Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Please support us- impress the IRS!

If you're in America you only have five days left to make a tax deductible charitable donation. Please consider giving to The Jordan Klausner Foundation. We are a small Florida non profit with big dreams of helping more and more children with neuromuscular disabilities. None of our officers at this time are compensated meaning you can be certain that every penny will go directly to the cause. Our main focus right know is the Gainesville Conductive Education Academy, a free school for children with Cerebral Palsy and other conditions. Our goal is to help kids develop and be physically functional and independent enough to transition and succeed in a normal school setting. To become the best they can, which can mean different things to every child based on the extent of their condition and their mobility.

The Academy combines traditional schooling with the Hungarian Peto approach that is very challenging and physical. Kata Szvoboda, who runs the program was trained at the Peto Institute, an internationally famous destination for parents of kids with Cerebral Palsy and is Hungarian. Our program is free for Florida children and competitively priced for out of staters and foreigners. This method is not very popular in the US to begin with and one of  very few in Florida offering services free. We are able to do what we do thanks to the State granted McKay scholarships awarded to our children- but these cover about half of our operating budget meaning we have to supplement it with grants and donations. We can barely afford to run the program at the level we do now and our dreams and ambitions are greater, because the needs of the kids and families are greater. Not only would we like to integrate different forms of therapy into the program, but we see the need for legal assistance for parents and kids with Cerebral Palsy struggling with the education system and all forms of prejudice. James Klausner started JKF not only as a way to have his son, who had CP but tragically passed away remembered, but primarily out of necessity. Negotiating with school boards and providing educational options was then and is now a big issue for parents of kids with disabilities.

We do what we do, because we believe in it, struggling every year, hoping somebody comes along to help us.  Somebody who understands our passion and why this is important. I joined JKF because I was born with CP and I benefited from the Peto method as a child. Today I'm an attorney. I refused to join the corporate world because there are kids out there who are like I once was. I'm not going to change the world but I'm going to help more kids raise above Cerebral Palsy to become educated and successful. But I need help.  I understand if you're not passionate about this cause. We all get excited about different things. One of my friends prefers cats over people and that's perfectly understandable. But if you think you can stand behind us, then let's do good together. It's a win win. We are a 501 c3 non profit. You can help the kids, feel good and get a tax deduction.
You can donate via
PayPal< or Causes: http://www.causes.com/causes/481116-support-jordan-klausner-foundation-help-gainesville-s-disabled-kids.
Even if you can't help financially, please support us by passing this link along and getting the word out. Parents deserve to know that there's hope. If you feel like helping us out in other ways, like organizing events, overhauling our website or our social media presence let us know. If you're a parent or a member of the press come meet us or come to our school. Also, please, visit our website http://www.jordanklausnerfoundation.org  follow us on Twitter: JKlausnerFound of "like us" on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/jordanklausnerfoundation
you can email me at rstrzalkowski@jordanklausner.org of Facebook me at http://facebook.com/rstrzal

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas far from home

Another year goes by and I'm far from home. Today was Christmas, yet it felt like just another lazy day with nowhere to go and no one to see. In America only the 25th is a national holiday and this year it fell on a Sunday. In Poland you get two Christmas days off and things begin to slow down the day before. We have our traditional family dinner on the Eve and this is when we exchange gifts looking out for the first star. Another holiday season in the States goes by. Yet, I don't feel lost and lonely come Christmas- it really feels like Thanksgiving is more celebrated as a holiday although the media can make you think otherwise. Turkey Day always falls on a Thursday so that  guarantees a four day weekend and with the two festive occasions being only a month apart most people only decide to go home once picking one over the other. It has always seemed to me that Thanksgiving is the American equivalent of Polish Christmas Eve- a day for togetherness. While Gainesville was a ghost town a month   ago this time around many people stayed behind. Yes, the buses weren't running and the restaurants were closed, but I get used the idea of popping something from  the freezer into the microwave and I know I'll see all my friends on Monday. A lot of my friends are criticizing how commercialized the holidays have become. I find it strange, religious context aside, that we need certain days to feel or act or do things in the first place. My friends say things like love and family time  should not be represented my things you can buy. I say,  those are the things we should experience all year long. Give, feel and share, regardless if it's Christmas or Valentine's Day. Because to me a family Christmas is a state of mind.  Wherever I go I'll always take it with me. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Is it time for Plan B?

