Greg Smith Keynote Speaker

Leadership Expert on Resiliency and Inner Strength – Greg helps leaders and teams “Go Full-Strength!” for maximum productivity.

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Inner Strength insights from the world of sports, disability, entertainment, business, politics and everything else I’d like to share with you.

Category Archives: Inner Strength

Screening of PBS Documentary “On A Roll: Family, Disability & the American Dream” Starts Now!

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PBS site for documentary On A Roll: Family, Disability and the American Dream: www.PBS.org/onaroll

Watch online now at www.onarollmovie.com

We’ve come a long way since 1990. We’ve also come a long way since 2000. That year, the disability community, led by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) planned a 24-city, cross-country relay that celebrated the 10-year anniversary of ADA.

That relay and the events of July 26, 2000 are a major part of the award winning PBS documentary film, “On A Roll: Family, Disability and the American Dream.”  It is a nostalgic look back at the disability community’s biggest celebration to date.

The film was made by Joanne Caputo, who learned of my work as host of “On A Roll Radio” as a result of the friendship our young sons developed in Yellow Springs, OH. It started with her bringing her camcorder to our house.

From now, throughout the month of July, “On A Roll” is available free at www.onarollmovie.com. Please enjoy and spread the word about it. When it aired on PBS, 1.2 million people saw the initial broadcast. Hopefully, we can reach as many people this month as we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the ADA.

Star Studded Cast!

Here are most of the people with cameos in the film, in order of appearance:

Berkeley Smith
Donovan Smith
Greg A. Smith, Jr.
Rev. Jesse Jackson
Mike Ervin
Christopher Reeve
Dr. JR Harding
Becky Ogle
Judy Heumann
Bob Kafka
Jim Smith
Adelia Smith
Jackie Cammon
Tonya Tetteh
Wesley Gaffney
Kevin Gaffney
Eric Gaffney
Todd Richardson
“Duke”
Ron Pope
Jane Criddell
Ron Pope
Jeannie Morris
Angie Jacobs
Michelle Carston
Dr. Mitch Tepper
Terri Nealy
Eleanor Smith
Dominique Wilkins
Masha Malikina
Bobby Coward
Juliette Rizzo
Andy Imparato
Justin Dart
Ann Marie Hughey
Kyle Glozier
Senator Tom Harkin
Vice President Al Gore
Paul Spooner
Ted Kennedy Jr.
Senator Edward Kennedy
President Bill Clinton
Yoshiko Dart
Hillary Clinton
Rep. Jan Schakowsky
Steve Drosdow
Joyce Preston Scott
Gilda Dennis
Kate Adamson

Get your popcorn ready! I hope you enjoy one of the greatest disability documentaries ever made.

On A Roll Again

Disability Pride as ADA turns 25

Who is “The Strength Coach” and what is he about? The book I’m currently reading has forced me to look closely at my brand. I’m a motivational speaker, but what makes me different? What makes me stand out from other speakers? After an extensive process, I have realized that I left out a major part of my identity as I marketed “The Strength Coach.” I left out my disability.

How could I forget? I’ve had muscular dystrophy my whole life. I hosted a syndicated radio show on disability for 14 years!  10 years ago, I decided to branch out and become a mainstream motivational speaker. But the mistake I made was that I left behind the source of my strength:  My disability.

I’m bringing that back!  Nothing changes about the essence of what I do.  I teach people how to turn weaknesses into strengths for increased productivity and profits, leaving them feeling “full-strength swag!”  I just feel like celebrating my disability pride right now, which is fueled by the growing excitement over the 25 year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, coming up in July!

So the podcast, Timeout with the Strength Coach, will present the challenges I face and the way I maneuver them, offering analogies for how anyone can use difficulty for personal gain.  My speeches will include a little more disability pride, using examples of people with disabilities who showed me the way.  And in July, filmmaker Joanne Caputo and I will be offering a free screening of the award-winning PBS documentary film, On A Roll: Family, Disability and the American Dream. This year is the 10th anniversary of the making of one of the most impactful documentaries about disability ever made.

Keep checking onarollmovie.com for updates and articles.  Sponsorship opportunities are available.

How to Completely Change the World with Your Ideas

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by Greg Smith

Hear Podcast Interview.

