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Believe in the team

Everyone needs an A-team. A group of individuals that have your back and best interests at heart. That will fight tooth and nail for what is right and just. Those that you can not only confide in but also depend on to be there when you need them. I was lucky enough to have and still have the very best A-team. They got their name, not from the show but because my name begins the A. Funny enough though they did play up the A-team persona.

Photo: The A-Team, Chrisann, Barbara and Sarah surrounding me smilling from ear to ear with happiness in all our successes.Barabara retiremnet, Chrissann being cancer free, Sarah with a break from caregiving and me graduating from college.
The A-Team Celebrating Barbara's retirement to SC, Chrisann being cancer-free and Sarah getting a break from caregiving! Not to mention my graduation from college.

Change is hard

Change is always difficult, especially for me because I depend on my team to guide me. It's blind faith, one which requires trust, patience, and time. I often worry about things that I cannot control when it comes to change. I didn’t always have the choices I have now. When I did have a chance to choose, I didn’t always make the right choices. I still struggle with that. Sometimes I think it is easier for others to choose for me but then I realize that I give up control when I allow that to happen. Once though it did work out even though I was convinced it wasn’t going to. I didn’t really understand what change meant only that in my eyes change was never good.

The A-team

Photo: The A-team surrounding me with all smiles as I bask in the Crusader award for excellence.  The banner says Strendth doesn't come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn't.
Celebrating my Crusader award before graduation from high school.

The original A-team was made up of Chrisann Sinclair, Barabara O’Connor, and Sarah Ryan. They were the three musketeers that went to battle to ensure I was not only safe but also included. They stood by me when times were tough. They laughed with me until our cheeks hurt. They consoled me when I was sad and alone. They encouraged me to be the best that I can be. They celebrated my every success. Everyone needs an A-team. They supported me all the while being my friend. I miss my A-team and the love and support they gave me. I appreciate them for helping me become me. To be better prepared to tackle the world in front of me and accept change.


Photo: Me and Chrisann.  I am about 6 years old with my curly hair flowing down my smiling face.  Chrisann is smiling next to me holding a pinwheel.
Chrisann and me at the Kindergarten picnic

Mrs. S. was with me the longest, she started on my first day of Kindergarten. The details of our first meeting are a little blurry. I do remember thinking, this is not my mom, even though everyone thought she was. She had long curly hair, just like me, and every time she smiled her dimples showed. She had bright sparkling blue eyes and appeared ready to conquer the world. I was scared that first day. I did not know anyone and I did not know if Mrs. S. would like me, much less take care of me. I had so many changes to deal with and so many questions. Would I make friends? Would my teacher be nice? Would Mrs. S. know how to feed me and take me to the bathroom? Would I remember to tell her I had to go to the bathroom? Things were so much easier at home, with mom and no change.

Photo: I am 6 years old dress for the Hoe down in a bandana necktie red shirt and jeans sitting in my wheelchair next to Chrisann who has her hair in pig tails wearing a matching blue bandana blue shirt and jeans.
Chrisann and me at the Sapphire Hoe down. I am 6 years old.

Through the years I came to admire and appreciate her strengths, her ability to fix anything, and her mothering qualities. She helped me enjoy school and want to learn more. She had a way of including me in everything and helped me create the Fudge Club. We were inseparable, frick and frack, two peas in a pod. What was I so worried about? The change wasn’t so bad. Elementary school whizzed by like a speeding train. I was ready for the next change, after all, it was only middle school and the last few years had been so much fun. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I hate change.

Does anyone like Middle School?

Photo: My two aunts and two cousins, wearing silly mustaches at my cousin Matix's birthday party.  This picture was to show the strange scary people I might see in Middle school.  How people are not what they seem to be.
My silly family. Aunt Candi, Melissa, Katie and Aunt Sally. We were at Matix's birthday party.

Middle school was a scary place, full of new people, new rules, and new teachers. When I wasn’t looking I started to mature and wanted a little space. There were many challenging times in Middle school but, the one thing that did not change was Mrs. S. Looking back now I can see that I needed change and we needed to grow together. I hung on fiercely to what was familiar and safe. I never wanted her taken away from me. Next to my to mom, she was the person who knew me best. She knew what I needed and what I wanted, even though I hadn’t asked for anything. I took comfort in knowing that next was high school, and she would be by my side. She knew me, my friends, and my goals. I trusted her with my life, she would always protect me. Then everything was about to change. I don’t like change.

I hated change

Photo: Barbara and me holding American flags at a tailgate party at WestPoint before she became my aide.
Barbara and me at a tailgate party at West Point before she became my aide.

On the last day of middle school, the administrators had a surprise for me. They were going to change my aide when I entered the high school, Barbara O’Connor would be my new aide. What? How could you do this? Don’t you remember I am blind? How am I going to get to my classes? She won’t know my friends, how will I find them? What is going to happen to Mrs. S? Was she being fired? She has a family to take care of, not to mention me. This was not fair, I did not want to change and they were not going to make me. The questions, concerns, and anger consumed me. I felt so betrayed. The administrators first had promised no surprises. How was I going to trust them again? I was not expecting my comfort, my trust, and my free spirit to be taken away. I really don’t like change.

