Monday, April 16, 2018

Behind The Mic Book Review UGLY by Robert Hoge

I absolutely LOVE when friends give me book reviews!  I logged onto my facebook page one morning and my facebook friend, Rita Shutes, whom I also know personally, had posted a picture of her daughter Olivia with this book standing outside a nursing home where she reads to the residents.  Rita has really instilled in her children the need to give back and make people's day a little brighter.  I have been a recipient of many of these gifts to make people's days' brighter, when I worked as a receptionist at Olivia's daycare!  When it came to this book, it also brightened my day!  UGLY by Robert Hoge is one marvelous book!!  As I got to know Robert through this book, I was moved by his courage and his fortitude to live life to the fullest, despite how different his appearance is from those around him!  He was able, at a young age, to go through a life changing surgery, yet understanding that the outcome would mean an easier way of living.  Unbelievably brave!  What was also brave to put in this book was the reaction of his mom after he was born.  She told Robert later that the reason for her reaction was pride.  She was worried about what people would think about the way he looked.  After working things out inside herself, Robert's mom's love for him grew strong and fierce!  What I really appreciated about this book is that it helps you to look outside your own comfort zone, coming to realize that you don't have to always go along with what society deems as "approved".  We are individuals, made up of different feelings, reactions, desires, dreams and abilities and we are not robots.  All human beings should be treated with dignity and respect!!  Robert gives this magnificent advice:  "If you're different from other kids, don't worry about the jigsaw puzzle.  Don't judge yourself by everyone else's seemingly beautiful picture.  And don't worry if your final picture doesn't seem clear or if the edges around your story don't seem sharp.  The solution is simple: Be unafraid of living.  The puzzle pieces will take care of themselves"

The sentences above are just one of the many golden nuggets you can keep in your "positive thinking" memory bank when you need it!!

Robert: Thank you so much for telling your story through this book!  It reinforces the adage that you can NEVER judge a book by its cover, but you can learn life changing lessons from it!

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

Pick up Robert's book here: www.amazon.com/Ugly-Robert-Hoge/dp/0425287777/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1523929546&sr=8-1&keywords=ugly+by+robert+hoge

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Behind the Mic Book Review: A Beautiful Mind, a Beautiful Life by Lindy Tsang

"An unstoppable person is someone who is not afraid to make mistakes. An unstoppable person radiates confidence because they believe in their abilities. An unstoppable person perseveres by viewing life's obstacles as opportunities to learn and grow.  They don't just dream the dream; they live the dream" 

I feel like this book needs to be announced on the loud speaker at the drugstore, no, not "clean up in aisle 4"... more like "inspirational life lessons in aisle 4...oh, and while you're at it, you can pick up that favorite eye color you've been wanting."  Lindy Tsang uses the platform of makeup tutorials on her Youtube channel to help bring out your best outer beauty and this girl has major skills!  Her love of all things beauty is infectious!  Not only does she serve as an ultra adorable expert, but she's also realized that beauty is more than just about the face.  You can have a pretty face, but feel broken, unlovable and hopeless inside.  I love how Lindy is using her success to help other women succeed and start to love the image staring back at them in the mirror.  Lindy shares deeply personal insights into how she felt growing up.  When she said she always felt different, I completely and totally could relate, especially with having a physical disability and using a wheelchair. One day she decided to take control and change her mindset about the world around her and not put limits on the extraordinary potential inside her.  Her parents just expected her to follow in her family's footsteps of choosing a career as a doctor, lawyer or engineer, but a love of art was what she really wanted to tap into and see if it could turn into, not just a job, but a passion!  Before becoming the household Youtube star she is today, she had to climb from the bottom to the top, but she took steps to pave the way to being the best version of herself.. being unstoppable!  She worked at her parents Thai Chinese restaurant and when she started earning money and buying makeup, she eventually got up the courage to post a video on Youtube!  The flames of her extraordinary potential were being sparked!  Through this book, Lindy walks you through the process of bringing out your own extraordinary potential that could be hidden inside you!  She becomes your loudest cheerleader throughout this book!  I recommend this book becoming a part of your beauty routine!!  Thank you Lindy for writing this book and helping everyone find their own way to being UNSTOPPABLE!

Learn about this book from Lindy herself! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIUpOhu0oN8

To purchase the book: https://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Mind-Life-Guide-Unstoppable/dp/1945293624/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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

Monday, March 5, 2018

Zach Anner: Showing others that whatever life throws at you, make lemonade and show life who's boss!