Begins at the 18:10 mark.


This changes everything!

I was in zombie mode last night, sitting back in my wheelchair, completely relaxed. The only voluntary muscles I was using were my eyeballs and my index finger scrolling up and down the newsfeed on Facebook.

How many hours and hours have I spent doing that over the years? And to what end? A business opportunity here or there. Getting suckered into a link to someone’s traffic building link trail?

And then I found it!

The most impactful link to a video I have ever seen! It was the story of 17-year-old Zachery Smith. He doesn’t know it yet, but this young man’s name will go down in history as a true change agent. He will kick Dr. Zachary Smith from Lost in Space to the curb! (“Oh, the pain… the pain!” Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

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Zach, like me, has muscular dystrophy. Like me, he has endured gradual weakening of all of the muscles in his body including his arms. Like me, doing every day tasks such as feeding himself, holding the phone up against his ear, turning on and off light switches, pointing the remote control toward the television, and a million other simple tasks are becoming more and more difficult.

When people like Zach, and me, lose the ability to do something, it is gone forever. For me, that includes putting a hat on top of my head, clapping my hands to make any noise at all, and everything else that requires me to lift my hands above chest level. Some tasks, like brushing my teeth, shaving and feeding myself, are done by supporting my elbows on a raised surface but if there’s nothing available for support, and I need to raise my hands higher than my chest, I can’t do it.

Zachery Smith has spent a lot of time scrolling in his young life. However instead of doing it mindlessly, he did it with the purpose of applying his idea… an exoskeletal arm that could assist his movements… to an already existing product.

And then he found it: Exoskeleton Arm!

Zach’s scrolling led him to the X-AR, an exoskeletal arm that had already been invented dating back to the ‘70s. Its original intent was to give videographers the ability to carry heavy cameras. The famous scene in Rocky, where Sylvester Stallone leaps up the stairs and the camera leaps with him, was a shot with a videographer wearing a primitive version of the X-AR.

The use of the X-AR expanded to industrial settings, enabling workers to lift heavier objects and to endure repetitive motions longer and perform better in various tasks.

The X-AR’s design consists of a cuff that cradles the arm, allowing a patented configuration of springs and tensioning hardware to provide the zero-gravity support necessary to reach farther and accomplish more.

I’ve had similar ideas since way before Sigourney Weaver stepped into her exoskeletal contraption in Aliens! But unlike me, Zach did his research and will go down in history as a spark that changed the world. He didn’t give up and accept the status quo. He found the solution and he is working with a company that will be developing and marketing the X-AR for use in healthcare!

This is a really big deal!

When I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of 3, my parents were encouraged that a cure for the disease was 10 to 20 years away. 47 years later, we are more encouraged and excited about the development of this technology than anything happening in a biological laboratory today.

I predict Zach’s thinking has led to a breakthrough in rehabilitation technology! I predict that the X-AR will lead to a full body exoskeletal system that can support the entire body structure allowing individuals like myself to walk, lift, kneel, jump and do whatever we want.

It will take a combination of experience and expertise to make it happen. Technological minds need to collaborate with those of us are living the condition to effectively communicate the challenges and solutions.

I’ve often thought that the same technology used to guide my power wheelchair could also be used to interpret physical movements of exoskeletal limbs. For example, when I slightly press the joystick forward, my chair slightly moves forward. But when I push it all the way, the chair moves with full power and full speed.

Maybe in the future, the intent of muscle movements can be interpreted by a sensor that allows us to harness and control more physical force, increasing independence and allowing us to do what we’ve only dreamed of. That’s just one idea of millions that are in the minds of both people in need of this new technology and the people with the expertise to make it happen. Let’s work together!

Zach. I look forward to giving you a literal “HIGH FIVE!”

This message should inspire everyone. Feed your ideas. Find the right partners. What great ideas have you given up on that may have revolutionized the world? It’s not too late. An idea that can completely change the world is swimming around in your brain right now!  Start scrolling!

 

Record and Play

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The first mic I ever spoke into was attached to a tape recorder. I used it in my bedroom in front of the flickering screen of a television set.  Unable to ride my bike with the neighborhood kids, I was forced to settle for Chicago Cubs broadcasts on summer afternoons in the mid 1970s.

