Two Realities of CP: Adapting and Stillness

Having lived with Cerebral Palsy for 34 years now, I have come to a few conclusions, however painfully obvious they may be. Allow me to elaborate more in the following paragraphs:

One: I am not “normal” I get it, no one is. But I use crutches to walk around, sometimes a wheel-chair, I scoot down steps (at times) and sometimes I still crawl around. Furthermore, crawling around for me, is sometimes easier, yes others can and do help me and I’m grateful for it. But the reality is, if I can’t carry something in my mouth while walking, well, crawling on the ground while moving something works just great. Again, I know it’s not ideal, or however else one would describe it. But it works for me. I’m not ashamed of it, and it honestly saves my legs some strength and even prevents me for slipping and bonking my face on things.. Which has happened before.  I have come to terms that, some things in life need various levels of adaptation.

When it comes to be a father some day, I might not be able to carry my child in my arms in the middle of the night. Walking them around as most good fathers (and mothers) do, but I can find ways to hold them and other ways of doing things for them. I’m not normal, and I parent or raise my children normal either.  I’m actually very open to this reality and am very excited about discovering what works and what doesn’t in all aspects of my life.   The world most become more open to the realm of possibility, rather than being stuck in the world of impossibility.

My faith in God also plays a huge role in this, because I know that he is faithful and good. Providing all that I need and working everything out for my good (Romans 8:28). It’s learning to trust him, even when I cannot see how things are going to happen, or even understand what God is doing.

Two: I’ve come to terms with the amount of pain that my body is in everyday. Much of the pain, I believe anyway, has much to do with A) getting older and B) the amount of stress I put my body through while in the gym . Both in strength training and Jiujutsu. Again, I’m ok with this, I do the very best I can to combat the daily aches, pains and stiffness . Yet no matter, what anyone does it’s going to be there in some degree. In many respects, I’ve come to a place where I am at peace with the pain. Meaning, I know it’s there, but it will not be the defining factor of my life.  I will not allow it to stop me from being the person that God has destined me to be. This is not to say, that I don’t have days where the darkness sets in, in much thicker shades. They do, yet I have the greatest light in times of darkness, and the deepest anchor in times of trouble.

In conclusion: Not one of us is “normal” whatever that means anyway. Each of us, how are only problems, worries and battles we fight on a daily basis. Life is hard, but that is no reason to quit, we keep an open mind to how we can greater adapt with the circumstances that life throws at us. Lastly, we learn to make peace with the contexts that we find ourselves in, but that doesn’t mean that we become complacent in the fight. No, we keep fighting and moving forward. We teach ourselves to become more resilient and adaptable in the fight. We find joy, hope, wonder in the bleakest of circumstances. If not, we will die a quicker death emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Which is reality that is all too often easily accepted.

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How To Endure Suffering and Embrace All of Life.

 

Life is a series of moments, moments that are quickly escaping us. Whether we are aware of it or not. Which is breath, each month, each year, with every word and with every thought. And what we do in these moments is up to us. What we believe in these moments is up to us.

We can choose to be a pessimist or we can choose to be optimist. Sure, each day brings trials and worries of its own, yet the choice is still ours. Even in the darkest of times, we don’t have to be completely swallowed up by suffering.

Suffering does not have to crush or destroy us. One of the ways I have found to endure the hard times of life, is to condition myself in the midst of suffering. The same way I condition my body in the gym and on the matts. I condition my mind to be strong and stable in the harshest of conditions.

Am I always successful at it? No, I am not. I fail at it a lot, but if I/we do not condition ur minds to endure suffering. Life will in fact crush us. How do I condition my mind, you ask?

two ways:

  1. Patience’s in suffering- this is something we humans do not want to hear, but it is true none the less. Wishing the pain away, really does nothing for us. But being calm and as steady as rock, thus allows us to pray, ask, seek and knock. It allows us to endure and learn optimal lessons about ourselves. Consider the words in James 5:7-8 (NIV)  Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.    When we know that the Lord is near, nothing can shake us. When we truly know his character and his love for us. The suffering and adversity is momentary compared to his steadfast love.

2. Learn the art of Joy: Psalm 30:

 will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up
    and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
    and you have healed me.
Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
    you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.[a]

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
    and give thanks to his holy name.[b]
For his anger is but for a moment,
    and his favor is for a lifetime.[c]
Weeping may tarry for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

 

The poet David knows suffering all too well, and even he has endured much difficulty and despair. And yet he has learned the secret of rejoicing in the Lord, for he understands that God will not let the darkness triumph over him. Yes, I know that others may not share my same belief and faith in the Christian world view- but I believe that it is the only world way, that has anything to say about suffering. And it is the only world view that confronts suffering head on. Some say that faith in God is a “crutch” per- say, and yet most of us, that have been put the ringer of life, understand what it’s like to walk with a limp.  And so yes, Jesus comes along side us in our suffering and gives us himself to trust and lean on.