It's difficult when nobody else seem to care about causes you feel passionate about. You try and you try and you try and yet you're always back to square one. I feel like I'm doing all I can to get people interested in helping kids with Cerebral Palsy, to make them aware of issues of people with disabilities,  yet few have listened. I get frustrated not because I think my story is oh-so-inspiring and that everybody should just drop everything, stop and listen. But I think I should be making some progress. I also know that I'm getting older. If I dedicated all the energy I've put into promoting the Jordan Klausner Foundation, I would probably have an office and a practice by now. I also know, the older I get, the more I wait, the more difficult it will be to transition into the legal field. And with every setback, it's hard to not ask myself those questions.  When's enough enough? Should I just give up? I promised myself to be honest on this blog and  it's not always rainbows and butterflies.

People get behind all kinds of causes. Human, animal, inanimate alike. They are all equal in my book and I don't think that ours is any better. But I can't help asking myself how long will we be stuck. Would I be in the same spot ten years from now and when do I finally let go. Why am I doing this, am I just that stubborn trying to get things started against all hope or is there a real chance to go further. Everybody has these thoughts sometimes. And sometimes I say to myself, maybe this isn't the place, maybe this isn't the time. Maybe we just can't get to work, maybe the interest just isn't there?

But I have to go on, because it seems like nobody else will. I haven't heard about a cause like this so I want to continue as long as I can. I can't remember any mass Cerebral Palsy awareness campaigns in the area or any honest discussion about CP education or rehabilitation. I really don't hear that much about Cerebral Palsy in America at all. If we let this go so many parents will go on not knowing that they are allowed to have hope. That they have rights, that they have therapy alternatives. At some point I will be forced to let this go if we can't make it work, but that day is not today.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Relying on other people.

I'm very independent, although I'm in a wheelchair. I try to get everywhere I can without anybody's assistance and do as much as I can by myself. I don't mind taking a bus even if it takes much longer than asking a friend for a ride. But sometimes I need help. I hate to have to rely on other people, because the situation is taken out of my control and placed under theirs entirely. And there's nothing I can do. They can forget, be late or change their mind entirely. There are places I can't get to by bus, and I can plan for about anything around it, but getting there is often the one step I can't skip. And there's no way to fix it. Sometimes I just have to trust a friend to be there, to come and get me and safely take me home. And sometimes they don't.  They have their lives too, even if they make plans with me, but it leaves me cornered with no alternative, because it's too late to figure out anything else. Desperate, scrambling for a solution.

Today it was a party. A friend was supposed to take me to a get together in a different part of town they were invited to go to as well, but decided to go dancing in stead, probably 20, 30 minutes before picking me up. It was not that I was expecting my friend to take me because I wanted to go. I would've been fine if they changed their minds earlier than the time the party already started. It would also have been alright if we were meeting to go somewhere I can get to myself. Or if I wasn't expected to show up. I was disappointed not simply because my friend couldn't do it, but because of how it was handled. I don't have the ease to move about town freely and I don't think they can understand the sense of desperation when you have to rely on somebody else as a necessary ingredient of that plan; I have limited mobility, I try to make up for it by planning ahead as much as I  can. It is difficult enough asking people for favors, but often I put my fate in  their hands- today it was a party. But I felt the very same way when I was waiting for  another friend to take me to the airport or drive me to take my bar exam. They will show up or they will not and there is nothing I can do.  I make plans in advance, often I have a plan B, but even that often is not enough. That's why I don't like to rely on others. If it's only me and something happens I have made my bed and I will lay in it. I also try to be more considerate if I know others are counting on me. Sometimes I'll be late or I may forget, but I would never leave someone hanging knowingly. I believe in treating people the way I'd like to be treated. Most of my friends are amazing people who come through, but there were situations, like my own Oath Ceremony where someone who offered to help me decided not to 20 minutes before showtime. Being 40 minutes late on my big day is something I never want to feel like again.

Friday, December 16, 2011


I was expecting for this post to do nothing with disabilities, law or prejudice. I simply wanted to rant on about how for four days I managed to survive without a cell phone with limited internet service, a laptop that doesn't charge and a netbook that heats up, freezes and ignores my microphone. But I was wrong. My BlackBerry feels crucial for me and not only for the work that I do and not as a cool gadget. When you are in a wheelchair and you can't move around freely my a smartphone becomes a tool  that allows you to be in touch with your friends, figure out where to go and how to meet them, when otherwise you could simply walk or drive to their house. I was thinking how strongly we learnt to rely on technology to the extent that writing about it becomes a cliche. But, by the same token when you're not as mobile as other people you don't have as many avenues of interactions as they do. And having my cell phone allows me to be tapped into that world. More so than a laptop, because I can be in the middle of the street and get a text message or a Facebook message. Yes, you can say, I remember times when people had face to face conversations or letters. But just think how limiting this had to had been if you have limited opportunity to get around. Waiting at your home for a friend to visit you or having to deal with somebody having to put up with the logistics of transporting you in a wheelchair to a see somebody. Now we can be smarter about our time and connect on different levels.

