Courtesy Parking with a Disability Placard

The week of June 11, 2018 I received a letter from the City of Edmonton dated June 13, 2018 informing me that as of July 15, 2018 I would no longer be able to use my disabled parking placard at any city owned parking meters for free.  I posted the letter on my Facebook page and all poop broke lose; someone shared it on other social media sites and before I knew it I had a photographer in my living room; it really did take on a life of its own; I think it’s obvious where I stand on this one.
Not my first rodeo with the media; likely not my last.
Since this issue has come to light there have been opinions express most have been supportive but also some not so much. It is important that people understand the truth about disability parking placards issued in Alberta.
First and foremost they are not free; you need a doctor to complete a form which may have a fee associated.  The placards themselves expire just like a driver’s license; the cost to renew the placard depends on where you get it renewed.
Free parking is limited to the meter or signage at the parking space; if you park at a meter or a parking space that has a two hour limit you need to move your vehicle or risk being ticketed or towed.
You don’t require a driver’s license to obtain a disability placards; they are not limited to individuals with physical disabilities.
If you suspect anyone of abusing the parking placards I urge you to report it; don’t complain about it on social media do something about it.
Eligibility:
https://www.alberta.ca/get-parking-placard-disabilities.aspx#toc-1
How to apply for a parking placard:
https://www.alberta.ca/renew-parking-placard-disabilities.aspx
Report parking placard abuse:
https://www.alberta.ca/report-parking-placard-abuse.aspx
City Councillors have weighed in on this issue as well; perhaps it’s time to restructure City of Edmonton so that the Mayor and City Council are informed before a Department makes decisions instead of being at arms-length.
According to one Member of City Council It has been flagged for discussion at Tuesday’s Council meeting (June 26, 2018). Apparently there will be both long and short-term solutions identified.
Some have indicated they were unaware of this policy change.
I believe we all agree that all tax payers have a right to a certain level of services.  With advances in technology there has to be a way to make it work so that citizens are not negatively impacted; it’s up to City Council and the Mayor to figure it out.
If you would like to express concern or support regarding this new policy you can do so by dialing 311 or emailing 311@edmonton.ca
You can also reach out to your City Councillor or the Mayor; find contact links here:
https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/mayor-city-councillors.aspx
“I strongly disapprove of this move by the City of Edmonton because it is a valuable program that assists the disabled community at large greatly.  With a majority of this community being on a very fixed income be it a pension, OAS, or AISH, this program is a valued and needed service.”
Steven P.K.
For a City Council and Mayor that tout themselves as ushers of a progressive and inclusive NEW Edmonton, there actions are often contrary to their message. This specific issue is a textbook example of the inability to think long term for a group of Edmontonian’s most at need”
Daniel H.

UPDATE: June 26, 2018 http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/edmonton-apologizes-makes-parking-free-again-for-disability-placard-holders

 

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SEATED YOGA

My journey with Yoga has taken many twists and turns over the course of several years.  I became aware of seated yoga during the time I successfully initiated a petition to get a Sci-Fit (Seated Elliptical) purchased for a City of Edmonton run Recreation Centre.

The first yoga class I participated in was a seated yoga class through a non-profit agency that was perfect for someone with mobility issues. I then decided to try yoga classes that were available through the City of Edmonton run Recreation Centres.  The first yoga class I participated in through a recreation centre had two different yoga styles.

Gentle yoga and Yin Yoga, Gentle yoga was described to me as gentle in nature, supposed to be perfect for those who cannot meet the demands of physically straining exercises. A typical gentle yoga session consists of slight modifications of the standard poses of hatha yoga. In a lot of poses, the only modification made is that the practitioner is not forced to go as deeply into the pose as required by the standard yoga session. The ultimate aim of this kind of practice is to make sure that the practitioner does not experience any discomfort while performing the pose.

