C.H.O.P.: Life's Lessons

C.H.O.P.: Life's Lessons

My stay at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia although tough, was such a great learning experience.

As many of you know, I've been disabled my entire life. Because of my disability, I spent a lot of time in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. I've had two different reconstructive surgeries, one on the tendons in my knees and lower legs and one on my hips. Now, you might be thinking and understandably so, that having to stay there is quite unfortunate. However, the days I remained in C.H.O.P. and the Seashore House rehab center was one of the best things that ever happened to me. At the young age of ten, I was brought out of my comfort zone and forced to deal with extreme physical challenges and meet all different types of people, from all different kinds of backgrounds when I wouldn't otherwise have gotten the chance.

Anytime you go under the knife; it's serious. No matter how old you are being put to sleep knowing, someone is going to be slicing through your flesh and sawing through your bones is scary; when you're just ten years old, your ability to compartmentalize and keep your fear under control is that much harder. However, it's what I had to do. I had to learn very quickly to put my emotions aside and remain calm. I had to learn very quickly that some things are out of my control and I have to put trust in people. My operations went well, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has some amazing doctors. But, after every surgery, there's a rehab process. I remember going through mine there was so much pain and struggle. But, it taught me to overcome and persevere through anything.

Learning to overcome obstacles might be the most important lesson anyone can learn in life. However, to me, it was even close to the things I learned from my surroundings. Growing up in such a rural area, I was never able to experience much diversity. But, it didn't just regard race or ethnicity. I got a chance to see what other kids had to go through on a daily basis. I saw children with breathing tubes, broken arms, atrophied muscles, burns and gunshot wounds. I've heard kids scream in pain and struggle just like me and sometimes worse. It might not be the happiest of environments, but it taught me perspective. That no matter how bad you think life is for yourself, there is always someone that has it worse.

There is no doubt that some of the toughest situations in life can still be some of the greatest learning experiences. Even at such a young age, that was the case for me. I will always be thankful for my time in C.H.O.P. and always support it any way I can; monetarily or otherwise. And this will not be the last time I write about my experiences there or the people.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.hatzelandbuehler.com

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To The Senior Graduating High School In A Month

"What feels like the end, is often the beginning."

It wasn’t too long ago that I was in your shoes. Just a little over a year ago, I was the senior that had a month left. One month left in the hometown that I grew up in. One month left with the friends that I didn’t want to leave. One month left in the place that I had called “my school” for the past four years. You are probably thinking the same things I thought whenever it came down to only 30 days left. You’re probably scared, nervous, worried, or anxious. Maybe you’re like me and are dying to get out of high school, ready to start a new chapter. Or maybe you aren’t so ready yet. Maybe you’re wishing for a little more time.

As scary as it is, this month you have left will fly by. You’ll blink and you’ll be standing in your cap and gown, waiting for your name to be called to receive your diploma. You’ll look back on your last four years at your school and wonder why time went by so fast. It’ll be bittersweet. However, trust me when I say that you have so much to look forward to. You are about to begin taking the steps to build your future. You are going to grow and learn so much more than any high school class could teach you. You are going to meet amazing people and accomplish amazing things. So, as scared as you might be, I encourage you to take that first step out of your comfort zone and face this world head on. Chase your dreams and work towards your goals. You are smart. You are brave. You are capable of achieving amazing things. All your life, the lessons you have learned have prepared you for this point in your life. You are more than ready.

There are times when you will feel alone, scared, or confused. There are times when it won’t always be easy. But those are the times when you will shine the most because I know you will work through whatever problems you may face. Don’t think of the bad times as a terrible thing. Use them all as learning experiences. As author Joshua Marine once said, “Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”

You might think that this is the end. However, it’s not. This is only the beginning. Trust me when I say that the adventures and opportunities you are about to face are nothing compared to high school. Whether you are going to college, going to work, or something else, this is the beginning of your journey called life. It will be exciting, it will be terrifying, but it will all be worth it.

So, as you walk out of your high school for the very last time, I encourage you to take a deep breath. Relax. You’ll always have the memories to look back on from high school. But your time is now, it begins today. Embrace it.

Cover Image Credit: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1152445/images/o-HIGH-SCHOOL-GRADUATION-facebook.jpg

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10 Pieces Of Advice From My Parents That Have Helped Me Survive This Thing Called Life

I don't like admitting that they're right, but they've helped me through more than they'll ever know.


As I've entered my 20s and have made it halfway through college, I've learned that life can be hard and challenging at times. Like many kids, when I was growing up, I could care less about what my parent's advice or opinions were. Nine times out of ten, I would do the complete opposite of what they said. Once I got older and actually started listening to their advice and put it into perceptive, I learned that they're right more often than I'd like to admit.

1. Don't take things for granted

leonardo dicaprio

I've learned to cherish what I have because I might not always have it. It's easy to take life itself and many things it involves for granted. They've taught me to take a step back from this crazy life sometimes and be grateful for all that I have.

2. Don't be afraid to put your heart on your sleeve


My parents have taught me that if you feel something, don't be afraid to say it or embrace it. If you love someone, then tell them. Don't be afraid to put your heart out there just because you might get hurt.

3. Be vulnerable

risk taking

In life, in relationships, in your work. Take risks, get shot down, and then try again. Being vulnerable is scary yet so powerful.

4. You can never have too many shoes


Otherwise known as it's okay to treat yourself. Life is hard, so take care of you. If that means going on a shopping spree every once in a while, then so be it.

5. You're going to be okay

finding nemo

Whatever it is you're going through, you're going through it and you're going to come out on the other side. It may seem horrible now, but you'll learn from it and be okay in the end.

6. You have to have friends in life


It's important to have people to lean on, especially on your bad days, and to celebrate with on your good ones. You can't just have you or a significant other to rely on.

7. Never be afraid to share your opinion

laverne cox

Don't be afraid to put your thoughts and opinions out there because they might be wrong. They could have a huge impact on someone or something.

8. Don't stress over things you have no control over

don't stress

Everyone is on their own path, which means everything will work out the way it's supposed to, even if it doesn't make sense right now. Again, you're going to be okay.

9. Happy, healthy, wealthy, wise


My dad always says if you tell yourself every day that you're happy with yourself or your life, you're healthy and strong, you're wealthy in love and surrounded by great people, and you're knowledgable or wise, then you can achieve anything in life.

10.  S*** or get off the pot

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My all-time favorite piece of advice. Making decisions can be hard and scary, especially if the outcome could be getting hurt in the end. So, you either make a decision and roll with it no matter the outcome or you walk away.

Thanks, mom and dad for always being a phone call away when I need it! Just know that your advice and words of wisdom don't go unnoticed. For others, your parents have been on this planet much longer than you have and most likely experienced the same situations that you're dealing with. They don't have all the answers, but they are there to help.

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