Yes, I was as confused about the purpose of some of those social tools as anybody else. In the mid-90's I had ICQ. I've had Facebook since 2004, back when it was called Thefacebook.com. With ICQ the problem was that you had the perfect tool to open yourself to the world, but I didn't feel like I knew how to use it. Should I be friends with the random stranger from across the globe that I will never meet and sprend hours online? With all this technology it felt like people should be getting in touch with you all the time. It seems like something should be happening. When it doesn't you feel more lonely than before.

Facebook was even more confusing. At the time it was for students only, so you knew they were your classmates or campus people. But as in real life you have different degrees of interaction on Facebook everyone was your friend. Those who didn't really know you didn't often talk to you much more than they did before. I guess everyone has gone through the initial phase of fascination with Facebook being able to add your Starbucks barista and know everything about them. Or the person that makes your subs. But soon we all discovered that we don't really know these random people and we don't really talk to them anyway. That's when you asked yourself: are they my friends? Should I make an effort to talk to those people? After the fascination wears off, you ask yourself, what is the purpose of being linked to them? And I guess because it felt pointless many have started to delete people from their lists.

I don't have that problem anymore. I think of Facebook as my broader sphere of influence if you will. It's fused with my phone, I use it in stead of e-mail or an instant messenger.  It's a business tool, it's a communication channel; people I work with, people I spend time with are all my "Friends". It's much easier to find somebody there. Recently I was so impressed with the local staging of Chicago I messaged some of the actors. I never delete anyone because even if we haven't spoken in ages they might share an interesting article or post something that will make me want to drop them a message even if they live in Chicago. I don't post embarrassing things, I rarely do embarrassing things,  so I'm not too concerned about being visible to be honest. It was funny how things got complicated because I didn't have a computer I could Skype Verizon the phone company to repair my cell. And then 2 day Fedex service apparently meant that when I call on Thursday I get a new cell on Tuesday.

I sleep with my cell phone next to my pillow. I hear Madonna does the same. I often wake up in the middle of the night to see if the e-mail I was waiting on is here.

If there's anything I miss  from before we were all so connected it's the anticipation. The excitement of waiting for your favorite tv show once a week or a magazine you love to hit the stands. The instant gratification of internet takes a large chunks of that away from me.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


It's hard to get lost in a crowd when you're in a wheelchair in a small city. Being visible helps my cause and most often I love meeting new people in unusual places and being pulled into new situations. But sometimes you just want to be private. Sometimes you just want to be unnoticed. It was a little shocking to me when I discovered a few years ago that bus drivers gossiped about where they saw me and who they saw me with. Not that there was anything scandalous about what I was doing, but it seemed strange. They see hundreds of people every day, faces they will never remember, yet I stood out. Sometimes you just want to simply ride a bus, get from one place to another. I've had a number of issues with some bus drivers years ago most of whom are wonderful lovely people. And I'm friends with some of them as I try to be civil and respectful to all.  But I also remember a couple of situations when they would take it very personally that I would board their bus at a particular time and not in a good way. Apparently some routes were allowed to shorten their routes on the last run if they had no passengers. Sometimes I would get the attitude and I would be singled out  because I would just happen to be on it. It was not personal to me, I was just using the service. But because they knew me they felt we had some form of personal  relationship and owed them some higher form of courtesy. And all I was trying to do is get home. I didn't care who happens to be driving the bus at that time.
A lot of times people remember me from somewhere. They either met me and we had a conversation on the bus in the passing, they saw me somewhere or they heard of me through a friend. "We were on a bus and you were very funny" is what I get a lot. The sad part is that they are more likely to remember me then I am them. I see dozens new faces every day and I like meeting new people. I take the bus almost every day. There aren't as many foreigners in wheelchairs. And the expectation is if they remember me I should remember them. Now I'm all for making new friends and many people making a lasting impression but most are just brief encounters. At the same time people get on and off a bus, pass through Starbucks every day, never noticed, never bothered. Again,  it's not that being approached bothers me- most of the time I love it when people come up. But sometimes I just wish that boarding a bus or taking a ride in my friend's car wasn't such a big production that always attracts attention.

