Empire State of Mind

New York, NEW YORK! ….. has always held a special place in my heart.

Empire State Building
2004 – Top of the Empire State Building

My mom is originally from New York, Long Beach to be exact, so growing up we’d take a trip at least once a year to visit my family and to of course eat an unhealthy amount of Gino’s pizza and Ralph’s Italian Ices.

When my sister (Chloe) and I finally reached an age where we would appreciate all that is New York City, we started to incorporate going into the Big Apple each time we went. We usually take the train in from Long Beach, but the first time we trekked into the city we drove. It was the year Bring It On hit VHS so naturally Chloe and I watched the movie on replay on our mini video players the entire drive – both ways. Sorry fam.

Anyways, I definitely had writing about my experiences of navigating through the fast-paced streets of NYC on my list of travel topics to get to eventually. But being in public relations and always staying up-to-date on breaking news and the latest trends, I recently learned that a federal judge has ruled that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority must comply with regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and add elevators to the public transportation in stations across the city. So, figured this was kind of a hot topic at the moment.

I recently traveled through the Atlanta airport for work with a colleague of mine and we took the airport train to get to our connecting flight. The quick train ride immediately brought me back to the time my scooter and I flipped over on the subway. Like, the subway stopped so abruptly, and since I was sitting on my scooter in a perpendicular angle to the train, down I went, directly to the filthy floor with my scooter on top of me – taking my aunt down with me as a casualty. Whoops. Honestly, it was hilarious. My mom almost peed in her pants from laughing, it was quite a sight for all around. How does that happen to someone?! Who knew those standing bars were also meant for someone SITTING on a scooter to hold on to for dear life. Now I’m extra cautious when on any kind of train. Lesson. Learned.

Subway
2010 – The Aftermath of the Subway Tumble

Scootin’ around NYC is intimidating to say the least. First of all, you’re surrounded by New Yorkers who are constantly on the go and often don’t care who’s in their way. Secondly, crossing the street is always an INTENSE game of frogger, and it’s super easy to be swept up in a random rush of people separating you from who you’re with. Especially when you’re on a scooter and at a lower eye level than anyone else. Don’t even get me started on the critical need to swerve to avoid random sidewalk potholes or uneven/nonexistent ramps off the curbs. I honestly can’t complain though, being thrown into the depths of this city has sharpened my scooting skills and has given me so many unforgettable memories.

During one visit, my family and I once asked a random police officer for the best route to take to get to the American Museum of Natural History via the subway. Trusting his recommendations, we hopped on and went on with our travels. Little did we know once we got off, there would be no elevator to be found. Only two flights of stairs separating us from the entrance of the museum.

Luckily, I don’t rely on my scooter other than for long distances, so I can still get up and walk. I was able to walk down the stairs while my mom and sister had to carry my scooter the whole way down. So, reflecting on my many trips to NYC, I’m 100% sure my family is equally – if not more – excited as I am for this news!

While the above incidents were top of mind in relation to the new regulations, I’ve had a ton of great experiences in NYC and overall find it very manageable to get around. Doesn’t hurt that my destinations usually include a Broadway show, lunch at Junior’s or a stroll in Central Park. Besides missing my family and wanting to visit my friends who recently moved there, I’m looking forward to planning my next much-needed and overdue trip to The Empire State!

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2015 – Junior’s in NYC

Chicago

 

Chicago Scootz
January 2019 – First Scoot in Snow

Chicago was a blast! Made me realize I need to travel more often.

Before visiting a new place I’ve never been before I tend to encounter a mixture of emotions and hesitations. Especially when I travel with my scooter. Questions about how accessible the city is, along with what choices I’ll have for transportation, like cabs or trains, always pop into my head. And this time, I was embarking in weather conditions I’ve never experienced before. SNOW!

While I was super excited, I was nervous. Will I be able to walk in snow? Will the sidewalks be buried under so much snow that I can’t scoot around the city? Will I be the reason my friends have to stay behind if I can’t get around?

These were all very valid points that were top-of-mind leading up to the trip. But regardless, I always believe that things will work out just fine and usually I end up with luck on my side.

Turns out, I definitely can walk in snow regardless of my dragging feet and poor balance! Comparable to walking in sand in my point of view, just a tad more slippery. My new boots gracefully helped me get from point A to point B, with the exception of the first night when I drank too many Goose Island IPA’s and wiped out face first… at least there was ice waiting for me to help soothe any injuries sustained. 😛

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To back it up, I traveled from Florida with my friends Rachael and Jennie to visit our friend Brittany and her boyfriend Brian. They live around 30 minutes from downtown Chicago. On our first full day in Illinois, we went downtown and I was relieved to find out how well the city plows the sidewalks during a snowstorm. Scootz got around just fine!

