Saturday, April 28, 2012


What does it mean to be strong? There are at least three areas of strength, spiritual strength, physical strength, and psychological strength.

 In my particular situation, being a bilateral amputee, I have found spiritual strength to be of the utmost importance. My belief in a higher being and in a higher purpose has helped me remain strong in my outlook toward my life and in my life situation.

 I refuse to believe that the loss of my legs was some arbitrary act of nature. I think there is a purpose for my loss. Perhaps this is a test of sorts, to see how and what I would do to deal with my legs losses.

 It has always been my suspicion that this leg loss will in some way serve a higher purpose. The introspection I have done has shown me to be a stronger spiritual person than I might othewise have become.

 I believe and have always believed in God. My belief is that God is not an angry God to be feared, but a God of love. Because I believe God is a loving entity, I cannot imagine I have lost my legs because of something bad I have done in my past. I don't believe this is some sort of "payback."

 I have chosen to believe that my loss will somehow benefit other people. It is my hope that the words I impart and the actions I demostrate will in some way make lives better, that we will live lives that are more aware and thankful, not taking for granted all of the blessings that have been bestowed upon us.

 Another area of strength I would like to touch upon is physical strength. When you have lost both of your legs as I have, your physical strength is an immeasurable asset. Exercise, particularly weight lifting, helps give you the physical stamina you need to live your life independently.

 I am so thankful I have remained physically active through my daily exercise regimen. My physical exercise has not only helped me to manitain my muscle tone but also helped my mental state of well being. By routinely working out I have a systematic way of preserving my body and also my mind. Physical exercise helps me retain not only much needed strength to live my life as an amputee, but it also makes me feel good about myself.

 When you have had a physically altering event occur in your life and to your body, your often can develop feelings of inferiority, that you don't, nor will you ever look good, or even that you are ugly.

 These feelings can be offset by physical exercise. Yes, I have lost my legs but I am going to take care of what I have left to the best of my ability.

 The third area of strength I would like to discuss is psychological strength. Psychological or mental strength is not only your intellectual capacity but also your mental outlook on your life. Realizing we are the only ones who can control how and what we think means we can choose the mental state that will be the most benefical to our happiness.

 Because we are only human beings, we cannot be happy one hundred percent of the time. Discouragement, frustration, and disillusionment are going to happen from time to time. Our strength comes from knowing that these are normal human occurances and more importantly, temporary feelings.

 Before the loss of my legs, I would never have thought I would be as strong as I am (or so I've been told). Where did and soes this strength come from?

 I believe strength comes from within ourselves. I think we are all born with an innate strength. It is almost like Darwin's theory of "Survival of the Fittest" if we are going to be happy and survive all the slings and arrows that life can present, we must reach within ourselves and pull forth strength.

 I am not a well known spiritual leader, a championship weight lifter or Einstein, I am simply a man who has lost both of his legs. I am someone who refuses to let my leg loss dictate my happiness.

 By paying attention to and working at increasing my spiritual, physical and psychological strengths, I am being responsible for my own hapiness.

 I thank God for the strengths I have been made aware of and I pledge to continue down my path ever increasing my strengths spiritually, physically and psychologically, something we are all capable of doing.

 Overcoming loss, in whatever form, takes tenacity, determination, and perseverance, qualities we all possess. The question then becomes, are we going to utilize our God given strengths? Only you can answer that question for yourself.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012


I miss being able to change a light bulb. One of the many complications or unfortunate circumstances that has resulted from the loss of my legs is my physical inability to carry out simple tasks.

Even more frustrating than not being able to perform simple tasks, is to have taken the time to learn how to perform more complicated, involved or skilled tasks and be unable to implement what you worked so hard to learn.

When you are unable to execute learned tasks that you were quite competent at performing before your disability, frustration often results. This inpediment is not only the inabilty to perform the task itself but also the distress of having to explain to someone else how to do something for you that previously you could have done for yourself.

I have always been a "do it myself" type of person, not relying on others; either persons being paid or persons doing me a favor. I have always derived satisfaction from learning how to do something and then doing it.

It has been tough for me to have to rely on others for help in doing things that before my leg loss, I would not have thought twice about doing myself.

I have learned that through this whole process of telling others how I would like something done, that basically I am a poor teacher. A teacher who is easily frazzled by someone else's inability to understand what I am saying.