Monday, December 12, 2011

My wheelchair teaches me patience.

When I first got to Gainesville some of the buses used by the local transit system were older and it was more difficult to board them with a manual chair like mine. The model was called Orion, it had a drawbidge style ramp that had a lock from the outside and a steep incline. Not only were they hard for me to get on but for the driver to operate. They had to push the door in to turn the key and then move the lift around to get it to work. I could see that some drivers struggled with this. Other buses also caused problems- sometimes the ramp wouldn't come out, although on some occasions the drivers didn't know how to operate it. I saw them struggle; On some nights I wasn't in  a hurry but sometimes I was. When I didn't simply have to be somewhere soon, I would say, It's OK, I can wait for the next one. I believe we should all be considerate and understanding and it was not that terribly important to get somewhere. It was my choice not to ride because I was being kind. Some drivers got so used to the idea that I would just let them go that they were just passing me without stopping. Because in their minds I was just sitting on a bus stop  with nowhere to be and I had all the time in the world. Where would I go? All I was left with is waiting.

And it happens even now, I want to say as recent as a week ago that a driver decides that he can't get the lift out without even trying. I don't think he even called it in and the reason why he couldn't get it to work is because he didn't know how to turn the power on. The upsetting bit is not that he didn't know something or that it didn't work, it's the idea that it's OK to leave me behind because you're on a schedule. Using the mass transit over the years have taught me a lot of patience. Sometimes I missed the bus, nothing I do when that happened. Sometimes the bus was late or too crowded to take me or the lift wouldn't come out. My friends would just get tired of waiting and hop on a bike to be there faster. That was never my option. Having to wait for a bus not because I chose to or had nothing to do taught me a deal about patience. Because getting upset or frustrated or irritated would not get me there any sooner. And I really don't want other people to have the power over my mood or how my day is going. I'll get there when I get there, not by choice, but it's my choice how I'll let it affect me.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I love (the idea of) New York

Every couple weeks a friend of mine tells me we should move to New York. Whenever we get overwhelmed, lonely, lost or bored, the idea of relocating to the Big Apple comes up in a conversation and I understand this sentiment. There must be a place where we all can be happy, entertained, refreshed, fulfilled and loved. In American movies and tv shows New York was the place where people who were all looking for something where finally able to find their place. The problem with Gainesville is that it can grow  old on you. It's a college setting with a very active young bar and music scene. It tends to be cliquish  with the hipster lifestyle becoming more and more prominent. The problem with Gainesville is that it never grows up as you grow older. While we do have a range of cultural of entertainment offerings, the variety is just not there. It's easy to feel older when everybody around you is at most 21; it's easy to feel disconnected when you're no longer in school. And while there are other options the one thing that most people seem to do every night is drink. We look at our friends who live in New York and the active, fun, busy lifestyles they have and think we want to be them. The nightlife, the culture, the entertainment can keep anybody busy and inspired. The galleries, the museums, the restaurants- it really feels like a lot of my friends go out to some of this places many times a week and made it part of their lifestyle. Fun inspiring place that never sleeps.

I have never felt so lonely and so alone before my New York visit (I've been there four times). It's an odd feeling- millions of people and yet you don't connect to anyone there, their lives will go on whether you're there or not. In the movie "Collateral" one of the characters mentions that you could be dead for hours on a subway  and nobody would notice. Like I was cut and pasted from a different story.
Millions of people rushing somewhere leaves you with a cold feeling and I come from Warsaw, which is a big city. But New York was bigger. Felt stranger. More foreign.

I have never felt my disability as strongly as I do in New York. Parts of Manhattan, establishments, even sidewalks were wheelchair inaccessible. The many restaurants and clubs, the magic of the Big Apple was beyond my reach. I couldn't even stroll down street in the eastern side. While I understand what New York is to a lot of people, I will never get to experience it because of my wheelchair. Even the mass transit stations are only accessible to wheelchairs every few stops, blocks apart. I couldn't get lost and fall in love in NYC if I wanted to. And that's a darn shame, too. I think a lot of those big city movies and shows shaped my perception of America. Something I always wanted to experience while I lived in Poland. My mom brings that up when she talks about the reasons why I decided to stay in the States. But she's wrong. I don't get that in Gainesville.

