Happy Giving Thanks!

Happy Giving Thanks!

Today, I’m aware of the fact that life is better than I deserve. The world is full of pain and suffering, hardship and turmoil, disappointment and regret. So the fact that I can be thankful and meanit is, in its own way, a small miracle.

However, I’m learning that there is a responsibility that comes with privilege. I am blessed to bless. I am gifted to give. I am not lucky, fortunate, or merely disciplined; I am expected to do something with the grace I’ve been given. And so are you.

thanksgiving-1Photo courtesy of growappalachia.berea.edu

 

When I was younger, I didn’t understand gratitude. In a universe that seemed to hurt for no reason, giving thanks felt disingenuous. Living in a world where children die of hunger every day, it just didn’t make sense. But now I understand that being grateful is a choice.

Here’s my challenge to you: Take some time today, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, and choose to come up with a gratitude list. If it doesn’t come naturally, don’t let that stop you from still giving thanks. There is still much to be thankful for, if we only have eyes to see.

And in case you were wondering, here are my 10 reasons to give thanks today:

  1. I am thankful for my health, for being able to run every day and eat turkey dinners.

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2. I am thankful for my husband, who vowed to be my biggest fan on the day we were married and has never once let me down.

3. I am thankful for all of my families. Trust me, I have lots of them. And for the family I married into this year; which includes, my husband, his beautiful daughter and a 17-year-old dog Jr.

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4. I am thankful for the gift and work of writing blogs — that it is both hard and easy at the same time. Easy to do, hard to master. Always frustrating. Always rewarding. And I am thankful for the online community of readers who are making a difference in the world. You guys inspire me. Thank you for always reading and watching my blogs!

5. I am thankful for doing work that matters. I love working for Knit-Rite, not because I always get to wear good quality prosthetic socks. 😉 But for the coworkers, the job and most importantly the idea to help others! We don’t just make socks. We do this with a sense that there’s a little girl or a boy (or anyone) that will feel comfort from wearing our products and be happy with it. Maybe they’ll make a difference in this world someday.

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6. I am thankful that my toes never get cold – because I don’t have any! But in all seriousness, I am thankful for good quality prosthetic legs that allow me to live my life independently. It is something I don’t take for granted.

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7. But that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have the right doctors, prosthetists, physical therapists, occupational therapists. You get the idea! They make magic and I am thankful for them!

8. I am thankful for an ability to give and inspire! I am thankful that there are a lot of people who follow my journey, are inspired by it, and are able to get motivated to do something about it!

9. I am thankful that we still have more good than bad in this world, despite everything that is happening today.

10. I am thankful for vanilla ice cream because it is delicious. Thank you, cows!

thankful1Photo courtesy of faisalhoque.com

 

If you read this blog, you have already given me a gift so thank you for that. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Have A Stress Free Holiday Preparation!

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Photo courtesy of momfoodie.com

 

Thanksgiving is in a week which means attending lots of dinner, preparing meals, eating those meals and hanging out with lots of relatives. As fun as the holiday season can be, it can also cause frustration and stress. Trying to attend every holiday gathering, host a party, buy everyone that perfect gift and finish those last minute work projects, can cause stress and put discouragement on the season. And because of stress, you can have a headache, pain and sleep issues. On top of that, it can impact your mood and you can be more angry and irritable. To prevent all of this and have an enjoyable season, here are three tips.


1. Take a breather if you need it and be realistic with yourself. It so easy to get caught on buying and making gifts, attending all of the parties or maintaining your own and cooking that big feast. But you may need to simplify some of the rituals and just make time for yourself. Your loved ones will understand if you can’t participate in all events. That personal breather will allow you not only distress but also clear your mind and restore your inner calm.

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Photo courtesy of huffingtonpost.com


2. Plan ahead. If you are like many people and like to procrastinate, than preparing for holidays can be very stressful. That is why scheduling everything on your calendar and knowing exactly what you need to do and buy can help and prevent you from doing stuff at the last minute. Speaking of last minute gifts, decide what you can afford and stick to that plan. You don’t have to buy expensive gifts to make your loved ones happy. Use your time and money wisely by planning ahead!

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3. Lastly, maintain your healthy habits. Holidays are known for overindulgence and a lack of physical activity which can lead to your stress and guilt. It’s okay to enjoy it but not okay to overdo it. To prevent that, make sure you are getting plenty of sleep. Do some physical activity like going on walks. And finally, having healthy snacks before the holiday feast so that you don’t overboard on food and drinks.

Enjoy your last week before busy times come in. Be smart and have fun!

Tanya

Six lesson learned from being an amputee!

The list below contains six lessons I have learned throughout my life as a congenital amputee. However, you don’t need to be an amputee to follow these valuable life lessons. There’s a little bit of something here for everyone.