It was fascinating to me the way Jack Brickhouse described each play. It was more impressive that he managed to continue to talk through the gaps in activity while keeping the audience entertained. I decided to try it myself.  Joe McConnell’s energetic coverage of the Bears inspired me to do the same during football season on frigid, dreary Sunday afternoons.

Those childhood tape recorder “broadcasts” led to real radio in high school, college, and professionally. From 1979 through 2006, my voice was on the some airwaves somewhere, weekly. But in 2006, I suffered a personal and professional setback that pulled the plug.

Back on the air… well, ummm… the Web!

I am delighted to announce that the plug has been re-inserted. I just spent hours completing episode 2 of my new podcast, “Timeout with the Strength Coach.”  And I loved every minute of it.

I am extremely proud of the quality of the new show. If you listen, you will find yourself realizing a new level of inner strength, inspired by my insights and the expertise of my guests… thought leaders in the field of personal growth and development.

Testing… Testing…

It was okay for that young child in 1975 to know nobody was listening. But for the 50-year-old man who has a lifetime of experience and expertise to share about inner strength, it is crucial for me to know that you are listening, enjoying, and growing.

Once you set up your device to subscribe to the podcast, it will download itself automatically every week. All you have to do is remember to turn it on when you’re driving around, walking, jogging, working out, waiting for your flight, in-flight or whatever you are doing alone.

You can either listen online at WebTalkRadio.net or use iTunes to have the Podcast automatically download to your phone, tablet, computer or car.  New episodes are uploaded every Sunday night at midnight.

Get back to what you love.

I love radio. That’s why I’m back.  Is there something you have a passion for that you need to bring back into your life?  What is it?  Why not get back to what you love?

 

 

Podcast Debut – “Timeout with the Strength Coach”

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Photo credit: Amanda McCoy, Biloxi Sun Herald

By Greg Smith

I think the stars have finally aligned for me to maximize and fully utilize my best skill set. I am good at speaking, and pretty good at writing, but I am best at broadcasting, and we are now well into the era of the podcast!

My new podcast, Timeout with the Strength Coach will be ready for your download on Monday, November 3! Every week, I will be uploading an hour stuffed full of motivational knowledge, expert guests, my personal insights and lessons from some of the top personal development and personal growth thought leaders in in the world.

Back in the old days

When I first started broadcasting my radio show on disability issues in 1992, the Internet barely existed. We settled for weekend junk time on conservative news talk radio stations. “On a Roll” aired live on Sunday evenings and I was looking for a way to expand it beyond the limitations of our time-slots in terrestrial radio.

In ’94, I had a phone conversation with a fella named Mark about adding it to his new network, Broadcast.com. I enjoyed the talk. He was very persuasive and went on to enjoy some success in his venture! You know, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. The Shark Tank dude. Yeah that guy!

My success with the radio show wasn’t as marked as Mark’s with Broadcast.com, but I’m proud of what we did from 1992 to 2006. We grew the show from one single station in Phoenix to more than 70 across the country in that time span.

But it was hard to be a listener. You had to remember that the show came on a certain day and a certain time. You had to either tune into the station on your AM radio or find it on the Internet at that certain time. As a result, despite how polished and professionally produced it was, it never quite found the audience it deserved.

The new days of the podcast

Today, everyone has a radio in the palm of their hand!  Now you can listen to me anytime you want, wherever you want, on whatever device you want: your phone, your iPad, your Mac, your PC, or in your car!

You don’t have to worry about the signal fading in and out. You don’t have to worry about forgetting and missing the broadcast. All you have to do is subscribe, download and listen at your leisure.

Pew Research Center polling shows that the podcast user base continues to expand. A May 2013 survey found 27% of internet users ages 18 and older download or listen to podcasts, up from 21% three years ago in May 2010 and 7% of internet users in 2006. Those numbers are expected to rise.

My life’s mission is to take the lessons that I have learned overcoming the challenges of life with muscular dystrophy, and teach people how to apply those lessons to improve the quality of their lives and build their inner strength.  If you download my show weekly and take it with you while you’re out and about, I guarantee you will notice a difference in how you feel about yourself and what you are able to accomplish.