First stop in the city was on top of any tourists’ to-do list. We b-lined straight to Millennium Park and took pictures with the snow-covered bean. It was absolutely freeeezing, but worth it! If you just so happened to be there and saw a girl circling the park with GoPro in-hand documenting her first successful scoot in snow and the monumental bean, that was me.

I won’t take you step-by-step of all we did in the city, but overall I absolutely loved it. The vibe. The plethora options of restaurants, breweries and wine bars. The clean streets. Friendly people. And of course, the company of my best friends. My only complaint is that I wasn’t there longer!

Trips like this that force me to take chances and try something new remind me that I am capable of accomplishing anything I set my mind to. Even if it is with a little extra (and much appreciated) help from my friends.

Now that whatever fears I had were squashed, I was able to shift gears and focus on the fun. Between almost falling down a hill, losing my phone in the depths of the snow, haggling for better concert seats and brewery hopping – we left The Windy City with new memories and unforgettable stories!

Tailbone, Meet Floor

I had a tentative plan. I wanted to write chronologically, strategically, and planned out specific topics. But then I realized, that’s not real life. Because put simply, life happens when you least expect it.

So here I am. 12:03 a.m. on a Monday night with a sudden burst of motivation to write. Why’s that? What is different tonight than a typical Monday night? Well, I’m just casually resting my ass on a heating pad… Literally. And it made me think and reflect on how exactly I ended up here.

I have ALWAYS related to the quote – that for most people represents a metaphor – “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” I do treat this quote as a metaphor and it has definitely helped me lift myself out of situations that would typically lead to self-doubt and disappointment. At the end of the day, I fully believe that every experience brings new lessons and helps to grow you as an individual. And for that, I am always so grateful and aim to walk away with a newfound mentality.

Regardless of the fact, sometimes it does just get physical for me. Like, I actually fall to the floor and quickly get a reality check that I’m no longer a child with the resilience I once possessed. Which leads me here, catering to my latest injury, after a weekend of surprising my best friend in Fort Myers for her birthday and a weekend of drinking.

TRUST. ME. I will go into depth about my experiences about consuming adult beverages as someone with CP. And quite frankly, my experiences just as a regular girl in her twenties. You just stay tuned.

Today I wanted to talk about my injury. Saturday night I took [yet another] direct fall to my tailbone. This time around it is way more manageable than in times past. But regardless, I can’t help but laugh. I’m 26 years old and have successfully maneuvered myself out of more falls than anyone can count, yet somehow a casual fall can come out of nowhere and catch me off guard, unable to reposition myself in time to minimalize my injury.

It was so simple. I was playing a fairly calm game of beer pong. Standing, throwing ping pong balls into red solo cups (missing most of them) and getting cheered on by my besties. Then BOOM, someone walks by and I lose my balance and fall backwards. Talk about a party foul.

It’s cool though. As I said earlier, I was with my best friends, so they know the drill. Just another Chelsea fall. After we all had a good laugh I got back up and resumed contributing little to nothing to my beer pong game, since apparently the older I get the more my BP skills seem to decline.

The night went on, and thankfully having a little buzz helped ease the instant pain of my fall. But waking up in the morning – oh boy. The pain of a tailbone fall is a pain I’d love to never experience again. But, you live and you learn. This reminder, was just that. A reminder that life will knock you over when you least expect it and you need to be aware of your surroundings – specifically the concrete floor you’re standing on. 😉

Ripping The Bandaid

Okay, if I’m being honest, I truly don’t know where to begin. On October 15, 2018 I posted something on social media that I never have before. Something I have always felt comfortable with on the surface, but have blindly turned away from within my core. While that previous sentence certainly has many layers (some not even I can fully grasp at this moment), I have made a personal promise to myself to explore them. Explore the ways I feel, others feel, the way the world interprets certain realities, and the way the mind has the ability to shape positive outcomes no matter the journey.

The social media post I’m referring to can be viewed here. But long story short, it’s the first time I shared a self-reflection about my experiences of living with Cerebral Palsy (CP). If you ask me about it, I’ll tell you a brief medical definition and share how it doesn’t negatively impact my life or hold me back from what I strive to achieve. I’m open about it, completely, and it’s always my goal to make everyone I’m around feel comfortable. That’s why you’ll always catch me with a smile on my face, laughing hysterically when I fall, or making fun of myself in the most lighthearted way possible. But I have never gone out of my way to bring attention to it.

