Maybe twice a month I’ll get this response while chatting with someone online or at work:

“Dude…I just remembered that you’re typing with one hand. How do you type so fast?!”

It’s true, I type like a cheetah. Well, not like a cheetah, but as fast as one. I mean, as fast as one runs. ANYWAY, YOU GET WHAT I’M TRYING TO SAY.

The fact of the matter is that I’m able to type quickly because I’ve had nearly thirty years of practice. I remember being the only kid in my school to learn Logo (a computer language) and then I taught it to my classmates. From time to time I stayed in from recess and tried to find Carmen Sandiego or survive the Oregon Trail.

So, how did I develop my technique? I just did. I remember taking a keyboarding class in sixth grade and we all had to put those covers over our keyboards so we could memorize “home row.” They tried to get me to develop my own “home row,” and I wasn’t having it. I convinced them to let me uncover my keyboard and learn the most efficient way for me to type. I’d love to give the instructor credit for allowing me to do this, but…I probably gave them no choice in the matter. I’ve also never used anything other than a standard keyboard. I know different types of keyboards and adaptations are out there, but the way I figured it, learning on a standard keyboard put me at an advantage because then I could type on any computer anywhere I went.

Over the years I’ve had several keyboard-heavy jobs. At least two data entry job that I remember and over a decade in customer service which is almost exclusively computer driven. Over the last eight years I bet I’ve averaged typing nearly eight hours a day. And in all that time, I’ve never had finger or wrist issues. That said, I’ve been very careful if I notice a twinge or something and I stretch quite often. I can only remember one time ever having to tell my boss that I needed to rest my hand for a bit and that was because I got scared. Otherwise, it’s been smooth one-handed sailing… Hmm, sailing. I’ve never tried that.

Anywho, here’s a quick video of me typing with one hand. It’s not really an instructional video; more of just a snapshot of how I do it. I hope you like the little story I type!

nature biking reading

Winter is finally breaking here in Wisconsin, so I took the opportunity to fill all of our bicycle tires today and then I went out into the woods. I love going to the woods. I don’t do it as often as I’d like, but every time I do it’s an experience I don’t soon forget. Whenever I’m getting overwhelmed by life, nature helps calm me down. Today I threw a bottle of water, a book and a notepad in my basket, slung a chair over my shoulder and then peddled to my spot.

And yes, I have a spot.

I love having a spot in the woods. I always think I’m going to forget where it is, but then I see it from a distance and I smile. Today I propped-up my bike, set-up my chair, sat down and got out my book and then…just sat there for a while. I love looking around at all the trees and the little animals scurrying around. As you can see, everything is still bare and brown and muddy, but the sun was shining, which was nice. The birds were singing and I even got to see a wood pecker pecking about thirty feet from me! After breathing deeply and settling in, I spent some time reading a chapter of Dallas Willard’s “Renovation of the Heart.” The chapter I read was both challenging and inspiring. Willard is so smart and I love his applications of scripture.

I go out to the woods, not only to be calmed by nature, but to reconnect with the Creator. He always meets me in the woods. After reading for a while, I spent some time praying and journaling. I find that when I set aside that time to be intentional about connecting with Him, I’m always reminded of the simple truths that mean so much. I’m reminded that He’s patient. And that He’s not out to get me. That He cares about me and my family. Those times are so integral for my growth as a Christian and as a man, a husband, a father, a friend…

I treasure my times in the woods.

Where do you go when the pressures of life are getting to you? Where do you go to hit the reset button?

Maysoon Zayid has been all over the internet lately.

Whether it’s Upworthy or The Huffington Post, Maysoon’s TED Talk, which has already inspired millions, is making the rounds.

As it should be.

maysoon zayid ted talk

Recently, I had the good fortune of speaking with Maysoon and I’m so proud to share our discussion with you!

Our discussion runs the gamut, from our experience growing-up “different” to the struggle for “disabled” actors in Hollywood and what can be done to change the landscape, to Maysoon’s work with children in Palestine and her adoration for Michael J. Fox on The Good Wife.

I hope you enjoy this fascinating interview with an amazing woman!

And if I may be so bold, I’d love for you to subscribe on iTunes and leave a 5-star review if you like the podcast, too.

(Also, toward the end the sound was getting a little wonky…sorry about that!)

Visit Maysoon.com and Maysoon’s Kids and follow her on Twitter at @maysoonzayid!

Leave a comment about your favorite part in the comments below!

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The sports bug bit Joe Rogers early.

joe rogers notre dame

Born into a hockey family in a hockey state (Michigan), Joe started early and knew by age 9 he would be playing Division I college hockey. A lofty goal for any boy in America, it was especially gutsy for Joe. Born with a limb-difference, Joe’s parents had no idea what he’d be able to accomplish, though they were supportive every step of the way (and continue to be). Joe is finishing his senior year at the University of Notre Dame where he’s been a back-up goaltender to one of the best in the nation and heads with his team to the NCAA Playoffs starting next weekend.

I had such a great time hearing Joe’s story and I’m sure you’re going to enjoy it, too. We learn about how Joe grew-up, the role his parents and friends and community played in his formation as a young man, whether or not he has a girlfriend…you know, the important stuff.

