Monday, December 10, 2018

Just like every other day, I woke to leg spasms & clonus. The pain jerking my legs awake, I knew there was no way I could peacefully lay in bed. So I quietly slipped out of bed looking over at my husband & sleeping baby. I offered a quick prayer of gratitude, trying not to get in too deep. Reaching for my walker I tried not to bump into any furniture and doors as I navigated my way to the bathroom. The first thing I did was reach for my medication and water bottle, which I had strategically placed there the night before, knowing the sooner I take my medication, the sooner I can feel a little relief from the pain and intense muscle spasms - my husband compares it to constant charley horse.

This is about how every day starts, but today I am 28. Time is a funny thing, I still remember turning 21 and deciding THAT day that I’d run 21 miles for my birthday. It was one of the most fulfilling &memorable birthdays. Miles filled with reflection, gratitude, phone calls - on my small tiny little Nokia phone which I carried in my SPIBELT (bonus points if you know what that is or sports bra - and I wondered why I would get water damage, from the sweat in my sports bra - haha. The day ending with a teammate sleepover and homemade oreo ice cream. It’s not what you’d imagine a typical 21 year-old would do for her birthday, but it is still my  favorite birthday to this day. I did walk into my first bar to get a free burger, an hour before our first indoor season time trialls - haha once again one of my ridiculous decisions of the day.

This year my favorite gift was my new walker. How funny does that sound, at 28 years old my favorite gift was a $250 classy new walker.

Today, as I prepare for a 28k run, maybe it will turn into 28 miles, but I wanted to try and keep a little simpler. Over the past few years I always try to ask friends 3 highlights from their past year and 3 predictions for the upcoming. I’ll have to think about this over my run, but I’ll leave space for that here:

1. Being a mother, watching Will grow & learn. Also when he moved into his own room & started sleeping through the night.
2. My 4th marathon - no music or ear buds, just nature, exercise & gratitude.
3. Pineview lake day with my cute little family - throwing the ball for Cooper in the water, Will sleeping in the hammock and swimming around together.

1. Start figuring out our ACCESSIBLE HOME (to build or renovate and adapt an old home) I've lived in apartments for the last decade when I moved out to college.
2. Some kind of adventure and trip with my family.
3. The most exhausting & fun year yet, watching Will start to walk, talk & learn even more and learning how to chase him down.

Every year past 21 is such a blessing; I was just barely 21 when my accident happened. But as I reflect on who I am today, I realize so much of the growth & strength that I’m so proud of has come from the trials, pains & darkness I faced. And yet this past year has been filled with SO MUCH JOY. My greatest joy has come from being a mother, as I’ve watched and helped my
little baby learn and grow. It truly has been my greatest accomplishment of my 27th year, keeping a mini human alive and helping him thrive.

As I sit here typing my clonus violently shakes my legs, but as I look out the window at the red ridges across the skyline, known as Snow Canyon, in St. George, I look forward to my run with anticipation because I know the moment I get out there I’ll forget my about my ailments and pains. The moment I start moving in nature gratitude takes over and I’m immersed the the beauty of the nature around me. I’ve gone one 3 birthday runs before today in preparation and each day I’ve just been overwhelmed with the   feeling of being alive and enjoying such a beautiful place. My thoughts get lost in the beauty around me and with each stroke and breath I feel gratitude fill my lungs.

This is definitely not what I envisioned 28 looking like, but yesterday as I thought of the many friends, family & mentors who have helped shape my life over the years. I’ve spent a couple days with my parents, who made it possible for me to be down in St. George for my birthday and taken time to reflect on all the love and support they have given me to reach all my goals and dreams. Then I think of my sweetest blessings of my all, my family. My husband Trevor, who is so kind, thoughtful, patient, goofy and loving and our sweet baby boy, who is really becoming more of a boy than a baby - I feel so complete. And of course Cooper, my first dog-child that helped me learn to love again and be still.

This is 28, growing older is a privilege. Reading Option B made me realize that growing old is a privilege, one that not all receive. I am so grateful for each year that I grow older because it means I’m still alive. My body has changed, more wrinkles and stretch marks appear, more aches and pains, but there is more love, more gratitude, more beautiful moments and memories to experience. I know more trails, pains & challenges will be a part of those years ahead, but I’m ALIVE to experience it all and for that I am grateful. If I could summarize my   feelings about 28 it would be: GRATEFUL because


A little follow up on the 28K. Trevor was able to get a bike and ride with me. We rode through the trails and paths of snow canyon & we're able to get the 28k or 17.3 miles I set out to accomplish. There were definitely easier ways to have gotten my birthday kilometers, like a path with less hills, but it was so fun adventuring and exploring. My parents hiked around with Will & Cooper while we were out and about and it really was the perfect day. We got back cleaned up and headed out for an early birthday dinner.


