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The Natural Verve Has Moved!

I’ve had so much fun getting to know you all on this blog. Alas, all good things must come to an end…thankfully, The Natural Verve is not one of them!

I hope you’ll all follow me to my new blog home which can be found here!

There’s lots of exciting things to come on our brand new website. Make sure to enter your email and subscribe so you don’t miss a beat!

You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter! Be sure to follow me: @naturalverve

I can’t wait to start this new chapter with you all.

Lots of love,

Kristen

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The “Me Before You” Controversy

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So I’m sure by now, you’ve all been hearing about the amazingness that is Me Before You. What started as an incredible book, has become a highly anticipated movie that finally hit the box office this past weekend. Despite my love and adoration for the book, though, a disgusting barrage of germs and sickness has kept me homebound and unable to experience the film for myself quite yet. Take that as a PSA and keep in mind that this post may be slightly uninformed. But anyways…here we go.

I have a huge distaste for spoilers, so no worries; this post will not give anything away. Suffice it to say, however, the male lead in this book/film pairing is a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic who has a very negative point of view on his injury. This has been striking a lot nerves amongst wheelchair users and other disabled individuals. They’re concern over the book’s message is that it seems to say that this group of people can’t possibly live happy, fulfilling lives. That an injury, such as the one suffered by the man in the story, leaves you with nothing to look forward to.

Being that I can look at the situation with a touch of personal experience, I thought I’d offer up my own perspective.

This July will be almost eight years since my husband was paralyzed from the waist down. While his injury was not as bad as the one in the book, it still changed our lives forever. Our day to day experiences are now riddled with concerns over steps, elevators, tight spaces, ground material, and an array of other issues. But does this make our life any better or worse than another person’s? I don’t think so.

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With a little finesse and creativity, we have managed to fine-tune our way of life to a point where pretty much any obstacle is easily overcome. You should see the way we’ve worked a friend’s second floor apartment or managed to take a Christmas tree off the roof of our SUV. While things are not always easy, we are way too proud to ask for help (though, not always a good thing) and make it work no matter work.

Our life post-accident has been full of amazing adventures, wonderful opportunities, and happy memories. It’s a life I would not trade for the world. Ryan and I have chosen to view the positive side of his so-called “disability.” If it weren’t for that accident, our life would have been completely different, but would it have been more beautiful than it is now? We’ll never know so why choose to dwell on it.

Ryan is optimistic, brave, and has an overwhelming need and want to persevere. This personality and lifestyle is what the negative critics of the movie are fighting for. But just because the majority of us have accepted the hand we’ve been dealt and turned it into something great, that doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same way.

We have personally known so many men and women in situations similar to Ryan’s that have chosen a path of negativity and regret. They have a hard time coming to terms with their situation and can’t seem to find the light at the end of the tunnel. While this may not be something we would want for ourselves, and we would love to offer them any support they need to overcome their disappointments, it doesn’t mean we can wish it away and make those individuals feel and be anything different than what they are.

In terms of putting these stories onto page and screen, I’m of the mindset that everyone deserves something to relate to, something that might help them. That includes the harder side of things. We deal with things like addiction, abuse, and grief amongst many others in the media…why not the harsh realities that some disabled people suffer with?

That being said, however, the same goes for the happier, more optimistic side of disability. Though different than what’s often considered normal, I think our relationship and life is just as picturesque as other happy families and couples…let’s write a story about that. What do you say, Hollywood? Publishing companies? Can’t you offer something up for the rest of us?’

What do you guys think of this whole thing? Have you read/seen Me Before You, yet?

The Day that Time Stood Still

When I was a little girl and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always had the same answer…an author.  There were never any dreams of being a princess or doctor, nor a butcher, baker or candlestick maker; I just wanted to write books.  Throughout my life, there have been times that I pushed this idea to the wayside, but in the back of my mind I knew it was still something I yearned to accomplish.

When my husband was injured back in 2008, it became one of the most pivotal moments in my life.  In a matter of moments, I was forced to contemplate everything my life had been, and try to figure out what it was about to become.  I remember wishing there was some sort of guidebook that would help us through everything. A set of rules and regulations that would explain the ins and outs of the life we were about to undertake.  Alas, there was nothing of the sort.  Sure, there were books about individuals who had experienced the same types of injury that Ryan had, but I couldn’t find much that would benefit the family, friends and caretakers. As we made our way through this incredible journey, I decided that one day, I wanted to write that book.  The kind of book that would explain how I felt in those first couple of weeks and months.  Honestly, it would explain the way I still feel from time to time in the present.

