New Guest Blog Posts, Off Balanced Book Excerpt

Okay, “new” might seem misleading considering this post contains a link dating back to February. From February to April I admittedly slacked off on my Off Balanced promotion efforts. In May I refocused on marketing, purchasing Marketing Your Book on a Budget by Kathryn Elizabeth Jones to help discover new leads. I owe the last link in today’s post to the aforementioned book.

Handicap This, Guest Post

Prior to joining Handicap This Productions as Guest Blog Coordinator, I reached out to Tim Wambach about writing a second guest blog post for the site (see my first, “Striving for Greater Inclusion“). My second piece, “The Power of Gratitude” aims to empower readers to recognize and appreciate those too often uncelebrated abilities and/or traits.

*Side Note: Handicap This’ blog works to educate, empower, and/or entertain readers on any subject. If you possess a message which can educate, empower, or entertain, please pitch me your idea by emailing zach [AT]

Off Balanced by Zachary Fenell

You can purchase Off Balanced for your Kindle or Nook.

Think Inclusive, Guest Post

Blogger Tim Villegas runs an excellent blog titled Think Inclusive. The site contains great insights from parents and professionals in regards to educating students with disabilities. Through my contribution “Exploring the Parent-Child Dynamic within the IEP Team” I desire to supply a student’s perspective towards IEP meetings.

Rebelle Society, Book Excerpt

Earlier this month a new Off Balanced book excerpt hit the web. Judging by Rebelle Society readers’ feedback people enjoyed the selection from Chapter 6 “Not Enough.” Remember you can additionally check out Off Balanced‘s entire first chapter “Changes” and a portion of the chapter “My First Crush” (via the Off Balanced cyber reading) at my website

My Life. One Story at a Time, Guest Post

My Life. One Story at a Time remains dedicated to books and reading. With my guest post “Stories Celebrating Unique Differences” I explain why disability orientated memoirs, autobiographies, and biographies maintain mass appeal. Perhaps a quote from my submission demonstrates the appeal best.

“I’m a person, not a condition or label. Yes cerebral palsy makes me different but something about you makes you different too.”


Exclusive: Anita Cameron TMR Interview Extras

Over a year ago you may recall I did a “Personality Profile” post featuring disability advocate Anita Cameron. Recently I received the opportunity to interview Anita for The Mobility Resource (TMR), the resulting article you can read “Understanding the Disability Advocacy Movement, Why We Shouldn’t Take Things for Granted.”

Unfortunately a word count limit left me facing many tough decisions on what insights to incorporate into my piece and which to cut. Following previous precedent though, I decided to take these unpublished comments and share them with you my blog readers. 🙂

Certainly an interesting fact about Anita revolves around the attitude her parents held towards her disabilities (including retinopathy of prematurity, epilepsy, and congenital cerebellar ataxia). “I grew up in this Catholic family, old fashion so my parents had this guilt thing. You know

‘How have they sinned to have a disabled child?’ My parents’ attitude was they simply didn’t talk about it. They were in denial. They would tell me all the time ‘You’re not handicapped.’”

Anita Cameron

Anita Cameron has been working with ADAPT for 27 years.

Thankfully Anita’s teachers saw potential in her and made sure to advocate on her behalf. Given she went to school prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) she relied on school officials to naturally do the right thing. When they didn’t, she didn’t possess many options. “Kids going to school today if the school isn’t doing what needs to be done, isn’t following a 504 plan, isn’t following an IEP, it’s a  struggle but there are remedies for that. When I was going to school if I had a complaint, they would’ve looked at me like ‘And? We’re not doing anything illegal.’”

The final comments I want to highlight deal with Anita’s insights on subgroups within the disability community. “There are some disability organizations that don’t want to deal with you if you don’t have that particular disability, or if you are not a person with a disability.” She mentions the deaf community as an example.