After all, he was plunged into the deepest sea of darkness for us, to show us his mad love for us and that we are not alone in suffering. He knows our suffering, temptations and weakness very deeply. The blessing of life then, as I said in the beginning, is a bundle of minutes and precious moments, passing us by whether we like it or not, believe it or not. As such, it is up to us to embrace the moments, darkness in all. We all have a choice in how we handle and view the suffering.

I say embrace it, head on, knowing that God is the great shepherd. Who can lead you beside still waters, regardless of where you have been, what you have done or have scared you may be about the future.

You are loved, it is never too late to accept the hand with the most amazing love and grace.

Caught in the Storm

When You Feel Like A Failure

Feeling like a failure is probably one of the worst feelings in the world, wouldn’t you agree? There are days when I myself feel like a failure, where I wished that I would have done things differently in life.

I think to some degree everyone has felt like that, but what are the roots of such a paralyzing feeling?

  1. We lack a core identity or truth about ourselves,  as a Christian and follower of Jesus. My core identity comes from him and him alone, nothing else. And when I know who I am in his eyes and what I am in his sight. Nothing else truly matters in the end. Nothing can separate me/us from his love:

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38, NLT)

2) You are not your past mistakes: No matter what you have done in your past, it does not mean that the past has to dictate your future. Yes, there may be consequences for a past action, but the good news is, is that we can take extreme ownership of our actions, and decide to be a different person here and now. Furthermore, there is forgiveness in Christ and He can make you a new creation:

2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.

3) Persevere: Life is hard yes, people will doubt you, they won’t believe you can change, they will want to see you fail. But you can’t let that stop you. You have to tell yourself, that you will choose to keep moving forward, every second of everyday. You will even have moments where you want to give up, you may even have  moments of break down. And I’d argue, that that’s okay, but then get up, dust off and keep moving forward.images

 

Do What You Were Meant To Do.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

― Howard Thurman

Finding your soul purpose, is not a exploration through outer space. I repeat:

Finding your soul purpose, is not a exploration through outer space.

What does this mean?

It means that God has endowed us all with things that we are passionate about, and talented out. What ever those things are for you, are the things that I truly believe that you should be pursuing.

It doesn’t matter if its painting, web design, clothing, public speaking, mentoring, coaching or something else. If we are not doing the things we love in some fashion. We are living a horrible existence.

As a society, we are caught in the 9-5 trap, working for our bank accounts. Now, if you like what you’re doing, good. Keep doing it. But I feel that most people hate what their doing and as such they are dying on the inside. Living for the Fridays and drinking some beer… Not that that’s bad at all.

But I just think that we could be living a more meaningful existence… You have to work an odd job to make ends meet. But to not do something that makes you come alive, is utter foolishness.

Write down what makes you come alive, make a plan and go do it.

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A Tighter Grip.

I don’t even know where to begin

All I know is that I want to get a grip on myself.

My anxiety has been so bad.

My emotions have been everywhere.

And sometimes I feel like my chest is going to implode.

I find myself crying when I am alone.

I find myself utterly sensitive to the energies around me.

One moment I am happy and the next, anger, sadness, frustration rage.

I hate this…. I hate this.

My soul is desperate for change.

I want to know what it’s like to feel stable.

I hate feeling like such a wreck.

Perhaps its only a season or moment in time.

All I want is to break free. And not be dominated by this internal, unstable and insecure war inside me.

I want to get to the bottom of this, one breath at a time, one step at a time.

 

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Cerebral Palsy. Body Image and Internal Healing.

I’m starting to see a correlation between cerebral palsy and body image, this correlation stems from being in contact with numerous people who live with cerebral palsy through social media. In this particular regard, I’m speaking about having a negative self image.

You may look at the image of me below, and not think that I am “fat” all, but when I look at myself. That is what I see.

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When I look at the sides of my stomach, I think “Ugh gross” then I start thinking or obsessing over what I eat and upping the intensity of my daily workouts. Which is not a bad thing at all. It is a problem though, when you are in the middle of your workout and you can’t stop dwelling on how disgusting you feel and look.

I posted that above photo on instagram a few weeks ago, lots of people said that I looked great, or that we all had those feelings, or even “that’s just skin!” The comments were heart warming and helped me to think more positively.. For awhile, but then I would find myself in the downward spiral of self destruction and sabotage.

My workouts have consisted of lots of burpees, probably two-four hundred every single day. Along with Kettle and Bar Bell lifting. I sweat a lot, recover well but am utterly hungry the rest of the day.  Nor am I afraid of eating my carbs, protein and Beer… My one beer after work.

