Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Behind the Mic Book Review: Chloe's Journey by Claudia Orrett

"We have been truly blessed to witness Chloe's milestones.  The fact that she walks independently, attends a regular school with regular friends.  That we hear her laugh more than cry.  It's all magnificent."  This statement from author Claudia Orrett perfectly describes the title of this beautifully written heartfelt book!  Every emotion within me was touched, not just because I related to the book because I have cerebral palsy and a ''typical" sibling, but I also felt for Claudia and her husband John.  It was difficult for them to grasp that their beautiful little sassy, sweet girl had something that could be so life changing!  You as the reader, go through all those ups and downs with Claudia and John.  Through years of research, and traditional and non-traditional treatments for Chloe, you see the fog start to clear for Claudia as she started to be able to distinguish what would work and what wouldn't work.

I was trying to imagine how difficult it would be to write this book, having to relive all the hard moments this sweet family had to endure... but, in the same breath, writing it down would help them to see just how incredibly far they've come!  Through all the uncertainty, frustrations and feelings of despair, everyone on "Team Chloe" never gave up!  Instead they said: ""She CAN!  We will support Chloe all the way!"  Because of that mindset, Chloe and all those in her circle THRIVE!  Claudia gives you a wealth of information, including pictures of Chloe doing her exercises in therapy with diagrams and notes.  She's also included pictures of things Chloe's friends have done to show how much they love her.  All of this gives us a glimpse into what is involved in navigating the cerebral palsy journey.   Through her own journey with Chloe, Claudia mentions how family support has been an invaluable source of strength, but what I appreciated the most, was the unwavering love and support that Claudia and John have established between each other.  It provided a strong foundation which made them successful, as a couple, but ultimately as a family when things got tougher.  That foundation has truly had an impact on Chloe.  Her parents have helped her to push the boundaries of what she can do, so she can realize her dreams on her own merit and determination.  Trust me, Chloe has some determination!!  My heart was connected to this family from the first page until the last, and my hope is that you will feel the same!  If the Orrett family can make a success of this journey, many others can too....Reading this book is one of the first steps to that success!!

Claudia, John, Samantha & Chloe: Thank you SO much for sharing your journey! Thank you for including my story and journey in your book as well...It touched my heart!  I wish you much success with this book!

Michelle Fischer is the host of A View from my Window, a podcast produced by The Arc of Indiana

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Boost your Self-esteem... go ahead! Its good for you!!

I wish I had known about Boost your Self-esteem Month when I was going through my self-defeating teenage years.  Now that I know that there is such a thing, I'm advocating for you to click on this post, to boost your self-esteem now!  It will benefit you now and in the long run, as you navigate life's ups and downs.  Self-esteem is the confidence in ones' own worth and abilities.  Having a physical disability clouded my view of any abilities I had, yet in the same breath, I was developing the not so attractive trait of feeling entitled to something.  Feelings of having everything under control, yet, falling apart at every seam!  As I woke up from being so consumed with myself and started to be more aware of GIVING to others, I really started to see what positive things I could give to others!  Now, when I look in the mirror, I'm loving and smiling at the girl staring back at me!  The greatest gift you can give to yourself is never allowing anyone or anything to dull your sparkle!!  Who should determine that?  You, you, you!  Make the determination to not allow the seeds of negativity to become entrenched in your mind, heart and outlook! You don't deserve to lose all sense of your identity!  You deserve to be who you are, no apologies required!  I remember not too long ago, shopping with my mom, and I was having a good self-esteem day.  That day I looked into the mirror and I was so thankful that even though it is a daily effort to work on my emotions, it is worth the effort!  Fighting the urge to give in to my less than positive emotions is an uphill battle, but I'm glad I've put up the fight.  The mirror doesn't lie, it will show you the positive changes you've made, but it will put a BIG glaring light on the things you need to change.  When you put in the hard work, you will see someone who glows and that glow has a ripple effect....You may have been beat down at one point, but you got back UP!!  You are beautiful, strong and ready to pay it forward to others!  I have found that my faith has really been a stronghold for me in working with my emotions.  Even when I deal with the days when my self-esteem is a little lower, I know my heavenly father, God and friend will always see me in the most positive light possible even when I can't see it myself!  One of my favorite scriptures I always have in my memory bank is Isaiah 40:29 "He gives power to the tired one And full might to those lacking strength"  Remembering these words and many other scriptures as part of my daily routine does wonders for my outlook!  As one of Jehovah's Witnesses, tending to my spiritual needs as well as giving to others, keeps my outlook bright!

There you have my prescription for boosting my Self-Esteem, now, its your turn! Now, Go Forth and Conquer low self-esteem!!

To read more ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem, Check out this article from The Positivity Blog! http://www.positivityblog.com/index.php/2013/09/11/improve-self-esteem/

Michelle Fischer is host of A View from My Window, a podcast produced by The Arc of Indiana

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A look back through the Window of the past year!

