Thinking about Memories, Pain and Post Traumatic Stress

Friday started innocently enough in the same way that many of my mornings start… a cup of water, a banana, then slowly enjoying a cup of coffee as I scroll through Facebook.

Blood. Injury. Pain. Trauma. Wounds. Pain. Punctures. Ripped flesh. Nails. Pain. The pictures jumped out at me. They weren’t pretty. They were traumatic. And filled with misery and pain.

With comments about love and thankfulness and joy and grace and love scattered here and there. There was a lot about love.

Something inside of me was disturbed. Pain is love? Love is pain?

The sharp contrast didn’t compute in my brain. It was jarring. Trying to reconcile the two made me feel nauseous. It gave me a headache… and a heartache.

The pain and misery was being showcased like a trophy… even being glamorized.

Pain should never be glamorized. 

Every cell in my body was on edge.
Feeling the trauma.
The pain.
The anxiety.
Feelings of helplessness.
And hopelessness.

Reliving the pain of having over half of my body injured.
Wounds, fractures, lacerations, punctures, bruises and more.
Oh, the pain. The pain never stopped.
Every kind of pain… sharp, dull, deep, bruised, burning. Intense pain.

And the pictures showed a person in that kind of pain. While some sadness was expressed, overall the idea was that this person’s misery, trauma, and pain was a good thing.

After all, it was “Good Friday”.

You see, it wasn’t just any Friday, it was what’s known as Good Friday on the Christian calendar. And the person in pain in those pictures was Jesus. Or to be more accurate, pictures of what people thought Jesus might have looked like.

Subconsciously deep within my psyche and my cells, memories, which according to my counselor are now part of my DNA, were stirred. The physical pain. The emotional misery. It was all there. This happens occasionally. Seeing someone else’s pain will do it, and now seeing pain being glamorized added to my raw feelings.

Pain should never be glamorized… even if the outcome is considered good.

I swallowed. It was hard with the lump in my throat. I wanted to stuff the feelings. To ignore them. To pretend they weren’t there. I hadn’t felt anything like this for some time. I forgot how bad it feels. I wanted to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head.

I took a deep breath. I’ve learned enough over the years to know that being real and feeling what I’m feeling is the only way to live well. I decided to feel. To stay in the now. To process. To not ignore, pretend or cover up.

Yes, I will feel my pain… but I will not glamorize it, because once pain is felt in every fiber of your being, it’s impossible to glamorize pain.

I posted a knee-jerk reaction from the post-traumatic-stress-fueled feelings swirling in me…

photo 3

Within a few minutes of posting it, it dawned on me that people who haven’t had severe trauma/pain don’t know what it’s like. There’s no way they can really know. While they can try to imagine, try to place themselves in someone else’s shoes, try to understand… there is no way of knowing what it’s really like. And that’s a good thing!

I don’t wish trauma or pain on anyone… so I’m happy for everyone who doesn’t know what it feels like.

So I couldn’t blame my reaction on what others did or didn’t do. They don’t realize that pictures like that can trigger PTSD in people like me. Before pain was part of my DNA, I might have done something similar, though for as long as I can remember I’ve had questions about the brutality and the pain in the Good Friday/Easter story. (a post for another day)

They were simply posting pictures of something that meant something to them. I do that all the time. So just like my reaction wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t their fault either. Instead I had to process and do what I could with my own experience.

So what should I do?

The first step was to not allow myself to see more images like that. No use adding insult to injury. To heap pain on pain. Looking back at my update I realized that I had been (unconsciously) trying to control the pain welling up inside of me by trying to manipulate circumstances that were outside of my control.

This is a free country and Facebook is a free country, thing, or whatever it is… so people can post whatever they wish. So instead of passively aggressively trying to control others, I needed to control myself.

I needed to take a Facebook break for the weekend.

So that’s what I’m did.

Words included in Because I Can swirl through my mind…
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond.” - Lou Holtz

So I’m choosing how I respond.
I’m acknowledging my pain.
I’m pausing as I feel waves deep within.
Being aware of the way my inner being shudders.
Even tensing up from time to time.
I’m feeling the pain, the emotions, the memories.
Recognizing that every cell in my body has a memory.
The memories might have been dorment for a time.
But my counselor said they could be triggered occasionally.
And that’s okay.
These feelings are normal.
My reaction is normal.
Post traumatic stress symptoms.
It’s normal.
Allowing myself to feel what’s happening will bring another measure of healing.
Being aware, reflecting, taking deep breaths.
I retreat into myself for a time, but I know staying there isn’t wise.
I make a meal, taking extra time to appreciate the process.
I welcome home a son for the weekend.
I enjoy catching up with him and his friend.
The undercurrent of waves is still there, but it’s calmer.
Who knows when they will be dormant again.
But life goes on and I will live it…

While doing what I can to be aware.
To take care of myself. To make choices to live well.
Feeling, being aware, taking deep breaths…



Have you always believed in equality for all?

