Monday, March 28, 2011

Some things never change

Despite the meteorologist warning that snow is on the way, my mom decided to switch her clothes for the new season.  She made room for the spring clothes to drape the hangers and brighten up the dark hole that is her closet.  When my mom and I undertake the bi-annual garment switcheroo, we can't just exchange the fall/winter clothes for the spring/summer clothes or vice versa.  We have to clean everything in the closet.  In doing so, my mom found this: ( I tried to insert the pdf of this paper, but couldn't figure out how to do it so here it is typed just as I wrote it)

                                                            I'm like my parents

I think I'm like both of my parents. I inherit alot from both of my parents them. ^But I am more like my mom. I have the same color hair as she does. I like to go shopping just like my mom. I also like to spend money just like my mom.  I'm just like my mom at Christmas I always want to open all of my presents that are under the tree but unfortunatly Ican't.  What a bummer!!  I love birthdays so does my mom.
      There are some differences about my mom and I. I love to party and my mom doesn't like too that much. I love to eat she can't believe how much I eat! Sometimes we get into fights but we both love each other!
                                                    Jessica Bigby  December 13, 1991 Draft

At age 9 or 29, this is a pretty accurate picture of who I am.  Some things never change.

Thank goodness the seasons do though, so we could find this, reflect, and have a good laugh!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The only exciting thing about March

For the last few weeks, March Madness has taken over my life.  This sports fan loves watching 68 teams battle it out on the hardwood.  College basketball is one my favorite sports because of the heart and enthusiasm for the game that is displayed on the court.  It's exciting!  The players hustle, they crash the boards, they celebrate wildly when they knock off a team that was expected to claim the victory!  It's March in college basketball.  Anything can happen!  The athletes are playing with heart, playing with school pride....some are even playing for a shot at the pros.

My bracket is trashed!  But, that's OK.  No money lost.  A lot of pride gained.  While it was disappointing to watch the Richmond Spiders lose so badly to Kansas on Friday night, the boys in red had an awesome season.  I always have been and always will be proud to be a Spider!  How about VCU?  The Rams were not even supposed to be in the tourney and have now positioned themselves to potentially knock off the predicted champions!  Pride would swell in my heart once again if the other team from the 804 moved on to Houston, TX!  This is what makes March Madness all that it is!  You just never know what is going to happen!

I'm really thankful to have the excitement of college basketball in the month of March.  With or without the NCAA tournament, March is my least favorite month.  It is a transition month. Meteorologically, winter ends and spring begins.  We are teased with a beautiful and sunny 76 degree day and taunted with snow the next day.  The daffodils show their pretty blossoms, but temporarily wilt and hide thanks to the layer of frost that blankets them.  There are no Federal holidays in March.  Daylight Savings Time requires that I lose an hour of sleep.  March teases me.  The month makes me wait with anticipation of what is to come.  I find it difficult to wait.  Thank goodness March Madness motivates and energizes me.  The excitement associated with the tournament holds me over until the days of flowers blooming, flip-flops flopping, and the sun's warmth give me yet another reason to cheer.        

Monday, March 21, 2011

SWEET (16) Weekend

I write this post as I lazily lay on the couch with three IcyHot patches on my back and a glass of wine in my hand.  Why?  I am sore.  SO sore. 

Saturday in Vermont was bright, clear and beautiful.  In fact, Saturday, March 19, was a SUPER Saturday.  Not only did I have a full day of adaptive skiing ahead of me, but my Richmond Spiders would hit the court in Denver at 5:25pm.  A win guaranteed a spot in the Sweet Sixteen!  I had high expectations for this day and it did not disappoint.

As I entered the ski lodge at Pico Mountain, it felt familiar.  I felt confident.  I had been skiing here a few weeks before and knew exactly what to expect.  I bundled up in my ski gear;  my favorite instructor, John, was waiting for me, and I was hopeful that I could remember my new-found bi-ski skills.  It took just a little while to get the outriggers and the bi-ski skis adjusted and off to the lift we went.  We bypassed the bunny slope this time and went straight to the blue runs!

Straight to the blue?  From the little I now know about skiing, the trails are in this order of difficulty:  bunny, green, blue, black, double black.  Straight to the blue?   That's the third most difficult.  Am I really going to be able to do this?  The first time I went skiing there was this awesome, fresh powder.  This time the slopes were very slippery.  Straight to the blue.  Here goes nothin'!  Thank goodness John is right behind me!

