Dear Readers: The end of 2019 approaches as my story segments also come to an end. I began this weekly blog about four years ago to introduce my story. Thanks so much for your positive responses and overwhelming support! I am grateful for each and every one of you, old friends and new.
Subscribers will continue to receive my popular Serendipity Newsletter on the first Thursday of every month.
The final story segment that follows takes place in 2010, ten years after Beth’s injury. My memoir, Struggling with Serendipity, continues from that segment in 2010 to the end of 2018. My book has much more than my blog, including a disability resource guide, a Harvard doctor’s foreword, Beth’s letter to readers, spinal injury facts, and a book club discussion guide, as well as an offer to attend your book club meetings, in person or virtually.
I look forward to connecting with you each month in my Serendipity Newsletter. Look for new adventures! Thank you, Cindy ❤️
Here is my last story blog:
Her first year at law school, Beth received an email from one of the young women she mentored about a scholarship fund for physically challenged athletes. Thankful for the referral, Beth filled out an application and received help with tuition from the generous Swim with Mike Foundation. At their annual fundraiser at Stanford, she swam a smooth freestyle with friends. Beth enjoyed swimming in heated outdoor pools year-round.
“I totally loved law school—and I recognize that’s rare!” Beth said in an interview. “Stanford was a sunny, social place where everyone was brilliant and interesting. I was very involved in the school, eventually becoming class president, and made friendships that are still some of my closest friendships today.”
Beth worked on the annual conference for the National Association of Law Students with Disabilities. Elected Vice President at the conference, she bought her first smart phone to check her email more often. She learned to write emails and texts quickly on her phone with her left index finger, relying heavily on spell check. Voice recognition software had improved, but she still preferred to type everything herself. Beth regularly fielded questions from other students around the country.
“At first, it was outside my comfort zone. But I enjoyed giving back and being part of organizations that can improve life for students with disabilities,” Beth said. “Disability rights in general is becoming a bigger issue.”
As Beth’s 1L year ended, she finalized her 2L schedule, adding Stanford’s Youth and Education Law Project to fight for school services for children with a disability. I helped her clear out her dorm and move stuff into storage. I flew with her to Washington, DC. She shared an apartment for the summer with her boyfriend, each with an internship at different law firms.
Beth immersed herself in research for her first law job and also enjoyed time on Capitol Hill with a legal team who lobbied for disability issues. At my request, she carried something to her summer office on a high floor: what they used at her high school during fire drills to carry her down the stairs, an extra vinyl sheet with handles.
Never used, left behind, and never replaced.
The 10th anniversary of Beth’s injury came and went without notice, except for my new compulsion to write about it. When my job at the nonprofit ended, I began my writing project by researching events and gathering media quotes. The actual writing part was daunting. I wasn’t sure I could do our story justice, but I had to try.
Propelled by millions of small choices, time converged—and converges—into more infinitely improbable moments.
Afternoon power naps kept Beth going into the night, though she still looked exhausted. As her senior thesis deadline approached, long to-do lists on her laptop overwhelmed, but she met deadlines. Barely.
Working at a frantic pace, Beth stayed up too late while I learned how to relax for the first time.
I meditated most days, trying different methods and a variety of prompts. Visualizing the headache as an evaporating dark cloud didn’t help. The traditional body scan became my go-to meditation, even though the 30 minutes highlighted the specific ache in each body part. The rest of the day, the aches usually combined into a general malaise.
Never bored, I left the TV off during the day and always had plenty to do. I often played music in the background, from musicals to classic rock. When I finished routine tasks, I tinkered at writing or picked up my sewing bag. I walked down and up Bear Hill and focused on eating better.
I appreciated the year off from paid work.
Beth officially presented her senior thesis, titled Framing Disability: A content analysis on media agenda-setting of disability issues in a political context. Her work earned high honors and analyzed how often specific disability issues appeared in newspaper articles in a presidential election year.
Next: Which Law School?
Today, I’m taking a blog break to share a splash of serendipity with you!
I was visiting Beth in DC last weekend, and my best friend Deb went to the Wine Room in Marblehead (Ohio) with another friend, Alley. All of us had lived in Tiffin, a small NW Ohio town. Deb was the kindergarten teacher for my son Ben and Alley’s daughter Regina. Ben and Regina were the stars of the kindergarten play that year. Deb recognized Regina’s singing talent and today, Regina has a booming career as a professional singer (www.reginasayles.com).
Regina's mom, Alley, is good friends with Lisa, who owns Mutach’s Market and Wine Room in Marblehead. After talking at the Wine Room, Lisa’s fiancé, Tim, mentioned growing up in Lorain. John and I grew up in Lorain, so Deb asked him if he knew the Kolbe’s.