This is the final post in a series of three posts about equality for all.

Post 1: Does Wanting Equality for all Have to be Explained?
Post 2: Q & A about my Belief in Equality for All

This post is an answer to a question I was asked, “Janet, have you always believed in equality for all?”

My short answer is, “Yes and no.”

My long answer is…

I’ve always had a hard time seeing anyone treated unfairly, but for years I was taught (with words and actions) that it was not only okay, but that God expected us to treat people with certain views and beliefs unfairly. There was lip service given to loving everyone, but the mindset of treating ‘others’ unfairly was prominent and doing so might shame them and/or make them feel so bad that they would see their ‘mistakes’ and change.

This started while growing up in a strict Mennonite family and church. As is too often the case, when people live in a sheltered community and their focus is on conforming to a particular set of rules, anything that is not familiar is often ignored or mocked. Mocking people with different views was magnified in my life due to certain personalities in my world.

I don’t remember how old I was when I first heard about same gender relationships, but I do remember that I never heard anything good about them. What I heard were either bad jokes, negative comments or conversations about how “those people” were major sinners and were definitely headed straight for hell if they didn’t make different choices.

When the AIDs epidemic hit the states in the 70s and 80s, most people in that world felt like that was a direct hit from God for the sinful acts of gay men. (I remember wondering if God caused AIDs due to gay men, does that mean he dislikes gay men more than gay women)

When I left the Mennonite church, I went to a conservative evangelical church, which had more freedoms (relatively speaking) but they still had many of the same mindsets concerning same gender attraction and relationships. I loved the people at that church and decided if they believe it’s wrong, then I should believe that also. Though internally I questioned it, I made a conscious decision to try and force myself to those beliefs. And I assumed (hoped) with time I would actually believe what I said I believed.

Because I wasn’t used to thinking for myself yet and/or because I didn’t trust what I was thinking and feeling, I parroted some of the negative comments, bad jokes and discrimination a few times. Even as the words would be coming out of my mouth, I’d feel uncomfortable, unloving and unkind. So after a time or two of those crappy feelings, I decided I wouldn’t do that again. Instead I chose to be silent whenever the topic of same gender relationships came up and/or I diverted the conversation to something else.  (classy, I know :(

I hated the conflict I felt, so I began studying the verses used to ‘prove’ that same gender attraction was wrong and the logic used to say that people make a choice in who they are attracted to. I read the Bible, commentaries, religious and science books, articles, etc. I found people who were open to discussing the topic. I asked questions. I thought and talked through each of the arguments for and against it. (I won’t go into the argument details here, because they are available everywhere online, in books and at church cafes)

Over the years, I’ve gone through various phases of personal growth and renewal, and I’ve learned that if I expect to grow, I have to be comfortable with contradicting myself at times.

Due to my years of silence on this issue, many assume I’m contradicting myself about this, but in reality I’m finally being honest about my belief that all should be treated equality and none of us can decide who is attracted to who or define what path is right or wrong for someone else.

Let’s live and let live.

Here’s some wise words from my friend Tina,

There are Christians who do not support gay relationships. There are Christians who do. There are gay Christians who believe it’s fine and good to be in a relationship. There are gay Christians who believe it’s sinful. 

Is it possible to find some space where everyone can act according to their conscience? 

When Paul acknowledged that there were Christians who believed 180 degrees differently on meat sacrificed to idols, he didn’t focus on them getting their theological ducks in a line. Instead, he focused on love. He understood and respected that, based on their life experiences, people’s consciences spoke differently. 

So, my thought is: if you believe that gay relationships are sinful, don’t enter into one. However, if others’ consciences are fine with it, is it anothers’ place to judge that?

Can we love and let live?


Q & A about my Belief in Equality for All

Recently I wrote about my belief in equality for all in Does Wanting Equality for all Have to be Explained?  As my questions in that post indicated, I don’t think love and equality should have to be explained. We all want the freedom to choose who we love and we all want equality for ourselves, so why is it so hard to accept that others want the same?

But after that post generated comments and questions from some readers who feel the Bible condemns same gender marriage, I decided to engage some of the questions, because asking questions is how I learn and I wouldn’t be where I am today without others taking time to answer my questions.

Plus, I know if some asked questions, there’s many more who have questions, but haven’t voiced them. So to make it easier for everyone who has interest in this topic, I’m compiling some of the discussions from social media here. Some of the conversations were public and some were private, so for consistency’s sake, I’m not using any names. I also took the liberty to edit some questions for space reasons.

To see the total conversations, go to my Facebook page and use the links at the side to go to March, 2013. There’s two different threads about it on March 26th.


In the original post I mention the similarity in how the Bible was used to defend inequality during the civil rights era (churches used certain verses to support slavery) and now it’s being used to defend inequality again.

