Archives For Humor

A couple weekends ago I flew to Boston.

I boarded my flight with my usual gear; my Tom Bihn backpack and my carry-on suitcase on wheels. As I walked toward my seat in the back of the plane, I heard someone ask, “Can I help with anything?” “Oh, I’m good,” I replied. Then another offer for help. Then another. “With what? I’m literally just walking!” I thought to myself, all the while smiling and thanking them for their offers. I wasn’t even close to my seat yet, so I though that I must have looked extra pathetic.

I finally made it to my seat and…you guessed it, one more offer to “give me a hand.” “No thank you,” I smiled.

Then I looked at the overhead compartment and thought, “Dude, you better not eff this up.”

I didn’t, in case you were wondering.

I sat there thinking about what had happened and honestly, I was kind of annoyed. I told a friend about it and she said, “At least people were being nice.”

Busted.

See, that’s my philosophy 99% of the time! I appreciate that people are trying to be kind even though their assumption that I need help could be taken as an offense. I’d rather spend my energy being thankful than offended. It took me a long time to get to this place, honestly. When I was more immature I just wanted to prove everybody wrong and it was always about me and the assumption that people were trying to put me down. I think it’s very rare that someone is trying to offend you or question your capabilities when they offer to help; they’re simply trying to be kind. And that’s good.

I was actually flying to Boston to attend the Helping Hands Foundation‘s Winter Outing and I was able to tell the parents this story and try to encourage them. As parents, we really want to try and figure everything out and do things “the right way.” And for parents of kids with physical differences, there are even more situations at play. How do we deal with people staring? Name-calling? Unwanted offers of assistance?

I’ve been at this living one-handed thing for nearly 40 years and I don’t have the answers to those questions figured out yet. And honestly, I’m not so sure that’s even a good goal. The best we can do, I think, is what we think is right and be patient with each other and ourselves the rest of the time. Most of the time offers to help don’t bother me a bit. That day, on that flight, for some reason…did. And that’s ok. There are times when getting stared at still bothers me, too. It’s part of the experience.

If you’re a parent and you’re worried about how to help your kid navigate these sometimes tricky waters, here’s my encouragement:

Be gracious. Be patient. With yourself, your child and with others. You’re doing an amazing job. Just keep doing your best and when those times come where things don’t go according to plan, learn from it and move forward. You got this.

And if you need any advice, I’m happy to give you a hand.

But, just one.

I like to smell good.

Which is kind of a win-win situation for me and whoever is near me, right?

The other day Andy sent me a message, saying, “I’ve got a question for you…. As my son (LBE) is getting older (he’s 10), he’s needing to start wearing deodorant. How do you apply deodorant to your armpit?”

First of all, I LOVE THAT I GET QUESTIONS LIKE THESE. For real.

Secondly…watch this video to see how I do it. Parents, you especially will enjoy this.

What about you? Have you discovered any tips or tricks that have worked for you? Certain brands or types of deodorant that work better than others? Share your experience in the comments below!

The other day my son and I were getting groceries and as we walked toward the orange juice we saw a guy about my age who had an arm just like mine. Once we passed him, we looked at each other and smiled and Sam said to me, “Dad, I know what you were thinking.” “Oh, yeah?” I said.

“Yeah,” he said and then dramatically pronounced, “I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE!!!” while holding his fist in the air.

We laughed super hard because that’s not what I was thinking at all, of course, but it did get me thinking about how I really do react when I see someone else with one hand. This is basically how it goes:

  1. Nice! One hand.
  2. Was that head-nod too obnoxious?
  3. Should I go say hello?
  4. Should I give him a Living One-Handed card?
  5. Would that be weird?
  6. Crap, now he’s past me and I missed my opportunity.
  7. Should I go after him?
  8. Will that scare him?
  9. Am I about to get arrested?
  10. Can I survive in jail?

As you can see, it’s a rather stressful situation!

The truth is, I never used to notice people with one hand. I’m convinced it was because my own one-handedness was never in the forefront of my mind. But, once I started the website, I suddenly noticed all the time! I imagine it’s like when you buy a car, say a Toyota Camry, and then all you see are Toyota Camrys on the road.