1. Make every day count. For example, this makes me think of so many incidents where you are doing your favorite things like skiing or running and then one day you lose it all. You find out you have cancer or get in a car accident and you end up losing a body part. It is heartbreaking and you have longing memories of those days when you could ski or run, but you didn’t make it count because you planned to do the same thing again tomorrow. We can never go back and you never know what tomorrow will bring. Find a way to cherish every day and the special moments while they are happening.

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Image courtesy of wordpress.com

 

2. Never take your health for granted. Do everything you can to stay healthy and injury free. But this is life and we aren’t always in control of disease and injury. So, every morning when you wake up, take a minute to appreciate your good health and then make the most of the day.

3. Attitude can be contagious. If someone is inspired to improve their life because of me and my prosthesis, it only inspires me to live my life even better. Choose to have a positive attitude and let it be contagious.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger came to support our team Some Assembly Required.

 

4. Life is so much easier with a sense of humor. I am thankful that my lack of legs hasn’t robbed me of my sense of humor. One of my favorite jokes is when it’s winter time and I wear sandals, I tease and say that my toes never get cold (cause you know, I don’t have any, LOL!)! It gets people to laugh and encourages them to be comfortable around me. A sense of humor can make a big difference in accepting the punches life throws at you.

5. Take notice of those special people who help you along the way. In my life journey, with my prosthesis, I have happened upon some very special people who make a difference just because that is who they are. These are the people who believed in me, helped me, pushed me, encouraged me and never gave up on me and I always tell them thank you because they have done so much for me. Don’t focus on the negative people. Take notice of those who make a difference and find a way to let them know how special they are. Sending someone a thank you for what they have done just might make their day.

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My American families at my wedding!

 

6. Determination goes long way. We live so much of our lives saying “I can’t.” The simplest daily tasks we do every day, without thought, become challenging when experiencing life missing a leg or two. I was fortunate to have the ability to take on the mindset “if it needs doing, I will adapt a way and get it done.” With each successfully-accomplished task, I soon learned that I could do anything. Never say “I can’t” – say I can and get it done.

The point is, everyone struggles with something. Remembering a few of these lessons I’ve learned along the way, might turn your struggles into accomplishments. Continue being awesome!

Tanya

 

 

 

 

Nutrition for Amputees

Healthy lifestyle practices such as daily exercise and getting enough rest are important for everyone, but even more so for prosthetic users. If you are facing a recent amputation, it may be challenging to adjust to this lifestyle where movement is limited and more difficult, and depression more common. However, nutrition can be a powerful ally, helping to fuel you mentally and physically for the challenges of living with an amputation. It is important to make nutrition work for you and you may need to adjust your healthy living practices to your new lifestyle. Here are some suggestions to help keep you eating and performing well.

First of all, determine your calorie needs. One of the biggest adjustments you may need to make after your amputation is your calorie intake. It is important to balance your need for healing with decreased activity and muscle mass. Calorie needs vary depending on where you are in the recovery process, how much activity you are doing, and your current medical issues. Just as with the able-bodied person, calorie needs are individual, and they may vary day to day or month to month.

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Photo courtesy of The New York Times

 

Secondly, a common nutrition issue facing amputees is weight gain. There are many different reasons why you may gain weight after an amputation: less physical activity, depression, side effects of medication, and adjusting to a new lifestyle, including difficulty preparing and shopping for food. It is important to acknowledge that you probably need fewer calories to maintain your weight than you did before your amputation. Choose smaller portions, eat fewer snacks, and cut back on packaged and processed foods to decrease your overall intake.

Also, be mindful of why you eat. Do you reach for food when you’re stressed, upset, or in pain? If so, pause and think about what else you could do: call a friend, do some deep breathing, or get some fresh air. Pay attention to portions. Even if your plate is perfectly balanced, you may be eating more than you need. Take less; you can always go back for more if you are still hungry. Pay attention to your body’s signals that you are full. If you eat slower, you give your body a chance to catch up and provide these signals little closer to real time. And stay hydrated; you can sometimes mistake thirst for hunger. Water is the best source of hydration.

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Photo courtesy of http://www.hprc-online.org

 

Next, the big question is “So, what should I eat then?” Healthy eating for amputees is similar in many ways to healthy eating for able-bodied people. Nutrition is very critical to maintaining a healthy weight, encouraging wound healing, decreasing your risk of chronic disease, and fueling your exercise and recovery. The types of food, combinations of food, and portions all matter. If you have difficulty consuming meals that are balanced and diverse, speak to your healthcare provider, as you may need supplements. My biggest advice is to eat real food or what’s known as “whole foods.” This sounds simple, but it can be difficult when you’re surrounded by convenience food, fast food, and packaged food. Choose unprocessed, whole foods most of the time. Aim for balanced meals, which means you should fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables, a quarter of your plate with protein from lean meats, beans/lentils, or low-fat dairy products, and a quarter with grains and starches that are high in fiber; whole grains are your best bet. Include small portions of heart-healthy fats such as those in fish, olive oil, avocado, and nuts/seeds.

