Words by Julie - Living Life With Paralysis

All over the map. 2

I’m not sure why I am so often surprised when I look out the window. It goes both ways: “it is still snowing?” or “man, that sun feels good!” I guess that is my reason for not writing for so long…it’s either too grey and there is nothing but regular life or the sun is shining and life is too busy to take the time to write.

There’s not much to say about grey. You know what it feels like; we’ve just come out of 72 continuous hours of snow either falling from the sky or blowing so fiercely I wonder if it ever actually lands. As for the sun, mostly it’s not been at home. Today the sun is shining in all our wonderful windows and our bedroom (facing south) is actually 24°C!

What have I been doing over the past two months? There has been a bit of accessibility advice given out and I started writing my next book: Building Better Bathrooms. As you can see below, I have some new “bathroom experience” to add to the growing stack that will become a book that is cringe-worthy (in places).

By some small chance I also have some fabulous new friends – the Real Life Renos team! Karen and Melissa are working on the final touches of the promo video, but follow them on Instagram Real Life Renos. This is really going to be fun!

Last week I did a “soft launch” of Sawchuk Accessible Solutions; where I will be helping organizations obtain their Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification and teaching about accessibility as a Rick Hansen Foundation Ambassador and Keynote speaker.

We have had a lot of family time. School strike days, snow days, family day long weekend and a holiday. The four of us travelled to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica to the tiny town of Quepos for eight days. It was a trip of a lifetime – we did everything from being smashed in the sand of the warm waves (lifeguards were not so keen about me being in the water), cooling in the pool, a jungle night hike (think frogs, sloths, spiders and bigger spiders), a chocolate tour, reading books, parasailing and lots of local food (especially fish).

We tackled some wicked terrain during our week on the side of a mountain (check out my video at Manuel Antonio National Park) but we also just hung out together. It was a total reset: for our minds, for our family and one that Theo and I needed for sure.

I gave myself just enough time to recover from that trip before heading to sunny Huntsville. My friend Vicki and I went to cheer on Ella and the F.E. Madill Nordic ski team at OFSAA. The races were at Arrowhead Provincial Park, a fabulous place to be outdoors in the winter! It was a fantastic three days – super cold, but sunny, skiing and my version of skating.

Being away in Costa Rica and Arrowhead made me realize (again) how important it is to be outside. No matter what the weather or where I am, I need to get outside, even for a short while. As a result I have decided to put together a few videos of how I get out and about, and what equipment and help I need. I want you to see what I do and how I do it, but I also am using this platform as a way of making a promise to myself to get outside.

Take last night as an example – the first game of “zombie PSW” of 2020 (sorry, too dark to film). Do you remember way back when I wrote about playing “zombie PSW”? Of course it’s just a game (no hard feelings, Elaine) but it really stuck in our minds (Oliver especially) as being fun and it only can be played when there is enough snow to soften the blows. It’s basically a game of tackle as we walk-roll up and down the driveway…anyway I had not been outside for two whole days so I promised Oliver I would come out with him and I told Ella she had to come outside or clean up the kitchen by herself…and then Theo joined us too. It was so fun – and so simple. Well, simple is all relative of course – I still had to put on snow pants and boots and get into my Mountain Trike – but I did it. Going outside and then coming back in makes being inside feel, different, in a good way. It’s hard to explain.

I know this is kind of random, but I had to celebrate this: What a beautiful coat! I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it – a vintage wool 3/4 length coat I modified so that the back is shorter and fits me while I’m seated in my chair. I found it at Pick A Posie in Blyth where Ella works part-time. The matching Pashmina scarf and tall faux-suede boots are from Pick A Posie too!

Other than my goal of putting together some videos of being outside, I also have some exciting activity on the horizon. My next book, for one! I have been working on writing this book for the past four years. Called Roadmap to Recovery, it is a guide book to help those who are newly injured with an SCI. I’m so excited that SCIO agreed to manage the project with funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. I’ll be sure to let you know when it is out! Roadmap to Recovery is Spinal Cord Injury Ontario’s site where you are going to be able to see it within the next month!

Coming Soon!

It’s now Sunday and the sun is just up, not a cloud in the sky and the snow is shining like all the sparkles on the floor of Ella’s sewing room! Thank you for reading this far, it turned out to be more to catch up on than I thought. I’d love for you to come to my next speaking engagement if you are in the area. I’ll be at the Goderich Public Library on March 28th at 2pm. Could you please visit my new Sawchuk Accessible Solutions fb page, like and share it too? People need solutions and I want to help find them!

P.S. I promise to get on my sit-ski today and show you how it’s done!


  • Val Hillinger says:

    Wow! I love reading about how you are doing Julie! You are an inspiration in so many ways. Keep on lighting up the path for others with or without spinal injuries. Your truly an amazing women!

  • Julie Lineberger says:

    What a great update! Loved the monkey photo. Thank you for sharing, and STAY HEALTHY!!!!

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