Welcome to BUTTERFLYWHEEL® | Monica J. Foster   Click to listen highlighted text! Welcome to BUTTERFLYWHEEL® | Monica J. Foster

Moving Forward

In ever particle of dust flitting in the air  or piece of old paper we crumple up as we rest from a full week of packing and planning, there’s a memory.  In every piece of lint we’ve wiped from counters and baseboards and in ever dust bunny that seems to scurry from our brooms, there is a memory. Thursday night was the last night in our first apartment together as a couple. Two hearts joined here under one rented roof. We’ve called this place home since the summer of 2004 – much longer than we had anticipated. We’ve seen good and bad here, but mostly good. And for all the not-so-good, there have been good lessons and reminders, so I guess you can’t call anything we’ve experienced really bad. Behind the glossy black door of the accessible unit on Hidden Ridge Lane, many things were revealed and many barriers broken. We opened many minds about what ‘accessible’ really means beyond architecture. Many bonds have been made here that we will pack with us among the many boxes. A loving partnership deepened into marriage in spite of Bryan being mistaken many times for being my attendant or my ‘special roommate’. Job changes and fluctuations in the economy tested our resolve. Dreams were dreamed and realized with still others to come. There was a temporary sick bed for me and my loving caregiver who got me strong again for ‘the next leg of our journey together’ so I could take care of him like I promised I would on our wedding day – even if it is with one leg-and-a-half and two wheels. We survived two home invasions just in the last 20 months, and even more welcomed visitors over the last six yars. We’ve made many dinners here, done many loads of laundry and talked away nights doing bandage changes on the foot I no longer have, before dozing to the sounds of late night cars pulling into the parking lot out front we wished was our front yard instead. We’ve gazed at the pinkish night sky that never got completely black because of Uptown Charlotte lights just over the rise. For all of these things, I am grateful. The apartment may not have been 100% accessible to me, but we learned to adapt together. Across the street, mall security knows us on sight for the countless weekends we saw a movie or had dinner. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police remember us for not the greatest reasons because of two home invasions where I was home and Bryan at work, but we will be missed they tell us. When others recall an old homestead they think of the penciled in growth charts behind a door...

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Break-In Leads to Breakthrough

In the midst of all the packed stuff from the last six years of mine and my husband’s life together as renters, I felt safe, nestled in our mess and safe in the knowledge that I was moving to quieter, family-surrounded digs in the small town of Landis. Except on this morning, that quiet nestled feeling was broken by a home invasion – for the second time in just over a year and a half. It was as it was before in October 2008. I was home alone, lounging and being a bit lazy before getting up for the day when I heard banging at the door. I live in an apartment, albeit not for much longer, but I’m used to delivery people banging, leaving and taking packages to the leasing office. Only this time, the banging was followed by a try at the door knob. And then, a hard thud and crack after that. The hard thud and crack from Monday morning was all too familiar to me, almost like a rewind of the home invasion in October 2008. Only, this time, I had a weapon and was terrified more by the familiar known than the unknown on the other side of the door cracking their way into our home.  I called out this time during the pounding at the door to let them know someone was at home — something I hadn’t done during the first home invasion, thinking mistakenly they would go away. So, I called out this time during the banging, but must not have been heard because he kept coming. As soon as a try to the knob and a light kick echoed, I immediately grabbed the phone to call 911 and grabbed a weapon. I heard yet another kick, thud and crack to the door. No voice calling out to me as before, just silence, other than my whispering on the phone to 911. The 911 operator directed me to talk as if I was talking to a friend, not to panic and keep my weapon in view, I was going to be okay. The police were coming, she assured me. I talked with her more, hearing whoever it was walking around in our living room, where there was a laptop, my watch and wedding set, a TV, some of our moving boxes packed and a bag for Goodwill set to the side to go out.  He must’ve heard me talking because he made his way without a word to the bedroom door and peered in with what looked like a lanyard or wire wrapped around his left hand. The eye contact made my body go electric with fear. As he slipped into view, he made direct eye contact with...