 
To say I was just KIND of excited to interview Zach Anner at this year's Arc of Indiana Annual Conference would not even come close to adequately describing my feelings. Zach won Oprah's OWN tv show reality competition in 2011.  There were so many things I wanted to cover, but there was so little time. Let's face it, nobody has time for an overzealous "fan girl" anchor!  There were so many things that I respected him for, that I could not fully express because I didn't want him to feel uncomfortable or make it seem like I had an agenda or make it seem like the only reason that I was interviewing him was because he's a celebrity!  In this blog, as a thank you to him, I would like to tell you why I related to him in many ways.  It all started back in 2005, long before there were competition shows and a guy named Zach Anner.  I had graduated high school and really had no specific plans for myself and I was angry and depressed for several years after that.  I stayed stagnant for years...and then one day my vision cleared, and I thought, "being this depressed and down is not getting you anywhere."  Enter 2011, the OWN reality show and a guy from Texas who seemed so sure of himself... I also knew, from going through my own challenges and struggles, that Zach, who was so confident, poised, funny, brilliantly talented, and showing all his imperfections on NATIONAL TV in front of millions and in front of the most powerful woman in TV history, didn't just magically happen.  His being picked for the show, being a contestant in the competition, and winning didn't just fall in his lap. He worked for every last bit of the success he acquired.  In fact, his having cerebral palsy was giving him the opportunities that he had dreamed of.  Zach had the mindset that "these are the cards I've been dealt, I'm going to take this hand and beat the house with it!"  I saw that I could view my cerebral palsy that way too...and when I started to put my challenges and obstacles in a positive light, things went from looking bleak to opportunity galore!  Because of this mindset, his career has skyrocketed!  He has been a writer/guest star of Speechless, a Youtube star, an author, and there is no telling what else is in the wings for Zach!  Now that I have met him, it gives me even more motivation to redefine what it means to have cerebral palsy...take it by the reigns and NEVER look back!  Back then and now, he shows that it's okay to have flaws and imperfections.  You get through them, everyone does, and you won't die.  You may have a few scars, bumps and bruises, but nothing that you can't rise up from and THRIVE AND SUCCEED!  Now, it's time for me to confess something, I don't think I brought the best of myself to this interview.  In a attempt not to be giddy, I held back in being my usual peppy self and just letting the interview take on my usual conversational style.  I got in my head too much, I think, and if I would have told him some of the things that I wrote here, I think a little bit more of a connection would have been made so that the interview could have flowed a little more.  I regret that part of it, but honestly I had the best time meeting Zach, hearing his advice and his perspective on his life, challenges and success.  He came with his writing partner, Gillian Grassie, who is rockin' success too, being a singer/songwriter and harpist!  I really wish we had more time to talk because these two people are helping each other be the best they can be, and it has had a major pay off!  Love that!  Maybe someday we will all be together again and maybe we will just have a round of strawberry milkshakes! (that's a line he used in a Soul Pancake video where he interviews his grandpa). With all my thanks to Zach and Gillian for coming to the Arc of Indiana Conference and sharing with us your time and talent!  You both are AWESOME SAUCE!!