I think of New York as goal, a dream, a state of mind. I could never live there, but I understand why my friend would. I think that's why I abandoned plans to pass the New York Bar. It is more a mythical city for me than an actual place. There's the exciting and then there's practical. I'm not like most people. We love talking about it, because it's different, it's fresh and exciting. I hope my friend will one day get her NY dream. I sometimes think  for her it's also only a concept. Her job is here and she hates winters. But she can make it there. I don't think I can.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Living single

My  parents worry about me and it's not that difficult to understand why. No matter how old I get and how independent I still have a disability that makes me potentially vulnerable. They are used to the lifelong mindset that I require special care and attention. I also live half way across the world which is I imagine, difficult for every loving parent. They have limited and fragmented information about how I live and what makes me happy. As nothing major is happening really and all I do is meet people, go about my weekly routines and dedicate most of my time to the Klausner Foundation in hopes for the next breakthrough there's never anything groundbreaking to say. How do you communicate things as trivial as I just had an amazing latte, I had a blast at the bar last night or I saw the' most intriguing person today. All they are left with is that I am single and I live by myself. But that's the way I want it. Small things make me happy and I like my life. Yes, it does get occasionally lonely come holiday seasons when all my friends that usually surround me leave town. But I'm content nevertheless. I used to have roommates when I first moved to America. Originally it felt like I should do whatever I can to be as much accommodating to them as I can so they don't get up and move somewhere else. That is the self image I left Poland with I guess, that I'm some kind of a burden, that I should be happy to have someone wanting to live with me and maybe in turn they will help me with something if I need it. The first problem with this logic is that even though you share a space with someone doesn't mean that they care about you. If anything it gives you an illusionary sense of security that someone is there when you slip, trip or fall. I liked quite a few of my roommates, but they were never home enough for us to be friends. And then you have to deal with somebody leaving their items in the living room, laundry or sink  and the other person not liking it.  Fighting over bathroom, cleaning, counter and fridge space. I also discovered I really don't like having people in my face all the time and I really like being  by myself at certain times. I like people and I tend to be very social, but at at my own turns- when I'm done I'm done. Come to think of it that's how my family was back in Poland as well- we would all retire to our separate rooms for large chunks of the day. Now I live by myself and I call all the shots. I can focus on whatever I want and have my little seclusion. I also have thin walls. I can hear my neighbors pretty well and if needed they will hear me too. I'm also friends with people to my left, right and above me. It is not scary for me to live here. I feel liked and accepted and knock on wood, no major catastrophe has happened. Still, I understand why this may seem scary if your disabled child takes off to a foreign country. It's as my friend who also had a neurological condition explained: it's an additional layer of protecting behavior stemming from the disability, this is how they they show they care. They worry and they want to know more about me. For now, my friends entertain and distract me, while the work for the foundation has to take center stage in my life. I'm on a mission. On some level it's a manifestation of my independence. I don't have to apologize that I have a disability, I can be who I want to be and live my life the way I want to.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Other people have problems too.

I was having dinner at a local restaurant last week when I overheard a girl complaining about her treatment at the University standing right next to me. She noticed  she was being loud and apologized. Intrigued I decided to join the conversation. She was young, black, she was a student and she had a baby. And I was introduced to a world of problems from a perspective I never knew. And it got me to think. We're used to think in categories. And we tend to frame prejudice and limit it to issues like race, color, gender, sexual orientation and disability. Decades of awareness campaigns and special legislation have made the public develop at least some form of understanding of what the basic problems of these groups are. Constitutional law in similar fashion has developed a number of protected classes that subject the regulating them to higher levels of scrutiny. Having a baby somehow puts you outside those form of protection and understanding. I understand the stares she get from bystanders who seem to think "who is that person and what does she want. I've experienced the looks of pity.

 I know what it's like to wonder what goes through somebody's mind when they see you. For her it's "what  is this young girl doing with a baby" just as much as  much as "is he homeless, is he in trouble" is for me. Yes, people's stares can hurt. I can actually excuse some of the looks  she's getting. The sight of a college girl with a stroller is so rare, some people might just be curious about her story or think it's some kind of a performance. But sometimes, most of the time, we just want to be left alone and not be judged by people we don't know. I can relate to some of the other problems she has every day, while not so much to others, but all is definitely worth to think about. I know what it's like to have a bus driver not very enthusiastic to get the lift out. But for me he has to, I'm protected by the ADA. With her, they've been doing it at their own discretion. And I agree, that the public transit system should have a policy to accommodate strollers. It's not only kind and considerate, it's common sense. It's much more faster and efficient to have the lift out rather than having the mother fold, unfold or carry things separately which takes time, requires strength and is stressful. Having a baby means more than just having a folding table in both male and female restrooms. Some other issues are more problematic; The girl complained  that when attending a show or an exhibition she's forced to buy a second ticket for a baby. She concluded, that they are trying to discourage people from taking toddlers with them and I can see why they would. Perhaps they want other people not to be disturbed, but maybe there should be a daycare/play area to help the parent out?

