Monthly Archives October 2008

I Don’t Have Arms…So What?

    Posted in Thoughts and Beliefs    |    1 Comments

I want to give you a sneak peek at my new book, entitled “I’m Not Broken.”  I hope to have the book out by the end of the year.  Here is an excerpt from the chapter entitled, “Change Your Perspective”:

The obvious thing here is to spend some time on what it means to be able to see the positive side of not having arms.  So many people, upon first glance, see me as unwhole, handicapped, and typically take pity on me.  Why?  Because they don’t know the awesome life I live.  I don’t have arms… 

…But I can drive a van that has special equipment.
…But I can type with my feet at over 35 words per minute
…But I can write with my feet
…But I can feed myself and brush my teeth with my feet
…But I can “hold hands” with my wife…with my feet
…But I can hold my daughter up in the air and play “Super Hannah” with my feet

Yes, there are elements to not having arms that genuinely “bite it.”  I have daily aches and pains that won’t ever go away because my body is not designed to do the things I do with it.  For instance, some doctors told my parents early on that I wouldn’t be able to walk.  I can walk just fine, though, long distances are a problem due to having no bone support structure in my hips.  I walk on sheer muscle mass and willpower.  I can’t do some things for myself that others take for granted.  There are problems in life.  But…you don’t need to be missing limbs to know that, right?

Instead, focusing on the positive has allowed me to develop a personality that my wife found attractive enough to want to marry me.  I have a great career spreading joy to as many people as I can through books and presentations.  I have a daughter, who just after learning to crawl, finds her favorite spot curled up in my lap.  (I know that won’t last forever, but I’m loving it while it does.)  All of these things in my life would have never happened had it not been for my passion and zest for a happy life. 

How did I get here?  You have to decide to see the positive lining in EVERY situation. 

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Save the Cheerleader, Save the World

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Ok, so I’m almost embarassed to admit that I’m just now picking up on the TV show, “Heroes.”  We bought seasons 1 & 2 and we’re DVR’ing (is that a word?) the 3rd season.  Many friends had recommended the show, and after finding a YouTube version of the 1st episode, I was hooked.  (I even got Joni to watch it, and she’s hooked, too!)

The show has become on of the most talked about TV shows of all time.  The writing is superb, and the story itself is so compelling.  We’ve finally finished season 1, and it is not uncommon for us to block a couple of hours to watch multiple episodes in a row.  It’s that good.  But that got me thinking…why is it that good?

We watched the “Making of Heroes” on the final disc last night, and I got my answer.  The show’s creator, Tim Kring, said that the show is so popular because it is based on everyday people becoming more.  Living a life with a true purpose.  These normal people discover they have super-human powers, and have to choose how to use them.    

We all strive for a life with purpose and meaning, and none of us have “super-human” powers.  Our lives can, though, have a meaning.  We can make a difference in the world.  In one of my talks, “The Smile Experiment” (which is great for schools, by the way), I show people how simply smiling at a stranger can really change that person’s day.  And, how, if you change one person’s day, then you’ve touched all of the people they encounter that day as well.  A smile is contagious and it passes on from person to person.

We can all make a difference in our world by simply taking interest in other people.  You can save the world just by changing one life at a time. 

Now, I better not hear a WORD about seasons 2 and 3…we just left Hiro in the middle of an ancient medieval battle.  Once Hannah goes back down for a nap, I’ve got to find out what happened to Sylar!  (Wow…this show is addictive.)

Only You Can Ruin Your Day

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So, the Dallas Cowboys lost yesterday.  Yes, they’re “my” team, and yes, I pull hard for them.  The game was especially painful to watch because the offense just looked pathetic.  After the game ended, I felt let down and that I had wasted the afternoon watching a team who didn’t come to play, in my opinion.

Then I remembered, “WHO CARES?”  Seriously, what part of that game has anything to do with my life, my day, my family…should I keep going?  Football is a game.  Nothing more.  In fact, football should be entertainment…not something I am so invested in that the outcome of a game can ruin my day.

I say in many of my talks that “only you can ruin your day.”  It’s true.  You can be yelled at by the boss, get cut off on the drive home, have a screaming kid all evening…but only your choice in how you react to these things can ruin your day.  If you choose to be mad and hold a grudge, then yes, your day may be ruined.  If, however, you choose to let things go, chances are, the rest of your day will go much better.  Same circumstances, same set of events, different perspective.

