Tag Archives: independent

Yes, dreams do come true…

Many of us have had conversations in our childhood about things we want to accomplish someday. For me one of those things was to write a book on my life. I think the idea came to me in middle school . This would be a conversation that I would continue to have with friends and family for many years. Then about three years I started actually writing a book on my life. Then on Sunday I finished! I self published my book after only talking about doing it for about twenty years.

“The Impossible Only Takes a Little Longer: One Woman’s Story of Determination” is now available on Create Space and on Amazon. Currently it is only available in paperback. I am working on formatting it into e-book on Kindle.

The book has stories, poems and pictures that brings the reader through challenges and success of my life. If you’re looking for a story that will inspire you or someone else in your life pick this book up. As I have been told my friends before “I’m just being little me. I never tried to be inspiring.” That was when they responded, “That’s why you are so inspiring Sheila. Keep being you!”. SheilaBookCover_30Aug2014_final

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Easter Seals-Ready, Set, Go!

Easter Seals Team Hoyt Rising Star Award is given to a person who shows determination to break down barriers facing people with disabilities. This year I had the honor to be presented with this award at the Ready, Set, Go event. The evening was wonderful. Barry Nolan was the Emcee. He had great remarks about Dick and Rick Hoyt. I only recently have learned about the Hoyt Team and was even more inspired by their story after hearing Barry. Then there was the unveiling of the Team Hoyt Portrait which was amazing. Later I was presented with the Rising Star Award. Kirk Joslin, Easter Seals, presented me with the award along with a few friends of mine. I have been a friend and mentor to the Perrino family as their son also has TARs. I was blown away by his remarks regarding my life. I have to say I was a bit teary eyed as I was given the award.

I was honored to receive this award. As I said that night I have spent my life just being me and never imagined that my life would inspire so many people. I spoke to the Ready, Set, Go audience the only way I could and that was from my heart. I told them how amazing my family and friends have always been to me and how they made difference in my life. I also told them about some of the amazing experiences that I have had working with Massachusetts Easter Seals.

My friend Remon Jourdan then read an original poem called “An Honorable Equation” which was an opening for the next award. EMC Corporation received the Team Hoyt Award because they have determination to break down barriers facing people with disabilities. As a corporation they are ensuring that people disabilities have equal opportunities to work.

The whole evening was awesome and I’m honored to have been a part of the Ready, Set, Go evening.

US Filming (Part 1)

I was scheduled to meet at 11am so I went to the office early to start to get things in order and have the time to leave the office for a few hours without issues. I already knew that I needed to know to set good boundaries as the film crew was already asking to film before we had our schedule meeting. I told them no. I meet with my supervisor to be clear on what could be filmed during work hours. We also discussed what time off I might needed because I was still waiting on the decision to send me to S. Korea. I had everything as organized as possible and to the meeting I went. We meet at the martial arts school with Andrew and the producer Momo.

They explained to me that the overall purpose of the documentary was educate youth about bullying and offer them inspiration towards improving themselves. The documentary would have four themes: my personal life including family and friends, my professional life including my work at HAWC and my motivational speaking, Tae Kwon Do accomplishments, and my trip to South Korea. We then went over the schedule for the next week. I spoke to them about my commitments at work and what things could filmed there. We worked out a schedule that worked for Master McCorry’s Martial Arts school. Last we discussed how to include my family and friends.

The filming ended up going on a little longer then I first thought. I had been told seven to ten days however they were here for fourteen. I think the best way to explain the two weeks is to reflect back on each day as best as I can. January 18, 2012 the filming started with and afternoon meeting with other advocates. We were meeting to discuss changes that we were making to our manual for the HAWC’s required training. My friends were great at work being willing to be filmed. They had me wear a microphone and then began filming it was a bit weird because the camera was at a distance one minute and then almost in our face in the next. Then there was light that I was told was not bright but it was in my opinion. They left after this meeting and meet me at my house after work. At the house they filmed me coming into the house and then getting ready for Tae Kwon Do. They were interested in simple tasks like eating dinner and cleaning up. They then filmed Tae Kwon Do I warmed up the class and then we did kicking drills. As they started to film I started to see how this filming going to play out. They filmed me along with other students. Then they were interested in impromptu informal interviews. They filmed Master McCorry asking him random questions along with other students and myself. Once class ended we all went home and they planned to film me getting ready for work the following morning.

