5 Things to Consider When Going to a Concert

Friday Five Feature
One of my absolute favorite things to do is see live music.  Listening to music in the car or with headphones is great, but nothing compares to experiencing music being played before your very eyes.  There a few things to keep in mind when going to see a live act.

  1. Parking: Before going to see your favorite local artist or big headlining act find out as much as you can about where exactly the show will be.  If the venue is in a downtown area you may need to check and see where accessible parking is.  If the concert is held in a large arena you’ll want to make sure you park close to whatever entrance your tickets are for.
  2. Seating: My general rule of thumb is, the bigger the event space the better seating will be.  For example: Going to see an orchestra perform in a large concert hall there will (should) be accessible seating that you can request beforehand.  Seeing a local musician in a club?  Chances are you will want to arrive as early as possible to get a table with a view that works for you.  What works even better is to befriend either the music act, or someone who works at the club and you can get a table reserved.  Calling the location beforehand may also help.
  3. Restrooms: The same rule of thumb from above applies here, larger venues will most likely have more accessible restrooms.  In theory every place that serves food and drink is supposed to have an accessible restroom, however that is simply not a reality.  I can’t tell you how many times I have been at a show, filled myself with soda or coffee, and then had to hold it until the show was over and I could journey to a place with an accessible ladies room.  When you get to the concert space check out the restrooms first.  If it’s a “no go”, drink accordingly.
  4. Food and Drink: For some performances it will be obvious that there will be no food or drink available (like seeing an orchestra).  Yet for smaller stages at clubs you may find something to nibble on and quench your thirst with.  It’s always a good idea to eat before you go out, that way if there isn’t any food you don’t suffer from low blood sugar (or being cranky because you’re hungry).  Throwing a pack of sugar-free gum or a few hard candies in your purse can help the scratchy throat that you may have from singing along with the band too loud.  Eating beforehand can also save you some cash : )
  5. People: I love my independence, especially when I am in a new place where people are meeting me for the first time.  I want them to see me, not my chair.  However it’s important to be safe too.  It’s a good idea to go with a buddy, or even a group of people to events like this, especially if you are unfamiliar with the venue and it’s clientele.  Sometimes concerts get crazy and a little out of hand, it’s all part of experiencing the music.  Rocking out with fellow music lovers in front of the stage can quickly turn into violent moshing (trust me, I took an elbow to the eye once).  It’s good to know that you have a trust friend who’s got your back, at times quite literally, and can lend you a hand if you need it.

Live entertainment is a treat to the senses – hearing music, seeing movement on the stage, feeling the vibrations of loud music.  Even the smells of different venues (and sometimes people) can be… memorable.  What is important to remember is that nothing should stop you from experiencing some sort of live entertainment.  With warmer weather coming many towns and cities have free music in the park this time of year, or local theater productions running throughout the summer.  I encourage you to check and see what is available near you, and don’t feel daunted about going some place “new”.  With this handful of tips and smart thinking you should have a great time.


Beep Beep! Take a Peek Inside My Modified Van

This past weekend David and I took a trip south to visit our beloved Nashville, Tennessee.  I had the privilege of growing up in a family that traveled, which instilled in me the love of packing a bag and hitting the open road.  When it comes to driving I classify myself as an above average rookie, after all I have only had my van for two and a half years.  This trip to Nashville was an emulsion of old and new.  In the past I have only been a passenger, last weekend I was the driver.  It was sublime to drive in a “new” place while having it feel like an “old” place.  I even drove through my alma mater and took odd short cuts simply because I knew they were there.

Hopping in the car and taking off was not always an option for me.  It literately took years for me to get my license, despite the fact I had my permit like every other 16 year old.  Even after gaining my license I still had to wait nearly two years to actually use it.  It wasn’t until I was 22 that I had a set of wheels that I could drive independently.  Driving a vehicle on my own holds great value to me.  Once I am behind that steering wheel I am on equal ground with the world as far as mobility is concerned.  Albert (the name affectionately given to my van) is awesome.  Crafted to fit my exact needs, yet versatile enough for anyone to drive.  Take a peek.


