Columns

Normal-adjacent: Welcome Back, PCAs

I hoped that things would “get back to normal” — whatever that means — by mid-summer. Reader, I was disappointed. But I’m used to disappointment. After all, I spent the better part of two decades learning to embrace lockdown mentality. I’m an expert at gazing wistfully through windows and…

A Drive-in Concert Was a New and Exciting Experience

Because of the current state of the world, I felt safe in assuming I wouldn’t be attending any concerts this summer. I love concerts, but large, tightly packed crowds aren’t safe right now. However, I forgot to account for how creative people can be. On Independence Day, my family…

Teaching Children About My Disability

It’s no question that children are curious little people, and as someone in a wheelchair, I have often witnessed their curiosity. If I were to guess, I’d assume disabilities aren’t something they’ve seen in their short little lifetimes. As a result, they stare and allow their curiosity to get…

14 Trips Around the Sun

Have I ever told you that my significant other, Andy, has Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD)? Or that we met as kids at MDA Summer Camp? We did, indeed. Our hometowns sat about a two-hour drive apart. We stayed connected and remained friends throughout our teenage years but…

Ella Offers Her Mom Comforting Words

The Castens are a family of five: Mom (Lindsay), Dad (Michael), and three kids (Ava, Henry, and Ella). Ava is 13, Henry is 11, and Ella is 10. We have two dogs and a bunny. I am a full-time elementary school teacher and have been…

The Beauty of Interacting with Strangers

“I want to know, can you show me/ I want to know about the strangers like me.” These lyrics from Phil Collins’ “Strangers Like Me” play during an iconic scene from Disney’s “Tarzan.” As Tarzan and Jane swing through…

I’m Choosing to Love the Adventure I’ve Been Given

My family has a saying: “It’s always an adventure with us.” It originated with Katelyn, an honorary member of the Albers household and my first personal care assistant (PCA). “It’s always an adventure with you,” she once said. I don’t remember the context — it could’ve been anything…

Saying Farewell to My Beloved Canine Assistant

What follows is possibly the most difficult column I’ve ever written.  Since 2020 has a recurring theme of being a never-ending dumpster fire for everyone, I suppose this bit of news was inevitable. A week ago, my family and I said goodbye to my service…

I’m Tired of Resisting

One of my favorite writers, Leo Babauta, is known for his work on mindfulness and simplicity. His blog, “Zen Habits,” is one of few newsletters that I intentionally keep up with. My personal resource database is full of Babauta’s articles — a…