The engine is constantly stoked, and I’m constantly pushing my mind and body.. But there is this area of my life, that needs change. I’m tried all the thought stopping methods, all the positive affirmations etc. And still nothing helps the crap shoot stop.

After CF today, I came home, ate and then went to wash my stinky self. There I was, looking at my body with contempt. And then I thought, “this has to stop!” Truly the only thing that gets me through life is my faith. So after redirecting my thoughts back to it, I whispered to God:

“God, you don’t want me to hate my body, I know that. Help me to see myself differently, as you do.” At that moment, something clicked on inside of me. I’m not saying that you have to do, as I do, that is something that you have to decide and work through for yourself.

What I am saying though, is that these destructive thinking has to stop, or at least be put in its rightful place. A vast majority of therapists would saying that working out is killing me, and steer me away from it as they would most addictions. But I don’t think that that is the end all be all solution.

Yes, some things might need to change, or pause. But this is less a physical issue, and more a mental, emotional and spiritual issue. And until those issues heal, nothing we change the way we long for.

So! We have to understand that this is going to be a long journey, with plenty of ups and downs and twists and turns. We have to accept where we are at. I know that this is something that will not want to be heard, you might spend lots of time in a wheel chair, and be on lots of meds. Okay, we can work with that, the fact is that we cannot give up.

There are plenty of exercises that can be done from a seated position, plenty of ways to even build stamina too. I should get on making videos regarding these topics. Yet the biggest component is learning to take care of ourselves from a place of love and not so much a “I have to” but an “I want to” there’s a huge difference.

Change your forward thinking: Think less on your image, and think more about prolonged health, mobility, strength and focus. So that we can be the strongest version of ourselves, not so much for ourselves but for others.

The internal healing is more tangible than we believe, more closer than we think. Much like any medicine though, it takes time for the benefits to show up, but rest assured. Through discipline and diligence change will come.

Blessings!

-Brandon

 

 

 

 

When Your Not So Skinny…

 

The other morning, I was laying on the couch with my niece, my nephew had just gone off to school and I was probably in an out of sleep probably more than a handful of times. When I awoke, my niece was still there beside me watching videos on her Ipad. Most of the videos were toy reviews on YouTube. But one thing that stood out to me was a cartoon we were watching.

I don’t remember the name, but a particular scene a small group of kids were in a science lab, observing two girls who drink a green concoction. Girl A, after drinking it became tone and slender like, and was able to run for a long time on a treadmill. The small group of kids then had eyes bigger than their own heads as they awed over how pretty Girl A looked.

Girl B drank the same green drink and she went from a skinny girl, to a large muscle pound person. The kids were disgusted by her appearance. I couldn’t help but feel sad after watching this. I realized that in this instance, our culture still puts so much esteem on the tone person. But has much less esteem for the bigger muscle bound person. In fact, some think it is down right ugly.

But I ask, what are we teaching the future generation? Is the standard of beauty and fitness still given to the slim and slender type? Though there is nothing wrong with it. The average women who does CrossFit today, that has a lot of muscle to her and a six pack on her is seen as manly looking. And in fact they are ridiculed and shamed by those who do not approve.

I gather that one might not find it attractive on a personal level, but to shame them and say ugly things about them is filled with stupidity. For unless you spent time with them daily, and you saw how hard they worked to get to that point, then you wouldn’t be able to say much. But you damn sure would stand in awe and applaud.

As for the fat shaming that our culture puts into practice, I say this: 1) they probably already know that they are not as healthy as they could be or want to be. So rather than ripping them down all the more, how about you try and spur them on with words of hope and encouragement? I bet much more good would be done in this way. Plus, the filth we have to say about others, is more often than not aimed out ourselves.

2) When you see a larger person in the gym, trying to better themselves. Don’t shame them or speak ill of them. They got out of bed, decided to get after it and make changes to be better and live better.

The culture at large is slowly being revamped, but we have a lot of work to yet be done. We can’t change everyone’s mind. But to those that we can, it’s a job well done.

 

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Brandon’s No Excuse WorkOut

The following workout routine (or body movements) are taken liberally from various fitness channels, and are designed to strengthen and condition the entire body, with maximum efficiency. Movements can be mixed up or done in longer duration. Please understand that this is only meant to supplement and help as a guide and no way, shape or form takes the place of one on one train with a coach near you. Please understand that it is my lifelong passion to help adaptive athletes whether they a walker, crutches, are in a wheel chair or simply do have mobility in one area or another in their body. There is almost a way to be stronger and healthier, you only need to be able to set aside your excuses. You have to be willing to sacrifice what you are. For what you can be. If you any questions, please find my contact information below.