Finally, food preparation plays an important role. The thought of eating a healthy meal may sound good, but does the idea of planning, shopping, and preparing such a meal overwhelm you? The ability to prepare foods may be more difficult after an amputation due to physical barriers, limited time given to medical appointments, and decreased motivation because of depression, pain, and fatigue. The good news is that there are lots of ways to improve your access to healthy food.

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Photo courtesy of http://www.bodypower.com

 

For one, plan ahead. We tend to stick with healthy choices when they are easy and convenient. Plan your meals ahead of time. This way you know you have the ingredients for a healthy, balanced meal at home, and fast food won’t be so tempting. And make a grocery list before you head to the store. It helps you save time and money and curbs impulse buying. On that note, always shop with full stomach. You are more likely to stick to your list and avoid additional impulse buying. Another good idea is to keep nutrient-rich foods on hand. Stock your freezer with frozen fruit, vegetables, and individual cuts of fish, chicken, and lean beef. Fill your pantry with canned beans, packets of tuna, nuts, seeds, peanut or almond butter, dried fruit, whole-wheat pasta, and whole grains such as brown rice, and barley. Lastly, cook in batches. When you, family members, or friends do cook, divide the food into individual portions that you can freeze. When you’re low on time or energy to cook, just heat and eat for a quick and healthy meal.

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As mentioned above, weight gain is a common issue for amputees. It can increase your risk of infection, pressure ulcers, osteoarthritis, and cardiovascular disease. Start healthy habits now by eating real food, balancing your plate and planning ahead.

Random Act of Kindness

There’s so much going on in the world right now. It makes feel me sad, anxious and helpless. And it is very easy to lose hope, but we cannot do that. I always say that there’s a lot more “good” in this world than “bad”. That is what we should focus on. I see it every day happening where people are helping each other out of the goodness of their hearts. And let’s be honest, how great is it that our random acts of kindness and good deeds can make someone else’s day? So I challenge you to do a random act of kindness that can help carry out kindness daily and become an everyday hero.

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Photo courtesy of randomactsofkindness.org

 

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Find opportunities to give compliments. It costs nothing, takes no time, and could make someone’s entire day. Don’t just think it. Say it.
  •  Think of the amazing people in your life. Take an hour to write those people a letter, a card, a text or call them (the old fashioned way, LOL) telling them why they’re awesome.
  • Open doors to strangers – that’s always a winner.
  • Hold the elevator. Sometimes, when I hope the elevator will shut before someone else comes and slows me down, I think, “Am I really in that much of a rush that an extra minute will hurt me?”
  • Sometimes we shy away from people when we know they’re having a rough time. We assume we should wait for them to approach us, so we’re not intruding. Instead, ask them how they’re doing. If they don’t want to talk, they’ll say they’re “fine.” Many people will be relieved to have someone to talk to. If you don’t ask, they might never mention anything to you. They might not want to burden you with their problems.
  • Listen. Don’t interrupt. Something I learned from my husband is that people don’t always want us to suggest a solution. They just want us to listen. We underestimate how important and comforting it is to be listened to.
  • Carry around a $5 gift card so you can give it to someone who does something awesome. Or pay for someone’s order in line behind you. Create and carry “thanks for making my day” or “pay it forward” cards that you can give to people.
  • Photograph tourists. See a person or a couple trying to take a photo of themselves? Offer to take it for them. • Allow someone to help you. Let her/him enjoy performing an act of kindness.
  • Don’t ignore the next homeless person you see. Buy him food. Enjoy his smile when you give it to him. Carry around a care package of food or toiletries that you can give to a homeless person.
  • Support our troops by supporting families who have a member deployed. The families are often forgotten. Thank them for their sacrifices. Offer to help them around the house. Babysit. Let them know you recognize their sacrifice and ask how you can help.

These are just a few ideas, but there are so many other ways to show someone love and kindness. Just always remember: ‘bad’ things will happen, but there is more good than bad. There is more happiness than sorrow. There’s more life than death. It is all around us, as long as we are open to it.

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Photo courtesy of randomactsofkindness.org

 

If you guys are interesting in sharing your random act of kindness, please do so by posting it on our FB page and we’d love to see what you have been up to! 🙂

Tanya

Running with the Rob Jones Journey

 

On Monday, I had the unique privilege of running as part of the Rob Jones Journey – an inspiring challenge by veteran Rob Jones – here in Kansas City, MO.