“Among some deaf folks, a lot of them, there are issues with the hearing community. I think because deaf people have suffered often at the hands of hearing people.” She adds “It’s the whole nature of when you are deaf the language of your country is not your first language. So if you’re deaf, English is not your first language. It’s going to be ASL or whatever it is that you’re learning in your household, if indeed you are.”

*Did you enjoy the above? Consider visiting The Mobility Resource website regularly. I’m happy to report the TMR powers to be and Anita came to an agreement. She will become a regular TMR columnist.   

Father’s Day

Allow me to join the vast majority and say “Happy Father’s Day” to all the Dads out there. Earlier this week I received an email from Dick’s Sporting Goods’ PR department, suggesting since I’m such a big Cleveland Indians fan I checkout the following video.

Nick Swisher really knocked one out of the park there with his insights.

“The greatest gift I can give my Dad is just spend the time with him.” 

The Fenell Men

My brothers and I with our father. (circa 2010)

When both child and father enjoy athletic abilities spending time together seems easy. Swisher played PIG with his pops. My two brothers playing little league each experienced the chance to be coached and managed by our father. Seeing how I grew up in America loving the Cleveland Indians and baseball in general I saw little league as ultimately the traditional father-son bonding opportunity. Considering my cerebral palsy though, my parents prohibited me from playing.

In situations like mine seeking other ways to spend time together becomes important. During my preteen/early teenage years my father took my brothers and I fishing on weekends somewhat regularly. I like to think I thrived the most. My older brother Bill didn’t appear super into the activity, perhaps due to his “I’m a teenager and spending time with family isn’t necessarily cool” mentality. This mentality I mention in Off Balanced we both eventually adopted. Nick, my younger brother, preferred using his fishing rod to “dip” for the small fish swimming around the pier over actually casting out.

Anyways, let me get back to my point. So I viewed little league as the traditional father-son bonding opportunity. Traditional however does not mean exclusive. Discover an activity which will grow the father-child relationship and pursue!

Sales Pitch Time:
Why should fathers, sons, and daughters read Off Balanced?

Fathers, one theme present throughout Off Balanced revolves around parenting decisions to protect your child. Whether your son or daughter has a disability or not the urge to protect your offspring remains universal. Reading Off Balanced will hopefully motivate you to reflect on your own parenting decisions, enabling you to become an even better father.

Sons and daughters specifically current teenagers, another universal theme to the parent-child relationship involves frustration. I felt frustrated amongst other emotions because my parents never signed me up to play little league. Yet in writing Off Balanced I did my best to fairly portray the reasons behind my parents’ decisions. Such an approach could help you learn to respect your own parents’ decisions more.

*Purchase Off Balanced for your Kindle or Nook.

Relieving Cerebral Palsy Related Pain and Discomfort

To start today’s post, I want to give a shout out to fellow author John W. Quinn (Someone Like Me: An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy) for discussing cerebral palsy and pain management in his most recent vlog post. Watch below!

Now the reason I’m recognizing John deals with the fact since Saturday, April 13th this post titled “Relieving Cerebral Palsy Related Pain and Discomfort” remained dormant in my blog’s “Drafts” folder. Watching John’s video blog lifted the writer’s block keeping the post under draft status. So to the subject at hand pain/discomfort management and cerebral palsy.

Personally I find pain management falls into two categories, preventive measures and relief. Preventive measures involve battling the pain or discomfort prior to the aches attacking your body. In my opinion frequent stretching and exercising works best at prevention. Exercises I fit into my regular routine include hamstring stretches, ankle stretches, and riding my stationary bike.

I note in Off Balanced I started taking baclofen at 16 years old.

Baclofen pills

Additionally I’m on a prescription drug called baclofen, which I guess falls under preventive action. I mean I’m not in pain before taking the pill (three times a day). Baclofen acts as a muscle relaxer, keeping my muscles from tightening and cramping.