Yin Yoga was described to me as a slow-paced style of yoga with poses that can be held comparatively long periods of time, mostly sitting or lying poses. Yin Yoga poses apply moderate pressure to the connective tissues, the tendons, fascia, and ligaments—with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility.

I attended a few classes but found the poses to be too difficult; I made the decision to stop participating in the yoga class; I them attempted to lobby the City of Edmonton to encourage them to offer seated yoga classes.

And this is where it gets interesting; sometime later I received word from someone that a yoga class called chair yoga was being offered by a Recreation Centre run by the City of Edmonton.  I attended the class because I had been lead to believe that it was the same as seated yoga once again I attended classes for a time but found that the class was not seated yoga but in fact it was literally a yoga class that uses a chair as a prop for yoga poses; after attending several classes of chair yoga I became concerned for my physical safety; yet again I quit another yoga class that isn’t suitable for me; it became so frustrating for me I decided to give up the search for a suitable yoga class; I have once again decided to lobby the City of Edmonton to offer a suitable seated yoga class; ultimately I think it’s important to offer seated yoga classes and adapted workout equipment such as the sci-fit in all city run recreation centres rather than having a seated yoga class at one centre and adapted equipment at another location; in keeping with my belief in creating a level playing field for all citizens and to engage, enlighten and empower.

Unfortunately the City of Edmonton Community and Recreation Facilities staff confirmed that they currently do not offer a seated yoga class at any of their facilities but they do offer chair yoga classes.   If you or someone you know would like to urge the City of Edmonton to offer a seated yoga class, Dial 311 or email 311@edmonton.ca.  You may even consider contacting your City Councillor for support.

To inquire if a yoga instructor is registered with the professional association you can reach out to:

Yoga Association of Alberta 

11759 Groat Road
Edmonton, AB
T5M 3K6
Tel: (780) 427-8776
E-mail: yaa@yoga.ca

I mentioned the Sci – Fit (Seated Elliptical) in this blog post and others in the past; The stepper and the arm crank style are available at the following facilities:

Recumbent Steppers
The Kinsmen Sports Center  (1)
Terwillegar Community Recreation Centre (1) **as of September this will increase to 2** 
Clareview Community Recreation Centre (1)
The Meadows Community Recreation Centre (2)
Commonwealth Community Recreation Centre (2)
Sci Fit Total Body Trainer
Central Lions Recreation Centre (1) They have there own membership structure
Sci Fit Arm Ergometer 
The Kinsmen Sports Center (2)
Terwillegar Community Recreation Centre (2) **Right now these are Technogym Arm Cranks, as of September they will be sci fit** Clareview Community Recreation Centre (1)
The Meadows Community Recreation Centre (2)
Commonwealth Community Recreation Centre (1)
Mill Woods Recreation Centre (1)
Oleary Fitness and Leisure Centre (1)

 

PAIN MANAGEMENT

I was born with Spina Bifida, pain hasnt always been a big deal for me.  However I have never experienced pain as intense as I did until I started to show signed of Rheumatoid Arthritis.  After several Cortisone injections and Emergency Room visits in August of 2017 I was finally diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I have been doing the medical protocol that is considered acceptable; which involves a weekly injection of Methotrexate; for those of you who have never heard of Methotrexate it is a small dose of a chemotherapy agent and immune system suppressant that has to be accompanied by daily folic acid supplements. I have also been receiving supplemental treatments.  These treatments include acupuncture, massage, paraffin wax and exercise being the most recent additions. I have been doing acupuncture treatments for approximately 30 years off and on.  I first went to see an acupuncturist because I had liquid build-up in my right knee and couldn’t tolerate anti-inflammatory medication; 3 treatments later the fluid disappeared. There are two types of acupuncture, electronic stimulation and needle acupuncture or a combination of both.   Until recently I preferred electronic stimulation acupuncture or electronic acupuncture; without needles. I recently discovered that needle acupuncture and electronic acupuncture can be applied at the same time by attaching electronic stimulators to the needles.  I have also been getting massage therapy for a number of years intermittently which is where I discovered Paraffin wax treatments for my hands; exercise being the most recent addition using a seating elliptical machine called a Sci-Fit (See Picture); I have found that the combination of all the treatments are effective in reducing pain. I am supportive of all the supplemental treatments I have mentioned however if you see someone and they tell you they can cure what ails you or when you tell them your diagnosis and they don’t know what it is please don’t go back you will be wasting your money. Inform all medical professionals involved in your treatment plan of all the treatments you are engaged in.    Contact the professional associations to confirm if your massage therapist and acupuncturist are members

