What A Hero Means To Me

american-heroOn Sept. 15, 1984, two weeks into her senior year of high school, Kim, 17, and her family went to some friends’ house for dinner. There was a marshmallow roasting pit right in their backyard. The fire was dying, so Kim’s boyfriend told a guest to pour some more fuel on the fire to stoke it up. There was only one problem — that can had just a little fuel left in it so the fumes ignited, causing the fuel in the can to explode; the bottom of the can blew out completely, sending an enormous fireball Kim’s way. She covered her face and she thought, “Stop, Drop and Roll,” and that’s what she did, rolled on the ground. Then lots of blankets were thrown on her by her parents and the homeowners and her sisters to get all the flames out. The teen who poured the fuel was burned very, very bad. Kim’s boyfriend suffered very serious burns, too.
   The ambulance immediately took them to the Bellingham (Washington) hospital and then quickly sent them on to Harborview Medical Center burn unit in Seattle. Kim was burned over 65 percent of her body. Her boyfriend died 10 days later. Even though Kim was very bad off and fighting for her life, she knew he had died. My mom said it was a difficult funeral because Tim was so young and it was hard to accept the whole tragedy.
   A third degree burn cannot heal by itself. It has to be replaced with skin grafts. Kim is 100 percent scarred because all that skin that did not burn is where they took (or harvested) the skin from to cover the burned areas of her body. A skin graft is a special thing they do when you get burned. Doctors take skin from non-burned places and then staple it to the places where you are burned badly. With burns, a person shrinks on the outside and then swells from the inside, so you cut off your own circulation. As horrible as it sounds, doctors had to slice Kim’s arms open to take away all the pressure and let the blood flow.
   Right after she arrived at the Seattle hospital Kim’s throat swelled up and shut. She was without oxygen for several minutes and was considered “technically dead” until the emergency room staff performed an emergency tracheotomy to save her life. That is where they place a breathing tube right through the outside of your throat.
   That began a long, painful journey of skin graft surgeries and therapy. Daily debreeding and tanking sessions took place where nurses scrape and peel off all the dying tissues so she could fight off infections and allow the good skin to heal.
   “When you have burns your body wants to constrict up into a fetal position ball,” Kim said.
   To make sure that her arms and legs stayed stretched out, her legs were tied down, she had to wear a neck brace and have her arms tied down.  They also put steel pins through each of her fingers and wrists to keep them separated. Eventually, they had to amputate her left thumb and finger because they were too badly burned to heal. Later, her second toe was removed to give her a thumb.
   Kim had hours and hours of physical therapy to learn how to walk, brush her hair, feed herself and dress herself again. She spent 95 days in the hospital and just five days before Christmas the doctors let her come home.
   “I came home with one ear, nine fingers, bright red skin and I was bald,” Kim said. “Have you ever heard the saying ’looks aren’t everything?’ Well, that isn’t what society says.”
   When she would go out to dinner or go to the mall many rude people would say “what are you doing in public?” or “what happened to your face?”
   Four months later, when Kim finally went home, people would sometimes say very mean things. They would yank their kids away and say more rude things.
   “I spent hours crying over what people said. It has not been an easy road, but God has been so good to me,” Kim stated.
   Now, Kim gets to go and travel to burn conferences all over the United States and speak to doctors and kids and tell them that everything can eventually be OK. She said she has so much to be grateful and thankful for.
   “I am always trying to tell my children, Mikayla and Hunter, to look on the inside of people and they should never judge somebody by the outside,” emphasized Kim.
   That is why she is my hero. She looks to the heart, not on outside beauty.
   I am writing about Kim not only because she and my mom are best friends (they have known each other “since the womb”) but because she is a hero. Not a Superwoman or a basketball player or a movie star, but a different kind of hero.
   Even though Kim was in a situation, being burned, that could have left her bitter and angry, she has turned it into good. Now, she goes back to Harborview’s burn unit and talks to people who have been burned. She shows them that life can be good and “normal” again. She helps kids who have been burned by going to their classrooms and talking to their classmates. She tells them their friend is still the same person on the inside. Kim volunteers for the Starlight Foundation and helps make sick kid’s wishes come true. Kim speaks to doctors all across the country to try and help them understand their patients’ feelings and fears better.
   I have known Kim all my life. My mom told me I did not even notice Kim was burned until I was about 8 and then I heard them talking about it. I asked “what happened to Kim?” My mom said, “Didn’t you know Kim was burned?” I said I knew Kim’s skin was different, but I just thought “that’s the way she is!” To me Kim is nice and kind and funny and she loves me. It doesn’t matter what her skin looks like. It matters that she is a good person on the inside and God has made her just right. She is my hero.

