It is with passion and purpose that I live my life and strive to help others do the same. I am an independent professional woman who is also a wife, mother, survivor ,social worker, motivational speaker, writer, educator and therapist.
In 2003 an ATV accident left me a T6 paraplegic. which changed my life forever.
As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker i work as a mental health professional I am politically active and believe in social justice and n 2012 I ran as the Democratic Candidate for Congress in the 16th Congressional District of Illinois.. Live your truth!
When it rains it pours is a saying for a reason! Recently my wheelchair broke and the company that made it is being less than cooperative about it. Now it didn’t break from wear .. the frame snapped. While I was in itI I use my chair for mobility, it is the only way I can get around, so if it’s broke I’m stuck. I’ve had this chair, this very expensive titanium chair for lass than 3 years.
Its been 3 weeks and I’m still in a loaner ….
Think about the challenges you face everyday, now think about doing them from a wheelchair and remember that the chair it’s broken! Do you feel like you could face your day? Do you think you would struggle to find anything positive about your life? Probably not!
However I was able to get through my day ( weeks) with minimal emotional devastation. Being differently able means seeing the world from a much different perspective, challenges are daily so , what’s one more?
The chair has finally been fixed and life is back to ” normal,
The chair is a big part of my life , it isn’t what defines me, but you have to look past it to see who I really am and that is not always easy…. even for me!
This video was posted on Facebook, but had trouble uploading to other platforms.
I believe in voting early. Exercising my right to have a voice in my government is a something I was taught very early in my life. My very Republican father told me ” if you don’t vote… don’t bitch!” I have to say I kinda agree with the statement. As a woman and a social worker I believe that it is my responsibility as a citizen to vote. Decisions are made by those who show up !
Social change is slow and requires responsible adults who work for changes that benefit the people who have little to no voice. That is why I ran for office in 2012 but that is a story for another time!
Still in between jobs but working on that as well.
These moments will require more than skill and knowledge but also vulnerability and fear…. These are the moments when I am brave because I am far from perfect…
Perfect is how we want to present ourselves to the world, especially women, but life as we know it is messy and imperfect, it is the ties that bind who we are and what we all have in common!
The video attached to this post is shot in my kitchen on a cold and gloomy Saturday afternoon. As I was cooking and listening to TED & TEDx talks which help to motivate me, inspire me and helps me to stay positive, I realized that it is these moments, the everyday aspects of our ordinary daily life that most people take for granted that pose the greatest challenges for me and others like me.
Everything can be a teachable moment if you are brave enough to share the experience, so that is what I am doing!
As the weather gets colder and the holidays are approaching I, and every other woman I know will be spending more time cooking. Think about it… the planning , the shopping, the prep and the actual act of cooking for your family …. now do it from a wheelchair… !
If your immediate response is ” I can’t” well… unless you are rich and can hire someone else to do it for you or you plan to eat out all the time you will need to learn how, just like I did.
I don’t know how many times I’ve burnt myself and dropped things including entire pans full of food, which my dogs never seem to mind, but I do. It’s a balancing act and took a long time to figure out.
Food is a requirement of life, feeding your family is necessary so learning how to do that from my wheelchair was also necessary. I am lucky I have a husband who will carry pans if I plan for that and if he can ( he does not cook, never has and never will). The over is also a challenge because it’s not just that I can’t stand or walk I also have no balance or muscle control from my ribcage down so getting pans in and out of the over without burning myself is a challenge.
My passion for public mental health stems from my belief that everyone is entitled to quality mental health services from highly trained professionals. I am an advocate for those I serve and work tirelessly to provide them with the best care possible, constantly improving my skills and seeking new interventions in service of diverse populations.
Using the vast skill set I have developed to assist another person in decreasing their emotional distress and encouraging new ways to cope verses using the maladaptive coping skills that may have contributed to their current crisis or situation is my goal.
I have the ability and life experience to offer patients a different perspective. I approach each individual from the strengths perspective, using previous success to build hope and reduce anxiety and using person first language encourages the patient and others to see the patient for who they are and not as their diagnosis or for what they have done. I believe in this approach because helps patients , who are often from disadvantaged backgrounds to see themselves differently, it fosters hope and often encourages positive change. Having the ability and desire to help people improve their quality of life, to adjust to their new normal and build self esteem is my purpose and is immensely gratifying as a mental health professional.
I became a Social Worker to use my experience and my education in service of others, to be the voice of the voiceless and to speak for those who either will not or cannot speak for themselves.