Massage Therapists Association of Alberta #E. RED DEER, AB
#2, 7429 49 Ave
Red Deer, AB
T4P 1N2
Telephone: (403) 340-1913
Email: info@mtaalberta.com

College & Assn of Acupuncturists of Alberta
#201, 9612 51 Ave NW
Edmonton, AB
T6E 5A6
Phone: 780-466-7787
Email: reception@acupuncturealberta.ca

P.S: If you suffer from headaches you may also want to consider getting scalp treatments; inquire at your salon. They condition and massage your scalp; the treatment can last anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.

 

Joel Holmberg, in his own words

By now most of you have heard about the gentlemen who offered to share his ‘stolen land’ with a First Nations family.  This is Joel Holmberg’s story in his own words.

I never could be an Indian because I’m the whitest dude you ever saw. My ancestors were the empire, the senators of Rome; the colonizers. I was born an unwanted bastard. I came up suffering; beaten and abused. I was full of suicidal thoughts. I was to and from the arms of death and the arms of the angels. Dying; living and dying again; fighting. I had nobody to turn to and nothing to hope for. Booze, drugs, madness and pain was the sentence and I did the time with that way of coping with pain until it nearly did me in. In this country I have lived in four provinces and one territory. It’s not very kind to outsiders most places. I found out there was another culture in this country; an older one. They loved the land like I do, respected others and were kind. They helped me to find my own way to healing and prayed for me even though I was possibly and probably a direct descendant of the people that brought the suffering on to their ancestors. I support them because the rich white Canada tossed me aside like garbage and shit on me when I needed help, but those good people did not. They made a serious effort to help me. I support them because my heart says they are good just like it also says that so much of our sick nation that we’re all trying to survive in isn’t. The traditional culture that has what it takes to heal nations, manage the land in a good way, and bring people together is the one really worth saving. Not the sick racist one, the elitist one. Not the greedy, mean, woman killing, child harming one, the divisive culture of destruction, greed, corruption, and pollution. The diseased, ignorant, cruel, poisoning, concrete and asphalt heap of the broken. I don’t like the medieval school systems, the broken religion systems, the thieving government systems, the evil banking systems, or the vibrating right out of your skin assaulted nervous systems. I like the sound of the wind in the leaves, kids laughing, water moving, birds singing their songs, and I like the grass on my bare feet. I like sunshine warm on my skin and fresh air in my lungs. I love wildlife and peaceful life. If I was a millionaire I would give it to a traditional so that the healing can be spread to all the places that it’s badly needed and the next generations can have a chance. The guy that said does not fight the existing model but instead create a new one was right. We maybe don’t have to fight or be divided. We might just have to make better choices. Together good people can make a better way of living. A healing of land, water, peoples and of the disheartening division that traps us in fear. I think maybe it starts with respect for good hearts, good deeds, good ways; good intentions and for life in any forms. This nation is not devoid of wisdom though it really looks that way right now. Somehow we have to come together and make a new nation; one that cares regardless of race, color, gender, orientation, culture or wealth, one that takes care of the land for future generations; one that combines the greatest good from all the people here. We could be a nation that seeks out the lost, hurt, and the suffering. Seeks them out, embraces them and helps them to heal and flourish rather than turning our backs on them. I hope one day all the people can have an equal opportunity and that we can allow for the traditional way of living on this land to be upheld for the benefit of all. The wisdom, kindnesses, respect and healing ways of the first people will make all of the people stronger and happier. I’m not an Indian, and never will be, nor do I want to be, but I respect the culture very much. I love it. We want the same things in this time on this land. Justice, freedom, respect, caring, loving, health, healing, clean waters, clean air, clean soil, clean food, and a way to keep it clean and abundant for future generations. Let’s get together and do something new; one tribe of one people. Humble, respectful, kind and color blind people. I don’t know much about anything, but in my heart I feel like this would be a good way forward. That’s what was on my mind but it came from my heart.