I’ve started this process more times than you can imagine.  I’ve constructed timelines and organizational charts.  I’ve jotted down notes and memories.   I’ve even written a chapter or two, but somehow the process has seemed too daunting to finish.

So I come to you all and ask for your support as I use this blog as a platform to try again.  I feel that I’m at a place in my life where I’m desperate to put these words to paper.  So if it’s all right with you, in the midst of the normal chatter about this and that, I’d like to bring you a few memories about one of the most inspiring times in my life.

Let’s start at the beginning shall we…

Ryan was over in Sao Paulo, Brazil performing at a water park called Hopi Hari.  Suffice it to say, I wasn’t super excited about being away from him for the summer (that’s a story for another day), so he promised that we’d Skype each night before bed.  The evening of July 19th, 2008, I sat in front of my computer at our usual time and anxiously waited for him to sign on.  Minutes turned into hours, and he never got on the computer.

At first I tried reasoning with myself. I assumed that he and his friends had a late night, had gone to dinner…something of the sort.  As the hours rolled by, reasoning turned into anger.  I didn’t think a few minutes out of his day was much to ask for.  Before too long, however, I started to get nervous.

I remember that I finally closed the computer around 2 or 3 am.  I was up again by 7, and back to playing the waiting game.  Sometimes, he’d get on before work in the mornings, and I was convinced that would be the case.  By around 10, I was completely freaking out.  I walked into the living room and told my mom that something wasn’t right.  I was trying so hard to keep calm, but was failing miserably.

Within 10 minutes of telling my mom that I was worried, my cell phone rang.  When I answered, Ryan’s dad was on the other end.  He told me that there had been an accident.  He couldn’t say anything else; the line got quiet and I assumed the worse.  He couldn’t have been silent for more than 30 seconds, but it was the longest of my life.  I remember dropping down to my knees and waiting. When he finally came back, he explained that Ryan was alive but that he couldn’t feel anything from the waist down.  He was awaiting surgery at a hospital in Brazil, and since I didn’t have a passport, I was stuck in the states until he could make his way home.

Before that moment, I had no personal connection to paralysis. I couldn’t wrap my head around what I was being told, and tried to convince myself that this was a temporary situation. Never in my life, had I felt so terrified and confused.  My mind was spinning with possibilities and I didn’t know what the first step I needed to take would be.

There is a quote that goes something like this, “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have.”  Since that day, I have lived by that quote.  I remember in the midst of the shock and sadness, that I knew I had to be strong.  Between the two of us, Ryan had always been my rock.  He was the one who constantly helped lift me up.  In that moment, I knew that I had to muster every ounce of strength I had and help him move forward.

That accident changed our lives completely.  Ryan is a true inspiration, and this experience has made me a better version of myself.  We’ve had to push ourselves in more ways than you could ever imagine.  Things are not always easy, but our life is more rich and beautiful for everything we’ve undergone.

IVF (aka Our Year of Anxiety and Anticipation) – Part 1

So let me just say that I have no intention of partaking in a constant stream of sappy, emotional journaling via this blog.  That being said, however, I’m about to get a little sappy and emotional.

I met my husband back in 2006 when I was fresh out of high school.  A mutual friend was convinced that we were a match made in Heaven, but I wasn’t so sure.  At that point, I was getting ready to move away for school and was interested in living the single life for a while.  I repeatedly told this particular friend that I was more than willing to meet this supposed “Mr. Perfect,” but that she shouldn’t get her hopes up.  I had no intention of getting involved.  Color me surprised when I fell head over heels in love.

Ryan, the husband, is truly the ying to my yang.  I can undoubtedly say that he is my best friend and that I’m the best version of myself with him, and because of him.

In July of 2008, Ryan was over in Brazil performing in a professional water ski show.  One day, during a run in the show, several mishaps occurred which led to him being whipped into a sea wall.  This accident left him with a T-12 complete spinal cord injury, and he is paralyzed from the waist down. Continue reading