’t hit jamie!” to which baby boy replied tearfully “I’m trying to push her back back in!” So that Christmas, he got the gift of learning about Scoliosis and why “cousin Jamie’s back sticks out.”
Also in 2015, I “tested the waters” of my comfort zone when LSU-Eunice hosted a talent show, where I read an original poem titled “Don’t judge by disabilities” and got a standing ovation as well as many compliments in the halls the following week. I was so proud that I had conquered my stage fright and even placed 3rd, which I don’t blame them poetry is nice, but music always wins!
Years passed and in 2021, I was a guest blogger on someone I only know online @Ami Ireland who has a blog “Undercover Superheroes” and talked about my disabilities there and it was posted in May 2021.
Now we are in 2022, and more opportunities have popped up without even really trying to get them. In March, I went to a church function and the CCD director’s granddaughter who I taught in kindergarten for VBS had finally noticed my back and how I was shorter than many adults, and she asked questions, so I explained as best I could at a 2nd-grade level and showed her pictures, she was shocked and just hugged me “Miss Jamie I had no idea. I remember you were always smiling for VBS and you spoiled our class!”
Next came when I was talking with Guns down Power up founder and director, Eric Williams. He had mentioned he was in special ed and had mental problems or something and I messaged asking if he minded talking about what disabilities/ why he was in sp-ed. I told him I had physical disabilities, and thus he asked if I minded coming to talk about my disabilities at his program. Which will take place on May 28, 2022, at Opelousas Police Department from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m.
From there, I was just talking to another program founder, the founder of BullyBox A passion Project to combat bullying in schools and such, Ms. Shauna Sias and she asked me to go on her and her co-host Nina Irving Williams Podcast/Live TV Livestream thing on Weds nights (Which Mine was April 13- I attached my segment of the show on my Youtube.)
So God keeps giving me Opportunities and in the past, it was just “one and done” but lately they have been more frequent, so maybe it’s time to come out of the shadows and do this more. These opportunities could open more doors as I have lots of passions and ideas but don’t know who to talk to or how to implement them. Who knows what God has in store around the corner for me?
God is good all the time. Sometimes we got to practice fortitude- doing it in fear!
I am not sure if I put on here that I was taking an online class for the Fall 2021 semester at UL Lafayette. I decided to take Leadership Communication thinking I would learn how to speak like a leader; Instead it was reading news articles and writing case studies, and learning different leadership styles; which can be helpful too I guess.
I was disappointed at first that it wasn’t what I expected, but I still tried my absolute hardest in it. In fact for my first case study, I didn’t understand the directions and was overly anxious about it: constantly emailing my professor and asking “is this right? am I on the right track?” Eventually they told me “you are doing fine, stop doubting yourself so much!”
For the end of the semester, we had an extra credit assignment where we studied 2 cases of Hate crimes against People of color (blacks) and against Asians in regards to Covid pandemic. I emailed my professor, asking if I could also include hate crimes against disabilities, they emailed back “While thats a great idea, I’d prefer we stick with the ones I assigned, but thats a great idea to include for my future classes. Thank you for bringing awareness.” I felt extra proud in that moment.
I managed to make A’s on every assignment. I made an A average through the entire semester! something I had never ever ever done in my history of college (maintain straight A’s through the course, sure I had occasional A’s in some assignments and my end grade was sometimes A’s, but never maintained/constant through the entire course!)
So apparently, I need to go into Communication! LOL. Im just so proud of this accomplishment!