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Every now and then you feel a little low, tired, your nose is running and you would rather be at home sipping tea but you are out and about doing what you normally do. Then someone who is feeling quite similar turns to you and smiles.  That’s all.  They just smile at you.

Their glossy eyes sparkle. You know they have a cold but still the sparkle of their eyes just adds to the smile.

Their eye lids are sort of droopy. You know that feeling when you are tired. Yet some how you take it as a sign of gentle calm.  You are set at ease.

That person smiles again this time adding, how ya doin’?  Suddenly you feel pretty good just because you’ve been noticed.

Someone saw you.  Someone asked how you were.

You don’t answer right away because you are a little stunned. You’ve just passed three or four people and they couldn’t lift their eyes up from the cell phone.  One person even bumps into you.

You come back to the moment and figure out that you’ve just been greeted by a very nice person.  Your day is now a little brighter.

She smiles at you again eager to hear your response.

I am fine you say returning the smile. How are you doing?

I am good she says, I’m good. She turns her mouth downward and nodding her head up and down as if to accentuate the exclamation.  You are lifted up.
Your day has been made.  An affirmation of wellbeing as come to you.

This is what I refer to as a treasure moment with Miss Melissa. Even when she is not feeling all that well she manages to turn out a smile and a welcoming greeting to the people who enter Southeast Center for Independent Living, where she has volunteered for sixteen years.

What she does there is quite extraordinary. To greet people who have issues that are alarming to them and defuse that with a gentle smile is a wonderful gift to offer another person.

We all could learn something here. There is a real benefit to looking at people who pass by us.

With eye contact comes real contact.
Something that is increasingly diminishing these days.

I learned this week that it isn’t all that difficult to look past your issues and offer a simple smile to those around you. It just might make a difference in someone’s day.

Team Work ~ That is Snowball’s Message

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“Melissa Robillard captured my heart within the magical pages of Snowball’s Great Adventure, her inspirational children’s book. Melissa’s mission to make a positive impact on the world is represented in each word and every illustration. Highly recommended for children, young and old.” – Steven Manchester, #1 bestselling author, The Rockin’ Chair and Gooseberry Island

Today Melissa expressed how appreciative she is by the show of support she has received since publishing her book Snowball’s Great Adventure.

Melissa met author Steve Manchester several months ago.  He helped with the editing of the book. Maybe it was his smile, maybe it was his big bear hug,  I’m not sure exactly what it was made the connection so special. One thing is for sure his big heart was visible.

Team Snowball did not know at the time that Steve was writing Perfect Chase, www.perfectchase.com    When we learned of it we were even more grateful for his support and gift of time.

Janine says, humble is as humble does.  Which basically means change your little corner of the world but don’t make a show of it.  That is what Melissa has been doing over the past several month.  Soon she will be highlighted in a number of periodicals. Effortlessly and in her own unique humble was she is making a difference.

It is always heart warming to be involve in projects that have such pure people shining light, people like Melissa and Chase.  Included are  all the people along the way who chime in and lend a hand or give a cheer.

“Sharing the road where ideas and dreams are sign post that lead people to high points on the hillside of  life, this is essential for good living.”  Genevieve Wildheart

The above quote sums it up.

Actions speak louder than words. When people join together to lift up dreams a ripple moves out in all directions spreading goodness.

Why Do I Need A Reason?

Just when I think I’ve had my quota of wisdom for the day Melissa suprises me with one of her gems.  A little known fact ( I think ) about Melissa is that she spends a fair amount of time each day thinking about the people in her life.  She also takes time at night to say prayers for people she knows and often stays awake thinking about people if she has concerns or if she simply had a good time with someone.

It is a lovely kindness she extends holding people in her heart as she does.

Today she was telling me she loves someone.  I thought it would be a great moment to spark conversation, ya know – stimulate her mind.  Well as it turned out she stimulated my mind.

I asked, why do you love that person?  What do you love about them?  She looked at me with a very sincere and serious glance stating with complete resolve, why do I need a reason to love someone?

I had no answer.

Once again the young woman I call my master teacher set me straight. Why do we need a reason to love?

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it one hundred times, she is worth listen too.

PCAE – Janine

August 25, Melissa, her mom, Kathy and Janine met with neurologist Dr Farrel Douglas.

Dr Douglas accepted a generous donate on behalf of the United Leukodystrophy Foundation.

Bobbi Burgstone, Executive Director at ULF expressed by phone her gratitude for the contribution and excitement for Melissa’s achievements.

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Humble and Kind

“Hold the door, say “please”, say “thank you”
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb
But always stay humble and kind
When those dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride
But always stay humble and kind”  From Humble and Kind Tim McGraw

When Melissa is in the car she enjoys listening to country music. One day Humble and Kind was playing and she was really into it.  She sang the tune along with her PCA.

The words when those dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you, when the work you put in is realized, let yourself feel the pride but always stay humble and kind  summed up Melissa’s point of view.

What a joy it has been to witness the reward she receives from the published book, Snowball’s Great Adventure.

What is the reward in her ‘humble’ view?  It is seeing happy people and what that does for her spirits.

It is almost beyond expression but this points to her pure intent.

Out of the blue she recently said, I love life!  When asked why she loves life she simply answered, I don’t know. I just do.

Those would be considered powerful words even by the wisest sage.

Today Melissa was talking about a favorite bird, the hummingbird.  Her caregiver said to her, if the hummingbird is so special then the symbolism of the hummingbird must apply to you.