Moving forward to pain relief, I often rely on a product named ICYHOT. Whether my shoulder, thigh, or back flares up I can turn to ICYHOT for quick relief. Seriously, I’m so incredibly thankful for the product.

On occasion though, the problem may persist. In these situations I reach for any standard over-the-counter pain medication, preferably Advil. The few times my entire body aches, a hot shower works nicely too.

Your turn! What about you? How do you handle your cerebral palsy related pain and discomfort? Leave your insights with a comment below!

Tracking New Year Resolutions: May ’13 Recap

Well, May and even early June proved a rather lackluster time period for me. Now I must confront my failures with my monthly 2013 New Year resolutions tracking post.

Resolution #1- Utilize My Youtube Channel Via Vlogging
Specific Goal- Vlog Twice a Month
Accomplished? NO

Somehow I managed to fail at a resolution previously accomplished each month from January to April. I only ended up vlogging once last month. The post aimed specifically at aspiring authors discussed book marketing. Looking forward to June, to avoid a second consecutive failure I must go back to releasing my first vlog during the second week of the month.

Resolution #2- Post Here on a Weekly Basis
Specific Goal- Post every Friday
Accomplished? NO

My momentum crashed after succeeding at this second resolution in both March and April. I missed posting on a weekly basis in May by one week. I plan to make up for that absent post with an extra post here in June.

Resolution #3- Keep to Due Dates
Specific Goal- Don’t Receive Any Inquiries About ETAs
Accomplished? NO

Um, I should quote last month’s tracking post for this section.

“Yeah, so this remains a problematic issue for me. Admittedly I do okay when given a set deadline. The trouble occurs with less restrictive due dates. I know where I’m failing but yet I’m slacking off in implementing actions to resolve the situation… Currently both (my sleep and work schedule) prove chaotic, making time management challenging.”


Three Tips to Project Confidence

When discussing my teen memoir Off Balanced (available on the Kindle and Nook) I often focus on the disability theme yet Off Balanced maintains a much more universal lesson. The book provides a tale about building self-esteem. My shy, doubting, self-consciousness attitude growing up just happened to stem from my mild cerebral palsy. You might experience a different trigger but I bet we share similarities. Personally I believe shaking poor self-esteem involves a lesson taught to me back in sixth grade.

“For other people to like you, you first must like you.”

Today I hope the following three tips help you like you, ultimately allowing you to project confidence.

Remember It’s Not Personal

Sometime schedules conflict. If someone can’t spend time with you on a particular occasion, do not take it personally! A “Sorry, I’m busy then” does not necessarily translate to “I don’t like you.” Admittedly a few select individuals may not enjoy your presence and they will lean on excuses to avoid telling you the harsh truth “I don’t want to spend time with you.”

Note the word “few,” a key term in the previous sentence. How can you identify those few from the masses? Pay attention to behavior. Do you always instigate the communication? Does the other person act detached when around you? Forget those people! Why let someone with obvious bad taste (I mean they don’t like you, right? ;)) bring you down?

"Air Guitar"

Using my cane to play “air guitar” at Tim McGraw’s concert Friday, May 31st.

Focus on Accomplishing Your Goals

Accomplishment breeds self-confidence. I know publishing Off Balanced unexpectedly improved my self-esteem. So set a goal meaningful to you, draw up a plan to reach said goal, and execute that plan. Incorporate short-term goals within your bigger long-term goals to increase your ability to succeed and reasons to feel good about you.

Remain Honest

Perhaps the most important tip here revolves around honesty. By remaining honest through both your actions and words you can establish a strong identity, a critical element to building confidence. For example, Friday night I saw Tim McGraw in concert at Blossom Music Center. I debated internally during the week about whether I should bring my cane to help me handle the steep grassy hill area known as “lawn seating.” Bringing the cane won the debate inside my head and I’m glad I stayed honest with myself. The cane allowed me to exert less energy physically, enabling me to fully enjoy the show confidently.