March 5, 2010
Last week I was watching the Olympics, when a commercial from the local NBC news channel came on. It featured a wheelchair racer, which immediately caught my eye, because I am one. Hey, a wheelchair racer! I thought. Then, upon closer inspection, I said, “Hey — THAT’S ME!” The caption read, “Desire More.”
The caption gave me pause. “Desire More?” I never really thought about my life that way. It’s interesting; some people tell me, “Stacy, if I were in your position, I’d be depressed and in bed. I couldn’t do it. I’d be hating life.” But that is not how I choose to live my life. I guess I do desire more. As a person with a disability, it would be so easy to complain, to let my circumstances dictate my life, and make excuses why I can’t do things. But what kind of life would that be?
I noticed once that I am always the last person to leave an event, talking to every person, doing the very last activity. I told my dad once, “Dad, I feel bad; I feel like I suck the life out of everything I do.”
He laughed and said, “No, Stacy, you get the most out of every opportunity.”
So that “Desire More” description really hit me. I guess you could look at it two ways: You can “Desire More” by laying on the couch fantasizing about the life you want, or you can “Desire More” and actually go and make it happen! I think “Desire More” means dream big and work hard. Don’t WISH for dreams; TAKE CHARGE of your dreams! Be a leader; YOU step up to the plate! Don’t wait for things to happen; YOU MAKE it happen!
I want to make the most of my life. I could let my disability hinder me, but oddly enough, it has actually given me more opportunities to be competitive, meet people, travel, and make a difference than if I was able bodied.
That is because I refuse to make excuses. I make it a habit to write down my goals and put them on the bathroom mirror to see every day. I take advantage of opportunities that come my way. And I don’t give up no matter what. There always seems to be a way if you hang in long enough.
I get the most out of life in several ways. First, I purposely put myself in circumstances where I am forced to grow. I desire to grow spiritually, so I signed up for a Bible study once a week where I have daily homework. It takes a ½ hour a day, I learn a lot, and I find when I am spiritually strong I have a strong backbone for life.
Second, I force myself to be with people. Being single can be a challenge to meet people. Sometimes making small talk is a chore! And it is always easier to sit on the couch and watch TV. But I joined a singles group, and the more I return, the more I remember people’s names and enjoy their company.
Third, I ask for help when I need it. There is no way I could have competed in wheelchair racing without my mom taking me to the track and helping me get into my racing chair. And without the help of numerous volunteers every May, the Ohio Wheelchair Games would not go on. I recently asked a friend of mine to help me stretch my legs, and now he helps me several times a week. Sometimes asking for help with your goals is tough, but it is key if you want to see progress. People are often more willing to help than we think!
Finally, volunteering is an excellent way to make a difference and have amazing experiences. This year I will be a volunteer chaplain for my third Paralympic games in Vancouver. I give a few weeks out of my life to minister to some phenomenal athletes with disabilities, and it has given me some great international friendships and fun travel opportunities as well. I’ve been to Greece in 2004, Italy in 2006, and now Vancouver in 2010.
How about you? Are you stuck in a rut, or do you “Desire More?” If you do, what are you doing about it? Do you want to get in shape? Why don’t you sign up for a race, and force yourself to be ready by the deadline? How about intellectually? Was the last book you read for a college exam? Join a book club or a Bible study to give yourself a group to encourage you and be accountable to. How about socially? Are you resisting growing your circle of friends because of inconvenience and fear? I spent this Valentine’s Day with a group of people I barely knew, and at the end of the night, we were having a great time dancing! Finally, are you a volunteer? Tons of non-profits need volunteers every year, from behind the scenes technical expertise to a loving hand and heart for hurting people. You will come away blessed. All it takes is for you to “Desire More.” And then stop dreaming and start doing!