5 Tips for Wheel-Beauty

Over the past few weeks I’ve been experimenting with a few DYI (Do-It-Yourself) beauty recipes I’ve found on Pinterest.  I’m not a “girlie girl” by any means, but even I treat myself to a little in-home spa time.  The word treat may be deceiving, it is more maintenance than pampering.  Since most of my maintenance is wheel related I thought I would share some recipes and products that are a treat to anyone, whether you’re seated or doing jumping jacks.

1. Sugar Scrub – For my friends who stand I would like to remind you that people in wheelchair’s hands are equivalent to the bottoms of your shoes.  Rain, snow, rock salt (my personal nemesis), dirt, dust, essentially everything that’s on the ground ends up on my hands.  It doesn’t take long for my hands to become as calloused as a farmer.  When my husband holds my hand he should not be reminded of the man who’s farm he worked at as a teenager.  How does one take care of this problem?  A sugar scrub!  This is one of my absolute favorite things.  Why do I love it so much?  It’s cheap; you can use stuff already in your kitchen cupboards, it’s effective, and there are infinite variations.  My winter scrub was this: 2 parts granulated sugar (excellent for getting off the rough, dry, dead skin), 1 part olive oil (extremely moisturizing), and 1 part honey (a natural antiseptic that will help clean out and protect cracked hands).

2. and 3. Lotion and Balm – Once my hands are sufficiently scrubbed I lather them with hydration.  The most effective lotion I’ve found is Curel Ultra Healing.  It’s so thick you can feel the nourishment, and it leaves behind an protective like coating that isn’t greasy or slimy.  My elbows, much like my hands take a lot of abuse.  Bag Balm is great on chapped or rough skin.  It also helps to soothe itchy scars (which I have plenty of).  If you check out the link on my Pinterest board Wheel-Beauty you’ll find a ton of other uses for the magic balm in the green tin.

4. Dry Shampoo: Let’s be honest, hair tends to get greasy before the rest of your body needs showering, especially in the summer time when foreheads seem to sweat more.  For mobility challenged people jumping in the shower to wash your hair quick isn’t always an option.  Some need special lifts, shower chairs, aids, or just a little more energy to make all the transfers (me).  Dry Shampoo is a great option for quick hair refreshment.  If you can use hair spray, you can use dry shampoo.  It certainly does not feel as good as washing your hair the old fashioned way, but if you’re running out and don’t want to look like a scuzz-bucket it works.  Also there are many times where I’ve done little weekend trips where the shower hasn’t been accessible – dry shampoo is great for those times as well.  Don’t forget the dry conditioner!

5. Razors: Just because my legs don’t work great, doesn’t mean they can’t feel great.  I’ve heard my friends go on about how shaving in the shower is difficult because well… you have to stand on one leg.  One would think sitting in a shower chair like I do things like shaving would be “easier”.  It’s not.  Shower chairs become slippery the moment the water turns on. Any sort of twisting, scooting, really any kind of movement immediately becomes a battle to not slide off.  Razors with a flex head (almost every brand, disposable or not has some type of razor like this) work well.  I can bend at the waist to reach my leg, not cut myself, and mostly avoid sliding around.  Those instances when showers aren’t accessible (or I forget to pay attention to my legs while in the shower) an electric women’s razor works well.  That option may work well for those who need someone else to reach their legs for them.

Everything in bold and more is on my Pinterest board Wheel-Beauty.  This board is a work in progress.  I encourage you to check back now and again to see if there’s  a tip that may help you solve a problem you’ve been having, or simply a way for you to treat yourself to much deserved spa time.


*It should be noted that just because my hands were rough, dry, cracked, and had dirt embedded in them my husband willfully held them.  He’s just that kind of guy.*


Happy Day After Mother’s Day

Yesterday I spent my first Mother’s day away from my mother.  It’s not that I go all out on Mother’s day – a card, maybe a small gift, but always lots of love.  Like most adults who live away from their parents I called my mom last night and briefly chatted.  I let her know a card was in the mail and that I love her very much.  Yet I still felt she had cheated out of some of the appreciation that she much deserves.  Let me tell you why a card and a phone call just doesn’t do it justice.