COMMENT: On the note of slavery, just to show the other side (I have studied this topic a TON), the Bible does NOT condone slavery. I have heard people turn their back on Christianity because of their misguided view that somehow they think that the Bible says slavery is OK. It is quite the opposite. Studying slavery in Biblical days leads to an awareness that slavery back then was quite different than what we think of slavery today (and the 27 million still in slavery). Back then, most slaves were considered servants, and it was a way to pay off a debt. Doctors were slaves. Officials were slaves. Slavery (“servanthood” in many translations) was actually a blessing. It was a way for people to live who would have otherwise died. And they were traditionally treated quite well. In fact, there are many verses in the Bible where God calls for the release of slaves, in in the new testament “slave traders” is listed as one of the great “sins.” There are more verses about justice in the Bible than any other topic. When the Bible says that slaves should obey your masters, this is not the same kind of slave that you think of today. Now, were there those kinds of slaves? Sure. But one thing we often forget is that just because a person in the bible did something (polygamy) does not mean that it was OK or that God condoned it. It was just a fact. 

My response: As I’m sure you know, there’s debate whether or not the Bible condones slavery. (personally I think it condones it) But even if it doesn’t… it was used to defend slavery… just like it’s now again being used to defend inequality.


QUESTION: My question is what will be next, if someone loves their sister will we make a law to allow brothers and sisters to marry? Some people love their pets, do we say that would be an equal love? Do we lower the age of when a girl can say sex is consensual to 16 or lower?

My response: This is what’s called the slippery slope argument… which I find to be a slippery argument. According to my family and the Mennonite church I grew up in, I started down that slippery slope the day I bought a pair of jeans (or even thought about buying some) whereas you and many others wouldn’t call that a slippery slope, you would say that the choice to live life outside of the boxes of my childhood was a perfectly okay choice.  And can you imagine the conversations about the slippery slope when interracial marriages became legal… but to us today, it seems cruel to think that at one time the government and many churches (citing Bible verses to ‘prove’ it) opposed interracial marriages.


QUESTION: What do you think of the end time Bible prophecy that tells us that in the end times men are gonna leave the natural use of the women and burn in there own lust for one another, and the same with the women?.

My response: Concerning that (and all) end time ‘prophecy’… many of the things that are mentioned as end time prophecies are so vague and/or confusing that if you ask 10 Christians what they mean, you will get 10 different interpretations (with each one being sure their version is right). And other things that are mentioned as end time prophecies have not happened… like Jesus said “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” and unless there are some 2,000+ old people walking around, that didn’t happen.


QUESTION: If you are a Bible believing Christian where do you draw the line on what’s right from wrong? 

My response: As for where to draw the line concerning what’s right and what’s wrong… lines are drawn everyday by everyone in every single church as to what they follow in the Bible and what they don’t. (yes even the churches that say they are full-gospel churches) For starters, other than a select group of Christians, most don’t obey the 10 commandments, because the Sabbath is Saturday, not Sunday. But since that ‘rule’ was changed centuries ago, no one even thinks about it today “because that’s the way it’s always been done” but in reality, that’s not true, at one time the holy day for Christians was on Saturday.

Some churches don’t follow many of the specific ‘rules’ in the Bible, but they still follow things like communion and helping the poor, other churches might not follow any of the ‘rules’ pertaining to clothes, but they believe that women can’t be pastors. And other churches aim to follow most everything they see as a ‘rule’ in the Bible and also have countless additional rules that have been handed down through tradition and with time those rules have been turned into spiritual requirements.

According to many strict menno churches, the list of what I’m doing wrong is endless… I wear pants. I cut my hair. I don’t wear a head covering. I wear jewelry. I don’t disconnect the radio in my car. And we couldn’t be having this conversation on here because Facebook has been banned in some churches. But even they don’t follow everything in the Bible. They wear clothes made with fabric of a mixed cloth (like 50% cotton and 50% wool). They don’t sell everything and give it all to the poor. They allow cattle to graze with other kinds of cattle. They plant a variety of crops in the same field… these are all things mentioned in the Bible, many in the very same chapters as the ones that people use to say marriage equality is wrong.

So picking and choosing happens all the time… and just because “everyone is doing it” doesn’t make it right, but just know there’s no way someone could actually follow every single thing that could be taken as a rule in the Bible. It’s impossible to. There are some who have tried it… they’re often homeless and usually walk around in a robe and sandals because Jesus makes reference to robes and sandals.

I say all that not to discourage you or to make anyone feel like they will never figure out what’s right or wrong, but instead to encourage everyone to keep asking questions and to keep thinking. We each have a brain and a heart… let’s use them to help us love each other and to find a way that works for us and to give others the freedom to do the same.


Question: Janet, have you always believed in equality for all?

Yes and no. It’s a long answer, so I’m making that answer a post of it’s own… read it here.


