How to clear the mountain in your way…

Hey! This picture links to the article, too!

I have to share this article with you- Stress Less, Write More by Kristen Lamb. It was one of those articles that popped up on the WordPress first page thingy, with the Fresh Pressed articles. I love how this chick writes! One of the many reasons I love WordPress!

In this article, she talks about something that so many of us deal with- Organization. But she does it in a way that is humorous, relevant, and applicable across the spectrum. She also has a writing style I’d like to learn. One step at a time, no?

Why share to the QuadFiles? I am making a loose connection to the target audience here but I think Organization and that Frog she talks about (now you have to read the article!) play a big part in keeping us from where we want to be.

In Lamb’s article, she talks about a book (which I will probably buy now, Thanks!) called Eat that Frog- 21 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done.   One of the methods she adopted from the book is making a list of things to do that day, then tackling the 2 hardest ones FIRST!

When we do the toughest jobs first, we get an endorphin rush from the sense of accomplishment. Also, since our toughest jobs are out of the way, the other “less important” chores go faster since we aren’t dragging our feet dreading the FROGS.

By clearing the bigger piles of pebbles first, all that’s left are the easy little pebbles to pick up and toss away.  One big pile down for me: Writing a new article for this blog! 🙂  Now it’s on to tackle pile two, then it’s all pebbles from there!  But knowing what comes first is where the organization comes in to play.

For me, it’s getting life around me prioritized enough to sit down and write all the articles in my head.  Quick story- I don’t like taxes and I don’t like paper so when we had to get down the big box of medical records for a particular file, I let myself get distracted.  I would rather scan all of my medical documents onto a flash drive than gather the stuff to file returns. Eventually, I had to tell myself, “You’re being ridiculous. Taxes are due, not digitizing a box of 10-year old files” …although I knew everyone around me was politely hinting at it.  My poor husband had to deal with piles of scanned and unscanned documents everywhere!

I would also much prefer to deal with my wheelchair being out of whack than call the doc to set up an appointment to get a seating eval… a 2 minute phone call… a new chair… *stress* again, Ash, that’s ridiculous!

And then there’s the actual task of writing articles…

We all have a lot of things to do, it’s just how we perceive the effort involved that we decide whether or not we want to do them.

I like to think of these things as pebbles that we have to move. Clearing them is a big job and is time consuming and, frankly, it’s more fun to get distracted. But a little pebble here and little pebble there add up to be a big friggen mountain in the way. When it comes to tackling the to-do list, are you grabbing your shovel or are you staring at the mountain? Or the pretty clouds… or that ladybug crawling on a pebble…

What’s the message here? Why the heck did I spend the morning writing this?? Because as a person with a disability, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed by the mounds of things (both literal and metaphorical) in the way.   However, if we tackle the things we don’t want to do first, such as set up that appointment, getting on VR, or start the paperwork with SSI, then we will not only be doing something great for our future, we will be freeing up the rest of the day for the smaller and possibly more enjoyable things. Besides, you’ll probably sleep better knowing you tackled an important project…

Prioritizing then acting.

What can you do today?  Make a list of the things you need to do and pick the top 2 things you really don’t want to do but that are most important.  Clear the large piles of pebbles and soon that mountain will be a hill, than a mound and then just a pile of pebbles… but you’ve gotta start somewhere significant.

I highly suggest you read Lamb’s article.  She inspired me to sit down and write this article,  it may have taken a good couple hours but now it’s finished.

And now I am going to the Science Center with my son 🙂  Yes, getting work done has its benefits!  Making this article priority one will leave my mind clear to enjoy the day and I hope you enjoy yours, too!


Tony Jackson on Power Soccer

Copyright © 2012 Loren Worthington. Used with permission.

Tony Jackson is unmistakable in a crowd. His crazy hair and heavy metal style means that he carves his own path through the world but Tony isn’t your typical headbanger- he rocks out on wheels wherever he goes. Tony has condition called arthrogryposis, a rare congenital disorder in which multiple joints are bent, twisted or fused causing limited movement. He gets around with the help of a power wheelchair but despite physical limitations, there isn’t much Tony hasn’t accomplished. Like Maegan Clark and Robert Coombs, he’s figured out how to get where he wants to go in life: earning 2 college degrees, living independently and most recently becoming employed at a brand new sports and fitness facility for people with disabilities. see also SpoFit.