In a nutshell I am impatient. I think this impatience stems from the frustration of not being able to do things myself coupled with the feeling that if I were able to do it myself, it would be done more to my satisfaction.

Learning how to not sweat the small stuff has been an ongoing and difficult hurdle for me. People like things done the way they like things done.

Sometimes when I can't seem to make the other person understand what I want them to do, I just want to do it myself, but often times I am physically incapable.

Where does all of this lead? Frequently it leads to stress and unhapiness. Over the past three or four years I have had to learn to be happy with what is and not with what could or should have been.

Even though I feel the pangs of frustration from time to time I have begun to relax a little and realize that in the scheme of things, the less agitated I feel the happier I will be.

On those days when I can't get something done the exact way I would have done it myself, I have found that humor helps, laughing at the situation. Perhaps even postponing whatever I feel it is that needs to be done to another day or it may not even need to be accomplished at all.

This may sound like I am settling for less than I want or feel I deserve but then again is the agitation worth it?

Focussing on what I can still do for myself and being thankful for my ability to articulate to others what I want them to do, makes me a more mellow person, less frustrated and hence, happier.

Maybe we all now and again allow ourselves to get caught up in the trivialities of our lives and jeopardize our own happiness in the process.

No I can't change a light bulb myself but I am fortunate to have an assistant to do it for me. Remembering the good in your life and not allowing what you can no longer do outweigh what you are still able to accomplish, will make you a happier person.

After all isn't happiness what we all want out of our lives?

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Being Appreciative

When you find your life in a position that I find my life in, having lost both of my legs, it is not surprising that you will have received a lot of help from a myriad of people and organizations.

One of the obstacles that must be overcome, that is often overlooked, is to receive the help offered with appreciation, gratefulness, and graciousness. Learning how to accept other people and organization's generosity without feeling like you are unable to repay the kindness shown to you, is sometimes a difficult predicament to deal with.

It seems as though you are walking (figuratively) a fine line between acceptance and feelings of inadequacy. Most of the time people offer help simply because they want to help you to help yourself and even the slightest sign to them from you of your sincere appreciation, is all that is needed. At other times it becomes more involved.

We have all heard the expression, "It is better to give than to receive." When you are in a position where it seems much more is given to you than what you are able to reciprocate, a mental dichotomy can occur. This inability to give back as much as you would like, can create a problem, sometimes guilt, sometimes feelings of worthlessness, and even questioning whether or not you have demonstrated the right amount of appreciation, in whatever form.

I have experienced a number of people who feel uncomfortable with too much "gushing" about grateful you are for their help. Those types of people are satisfied with a simple thank you and a smile because they can sense your understood gratitude without too much verbal acknowledgement.

However, you may encounter others who need constant reassurance that you are not taking their help for granted, or that in some way you feel entitled to their help. In such a situation you may not, no matter how hard you try, convince them of how aware you are of their concern for your well being and all that they have done for you.

When one of my friendships went south because of a small amount of money owed them by me and they felt took too long to repay, I began to question whether or not I had shown enough appreciation and demonstrated a sincere attempt to repay the loan, given the circumstances at that time. Perhaps my inability, or as they saw it unwillingness, to pay them the money owed them within their particular self proclaimed time frame, was viewed by them as unappreciated.

Anyone who knows me well, would already know that I always try to demonstrate my thankfulness not only through my verbal actions but also by doing small things I am still able to do, like making them a card or painting them a painting or even just giving them a call, to let them know I am thinking of them.

I sometimes feel exasperated by my lack of funds, which has put me in a position of owing a lot of people a lot of money. Going through an illness or a series of illnesses is not without it's financial repercussions.

I guess what I am trying to say is that if you are one of those persons who feels that the whole give and take scenario is one sided, you do all the giving and receive nothing in return, you may want to ask yourself if what they have attempted to give back is the best they are capable of under their circumstances.

Some people give to others because they want to help, others give to make themselves feel better about themselves. Are you giving freely of yourself, your time, your money, your support because you are expecting something in return?

I can only speak for myself, based on the position I find myself in, that there are not enough words in the English language to express to anyone who has done anything for me how much I acknowledge and appreciate your kind words of support, the money you have given or loaned and hours spent on my behalf.

I am only able to do what I am able to do, beyond that I have to believe that you already know how much you are loved and cherished by me and how your participation in my life has only added joy and love to my existence.

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