I’ve also had conversations with people who are struggling with this issue personally. And based on what they think the Bible does or doesn’t say about same gender attraction, some folks have been denying and ignoring feelings they’ve had for as long as they can remember. And some have been living lives of quiet desperation for years trying to fill roles expected of them.

There are no easy answers, but everyone should have the freedom to follow their own path. My advice to anyone who is single and is having same gender attraction, do not get married to the opposite gender thinking that will ‘cure’ you. From everything I’ve read and every conversation I’ve had… that generally does not happen. Instead search, read, ask, talk, meditate, pray, ponder and repeat until you find peace within and are able to live authentically.

Feel free to ask more questions and/or add to the discussion in the comments below.


For those interested, here’s some links that might be helpful…
Are we there yet?
Coming out Christian
Resources for Gay Christians
They tried to ‘fix’ me with fists and bats
For the Bible Tells me so – video and book
Posted in Thinking

Does Wanting Equality for all Have to be Explained?

Today the Supreme Court is discussing marriage equality.
I support marriage equality.

Some of you cheered. Some of you groaned. .

love life everyone

Love and Life for Everyone

I also feel that love is love and attraction is attraction
and no one can define what that means for another person.
Now some of you will want me to justify my position. To prove. To explain.

Does love have to be explained?
Does wanting equality for all have to be explained?
Does allowing everyone to make their own choices have to be explained?
Does allowing everyone a freedom I have really need to be explained? .


If you have questions about equality for all, consider these wise words from my friend Tina:

This is a time when we could all create a space for ourselves and others.
A time out if you will…
To re-examine and ponder the significance of respecting one another,
making room for the possibility of new understandings/wisdom,
and what our best understandings of love and/or faith
call us to be like and how to treat one another.


Also, read these posts by my friends:

Come Out for Love by Alise Wright.
If you believe God is love, you may or may not enjoy reading about Alise’s personal journey to a new revelation of what love is.

In  “All right, then, I’ll go to hell”Rachel Held Evans addressed the striking similarity between discussions about whether slavery is Biblical and whether marriage equality is Biblical. She uses the example of when Huckleberry Finn made a choice to assist a runaway slave. Others told him he was wrong for doing so and quoted Bible verses to justify, prove and explain their position of not giving others the same freedom they had.

If you oppose marriage equality based on what you call a Biblical definition of marriage… you might not want to read This is what Biblical Marriage Looks Like.

And here’s a few more articles:

Wendell Berry expounds on gay marriage
The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage.


There’s countless other posts/articles out there concerning this issue… feel free to leave a link for posts that support equality for all.


UPDATE: Here’s two posts that I wrote after this one answering some questions readers had:
Q & A about my Belief in Equality for All
Have you always believed in equality for all?


Tuesday’s Treat—Kale and Avocado with Rice Noodles

Facebook is a wonderful way to find out how to make a food item you’re not familiar with. Off and on I experiment with eating gluten-free (I don’t think I have an allergy to gluten, but I like to vary my diet) so I bought some rice noodles, and last week I wanted to make them.

rice noodles

Rice Noodles


I posted this picture on Facebook and asked my friends for recipes. Some cool suggestions came in and the one that caught my eye was from my friend Phoebe. Phoebe is the owner of phoebe’s pure food and the recipe is her creation.

phoebe kale avocado rice noodles

Kale and Avocado with Rice Noodles – Photo by Phoebe

Thankfully I had almost everything on hand or could substitute things I had. I think I found a new favorite recipe.

After cooking the rice noodles, steaming the kale (I substituted spinach) and adding some other goodies, you top everything with a delicious green sauce made with avocados… I think I just found my new favorite sauce for pasta and other dishes! This was delicious and kale, avocados and rice noodles are on my grocery list again this week.

For the complete recipe, head over to Phoebe’s site…

Kale and Avocado with Rice Noodles
I love asiago cheese, so I look forward to trying it with that, but I didn’t have any on hand, so I used cheddar instead. And I don’t like spicy food so no jalapeno pepper for me.
Avocados are all the rage right now… how do you eat them?
Posted in Thinking

Sticks, Stones and Words—All Can be Hurtful

Words matter.

Even if you don’t mean to be unkind… if words you use hurt someone else, they are unkind and they hurt people. If you don’t want to be the type of person that hurts people, then think about the words you use.

Because this saying is false…

sticks stones words


Words have power. And words can hurt.

The word retarded is an unkind word and hurts many. It should never be spoken again. By anyone. In any circumstance. And in order for that to happen, we all need to retire this word from our vocabulary. Today.

I have never liked that word when used in any way, shape or form. This stems from hearing the r-word used to describe my sister, Rosene and from knowing how much it can hurt others, even when used as a ‘joke’.

Rosene had the same mental capacity as you and I, but due to Cerebral Palsy, she lacked muscle control over her entire body. This resulted in her having a contorted face and slurred speech, causing some people to feel free to comment on what they thought her mental state may or may not be.