 

Pushups- kneeling or standard way. sets of 5 on up

 

Push up plank- hold for as long as possible in lock out position

 

adaptive burpee- sets of 5 on up (lie flat on ground, perform push up, slide knees under you and come to kneeling position and back down).

 

hip ups- eventually you want to do these with some weight

 

adaptive kneeling air squat- sets of 5 on up

 

inverted row or pull up, if you do not have access to a bar bell, you can do rows with dumbbell, kettle bell or even a gallon of water.

 

weighted squat with dumb bell

 

Floor press with kettle bells, dumbbells or barbell

 

adaptive burpee to standing, thus, after you come to kneeling position, you can use a walker or anything near you to stand up. Then lower self back down for next rep.

 

This is called a no excuse workout for a reason, you can do these every day to build or tone muscle and break a sweat.

 

Let me know if I can help further, as always drink plenty of water, eat lots of protein, lots of green, some fruit and stay away from processed junk.

 

Blessings,

 

-Brandon

Email: Brandon.Ryan1984@gmail.com

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Adapt And Rise

Our excuses to not take care of ourselves are no more.

The reasons we have to not better ourselves, don’t stand up to what the modern day adaptive athlete can do.

Being born with Cerebral Palsy, I was told that there was a low chance of survival, and if I lived. I wouldn’t amount to much. If you heard this story before and feel like you’re reading the same blog over again, I’m sorry but this is my story. And I will gladly proclaim how God took a frail child and turned him into a warrior.

On this day, maybe you feel down and out, depressed, suicidal, feel alone and feel like you could never amount to much. I get it, I’ve been there, but I’m here today to tell you that you can rise above and conquer all of that. Maybe you have bad health, or hate the way your body looks. Okay, lets start making changes right this second.

Maybe you have no use of your legs, okay, you can have a strong upper body!

Maybe you have one leg or arm, that just means that you have to be willing to adapt to your circumstances. There are ways to adapt upper body lifts to those with only one arm. If you have a prosthetic leg, awesome  there’re so many ways you can adapt exercises and functional movements to fit your needs.

Have an autoimmune, still not the end of the world, take the journey of finding good coaches that can help you. Go slow, listen to your body. And go fourth in your journey.

Please understand that, in no way do I intend to sound un-compassionate. Nor am I implying that any of this will be easy. It is because of compassion and love, that I am imploring you  today to not sit in your excuses and settle for anything less then your best.

Do I have my bad days? Yes,  but warriors rise after they fall, they get up after a needed rest.  Greatness comes from darkness, use the pain, use the hurt to drive forward to a better tomorrow. I’ll say it again, there are no short cuts, no self help books or remedies that can make the journey any easier.

What will help is hope. faith. Love and community. These are real things with eternal significants. Whatever is holding you back today, whatever is keeping you from progress. Face it. Don’t give it authority a second longer. Your life matters. Make the most of it.

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It’s Back…

I can feel the depression setting in again, it has been for the past few weeks. It’s like an unwanted guest trying to take of space in your home when they’re not wanted. There have been moments where I have lost interest in things that made me happy, in those moments I’d rather eat ice cream, drink beer and sleep.

I’m not trying to glorify the depression, I’m only trying to express what a bitch it is. Depression is never  simple or easy to bring resolution to, in my experience, it needs to be  met with heavy love and hope.

Normally when I am faced with depression, the only thing that I want is for a friend to put their arm around me, to tell me they care, that they love me and that I’m worth it. Quite honestly, I haven’t had a love like that for many years. Ever since my friend Garret moved away, got married etc. Things changed drastically. Garret used to hang out with me all the time,  take me places and remind me of who I was.

I miss that, so very much. These days my days are spent attempting to seek the type of community and connection my heart desires, after all, the golden rule of all life and religion, is to treat others how you would want to be treated. In the words of Bono and U2 “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”.

Maybe the honest to God truth is that I’ll never find a friend like Garret again, and I just have to be okay with it. But he will always be the example of how to treat and care for others. Sometimes I just feel like selling all I have and going somewhere where people who are in need of a friend, a touch, a huge and warm words for the soul.

I would rather give my heart to people who wanted than to live wondering if I mattered.  The one factor that I have found that truly fights this evil monster of depression, is a purpose. Give a person the smallest hint of light and watch what they can do it. I know that this isn’t always the case, but it almost seems as though that something changes in the soul and even brain chemistry. When a person knows that they might be able to little less dark than when they found it, is truly powerful.

I just am tired of feeling like I am but a memory in this world, I miss being able to smile and meaning it, I miss feeling like there was a dragon to be slain. I miss feeling like a warrior..

 

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