It's hard to believe that another year has come and is almost gone.  What has never left, though, is the love I have of interviewing, meeting new people, hearing their stories and bringing them to you... It truly never gets old or boring!  If my Grandpa Applegate could see me now... he would be beaming with pride!  He was my mom's dad.  He was always such a stable, caring man in my life! I was proud to call him one of my grandparents!  He was the one I was sitting with in my living room the day I decided I was going to be in news. When I looked back at him and said: "Grandpa, I want to be a news anchor", I knew that I would have his support.  He's been gone for 22 years and still to this very day, I wish I could call him or sit with him and celebrate the achievement of the goal of doing what I love!  He was my loudest cheerleader and my most sought after support...just like my mom is....her daddy taught her well!  How I was raised and how my family treated me and others around them, really shaped not only myself as a person, but also the kind of anchor I have become.  I was always included in family activities, never excluded, but loved, and very much embraced.  In all the interviews I do, that is the mindset I come in with, striving to make the person feel at ease.  An interview style that allows the the person's voice and story to shine through, showing them dignity and empathy, as the story takes shape and starts to unfold.  Reflecting over this past year, my emotions and heart are always touched to see the resilience of the human spirit and the determination of those whom I have the pleasure of meeting.  I want you to know that all the interviews I've done this year and for the past 7 years, have all had a great impact on me.

Another major milestone of the Arc of Indiana, was the opening of the Erskine Green Training Institute and Teaching Hotel in Muncie.  It's been the first year for the training program to teach students a variety of skills in the hospitality industry.  It's been amazing to see what this institute has done for all those who have taken the leap to climb out of their comfort zone and realize what they are truly capable of.  It's been incredible to see!

THANK you so much to all of you who have listened to the podcast over these last seven years.  I'm truly grateful for all of you!  Thank you for allowing me to bring you the important issues and inspiring stories that the podcast covers.  Thank you for taking the time to meet me and telling me why you listen to the podcast and how it has brought a smile to your face!!

Thank you to ALL of the Arc staff and especially my team... my producer Sally Morris and my sound engineer Bryce Dickerson.  Thank you for making my work so rewarding...we are truly a team!  I can't imagine this podcast without you!  You bring stability to me when I'm nervous and a pat on the back when I'm unsure of myself (which happens more often than not..right? haha!!) The best medicine we throw in though, is laughter!!  Thank you as always...The Arc is VERY special to me!!

To my Mom: You had the hardest job: raising me!  Your love, confidence and hilarious humor has always gotten us though!  I will always be forever grateful for your support!

Here's to more podcasts and much more in 2017!




Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Behind the Mic at the Movies: Finding Dory

"Hi, I'm Dory and I suffer from short term memory loss!" Oh, Dory, sweet, lovable Dory...yes you do!  Despite her disability, she has an excitement and zest for life that is undeniable!  The Disney crew has done it again with this vividly colorful aquarium world that draws you into the adventure to come.  One day, while she was being a helper to Mr. Ray, (who is always in the mood to break into song and happens to be Nemo's teacher), someone asks Dory if she has a family.  She looks puzzled, and with a hault to her voice, answered that she didn't know, but then saying that she must have a family because she had to come from somewhere! That triggers her memory and you are taken back into a dreamlike sequence where her mom and dad tell her she can do anything because she's smart and she will remember things.  They lovingly told her that they would help her by leaving a trail of shells for her to get home.  So, the adventure begins to find her family!  As with any endeavor, there are those who try to dissuade her by planting seeds of doubt.  Enter, Hank the Octopus. Hank is just trying to get to Cleveland to make his home there and get out of the Marine Life Institute.  He has bad memories of the ocean so he doesn't want to go back there. All Hank needs is Dory's ID tag and he'll help her find her parents.  He has a grumpy disposition, but he ends up helping Dory get one step closer to her parents.  Marlin, whom she helped find Nemo in "Finding Nemo", starts out being very supportive, but at one point, with his irritation at a breaking point as he's dealing with her short term memory, says: Go over there and just forget...it's what you're good at!  Would Dory just throw up her fins and say, "I'm done!" Nope!! Her motto is always, "just keeping swimming!"  Because she never wavered from her positivity, all those who were roped into her journey, came around and actually wanted to help her accomplish her goal.  There are several more dream sequences that show mom and dad instilling in Dory confidence to do whatever she wanted.  The things that her parents patiently and lovingly reminded her of throughout her life sustained her!  This is a must see for anyone who feels like they can't accomplish what they want because their obstacles are just too tall to overcome!  NONSENSE, I say!  Remembering to focus and be grateful for those who choose to go with you on a journey will give you the motivation to NEVER give up...No matter what obstacles come your way!!  I could go on and on in this review, but I promise, I won't.  I do HIGHLY recommend this movie though!  You'll meet many more characters that through helping Dory, help themselves.  The one huge lesson I went away with is: JUST KEEP SWIMMING!! I intend to keep at it with all my goals and endeavors and I really hope you do too!!