Sometimes after being told how Cerebral Palsy did or didn’t affect Rosene, some people went so far as to then shrug and justify using the word, because after all, “if Rosene wasn’t mentally impaired she would understand that they didn’t mean anything negative by it”. At times, this was even said within earshot of her.

Yes, seriously… that happened.

Rosene was a kind, gracious person who gave people the benefit of doubt most times, but even as she smiled at the uninformed and/or insensitive person, I could see the pain in her eyes. The word hurt her, because words have power.

Yes, sometimes we use words without realizing the pain they can cause others. I’ve been there, done that. I’ve learned. I’ve apologized. I’ve cried at the pain I caused. I continue teaching myself to be more aware and to not be lazy, careless or inconsiderate about the words I use.

Watch this to see how you can stop hurting others with words you might use.

Once we’re made aware of the impact of a word, 
there’s no justification to continue hurting people by using it.


What word or words are unkind to you and you’d like them to be retired?


If interested in reading more, read this from the parent of a child with Down’s Syndrome.
“That’s So Retarded” – Why I Stopped Saying This, And You Should Too.

Hector Picard—Riding for Baby Jameson, Because He Can!

Hector i will 5k 13
I was in Florida recently for a combination of business, vacation, visiting family and friends. Along with a few runs on the beach (my favorite place to run) I looked for a race to run while down there.

I was happy to find the I WILL INSPIRE 5K was happening in Tampa the weekend I was near there. And it was one of the most inspiring and meaningful 5ks I have ever run. My picture recap here.

Hector Picard was one of the inspiring people I met at the 5k and today I’m sharing his story with you. Hector not only survived a traumatic work-related accident, but he has gone on to thrive and to do what he can to help others.


Tell us a little about yourself.

Born and raised in Miami, FL to Cuban immigrant parents in 1966. I have two daughters from a previous marriage, ages 22 and 19. I’m married to Wendy and I have two step kids, ages 11 and 9. I was recently blessed with a granddaughter.

When and how did your world change?

On March 31, 1992, while working as an electrician on a substation transformer in Hollywood, FL. I was hit with 13,000 volts of electricity twice. The electricity entered through mind right hand and exited my right foot then entered my left hand and exited my left hip. I fell two stories and on fire.

I wake up one month later with my entire right arm gone and half of my left arm as well second and third degree burns over 40% of my body.

What was your recovery like… physical, emotional and/or mental?

My recovery process was mostly physical and emotional. I had to deal with life without my hands. I had a wife and a one year old daughter to think about. No time to feel sorry for myself. I moved forward and had a second daughter who recently blessed me with a grandchild. The positives in my life far outweighed the difficulties.

I love hearing what makes people do what they can… was there a defining moment that inspired you to push your limits or was it a slow realization of seeing what you are capable of? 

It was a little of both. The first twenty years was about raising my kids and being a good husband and provider. I did work around the home, coached my daughters softball teams, went on vacations and sold real estate.

Life was good, but then my wife decided that she wanted out. This was tougher than dealing with my “disability”. That was 2008, the defining moment in my life. This is when I started pushing my limits.



Hector Picard – Pushing his limits!  Don’


What do you do that others are surprised you do?

I love it, when I stop at an intersection while cycling and I start to stretch. Every driver making a left turn has to do a “double take”. They can’t believe what they are seeing.

hector bike

Hector Picard — Riding, because he can!


In what ways do the obstacles you face affect your daily life that others might not be aware of?

The little things are the worst. I can lift a 100 lb. bag of cement a 100 feet with not much trouble, but picking up a quarter from the floor can be a major endeavor.

hector carry bike

Hector carrying his bike during a triathlon transition.


What goals have you reached that you didn’t know if you could?

I became an IRONMAN (swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, run 26.2 miles) on August 11, 2012. In March, I will be completing my fourth. As a kid I thought that those that completed an Ironman were crazy.

What goals do you have for yourself in the future?

My immediate future goals are to compete in IRONMAN Hawaii and to (drum roll, please!)

Do my second cross country cycling trek,
“Hands For Baby Jameson – Cycle USA”

POSTER-Hands for Baby Jameson

Hector Picard — Hands for Baby Jameson

On June 8th, I will ride my bike from Miami, FL to Spokane, Washington, 3200 miles in 36 days to raise money for a little boy born without hands and forearms.

(Janet here: I asked Hector if Jameson was a family member and he said no, but he wants to do what he can to help him. Seriously, who volunteers to not only ride 3,200 miles for someone else, but to organize it into a fundraising endeavor?! Naturally Jameson’s parents want to offer Jameson the same opportunities every able-bodied child has, but the high cost of prosthetics makes that difficult, so Hector is doing this to raise funds for Jameson’s prosthetics.)

Hector profile 2

Hector Picard


Other goals include building my motivational speaking business and being able to tell my story to people all over the world.
(info about his speaking engagements here)


What does a well-lived day look like to you… or in other words, if you knew you were dying tomorrow, what would you do today?

