How you look at life affects how you live it

Life is a funny thing. It can feel like a theater performance, a page out of a book or a box of chocolates – sometimes all at once.

While my life falls somewhere in between all those things, my world often feels like a maze or a video game.

We have five furry friends in our family, so I’m always on alert when I’m driving my wheelchair through the house – cat at the rear, dog up ahead. If I don’t hear the squeak of a slobbery, raggedy dog toy as I run over it, I know something is definitely wrong.

They’ve been known to nibble on the knob of my joystick when it falls off the controller. It’s become a habit to take it out of their mouths, wipe the slobber off and pop it back on. Lately, even our cats have yet to locate the missing knob in my ever-so-tiny bedroom.

Recently, however, I had a whole new driving experience when the entire controller snapped off the arm of my chair. I was pulling up to my counter to eat dinner when I heard a slight crack, followed by an unusually loud pop. I glanced over to find the controller literally hanging by a thread.

I calmly tried to follow the wire with my right hand while attempting to keep my balance enough to prevent cracking my head off the table with my left.

By way of the wheelchair gods, everything was still attached to the end of the wire. I fished the controller up off the floor and put it on my lap to examine the initial damage.

The wires inside were loose and peeking out the sides. I slowly flipped the power switch to see if the chair turned on. It did, but when I went to move, I was going every which way except for the direction I wanted to go. So, I put the controller on my lap again in an attempt to inch my way to my counter to finish eating.

Unfortunately, my bright idea proved to be much more trouble than it was worth, as it took almost 20 minutes just to get back to my table.

The days that followed felt even more like navigating through a video game. In truth, I could have complained until I was blue in the face.

However, I quickly decided that wrecking into some walls and cutting a few corners a little too short was a lot better than not being able to get around at all – even if my controller had to be attached to my chair with duct tape until the new parts arrived.

If I were to complain about certain things in my life, I know for a fact I’d complain about things I can’t change or have no control over. I just try to keep quiet, keep my head down and stay focused on what’s important to me.

I often think of my pets and how they see the world around them. I imagine they have much of the same view of their surroundings as I do. Everything looks like a mountain and what seems to be eye level to everyone else feels like looking up from the very bottom of The Empire State Building.

It goes to show that while you may not always find yourself in the best situations, you can change how you respond to them. You might not see the good in that at first, but you may find that you can make it through life with whatever tools you’re given, even if they aren’t the sharpest.

So, as you navigate through life, count the bumps. Count the bruises – but more importantly, count the roses you stopped to smell along the way.

Erin Kelly, 28, was born with cerebral palsy in Korea, and lives in Altoona. She is a graduate of Penn State Altoona. In addition to this monthly column, she writes for three online publications including The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project and The Mobility Resource. Email her at