I had the mom as a kid.  She was the matriarch of the house that every kid in the neighborhood spent all their time at.  She was the woman who would send those awesome cupcakes baked in ice cream cones with you into school to celebrate your birthday.  In the summers there was a steady supply of Popsicles in the freezer, she even saved the blue ones for kids that would come by.  (Ok, she doesn’t eat blue food.  I guess saving the blue raspberry ones weren’t a total sacrifice.)  The Christmas cookies she made for the neighbors were always received with smiles filled with impending scrumptiousness.  More legendary than the cookies was the decorating.  If you were at our house during the cookie decorating process you heard a full explanation of the do’s and don’t’s of decorating.  Bottom line:  my mom is awesome and every kid knew it.

As I got older the stuff that blew my mind as a kid (like those cupcakes in ice cream cones) became less important. Yet I was the only teenager I knew that actually liked hanging out with her mom.  We binge watched tv before that was socially acceptable.  Screaming “Stella” at the top of your lungs while no one else was home was perfectly acceptable. There were conversations had that only consisted of lines or jokes from “Seinfeld”.  We were like the Gilmore girls, except with a much more “Leave it to Beaver” family.  While my entire science class went to an amusement park I went to The National Toy Hall of Fame with who else – my mom.

It wasn’t until I went to my college orientation that I actually noticed my mom “parent” me.  By “parent” I mean do that whole tough love thing.  I’m sure she had done this often when I was young (no kid really wants do to physical therapy, but I did see a Mompoint to that).  It was at orientation that I had the realization college would require me to use a power wheelchair.  I fought it tooth and nail, but alas it was necessary.  The evening that I was having a huge teenage girl breakdown during orientation my mom forced me out of the dorm room we were staying in and into a car to a freshmen activity.  I saw absolutely no point in going on a riverboat cruise, never mind the fact that my cheeks were still tear stained.  I am a very visual thinker – it’s as if I see my thoughts animated.  While on that river cruise I had a lot of time to reflect.  Being in a different environment whisked away the cloud of emotion that was hindering my rational thoughts in the dorm room and making my eyes rain tears.  I could see that a power chair wasn’t a big deal, but leaving home was.  Working through leaving home is a completely different issue that I had all summer to deal with, I didn’t need to let it ruin my orientation experience.

Meanwhile I know my mother was feeling just as emotional as I was, but she put on her strong mom face and shoved me out the door.  Like I said, we’re tight so me leaving home was a big deal for her, but she didn’t show that to me at all.  When I moved in that fall and my parents left she kept it together until she got in the car, again not throwing all of that emotion on me.  Great mom’s know how to keep it together for their kids.  Thank you mom for keeping it together through all the surgeries, my sudden surges of emotion, and my second leaving of home when I moved to Ohio.  As I write this “Landslide” is playing and I am thinking of you.  I may not have been at your dinner table on Mother’s day, but we’re never really apart.  Love you ❤

Operation Spring Cleaning


Twice a year our apartment building has mandatory cleanliness inspections of each residence apartment.  It’s not something I look forward to, but I do appreciate the foresight to make sure people are keeping our shared building free of bugs, rodents, etc.  Our inspection was scheduled first thing Monday morning, we were notified Wednesday afternoon.  Inspection day just happened to be after the weekend that the hubs had to work a special event for his company, and was tied up both Saturday and Sunday, leaving only me to do the deep clean.  A thorough cleaning isn’t fun for anyone, but it is especially challenging for someone who’s sitting down all the time.  I have some, shall we say, out of the box methods for cleaning that I thought I would share with you.