Here’s how you listen:

Go to webtalkradio. From there you can listen online or download the Podcast to the device of your choice. I am looking forward to interacting with you! In the kick-off broadcast, you’ll get to know me more personally and get a feel for my energy and my mission to empower you to build your inner strength.

You’ll also meet a few of my teammates… people who share my passion about living an inspired life. You’ll meet comedian Murv Seymour, my best friend and accountability partner, who will reveal the strength of humor and friendship.

You’ll meet Chad Hymas, a motivational speaking colleague for whom I has a lot of respect and admiration. (The Wall Street Journal called him the most inspirational person in the world!)

And you’ll meet Olympic athlete, author and legend John Carlos, famous for his silent protest at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. John just happens to be my uncle. Download this show and you’ll find yourself inspired, and enjoying a super-productive day.

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Guest blog: Life lessons from 24-year-old Cory Jacobson

Cory Jacobson has spinal muscular atrophy, a form of muscular dystrophy. She is mom to 15-month-old Kinley, and wife to Ian Jacobson.

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By Cory Jacobson

The question “What has SMA taught me?” was recently asked in a support group I am a member of. It really got me thinking so I thought I’d write out my answer. SMA has taught me a lot throughout my 24 years of life.

Doctors are “practicing”

I’ve learned that doctors are most certainly NOT always right. They have said things to me that have downright made me cry. For example, an OB doctor told my husband and I that he would need to be prepared to be a single father to our then unborn child because I was going to die during her birth. Clearly THAT didn’t happen.)

They will give out life expectancies to the already-traumatized parents when their babies are diagnosed. They are typically very wrong. They will act (and sometimes even directly state) that they are smarter than you and therefore know everything about you.

But, then you get some doctors who dedicate their lives to saving the lives of their patients. Ones who give out their personal cell phone numbers just in case you need them. Ones who learn things about you. Ones who take time to care for you in the very best way. Ones who admit they aren’t sure about something but will do research to learn more. THOSE are the good ones. Always be grateful for them.

Pushy parents are fantastic

My parents ALWAYS pushed me to try everything I possibly could. I wasn’t allowed to quit. I learned that I am capable of anything. If I have to do it differently, so what? Having SMA has taught me to appreciate the attitude my parents have instilled in me my entire life.

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Attitude is EVERYTHING

If you think you can’t do something, you aren’t gonna be able to. But, if you set your mind to something, you can do it. I’ve had so many people tell me that things were impossible for me to do, but I did them anyways. Call it stubbornness but I don’t take no for an answer. I have accomplished a lot in my life that I’m very proud of (graduating college, skiing, traveling, getting married, having a child, working, giving speeches) and having SMA has given me a “no quit” attitude.

Confidence is King

At first, confidence was not something that came naturally to me. But, eventually, I came to the realization that if you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else? I had to learn to believe that, even though I’m different, I’m still smart, beautiful, funny, and worthy of the same things that everyone else is. This newfound sense of confidence afforded me the opportunity to experience so many wonderful things: an education, a loving and supportive (and sexy!) husband, a beautiful daughter, and so much more. I had to find confidence in myself before I could be independent.

Having SMA means that sometimes, things will really suck. It means that everyday things will be challenging. It means that I will have to be creative in nearly every aspect of my life. It means that many people will treat me differently. And when I say differently, I mean they will stare, ask stupid questions, discriminate, and the like. But, it means that I will be STRONGER for having overcome those daily challenges, and for trying to educate those people who treat me differently. It means I will be smarter and more creative for having to figure out innovative ways to overcome obstacles and adversity.

I’ve learned many things from having SMA, but this is just a little glimpse. SMA is not who I am, but it’s very much a part of me. I’ve learned to EMBRACE it and THAT is what SMA has really taught me; you’re given this life because you are strong enough to live it.

Goodbye, Mr. “M”

Greg Smith and "Mr. M"  Bill Meulhauser

“Mr. M” came to hear me speak in Phoenix, November 2, 2013.

by Greg Smith

Last week, I learned of the passing of a man who was instrumental in my development as a youth.  For 34 years as a special education teacher at Downers Grove South High School in suburban Chicago, this man played the same role in hundreds of lives.