Listen, enjoy, and share!

If you’re an iTunes person, it would mean a lot if you subscribed and left a 5-star review – that really helps boost the podcast on iTunes. Thanks! Subscribe here.

 

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Last Friday I got my phone out and went to tweet something witty when I saw this:

twitter

Say WHAAAAAAAAT??!!

So, of course I immediately went to Twitter.com, just like it told me to, and read everything about the rules to see if I had broken any. I hadn’t. I filled out an “appeal form,” basically saying, “Hi, I have no idea why my account was suspended. Please tell me why and restore it ASAP. Thanks.”

Then I took to Twitter on my other account and started a campaign:

Twitter Unsuspend

In retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t have accused them of being handists.

And then…I waited.

It was frustrating because I had no idea why it was suspended and, honestly, it was kind of embarrassing. If you clicked on my Twitter handle, this is what you saw:

suspended

Yeesh.

It might as well just say, “This person is an evil, horrible person in whom you should have no interest, so WE SUSPENDED HIM.” Mostly, though, it was just the not knowing why. After nearly a week, I finally received an email from Twitter saying:

Oh, cuhl. Thanks.

Oh, cuhl. Thanks.

Just as I suspected, it was a big mistake. An annoying mistake, but at least it was fixed.

And here’s the thing…I didn’t die.

It was annoying and frustrating and I was a little scared at first because there was no communication, but after that…life went on. Without @LivingOneHanded.

We have so much invested in social media these days, and I think that’s great, but we also need to be prepared for if it just went away. I don’t WANT it to, but this experience helped me to see that it’s not the end of the world without it.

In fact, part of me wanted those “following/followers” numbers to stay at zero. A clean slate. Start from scratch.

But, then they were restored and that made me really happy, so…

I’ll keep making the world a better place, one Tweet at a time.

Or something.

Yesterday I got a call from Lloyd Bachrach letting me know that he was giving two presentations at a school near me.

I was introduced to Lloyd about a year and a half ago and this is the first chance I had to meet him, so even though it was really short notice…I went.

Of course.

And I’m so glad I did!

lloyd bachrach ryan haack

Selfie time with Lloyd Bachrach!

Lloyd is a remarkable man, full of energy. He was born with two short legs and he tells his story so well in his presentation. From what the doctors said to his parents to learning to walk to finally deciding he “wanted to be taller,” which resulted in his being fitted for prosthetic legs. The first group of kids were grades K-2 and he handled them like nobody’s business! It was funny to watch the teachers shaking their heads and making comments. “He’s in FULL control!” one of them would whisper. And he was. The second group was grades 3-5 and his presentation was a touch different, but not much. It was incredible to see how confident he was and how the kids respected him.

lloyd bachrach

The kids in rapt attention during the second presentation of the day.

Lloyd spoke about his “dream-makers”: the principal who allowed him into her public school (there were no laws saying she had to at that time – pre-ADA) and his gym teacher who pushed him into sports. Lloyd participated in everything you can imagine, but ultimately became a gymnast, finishing 5th in the entire state of Illinois his senior year of high school! After that, he was a member of the US sitting volleyball team that competed in the Paralympics in Atlanta in 1996.

The kids LOVED his demonstrations. He showed how he walks in his prosthetics and without them. He showed how he runs, with his arms and legs. He also gave an incredible gymnastics demonstration! Incredibly memorable.

I really appreciated the messages he had for the kids. He spoke about where the term “handicapped” came from and why he doesn’t like it and what he prefers instead. Even the word disabled has a connotation to it that says, “You are unable.” So, he tells the kids what he prefers: Differently abled. “See how I ran? I was able to do it, I just do it a little bit different than you do,” he pointed out. Sound familiar? He also shared his keys to living successfully; to overcoming the difficulties we all face in life. Simple, clear and powerful. What also struck me was his bravery. He literally ripped his pants off in front of hundreds of kids and adults he didn’t know. He stood in front of them, proud of who he is and showed them what makes him different and how awesome it is. I loved it. If you have the chance to bring Lloyd to your school, business or whatever, I suggest you do it. Just so good.

As we were walking out together, we made our way carefully through kids playing in the gym (indoor recess). Many of them came up to him and excitedly explained that they, too, were trying to play sitting volleyball! And they gave him high-fives. And one girl gave him a big hug. As we made it out into the hall, he looked at me and said, “And that is what it’s all about.”

And I agree 100%.

To learn more about Mr. Bachrach and his program, visit the “Yes, You Can!” website!

I often see parents posting about that dreaded moment. That moment when her child notices that there’s something different about her…and she hates it.

How are we to react in that moment?

Giving parenting advice is tricky. There’s no one “right way” to parent and I get that, so these are just my thoughts; take them with a grain of salt. For one, you’ll never hear me tell anybody how they should or shouldn’t think or feel.  Especially parents.  If your child’s newfound discovery and reaction makes you feel sad or guilty or angry and confused, I get it.  Those are reasonable feelings to have.  I’d like to be an encouragement to you, though.