You can say that unlike other groups a baby is not a permanent  condition. You can always leave it at home. But sometimes you shouldn't or you shouldn't have to. Something to think about? Isn't it odd how little understanding we have for mothers with babies. Childhood is something we all experience, shouldn't it be something we all understand and relate to?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Not in it to win it

The Gainesville Sun announced their list of the "Spirit of Gainesville" award winners . I was hoping I wouldn't win and I didn't. There's plenty of more accomplished and visible people in this town giving their all to causes they have been involved in for many years. I have only lived in America for seven years. I have been helping the Klausner family for five. I don't even think philanthropy and community work are appropriate fields to have nominees and winners type of contests. In stead of picking who is more or less accomplished I would have focused  on highlighting the actual projects they have been involved with. Not by comparing them or having them compete for a prize, but turning the spotlight to the general improvement of the community, not once, not twice a year, but every day. I would've gladly heard more about the work that all of these people are doing and I'm not even sure how they measure against each other and even why would they. Sadly, the local press feels less local and relevant these days. I'm also not seeking personal glory and recognition and I'm sure every one there felt the same. I just want to help kids with disabilities. But then again I've been doing everything I could think of for months to get this cause some recognition. And I know that people respond to personal stories with unnusual twists more than everyday organic work. Congratulations to all the winners and the nominees. I hope to get to know you and network with you and let's do something good together.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Disability and aging

Children have enough of a hard time when they realize that people grow older and nothing lasts forever. I grew up with a disability. With every year that passed I got bigger and heavier, while my parents who would carry me up the stairs turned older and weaker. Realizing this was different from finding out that one day, say, your grandparents were not going around forever because this was something I got to see and think about and sense every day. What will happen to me, what is the future going to be like became real, troubling questions for me always lingering in the back of mind. What will happen when I'm too heavy for my parents to deal with? I'm pretty sure not many eight, nine yearolds deal with the aging question quite like that. And for that reason I feared becoming older.

Today I'm 32 and I live in Gainesville, a college town in Florida. Being here makes you feel older because for most people the city is a temporary stop on their way to greater things. In a big metropolis I would be considered young and successful; being surrounded  by 19-year-olds    rendered me old when I turned 25. And I see that my body is changing as well. I've gained weight and often have less energy then when I was in 20's. I feel different and I realize that the benefits of Conductive Education weren't given for life. I should start a daily physical exercise routine to work on myself and get in shape. Cerebral Palsy is not a progressive disorder. But when you move less you feel heavier. When I first arrived in America I had to wheel myself to great distances every day. Now I live downtown where everything is closer and I mostly stay at home. I hear clicking in my joints and back and my tendons are stiffer. And I know, that while CP itself doesn't progress I'm at risk for arthritis and a number of internal organs problems in a couple years. But I keep those thoughts away because I have nothing to benefit from worrying.

 I've lost classmates in lawschool, seemingly healthy people. A young man died devastated  by leukemia, while on a bright sunshiny day a beautiful, smart woman in her first semester jogged into traffic without even knowing it and was fatally hit by a car.  Those stories shook me up greatly but also brought an important less,We never know what the future holds  and  there's no use in agonizing over things we cannot control. A measure of life's value for me is how you impact and help other people. I found my cause with the Klausner foundation and I feel I'm making a difference. I try to live in the moment, whenever possible and I deal with tomorrow when it comes I'm not ashamed of my age because every new year brought on some remarkable experience that changed me. I thought immigration for 4 years. I have two American law degrees I worked very hard to get and I passed the bar. Yes, a lot of it stress, pain and sweat, but it had shaped me. I'm not who I was seven years ago. I want these years, they're my life. And now I'm focused on helping others. My parents often are worried when they hear that I'm single and I live by myself because what will happen to me? But haven't we worried about the future enough? Time to worry about the present.