Wednesday, December 9, 2015

WARNING!! Celiac Disease NOT to be taken lightly!!

Before being diagnosed with celiac disease, I didn't even know there was such a diagnosis.  Unknowingly, I delighted in eating whatever I wanted. Pizza with a thin crust topped with green olives, breadsticks with cheese, cinnamon rolls with delicious creamy luscious galore!  If you're reading this right now, is your mouth watering? You're very welcome! :) I was in foodie heaven, not realizing that in the not too distant future, my body would reject the very foods I loved.  The culprit: GLUTEN. The protein in things like breads and doughnuts.. No, wait.. the protein in almost EVERYTHING I was eating was wreaking havoc on my insides.. manifesting it's wrath on the outside, as well. Acne, hair loss (which is an ongoing battle) hives and feeling sick all over!!                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                        Once we had the answer to what was making me feel so horrible, the real work of fortifying my digestive system against the damage that had taken place, had to begin and has had to continue.  I cried the first time I couldn't have just a regular slice of pizza, or a bowl of regular pasta. I cried!  Looking back on it, it was quite hilarious that I cried... I mean, really!  What I learned is to be very informed and aware of how I felt when I was sick because of the gluten.. ( I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy) and stick to a gluten free diet!  One of the people I have recently had the privilege of interviewing is Alice Bast, President and CEO of Beyond Celiac based out of Pennsylvania 

  Alice herself suffered debilitating effects from celiac disease and didn't know what it was.  Once she became well informed, she didn't want others to go through the struggles she went through.

I have only met Alice and her team virtually, but let me tell you, they are a powerhouse in Philadelphia at Beyond Celiac! They are concerned and understand how important diagnosis and treatment of celiac disease is, and how awareness helps you to alleviate symptoms and get you back on track to a healthy, happy YOU!

Listen into my interview with Alice Bast  here:
Here is a link to their fresh new updated website!
Michelle Fischer is host of A View from My Window, a podcast produced, by The Arc of Indiana

Friday, November 20, 2015

Organization Profile: IPAS

IPAS, or the Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services, was recently featured on "AView from My Window".  I love profiling "new" (to me) organizations who work hard to give people with disabilities a life that is full and meaningful.  IPAS simply wants everyone to be treated the same, which means having the same human, legal and civil rights as everyone else.

The team at IPAS, Executive Director Dawn Adams and Director of Communications Jessica Trimble, plus the dedicated interns on staff are very dedicated to their mission and responsibility of providing the needed support to the disability community in navigating the legal and human rights system, which can be very lengthy and confusing.  What's impressive about Jessica and Dawn is their motivation in helping the folks they serve.  They seek knowledge from other organizations like The Arc of Indiana and the imput from others, including myself, regarding what protection and advocacy mean to us.  The concept of advocacy wasn't even something I could have wrapped my head around, until I started my job at The Arc of Indiana, and saw how much it was promoted and encouraged.  The more confidence I 've gained in coping with my disability, the more appealing advocacy has become to me.  I found that I could implement advocacy in different ways and in different areas of my life.  Advocacy is a gift that is to be shared, so that not only you can live the life that you want, but more importantly so that others can live the life they want and deserve!  

If you or someone you know would benefit from the services IPAS offers,  feel free to contact Jessica Trimble at IPAS  phone: (317).719.3944
                            (317).722.5564 (fax)

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

Listen to Dawn and Jessica talk about what IPAS offers in our interview here:

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Being Thankful: It's all about everyday effort.

I always love getting to spend time with my Grandma!  For as long as I can remember, she's been one of the biggest influences in my life.  My mom has, over the past couple of years, started to take on the role of caregiver, which involves taking care of everyday things for my grandma - making sure she has meals, new clothes when needed, doctors’ appointments, paying her bills, filling out paperwork, etc. - it’s a never ending list, actually.  Each new day brings the same routine and what has amazed me is my mom’s dedication to her mom.  She's told me countless times she doesn’t want my grandma to feel alone.  I see why she feels that way.  Her parents never left her alone or with nowhere to turn.  When my sister was growing up, she was with my grandparents whenever mom needed someone to watch her.  When I grew up, I was never always cared for, as well.  Both my grandma and grandpa made it part of their routine everyday, like clockwork, to be at my house to get me off the bus...always bursting with love and smiles to greet me.  My grandma would fix snacks as we talked about the school day.  I was always helped with my homework (translation: I am not and never was a math genius!)  No matter what it was, they were always there.  Holding me up, cheering me on and building me up.  Returning the favor is only the right thing to do. Being supportive a thousand times over.  For years, my grandma did well on her own and then we realized for her own safety and well-being she needed a little more assistance.  Transitioning there was rough, so the supportive reinforcements were built up.  Reassuring her that she would be in a safe place and able to do what she wanted so she could find more joy in being in a community that would welcome her with open arms and help her through the tough spots of moving into a new phase of life.  Every once in awhile, she would say she wants to come back to the home she lived in.  I started off by saying that I could really relate to her.  I haven’t done all I want to in my life either, but if we get too focused on what we don’t have, we'll miss out on the blessings we do have.  Mom and I both tell her how much we love her, and that moving her to where she lives now is because we want her to be safe, happy and healthy!  She just happens to be all those things, now that she has gotten settled in her new home!

