Friday, September 21, 2012

Pain is Inevitable but Misery is Optional

"Happiness and misery depend not on how high up or low down you are - they depend not upon these, but on the direction in which you are tending."  ~Samuel Butler

I think this is not only a different way of looking at happiness and misery but also a very powerful statement.  Cause if you really think about it, it really isn't necessarily how high up or low you are but the direction you intend to take for your future that makes you either happy or miserable.

In the best workshop at this year's WBC that I went to called, "Pain is inevitable, Misery is Optional: Your Right to Happiness," I learned that pain is either physical, mental or emotional but misery is circumstantial.  And I think the quote above fits right in with what I learned in that workshop.  So if misery is circumstantial and not dependent on how high up or low you are, we have the power to change our state of misery by changing our circumstances and/or changing the direction that we dream or believe or intend to head.  However, changing our circumstances isn't always easy because if we have had a trauma in our lives, we are thrown into certain circumstances that breed misery.  But we can change our thoughts on our direction.  If we think negatively all the time and that we're never going to amount to nothing (I am guilty of this on several occasions, I admit) of course we're going to be miserable and thereby making our circumstances miserable.  But if we at least try to have a positive attitude and dream our dreams, believe that we will amount to something if we would just put ourselves out there and try, think of a positive direction in which we intend, our miserable circumstances morph into a more happy state and even happiness in ourselves.  For what I also learned (and also knew already but it was a good refresher) in that workshop is that we most often seek happiness OUTSIDE ourselves when real happiness can only be found WITHIN ourselves.  And much of that is our thoughts on the direction in which we intend.

My circumstances are miserable.  I can't deny that.  I'm not the beautiful girl I once was and who knows if that will change as time and surgeries go by and worst of all, my body doesn't cooperate when it comes to healing properly so it's always hit or miss if a surgery is going to work or if contractures will take over.  And I also tend to think I have nothing positive in store for me in my future.  But what if I were to change my thoughts on the direction in which I intend, like, "I'm going to get back into show business," or "I'm going to get my PhD in Clinical Psychology and go to work for the FBI," or maybe even both, then my misery may lift and my circumstances may also change in the process because I may find myself in happier circumstances if I believe in those thoughts because positive thoughts and intentions can have the great power to change the misery in your circumstances into happiness.  I have a right to happiness but it's ultimately up to me and my desire to change my circumstances from miserable to happy and not be afraid to step out of that misery and be happy.  But there's gotta be that desire to do so.  No one and no material can do this for me.  It's gotta be a desire to be happy that burns like a flame.  And I'm sick of being miserable.  I want to change my circumstances and I want to change my thoughts on the direction in which I intend.  Like Pink sings in her new album with the song, "Try", Where there is desire there is gonna be a flame, where there is a flame someone's bound to get burned, But just because it burns doesn't mean you're gonna die, You gotta get up and try, try, try.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

World Burn Congress 2012

This year's World Burn Congress for 2012 was in Milwaukee, WI.  Last year was my first year.  This would be my second.  I didn't think I would be going because I didn't think I'd get a scholarship two years in a row but I got a phone call on the afternoon of August 16th on our way back from a Jack White concert and a doctor appt from my old occupational therapist at the Oregon Burn Center and she told me they wanted to give me another full scholarship to go.  How could I say no?  So all we would have to pay for was my companion's plane ticket and registration fee.  And this year I was taking my mom.  Last year I took my dad.  So this would be my mom's first year at WBC.  I was very honored to receive another full scholarship and very excited to go for another year.  It's important to me.  I learned so much last year that I knew I would learn a lot again this year between workshops and keynote speakers and just being around other survivors, old friends and making new friends.  It's a long hard trip but so worth it in the end.