Waking up and kissing my wife and interacting with my kids (two step kids included),  I live each day as though it were my first. I approach it with excitement and anticipation.


Not only is Hector accomplishing great things for himself and for others, but he’s a genuinely nice person… I’m so glad I got to meet him.

Follow his ride from Florida to Washington (seriously FL to WA—that’s across the whole freaking country!) by liking his Hands for Baby Jameson Page.

Click over to see Hector’s schedule for the ride… he might be riding through your state or town. If so, grab a bike and join him, he’d be thrilled to have you bike a few of the 3,200 miles with him. (and take the man a pizza or homemade bread or something!)

Also, consider supporting this adventure for Hector and Jameson. I’ve never been so grateful for my two arms/hands as I’ve been putting together this blog post. I kept thinking about how I would type, click, drink my coffee or scratch my nose!

Hector is a true example of doing what he can,
with what he has, where he is… because he can!

hector personal poster

So what was your excuse again?


More of Your Inspiring Stories
Chris—Climbing and Encouraging Others, Because She Can!
Shawn—Laces up and Runs, Because He Can!

Nik Toocheck—Running the World for Children, Because He Can!
Russell Selkirk—Enjoying Life on a Roll, Because He Can!
Brian Simpson—From Disability to Marathons, Because He Can!
Beverly Shantz—Living and Laughing, Because She Can!
Chris Kaag—Doing What He Can, Because He Can!
Troy Roland—Hockey and Running, Because He Can!
Running at Age 72 and Age 84—Because They Can!
Living Each Day Well–Because She Can
Michele Lynn—Believed She Can… and She Did!
Consistency Helps Dawn do Anything—Because She Can! 

Tuesday’s Tasty Treat—Rice Cake Party

Today’s treat is not a recipe or even a dish you make… but it sure is one excellent snack.

And when it comes to eating well, snacking is often where we lose our game. We want to eat something (whether we’re hungry, bored or tired) and too often we reach for something that is anything other than what a party should be… fun and entertaining, while adding energy and value to our lives.

photo (12)

Rice Cake Party

Having this snack as an option has rescued me from many unhealthy parties in my mouth/body. (What’s an unhealthy party, you ask… energy draining, life-sucking, useless)

Here’s the remedy:

Rice Cake Party

Of course, there are other things you could add… after all, it’s a party, invite whoever you wish. I sometimes add sliced almonds and Jerry often adds raisins.


What would you add to your rice cake party?
And what easy snack ideas (besides oreos) do you fall back on?


Posted in Your Story

Chris Prange-Morgan—Climbing and Encouraging Others, Because She Can!

chris Morgan Red Rock portrait

Chris Prange-Morgan

About a year ago I was directed to a blog written by a gal named Chris through a mutual online friend we have. Since then Chris and I have often connected on our blogs and through Facebook.

Chris’s energy, stamina and giving atitude impresses me and I wanted to share her story with you today as one of YOUR Stories.

Sharing one of YOUR inspiring stories each week (more links at end of post) has become of the highlight of my blogging and today only adds to that. I’ve enjoyed connecting with Chris over the past year, so I’m honored to have you ‘meet’ Chris today.


Tell us a little about yourself.

I live in Wisconsin with my husband Scott and two children, Jade (7) and Kai (6).   Both of our kids are from China and were toddlers when we adopted them through “special needs” adoption programs. Jade has a bilateral cleft lip and palate….and is otherwise healthy as a horse and very bright. Kai had some very difficult challenges….many, due to orphanage neglect. He has several diagnoses:  Autism spectrum disorder (PDD-NOS), Ideopathic Short Stature, ADHD, Developmental Trauma Disorder, Speech and language issues and a unilateral cleft lip and palate.

My husband and I both have backgrounds in the human services field (he in school psychology, and I in social work), which made navigating the “system” for our children a little easier than for a lot of folks. However, the emotional issues were much more difficult. Kai’s medical and behavioral issues became overwhelming, and I felt like I was turning into a “basket case” of a parent….Always on edge, running from appointment to appointment, and not doing a very good job taking care of myself.

When and how did your world change?

One afternoon, on November 30, 2011, I had decided to squeeze in an hour of climbing at our local climbing gym prior to taking my son to an appointment. (Rock climbing, hiking, camping, and the outdoors are passions of ours).

chris morgan climbing

Chris Prange-Morgan doing what she loves… climbing outdoors.

That day in the gym, in a moment of distraction, I had forgotten to clip into the auto-belay system prior to climbing, and slipped off of a hold 28 feet up the wall (my son was with me, but did not see my fall….).