 

Introduction to Mirella Cooks

Welcome to Mirella Cooks; my family is from Altilia, Cosenza in the southern region of Calabria in Italy; a small village called Maione. I was born in Canada however my family kept many of the traditions from Italy and food has always been an important part of my family’s daily life.

Some of the recipes you will find in this book are: Porpette di Pane, Homemade Bread and pasta, desserts like Turdilli, Persica Cookies and more than 100 other recipes that are authentic to the Italian Culture.

You will also find a short lesson in Italian, some of the more common foods that you will find at most Italian meals as well as cooking abbreviations and measurement conversions. When trying the recipes in this book keep in mind that not only is Italian cooking regional but each village may have its own recipe or even pronunciation of the recipes in this book.

I became interested in preparing Italian food when as an adult I went in search of authentic Italian restaurants and realized that there were very few, most Italian restaurants are what I consider inspired by Italian; I have recently heard that even the restaurants in Italy are moving away from authenticity because they want to appeal to tourists. This lead me to research for recipes on the internet and I soon came to the realisation that although there were authentic Italian recipes on the internet that were similar there was no one place that a person could go to get the kind of recipes I enjoy preparing and sharing with family and friends; and so was Mirella Cooks born.

Italian cooking isn’t complicated as most recipes only contain few ingredients, the simpler the better when it comes to Italian cooking. Italians from the region where my family is from rely on good quality fresh ingredients rather than extravagant recipes; some would call it rustic cooking. If you travel through the various regions of Italy you will find that not one region has the same way of presenting or cooking food in fact most villages have their own versions of recipes, very much like the hundreds of dialects spoken in Italy.

Although there are some recipes in this book that may seem difficult they are very simple; the ingredients are readily available at your local grocery store or Italian import store.

Don’t be intimidated to try them; what’s the worst that can happen; you may actually create something that you will enjoy; I encourage you to experiment and make them your own. If you find you are not happy with the outcome try them again. That is how I learned to create most of the recipes in this book.

Keeping in mind that not all of the ingredients in this book originate in Italy they certainly were prominent in the home I grew up in. I hope you have fun and enjoy experimenting. I look forward to hearing about your experiences in exploring the recipes in this book; buon appetito.

Mirella

Mirella Cooks

I recently had the honour of the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Northern Alberta using my ebook Mirella Cooks as a fundraising tool.  As a result Mirella Cooks gained a lot of attention in part as a result of print Journalist Cam Tait’s article about the fundraiser in his columns in the Edmonton Sun and the Edmonton Examiner.

My family is from Altilia, Cosenza in the southern region of Calabria in Italy; a small village called Maione. When my family came to Canada they kept many of the traditions from Italy and food has always been an important tradition.

Unfortunately I never did inherit any family recipes so when I became an adult I went in search of authentic Italian restaurants unfortunately none of the restaurant that I have been to have dishes like the ones that my family cooked. I came to the realisation that if I wanted authentic Italian food I would have to cook it myself; this created a problem for me because I didn’t have the recipes. It took me several years to figure out the recipes for the dishes. Initially my idea was to document them for future reference. Then it dawned on me that many people would be in the same position as I was in; so Mirella Cooks was born.