My grandma continues to teach me that you may not have the most ideal situation, but you can be happy in adjusting to a new situation...and come out smiling on the other side!  That’s what my grandma does every day and I’m determined to do the same. Being thankful is an everyday thing. That way everyday can be sunny and bright!!  Make it part of your everyday routine!

Love you Grandma!! :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Handicap This: Promoting Cerebral Palsy Awareness and giving you a glimpse into a real deal friendship!

Every interview I do has an impact on me, and when I interviewed Tim Wambach and Mike Berkson of the wildly successful stage show, Handicap This, it was no different. The impact has been a very positive and personal one.  Tim and Mike have a way of inviting you into their company and making you feel like you've known each other for years. They wanted to meet me and I reeaally wanted to meet them, so it was a very easy comfortable flow when we met and said hi and what made it even more unbelievable was that our interview was over the phone!  I really related to one of the things Mike said... he said that he didn't know if anyone outside his family would accept him for who he was.  Enter stage left, Tim, a 27 year old who became Mike's aide when he was 12.  Soon after, Tim began to realize that his job as Mike's aide was turning into a friendship!  This is a friendship that transcends any barriers!  It's inclusion at it's best! Mike and Tim are BEST friends and it doesn't take you long to recognize their unbreakable bond.  In fact, I was honored that I got to hear it with my own ears! Handicap This helps you understand that there is more to a person than just what's on the outside, it's what's on the inside that counts.  Tim decided that he was going to open his mind and his heart and get to know who Mike really was, which meant Tim would see Mike go through rough, painful times and happy, incredible times... But, no matter what, Tim showed that he would be with Mike through it all... He wasn't going anywhere!  He values Mike's friendship and Mike values his!  Now, and since 2010, you can see their journey play out on stage, where you will laugh, cry and be INSPIRED!

This interview will be one of the ones that will stay with me through my career as an anchor!  Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

Thank you for opening your heart and your mind all those years ago and having a passion for helping those with disabilities and special needs and continuing to make minds "handicap accessible"!  You truly are a one-of-a-kind person!  Thank you for being you!

Thank you for showing all of us what having a physical challenge can look like. We don't have to let limitations define the possiblities of what we CAN DO!  Because you ponder the infinite possibilities, all of us who have the privilege of meeting you, also ponder our own possibilties!  Thank you for sharing your positive journey that is the essence of you!

Listen to Mike and Tim on my podcast! We had so much fun!
Want a sneek peek of the show? Watch Mike and Tim's TEDx Iowa speech!
Michelle Fischer is host of  A View from My Window a podcast produced, by The Arc of Indiana

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Ups and Downs of being a teenager while dealing with Cerebral Palsy: Zach's Story

After I read "Off Balanced" by Zachary Fenell, I was amazed by his writing ability and the way he was able to describe to his readers, the challenges of being a teenager with a disability. I could really relate to his story, since I was born with cerebral palsy, also.  I'm not a teenager anymore, but the frustration resulting from cerebral palsy has no age limit.  It was such a comfort to find this book and know that someone else struggles with the same feelings. He said something when I was interviewing him that I had never thought of when describing cerebral palsy, but after he said it, I knew it was the perfect description!  He said, "cerebral palsy has a way of playing mind games with you."  I thought that was a brilliant statement that should be inscribed on a coaster or cross stitched on a pillow!  Throughout this book, you experience the journey of almost crumbling under the pressure of being different and feeling like an outcast, to feeling liberated and ready to live life to the full!  You will smile, laugh, cry and cheer all at the same time as you read this book!  I appreciate books like this that are so candid and at times, raw.  Zachary Fennell was not afraid to expose the vulnerable roller coaster ride that is called, cerebral palsy.  It's not easy for those of us dealing with this disability to talk about how it really makes us feel.  We are just so used to talking about the happy, less rocky times, but this book shows you that there are two sides to the story and it's perfectly fine to acknowledge both sides, and in turn, help others find their voice and realize that they are not alone.