You can’t make me

Photo: Barbara and me wearing butterfly masks that are all rhinestones.
Beautiful butterfly glasses with sparkle.

I had met Barbara O’Connor before, she was nice enough and a good person but I didn’t have to like her. I didn’t have to let her in. I had decided that I did not want her as my aide and I would do everything in my power to stop this change from occurring. The only person standing between me and my trusty aide Mrs. S. was Mrs. Ryan. It turns out the administrators had decided that she would be the one to decide if I got to keep Mrs. S or not.


Photo of Barbara and me wearing the same shirt in different colors.
Twining in different colors, not on purpose!

Barbara O’Connor was a sweet, bubbly lady with a laugh that could fill your soul and a smile that could light a dark night. It didn’t matter, I was determined that she was not going to make me like her. No way, no how. Every day I would come home from school and tell my mom about the terror I was going through. Every day mom would remind me that I needed to give her a chance. A compromise was a good thing and I needed to give the change a chance. I needed to trust Mrs. Ryan. OMG! What is my mom thinking, didn’t she understand that my world was shattering into tiny pieces? That Mrs. S. was being ripped away from me with no regard for my feelings. I decided the harder they pushed, the harder I would resist. Then one day, I realized that just because I let Mrs. O’Connor in did not mean I was shutting Mrs. S. out. Maybe this change could work. Maybe we would make a great team. Maybe change isn’t so bad.

Okay we can be friends

Photo: Barbara and me after winning 13 scholarships.  We were both smiling from ear to ear.
Congratulations to me after winning 13 scholarships.

I decided to let Mrs. O’Connor in, what could it hurt? After all, she was fun to be around and made me laugh. I told myself that I didn’t have to like her the way I did Mrs. S and she didn’t have to be my friend. Actually, in the back of my mind, I was scared that I would be her friend and that I would hurt Mrs. S. because of it. The more time I spent with Mrs. O’Connor in my classes, the more I appreciated the freedom she gave me. She was letting me be more independent. I wasn’t sure at the time if I wanted this change or not. The funny thing about change, is you don’t always get the choice, sometimes it just happens. Now, I can’t imagine my life without Mrs. O’Connor. She has made me realize that change can be good. I still don’t like it but every time things start to change in my life my mom reminds me about how change could be good just like letting Barbara in. Change isn’t so bad.


Photo: Sarah and me smiling from ear to ear.  I am wearing a necklace of Christmas lights.
Sarah and me

Mrs. Ryan was my Special Education teacher, but actually, she was more than that. She was a calm soul in a storm reminding you to keep your head up and not lose sight of where you were going. She never once made me think I couldn’t do something. When I didn’t understand, she adjusted how she presented it to me until I did understand. She was like a momma bear protecting her cubs all while they played in the burning forest. We exchanged words on many occasions but see that’s the thing she listened to me and what I had to say. We always talked things through and never gloated over the outcome. Change isn’t that bad.

Change is coming

Photo of me for my Junior Prom.  I am wearing a light blue sleeveless chiffon dress with sparkly belt and butterfly clips in my hair.  On either side of me is Barbara an Chrisann.
Junior Prom

Mrs. Ryan was behind all the changes. I did not get the choice but I had to trust her. It was scary. So many things had gone wrong in middle school, what made her different? Why should I trust her? No matter how hard I resisted, she persisted. She wanted what was best for me. She saw the potential in me, that's what was different. She saw something in me that I couldn’t see. She wanted to not only teach me but to learn from me. No one had ever done that for me before. Before I knew it both Mrs. Ryan and Mrs. O’Connor had joined Mrs. S. and became fondly called the A-Team. Everyone had a very important role, Mrs. S. my protector, Mrs. O’Connor my confidant, Mrs. Ryan my mentor and me the glue that held them all together. These three ladies came in at the right time, just when I needed them. The A-Team helped me become who I am, strong, confident, and independent. They helped me in different ways to see that changes need to occur in order for success to be had.

Forever friends

Photo: My A-team, Sarah, Barbara and Chrisann at our annual get together at a local Restaurant TeQuila Grill.e
Our Annual A-team get together to catch up.

They will always be part of my life. The change that occurred in my heart from resistance to compromise, was the best change in my life. I try to look at change as something not to resist, but to embrace. To see it as an opportunity to become a better person and meet new people. I am still learning to be open to change and let others in. At least now I know that by letting others in I don’t have to let others out. What I learned from all of this is that change has to occur and change can sometimes lead to friendships that will last a lifetime. Sometimes we have a choice to change and sometimes we don’t. The fact of the matter is change causes unnecessary anxiety in all of us. If only we could remember that not all change is bad we would embrace change more often.

A special thanks to my A-team. Thank you for seeing me for me. For always doing things with me instead of for me. For being there today, tomorrow and always, I love you.

Thank you for reading until the end!

This is the view from my wheelchair, where miracles can make a difference. Always Strive for the Impossible. Come back next week to see my fight for what is reasonable and hear more about my experiences and The View From My Wheelchair.

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