(can you see how exhausted we are from our 28k and birthday adventures)

After we went over to Tuachan, the most beautiful outdoor theatre venue in St. George. For years I've wanted to go and with the Christmas season they had a live nativity, lights & Will's first Santa encounter. It was the perfect birthday week & birthday weekend spent in one of mym favorite places with some of my favorite people.

My little Christmas Elves - HAHAH their faces are just too good.

Will was pretty indifferent to Santa, I think he was just more curious about all the while fluff.

Something Magical Happened

Friday, October 19, 2018

Lately I've felt the pull to write more. Right now I have almost 10 unfinished pieces that I need to finish up & post. These past few months I've been tricking myself. With the world of Instagram and images, I feel like I'm able to get a few thoughts down & post it with a pretty picture and call it good. But lately I've realized that it's been a cop out & I need to more fully & deeply process my thoughts.

The other week we drove up to Logan to get some family pictures done. I had decided that I wanted to try and capture the real me. The real me doesn't just stand and doesn't just sit in a wheelchair - the real Brittany uses Trevor and crutches to stand and balance, crawls around on the ground, furniture surfs walking around the house & uses her wheelchair a lot.

It's been over 6 1/2 years since my accident & it has been such a journey to self love and embracing & balancing all sides of myself. Being a t12 incomplete paraplegic comes with a lot of uncharted territory. From the beginning I didn't identify with my wheelchair because before I was a runner, I thought my strength, ability & identity came from my legs & was a huge part of who I thought I was. After my accident, I still always had the hope & determination that I would walk again. As months and years passed I kept thinking I would graduate from my wheelchair and leave that clunky thing in the dust. But I came to realize, that although I learned to walk again, I would always need my wheelchair to get long distances & other situations.

Sometimes when I'm in public, I wonder if people realize that I haven't always been in my wheelchair. I know what it like to have fully functioning and strong legs. Not that it really changes anything, but it's just a thought I have. I think sometimes we worry & fuss and are all more self-conscious about ourselves, our bodies, our abilities etc. But the truth is others probably aren't thinking about us at all.

For years I've transferred out of my wheelchair for every picture, hid my crutches behind friends and family or literally throw them out of the picture. Many SCI's don't like you to touch their wheelchair because they feel it is an extension of themselves. But I didn't identify with my wheelchair, in fact I hated my wheelchair for many years. Instead of seeing it as a tool that enables me to do more,  I always saw it as a clunky metal burden, that stuck out like a sore thumb in everyone's pictures.

Now I've had some muscle function return, the the few muscles that did return are extremely weak & I compensate in every way imaginable. My walking went from intense second-by-second process where I had to think about each and every moment. It took all my PHYSICAL and MENTAL strength to put one foot in front of the other. But even after 3 1/2 years of intense physical therapy my "new" walking has become a little more automatic. If I slow down & really think about what I'm doing I'm able to engage a few more muscles & improve my form, but the walk is much slower. Other times, I just try and hustle, cheat and overcompensate to move faster. Either way I do it, after about 10 minutes my body is exhausted. It's very difficult to hold anything other than a bag or backpack and maybe pinching a few things between my fingers while holding onto my crutches.

It always feels so good to get out of my wheelchair and off my butt, but then after a few minutes standing and walking I'm exhausted, it's a constant struggle. And then I end up back in my wheelchair. I can get so much further & get so much more done when I'm in my chair. But too much time in my wheelchair and I start to feel restless & uncomfortable - I refer to it as "butt anxiety".

Even on my wedding day I don't have a single picture of me in my wheelchair. Mainly because I literally didn't use my wheelchair all day. Even with the constant love & support from Trevor & 4 years using a wheelchair, I still hadn't figured out how to accept my wheelchair's help.