“Sports are something that have always been a part of my life,” he explains. He’s been a fan of soccer since he was a kid but there were not a lot of opportunities for children with disabilities to play. “I mean, my friends always tried to find some way to get me involved. Letting me be referee or coach from the sidelines but,” Tony admits, “it just wasn’t the same. There was always something missing.”

Until Power Soccer came along…

Tony with teammates, Katie and Jordan.
Copyright © 2012 Loren Worthington. Used with permission.

Power soccer is a take off the classic game. Using a giant soccer ball (that is incredibly durable!) and markers on either end of an indoor basketball court, players bump, kick, and block their way to scoring goals. Developed in France in the 70s as a European sport for power wheelchair users, it came to the United States and the rest of the world in the 80s and in the 90s continued to grow in popularity. The coolest part about power soccer is it’s ability to level the playing field and allow athletes to use their brains more than their brawn.

The first time I saw Power Soccer in full competitive action was at the third annual PowerBlast Tournament in Phoenix, Arizona.

Copyright © 2012 Loren Worthington. Used with permission.

There, I saw players spin-kicking balls and knocking in goals kicked off opponent’s chairs. The chairs go surprisingly fast, topping out at 10kmh or 6.2 mph, which is a special league-regulated setting all chairs conform to. For reference, this is faster than jogging speed! -insert Mazda’s “Zoom, zoom, zoom” here- Players must perform a speed test at the beginning of each tournament to ensure that no one is tweaking their settings for an advantage. “One thing I didn’t expect was how fast the chairs would go. I have a mode on my chair that is specifically for power soccer. It makes my chair go really fast, turn fast, and stop and accelerate quickly.”

How do you keep yourselves in your chairs? How do you keep your balance if you don’t have trunk control?” Being a quadriplegic, myself, I can see myself toppling over at the first turn. “If you aren’t careful, you can knock yourself over and if you aren’t wearing your seatbelt, you can get thrown out,” Tony warned. “It was really scary at first because all of the settings are turned way high and if you’re not expecting it, it can surprise you. When I first started playing… I forgot to put on my seatbelt and nearly was thrown out!”

Controlling these chairs is no easy matter either. With the rest of the modes (stop, accelerate, and turn) set “higher than they should be”, these 150lb powerhouses have to be able to slide and spin on the slick court without momentum tipping over. Crazy cool that you can slide on the court but I was a little concerned… “Has anyone ever tipped over?” “Ohh, yeah! It happened two or three times in the last game (I was in)!” Apparently, fear is not a factor here and among other reasons, this is why power soccer is played on an indoor basketball court. Asphalt = ouch!

Copyright © 2012 Loren Worthington. Used with permission.

What is it about the game that you like, I asked Tony. “The competition.” I could have guessed that! “It’s fun getting in the chair and hitting the ball around and crashing in to people and that was not what drew me. Playing on a team, going head to head in a competition and getting caught up in the moment was the best thing.”

The games were held at the brand new Virginia G. Piper Sports and Fitness Center in Phoenix, Arizona. This state-of-the-art facility makes staying healthy and competitive possible by providing three accessible pools, a fully adapted gym, jogging track, rock climbing wall, and indoor temperature controlled basketball court. With funding provided from bonds, grants, and donations, the $5 million facility opened this year in February. For more information and directions, visit the SpoFit’s website! Also, for more information about the United States Power Soccer Association, visit their website!

What if you could walk again?

by Ashleigh Justice

What do you say to a person who has just lost everything? Do you tell them that they’ll get used to it? Do you lie and say it will be just as it was before? Will they even listen?

The possibility of walking again was something I painfully accepted would never come. I would never march in the marching band, I would never walk on the beach, I would never dance at prom and would always be stared at for being different. It’s a pain that I choked down several years ago, when surviving meant moving on and trying to live for the day. “I could have died that day (after the car accident) but I didn’t so I am not going to lose my life while I am still living.” That thought became my daily motivator.

In the first couple years after the car accident, I was ashamed of myself and of the disability I couldn’t walk away from. It’s a drowning sorrow, like being held down in a rushing river. To escape it, I gave up everything related to it. I ran from reality and sought to defy everything that reminded me of my spinal cord injury. I took on sports, dated indiscriminately, went wild on occasion. But I mentored others and in that way, I did a service to my heart because I was able to show, more to my self than the person who was in my once broken state, that I was able to get back some sort of life. Even if it meant that I would have to recreate it.