So Monday mom and I drove down to Portland to stay at the Sheraton so we could leave our car there instead of at long term parking.  Plus we had to be at the airport around noon anyway so it would have been too long of a day driving down the same day we flew out.  Tuesday we woke up, went downstairs to have some breakfast in the hotel restaurant and I was really getting excited now.  I wasn't looking forward to the flights cause OBC handles all the flights with everyone who's sponsored that goes so you never know what they're gonna put you on and there's always a layover so that wasn't too much fun to think about.  But thinking about being there, a new city to explore and seeing old friends from last year and the opportunity to make new friends was the exciting part.  Soon we were heading out to the airport on the shuttle from the hotel.  We were a little worried about Doc getting through TSA security cause he can't go near anything magnetic so I couldn't take him through the xray machines or he'd go haywire so on the TSA site, it said I would have to make a TSA member aware of it and ask for a pat down.  Well, I didn't exactly know how this was going to go down in reality.  TSA members are not always the friendliest of people.  They usually hate their jobs and wish they weren't there.  But luckily the xray that you used to walk through has officially been replaced by a non-magnetic machine that scans your body so all I had to do was walk through and once I got to the other side, Doc of course showed up on their screens, I let them know I had a diabetic insulin pump and they made me wipe my hands on it and then tested my hands for any chemicals cause I guess I could make a bomb out of my pump.  Who knew.  

After getting through the airport security, we grabbed some lunch and then went to Starbucks where we sat and had some coffee, waiting to go to our gate.  We had some time but soon that time passed away and we headed down to our gate.  We met up with another burn survivor friend from Portland that I knew at Starbucks so we all walked down together and soon enough one of my favorite people I've met in the burn survivor community came walking to our gate and she gave me a big hug.  It was great to see them both.  

(Mum and I sitting down for some lunch at the airport)

We were flying US Airways on the way there.  I'd never flown that airline before nor had I ever heard of it so I was expecting something a little ghetto but it turned out to be quite nice actually.  Pretty spacious and friendly.  Our layover was quick both coming and going.  So on the way over on our layover, my mom and I hoofed it to the other gate all the while keeping our eyes peeled for some food we could grab real quick because it would be our only food between then and when we landed, which was after midnight local time.  Luckily we found a little place selling sandwiches so we grabbed a couple and continued on to our gate which began loading not long after we got there.  My mother's favorite drink on an airplane trip is ginger ale.  She always orders a ginger ale when they come around to ask if you'd like anything to drink. 

(Mum and her ginger ale)

Finally we arrived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  There was about six of us who were all traveling from Portland to the WBC so we put three each in a cab and headed to the Hyatt, where we would call home for the week.  I checked me and my mom in and we headed up to our room, which was on the sixteenth floor, and plopped down on the beautifully made beds once the door was shut behind us we were so tired from all our traveling.  The hotel was gorgeous.  

 (Inside the hotel, up on the 16th Floor)

 (The kind of elevators with the glass windows on the back so you can see out when you're going up and down.  My mom couldn't look out, hehe.....)

 (Our room, room 1606)

We didn't have too early of a morning the next morning but early enough with the time change.  We had registration at 10:00 A.M. so we had to have some breakfast before then and then we would have a little bit of time after that to get our things together, look at the schedule they provide before our pre-congress workshop began at 12:30 P.M.  

(Mom and I at breakfast Wednesday morning)

(All registered.  Mom has a red heart on her name tag which indicates that she's a first timer and first timers get lots of hugs :) )

This pre-congress workshop is a little extra fee and they're usually about four hours long but always worth it.  Then everything really starts on Thursday and lasts till the banquet on Saturday night.  My pre-congress workshop that I signed me and my mom up for was "Not Just Surviving: Tools for Thriving After a Burn Injury."  And it was really good.  I don't think it was as good as the pre-congress workshop me and my dad went to last year but still, very good and worth the extra fee and time.  After that workshop, we were done until the Walk of Remembrance at 6:00 P.M. and then the kick-off Gala at 7:30 P.M.  I always love the Walk of Remembrance.  It's humbling and a great way to kind of start things off.  

 (The banner that is marched out front that everyone is welcome to sign. Me and my mom's signature is up by the where that water bottle is.)

(My girl Jan and I before the Walk)

 (Sweet Mona and I getting ready to make the Walk)

 (The bagpipers who always lead us on our Walk of Remembrance.  They sound so beautiful)

 (Firefighters always lead us in our walk and stand along the side of the road to welcome us)

 (Hundreds of survivors, caregivers, family, friends, and health care professionals walked)

 (Reached our destination)

 (At our destination, before speeches began, the bagpipers played some more music) 

At the kick-off Gala, they provide food for dinner and some music but there I met up with my first old friend, Luciana from Florida.  She's originally from Brazil but she now lives in Florida with her husband.  I knew her long before I met her for the first time in person last year at WBC so it was so wonderful to see her again this year.  Last year she brought her husband and this year she was with her mother like me!  So we sat at a table together and talked and talked and caught up on some things.  She's a wonderful girl.  I adore her.  After we had eaten and talked with some people, my mom and I were pretty tired so we headed back to our hotel room where we looked over the next day's schedule and eventually crashed.  

