Thursday, January 19, 2017

First day of Project Twinkly Lights and eleven super food salad. It was a good day.

So, the twinkly lights I hung, today, are an easy tale. When I was just a few weeks out...after paralysis. I say this, because the idea I walked one morning and couldn’t, the next, still isn’t lost on me. Say that out loud. I walked one morning and couldn’t, the next morning.  It’s not an easy thing to say or accept. Despite all of my critics. Anyway, I make a point to tell you this story because it has a lesson. And I just love a good lesson.

There was this woman I met because my mom decided to sign me up, against my will, and better seven-year-old judgment, for Irish Dance Lessons. One thing led to the next, as they do, and, along with a friend from school, I ended up practicing at the Pleasant Ridge Community Center as a part of the McGing Irish Dancers. I loved these practises, and these teachers, and this And, then, one day, this woman walked in, with her three ducklings. And, I knew I loved her.

Her name is, Eileen. And, for whatever reason, whatever gift from fate, she was the very person, who walked into my hospital room, after an accident, at just twenty-one years of life, that took my legs, my life, my entire identity, and somehow she made sense of it in three minutes. This woman, Eileen, whom I met because my mom insisted I take Irish Dancing lessons, said, “Oh thank God. Oh, your face is just fine. Not even a chipped tooth. You are still, Sarah. You will be fine. You will be just fine. You, are still, Sarah. But, honey, that haircut is awful. I need to get someone in this hospital to fix your hair.”.

And, in that very moment, that moment when this woman saw through the breathing tubes and the giant back brace enough to say, “You need a good haircut,”...I thought, okay. Okay. Everything will be okay.

Eileen scheduled that haircut and then she arranged a night out to her home, with her family. She picked me up, in her husband’s car, and it was the easiest transfer, since ‘transfer’ became a part of my vocabulary, that I accomplished. I bought the exact same car her husband owned and I have never looked back.

I arrived at her home, full of butterflies. Would her kids still accept me? Would they be scared of me? Would they know who I was?

Kevin and Ron and Eileen, very carefully, carried me up the single step they have when entering their home. And, after I entered, the three girls ran up to me, one pushing me, one playing with my hair, and one running along, asking a thousand questions. Not questions about my wheelchair, but how I was. Was I happy. Was I okay. And, if I was getting ready for the holidays.

We ate dinner and the rest is history. I have four mentors that are younger than me. Four teachers who taught me to be better and more alive. Four teachers who saw me. Yup, just me. No chair, no issues, just me. Four teachers who taught me to be better because they believed in me.
And, their parents’ did too. But, I know their parents, and they would rather I brag on their kids. Because, these parents, they are the real deal.

Eileen taught me the art of home. She taught me home is a sacred space we must nurture and grow. In so many ways.

I learned to cook because of Eileen and Ina Garten. And, the whole cooking thing, that’s several stories, for several different days.

But, last night, I wrote about inspiration. This moment of spirit. The way it has changed my life. And, today, I lived it, again.

My twinkly lights today, are for washed and prepared vegetables for the twelve-super food Kale salad Laura sent me to approve for ‘healthiness’, this summer, and hand delivered to me for a test run. 

I forgot the blueberries, because no matter how much growth I have, my hair will, always, always be naturally blond.

So, Eleven Super Food Salad is my dinner, tonight. Because, I am, still Sarah. I might forget the blueberries, but I will never forget the people who made me feel like it was okay to forget those blueberries and made me feel like it was easy to love, a person who was super damaged, but was, after all, still Sarah. Even when I thought she didn’t exist.

Thanks for your breath of life, Johnston Family. Each of you has saved me. Each of you has made me healthier. Just like this Kale salad, in your honor.

I do love you. Each of you.

The Beginnings of the 'eleven super food salad.'. If you want the real recipe, google Twelve Super Food Salad.  My tip. Don't for get the blueberries. Laura's tip, double the dressing. I agree with Laura and the blueberries. This salad gets better with time. Just as it should be. 


  1. Wow, a two-fer! I read the e-mail push, which comes a day after you post and then when I opened your site to see the pictures I realized there was another there (which I'll get via e-mail tomorrow)! I can't tell you how much I love your posts! I have an incomplete spinal cord injury, and while I am pretty high functioning, everything is just lots harder for me. I can only imagine te added complications of illness on top of it - yikes! I loved your writing about making your home a home. I think I struggle with that, as if it somehow just happens without me. You've newly inspired me. Thank you for sharing YOU!

    1. This. Just this. Thank you for sharing :). And, yes, we are in charge of that whole home part. I think it is, especially, hard when we know how temporary life can be. But, we still have to while we can. Thank you again. You inspire me. xoxo


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