Through my quarter-of-a-century journey of committing myself to ensuring that those around me are comfortable with my disability, I’ve realized I haven’t truly given myself the same commitment. This self-realization has just simply scratched the surface as I strive to understand my life, experiences, disability, mind and purpose.

I’ve always envisioned myself writing a book later in my career to really dive into this aspect of my life, but recently I decided there is no reason to wait. Leading to my social media post on random night when I was deep in my feelings, in an effort to hold myself accountable.

While I’ve struggled the past few months to jump back into exploring the depths of my feelings, I am here now to officially begin my new avenue of expressing my experiences through this blog.

As this first segue blog post from social media to website is on the serious side – I’m looking forward to incorporating my quite unique real- life stories throughout this endeavor. I’m excited to share my authentic self with not only those I’m lucky enough to cross paths with, but myself.

Remembering My Trip To Israel

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June 2017 – Tel Aviv

June marked the one-year anniversary of my trip to Israel last year, so I took some time to reflect on my experience. This time last year I was readjusting back to the eastern time zone and getting back from a ten-day trip called Birthright, aka a free trip for jews. As the pictures and memories have flooded my On This Day feature on Facebook, I remember all of the places I visited, the stories I heard, the history I learned and the amazing people I met along the way.

Did you know that you can fit the entire country of Israel within Florida eight times? EIGHT TIMES! It may seem like it would be an easy country to explore in ten whole days. Well, that’s what I thought at least. While the trip I was on brought me to countless cities and historical sites, time was limited and the ability to truly enjoy and grasp everything that the country has to offer in just ten days is somewhat impossible. The experience opens your eyes to a new way of viewing life but also leaves you with wanting more. While there is so much of the world out there that I have yet to see and aspire to see, Israel will hold a special place in my heart that I hope to one day get back to. Whether it be in the near future or in my later years, it is a country that I will support from thousands of miles away during my lifetime. Birthright is an incredible concept and I am so lucky to have been given the opportunity to embark on such an eye-opening journey across the world from my roots in South Florida.

I’d like to share some of my favorite memories from the trip. While it’s hard to narrow down ten days filled with unforgettable memories, here are some that stood out to me:

  • River rafting in the Jordan River was one of my favorite experiences of the trip. As someone who often kayaks on the west coast of Florida it was an incredible experience to be paddling on the other side of the world in a completely new body of water. While my group made our way down the river, many Israelis were enjoying their day river-side and greeting us as we passed. The views didn’t hurt to have mountains in the far distance, overlooking the water we just paddled through. As a native Floridian, this was a view I never expected to see. But I soaked in every moment, literally!
  • In Tel-Aviv I went on a graffiti tour. While Tel Aviv in itself was comparable to Miami with a beautiful beach surrounding a city-like scene for millennials to enjoy, the history behind the raw-form of graffiti in the suburb of Florence was truly breathtaking. The tour guide brought us behind buildings and back roads to show us pieces of art that would hold deeper messages than meet the eye. I’m not typically someone to go to an art museum, but the graffiti that I saw was constructed with such meaning it made me challenge my first-impressions to search for the deeper meaning that the artist construed. I had zero expectations when exploring Tel Aviv, but the graffiti tour showed me that there is always more than meets the eye and opened my mind.
  • If I had to narrow it down to my top three memories, there is one entire day that particularly stands out to me. The night prior we slept outside in the Bedouin tents where we hiked out in the middle of the desert and looked up to a clear sky of stars, sat by a campfire sung songs and slept in one big tent. The next morning role call was at 7 AM where we immediately jumped on camels for a ride around the desert. (Unfortunately it was a Thursday, so all hump day jokes were sadly just missed by 24 hours). Following the thrilling camel rides, we traveled to Masada. Not only is the historical value of Masada extremely meaningful, but so is the physical challenge that is completed once you get to the top. While learning about the history was very special, I also held myself accountable to accomplishing physical challenges I never expected myself to in the past. Looking down from the top of Masada in the middle of an extremely hot day in the middle of June is a feeling that I will never be able to forget. Overlooking the multiple shades of blue from the Dead Sea and the heights of the desert were unexplainable. After Masada we floated in the Dead Sea – a day I will never forget!

Overall, I could clearly go on with more memories from my trip but I will leave it at this. If there is anything I learned it would be to never limit yourself and your ability to experience anything that may come your way. The trip gave me a little taste of Israel and allowed me to immerse myself outside of comfort zone; I can’t wait to make my way back one-day!

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Bedouin Tents

 

*This post only touches the surface, I will be sharing additional blogs that reflect my trip to Israel on a deeper level, including my experiences of traveling throughout the country with a disability.*