The second day they provided both breakfast and lunch for us so all we would have to figure out for ourselves was dinner.  But we had that all figured out because we went to this wonderful little joint about a block and half from our hotel that the bellhop highly recommended for lunch on Wednesday before we went to our pre-congress workshop and we fell in love with it.  Cute place, great food and great service. 

(Buck Bradley's Saloon and Eatery)

We eat breakfast in the big ballroom over at the Frontier Airlines Convention Center and then soon after breakfast was our first keynote speaker - Kyle Maynard.  And he was AMAZING!  His whole shtick was "No Excuses."  He had been born with a congenital defect that left him with no arms past the elbows and basically no legs but he did sports and even climbed Kilimanjaro on all fours all the way to the summit.  His story was incredible, he was an incredible speaker and his message was inspirational.  Both me and my mother LOVED it.  Then lunch was right after his speech, which was provided, and then we had another workshop to go to that would be the best workshop I attended all week called, "Pain is inevitable, Misery is Optional: Your Right to Happiness."  It was about an hour and a half long workshop but I got so much out of it.  I'll have to do a separate blog post just on that workshop alone cause if I included it here, this post would be a novel.  Then once again, we were done for the day around 4:00 but it was a miserable weather day.  Raining.  So we stayed inside, except for venturing out to our favorite restaurant in Milwaukee that we knew of during a let up in the rain later.  

Friday we didn't have much later in the afternoon and it turned out to be a beautiful day so we decided that would be our day to go on the River Walk which is a beautiful walking route along the Milwaukee River not far from our hotel.  We pretty much started at the north end of it and walked down to the farthest point south that we could go.  It was a good walk so we got some exercise and sunshine and fresh air in.  That night for our dinner we went to Rock Bottom which was along the river.  

 (Boats along the River Walk)

 (Mum and I starting the River Walk)

(Eating at Rock Bottom Brewery)

Saturday we hardly had anything to do cause it's the last day and there wasn't anything going on that applied to me except the second keynote speaker that morning.  Who was also AMAZING.  Both keynote speakers were just so great.  I got so much from both of them.  This man was a little different, he was an actual burn survivor but his message was impacting.  It left it's mark on me for sure.  Then after that we had the closing ceremonies and J.R. Martinez accepted the 2012 Advocacy Award and he gave a little speech so that was a lot of fun to see him in person.  Later after the passing of the flag at the end of the closing ceremonies (which is always emotional), I got an autograph from J.R.

 (The main ballroom in the Frontier Airlines Convention Center)

 (J.R. Martinez accepting his award and giving a speech)

 (Passing of the Phoenix Society flag)

 (Mum and I at closing ceremonies after we've passed the flag)

 (J.R. signing a picture card for me)

 (J.R. signing autographs)

(My personally signed autograph from J.R. Martinez)

That night we had the closing banquet where we are served a three course meal and listen to a few speeches from people who get awards for the year and then the band plays and you just have a great last night.  

 (Mum and I at our table at the Closing Banquet)

 (Our banquet table, table 24)

 (Fellow Oregon Survivor, Maxine and I at the Closing Banquet)

 (Oregon Survivors Laurel and Maxine)

(The band at the Closing Banquet)

It was sad for me cause I really don't know if I'll get to go next year.  I mean, are they really gonna award me another scholarship for a third year?  I'd love to go as it's in Rhode Island next year so we'll see how everything goes.  I learned so much again.  Lessons that will stick with me forever and memories to last forever.  It was so good to see my old friends from WBC last year and great to make new ones.  I feel at home around these other survivors so it's always sad to leave.