January 19, 2012 I woke up and got showered and dressed. Then I waited for them to arrive. I thought they would be there for 8am however they were late. They arrived about twenty past at first they wanted me change back into my pjs but I explained them I needed to be at work in a half hour so that was not possible this morning. We agreed that we could do that part Saturday morning. It took them a few minutes to setup the camera and then got some breakfast, washed so dishes, brushed my teeth and a few other morning activities. There were several times when I was asked to repeat an action so they could get a better shot. The setting up and repeating of things seemed less real life to me. I guess I had this assumption that they would just film the day to day as is but I was learning that was not the case. This was explained to be the difference between reality tv and a documentary which is what we were doing.

Momo then drove with me to work that day. This allowed him to film me driving. We got to the office and I introduced him to everyone. They he asked to go back outside and come back in because it was important to film transitions. Everyone was cool with this and so I came back into the office as if it was first thing in the morning. The filming then captured a meeting with a volunteer. Then they interviewed HAWC’s executive director Candace. She offered I thought to see if the District Attorney’s Office would be interested in being interviewed as they do much around bullying and teasing. That after I had a personal presentation at Salem Hospital where I was talking around my experiences growing up within the medical field. The hospital was kind enough to allow this to be filmed. They filmed most of the presentation and then left and said they meet up with me later that afternoon. They needed to get permission from the pizza place for tonight’s dinner with my parents. We went to dinner at my favorite pizza place Santarpio’s in Peabody. My parents and I beat them there so we needed to reenact our arrival for the camera. My parents laughed when I had told them this might happen because the coming and going was important to film. We sat down and had some casual conversation at first. Then there some informal interview questions to both of my parents. The filming stopped for a time to eat and times we repeated stories that Momo wanted capture as we talked through the evening. Over all it was a nice evening.

January 20, 2012 on Friday there was only a little amount of filming done. Momo installed a small camera at my desk to capture things that I did throughout the day. I was able to get a hold of my friend Misty and was able to confirm that we could come down to the Cape on Sunday before the game. Misty’s son has TAR Syndrome as well and we hoped to have this trip work out. Throughout the day I tried to reach the roller skating ring so we could go skating unfortunately I was having no luck so we decided to just go and hope for the best. Throughout the day Momo was filming the Northshore and the Boston area in order to capture the area I grew up in. That night I meet them at the roller ring with a few friends. Unfortunately, when we arrived we found out that we could not film because it was open skate an far to many kids arounds and we could get releases if the kids got filmed. Despite the no filming we decided to go skating anyways. This would be only the second time in 15 years that I skated I was here with friends why not. We stayed for about an hour and a half had dinner and fun.

January 21, 2012

They arrived a little early to filming my morning routine. They had me wake up which had me in giggles at first. Then I got some breakfast and got ready to go to Tae Kwon Do. After getting changed they wanted me to put on different cloths that I had on earlier when they had filmed the morning routine. I explained we will be late for Tae Kwon Do if you want to do that and I do not want to be late. As it was it had snowed the night before and I still needed to clear the car off and that was going to take sometime. We all agreed it was time to go. I went out side turned on the car and started to clear it. It only took a few minutes since there was not a lot of snow. As the cleared they filmed me and asked me a few questions. I bringing to get use to the random questions during activities. They then filmed me driving a bit in the snow and wanted to do more however again I expressed that we were going to be late for class especially since it snowed last night. I got into there car and we went to class. We arrived late has I feared but not to late. We did a variety of things in Tae Kwon Do that morning forms, kicking drills, and belt combinations. They also did some impromptu interviews with some of the other students.

After Tae Kwon Do we went back to my house. I had collected pictures, awards, medical papers, school records etc from my childhood and they were interested in get all of that material. Also my friend Danielle was coming over for lunch. Danielle and I have been friends since I was maybe ten and she had told me how our friendship had made a positive impact on her life. When she was fourteen she had cancer and us being friends helped that experience. Danielle and I had a great lunch and I made her food which might of been the first time ever. She was then interviewed and talked about our friendship when I heard her speak about me it brought tears to my eyes.

Later that evening I went to Drum and Dance with my mom. This is a spiritual space for me and many of my friends. I checked first to see if it was alright to have some filming done. It was decided it was fine conditions. Momo would not be able to use the light because it was to bright and it would only be allowed for about a half hour. We had a small group that night probably because of the snow. It was very enjoyable for me. Momo did not seem to getting the footage that he would of liked because the room was rather dark. Nothing could change that because this was community space was not all about me. I think of all the filming this was the place that I had most nervousness about because I did want disrupt others. There was opportunity for and interview but Momo left before the end and missed the chance.