Beforehand I stressed over what we should wear for our pictures. I fussed over what would and wouldn't look good in my wheelchair and finally decided to just wear what I'm most comfortable in - jeans, a sweater & my favorite walking sandals. During our pictures I jumped from wheelchair to crutches to sitting & balancing standing up. The whole time I felt comfortable transferring in and out of my chair like I do in day-to-day life. I hoped the pictures would turn out okay, but I still was nervous to see what I looked like in my wheelchair.

A couple days later our photographer sent me a couple sneak peeks and something magical happened

When I saw this picture, for the first time in over 6 1/2 years, I didn't see my wheelchair sticking out. I saw a beautiful family and more importantly I saw Brittany - a strong, resilient, kind, confident, stubborn, compassionate and loving wife, friend, sister, daughter & mother.  I didn't see a girl in a wheelchair. I wondered if this day would ever come & it was beautiful. I truly can't find the words to fully describe this feeling. I didn't just wake up one day & love my wheelchair, it has taken time, a lot of work, self-love, acceptance & learning. How grateful I am for this pure moment that was captured that I will cherish forever.

Being Content

Friday, September 14, 2018

The scriptures do not change, but we do, 
and so the same scriptures can give us new insights 
every time we read them. 

Mervyn B. Arnold

I started off with this quote because I could not have worded it any better. The exact same scripture has taught me the same lesson during different seasons of my life. In January 2012, I started writing scripture cards where each week I wrote down a verse of scripture and on the back side I wrote down why & what I was feeling at the time.

My VERY FIRST scripture in January 2012 was:

On the back of the card I wrote: I love and chose this verse to focus on because so often all I do is look forward to the next adventure. I need to focus on being content with where I am, to slow down and enjoy where I am now in this moment. Then I cross referenced "Find Joy in the Journey" and 

Alma 29:3

But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; 
for I ought to be CONTENT with the things which the Lord hath allotted me.

In 2012 I had just come off a high of an incredible summer being and EFY (church youth) counselor and a zip line tour guide in the Smokey Mountains. I kept looking ahead and thinking about the next summer and adventure. This scripture humbled me and reminded me to be content in the state of life I was in right then and to find joy right now and not wish my days away looking ahead. I was in my junior year of college & loving life, but I was reminded to love the life I was living right now and be fully present.

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Then three months later these verses took on a whole new meaning. As I lay on a physical therapy mat watching other patients get up in standing frames, attend pool therapy, walk in the robotic Locomat. I was so frustrated. Due to all the broken bones in my legs and feet I had explicit restrictions on what physical therapy I could do and weight bearing was out of the question. Even nonweight bearing pool therapy was o a no because of the k-wires that were sticking out of my toes. I remember looking at another patient who I knew was a complete SCI, meaning they would get no return of muscles or feeling to their legs, but they were getting up in the standing frame and I was so envious. That was what I wanted to be doing, but instead I'm side laying on the mat working on these frustrating twitches muscle movements. 

Suddenly, the reminder that "I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hat allotted me" came to mind and I was immediately humbled. The Lord had allotted me so much already and he wanted me to be CONTENT. He allotted me my life, my ability to speak, think and continue to build connections and relationship. He not only preserved my body, but had allotted some sensation and a little strength to return to my legs. He preserved my t6 vertebrae, which was broken, but had not caused any spinal cord damage.  It was a gentle and loving reminder that I was not meant to stay in this season forever, but for now to be content and be patient for the growth and progress that is to come. One day I would be able to get up in the standing frame, one day I would get in the pool, one day I would walk on the Locomat and even on the ground. 

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Most recently, I learned this lesson again after I had my first baby I am home a lot more. As we've rearranged furniture to fit baby gear into our new world. I began to get frustrated with some of our furniture. It wasn't the color nor the size or comfort level I'd like. I avoided inviting people over into what felt like a makeshift apartment and I did my best to cut it out of pictures. Once again,  the reminder came to be content. Eventually we'll get a sectional couch that will provide more seating and comfort, but for right now I need to be content. After that realization I invited friends and neighbors over to decorate Valentines day cookies because why not! It was a wonderful evening of fun and cookie decorating and when mention of hanging things on the walls my neighbors reassuring told me that they hadn't hung much up either.

As winter turned into spring and now summer I've watched neighbor and neighbor move out of our street of duplexes into their own homes. Once again I longed to move and have a back yard and door that we could go out and enjoy so I don't have to walk Cooper and Will down the street every time we want to play outside. Then I remembered what we had been praying for over a year ago - handicap accessible housing to rent. When I found these duplexes it was an answer to our prayers because finding a two car garage home to rent with no stairs is almost impossible. Yet here we are living in this two car garage handicap accessible home. As the time came to renew our lease I was humbled and signed again being reminded to be CONTENT and that this home was an answer to prayers. Although it's not meant to be our forever home, I needed to be content until the time comes to progress and move forward. 