It is difficult for me to choose favourite recipes from my book; but if I had to I would have to say the No Bake Social Tea Biscuit Layered Cake, two ingredient; ten minutes and you have a cake; Lupini bean snack which is not only delicious but a healthy snack as well; and the Polpette Di Pane/Bread Dumplings for the carbs.
I discovered I liked to cook at a very young age; there is nothing quite like a home cooked meal.

I have Spina Bifida and use forearm crutches. I try to give back to the community whenever I can. I have a Facebook page dedicated to providing disability related information https://www.facebook.com/mirellalsacco and a blog mirellamuses.wordpress.com. I believe that if you engage people you enlighten them to become empowered. Engage, Enlighten, Empower.

Mirella Cooks is in ebook format and is available on my website at www.mirellalsacco.com/mirellacooks for $6.

I would be open to other non-profit agencies using my cookbook as a fundraising tool in the future. I would also say that several of the recipes in the book are very easy to make with few ingredients.

The gratification comes in the doing, not in the results, James Dean

As I have mentioned in the past from time to time I would introduce you to guest bloggers well this is one of those times. It is an absolute pleasure to be an outlet for individuals who want the opportunity to tell their stories in their own words.  I remember seeing Quinn Wade a few years ago on Jasper Ave and 104 St in Edmonton near the Sobey’s playing his saxophone; at that time he was in a wheelchair. Read Quinn’s story in his own words.