My life’s journey calls me to help inspire others to find courage in their fear , to believe in themselves and that being brave is the first step in achieving the big goals. I truly believe in living a purposeful life because life is meant to be lived to its fullest, to be enjoyed, to be trans formative not simply endured, no matter the situation , environment, education or socioeconomic status.
As a Social Worker It is my purpose in life to work in service of others, my calling to be the voice of the voiceless and to do everything within my power to improve the lives of those in need. So it’s no wonder that being the wife and mother of Marines is so important to me and feels like part of my purpose.
Spend some time with a group of veterans and you will see that they all have a connection to each other, now put a group of Marines together and you will see a bond that is stronger than family, stronger than blood, it’s a brotherhood, an unwavering commitment to each other. I am blessed to be surrounded by this commitment, this family who are now part of my family.
My husband and son are both Marine Corp veterans and belong to a motor cycle club for Marines veterans only and it’s also a 501C ( Charitable Organization ).this club allows these Marines to stay connected to each other with their families and it provides them many opportunities to give back to a multitude of veteran organizations and causes.
No matter what branch of the military a veteran has served, these Marines are happy to help.
to Toys for Tots in the fall as well as attending coming home ceremonies for a Honor Flight to Washington DC ,
escorting The Wall That Heals which is a traveling version of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC , and Laying of Wreaths at Military Cemeteries including the Abraham Lincoln Veterans Cemetery in Elwood. Il.
and funeral escorts for the fallen. This group of veterans never forgets their oath and their obligation to one another. I am very proud to have them as my family and although it is very late in the riding season this past weekend was a local event for The Middles Eastern Conflict Wall in Marseilles, Illinois.
A memorial that unfortunately continues to have names added
I am blessed to be part of this group as a SO ( Significant Other) we are loved and supported by each other.
The last 15 years of my life have been about giving back, and being a veteran’s wife and mother is a big part of that.
If you are a veteran, ” Thank you for your service!”
If you have a spouse , child or other family member who is or has served, ” thank you for supporting them!”
To my MVMC family ” I love you and thank you for making us a part of the family!”
Ever think that if it wasn’t for bad luck you’d have no luck at all? That is me, just when I think its ok to relax and take a breath something always happens to remind me not to get too comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I know how blessed I am to be alive, to have the people in my life that I do and the things I have been able to provide for my family; however it always feels like a struggle, and I am very thankful I don’t have to face the struggle alone.
When I met my husband our lives were very different from the way they are now. Looking back it seems like a lifetime ago, neither one of us was looking for anything serious, but isn’t that always the way life goes. When we met ( in a bar and that is a story for another time) We both knew what we wanted and what we didn’t want in a partner, which appears to be the clarity you gain during a divorce. The relationship that started out just as fun, moved quickly into much more, we moved in together and a few months later on Valentine’s Day he asked me to be his wife. We started to make plans for our future, but then life threw us something we never saw coming and soon our plans were as shattered as my spine.
My husband and I have been together for 16 years, married for 7. Our relationship has been far from easy or perfect, and if I believed it was supposed to be either of those things I would have given up a long time ago. Marriage is work. It’s a combination or amazing and WTF moments, supportive hugs and conversations, fights with words you wish you could take back but you can’t, because that’s life, we live with the consequences of our actions.
After my accident I decided to build a better future for myself and my family. I refused to be a victim, believing in a powerful truth, ” if you don’t like your life, change it!” So I did, well more accurately, we did.
I really thought when I started school to become a Social Worker I would be able to achieve some stability. I knew I wouldn’t be rich, but I thought I would find a good job, make a decent living , pay my bills, maybe even buy a house someday that is actually built for me. We truly believed that we would eventually have a “normal life”, but our life has been far from normal. Ive been looking for work for 6 weeks and I know what I’m good at and where I belong but getting a recruiter to see that is a different story. When I’m discouraged, like I have been lately I have a hard time believing in myself and seeing past the chair. Which is when I am most thankful for his support and ability to remind me that no matter what, we will make it work because we always have .
Now, if my hubby sounds like a saint, trust me he is not, but he is a United States Marine Corp Veteran and if you have had the honor to know one you understand what I mean when I say ” they are like no other men I have ever met!” Marines don’t run from a challenge they adapt, improvise and overcome so when he makes a commitment he stands by it, and if he says “we will make it work”, we do.
I can always trust that he has my back so when I left my last job without having one lined up, he wasn’t thrilled but I knew we would be able to make it work.
I have learned an important lesson in my life and that is that every challenge can be faced but when you attack those challenges with the support of someone you love and that loves you, success is possible! I know we will be successful some day, until then we will simply be making it work!