That's us on the lift

 John and I exited the lift and began our descent down the slope.  "Sharp left!  Sharp right! Sharp left!  Sharp right!"  John yelled instructions to me and down the slope we were heading at a rapid pace!  My outriggers were on the ground just as they were supposed to be, my arms outstretched, and I was slicing through the snow (or ice).  At times, we were smokin' down that mountain!  "HOLY.....OH BOY!" crossed my mind as I was simultaneously thrilled and scared to death.

"Beautiful run!  Perfect!" John congratulates me at the bottom of the mountain.

"Let's go again!",  I proudly proclaimed.

I was really skiing!  It was exciting!  It was thrilling!  Over the course of the day, we did a number of runs.   By the end, my skills had drastically improved and I felt like a real skier.  John took a video.  I don't have it yet, but here are a few pictures of us getting ready to head down.

Count that as a successful day on the slopes.  Now back to the hotel to cheer for the Spiders' success on the hardwood.

Our hotel room TV left much to be desired.  It was small.  The picture was blurry.  We could barely see the TV from the dresser it was situated on.  Brad unfolded the luggage rack and placed the TV on there in an attempt to bring it a little closer.  Our less than ideal circumstances did not stop us from rowdily cheering on our favorite basketball team to a decisive victory over Morehead State! 

SWEET SIXTEEN!  First time since 1988!  The SPIDERS are going to the SWEET SIXTEEN!

After a night of sweet (16) dreams, Brad and I woke up and headed out for some delicious pancakes.  Upon arriving back in Boston, we met up with Kristen and Marci, two of my favorite Bostonian Spiders.  I caught up with them before boarding the plane back to DC.

Notice how they are dressed and how I am bundled!  I am from VA.  I can't take the cold!

Every joint and muscle on my left side hurts.  My body reeks of menthol.  I've used up every ounce of hot water in the house soaking in the tub trying to ease the aches and pains.

But it was all so worth it.

Success on the slopes.  Spiders' success on the basketball court.  Cherished time with wonderful friends.  It was totally worth it.

A wonderful way to end winter and usher in spring, if you ask me.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Looking forward to the matchup, I skipped out of work early today to race home and catch the big game:  Richmond Spiders vs Vanderbilt Commodores. I felt like both of the teams were fairly even and this was going to be a great game.  The game got underway and my initial excitement started to fizzle.  The Spiders were not playing up to par and Vanderbilt was gaining a double digit lead.  Uh oh!  We play well as a team, but Vandy has the number one scorer in the SEC.  Grrrreat....  Harper, our NBA prospect, was pretty useless in the scoring department.  The Spiders seemed to run away from the ball as soon as it left their hands.  "BOX OUT!  CRASH THE BOARDS! GET THE REBOUND!" I repeatedly yelled, but it was obvious they couldn't hear me through the TV because the same pattern continued throughout the half.

The two competitors entered the court to start the second half and my initial excitement returned.  Typically, the Spiders are better in the second half so I had hope.  Despite what I had assumed, the team in the blue DID hear my admonishments regarding rebounds. They had this beautiful sequence where they must have had about 7 offensive rebounds. 

The last five minutes felt like a ping pong match!  Back and forth, back and forth.  A foul, a missed free throw, a BAD call that resulted in a Vandy point on the charity stripe....missed baskets...made 3 pointers....the score crept closer and closer.  MY HEART BEAT FASTER AND FASTER (It's never good when you can literally feel your heart pounding in your chest).  I raced back and forth to the bathroom during the commercials because I was so nervous.  My phone blew up with text messages from fellow Spiders freaking out over what was happening right before our eyes!  I thought I might throw up.... have a heart attack.  But all the while I was filled with excitement.  Filled with pride.  Filled with hope that for the first time since I have been a Spider fan we would advance to the second round.  With 2.5 seconds left on the clock, we grabbed the ball and VICTORY was ours!!  Not only did the lower seed dethrone the higher seed, but the team that won was MY team!  The University of Richmond Spiders....the little school that could!     