As I laid on the floor waiting for the ambulance, I lamented to the manager of the gym as he held my head in place:  “I can’t believe I forgot to clip in!  Oh my god, I have been so stressed out!  How could I do this?!” Of course, he kept reassuring me, but in my heart-of-hearts I kept thinking that this was more-than a wake-up call. Oddly, I never passed out despite the severity of my injuries, and had the presence-of-mind to give the gym manager my husband’s work phone number.

It wasn’t until I was in the ambulance that I began to realize just how bad of shape I was in. Luckily the paramedics had started me on an IV of Dilaudid early on, which kept pain manageable once the shock wore off.  As the medical team in the ER cut of my clothing and I felt the bones in my pelvis not connecting (I explained the feeling as “marionette-like”), I thought to myself… this is going to be ugly.

When my husband arrived at the ER, he informed me that in the phone call he received, the woman at the climbing gym stated “the good news is that she’s still with us.” After lots of X-rays, CT scans and an ultrasound, the doctor came to inform us of the extent of my injuries:

“You have what is called a vertical-shear pelvic fracture….we are going to have to drill a hole through your femur and put your right leg in traction for a few days before we go in to surgically put things back in place. Your sacrum is broken, and that is an area where a lot of nerves pass through…we won’t know what we can do until we get in there. You have an L1 vertebral body fracture and transverse-process fractures, so you will need to wear a brace for some time. We are especially concerned about your ankle. Your fracture is really, really bad, and will require a two-stage reconstruction process.   Complications with this type of fracture include degenerative arthritis, soft-tissue damage, need for further reconstruction, and amputation.”  “Amputation??”  I questioned…. “Yes” he replied… “you literally crushed your tibia. We’ll see what we can do.”

This was when my husband passed out and the nurses wheeled him into another room to monitor his vitals (I still get a lot of mileage razzing him about that).

Chris Morgan hospital

SO…I guess one could say that my world literally came crashing down on that day.

What was/is your recovery like… physical, emotional and/or mental?

The recovering journey has been sort of a rollercoaster ride. After spending several weeks in the hospital and rehab, I was sent home to a hospital bed in our living room…on “forced recumbancy” for healing of my pelvic fracture, now held together by screws and metal bars (called an external fixator). I sustained some additional complications along the way, including a staph infection in my pelvic external fixator (necessitating removal), a blood clot in my popliteal vein (requiring the insertion of something called an “IVC filter” and blood-thinning medications), and soft-tissue necrosis (tissue death) at the site of my ankle injury, requiring a limb-preserving soft-tissue transfer surgery / graft (something called a free-flap) to save the ankle.

I worked my butt off in physical therapy.
Four months after my accident, I began walking again.
Seven months after my accident, I returned to climbing.
It felt great to get back on the rock!
Chris Morgan

Climbing again! With her family.

By about August, 2012… nine months post-injury, the joint pain in my ankle increased to a point where walking became barely tolerable. An x-ray confirmed that debilitating arthritis had set in. My options began to narrow: Consider a fusion of the joint or an ankle-replacement surgery. In December 2012, the hardware in my ankle was removed to prepare for an ankle replacement…but in early February, 2013 it was determined that the bone-quality was still pretty pathetic. At this point, a bone-graft is being considered. We are in the “waiting game.” (update on the waiting game below)

My emotions have definitely run the gamut, from deep depression to immense gratitude….and everything in between. I’ve had days where the pain has been really tough…. where I yearn desperately to return to my “pre-accident” level of functioning.   I’ve cried more than I have in my entire life, but I have also learned to appreciate more than I ever have before. Sometimes it is hard not to anticipate a setback. I think that mentally I’ve come to a point where I tend to brace myself for the worst….secretly hoping that I will be pleasantly surprised. I’m trying to shed that mindset, and to not dwell on “shoulds” or “maybes”.  I find that focusing on the present moment….embracing all that “now” has to offer has been the most helpful in maintaining a positive attitude.

In what ways do obstacles affect you that others might not be aware of?

Persistent lower back pain is probably my most nagging obstacle…..and there are good days and bad days. The difficult thing about pain is that, although people can’t see it, it can be very debilitating at times. It is also so hard to predict how my body will feel from one day to the next, which can be a real drag. My right ankle does not “work” like it used to, and I have some sensory loss. I can’t raise up on my toes or squat down in the way most folks would, which makes me quite clumsy! Frequently I will use a knee-walker (we call it my scooter) if I need to walk long distances (or rely heavily on trekking poles when hiking). I don’t really like using the scooter because of the attention it draws, but it definitely beats ending the day in tears.

What goals do you have for yourself in the future?

Chris Morgan climbing 2

Climbing with her husband

To keep the laundry from piling up to the ceiling, to be a good mom to my kids, and maintain a good sense of humor! I hope to continue connecting with other folks who have had similar struggles and deepen my relationships in ways that are fulfilling and life-giving. I want to celebrate the milestones of my kids… look back at all we have overcome together, and celebrate how we have grown despite the challenges. I want to live in a way that speaks meaning and purpose, however that plays out.