CLICK HERE to see the Phoenix Society's World Burn Congress 2012 slideshow!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Camping At The Cabin At Anthony Lake

This last weekend we had a second camping trip but this time we went up to Anthony Lake to stay in the Forest Service Station cabin up there that they now rent out.  It can sleep 15 people with two floors, a fully equipped kitchen, a fireplace in the living room, a dining area, and a full bathroom.  There was also a big front porch, a picnic table out front beneath the trees, and a gravel campfire area where we sat around our campfire every morning and evening.  This was the first time we stayed in this cabin, which was more like a house it was so big.  Our dogs really enjoyed it too with all the space and the ability to wander around outside without a leash cause we were surrounded by the woods.

 (The Forest Service Cabin we stayed at)

 (The living room area)

 (The Dining area)

 (Fully equipped kitchen)

 (The bedroom on the first floor)

 (One of two bedrooms upstairs)

 (The second bedroom upstairs with three twin beds)

 (View of the picnic table area from the front porch)

 (The campfire area where we sat every morning and evening/night)

And the weather was beautiful.  And warm!  It was colder at Emigrant Springs the other weekend than it was higher up in the mountains at Anthony!  So it was very comfortable weather.  We took subway sandwiches up with us to eat the first night there so we didn't have to do any cooking while we were unpacking and getting situated and could also enjoy our first evening there.  Later as the sun started to set, my mom and I walked the short distance to the lake and just walked a little bit before we returned to our cabin and started up our campfire.

 (Anthony Lake and Gunsight Mountain)

That night, we all sat around the campfire, mom and dad reading and I worked on a cross stitching project and had some good conversation and some laughs.  We also roasted some twinkies over the campfire before turning in.  Oh God, those are soooo good.

 (The reason my dad looks a little weird is because there's a little doggie in his jacket)

 (Working on my cross stitching project)

 (Getting the twinkies ready to roast!)

 (Dad in charge of roasting the twinkies cause he's a pro at it)

(Dad taking the first bite of a perfectly roasted campfire twinkie.  mmmmm.....)

The second day we enjoyed some coffee while sitting around the campfire in the early morning and it was hardly cold!  So wonderful.  It's my favorite part of the day while camping.  Dad made the breakfast of champions - Biscuits and Gravy and eggs :)  Yeah, I didn't exactly eat the best on this camping trip...

 (Dad laying out the biscuits)

 (Dad using the biscuits to look like a bug hahaha)

 (Scrambling some eggs)

 (The finished product!  Yum!!)

(Eating breakfast)

After we cleared the table, dad went back outside and mom and stayed inside to take a short nap and I continued with my project.  After mom's nap, she and I decided to take a couple dogs out down to the lake and walk for a bit.  It was a bit of a walk all the way around the lake so I wasn't sure if I wanted to try it but I started out and it was just so pretty and I did some filming and was having some fun that I decided to go ahead and walk all the way around the lake.  There's some snippits of the walk around the lake that I wanted to include here but they don't want to upload.  So I'm sorry you won't be able to see some of a very beautiful area.  

 (Mom and I out on our lake walk)

 (There were always lots of fly fishermen out on their little boats on the lake every day)

 (On the backside of the lake)

After the great and wonderful walk around the lake we needed to rest....and so did the dogs we took with us, Opal and Morgan.  Morgan passed out on the couch and didn't move much for awhile so I worked her out pretty good.  She rested good that night.  

We had some lunch - hotdogs - and then my mom and I set up our camping chairs up on the big porch and she read again while I worked on my project again.  Then my dad decided he would take the other two dogs for a walk around the lake.  So it was just me and my mom sitting on the porch enjoying the great outdoors and the day.  Once my dad got back it was about time to make some dinner.  Tacos.  After dinner and cleaning up we were out to our campfire again.  And of course before turning into the cabin, we roasted twinkies again.  I know, I'm a diabetic but they're just too good and I'm on a little vacation here!  Let me have a break once in awhile.  I was sad.  It was our last night and I was really enjoying our camping weekends, especially this one.  It felt too short.  I needed more time out there.  But it was a great little break and we had to get back anyway cause my mom and I are leaving again right away tomorrow cause we fly out to Milwaukee for the World Burn Congress Tuesday.  So it was another good camping trip.  These past two weekends have been good for me to get out of the house.  Now, on to the next adventure! - World Burn Congress in Milwaukee!!