I was diagnosed with a brain Virus called Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML) 25 years ago; it used to be extremely rare back then. These days it’s still quite rare; however a rise in incidents due to the use of a medication by people who have MS has encouraged further research into this virus. In a very small number of people who get it, the virus just arrests itself.  In my case it did that. It usually leaves ongoing issues and disability. In me, it messed up the part of my brain that sends the signal to my legs to make the walking motion, kind of like a cell phone cord that only half works. I was not even moving for at least 6 months. I don’t remember a lot of that time, except that I was told there was nothing they could do. I would live, with whatever damage it left behind, or I would die. The likelihood was the latter. I did live, and I was on crutches for a year before I was in a wheelchair. I had a very good friend who has since passed on who was there when I first landed in the chair He told me point blank “you get a week to cry about it, a week to be mad and grieve. After that, you get no more. Anything you could do on feet, you can do in a chair, and you will.” Adapt or die. It became our motto a week later; he showed up on my doorstep, I was still grieving. Lol he picked me up plunked me in the car whether I wanted to be or not and off we went Lobster fishing of all things Blueberry picking and we did everything. I learned to swim using my arms, I dragged my chair upstairs, went on trains The whole nine yards And I climbed trees and went fishing and did everything everyone else did. I just did it differently. I couldn’t walk but I could play sax. There is a passion on everyone for something. Find a way to do that thing some sing, some paint, some write, some play music, some draw; whatever it is you just can’t not do. Do it. Whether your legs work or not, dance in life. I survived it for too long. One thing nearly departing taught me was that there is a difference between surviving and living. Years went by… I had people tell me I couldn’t do stuff and of course I did it anyway somehow. I feel like my friend looks on me now and I think he would be happy I learned from him about not seeing myself as a victim. The virus returned again a couple of years ago. That, in itself is almost unheard of. Again, it almost killed me. Again, I lived, and I started to heal, and nobody knows how or why. When I started feeling better, I went to visit some friends in California in Sept 2015. It was an environment, where I felt free to be me. My friends are some of the most supportive and non-judgemental people I have ever had the pleasure to know. It wasn’t a big deal to them if my legs worked or didn’t work, as long as I was a decent person and respectful. I’ll never forget it. I was on the pier at Huntington Beach and had my sax with me. I didn’t know if there were rules around where people could jam or not (people jam there a lot because it’s surf city), so I asked one of the security people there He looked at me and said “you aren’t from here are you?” Me: no Him: this is America son. You are free to play wherever you would like. That resonated in a lot of ways. I was free to be me. Nobody cared one bit about my legs not working, or tried to stop me from doing things because I might hurt myself. Everyone trusted that I knew my own body and my own limitations. I played, and my friend taught me to surf, and I swam and went to Hollywood and played in the famous Sound City Studios. I saw Muppet studios and the space shuttle too! And then it happened…. I was at Newport Beach and there was this rope structure thing So of course I had to climb it. My friend noticed my legs were moving but neither of us was sure if it was voluntary. She had faith at that point that I would walk again, and took pictures for me to take back home and see if anyone could figure out what was going on. My friend took that pic and said “I think your legs were moving a bit. Something has changed.” In the meantime, we continued to tour Southern California and sing (badly…I can’t sing) in the car, and I continued to feel better and better and gain more confidence in myself, regardless of what my abilities may or may not be. I won this dance contest in my wheelchair in January 2016 and the tickets were to a show at a local bar so I went. Prior to my trip, I hadn’t really had the confidence to dance at all. But that night I danced in my chair. The bar was not accessible so I dragged my chair down 16 steps to get in and I loved every minute of it At that moment, I accepted that I could dance, and well, in my chair. I could have cared less if anyone thought anything of it. A friend of mine and I tore up the dance floor that night, and then some other people joined in. For the first time in a long time, I felt a full part of society in my own city. So when I started dancing in my chair and having an actual life instead of just surviving…I got more confidence and it just kept going from there. And then there were the frustrating months where I just couldn’t get my legs to do what I wanted them to So when the snow went and May arrived, I wondered…hmmm could I ride a bike? A friend of mine took me up to the bike commuters and, against most people’s better judgement, I got a bike and my brain knew exactly what to do. They say you never forget how to ride a bike and I guess it’s true. Doing that accessed the part of my brain that also remembered learning to walk. My bike; that was the moment of freedom; at first I strapped crutches onto my bike because I was still very unsteady and it was still dicey if the signals to my legs would short out again. Then I moved from that to using a cane. I had this hilarious Charlie Chaplin waddle happening as I tried to relearn how to balance. May 2016 long weekend I was able to walk without walking aids. I started dancing with my cane to regain balance and a couple weeks later tossed the cane only for a bit. I knew my balance wasn’t back and wasn’t sure if I would get tired fast And at times I did and it did hurt No pain no gain. It takes a lot of work people don’t see to regain things that were lost. I know of one other person who also recovered from it, the same thing happened to him I think a number of things contributed to recovery, certainly for me. My mom used to call me a very determined child when I made up my mind about something I wanted to do, usually something I was told I couldn’t. I think we all have a fight for independence inside us, but we live in a world and a system that doesn’t like independence much. It’s easier to say “you can’t” than it is to say “you can” when it comes to ability. It also easy for people to start to believe they can’t do things, or that they don’t know their own bodies best, when we are constantly told by society that they know better that the person living in the body. A ton of healing had to do with music. There are studies out there that attest to music being a healing thing. Things that have changed in my life since walking: That first time I walked into a coffee shop I had been in every day for 14 years and it all looked different. I could reach things; I didn’t have to fight the chairs to get in line. And taking all the paths that I used to use in my chair still because I forget not to, so it’s always the loooong way around and bathrooms! Omg it’s more evident than ever now how screwy “accessible” ones are because I don’t use them now. But man what a pain when I had to and they were supposed to be accessible but met “code” but you couldn’t get in them of close the door. I get annoyed when I see someone who doesn’t need the accessible stall using it. I know how that felt having to wait with other stalls I couldn’t get into free while someone not using a mobility aid took up the only one I could use. I’ll always be annoyed by that. The same with elevators; it bothers me a lot when people who don’t need them crowd in; I feel like it’s taking advantage of their own ability to get on the escalator or take the stairs, and it makes it harder for people who do need it to get around. Taking the bus or the LRT is a whole other world, and I find myself shooing people out of the front accessible seats whether or not someone with a mobility aid is in them in case someone comes on and needs them. I remember when I couldn’t get on buses because people wouldn’t move. I stand on them now wherever possible.