Wherever you are in life right now - whether that be in high school, college or beyond, a particular job, single, married or somewhere in between, wanting to lose 5 or 50 pounds, in a apartment or a home - we need to strive to  BE CONTENT.

Heavenly Father doesn't want you to stay there forever, this life is about progress and growth.

But if you truly want to find joy right here and now, then you need to start with being content with what you have and where you are RIGHT NOW.  As we find more contentment we will find more joy. 

Here's a couple of my favorite talks that focus on contentment & gratitude in our current circumstances I promise they are SO WORTH YOUR TIME:

Click here to listen -> Content with Things Allotted Unto Us


Being content means acceptance without self-pity. Meekly borne, however, deprivations such as these can end up being like excavations that make room for greatly enlarged souls.

We are to do what we can within our allotted 'acerage' while still using whatever stretch there may be in any tethers.

Some undergo searing  developments that cut suddenly into moralities status quo. Some have trials to pass through while other have allotments they are to live with. Paul lived with his 'thorn in the flesh' (2 Cor 12:7)

Life's defining moments come within our allotments...our responses are what matter.

Such contentment is more than shoulder-shrugging passivity. It reflects our participative assent rather than uncaring resignation. 

The Lord knows our circumstances and the intents of our hearts, and surely the talents and gifts he has given us. He is able to gauge perfectly how we have performed within what is allotted to us. 

Click here to listen -> Grateful in Any Circumstances

"I do not believe the Lord expects us to be less thankful in times of trial than in times of abundance and ease."

"Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges."

"We can choose to be grateful, NO MATTER WHAT."

Full-Time Grandma

Monday, September 3, 2018

 My dad UNofficially retired and has been promoted to full-time Grandpa. We say unofficially because if you know Bryan Fisher, you know he won't just stop working.  
Growing up, I never realized what a demanding job & schedule my dad kept. Regardless of his job, he always made time to coach my soccer team, as well as my siblings, from first to eighth grade with practice multiple days a week at 4:30PM, and multiple games on Saturday mornings, both spring & fall for over 

During our younger years, my dad would leave long before we'd wake in order to catch a train to the city and be home in time for practice. There's so much you don't realize in those moments of growing up & only when you look back can you see the sacrifices & endless support. 

When I started running in high school he never missed a cross country meet. Endless Saturday's spent watching me run cross-county in the fall & track meets in the winter and spring. He was always there cheering me on. I know I didn't recognize and fully appreciate it in those moments. He even postponed promotions at work, that would require much more travel, until after my sister was done playing soccer. 

He has so selflessly cared, provided & supported our family for over 30 years. There is just too much to put into words, but he always showed his loved through acts of service & showing up and being present in our lives. My dad has provided me countless opportunities to succeed & achieve my goals, but he did not shelter me from working hard. 

From soccer games & cross country meets to physical therapy & adaptive xc skiing, he has always showed up to cheer me on. From cheering me on during a 5k college race to cheering me on in physical therapy as I learned to sit up and balance again, all the way to my first Paralympic National xc ski race. 

There is so much I've learned through my Dad's example and I have numerous stories running around in my mind. I know I need to write them down, but I'm not sure right now is the time. Those will be saved for another posts - lessons I've learned from my Dad. 

Watching my Dad become a Grandpa has been such a sweet experience. With my Dad's travel he would often make arrangements to stop over and visit us for 24-hours and sometimes even less. One time we even drove to the airport to visit him during a 2 hour layover. It so special to see their sweet bond & watch how much my dad loves being a Grandpa. While at Braden's wedding, a couple friends commented on how my dad always seemed to be holding Will & commented on their sweet relationship. 

After my Dad's official last day in his office he & my Mom hopped on a plane and flew out for Labor Day weekend. We went to church, went to breakfast with GG, drove around Pineview Reservoir (since the water was closed), had a picnic, visited two temples, multiple walk, morning workouts, and lots of playing, reading & snuggling. Full-time grandpa status kept him pretty busy, but I did see him rest his eyes a time or two. Here's just a few of the pictures from all our fun & adventures celebrating together.