Take a look and listen to Gillian Grassie: www.youtube.com/watch?v=OK04TKFfWek

Hear my interview with Zach here: www.arcind.org/podcasts/a-view-with-zach-anner

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

Monday, December 11, 2017

Behind the Mic Book Review: Someone Like Me By John W. Quinn

I met John Quinn seven years ago. He was commenting on one of Zach Anner's Facebook statuses. Zach Anner won the Oprah's Own show competition, remember? I was in my "interview search mode" trying to book interviews for my podcast. When I get in that "search mode" I can come up with pretty great stuff! I started looking through the comment feed on Zach's status, which I very rarely do, but I when I found John's comments on the feed, they weren't  the type of comments you usually see on public figure statuses. His remarks were dignified, respectful, and very commending of Zach's accomplishment on winning his own show. I noticed after that he made a short comment on his own story. I don't know what the full comment said, because my mind just focused in on the words: "disability" "Navy" and "hid". After seeing those words I was intrigued, but, I ended up going out of the comment feed and forgetting about it until a few hours later. "John is the perfect interview for the podcast, Michelle, c'mon, now, jump on it!" So I invited him to connect on Facebook, bought his book, asked for an interview and the rest is history! Really, John's story is one for the history books for sure. Speaking of books, I couldn't put his down! I read the book in a week! John went into the Navy and retired after twenty years, as a Senior Chief petty officer, which is the eighth of nine enlisted ranks in the U.S. Navy. No one knew until shortly after he wrote "Someone Like Me" that he even had cerebral palsy. That was astounding to me! The foundation that was laid to never let the label "cerebral palsy"  stop or hinder him, was set by his parents. In fact, it was his dad that told the doctors:  I don't want to see the words "cerebral palsy" or "handicapped" listed anywhere in his medical record. If you doctors label him with that now, it will follow him for the rest of his life, and I won't have that."  John comments further on his parents view of his condition:  My parents downplayed the issue of cerebral palsy to ensure that I lived as normal a life as possible  and I was never treated as someone with a handicap by my four brothers and three sisters. It was just the way I wanted it."  John never let his challenges follow him or get him down, even when the tough times reared their ugly head. Through loss, heartbreak, and the rigors of Navy life - screaming commanders, marching in frigid temperatures, a bout of acute cellulitis, losing his parents, his mom to cancer and his dad to a heart attack. His brother Steven took his life by suicide. The heartbreak of losing someone he thought would be the love of his life.  Not one ounce of all the challenges that life has thrown at him, has thrown him off his beat. Through each hurdle he jumped over, he came out stronger and even more determined.  I'm purposefully restraining myself from blogging about the whole entire book. It's a book review which is meant to just whet your appetite, but this book is a definite MUST READ! You will laugh, cry, cheer and most of all, be given hope that the possibilities are endless once you realize never to put yourself in a box, always being ready to push the envelope. As John says: "You want an absolute?  Here are two: You are never alone. There is always hope."  For Someone Like ME!

Thank you John for sharing your story on my podcast so many years ago! And thank you for allowing me to tell your story I appreciated the opportunity! And thank you for always bringing your story to everyone, everywhere! I'm glad I could be a small part of spreading the Awareness and Hope that's behind your story! -----Michelle

Hear John's interview I did with him 5 years ago on his story and book here: https://www.arcind.org/podcasts/a-view-with-john-quinn-author-of-someone-like-me/

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

You can also purchase John's book on Amazon!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Breaking News: I am a Panic Attack Sufferer!


I started experiencing panic attacks around the age of 18, about the same time I started experiencing depression. Depression and cerebral palsy were horrible enough, but then these attacks that have no trigger whatsoever? Yeah, now I'm at the peak of weirdness, I thought. I have never really talked about panic attacks until the last couple of years. I felt like if I talked about them, not only would people not understand, but I would be looked at as the most selfish person in the universe!  The real hard truth is, Ladies and Gentleman... Panic Attacks ARE REAL!  They do make me feel super out of control, mine come out of nowhere...literally I'm sitting by myself or lying in my own comfy bed in my own house!  I may go out to eat with friends and I'll have 2 small ones and a large one that shakes my body so much inside that I just want to curl up in a tight ball and cry until there are no more tears to cry! These attacks don't care that you want to enjoy life to the full with the ones you love, enjoy the act of actually taking air into your lungs, going shopping, going to a bookstore, going to a movie or just running errands. Everyday life is taken from you when these attacks show themselves... not to mention your self-esteem takes a MAJOR hit!  After many attempts at trying to be "Rosie the Riveter" about the toll that these were taking on my body, and that I could ''handle it", I found that it was difficult to deal with these alone. Seeking support makes everything more bearable! I wasn't too much of a fan of being that vulnerable at first, but the more I got used to the idea, the easier it became. As I talked about my anxiety, I found that many people suffer from the same thing. Then it occurred to me... the more you express what you are going though, the more other people feel free to express themselves. You never know how long they've felt the same fear of expressing their feelings, but because you are doing it, they may realize it's ok for them as well. What a gift to give to someone! In the years since, I have been to many doctors with no success. Then I found the sweetest doctor that has done wonders for me in helping control these monsters! Granted, I still struggle with them, and we have a rocky complicated relationship, but, I'm certainly glad I haven't giving up in showing them who's in control! I realized I'm worth it, and I'm certainly not alone.. No one is ever ALONE, my dear reader...NO ONE!

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

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Celiac Disease Monster is in attack mode.....TURN and RUNNNNN!!!