I can only speak for myself, but I know many other limb-different adults who would agree…if I ever got angry or sad about my arm at an early age, I have no recollection of it.  None.

When our children are small, we help to shape how they think.  I remember when my kids were little, if they fell, I’d cheer.  They’d peer up at me with a look of surprise on their face, like, “Wait…I think I’m hurt.  Shouldn’t you be freaking out?”  And there I’d be, clapping and yelling, “Yay!  That was awesome!”  Then they’d pop up and carry on.  I’m sure you’ve experienced what happens when you gasp and cover your mouth and shout, “OH NO!”  The kid sees YOU freaking out, so THEY freak out.  I’m not a therapist, but I think it’s the same with this situation.  Your little one gets angry and sad about his hand and if you indicate to them that, yes, it IS a raw deal, they’ll carry that with them.  On the other hand, so to speak, if you allow them to feel what they’re feeling, but encourage them to view it as something positive, I believe that can shape their perspective, too.

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Something happened at work today that made me really angry.

I’m a Team Lead in the Customer Service department for a health insurance company, so I spend a lot of my day having phone conversations with angry people. I also try to help my team know how to handle “difficult callers.” As you might imagine, it’s been pretty tense around the office this year, what with all the changes in health care. With that in mind, I sent out an email to our whole department reminding them how talented and important they are and included a list of ten tips for handling difficult callers. Shortly afterward, I noticed a coworker speaking with my supervisor and she looked pretty shaken-up.

It turned out she had a difficult call, so I listened to it to see what happened. Let me say here that in the nearly nine years I’ve been in this call center, I’ve heard a lot of bad calls. And this one still shocked me. The woman was rude the entire time and then put her boyfriend on at the end only to have him say, “I want to speak to somebody who has a clue what they’re doing.” My co-worker rightly said that she did know what she was doing and he then demanded a supervisor. He had a few more disparaging remarks before he emphatically stated, “You must be black.” As she is a black woman, she calmly said she was ending the call to which he yelled, “F*** YOU, B****!”

To say I wanted to form a search party and go find this clown is an understatement.

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This is the conclusion of my four-part recap of the Helping Hands Foundation’s 2014 Winter Outing.  Read about Friday here, Saturday here and Sunday here.

While my travel to the outing was uneventful, my trip home was…kind of a disaster.

Tony, Nikki and I left the hotel a little after 10am and my flight to Philadelphia departed as planned around 130pm.  I arrived in Philly, took the shuttle to Terminal F, and waited for my 522pm flight to Milwaukee.  We were all sitting there, waiting and watching for our plane to arrive at the gate.  5pm, still no plane.  515pm, no plane.  Finally we were told the plane would arrive at 6pm and we’d leave at 645pm.  The plane finally arrived at 630pm and we waited for an update.  The woman at the gate said something about the pilot needing 15 more minutes to talk to the people in Milwaukee “to make sure it’s safe.”  That was the first indication we had that we might not be going home that night.

Finally, the woman came back and I’ll never forget the look of fear on her face.  She didn’t even use the PA system, she just blurted out, “It’s cancelled.”  Of course a ton of irate people ran at her, like SHE made the decision to cancel it.  What did they want her to do? “Oh, I can see you’re all very upset, so, never mind!  Let’s board and head to Milwaukee! Hope you don’t die!”  Just dumb.  So, we all had to stand in line and try to reschedule our flights.  Rumors were swirling about why the flight was cancelled and when we’d be able to get out of Philly.  I met a few people who I got to help make laugh, so that was nice.  I finally got to the counter and was super jokey with the lady, which she seemed to appreciate.  The first flight she found me had me getting into Milwaukee at 230am on Tuesday.  Yeah…no.  I had her look again and she found the LAST flight to Charlotte, NC at 5, connecting me to Milwaukee around 1030.  “Sweet, I’ve never been to North Carolina!” I said.  She laughed.  She printed my tickets and off I went.

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This is my recap of the Helping Hands Foundation’s 2014 Winter Outing.  Read about Friday here and Saturday here.

Did you know that the Australian Open (tennis) was on LIVE at 4am Sunday morning?

I didn’t, but found it after getting back to my room around then.

That’s what happens when you’re making friends.

After a few hours of sleep (which would become incredibly unfortunate later), I packed-up and headed downstairs for breakfast.  Another buffet, featuring bacon and various other breakfast foods.  Eventually I made my rounds, giving hugs and goodbyes to friends, old and new.  We also had our annual HHF Winter Outing picture with the incomparable Dayna and Vennessa!

Dayna, Tony, Nikki, Moi, Beka, Nick and Vennessa

Dayna, Tony, Nikki, Moi, Beka, Nick and Vennessa

Last year I really had no idea what to expect when I attended for the first time.  And it changed my life.  It really did.  That’s why I was so excited to come back this year!  It’s amazing to hear attendee after attendee talking about how they’ve been coming for ten, fifteen, twenty, even thirty years!  And yet, I feel like a part of the family.  That’s what I appreciate most about Helping Hands.  The acceptance, the love, the laughter, the support…it’s all there in spades.  That’s why I can’t see ever not attending.  Maybe that’ll change some day, but I can’t imagine how.

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