Remembering “Mr. M,” Bill Muelhauser, brings back fond appreciative thoughts about my introduction to the disability community.  I had just become a wheelchair user after back surgery and beginning high school.    I thought you might enjoy these memories about  “Mr. M” and the impact he had on me:

Reflections on the environment Mr. M created for special ed students at Downers Grove South

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When my “short bus” arrived at South High School, it pulled right up to the front of the building. Sometimes we arrived at the exact same time as two or three other “short buses” so we jockeyed for position to unload under the covered shelter of the awning in front of the school.

After getting off the bus, I propelled the manual chair by putting my right foot over my left foot. After about 20 repetitions of this motion on the slick tile floor inside Downers South’s main lobby, I moved down the hall to the right and entered the starting point of my day for the next four years, the “crip room.”  That’s what we called the special education classroom.

Actually, there were two “crip rooms.” The main room was about the size of three standard classrooms, but still nowhere near big enough for the 30 or so disabled kids. Many of us were in wheelchairs and many lacked speed or agility, or the ability to perceive depth and space enough to know that they were always causing traffic jams. I learned quickly that if I wanted to be on time for a class, I had to plan my route so I that wouldn’t get stuck in the middle.

The “crip room” featured a complete kitchen with oven, dishwasher sink and refrigerator to teach the kids independent living skills. Bill Muelhauser ran it, but I didn’t learn his real last name until weeks after the start of school because he introduced himself to us at orientation as “Mr. M.” Tall, with a big mustache and a friendly laugh, he was a comforting part of my accepting that I would be attending South instead of the school my neighborhood kids attended, Downers Grove North.

Mr. M was the captain of “the crip ship.” Looking back, I’d say it was quite impressive to consider that Mr. M and his staff took on the responsibility of receiving kids with disabilities from all over the western suburbs and giving them the most integrated a school setting possible.

In addition to managing the special education department, he taught classes to special needs kids and supervised his staff. Mrs. Bretl, AKA “Mrs. B,” and Miss Brown were the other two teachers in the special ed class. There were four paid staff assistants as well as several students who worked as volunteers.

The “crip room” was a place where those of us who were integrated in mainstream classrooms could get the physical help we needed, like removing jackets, gathering books for our next class, or getting some assistance with using the bathroom. We all had lockers for our coats, but unlike the non-disabled students, we kept our books in little plastic shelves with our names on them, for easy access.

The “crip room” was like a headquarters for the disabled students. We could eat lunch there if we wanted to, but as a freshman, I would shudder to think of doing such a thing! I ate my lunches in the main cafeteria, determined to fit in and be as “normal” as possible.

Soon, the daily routine developed. “Mr. M,” Miss Brown, or “Mrs. B” – simple names for the kids with cognitive disabilities to learn and remember – or one of the staff or student assistants helped me remove my coat. I then wheeled myself over to my chest level, orange plastic shelf to get the books for my first class and place them next to me in my chair. Then I was out of there.

As the year progressed, I started to enjoy beginning my days in the “crip room.” As I removed my coat and assembled my materials for class, I engaged in Monday-morning quarterbacking with kids who had severe cognitive disabilities but who knew sports statistics like computers. We would more often than not be discussing a bonehead decision by Bears quarterback, Bob Avelini the day before, or a beautiful Walter Payton dash from scrimmage. This was a very opinionated group of sports fans!

I remember a class vacation we took to Clearwater, Florida and Disney World.  In Clearwater, Mr. M did an awesome thing for me.  I was flirting with a high-school-aged waitress at our diner.  She gave me her number and we agreed to meet later that evening, but the class had other activities planned.  Mr. M was cool enough to allow me to skip the plans and have dinner with her.  Without her knowledge, he chaperoned from a table across the room!

Through “Mr. M’s” leadership, high school was an incredible introduction to some of what would become defining elements of my life. The “crip room” was a new introduction to disability; a familiarity with the diversity and goodness of people, and an understanding that my cognitive abilities made me no better a human being than those who were both mentally and physically disabled.

That year was also one of reward for initiative. I expressed a desire to become involved in marching band and radio, and both of those doors opened to me. Those three experiences, profound foundations of who I would become in life, share the same roots, 1978-1982, my time at Downers Grove South High School.