Michelle Fischer is host of A View from My Window, a podcast produced by The Arc of Indiana

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cleared for take off! - Nathan's Story


Nathan Mackey was a wonderful interview and a great guy all around!  I met him virtually when he sent me a message on my podcast Facebook page and told me he was a pilot, a newlywed and oh, he just happens to have cerebral palsy.  There was a point in his life where he found it difficult to find his voice.  As he started to become more confident in himself, though, he saw that he could take charge of how he felt about his condition and what effect or how much control he let it have.  Once he made the decision to be in charge of the things he wanted in life, doors started to open!  He was able to achieve the goal of getting his pilots' license!  I found out in the interview that he failed the test once, but he got back up, tried again, and passed the test!  Another special goal he achieved was marrying his wife, Karen... Aren't they just the cutest couple?? 

Nathan's story is proof that not giving up is a choice that each of of have.  He knew that if he gave in to the challenges he faced with cerebral palsy, he wouldn't be happy.  His happiness came from not giving up!  Life is a bumpy ride, but it's all in how you look at it, that sets you up to be cleared for take off!

Listen into Nathan's interview here:
http://www.arcind.org/view-pilot-nathan-mackey/

Michelle Fischer is host of A View from My Window a podcast produced, by The Arc of Indiana

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Behind the Mic Book Review: Where the Light Gets In- Kimberly Williams-Paisley

The brain isn't called a ''super computer'' by accident, it really IS a super computer!  In it, we store memories that shape us as people, make us happy, make us laugh, smile and sometimes shed tears. We can reflect on these memories and they can give us confidence and strength, facing life with the most positive attitude when life gets rough.  What, though, if your ''super computer'' got a virus that completely erased all of your memories and changed you, in the worst way, so your not even close to the person you once were?  What if the person who is dealing with this condition is your mom?  The closest person to your heart whom you've relied on much of your life for advice and support... for everything!! In this heartbreakingly candid, yet positive memoir, Kimberly Williams-Paisley shows you a very personal battle that she and her family are fighting.  Her mom, Linda, being diagnosed with PPA.  "Primary Progressive Aphasia is a progressive loss of language function.  Language is a uniquely human faculty that allows us to communicate with each other through the use of words. Our language functions include speaking and understanding what others are"  Kimberly describes how her mom went from being the pillar of support, her ''private applause section", to someone who was easily frustrated, emotional, and finally left with no ability to communicate.  It became increasingly apparent that life was not going to be as easily lived like it once was.  Once the initial sadness and hopelessness left, the family banded together, supported one another, and have made the best out of life, for as long as they can!  Through the struggles and the pain, Kimberly and her family have accomplished the task of looking for the smallest silver lining.  Looking for where the light gets in, because Linda is not her diagnosis of PPA.  She is a person, and most importantly....she's MOM!

Get the book here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/where-the-light-gets-in-kimberly-williams-paisley/1122312815?ean=9781101902950

Michelle Fischer is host of A View from My Window, a podcast produced by The Arc of Indiana

Monday, November 7, 2016

They even promote Cerebral Palsy Awareness in Australia!




Robyn Cummins, World CP Day Manager- Australia 
When your child becomes diagnosed with a disability, it can feel as if your whole world is crumbling.  The challenge that most parents face is rebuilding and re-envisioning what life will now look like for their child and the entire family.  I recently interviewed Robyn Cummins, World Cerebral Palsy Manager, in Australia.  I loved this interview so much because it really showed that Disability Awareness, especially Cerebral Palsy Awareness is a world wide effort!

 When I started receiving World Cerebral Palsy Day emails several years ago, those emails really underscored the saying that "a picture is worth a thousand words".  Within these emails, guest bloggers write about their experiences with having CP and having enough determination to show others that they can work within the confines of their situations. This means there are certain things that are part of the disability that are not changeable, but there are many variables that ARE in your power to change.
For more information on the World Cerebral Palsy Day Campaign:
www.worldcpday.org/our campaign
 I was also very touched the World CP day team allowed me to tshare my story! They did a great job! Read my story here: https://worldcpday.org/our-campaign/contribution/michelle-fischer/  Here is a little bit more about Robyn Cummins, World CP Day Manager in Australia:

Robyn
 Cummins
 is the World Cerebral Palsy Manager. Robyn’s passion is the lives and needs of people with cerebral palsy. She works for Cerebral Palsy Alliance in Sydney Australia, managing this global project that now involves 62 countries. She is excited by the opportunity to create positive and long-lasting change through the collective efforts of a worldwide community of people who care about cerebral palsy.

Michelle Fischer is the host of  A View from my Window, a podcast produced by  The Arc of Indiana