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Warming up before the run.

 

Rob Jones is a US Marine that was tasked with searching for an IED on deployment in Taliban territory in Afghanistan in 2010. A land mine exploded and took away both of his legs. Less than six years later, he is running 31 marathons, in 31 consecutive days, in 31 different major cities in the US and abroad. Kansas City, MO was number 12 in his journey. The way it works is that he wakes up in a city, runs a marathon, travels to the next city, and repeats until finished. The best part of this entire journey is that he allows anyone to join him, support, run with him and encourage him. All of this is to raise awareness and funds for other wounded veterans, first responders and their families. He’s supporting the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.

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Running at Riverfront Heritage Trail in Kansas City, MO.

 

Among his many reasons for completing this challenge, there was one that stood out to me the most. And that was that Rob hopes to raise awareness concerning the struggle of America’s veteran population. According to a recent VA study, twenty veterans from among every generation commit suicide every day. But he’s not only wanting to raise awareness of this issue with the civilian population, but he also intends to raise awareness in the veteran population as well. He intends to show the veterans, through the amount of support that he personally receives throughout his marathon challenge, that America – and the American people – love their veterans and want to help and support them. Rob wants to show veterans that they are not alone, and all they have to do is ask in order to receive all of the support they need.

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Me running with another veteran buddy.

 

But this awesome challenge isn’t Jones’ first foray into extreme sports for a cause. In 2013, he embarked on a 5,000-mile bike journey around America, raising $126,000 for charities benefiting wounded veterans along the way.

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Getting to talk with Rob during one of his running breaks.

 

I am speechless and honored to have met such a passionate and inspiring man. Rob, we all wish you good luck in your journey and keep spreading joy and happiness and love to all, especially veterans! And most of all, thank you for your service!

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Spreading joy in Kansas City, MO.

 

If you’d like to follow along with his journey or for any other information on the Rob Jones Journey, please visit his website.

Your fellow amputee runner,

Tanya

Halloween Costume Fun!

Happy October, friends! I’d say that fall is officially here which means it is time to prepare for Halloween! I don’t know about you, but I have always enjoyed dressing up for Halloween and going to parties! Since I am missing one and a half legs, I’ve always tried to be creative about my costume –the advantage of being an amputee! 😉

My team and I decided to put together four costume ideas for you, in case you are still not sure what to be for Halloween. So here you go!

Pirrrrrrrate.

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We didn’t have to be very creative with this costume because pirate costumes are often available at any costume store. However, we did add a “wooden leg” to my costume to be clever. 😉 Simple and cute!

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Lamp from A Christmas Story!

I’ve always loved A Christmas Story movie during the Holidays. It is so nostalgic and such a classic. Being a Lamp from A Christmas Story has always been in my head as a costume idea since I am missing a few minor legs!

Supplies needed:

  • Yellow/gold lamp-shade (thrift store has plenty)
  • Some fancy tools to cut the wire in a lamp shade
  • Fringe trim
  • Hot glue
  • Black tank top/black tights
  • A high heal shoe/s (though in my case, I am missing a foot so I just stuck with a flat shoe)

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Cut the wire carefully in the lamp-shade to open it. Glue the fringe trim on to the edge of the lamp! Wear a black shirt, tights and a shoe/s and carefully put on the lamp! Voila! Simple and clever!

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Flamingo

If you are feeling a little girly or just love pink, a Flamingo outfit is perfect for you!

Supplies needed:

  • Pink Hat
  • White and Black paint with brushes
  • Pink Tutu
  • Pink tights and shoes (or heals)
  • Pink feather boa (for a little extra sass)

Paint the hat. Leave the top pink. Paint the middle including part of the brim white. Then paint the tip of the brim black and add two black dots to the white part for the eyes. Dress in your pink gear and finish off with your painted hat! Sassy and cute!

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IHOP sign

This costume was so fun to do and is my favorite probably because it matches my humor. 😉

Supplies needed:

  • Big box
  • Knife
  • Blue Spray Paint
  • Red Paint and a brush
  • White paper and scissors
  • Glue/tape
  • Dark or plain colored clothes

 

Cut a hole on the top of the box (for your head to go through) and a square at the bottom for your body. Spray the box with blue spray paint (outside) and let it dry for a day. Cut out IHOP letters and glue/tape them onto the box. Finally, using red paint, make a red smile under O&P letters! Slip your box over your dark or plain colored clothes. Boom!

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Now, we challenge you to be more creative than we are by putting together unique costume ideas and sharing them with us! Take a photo of your best idea and check out our video for details on our Costume Contest Challenge!

Good luck and have fun!

Tanya