Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Keeping Busy

I was concerned that unemployment would be boring. I'm sure for many people it is, but I seem to fill up my schedule each week! For a few weeks in January I didn't have anything to do, and found myself spending most of my days sitting on the couch. As a result, I wasn't walking much, and realized that it had become harder to walk when I needed to.

I made one conscious decision and one subconscious decision to make certain that my ability to walk would not slide backwards. The conscious decision was to get a treadmill. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but Mom and Dad had a treadmill that they weren't using, so they brought it to my house. I'm only able to walk on it for about 5 minutes at a time (I have done up to 8 minutes, but that's exhausting!), at a speed of 1.9 mph, which burns about 16 calories. However, since it takes 400% more energy for me to walk than it does a person with their natural legs, I probably burn about 64 calories in that five minute time. At least that's what I like to think.

The treadmill has helped with my balance and overall comfort while walking. My original plan was to walk on it everyday, but that only lasted for about 3 weeks. Now I walk on the treadmill when I have a day or two where I don't leave the house. That leads me to the subconscious decision, which was to stay busy.

Getting involved with the mayor's Advisory Council on Disability has certainly helped with that. I'm also getting involved with a program called S.O.A.R, which stands for Survivor's Offering Assistance in Recovery. Essentially I'll be a volunteer employee of the Wishard Burn Unit to speak with patients and families of burn survivors. Yes, I've already been doing this on occasion, but this will be more formalized, and I'll receive some training as well.

Aside from the volunteer activities, I'm still speaking to different groups about disability awareness. Last week I spoke to pre-school through second grade students at a local Co-op school. This Friday I'm helping the Indianapolis Resource Center for Independent Living with a work-shop for the employee's of the Work-One center's (unemployment office's). We're also conducting the same workshop next Thursday as well. The workshop is focused on a concept called "Universal Design", which points out that modifications for people with disabilities can be a benefit everyone.

Here are a few examples: Curb cuts are used by parent's with stroller's, people on bicycles, etc., far more often than they are actually used by people in wheelchairs. Automatic door openers are used by people who have their arms full of luggage, groceries, or other supplies far more often than they are actually used by a person with a disability. In a business environment, asking every client if they need accommodations regardless of whether they appear to have a disability or not will prompt everyone to let you know their needs. Universal design suggests that making permanent accommodations for people with disabilities, both physically and procedurally, will create a far more comfortable and accessible environment for everyone.

I spent more time on that than I intended to. The point that I was trying to make is that I've been busy. I've realized that when I don't keep myself busy my health slips backwards. Since I no longer get even the little bit of exercises that you get while walking around the house, I have to stay active. Of course, the beauty of being unemployed is that I get to choose when I want to be active!

Good to hear from you Jeremy!! Matt
So, get off your butt and go outside. I could not stand being in my house for a full day and nor going out. I make up some excuse to leave my home evryday. Maybe you just need to know where the pretty girls eat lunch or hang out, then you would find a place to go.
This newest commentary is all about things you can do. That's the list that makes a difference for others. Going to Michigan this weekend. Will miss seeing you Sun. I'll miss the rolls with the terrific filling.
Inspiring, as always, to hear about how you tackle your daily challenges. I didn't know about the treadmill -- great idea! I'm sure once Indiana gets out of this monsoon season, you'll be able to get out even more. Have you been able to enjoy that wonderful deck and hammock yet this year?

Hope to see you soon!

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