Keeping life simple can be complicated

Life can be ironic. It can be simple, complicated, crazy and calm all at the same time. It may seem impossible to find the line between sanity and chaos — or to tell yourself, ‘I’m going to keep things simple.

You try your best to do everything that needs done, be on time and wear every hat your supposed to wear during the course of your day. Then things start to get messy — you forget your morning coffee, tea or whatever you consider to be essential in functioning as a normal human being.

I always try to keep my life as simple as possible. Sometimes it’s not even about being Erin the writer, or figuring out how to deal with my cerebral palsy. It’s often about being the girl who enjoys a nice cup of hot tea or the music fanatic who constantly has headphones on.

More often than not, however, it’s about the workaholic who just needs a haircut — and to know when to give herself a break. I tell myself that I’m going to watch TV and sip my hot tea every night, without thinking about deadlines or how I’m going to start my next story or article. I casually check the time a few hours later, only to realize I didn’t watch TV at all.

I may have had my nightly cup of tea, but I still tried to figure out where a certain paragraph would fit best in a certain story. This happens almost every night. I sometimes get mad at myself when it does because there are some nights when I do have time to re-lax but don’t take full advantage of it.

Before I know it, my eyes are heavy and my hair is dangling in my face. I realize I’m overdue for a haircut as I brush my thick, jet-black mop to the side. I keep brushing it away until my mom and I can go see the same beautician we’ve gone to since I’ve been a kid, who has since handed daily business at his shop over to a new stylist for me.

My mom and I try to schedule our appointments closer together. We’re greeted with a smile. There are usually other people waiting there too, who recognize me and ask, “Are you the girl who writes those beautiful articles for the newspaper?”

I smile and say, “Yes, I am. Thank you.” After a few minutes, mom and I hear, “Who wants to go first?” from a few feet away. I usually volunteer since my hair is as long and thick as a shag carpet. I turn my wheelchair on and park into my spot. The chair is already moved, so I sit in front of a mirror and let her work her magic.

I feel like a new person 15 to 20 minutes later. I take a quick look in the mirror before my mom walks in the room for her haircut. I notice there’s now more people waiting too, so I brush the loose hair off, smile and shake a few hands while I wait for my mom.

I’ve never been a “buttons and bows” type of girl, but I appreciate a good haircut. I’ve never been a “high maintenance” girl either, but maybe I should get a little more adventurous — given that I get so much excitement out of drinking a cup of tea and watching TV when I get the chance. That either means I’m getting too much gray hair already — or I’m just crazy enough to think that the simple things in life are often the best things.

I’m very low maintenance, and I’m OK with that. I don’t need much to keep myself happy. At the end of the day, isn’t that what life should be about?

Erin Kelly, 33, was born with cerebral palsy in Korea, and lives in Altoona. In addition to this column, she also writes for online publications The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, Upworthy, and Real Talk Magazine. Email her at