FACT: 1 out of every 133 Americans has celiac disease, nearly 1% of the US population.  83% of the 3 million Americans living with celiac disease remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

Hello, my name is Michelle Fischer and I am among those who have this disease.  I was a lover of all things GLUTEN before I was diagnosed! Bread, cookies, pasta, pizza...you name it, I ate it and enjoyed every last morsel!  Then suddenly after so many happy delicious meals, everything changed!  I couldn't eat without having to make a B-line to the bathroom. I was extremely tired with dark circles under my eyes and I felt nauseous ALL the time!  Was there a monster inside me?  I honestly thought I had some ultra fatal condition!  I'm always really good at building up the worst case scenarios in my head. When it comes to anything medical, I try to be a good patient, but the problem is I don't like needles or painful procedures but I was forced to face needles and blood work head on because my body was fighting a battle against itself and I was smack dab in the middle of dealing with severe repercussions!  I was COVERED in a rash from head to toe that was the itchiest rash...seriously I had never itched that much in my life!  After the rash appeared and the itching was consuming my whole life, my mom and I knew we needed to find out what was going on, because something was terribly wrong!  Two doctors, an awesome internist and a magnificent allergist told me the news I dreaded, yet relieved it was a disease that we would be able to manage. Confession: I cried the first time I couldn't just go in somewhere and order whatever I wanted.  As time has gone by though, having celiac disease has really been an empowering sort of journey for me.  I have become an expert label reader, researcher and food detective, which has resulted in being a healthier me.  Now, there have been a few times where I have slipped unknowingly, because sometimes ingredients aren't listed properly and I didn't look close enough, but it doesn't happen often and for that I'm grateful.  Having celiac disease has also brought self-care to the forefront.  It pays to care about what goes in your body and know what things are affecting you.  I deserve to be the best I can be and you do too!  Making these changes and making self-care a priority...makes you the best YOU!  That's the best gift you can give yourself and others.  Life is meant to be lived to the full, with nothing holding you back or standing in your way!

If you, or someone you know is suspecting a gluten allergy, please don't wait to get tested!  The great people at beyondceliac.org have wonderful resources and all things celiac disease! I interviewed Alice Bast on the podcast a couple of years ago! Here's the link to that interview! www.arcind.org/podcasts/a-view-into-celiac-disease-with-alice-bast-national-foundation-for-celiac-awareness/

Here's a celiac symptom questionnaire as well if you suspect celiac disease: www.beyondceliac.org/celiac-disease/symptoms-checklist/

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

Monday, October 23, 2017

Behind The Mic Book Review: Keeping My Balance A Memoir of Disability and Determination by Stephanie Torreno

Google is a girls' best friend when it comes to finding memoirs on disability, so a journalist such as myself, can wet your appetite to check these books out!  Google did not disappoint this journalist either!  Keeping My Balance A Memoir of Disability and Determination by Stephanie Torreno, is a book that shows just because you have a disability or special need, doesn't mean you can't accomplish your goals or dreams. The key is to explore and consistently push yourself out of your comfort zone, to see how you handle the ups and downs of life that everyone experiences.  Stephanie is incredibly candid in expressing her hurdles, struggles and humor.  I couldn't put this book down!  She had huge hurdles to overcome.  Her speech was difficult to understand and she needed note takers in school and throughout college.  Transportation needs were addressed, sometimes her mom would take her places, sometimes her Nana, then MetroLift....each time she talks about MetroLift though, all I could do was shake my head!  They were always late!!  It's never comfortable to be late, even if you're fashionably late!  Home health care nurses helped with prepping meals, but it was hard to find and keep good help.  The next couple of challenges Stephanie faced were some of the most heartbreaking.  The tragic losses of her Dad to suicide and her Nana to cancer.  Depression and anxiety became her new normal on top of the challenges of cerebral palsy.  She had to come to the realization that no one caused her dad's suicide, so she didn't have to feel responsible.  I really resonated with how she felt, wondering if depression would ever loosen it's grip so that I would feel like myself again, too.  The most wonderful transformation, though, was how through all the challenges, even the ones I haven't covered in this post, Stephanie never stopped moving forward, even when the obstacles seemed impossible!  It was all about mindset when it came to accomplishing the task of college, family life and loss.  This book underscores the fact that no one is "special" or immune to what life can throw at you.  The true success of anyone is all about navigation of the hills, valleys and boulders. Stephanie Torreno NEVER gave up and never gave in.  She kept her balance always with grace and determination...The moral of this story: "You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice"----Bob Marley

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