So now, what do you say to someone who has moved on? Someone whose sorrow has lifted and who no longer sees the ghosts of the past? Walking again was something that I packed away with all of the other things that hurt me deeply. I thought I had handled all of those stages of grief that Keubler-Ross described until there grew a whisper- Someone was working, really working, to cure spinal cord injuries. I met that someone, Dr. Wise Young, a couple years ago when he came to Arizona for the Working2Walk conference. I didn’t really think the conference would be all that promising because for years people have been beating the rallying drum of curing paralysis. But something happened that I didn’t expect. I cried.

I cried because of the genuine love for his patients I felt from Dr. Young as he described what research they were doing and why they believe it will at least have a positive impact, if not, be the cure. But they were still a ways off so, again, I put it back into that dark corner of my mind but with a nightlight this time- maybe there was a possibility…

Although I haven’t heard of any groundbreaking cures just yet, here is an article a friend posted on my Facebook wall a couple days ago. It brought back those feelings of disbelief and skepticism but also that warm comfort of hope. Dr. Young is still at it! If there is one person I believe could cure spinal cord injuries, it’s him.

“So, what would you do if you could get back just one day of walking.” My husband once asked me.

I would take the entire day and dance with my son. I would hike with my husband and go drive a Ferrari. I would run with my dog, chase a butterfly, maybe even find some old high school buddies and make a throw together parade, me holding that damn pair of cymbals. If I could walk again, I would live like the next day wouldn’t come. Because, at one time, it almost didn’t.

My question to readers is, What would you do if you could walk again? I know it can be seen as an insensitive question but for me, answering it gave me such feelings of joy. It’s like dreaming of that amazing mansion we would like to own, as we go to work every day. It may be a fantasy, it may be a reality. But what would you do if you could walk again?


I am sitting here in awe, watching power chair athletes whiz zing by. Wheelchair sports, I thought I had seen it all but power soccer?? This game rocks! Never has a physical sport been more about the sport than the physical. You don’t need to run, walk, or even talk- if you are competitive, you can play!

Artist Profile: Robert Andy Coombs

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Robert is not able to pick up a camera. He is not able to arrange sets, lighting, or click the shutter, however, the images he captures are astouding. With the help of friends, family, and a staff of caregivers, there aren’t many things that Robert Andy Coombs can’t do. In fact, his biggest challenge is finding time to do it all! He is a college student, an artist, goes out with friends, spends time with family, and still manages to capture amazing images and express himself through photography.

Robert is a student at Kendall College of Art & Design, working toward a degree in Fine Arts & Photography. An athlete and scholar, Robert’s life took a drastic turn 3 years ago when the 21 year-old gymnast landed on his head during a double backflip on the trampoline. He broke his neck at the C4/5 level and would spend the next 6 weeks in rehabilitation at the University of Michigan Medical Center. Ventilator dependent and unable to move anything from chest down, he would have to learn how to do things a bit differently. “When I was newly injured,” he told The QuadFiles, “I couldn’t move anything for 9 months. It was tough because I was not able to do many of the things I used to.” In high school he was a swimmer and had always been a very active person. “I really miss it (swimming),” he admits. “But now I channel my thoughts and feelings through art and photography.”

Robert is a patient with AdvisaCare who overcomes paralysis through the help of family, friends, caregivers and a positive attitude!

Photo courtesy of Robert Andy Coombs

Robert uses a digital camera tethered to a computer and a software program called Phase One, Capture One to take and edit photographs. “I had to figure out the right tools and technology for me. My rehab technician helped me find the equipment that would work best.” Robert uses Dragon Dictate to write papers and work on the computer and an iPhone 4S to text his friends. To get around, he uses a power wheelchair with a Jouse sip-and-puff joystick.

Robert has one more year to go before he finishes his degree. From there he is looking to either get a job in fashion photography or go on to grad school. “Eventually, I would like to be an art designer and creative director for fashion photography; designing the set, location, and lighting of shots professionally while still doing my own stuff on the side.” Robert has begun to build a following using Flickr and Facebook.

Like what you do!