These are just one student’s reflections.  Hundreds of similar stories could be told about the incredible work Bill Muelhauser did in his career.  Goodbye, “Mr. M.”  You were a great man, appreciated and loved by many.

A memorial visitation will be Saturday October 11, 2014 from 10am until time of services 11:30am at Toon Funeral Home 4920 Main Street Downers Grove IL.

Chad Hymas Video Inspires “Operation Rise & Shine”

Operation Rise & Shine Logo

Gaining Strength from a “Roll Model,” Chad Hymas

by Greg Smith

Getting in and out of bed is something most people take for granted. Due to muscular dystrophy, I have slowly been losing the ability to do this independently. I’m not prepared to live with the lifestyle restrictions caused by the rigid scheduling of assistants to get me in bed. So I’ve established “Operation Rise and Shine: One Man’s Quest to Go to Bed and Get Up Whenever!”

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Inspirational Speaker Chad Hymas

“Operation Rise and Shine” is constantly fueled by the inner strength, determination, and relentlessness that is built into my psyche. But finding even more motivation to persevere is something I always strive to do. I was extremely inspired by a video posted by my National Speakers Association colleague Chad Hymas. As C-4 quadriplegic, Chad travels the world alone as an inspirational speaker and gets undressed and dressed daily by himself. It took him 2 1/2 years to learn the entire process. In this video, he shares his process and reveals the potential of focused, relentless determination.

If you watch the whole video, please go ahead and admit it in the “comments” section below.  Were you inspired?

My “Operation Rise & Shine” has taken major strides forward over the past few days. Saturday, a new mattress was delivered to the house. This mattress is firm enough to support my body without my weight pushing me down into a hole. This allows me to much more easily turn from side to side. Adding silk sheets makes the process a lot easier too. In addition, the new mattress is about 3 inches lower to the ground than the previous one which makes transferring easier.

The next phase of the Operation is to make the process easier. Now, I am able to make the transfer from bed to wheelchair and vice versa, but is it is extremely difficult. I will be working with my occupational therapist, Danielle Johnson, to come up with little tricks that eliminate the grueling maneuvers. I look forward to sharing our progress as we try to shave the time for transfers down from 20 minutes to under one minute.

Stay tuned for more updates and video proof of the success of “Operation Rise & Shine.”  And a special ‘thank you’ to my speaker colleague, Chad Hymas.

 

Operation Rise & Shine!

One Man’s Quest to Go to Bed and Get Up Whenever!

Based on your amazing response (record-setting blog numbers) to my article yesterday about my quest to rise and shine independently, I thought I would give you an update today. The news is not good, however I persevere.

In case you missed it, I am a 50 year old man with muscular dystrophy (really!), who is finding it next to impossible to independently transfer from my wheelchair to bed and vice-versa without assistance.  This is putting a cramp on my lifestyle and this difficulty must stop.  I need to figure out a way to maintain that freedom.

Part of the problem is the bedding. A few months ago, we decided to turn the mattress over, because I found myself sinking into a whole when sleeping, making it impossible to turn over. But after flipping the mattress, I noticed that the elevation of the bed was a little higher and that made it more difficult to get in bed. It was decided that we needed to buy a new one.

Determination will have to wait a while

The new mattress was delivered yesterday. It is one of those combination mattresses that features both the springs and the foam. As soon as it was delivered and placed onto the box spring, I could tell that it was even higher. I immediately had them remove the box spring and then it was obviously too low.

So my quest is on-hold until I find a mattress that is not too high, not too low, not too hard, not too soft, but juuuuusssst right!

Also, my mom went to Walmart last night to buy me some satin sheets. The thinking is I’d be able to slide across the bed easier to turn over on slick sheets. When she got home, gave me a funny look and said “These were the only ones they had.”

Greg holding up leopard skin sheets!

“Mom, you should have got me the ‘Pink” pajamas while you were at it!”

Greg kissing his leopard skin sheets

Stay tuned for the next episode of “Operation Rise & Shine!”

 

Losing and Still Winning!

I now have enough doctors

            to form an offensive line.