25 “Must Read” Books for Your Summer Reading List!

Whether you are a writer, a business man or woman, a scientific genius, or a professional couch potato, this list of “must read” books is sure to make a mark on your life, and summer reading list! These are dearly loved books that have been read by millions of individuals over the years, add yourself to that number!

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
“You have bewitched me body and soul.” – Mr. Darcy

2. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
“He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” – Cathy

3. The Plague – Albert Camus
“But what does it mean, the plague? It’s life, that’s all.”

4. My Ántonia – Willa Cather
“That is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.”

5. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
“The mind of a man is capable of anything!”

6. The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.”

7. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald (“Gasp, there is a book!?’ You ask. Why of course there is old sport, sometime before the ever so popular new release of the movie, try 1925!)
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

8. The Scarlet Letter – Nathanial Hawthorne (Unfortunately, “Easy A” only touched the surface… there’s nothing like being called a harlot!)
“She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.”

9. The Autobiography of Malcolm X – Malcolm X (History at its finest.)

10. Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller (Sure, maybe marrying Marilyn Monroe wasn’t one of his best ideas, but he wrote phenomenal plays!)
“The jungle is dark but full of diamonds, Willy.”

11. The Horror and Mystery Tales – Edgar Allan Poe (Is that a heartbeat I hear thumping underneath the floorboards?)

12. Call It Sleep – Henry Roth (The struggle for Jewish immigrants in America.)

13. Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
“If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she’s late?”

14. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”

15. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain (or Samuel Clemens if you will…)
“Human beings can be awful cruel to one another.”

16. The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane
“It was not well to drive men into final corners; at those moments they could all develop teeth and claws.”

17. Lord of the Flies – William Golding (Who has the conch?)
“The thing is- fear can’t hurt you any more than a dream.”

18. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley (Smoke a little Peyote Cactus and you’re good to go…)

19. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
“I am no bird, and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

20. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller (Is your life full of “Catch-22’s?”)

21. Emma – Jane Austen
“I may have lost my heart, but not my self-control.”

22. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.”

23. Steppenwolf – Hermann Hesse
“Solitude is independence.”

24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
“Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of an intelligent woman.”

25. Siddhartha – Hermann Hesse (You may need to look to Buddha for this one!)
“Your soul is the whole world.”

Replace “fear of the unknown” with curiosity…

fear of the unknown

“Our fears are more numerous than our dangers, and we suffer more in our imagination than in reality.” – Seneca

Fear is a powerful human emotion that keeps some from taking chances in life that will be extremely beneficial. When we perceive something as “dangerous” our idea of fear takes the leading position in the actions and choices we make. Though this may be helpful in some instances, what our mind may perceive as dangerous doesn’t actually mean it’s physically harmful. While fear is a common survival mechanism, it’s also a demon that can bring you down when you have no trust.

Fear is a personal battle in my life because it has completely pushed me away in the past from what I desperately needed the most. I spent too long thinking about the negative results that could surface if I let a certain person into my life. Instead of looking at the positive aspects, the future, and the happiness that could surround my life, I focused all my attention on the “what ifs?” I plagued my mind with being hurt, used, and betrayed even though deep in my heart I knew this person wouldn’t treat me like that.

Fear is attached to other emotions and memories that you may have experienced in the past, which is what led me to push myself away from the positive in my life due to my fear that things could end wrong… I could be hurt… I could be lost. Trust was the huge missing piece to why I let fear take over my mind; I HAD NONE.

It was only about 4 weeks ago that I realized what I had been pushing into the dark abyss of mind in order to keep from thinking about it… love drives out fear. I was constantly grasping for things and people I could not reach because fear kept me from taking that small extra step. Once I took it, and drove fear out by letting love in I was living in a totally different world.

Fear was the prison that led my heart to believe there was no hope. Now that’s a sorry and sad thought. My heart, which has always been ready to love unconditionally was rattling the chains on the door of fear, wanting out but too blind to see the key was right there.

Life is always full of uncertainty and that cannot stop us from loving and simply existing.

Here the world spins, people live, move, breathe, love, die. Beautiful and terrible things will happen here. Do not be afraid.