Do what you like, like what you do!

That is pretty much the coolest Facebook photo album title.  The owner?  Maegan Clark, a quad who has proven to herself and others that she is a force to be reckoned with.

Maegan Clark

20 yrs old,  3 years PI (post injury)

Maegan was a spunky 17 year old when a diving accident changed the way she would look at life forever.  I met Maegan when she was still in the hospital, about 3 weeks after her diving accident.  A positive, free-spirited teenager, she had had her life turned upside-down because of paralysis.  I’ve watched her blossom into a role-model for other spinal cord injuries through her go-getter attitude.  Not surprising, her motto is “Carpe Diem!”  Her lack of inhibition continues to inspire.

Recently, Maegan and I spoke about what motivates her and what some of her challenges and triumphs have been throughout these past 3 years.  Her profile and the great answers to the questions I had for her are below.  Mother, Keela. Father, Mike. Sister, Katie. From Gilbert, AZ, attending ASU & studying for a degree in environmental sciences.

Who inspires you?

Corbin Beu. He is one of the coolest people I know.  He does everything, including make his own equipment and traveling worldwide playing sports.  He’s an all around bada**!

Sonya Perduta-Fulginiti- She got her nursing degree AFTER her injury 30-something years ago.

What motivates you?

Helping others and succeeding

What does it take to succeed as a quad?

A lot of patience and innovation with everything! Dressing, driving, everything. Find what works best for you.  We didn’t have to think about it before (when we were able-bodied) but now we do.

Practice- you don’t want to but just do it!  Things aren’t difficult because you’re a quad; some people just don’t know what they can do.

Maegan does have more hand function than a higher level injury -but- I’ve seen a quadruple amputee drive, have known at least three artists who paint with mouth wands and a handful of professionals who don’t have any use of their arms or hands. 

Basically, no excuses.  You can do it- “Mind over matter, all the way.”

How have you changed from before your injury?

I realized I didn’t understand the meaning of living life to the fullest because I never experienced it before my whole world changed.  You really learn to appreciate what you have but it’s hard tell someone this who hasn’t had it happen to them. The things I thought were important before are not so important.  I feel less held back now, more Carpe Diem, seize the day!

How have you evolved since your injury?

When I was a new injury a bunch of people (in wheelchairs) came to see me and I saw how people could still be normal.  Don’t get me wrong, I had some tough days.  When I came home from the hospital, I cried for 3 days straight but then on the 3rd day I took a look at my situation and and decided to move on.  Now, 3 years later, I am not worried as much because I can take care of myself.  I want to help others, like those who have helped me.  I know what it takes to succeed and want to pass it on.

What are some unexpected challenges?

My challenges were less about self-pity and more about outside things like dealing with insurance companies and lawyers. I didn’t expect it to be so hard (to be paralyzed) even though I knew it wouldn’t be easy.  I didn’t expect to have the abilities of a 2 year-old for a while; not being able to do simple things like open a water bottle or dress myself.  But then things started progressing and it got better.

What are some unexpected benefits?

I am happier now than I have ever been.  Being paralyzed is the best thing that has ever happened to me because I’ve been able to go scuba diving and be on TV for going off-roading (with Disabled Explorers).

What have you done since your injury?

I attend college for environmental sciences via Voc Rehab, drive a modified Honda Element, and mentor other new injuries. Recently, I gave a speech at a my old high school, got into rowing and scuba diving, played some quad rugby, and participated in this team-building project for class where we made a prosthetic hand for someone in another country.  I love being able to contribute to someone else’s wellbeing.  That hand changed someones life and I discovered that helping others inspires me.

What are some barriers you have run into and did they stop you?

If I had any mental barriers, they didn’t stop me.  I started getting involved in all the programs and things that were available.  Corbin does everything and travels the world and that has motivated me to take all opportunities that cross my path.  Basically anything that was available to me as a person in a wheelchair I did.

 What are your goals for the future?

Get my degree and go into renewable energy.  It is a very accessible field, even if you may not necessarily be able to go to a site with tough terrain.  I also want to go to the Paralympics for swimming and to continue to contribute to my community.

All in all…

They are no excuses for not pursuing what you want just because you’re in a chair.  Anything is attainable.  When there’s a will, there’s a way. If you want it bad enough, you’ll do it!