Depending on my surgeries, I hope we can be climbing again…as a family, by the summer months. In the mean time, I find deep fulfillment in visiting patients in the hospital I spent time at this past year, as a volunteer through the pastoral care department.  Currently we are working to develop a support program for survivors of trauma, and this development is quite exciting (the goal is to have things going by “trauma season” [yes…hospitals call it that!] which begins in April….after the Wisconsin winter has melted away and folks begin to enjoy the beautiful outdoors again.).

I also am on an advisory committee at Children’s Hospital of WI, where I do my part in helping to educate new medical professionals about the realities of raising a child with special needs. This whole experience has been oddly liberating, in the sense that I don’t feel the need to prove that I “have it all together” anymore….although that temptation definitely still exists (my body is quite the humbler that way.) Being an athlete, I’d always been a competitive and driven type of person….very self-critical. I am slowly learning to let that part of me go….and am trying to embrace a gentler, more accepting “me.” 


Now you see why Chris inspires me! Not only does she do what she can with her own recovery, but she’s parenting those two beautiful children of hers through their own challenges, while in the middle of facing challenges of her own.

And while still recovering, she is volunteering at the hospital and
helping to develop a support program for survivors of trauma.

I’m so excited about the program Chris is helping with… it is needed at hospitals and trauma centers everywhere and I look forward to seeing it come to fruition.

As Chris noted above, she might be facing future surgeries—that time has come. She posted this update on Facebook yesterday:

CT scan today. Bone-graft surgery March 20, 2013, and hopefully ankle replacement 6 weeks afterward (hoping the graft “takes” well.) Will likely need to be “non-weight-bearing” for about 3 months…which would be mid-June. Ugh. Prayers and positive energy needed….

Folks, as you can see Chris has come a long way, but her recovery journey isn’t over… and as we’ve also seen she is always encouraging others, even as she faces challenges of her own, so let’s encourage her today.

Leave a comment below and/or visit her blog A Crazy Kind of Faith. Follow her blog to get updates on her surgeries and her recovery over the next few months.


More of Your Inspiring Stories
Shawn—Laces up and Runs, Because He Can!
Nik Toocheck—Running the World for Children, Because He Can!
Russell Selkirk—Enjoying Life on a Roll, Because He Can!
Brian Simpson—From Disability to Marathons, Because He Can!
Beverly Shantz—Living and Laughing, Because She Can!
Chris Kaag—Doing What He Can, Because He Can!
Troy Roland—Hockey and Running, Because He Can!
Running at Age 72 and Age 84—Because They Can!
Living Each Day Well–Because She Can
Michele Lynn—Believed She Can… and She Did!
Consistency Helps Dawn do Anything—Because She Can! 

Tuesday’s Tasty Treat—Quinoa, Kale and Edamame

Sometimes I enter a grocery store with a detailed list and sometimes I don’t. Last Friday was one of the no-list days, I had stopped at the store for one or two items, but as I walked through the produce section, a lovely bunch of organic kale caught my eye.

It was pretty and it almost glowed with energy, strength and health. I had to have it.

Janet rotary 10 mile

Smiling pre-race because I hadn’t seen the hills yet.

Hard work and real food go hand in hand for me. One drives the other. Real food provides energy and exercise causes me to crave real food bursting with energy. It’s a perfect ying-yang scenario. Though I do eat sweets and junk food occasionally, I never crave sweets or junk food after a hard workout.

Saturday afternoon I was starving… and that would be because I had kicked butt at a 10-mile race that morning and it wasn’t just any race, it was a hilly race on a cold and windy day! (temps in the 30s, but with the wind, the real-feel was in the low 20s)

I opened the fridge and my spontaneous purchase of kale was waiting. Though I know kale is healthy, I’ve only made it a few times, and I’ve never been entirely happy with the dishes I made. But recently I had a kale with quinoa dish made by a friend (thanks Phoebe!) and I loved it.

So as I munched on carrots and hummus, I looked through recipes hoping to find a winner with both quinoa and kale. After finding one that looked good, I adjusted and tweaked, adding edamame for even more nutrition. Then I (impatiently) waited as it cooked.

Quinoa, kale and edamame recipe card

Quinoa, Kale and Edamame—easy one pot dinner

The end result was heavenly! I ate a large portion of it immediately. Not only does my body crave real food after exercise, but food always tastes better when I’m truly hungry. And this dish is definitely one of the best things I’ve eaten after a race. I plan to make this recipe before the next race, so I can come home afterward and inhale it promptly.

I had the leftovers for dinner a day later. It was just as good (if not better) then it had been when I first made it. My dinner, complete with a salad and a sweet potato.

photo (11)

Quinoa, Kale and Edamame

Have you discovered the ying-yang of exercise and food? And have you found that after a workout you crave certain foods?
Did you eat kale… if so, what’s your favorite kale recipe?