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By Greg Smith

I’m protected by all-stars.  At left tackle is my primary care physician. The left guard is my optometrist. My center is my cardiologist. My right guard is my pulmonologist, and my right tackle is my gastroenterologist.

It is a winning team. With their protection, I have plenty of time “in the pocket.”

It is no secret that one of my strengths is the ability to find pleasure when I accomplish difficult obstacles and emerge victorious. I always say that we get stronger by lifting the weights of life’s challenges. If I indeed ultimately profit from misfortune, I’m going to be rich. I’m facing cataract surgery, an esophageal scope and (I’m now 50), a colonoscopy all in the next month!

It’s all good to me. I’m brave with the knowledge that after it all, I will be even stronger! I’ll be able to see better without needing glasses anymore! I’ll be able to swallow easier and nourish my body better. And I will learn (God willing) that I am cancer free!

Lost a few teammates

As you may know, my sons and daughter have moved 1500 miles away and relocated in Arizona. I am proud of their independence and very happy for them. That’s the most important thing. I am confident that they will do well and be successful.

But from my perspective, I have three less sets of arms and legs to help me function. As a result of their absence, I need to be more independent.

Muscular Dystrophy is a disease that gradually weakens the muscles in your body. It is the opposing defensive line, trying to “sack” me.  It doesn’t do it with speed.  It thrives on sheer power… gradual pressure.

The gradual change is so slow that you barely notice it. But when the moment arrives where you can no longer do something that you used to be able to do it can be quite shock. 30 years ago, I could walk from my bed to the bathroom sink. 20 years ago, I could stand up in front of the sink and brush my teeth. Now I have to lean my elbows on the sink to support my body. 10 years ago I could independently transfer from my wheelchair to the toilet. Those days are long gone.

Not yet ready to call it a night

Two years ago, I could, with some difficulty, transfer from my wheelchair to my bed and vice versa. About a year ago, I got sick and spent weeks in bed. Extended periods in bed drain your strength and force you to ask for help. Instead of transferring independently, I needed help getting in and out of my wheelchair daily.

As I recovered, I found the struggle of climbing into and out of the wheelchair to be unappealing, so I started asking for help most of the time. At first, I knew that I was being lazy and could do it myself, but as time progressed, I started to realize that getting in and out of the chair was no longer a sure thing. It got to the point where I would only take on the challenge if nobody was around.

And then one evening, several months ago, I started to question whether or not I COULD make the transfer. Imagine laying in your bed and thinking to yourself, “I wonder if I can get up from here?”

That night I tried but after about a 30 minute exhaustive effort, I could not do it. I tried every possible strategic use of leverage, momentum and strength but I could not overcome the force of gravity. I realized that night that I was truly bedridden.

For a while I accepted it. Having the kids around to help me at all hours of the night made my lifestyle relatively unchanged. I could call Greg Jr. at 2 AM to put me in bed. But now that they are gone, my parents have to do it, and they like to go to bed early.

I believe in all of that “early to bed early to rise” stuff, but on the other hand, the silence of the evening offers me a great opportunity to strategize, write, and record my material which helps people build their inner strength. Sometimes I feel like I just need to be up at the computer typing or recording, but I am unable to because I have to take the help getting in bed when it’s offered.

Enough is enough!

I have decided that I am not going to give up without a fight. I’m going to hit the “weight room.” I have obtained the services of an occupational therapist, and I am determined to try to help myself more in order to maintain my freedom.

I am happy to tell you today that this morning I was able to get myself in the chair. It was agonizing. It was time-consuming (took about 20 minutes). It was physically draining and by the time I was in the chair I was exhausted. But I made it into the chair! That is the victory. That is what has energized me and given me the drive to have a very productive day.

Now that the kids are raised, it is time for me to move on to the next opponent on my schedule, moving out of my parents home and into a new life of independence. That’s the sport I play. I have a must-win attitude. Building inner strength for victory in the game of life is what I help others do. Its time for me to get back into game shape and do what I’ve been telling others to do.

Welcome to the game I play.  I hope you enjoy the battle. Consider this blog your online source for updates.  Bring me in to speak to your group to see the action live from your luxury skybox seats!  It’s gonna be a helluva ballgame.

Here’s video of an independent transfer from over three years ago.  It is much more difficult now.