I start by vacuuming everything.  My chosen weapon is the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Pro. Shark Navigator Lift-Away Pro When we were doing our wedding registry I chose this vacuum, or as Ohioians say “sweeper” for a few reasons.  One is it comes apart!  I often times take off the hose part and put the canister on my lap.  Vacuums tend to be difficult to maneuver while seated but with this model it is not so.  Also it came with a 36″ long detail attachment that allows me to clean up high (or down low) with ease.  Using the rug attachment isn’t an issue because it pivots side to side, instead of doing the back and forth dance to move the vacuum.  When it came time to cleaning the yucky dried on food debris from our stove I sucked it up with my vacuum.  I can’t reach to the back of the counter to get all the crumbs, so I vacuumed them up with my super long detail attachment.

Once all the big stuff is sucked up I use a Swiffer to pick up the dust.  Those dry Swiffer cloths also make great hand dusters.  When I think I’m finally dust free I followswiffer it with a wet cloth to do the mopping.  What I love about the Swiffer is it is super light-weight which makes it very easy to use.  Also it’s little end is on a pivot too.  The handle has to be at least four and a half feet long which gives it great reach for places that you would normally have to get on your hands and knees to reach.  But wait – there’s more!  I use my Swiffer to clean the bathroom mirror (which I can’t reach).  I simply put a paper towel on the end, spray it with glass cleaner, and use it as extendo-arm.  To clean the shower I do the same thing, except with tile cleaner.  This is so much easier than carting around a mop and bucket.

Finalgrabberly, the tool that I would be lost without, my trusty grabber.  I should really give it a name, it is so often used it’s almost developed a presence for me.  In my life there have been many grabbers, and never has one proved worthy of hanging onto before this one.  It is sturdy enough to reach to the top kitchen cabinet for a large can of fruit, but has the dexterity to plug in a cord in an otherwise unreachable outlet.  With this I pick up all sorts of things.  You never know how much clutter is really in your space until you pick it up piece by piece.  If you notice there is a small peg on the end of this reacher, this is especially helpful in opening upper cabinet doors.  Oh did I mention it is 48″ inches long?  That’s right, a whole four feet of extra reach!

I may use a Swiffer in my shower and a vacuum on my stove and counters, but I clean just like anyone else – with a lot of elbow grease.  When our building manager visited us Monday morning I felt approximately 70% positive we would pass (there really was a white glove involved).  We were thrilled when we were given a check that things were up to snuff.  Here’s to a successful spring cleaning!

If you have any out of the box housekeeping methods I would love to hear them.  You can share them with me and other readers of The Wheel Deal in the comment section below : )

*Disclaimer: I do not work for Shark, Swiffer, or the grabber company.  Those are simply the tools that work best for me.*


Parking in No-Man’s Land



A handful of weekends ago my husband and I went out to hear one of his co-workers play in a jazz trio at a swanky restaurant.  Being your average newlywed couple in their mid-20’s (meaning: just starting out and still having mountains of school debt) going out is a special treat.  The valet sign that stood in the parking lot told us that we were swimming in a pond where the water (and pockets) were much deeper than we’re accustomed.  It was no surprise to me that the parking lot was packed – it was a Friday night and there was fantastic live music.  The first spaces to get filled up always seem to be the handicap ones.  There weren’t any spaces on the ends of rows that would accommodate the extra room my van ramp requires so we drove out to “no-man’s land”.

You know… the part of the parking lot that is so far away from the front door you actually wonder if you’re in the same county as your desired location.

Once out in “no-man’s land” I hogged two spots, hung my handicap parking sticker, and put out my orange traffic cone to secure my needed space.  My wonderful husband hoofed both of us to the front door and into the restaurant.  The trio was playing in the lounge, yet with it’s great mood lighting it lacked space.  After waiting a few minutes for a couple to leave we nabbed a table – right next to the dance floor.  It was however closet to where the band was set up.  We ordered dessert (come on, obviously we used coupons and ate off the value menu at the Arby’s down the road before we got there).