Thank you Zachary for sharing your story! Cerebral palsy may make you feel "Off Balanced", but your book shows that you can regain that balance and achieve more than you could ever imagine!

Listen to Zachary Fenell's interview here:

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

Perserverence despite unforeseen obstacles: in the words of Jay Ruckelshaus

When I first started doing research for Jay Ruckelshaus' interview, a mix of emotions welled up inside me. On the one hand, I asked myself what I had to complain about and then the feelings of shock and sadness for him because of the complete suddenness of his situation and how it unmistakably changed his everyday life.  He was in a diving accident that caused a spinal injury.  Then the interview came, and you know what?  When I met Jay, all I could do was smile!  His demeanor is positive and happy.  Period.  Getting to the happy and positive part took some time, but what helped Jay was the support he received from his family, his community and the college he eventually attended.  You may have heard of it...Duke University!  Jay kept his eyes fixed firmly on what was ahead and was determined to reach his goal of going to college!   I learned so much from Jay!  One lesson I learned is, if plan A doesn't work, ask yourself: What's plan B?  Plan B may have more twists and turns, and in Jay's case a few more obstacles to jump over, but, it's a plan nonetheless and a plan that has given Jay the motivation to reach out and lend a hand to other spinal cord injury patients who are wondering what their plan B looks like.  Showing others that going to college is attainable, led Jay to create his website The Ramp Less Traveled providing scholarship opportunities, mentorship and financial support to those dealing with these injuries, to succeed.  Yes, SUCCEED in going to college and really succeed in life!  Jay Ruckelshaus is proof that Plan B can work!  If Jay can do it so can YOU!  Always remember, when life gets tough or something doesn't go just exactly the way you planned....What's YOUR Plan B??

Listen to Jay's interview here:

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

There are more "doors of opportunity" that need the right "key" to open them!

The title of this blog was one of the first things John Dickerson said to me not long after the first episode of "A View from My Window" was done.  I was beyond thrilled!  I was actually doing the thing I thought I could only imagine doing or see being done on TV.  With ecstatic gratitude, I thanked him a thousand times over for giving me the job and he said, "Sometimes, you just need to find the right "key" to unlock your door of opportunity."  That statement rang so true.  I had been trying so hard to get noticed for my abilities as an anchor, writer and interviewer, that I told everyone and their brother about it.   I wanted to get my foot in the door of the broadcast journalism field.  When I met John, I was a clerical assistant at Wabash Center in Lafayette.  I was also the Honorary Spokesperson which allowed me to do various media work and TV spots for them.  Yes!  A stepping stone to my goal with the added bonus of gaining confidence in my ability to say how I really felt about my dream - that of being an anchor.  John and I started talking about my clerical job and several other subjects...and then the weighter matter: "So, what is your DREAM job?" John asks.  I remember pausing for a moment, trying to somehow avoid the subject, not wanting to hear, "Well, I really hope that happens for you" or "I wish you all the best in your endeavors."  I had always heard through my job search that it's all about the people you know and your connection with them.  At this point, I was unaware that John was the Executive Director of the Arc of Indiana!  So, I thought, "Maybe this guy knows the right people!"  If I didn't say something, I knew I would regret it.   So, I told him about my dream and felt happy I had talked to him about it, but then I put it out of my mind.  Two weeks later, I got an email from John saying that he really enjoyed meeting me and really appreciated me telling him about my dream of becoming a journalist.  He then explained that he had been thinking about doing a radio type program about issues facing people with disabilities.  I will never forget the very next sentence for the rest of my life..."I think you would be the perfect person to be the host".  I BURST into tears and couldn't contain my happiness!  I may have even screamed! That day, in November 2009, my life was changed.  As I got to know John and interview him over the past few years, I found that he has worked for decades, helping others like me, change their lives for the better!  We all love him for it, too!

So, now, it's my turn to be John's cheerleader as he goes on to accomplish more great things for people with disabilities in his next venture.  Being the "key" to many more doors of opportunity that need to be unlocked, and more hearts and lives being touched through his willingness to lend a hand to a person in need of a dream realized!

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