Wednesday, May 28, 2008


This afternoon I've been making excuses why I can't write the two articles I need to complete for my latest freelance assignment. The boys are home on summer vacation...I need to pack for the beach (we leave tomorrow)...I don't know what to write about... . On and on the excuses leap to mind. So, I finally at least sit down at my computer and get as far as my home page when the title of this news story catches my eye: "Tenn. woman, 61, dies in iron lung after outage."

I think, "What year is it?" and confess I didn't realize that these apparatus were still used in health care. I click on the link and read about this woman, Dianne Odell. Striken with polio when she was three-years-old (three years before the vaccine was available), Ms. Odell spent her life in the iron lung. The article says, "Though confined inside the 750-pound apparatus, Odell managed to get a high school diploma, take college courses and write a children's book."

It continues, "The iron lung that she used was a cylindrical chamber with a seal at the neck. She lay on her back in the device with only her head exposed, and made eye contact with visitors using an angled mirror above her head. The lung worked by producing positive and negative pressure on the lungs that caused them to expand and contract so that she could breathe."

How does someone trapped in such a situation see beyond her confines? How does she dream, pursue, and accomplish? Yet, she did. The article explains, "A voice-activated computer allowed her to write a children's book, 'Less Light,' about Blinky, a tiny star who dreams of becoming a wishing star. In a 2001 interview with The Associated Press, she said she wanted to show children, especially those with physical disabilities, that they should never give up."

I am humbled by her courage and determination. And I am ashamed of my own tendency to put off, to give up, and to make excuses. So, as I sit here, I take a deep breath and savor the amazing gift of being able to do so in my own strength. As I set to work on my articles, I decide to shed the shackles I've allowed to restrain me (excuses) and write with deep thanks for the flow of words and ideas, the opportunity to express myself, and the freedom and ability to stand up and walk away from the computer when I am finished.

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