January 22, 2012

We got up really early to get to the Cape by 9am to visit with Misty’s family. We had plans to join Michael at his Kung Fu class. I had been excited to learn that Michael was involved with martial arts and was loving it. Michael has TAR Syndrome as well I had meet the family through Shriners about five years ago and we became close friends. Michael’s leg problem were different then mine and so he is still learning to be able to walk. This weekend I was able to see him walk for the first time and this was very exciting. Michael Kung Fu class was a lot of fun I learned that I knew a lot more about Kung Fu then I realized. After the class ended Michael and I worked together to see how each of our styles could help the other. Then we went back to house to have lunch and hangout. Michael showed me how played video games using one hand and his chin. I realized that this worked out pretty well. Momo then interviewed Misty and Johnny about our friendship. He also interviewed Michael as well. Over all it was a great day. Shortly before the football game we drove home.

Human Documentary

The last month has been a bit of a whirl wind. January 11, 2012 a call came into Bruce McCorry’s Martial Arts from S. Korea and they wanted to speak to me. Later that night I spoke with them and it turns out that there was a coming attractions to a documentary that myself and our school were figured in and people were really interested in my story. They wanted to produce a five part series documentary on my life featuring me here in the United States and then going to visit S.Korea. They were very eager and wanted an answer immediately however I thought it best to think it through and check with other people who would be affected by my choice as well e.i. Friends, family, and work.

The following day I started to speak to work, friends, family and called Andrew. Andrew worked with me on the prior documentary and was friendly and knowledgeable about the system. As soon as I called him he was quick to help I gave him the contact info to the people calling me and he said that he would check into things for me and would be in touch. Meanwhile friends and family were on board and excited for me. I was a bit hesitate as I wanted the full picture before I made a decision either way. Andrew became my agent immediately and had conversation on my behalf so I could truly understand what they wanted from me. In the end I agreed to the filming and they were set to arrive Tuesday night January 17, 2012. At this point I was aware that they wanted to film me doing everyday life with my friends, family, work and Tae Kwon Do. It was not as much detail as I would of like but it was enough for now. We were set to meet with the filming crew Wednesday morning January 18, 2012 to setup a schedule for the next 7-10 days.

We are…

We are capable of success
Just give us a little support
We are able do things that seems impossible
Just share some of your ideas with us
We are passionate and have strength despite all odds
Just hold some positive space for us
We are hard workers and contribute to society
Just allow us the opportunity
We are determined independent people
Just give us a chance
We are loving and capable parents
Just offer us tools to improve
We are intelligent and healthy individuals
Just spent time with us you will see

How do I…

Over the last few years I have been asked over and over again how did you learn to do… I have decided to try to document some of the memories on how I learned to be the independent women that I am today. I don’t plan to account things in any particular order what ever comes to me that week will be the memory of the week.  Some stories that I plan to talk about are: learning to drive a car, tying my shoes, learning to dress myself, washing my own hair and laundry. If there are somethings you have questions about please post me. I’m sure there are many tasks that are there that I do differently than others and I’m happy to share.

The markings of my body: Scars and Tattoos

Within the first year of my life I had small cross scars on my ankles I’ve been told that they were needed because of the cut down that was necessary. Cut down what that meant I still don’t know. What I do know is that was just the beginning of my scars. I have about ten scars on my legs and all of them are different shapes and sizes. They occurred to foster one common goal and that was for me to walk without the need for leg braces. As the years went by feelings about my scars would change. At times they were cool because I had better scars than all the boys. I was able to freak my older sister out by making her look at them when they were new. Then they were not so cool any more. I found myself hiding them from the world. My legs were bony, skinny, and scarred because of all of the surgeries. The interesting thing about my insecurities was that when I was made fun of it was usually about not having arms. Finally as I ended my teen years I shredded my insecurity of my legs and embraced the scars that gave me the strength to walk on my own. In my early twenties I was offered the chance to cover my scars through plastic surgery and I said no. These scars were a part of me and I was not hiding a piece of myself again.

About 2 and a half years ago I decided to make a mark on my body of my own choosing. I was about to get my first tattoo. Some people supported me, some did not and others did not understand why. The WHY was empowering. Throughout my childhood scars were left on my legs by others. Truly, I was never asked do you want the surgeries that will leave scars on your body but I never said no either. I wanted to walk and that was the only thought. This tattoo would be the first time that I requested a mark on my body of my own free will and had nothing to do with being able to walk for the first time in my life. It was my choice and that was powerful. This past weekend I received my second tattoo. It was still about my choice and it represented me taking back my body. The tattoo sits right next to one of the scars and now when you look at my leg you first see a mark that I choose and then the scar. interestingly, while getting the second tattoo the feel and the vibration of the needles reminded me of getting my casts removed as a child. That process was scary and sometimes painful. Now I have a new memory that was about choice that was not frightening or painful.  It was EMPOWERING!

As a woman with a disability this chosen body transformation has been an amazing experience. Will I choose more tattoos in the future or will I again be scarred to continue my walking I do not know only time will tell.