Upon a quick google this is what was discoverd about the hummingbird.

Hummingbird – a symbol for accomplishment that which seems impossible. It can teach you how to find the miracle of joyful living in your own life.

I would say that applies and is mighty humble and kind.

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Dream BIG!

Collage_FotoriIt is hard to believe that a little more than a year ago a small action step turned into a dream which became a reality.   When we stop and think for a moment what words mean, what actions mean, what dreams mean it seems common ground becomes visible.  When we find the commonality we share great and wonderful things become woven in our lives.  Soon simple threads combine creating extraordinary things and a world of possibility!

Pictured here – top left Melissa Robillard author of Snowball’s Great Adventure.

Top right – Kathy, Melissa’s mom. ( A proud and happy mom.)

Lower left – Speech Therapist Kari Star and co-author/ personal care attendant, Janine Ouellette Sullivan.

Lower right – illustrator/artist Mallory Harvey

These are a few of the people that turned a dream into a reality.

There are more so many more people who stepped forward to help Melissa achieve this goal. To all those people team Snowball says THANK YOU!

The process was heart warming to say the least and anyone who watching the process could not help but come inspired.

***Melissa’s effort has encourage two people to write their stories.  Why? Because her example shows us all how to dream BIG and Go Further.  

Go further is a powerful line in Snowball’s Great Adventure.

We take away what we need from each experience.  Melissa says she is content. That is a good place to be.

 

Listen Something Special Could Going On

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Do you ever wonder what your world would be like if you could not remember something you did yesterday or if you thought it was March 2012 when it was actually July 1, 2016? Have you considered what your life would be like if the part of your brain that tells you to do the next thing you should do was diminished?  Things like stopping at the crossing or going in the shade because the sun is to hot would be foreign concepts. What would your favorite meal taste like if that part of your brain that relays the information of smell and taste was impaired? Remember that great page turning book you read last? How about if reading was one of your favorite past times and that became very difficult?
What if your processing skills were must slower than the average person and following television programs, movies and conversations was difficult because it all moved much faster than your mind could grasp? What if in the course of a day you frequently felt lost?

Those are just a few realities in the life of someone with leukodystrophy.

Seven and a half years ago I began working for Melissa. I have learned so much about the disease leukodystrophy and how to interact in a positive way. It is important to educate one’s self when dealing with people who have any situation that requires enhanced understanding.

In the very near future Melissa will be offering a donation to a leukodystrophy organization. This is something she feels very good about. She wants to ease the burden families feel especially families caring for loved one’s in the late stages of this disease. Insurance only covers so much and the cost of medical care can be a burden families could just do without.

As I have worked with Melissa in her daily life and with her at Southeast Center For Independent Living.  I have seen a woman with great compassion for other people. This has been something I have admired from the start.
In a world with no shortage of short tempered, critical people someone like Melissa is a breath of fresh air.

Today my message is about the importance of educating yourself about diseases, impairments, struggles, handicaps, disabilities and finding ways to meet people were they are rather than standing in the space of frustration waiting for them to
respond to situations based on how you perceive them. Perhaps you are fortune to have good health and rapid sequence life is just fine. It isn’t fine to some who can’t follow along that quickly.

Melissa attends a fabulous group, Buzzard’s Bay Speech Therapy. There are people from 20 – 80 in this group. I have never met such impressive people in my life. A college professor, a master’s degree art student, an extraordinary pianist,
former gym teacher, bus driver, restaurant owner, receptionist are a few who occupy seats at a table of cohesiveness. Under the direction of two of the best speech therapist in the region minds are being challenged, goals achieved and friendships formed.

Melissa experiences many difficulties these days. When she is volunteering at SCIL and someone comes to the office or calls on the phone needing help she has the most sympathetic ear anyone could have. She desires with all her heart to direct the person to someone who can assist. She listens. I’ve never known a better listener.

I see her week after week interacting with people. I see people look past her because she is in a wheel chair. People ask me a question that should be directed to Melissa. I ask myself who has the deficits here?

She’s is a shining light in the face of a debilitating disease. Anyone who cares to spend sometime with her and listen with as keen an ear as she has will surely walk away enhance.

Slow down the pace, kick down the tone and savor an extraordinary person in your life. See what you learn.

Go Further!

IMG_4344When Melissa began her children’s book project is seemed like an impossibility.  A few peole thought the process was simply the work of speech therapy and would go no further.  It was always much more than that. For Melissa the work of putting together a short story for children was a test of ABILITES.  I love the word ability.   Couldn’t we all stand to learn a little bit about using what we have to make the world a better place?   There is so much with in each of  us waiting to blossom.  For Melissa a story that referenced courage, teamwork, determination and highlighted her sweet personality was important to her.  Don’t we all ask ourselves – what will I leave behind?   Midway through the writing of the story she began to tire.  It was real work pulling out ideas, concepts, meaning and stringing it all together.

Just like in the picture above it was as if ‘the whisper of the wind’ said, Melissa GO FURTHER.  Further she went!  What a stretch this was for her. The truth is it was a stretch for the core team. Mom, Kari -speech therapies and PCA, Janine. It was a stretch.  What a model of perserverance Melissa has been .   At her recent book signing I looked around the room and saw nothing but inspired people.  People who were truly happy for her, validating her success with great joy.   The next time you don’t dare to take that next step or thing a little bit out of the box remember Melissa and GO FURTHER!