Typically I don’t approach people with one hand, just as I don’t approach people just because they have brown hair or blue eyes. I’m naturally an introvert, too, so approaching strangers isn’t my strong suit anyway. That said, if the opportunity presents itself and it doesn’t seem super awkward, I might say hello and tell them about the website. And now with Different Is Awesome! being out, I can bring that up pretty easily if I happen to be around the parents of a child with one hand, or any physical difference, really.

My kids always run up to tell me whenever they see someone with one hand and it’s adorable. I love that they are aware and excited about what I do and that its removed any fear they have about someone with one hand. When we were in Ohio this year for the Helping Hands Midwest picnic, the man at the front desk of our hotel had a limb-difference and do you know how I knew that? Each of my kids went to the lobby to get breakfast at different times and each of them returned to excitedly tell me about him. As we checked out I mentioned it to him and he thought it was hilarious and we had a nice short discussion about the picnic, which he hadn’t heard of.

Ultimately, I notice people with one hand more now than I did before, but for the most part I don’t do anything but that…notice it.

And sometimes yell, “I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE!!!”

If you’re an adult with a limb-difference and you see someone else like you, how do you react? If you’re a parent and you see another child who looks like yours, do you seek out the parents? Share your experience in the comments!

A few weeks ago I was on the news to talk about my new kids’ book, Different Is Awesome!

I had a great time with the hosts and felt like it went really well. Later in the day they put the segment up online and the title of it gave me pause:

Author Talks About Living With Disability

Here’s the thing: I don’t have a disability.

Now, if you know me at all, you know this isn’t something I get angry or belligerent about, but this time it did cause me to go, “What?” Mostly because I thought it could have been presented in a number of different, more positive ways. “Author Talks About New Kids Book” or “Author Discusses New Kids Book Encouraging Children To Embrace Differences” or “Man With One Hand Won’t Stop Making Animated Gestures To Emphasize Points”

Since I was a bit surprised by my reaction this time, I looked-up the word “disability” in the dictionary:

1. lack of adequate power, strength, or physical or mental ability; incapacity. Nope.

2. a physical or mental handicap, especially one that prevents a person from living a full, normal life or from holding a gainful job. Nope.

3. anything that disables or puts one at a disadvantage. Ok, by that definition we’re all disabled.

I love words and I respect the power they hold. I also know that this community and the greater community of people affected by physical and/or mental differences thinks a lot about how we are labeled. And that’s totally appropriate. The conversation is as important as ever and we should all be involved to some degree.

In fact, someone asked me how I prefer to be referred to the other day and after thinking for a beat, I told him I wasn’t sure.

It’s something I’m still wrestling with myself.

I know that disabled isn’t it, though. Or handicapped.

Differently-abled? Diff-abled? Adequately-abled? Mostly-able-bodied? Able-bodied-ish?

The fact is, I’d rather my difference be placed somewhere far down the list of words used to describe me.

I’d guess that the vast majority of you feel the same way.

That said…

What terminology do you prefer to use when describing your (or your child’s) difference?

left handers day

April is Limb Loss Awareness month.

The Amputee Coalition started the party and it was officially recognized by the President in 2012.

I didn’t lose a limb, though.

I also don’t use a prosthetic, so I can’t “show my mettle.”

lsp_sym-logo_171214-100141

So, since it obviously doesn’t apply to me, I’m going to get angry and cry about it.

GOTCHA! HAPPY APRIL FOOL’S DAY!

Seriously, though, it seems like every year this becomes a bit of an issue. Instead of a month to celebrate and unify, it becomes a month of defining even further our differences. I’m not down with that. Jen at Born Just Right wrote a great post about this, too, and I totally agree with one of the folks she quoted who said that despite our differences, “We all understand each other to some degree.” And that’s exactly it. Whether we’re missing fingers or toes or whole arms or legs, and whether we were born that way or lost them somehow…there are so many similarities in our experiences.

Here’s something interesting to consider: All of us who are “missing something,” are amputees by definition. Even those of us born this way. “Congenital amputation is when a person is born without a limb or limbs, or without a part of a limb or limbs.” Want to know how many years it took me to realize I’m an amputee? Over 30. I remember when I broke my short arm and the ER doctor was explaining that I needed to see the orthopedist to discuss my options and I asked, “Are they going to have to…amputate it…more?” My understanding at that time was that the only definition of amputation was that of cutting something off. The truth is, though, I’m an amputee, by definition, because I was born like this.

Now, do I ever call myself an amputee? Not really.