The music was wonderful.  I am so thankful David a) loves live music as much as I do and b) is connected to the music scene around here and knows where to hear great tunes.  As mentioned, we were seated next to the dance floor.  I want you to imagine yourself being bumped into, tripped over, and having your site line unfortunately set at “butt level”.  Sitting in a wheelchair with leg extensions next to people dancing is no picnic.  As the final set came to a close I had readjusted my attitude and had decided we were lucky to be seated so close to the trio and the bad dancing was entertaining.  We were just about to walk out the door when I thought to make a stop in the restroom.  Knowing that this was a “fancy” place I was thinking the restroom would be vast and spacious.  I was wrong.  My chair wouldn’t even fit in the one handicap stall.  There was an employee washing her hands who offered to help me shut the door.  She was sweet, but clueless.  I showed her how my chair wouldn’t fit in the stall and watched the light bulb go on for her.  She genuinely couldn’t believe that it wasn’t actually wheelchair accessible, and sincerely apologized.

We started our trek to the van through the now empty parking lot.  Ready to just get home (and to a restroom – I drank a lot of coffee, free refills and all) we got in the van and headed north.  It wasn’t till we were getting off the interstate that my husband noticed a paper under my windshield whipper flapping in the wind.  We thought for sure it was a parking ticket written by some small town cop who had nothing better to do.  I was fuming – in my mind I was already writing an appeal letter, and nasty letter to the restaurant.  Essentially I was staging an all out war in the name of handicap parking.  As soon as we pulled into our building’s parking lot I had him retrieve whatever horrid thing was on my windshield (there’s no way I could have reached it on my own).  Turns out it was not a legal matter, rather a personal one.  This person must not have spent much time looking at the van who’s driver they berated.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see 1) handicap sticker 2) orange cone 3) MODIFIED VAN!

It took me awhile to cool down that night.  To be honest: I was upset about this night for several days.  It’s not often I get this worked up about things, but COME ON PEOPLE!  There is a silent epidemic of ignorance lurking in the world today.  It seems that most only think of people in wheelchairs as either elderly and in nursing homes, or people who are so physically challenged they have 24 hour care.  So many fail to realize that people in wheelchairs can be just as active as “normal” people.  If only there were a vaccine that could be shot through the veins of our world that would clear this ignorance.

I am still trying to discern what action I might take to help advocate for those in wheelchairs yet are active.  If any of you have ideas I would love to hear them.  For now I will keep advocating along the way.  Hey my church created a wheelchair friendly pew row for me.  Small victories can create big change.


Reinventing The Wheel


Welcome to the brand new Wheel Deal.  For months I have been plagued with the nagging thought that I have been neglecting my beloved WD, and it’s readers.  The truth is, I haven’t been enthused about blogging.  Part of me was feeling a little lost in the blogosphere.  Another part of me was frustrated because it felt like The Wheel Deal was never going to live up to my expectations.   The more I stared at The “old” Wheel Deal it just didn’t feel like me.  Almost every aspect of my life has changed since I started The Wheel Deal nearly four years ago.  Now I am a college graduate, a wife, an Ohioian, a job seeker, the list could go on.

I went on a quest to determine how I could update The Wheel Deal to reflect the many changes that my life has undergone, and bring it closer to my vision.  The new Wheel Deal has a streamlined design built especially for easy viewing on mobile devices.  Despite it’s more minimalist yet modern look there is more content than ever here.  If you’re visiting for the first time you may want to check out the About page, or if you really want to get to know me you could read 33 Facts About Me.  Even though The WD has moved to a new location all of the previous posts are still here, all the way back to the very first post.  I invite you to explore this new site using the various menus (those cute little circles near the top right) and the tag cloud.  One of my goals is to provide a variety of content from here on out- you never know what you might find.

Time rolls by quicker each day.  More than ever I come in contact with people who need to be reminded that they have value, a voice, and are not alone.  Those feelings were so much of what I was feeling when I wrote my first post.  Through spilling my guts I have found my voice and have been connected with others who have shattered the “alone in my wheelchair” feeling I had back then.  My hope is that the words you find here will remind you that you are valuable, you are not alone, and most importantly you have a voice.  I’d love to hear your voice too (on any post you can leave comments, questions, or ideas).

Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you again real soon.