When you know what you want, don’t settle for less…

Average

Conversations between my roommate and I are never “normal” but then again, who wants to be just normal? ( A particular conversation we had a few weeks ago has plagued my mind and forced me to keep thinking about what we had discussed. OBVIOUSLY it was about relationships and finding the right person for you, etc. (we are girls in college, are you surprised?) 🙂 Having this particular conversation really helped me to understand exactly what I want and am looking for when it comes to a relationship and my life. I see many successful relationships around me; however, I see many unsuccessful ones as well. I’ve always known who I am and more importantly what I want. Deep conversations with Megan have just helped reaffirm what I already knew. I did the dating thing in high school and it was fun but I wasn’t with someone who shared many of the same interests as me.. and I’ve realized that was my problem. I’ve come to understand more of what I want. I shared with Megan my outlook on this. In my eyes, a relationship isn’t just about mutual attraction and getting together because of those feelings. What about your likes? Your dislikes? What makes you happy deep in your heart. Scratching the surface is only the beginning. I told Megan (and we both agreed) that when you know exactly what you want, you should never settle for something less than.. I described it like this to her: “I want a guy in my life who is freaking out with joy because he’s found the Frank Sinatra vinyl he’s been looking for FOREVER and loves it equally as much as I do, NOT the guy who went and found the Frank Sinatra record because he knew I liked it and wanted to impress me.” Ok, so maybe this is a weird way to explain what kind of relationship I want.. and I do not believe I have high standards. In retrospect, I just want someone to genuinely love a lot of the same things/styles that I do rather than pretend to like them so that we have more in common. I am confident God created a guy for me that has the same taste and outlook on life as me! In the meantime I am aimlessly wandering around trying to as my Facebook status says, “find a cultured, well dressed gentleman who enjoys “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and will accept me for who I am. That’s not too much to ask for… Right?!” This is how I feel, and it’s REAL!! Enjoy 😉

To entertain you further, I like weird things. (Maybe they aren’t as weird as I think.)
-Rocky Horror Picture Show
– Copious amounts of coffee
– Nicki Minaj and Frank Sinatra (I know, I know…)
– Watching Basketball (Celtics, Lakers, Spurs, pretty much all, love college ball)
– Writing, blogging, reading
– Documenting my life via pictures (every picture tells a story, every story is important)
– Music. Listening, playing, singing vocals, attending concerts
– Traveling (East Coast, love it.)
– Sweaters and cardigans, weird floral prints
– Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn
– Old movies, Bing Crosby, Carey Grant
– Cheap, cheesy horror films
-Alfred Hitchcock
– Anything historical
– Listening to Vinyl
– Random roadtrips, Seattle anyone?
– Aimless driving with no place to go

Masquerading Hypocrites

Masquerading Hypocrites

“The polite culture demanded SINCERE consideration for others. The project of self-improvement was supposed to produce TRUE gentleman and ladies, NOT hypocrites masquerading as respectable.”

Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson hit it right on the spot… but what happened to striving for this kind of “polite culture” in the world today? Though some seek this, others do not. I wish to someday see a majority striving for this kind of life. It sounds so splendid, so pleasant.

“To Live Is The Rarest Thing In The World. Most People Exist, That Is All.” – Oscar Wilde

I’ve been thinking about self-improvement and am constantly convicted about “being myself.” What does it mean to “be yourself” and am I fulfilling that in my day-to-day life?
As an individual, I find being restricted to doing what you want an extremely troubling issue. I’ve realized I decide who I am… not society, not other people, not my friends. ME. That’s the whole aspect of “being yourself.” It’s up to me to determine what I do in life, what bridges I cross, and who I let in. A choice that I make regardless of what others may want to tell me is right or wrong. I’m tired of feeling like I am always walking on eggshells and that I have to be cautious in what I do in order to please others. That has to stop because that completely depletes the idea of being an independent individual.
Times change, people change, ideas change, relationships change. Change is constant and change is what ultimately helps you to become who you are. The BEST version of who you want to be; who you strive to be. It’s such a personal option that is completely up to you! Am I satisfied with an average life? I don’t want to simply exist, I want to L I V E, and that involves being myself and not letting anything get in the way! Listen to your inner voice. “You cannot destroy me. You cannot make me feel bad for doing what is best for me. I am who I am. I make my own choices. If I haven’t done something it’s because I don’t want to. If I’ve made time for something it’s because it is extremely important to me. I am unshaken.”
Stop.
Breathe.
Cry if you must.
And move on.
It’s time to be who you’re meant to be.