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Stroke Lessons

This past Sunday marked the anniversary of my husband’s stroke in 2002. It seems like Bryan’s stroke is lifetimes away and yet I can feel the same lump in my throat as I recall that phone call from him the following morning telling me he needed an ambulance. We had been dating for about two years and were engaged in our near nightly phone conversation after he and I had each gotten off work. At that time, we were dating long distance and he was commuting back and forth from his small town to mine on weekends. In between, we’d connect after work by phone to talk about our days and what we’d like to do the following weekend together. But on this particular evening, we were both grumpy and tired. I could hear Bryan squirming and moving around on the couch and he told me his right side was tingly, nearly asleep. Must be that he slept on it wrong or worked it too hard at work, he said. A tinge of concern hit me and I voiced it. We fussed a little about how clingy I was being, but quickly made up before we said our goodnights and each went to our respective beds. I didn’t sleep well all night wondering. Something didn’t seem right, but I wasn’t sure what it was. I started to call him again to check in on him, but stopped myself. It was well after midnight by then and we both had to get up early for work. Still, I slept fitfully and was awakened the next morning by Bryan’s hesitant voice. “Don’t worry. I’m OK, but I’ve called an ambulance and Mom and Dad,” he said. I popped straight up out of bed, nearly knocking over my wheelchair next to me. I asked him what was wrong, ready to grab my keys and blow off work in my messy hair and worn out night gown. He demanded I stay put, that he would call me when he figured out something. He had managed to limp to the shower and get clothes on, but the tingling in his arm and leg were getting worse. Reluctantly I stayed put, but I kept grabbing the phone or my keys at my desk, wanting to hurl myself across the distance between here and there to get to where he was. I was terrified. He called a little while later to tell me the doctor had told him it was a stroke. He was having even more difficulty moving his right side and it was basically numb to the point of painful tingling. He was treated and sent home with his parents where he stayed for...

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A Mother Beyond Limits

During this Mother’s Day weekend, I’ve been thinking about how my mother became such a strong advocate and stoked that fire inside of me.  From the time she knew she was pregnant with me, she has told me she recognized the importance of becoming an advocate for herself as a woman with a sensitive pregnancy and a champion for change in the varied communities I would develop in. Our collective story has been one of one upmanship. We’ve consistenty flown in the face of all the ‘experts’ and naysayers buzzing around us. From the time the doctors told my mother I would have a disability or ‘something wrong’ with me and suggested she may want to ‘end it’ to save her life and/or my own, she developed healthy filters and I built them myself by her example. This is not going to become a pro-life or pro-choice piece. It is simply that she chose to ignore professional opinions and challenge the status quo. It took a lot of risks and guts and love to carry me those nine long, draining months. And somehow, somewhere in her heart, she knew it would pay off. Not every mother is so lucky, I know, but somehow she made it. We made it. From the time I broke the nine-month lease sharing space within her, doctors said I would not leave the critical care unit alive, would not respond to her voice, would never go home, would never sit up, go to school, be independent — be anything productive. You get the picture. Still, she doggedly reached for and pursued each of those milestones with me. Watching my tiny head turn in the isolette incubator as she whispered my name, feeling my tiny fingers squeeze hers through the glass, she cheered me beyond the limits others had already set in their minds about my life without really knowing her strength as a mother, without really knowing what the power of assuming in their fields really means to some families. It took a few weeks, several months maybe? But, I went home with her,  learned to sit up, to speak in complete simple sentences by 18 months (so she tells me), to walk on leg braces and a walker by the time I was about three. By age four, I threw the walker down and was on faster, swinging crutches, ready to drag expensive, custom steel and leather leg braces up trees in the yard. In spite of the Florida kindergarten I went to not wanting me there because they presumed I’d ‘fit better in a special school’, she homeschooled me briefly until it was settled (not without a few legal threats) that I could attend public school among my peers without disabilities. And into the mainstream I swimmed, like a happy, grade...

