Letter to Me- A Brad Paisley Inspired Post

Music played an important role in penning my teenage memoir Off Balanced a few years back. To recapture my teenage mindset I listened to songs which in high school I somehow related to. For instance, “Outside” by Staind and “Let Me Go” by Three Doors Down. Songs providing a general retrospect on high school earned their way onto my playlist too. As today’s post’s title suggests, the latter included “Letter to Me” by Brad Paisley.

“Letter to Me” really embodies a cool concept, an adult Brad Paisley writing a letter containing valuable retrospect wisdom to his 17-year old self.  My initial motive to write Off Balanced maintained similar sentiments, aiming to let current adolescents with cerebral palsy learn from my experiences during adolescence. Now I want to follow Brad Paisley’s lead and actually write that letter to me. Enjoy!


Dear Zach,

Hello from the future, specifically 2014. Knowing you, you’ll want proof I am really future Zach. How else could I know you derived your AIM password from George Thorogood’s song “Bad to the Bone?” Now onto what I want to tell you.

Man, this feels a little awkward. The advice I can give could leave you enjoying your teenage years so much more. Yet at the same time said advice (spoiler alert) seriously compromises a book you end up writing, Off Balanced. Yes, you become a published author. Holding back on my wisdom feels like the right approach. I trust the sacrifice will serve worthwhile. Sorry!

Don’t worry, I will share some retrospect insights with you. You know how sometimes at work you see Alex? Oops, you’ll know him as Steve (Dumas). You talk for a few minutes and you say “I’ll give you a call sometime and we’ll hang out.” Actually call him! You will want to create many memories together.

Also, follow through when you tell Papa you may use some paid vacation time from work to go out to visit him and the Tucson family contingent. Time will limit the opportunities for purely joyous trips out west.

Well I believe the above strikes a fair balance between preserving your future and enriching your now. Make me proud!





Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month 2014

People wore green on March 25th to promote CP awareness.

The most recent picture wearing green (color for cerebral palsy) I could find (my 21st birthday).

Ironic I consider Off Balanced a cerebral palsy blog but yet I remained absent from posting here nearly all March, celebrated as CP Awareness Month. Finally though I’m in general returning to form, looking to recapture my progress from last year and build momentum.

Speaking about 2013, last March I issued a challenge for Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. At my challenge’s root I questioned exactly how much CP awareness spreads. Yeah, we in the cerebral palsy community know and care about Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month but what about everyone else?

Does CP Awareness Month educate the bouncer who rejects a patron with CP from entering a bar because the bouncer mistakes the patron for a drunk? Does Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month lessen the awkward gazes onlookers give persons using walkers or wheelchairs?

Thanks to starting #CPChatNow this past December with John W. Quinn and Tim Wambach I feel better able to assess Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month’s effectiveness. Particularly this past week saw many CP Awareness initiatives due to Tuesday, March 25th receiving designation as National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day.

Let me give a few examples. On the 25th Alex Yurchak wore a cerebral palsy awareness shirt to work, leading to him educating his co-workers on CP. John shared he wore a green tie to yoga remarking “Talk about a conversation starter.” Blake Showers ambitiously promoted CP Awareness around his school.

So yes, I believe we can declare Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month a success. At the very least National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day succeeded spreading awareness.

Personally, I geared my efforts to the month overall. I used my position as Handicap This Productions Guest Blog Coordinator to spotlight guest bloggers with CP. Take some time to read those please.

Additionally I recorded a video blog discussing how I might survive a zombie apocalypse with cerebral palsy. Through a video like that I see potential to educate Walking Dead fans on cerebral palsy.

Once people outside the CP community become familiar with the term cerebral palsy many resources exist for them to learn more. Resources ranging from Josh Blue’s comedy and Handicap This’ stage show to documentaries and CP memoirs like mine Off Balanced.

Watch, read, and grow aware.

Life Update

Six Fridays without a post, time can sure move rapidly sometimes. Yet ironically enough the past six weeks felt like months. Hard to believe just one month ago I tagged along with my uncle to fly out to Tucson, AZ to visit family, specifically my aunt. Touched by Aunt Ellen’s dedicated support for my writing the last five years, I wished to reciprocate the support via visiting her as she bravely battles leukemia.

So my trip out west held somber roots but the positive person I am left me determined to make the most from the situation. Rather than rescheduling my appearance on Sarah Sweeney’s online radio show Differently Abled, I planned around the live show. You can listen to the archived version here.

John W. Quinn & I

One of my #CPChatNow co-host and fellow author (Someone Like Me) John W. Quinn

Additionally I met John W. Quinn in the flesh, complete with a tour around his office containing the memorabilia one collects serving in the Navy 20 years. Even better I enjoyed the sunny Tucson winters John likes to quip about on social media. In fact between the weather and Aunt Ellen’s uncertain future, I possessed little desire to return to Cleveland.

Finally a week after my return I started regaining my normal day-to-day enthusiasm. Then I received a massively deflating phone call. My good friend Alex Dumas unexpectedly passed away Saturday, February 1st. Every single day the previous 20 days I found myself thinking about Alex. His friendship meant a lot to me. I hope you will take the time to read my Handicap This team blog post about him “A Friendship Transcended Abilities” and watch my video remembering him.