So, I chose last night to turn off the TV after the game and have fun with my family.  Hannah (my 7 month old) and I had a laugh-fest before bedtime last night, and I barely remembered the game this morning.  I chose to not let the game’s outcome bother me…and…it didn’t.  I can take that lesson and apply it to many other areas of my life and many other circumstances. 

Sure, I don’t have arms, but it doesn’t ruin my life.

So, my challenge to you is to learn to let things go, so that you can have a better day and a better life.  Only you can ruin your day.  No one else has that special ability.

***(Now, as you can see, Hannah was not happy at all with the outcome of the game…but she got over it, too!)

How I Feel About God the Creator and His Creation

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I am reading through the book Sex God by Rob Bell.  The book explores the connection between God and sexuality, and in one chapter, he deals with the way our thoughts, speech, and actions can hurt those around us.  He envisions a school hall setting in which some middle school boys are “rating” the body parts of some of their female co-eds.  Then, the line that really hit me…(and I am paraphrasing here)…how you treat God’s creation reveals what you feel about the Creator.

You see, in Genesis 1:27 (NIV), we read that the Creator and His Creation are intentionally similar:

So God created man in his own image,  in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

What does it mean to be created in the image of God?  Well, think about something you’ve created in the past.  Maybe you’ve painted something, written a poem, or you’ve given a great dramatic or vocal performance.  Everything you create has an element of “you” in it.  Your creation, whether big or small, reflects who you are.

God created male and female in His own image.  We reflect who God is.  Now, there’s a scary statement.  That means what I say, what I do, how I dress, what I think…etc…it all shows the world who God is.  So, when I start objectifying women or looking down my nose at others less well-dressed than me or maybe I gossip behind someone’s back about something they did, I am showing everyone around me that I think very little of God’s creation…and, that I think little of God, for He created everything.  I wouldn’t dare say, think, do these things directly towards God, so why would I do them towards what He created. 

Artists take their work seriously, and when you say or do something that negatively impacts an artist’s work, you hurt the artist.  God is the most creative and majestic artist in the entire universe…who am I to criticize His work?

So, the next time we feel the desire to lust or gossip or be prideful, we need to remember that the most incredible artist the world has ever seen, and will ever see, created the thing we’re being critical of…and…quite frankly, He does not care for our selfish critism.  

Praise be to God that He is not as critical of us as we are with His creation!

New Look and More to Come

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In case you are wondering where my old site is…I’ve overhauled the look and feel of ChetMcDoniel.com. Not only was it time for a better layout, but I’m planning to load in lots more info about speaking and other things about my life. So, check back often over the next few days/weeks as more content is uploaded to go along with this great new look!

Let me know what you think about layout and look of the new site!

A “Walking Case Study for Pro-Life”

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A “Walking Case Study for Pro-Life”…that’s how I have referred to myself sometimes.  Of all the social and political issues, Pro-Life is something that hits close to home for me.  My dad even tells that in the delivery room, I was placed in a corner of the room after having the customary post-birth suction, etc, done.  I was left alone in that corner and for lack of a better way to put it, I was “given a chance to die.”  Now, that was 28 (almost 29) years ago, but the fact remains that a doctor made the decision that my life may not be worth living.

Well, obviously I didn’t agree with that decision and even in the delivery room, I had a fighting spirit that wouldn’t give in.  So, 28 years later, I was given the chance to speak to over 800 people fighting for the Pro-Life cause.  This past Tuesday evening, my dad and I were in Visalia, CA at the Tulare-Kings Right to Life annual banquet, and we were featured as the keynote speakers.  As you can see above, the banquet hall was quite large, and beautifully decorated for the event.

My dad and I presented our “All He Needs” presentation, with a few twists to make it more appropriate for the event.  Dad spoke about how they were asked soon after my birth if abortion would have been an option had they known of the physical nature of my body while I was in the womb.  Dad said that he answered the same then as he would now, “Abortion was never in our minds and never would have entered our minds, had we known of Chet’s limb deficiency.” 

I concluded our presentation, after many stories and life lessons, by issuing a challenge to live a happy, positive life.  “If I can do it, so you can you,” I told the attendees.  I finished by singing Garth Brooks, “The River,” which is a wonderfully inspirational song about living your dreams. 

We had a wonderful time in Visalia, CA, and the Tulare-Kings Right to Life organization is to be praised for the work they are doing in helping to educate the public on these important issues.