Thursday, September 20, 2012

Writing about living with cerebral palsy

Days when we feel sick and tired and are ready to throw in the towel, it's always good to remember that there are others far worse off than you who never let their conditions get them down.  Annie Harris is such a person, an inspiration.  That when life hands you lemons, you can start up an international lemonade brand. 

  Annie Laurie Harris, the oldest one of her ethnicity who lives independently, was born with cerebral palsy. She has defied the odds and challenged the medical prognosis since early childhood. She continues to live a full and active life in her 6th decade. After achieving her Master's Degree at Penn State University in 1985 she worked as a counselor and advocate for those with a history of chemical dependency. In 1990, she was recruited by the prestigious World Institute of Disability to be the Assistant Director of the first HIV/Disability Project. Her grant writing expertise is second to none as private foundations funded her innovative research projects again and again. Since returning to her home state of PA where she lives near her beloved alma mater, Ms. Harris continues to be involved in her community and avidly supports the Penn State athletic program. Once again,her love of writing helps to supplement her income. Her groundbreaking memoirs, It's Easier to Dance, is provocative and thought provoking.
What Do You Do All Day?
This is a common question that I am sometimes asked.  More often than not, I have learned it was assumed that I didn’t do much at all.  Let me take you through a typical week in the summer since that’s the season we’re in right now.

My favorite time of day is the early morning and I spontaneously wake up round 5:30 a.m.  I thank God for one more day of life as I make my “must have” cup of coffee and pray a prayer of thanksgiving.  I am at my computer by 7:00, typing in my online journal or starting a post for this blog that I may or may not finish.  During summer I drink a fruit smoothie for breakfast, made by my aide or myself, depending on how steady I feel which varies from day to day.  The morning usually includes some form of physical exercise, as if  typing wasn’t  enough given  the time it takes to control my hands!    Mon, Wed & Fri I exercise in the theraptic pool at Penn State.  Tues & Thurs, I walk with my walker in a nearby park and/or use my exercise band to keep core, leg and arm muscles toned and flexible as possible.  Lunch is my main meal as I prefer to eat lighter in the evening.  I really enjoy cooking!  My aides allow me   to “use” their hands to make meals from scratch.  I usually rest in the afternoon or go to any scheduled appointments.
I keep up with national news and current events by reading online articles from a vbariety of sources, especially those issues impacting the lives of us who are disabled.  Then, of course, there is SPORTS!  I’m already anticipating the college football season and how it will be different for my Penn State Nittany Lions given the events of the last 8 months.  I’ll spare you who are reading this the details.  Summer evenings are spent enjoying plays, movies or just riding my scooter to my favorite spots on campus.  The sun sets near the recently built Law School Building which is beathtaking!

Of course, high humidity and barometric pressure can leave me in pain.  On those days, I just relax and take comfort in knowing that tomorrow will probably be better.
If any of you have some questions, please leave a comment and I will be happy to answer them.

Thanks for hosting, Cindy,  I enjoyed visiting your blog.
It's Easier to Dance, a memoir, by Annie Laurie Harris, a woman of African American Heritage, born with cerebral palsy, depicts the highlights, turning points and crossroads of her life while living with a complex, disability. Cerebral palsy is a neurological birth defect that can impair the function of any part of the brain. In her case, her brilliant intellect exists concurrently with lack of muscle coordination and significant speech impairment as well as difficulty in swallowing and performing everyday tasks. Ms. Harris tells in detail of the struggle to learn to take care of herself, earn professional credentials, work in profit and non-profit organizations, and becoming a contributing member of her community.
 Annie has a contest to give away a  Kindle Fire. 
 
 
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3 comments:

Bk Walker said...

Thank you for hosting Annie today :).

Leisa Watkins said...

So glad you are hosting Annie. She is a courageous woman who is shining a light on disability and the strong spirits who live with this every day.

Suzie said...

I admire you in wanting to help others with their addiction. I wish you all the best.