Back on the happy side I managed to begin working with a new client this month, Brilliant or Insane? Fun fact, I know the man behind the blog Mark Barnes because he taught my eighth grade English class, pretty cool right? I’m covering a Cleveland beat for his site. Checkout my first two pieces “Jim Thome Statue- Brilliant or a Shame?” and “Jason Aldean to Play Cleveland’s Progressive Field This Summer.”

Well now you know my whereabouts since January. I look forward to resuming my regular posting schedule. If you can relate to anything I mentioned in today’s post, feel free to share your insights by commenting below.

#CPChatNow Recap for 02-19-2014


Next Live Twitter Chat: Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 8pm EST

If you possess any connection to the cerebral palsy (CP) community, I encourage you to join our weekly live Twitter chat #CPChatNow Wednesdays at 8pm EST. Last night saw riveting conversation on everything from Handicap This Productions’ Web TV series and disability in film to dating and the pressures CP places on each gender. Personally though what I felt stood out the most revolves around the actions our chats drive.

Walk of Hope for Cerebral Palsy

Walk of Hope for Cerebral Palsy Logo

Hannah also shared a pretty awesome fun fact with everyone.

Reuniting Former Classmates

Like the Walk of Hope for Cerebral Palsy Facebook page to stay updated on Hannah and Alena’s event progress. Moving forward to last night’s riveting discussion, disability in film received much attention.

Disability in Cinema Disability in Cinema Inquiry Part II

John Quinn on Actors with Disabilities

Zachary Fenell on Actors with Disabilities

Lacking Opportunities for Disabled Actors

Guild for Disabled Actors the Answer

Ryan also created a lot discussion by asking about how men and women handle disabilities.

Gender Difference Inquiry Gender Difference Inquiry Part II

Alan's Gender Response P1Alan's Gender Response P2Alan's Gender Response P3

Equal Gender Pressures

Models with Disabilities

Also worth noting while wrapping up this recap, we shared t-shirt ideas last night. By making t-shirts we aim to help spread CP awareness. Please submit your ideas to our Facebook page Cerebral Palsy Twitter Chat #CPChatNow.

CP is Sexy T-Shirt Idea

Until next week remember those words from Tim Wambach.

“We can make anything happen!”

#CPChatNow Recap for 02-05-2014


Next Live Twitter Chat: Wednesday,February 12th, 2014 8pm EST

With each passing week I am increasingly impressed by the supportive and helpful nature emerging from the #CPChatNow community. In a way these weekly recaps provide evidence John Quinn, Handicap This, and my continual praise for the community remains well deserved.

You know what else demonstrates we started something special? The fact an imposter surfaced.

  @CPChatNow Account Warning

If you know anything about the person behind the account, please contact us on our Facebook page. Make sure to congratulate John too on his continued success promoting CP awareness.

John Quinn Magazine Spread

Green Bay CP Telethon

Feel free to wish Mike Berkson a belated Happy Birthday too.

Mike Berkson turned 25 years old February 4th.

Enough about us though. #CPChatNow works because we all find connection through shared experiences.

Walking with Hot Beverages

Awkward Staring

These commonalities turn #CPChatNow into a place to find emotional support and practical advice.

Rejected Accommodation

Appeal Process

Advice to Keep Warm

My Advice to Keep Warm

Sometimes we need to seek encouragement.

Handicap This Advice on Fear

John's Insights on Fear

Think big but remember thinking only begins your journey.

When plans fall apart improvise, adapt, and overcome

Together we can keep making Hump Day enjoyable! ;)

Enjoy Wednesday Nights with #CPChatNow

*Note to my regular Off Balanced blog readers, I will resume my Friday postings tomorrow, explaining my infrequent schedule recently and teasing information on some content I’m currently working on.

#CPChatNow Recap for 01-22-2014


Next Live Twitter Chat: Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Due to family issues I couldn’t partake in this week’s live Twitter chat #CPChatNow. Certain circumstances however leave me timing in from my brief hiatus here to bring you your regularly scheduled #CPChatNow recap. Looking over the Twitter discussion I see I missed a friendly, fun, and insightful conversation.

Humorous banter about the weather started early.

#CPChatNow Weather Banter

Now as John happens to mention I am in Tucson, Arizona. So I can confirm his weather report.

Meeting John in person

Arizona Sunrise January 22nd

Clouds begin to depart during Tucson, AZ’s Wednesday morning sunrise.

Those surrounded by snow did try to enjoy the situation, although CP turns said task into a challenging endeavor.

Sledding and Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy should definitely prove a hot topic this March in Atlanta, GA.

Cerebral Palsy Conference

Handicap This also entertained an interview request.

Handicap This Interview Inquiry

Moving on, the need for better public transportation became evident.

Accessible Transportation

The term “disability” received focus.

The word disability

Until next week, remember you can always join the conversation on Facebook too!

#CPChatNow Facebook Page

Please Excuse This Brief Hiatus

Please Excuse This Brief Hiatus

Don’t expect new posts in the next couple weeks as I am taking a brief hiatus from posting here. My regular Off Balanced blog schedule will resume starting Thursday, January 30th with the #CPChatNow recap for Wednesday, January 29th.

In the meantime I encourage you to visit my blog’s archives to the right which date back to November 2011. Or if not done so already, for your reading pleasure download my memoir Off Balanced to your Kindle or Nook. Thank you.