Now, I have a decision to make.  Tomorrow, I fly to Killington, VT to get in one last skiing adventure before the end of the season.  The Spiders play on Saturday -- the same day I have a full day of skiing planned.  I sure hope my instructor is flexible because depending on the time we play, skiing may be cut short.  Without a doubt, I will be in front of the tv when the Spiders take the court in Denver once again.

Did I mention we will be up against Morehead State instead of Louisville? 


We are. UR.  GOOOO SPIDERS.  I am SO proud!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Put on those dancin' shoes!

I distinctively remember my college search.  Early into it, I had decided that I wanted to go to a big school because the big schools had the more exciting sports teams.  I was always a good student and wanted to study hard, but I was overly concerned about the reputation of the sports teams at the schools I chose to visit.  I wanted to stand shoulder to shoulder in a packed stadium, shamelessly rooting on my team.  I wanted to walk into a sporting goods store and see my school’s paraphernalia hanging on the rack.  Then I visited those schools and realized I belonged somewhere else. 
The minute I stepped onto the campus of University of Richmond, I felt this instant connection.  It felt like home.  I immediately proclaimed that this was where I was going to attend college.  There was only one problem.  UR is a school of 3200 people.  At the time, our sports teams were really nothing to write home about.  I remember the time the school packed the Robins Center because we were going up against Syracuse on ESPN.  Or the time my roommate and I huddled around our 13” boob tube and cheered Spider bball onto victory over Kansas.  That night, Westhampton Green was TP’d to the max!  Then there was the time my friend and I missed the bus to my sorority social because we were intently watching our NCAA first round loss to Wisconsin.  In retrospect, these moments are particularly memorable to me because they are not expected to happen.  When the Spiders hit the big time, I am filled with pride and joy! 
This past weekend we won our first ever A-10 championship and sailed into The Big Dance!  We’re up against Vanderbilt on Thursday.  One of the ladies in my Bible study went to Vandy, so I have done my research and come armed with trash talk.  She hasn’t responded to my text message. I think she has ARACHNOPHOBIA!  I cannot fly out to Denver, but am comforted that my friend, Karen and fellow Spiders, are out there rockin’ the red, cheering us on to the next round!
I am pretty sure had I gone to a big school known for sports, I would expect my team to make the tournament each year.  It wouldn’t be nearly as exciting!  Not to mention aren’t you supposed to go to school to learn instead of to earn the biggest fan award?  Don’t tell my boss where I am, but I’m sneaking out of work early on Thursday.  Find me sittin’ on a bar stool decked out with Spider pride! 
We’re dancing!  WE ARE.  UR.      

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hello, Hello!!!

Welcome to my very first blog post!  I have been following my friends’ blogs for many years and have debated whether or not to start one.  At first, I wondered why anyone would care what I had to say, but then I realized I enjoy checking out my friends’ blogs and learning through them.  I also noticed that my friends who do blog live their life with more awareness.  Too often, I rush through life and miss out on the blessings, the excitement, the thought-provoking moments, the ups and downs, right in front of me.  So, here’s hoping that this blog will help me appreciate life more.  At the very least, it will serve as a record of this period in my life.
 Let me introduce myself to you.  My name is Jessica, but my parents (or people who have known me for many years) are really the only ones who call me that.  Most of my friends just call me Jess.  I am 29 years old, living in Alexandria, VA, a suburb of Washington DC.  I was born 13 weeks early, and as a result, have cerebral palsy.  I have had 15 surgeries and walk with canes.  You’ll find that I don’t directly talk about my disability too often.  It’s not because I am in denial of it.  I have never known anything different.  There are many life experiences that play a pivotal role in shaping who I am, but these life experiences seldom exclusively define me.  I do not like to describe myself as a person with a disability.  By definition, a disability inevitably places limits on a person.  Why focus on the things I am unable to do because of cerebral palsy?  I want to show you the full life that I live; all of the things that I can do.  Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.  That’s the way I like it!  Claiming a disability is only good for a close parking space! 
So, come along for the ride as I strive to live, laugh, and love without limits!  Get a glimpse of who I am, but allow me to learn from you too!  Join the conversation.  This blog wouldn’t be nearly as fun without you.  Thanks for stoppin’ by!  Happy reading!
PS: In case you are wondering why this is called “Shine like Stars, it’s because I believe when you truly live your life to the fullest, you shine!    
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