Tim and John were best friends in 6th grade at St. Stanislaus School when they were growing up in Lorain.
Tim’s awesome bakery, Kiedrowski’s, made the cupcakes for my daughter Maria’s wedding, and we enjoyed more of his cupcakes at Beth’s wedding shower last summer.
Small world. Sweet story, right?
But wait, there’s more! Deb mentions my new book coming out, and my April book events in Ohio. Tim says that he’d like to have a book event at the Wine Room during that time. I talk to Tim on the phone the next day about possible dates, and he’s excited about helping with publicity for it. I connect with Lisa the next day, and she is just as lovely as Tim. So, in two weeks, on Thursday, April 18 at 7 pm, I will be at Mutach’s Wine Room in Marblehead with John to talk about my new book—but the real entertainment will be Tim and John sharing their childhood antics!
Yay for serendipity!
As 2018 draws to a close, I'd like to thank each one of you, my loyal blog followers, for your lovely support! The amazing story I share in this blog includes even bigger adventures ahead. My memoir, Struggling with Serendipity, will launch on April 9 in bookstores and on Amazon, with pre-orders starting March 9. I would LOVE to talk with you on my spring tour, which will include book events on the East Coast in addition to the Cleveland area, Columbus (Ohio), and Chicago. Last but not least, I'm sending you all of my best wishes for the happiest of holidays and a wonderful new year, from my family to yours!
Next Week #OnTheBlog: Treasures!
❤ twitter.com/cindy_kolbe (almost 20,000 followers!)
My blogs about my family’s surprising story will continue next week!
Today, it’s time to accept the Sunshine Blogger Award!
The Sunshine Blogger Award is given BY bloggers TO bloggers who inspire positivity and creativity in the blogging community. Thank you Amber, for nominating me! Amber’s blog is The World Sees Normal.
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog
2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you
3. Nominate 11 bloggers to receive this award, and write 11 new questions
4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your blog
Amber’s Questions for Me:
1. If you could pick one person in your life to switch places with so they could feel how you feel for the day, who would it be and why!?
That person would be the neurosurgeon who walked into an exam room, met me for the first time, and said, “Your pain needs to be much worse before I recommend surgery.” And I wasn’t asking for surgery! I wondered how he could assess someone’s pain level just by looking at them.
2. When you have people in your life that just can’t seem to understand you and your illness, what have you found to be the best way to explain it to them, so they understand?
I rarely try to explain. It’s easier not to talk about chronic pain.
3. When you have some time just for you, do you enjoy the quiet of being alone or would you rather be with a close friend or family member?
I love spending time with my best friend, John. We’ve been married for 40 years!
4. What is your all time favorite TV show?
My new favorite TV show is Rise.
5. What is your guilty pleasure?
Watching the Princess Bride movie, which reminds me of popcorn parties with classic movies when my children were growing up.
6. What is the most UNBELIEVABLE thing that someone in the medical profession has said to you?
See my answer to #1!
7. What is the most annoying thing to you about living with a chronic illness?
The fact that neuropathy, neuralgia, fibromyalgia, and advanced arthritis are forever. (My constant headache seems permanent, too.) Even so, I'm grateful for every day.
8. If you were able to have three wishes what would they be and why?
Peace, health, and happiness—for all.
9. What is one activity in life that you loved doing, and have had to now give up due to your chronic illness?
I refuse to give up anything, but some things like exercise and embroidery are more difficult.
10. What blog have you enjoyed writing the most and why?
My blog about possibility and perspective, with or without a disability. It sums up what I learned over the decade after my daughter’s injury.
11. What is the most ridiculous comment that you have ever received on social media or as a comment on your blog?
The only negative/ridiculous comment I received accused me of exploiting disability, yet the rest of that same comment showed he hadn’t read the post. I’m proud to be a lifelong disability advocate!
My Nominations for the Sunshine Blogger Award:
Kelly at Art & Words
Amy at Amy Henry Books
Maryanne at Pink Gazelle
Kristen at New Dawn for Us
Robin at Mentoring Matters
Tsara at Autism Answers
Andrea at Saving Joyfully
Nancy at Exquisitely Me
Enna at Cabin Twenty-Four
Patricia at Free Oversea
Joy at Sunkissed Scribbles
My 11 Questions:
What corner of the world are you from?
How long have you been blogging?
Why are you blogging?
What do you like best about blogging?
Where would you like to travel?
What would you do if there was no chance of failing?
AND . . . NEXT WEEK ON MY BLOG: Surprises in Cambridge after NYC!
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