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Angling for Motivation

Being on bed rest, for me, has been frustrating over these last couple of months. You see, I’m typically a very active and independent life coach on wheels. I’ve been a paraplegic all my life.  I’ve had plenty of time to learn to adapt without the use of my legs. However, a temporary setback occurred with pressure sores on my upper legs and my left heel. My wheelchair cushion and the way I was sitting is where the problems began and continue. I’ve changed the wheelchair cushion to be more supportive, but until my wounds heal, I am limited to bed most of the day. Now, I must adapt to being on bed rest, tossing and turning to alleviate too much pressure in one spot. I hope another lesson in adaptability is something I can bring to the table for my clients and you readers as well. I’m enduring the monotony of periodic turning in bed to relieve pressure, long days of rest while on antibiotics to fight infections as they ebb and flow from my body. As I do this, I blog, connect with contacts by phone and internet and build my business acumen. No grass is growing under this life coaches wheels or rear.  Yes, I occasionally sneak out a little while for fresh air with my husband’s help, but most of the day I am in bed, legs outstretched and raised above my heart to promote better circulation. I’m on endless fluids, healthy food and supplements to keep the systems well-tuned. And, even on bed rest, I exercise my upper body to keep me limber. Thoughts of amputation of my left foot sometimes creep in as I see little improvement in my left heel. I refuse to allow it to happen, but if it does I know that the sum of who I am is not tied in how many limbs are attached to my body or how well the limbs I do have work. I am who I am regardless the number of appendages I have. I’m still a wife, friend, life coach, speaker, blogger, writer, and motivator. A starfish is still a starfish even when one of its legs is cut off. Granted its appendages have the power to grow back, but we have the power to grow other things from the inside when something from the outside is taken. In the absence of one physical appendage, I know the extension of my intelligence, attitude and the impact I make on others, continues to have a ripple effect for each person in whom I instill a little more self confidence and power through my friendship, coaching, speaking and writing. Those are just a few of the...

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Making A Healthful Haven

First of all, let me apologize for being a model slacker and not meeting your expectation of a weekly deadline. I have no excuses. No “dog ate my homework” line. No “well, Martians kidnapped me and they broke my computer” cover. I may be on focused bed rest at the moment and making a lot of online and phone contacts, but that’s no reason to neglect my goal of a bi-weekly if not weekly blog post to you. So, you will get no excuses. And you, too, should stop making excuses and make the commitment to get back in action in whatever it is you’ve been meaning to do. Show appreciation to others who have been waiting expectantly and proceed. You can multitask. I multitask, even from bed with my legs propped up. Last time, I wrote about remodeling your state of wellness—not just from within the body, but from the outside. Work on your outer wellness in the form of restful clothing, creative and easy methods for cleanliness, and polishing your outer glow to draw in those inner wellness vibes (or even a few more visitors) as you’re going through whatever illness you are facing.   Once you have your sacred body space shining, you just might have some energy to either do-it-yourself or make a to-do list for someone else to help you create a healthy haven where you are on bed rest. I don’t care if it’s your bed room, your living room. Even if the kids have been mean enough to sequester you’re ailing body to the attic or basement, it is pay back time by making the space better than ever. Put yourself and someone else to work on redecorating your space so it’s easy to get to everything you need, fun, restful and a wellness magnet. Here are some suggestions: Being on bed rest for you maybe a short-term, long-term or permanent endeavor. Regardless of the length of time on bed rest, it’s important to keep your mind stimulated and use this time to let your creative side blossom while creating your healthful haven of rest. Who knows? You might end up helping another friend on bed rest when you yourself are more well.   When decorating your wellness haven it is important to think about surrounding yourself in restful (as well as stimulating) colors, fabrics and objects. You may find yourself staring up at the ceiling a lot. Using colorful posters of interest to you, or dangling 3D art objects and mobiles to the ceiling will keep you stimulated. Mobiles aren’t just for babies anymore! The posters can be rotated on a regular basis, to offer a change and keep your eyes...

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