But I also don’t feel excluded when I see Barack Obama officially recognize Limb Loss Awareness Month just because I technically didn’t lose a limb.

And here’s why…I refuse to miss the forest for the trees.

I refuse to get lost in semantics.

Rather, I choose to engage with the heart of the matter. And that is support and encouragement and celebration.

Our community – those affected by congenital amputation, amputation, limb loss, limb difference, disability, however the heck you refer to yourself – while global and not insignificant, is too small to splinter. We need each other.

Which is why I’m going to celebrate and smile and encourage those in our community to embrace the similarities we all share. And take pride in all of the amazing and inspiring people who happen to share some physical characteristics with me that most people don’t.

Now, maybe more than ever before, our uniqueness is being noticed.

And celebrated.

And I am down with that.

Yesterday as I was walking into work, my boss’s boss was laughing as she held the door open for me. I asked her what was so funny and she says, “Bill saw you walking up and told me to give you a hand.” Bill is my boss’s boss’s boss.

I acknowledged the hilarity of the situation because, you know, I super like being employed.

Honestly, though, I love when people joke with me about my arm because it tells me they know me. Bill and Michelle felt comfortable making that SUPER CREATIVE JOKE THAT I’VE NEVER HEARD BEFORE IN MY LIFE because I’ve joked with them before.

And I love that.

Having a sense of humor about my situation, I believe, enables me to live my life confidently.

For one, it puts me in control. I’m the one breaking the proverbial ice; instead of me feeling awkward or uncomfortable, a well-timed joke can tip the scales in my favor when meeting new people. It also puts those around me at ease knowing that my difference isn’t a big deal.

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“He’s just…gone.”

I sat on my brother’s bed shortly after they took my dad away and I said that phrase over and over. That’s it. Period. The story he told with his life was finished. He wouldn’t add anything else.

That’s one of the many strange things about an unexpected death. One minute they’re here…the next they’re gone. That’s it. It’s different when someone is going through a lengthy illness or has reached the end of a long life. It’s still sad and painful when we lose them, but there’s a preparation that takes place. There’s time for saying goodbye. You can ask questions you’ve been wondering about and reminisce with them. When my grandpa passed away, it made sense. It wasn’t a shock. It was incredibly painful to lose him, especially for my dad, but it certainly wasn’t unexpected. Once he died, we mourned his loss, but thanked God for the long life he lived and the example he was for all of us.

I wish we could have done that for my dad…30 years from now.

But, as sudden and as painful as my dad’s death was and continues to be, today I was reminded that life happens just as suddenly.

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Yesterday we had our flu shot clinic at work and I decided to have some fun with it.

Shocking, right?

When it was time to get my shot, I took off my sweatshirt so the nurse could get at my arm and then, well, watch this (click the CC button to see the transcription):

I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous! Only because I didn’t want to offend Barbara or make her uncomfortable. She loved it, though. In fact, several of my nurse friends have told me that it gets pretty annoying hearing “I hate needles!” all day long, so getting a little something out of the norm is greatly appreciated.

Know what else I learned by pulling this little prank? Humor is a funny thing. Literally and figuratively. Trust me, I know my sense of humor isn’t for everyone. I have the emails to prove it. When I posted on Facebook, though, asking if I should do this (rhetorically, of course), it was awesome to see all the responses in favor of it. My favorite was from a life-long friend of mine who said, “I can’t believe this is even in question!”

You guys know me. And I love you for it.

I’m sure there are some deep-seated issues related to my desire to make people laugh, but it’s who I am and it’s not going to change. You have my word that I’ll keep doing everything in my power to bring you humor, hope and help however I can. And I encourage you to do the same for those in your sphere of influence! Make them smile. Give them hope. Help however you can.

Can you imagine how awesome the world would be if we all did that?

Whoa, that got a little deep.

Scroll up, watch that video again and then pass it on.

And for the love of Pete, keep smiling!

Recently I had the opportunity to try out a Segway for the first time.

And you guys…IT WAS INCREDIBLE.

ryan haack segway

WHAT UP, SEGWAY?!

I absolutely loved it.

To be honest, though, when my friend Cabell first suggested the idea, I was a little hesitant. Not because I didn’t think I’d be able to do it, but because it was unfamiliar and, frankly, I didn’t want to die. I had images of being spun uncontrollably and being launched into oncoming traffic lodged in my imagination for some reason. I’m all about reasonable expectations.

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