Well here we are just a few short hours from what begins to be one of the most exciting trips we have ever been on. We've been putting in the time shooting our bows, endless trips to Scheels to purchase gear and necessities, our camo is packed, passports in hand and we are ready to go! Next step, longest car ride ever, then to cross the boarder into Canada. No matter how much we have prepped, Mother Nature is in control. Anything could happen on this trip, we could get up there and be completely skunked and not even see a bear, but fingers crossed, and prayers to baby Jesus that the odds work in our favor! We have had a few people tell us to shoot the first legal bear that walks in, don't worry about the size as long as its legal. Your first bear hunt is about the experience, the memories, after you get your first you can hold off for the big one. So thats my plan at least for now, hopefully its a big bear, but I'm hoping to say the first animal I ever harvested was a black bear with my bow! For Ryan I hope he gets to harvest a big black bear with that crossbow of his, because that would be pretty sweet!
Whatever happens it will most definitely be an adventure and Im ready for it. Im ready for a week of outdoors, of less people, less talking, less noise and no schedule. Ready to feel like me! Thats the one thing I love about the outdoors, it makes me feel like myself. I feel closer to God when I can just be still in His presence, out in His beautiful world that He created. Ryan is ready to, or as he puts it, "I'm ready for know one to bug me." Am I nervous? Well parts of me are. Nervous about a bear climbing my tree, nervous about how things will work for Ryan, but Im learning to go with the flow on some things. I had friend tell me I worry to much about stuff like this and that it prevents me from having fun, and maybe I do, but we have had bad experiences before and some of those have left a bad taste in our mouth. You think differently about travel when you have a spouse in a wheelchair and no one can completely understand that unless they know it first hand. My amazing friend Carol very sweetly reminded me a few days ago to not put energy into a future I can't control. She reminded me to enjoy the present moment and to look forward to the amazing opportunity ahead of us. Take some deep breaths and just let go. Pretty good advice I thought.
Hopefully when we return we will have an exciting blog post full of plenty of bear pictures, if not we will most definitely be sharing our experience with you and all the photos that go along with it! One little favor to ask of you guys, please keep us in your prayers for safe travels and two filled bear tags! We want to give a big shout out to our two new friends, both named Trent, that work at Scheels in the archery department, they both have been awesome resources for us on advice and getting everything we need for our trip. They also have been incredibly wonderful in helping me build confidence in shooting my bow! Ive learned so much from them these last few weeks and their kindness is very much appreciated! Also a shout out to Casey Hedeen, our friend and co-owner of Claim Your Trophy for setting up this hunt and for all the advice and support. Another big thanks to our family, and friends for the support and encouragement on this trip and our bosses for giving us time off of work. So thats that, we are off bear hunting!! Yippee!! May the odds be ever in our favor!
Over the weekend we met up with our friend Casey to go over a few last minute things for our trip to Canada. A couple days after we leave, Casey himself will be headed out to Alaska to go caribou and moose hunting. To say I'm a wee bit jealous is an understatement. Caribou is on my dream bucket list for hunting. Casey was going to bring his rifle to shoot and I had plans to shoot my bow with my broad heads on. Casey had his three kids with and also brought his pellet gun with for the kids to shoot. Now you might be thinking kids and guns, that doesn't sound like a good combination. Gun safety is everything a hunter has to go through and learn, but I think its even more important to teach your kids at a young age the importance of gun safety, even before they are old enough to take the course. Children are never to young to learn something that can teach them responsibility and life skills. I watched as Casey helped each child shoot the pellet gun and when they hit the target the excitement on their faces was so awesome. You can tell instantly how proud they are of themselves. When they missed the target, Casey advised them on what they needed to work on, for instance not taking their time and being more patient. But the kids also knew you don't take the safety off until they are ready to shoot, you keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
If Ryan and I are ever blessed with children we fully plan to teach them about hunting. We plan to take them out with us, so they can experience hunting at a young age. We think its important to teach them about nature and the animals, to teach them patience and responsibility. Hunting gets a bad rap from people who just don't understand it. Some think its cruel or that we hunt for the kill of the animal. This is not true at all. Yes hunting is exhilarating and when that animal walks into your sight it gets your heart pumping, but hunting is also for filling our freezer, and for controlling the population of certain animals.
I was able to shoot Casey's 300 short mag rifle. My first time shooting a rifle and I have to say I was instantly hooked. You can see the video of me shooting his rifle on our Instagram page. When my father taught me how to shoot my shot gun, of course I had fears and nerves, I had never shot a gun before. As I laid out on the ground to shoot Casey's rifle the only thing I was nervous about was not screwing up. Once I got positioned correctly, pulling that trigger back was easy, no fear. Shooting guns has definitely built my confidence. Even in a years span I can already tell a difference in how I approach holding and using guns. Hunting, and shooting bows and guns has also strengthened my relationship with Ryan. We have a common passion and it allows us to spend time together and also be active together.
So I encourage you if you hunt and have children, get them involved. Even if you have a house full of girls, get them involved and start helping build their confidence at a young age. If you have a spouse that enjoys hunting maybe try joining them out on a hunt one day, you never know what you might learn about your significant other and just the quality time together in the outdoors is worth it. Ryan purchased my first 20 gage shot gun and of course we had to go with the pink camo pattern to fit my style, a true man is willing to shoot his wife's pink gun! Happy shooting folks!
On Wednesday evening Ryan and I had the privilege to go and speak to the Cannon Falls football team after their practice. Ryan was asked by one of the coaches to come and share his story to the team. This isn't our first time speaking to a group of young individuals. We have been able to speak to confirmation classes and Ryan has been able to share his story to some organizations in the farming community also.
As Ryan spoke to these young individuals I watched as certain parts of his story was hitting each and everyone of them. I remember being their age and all issues that go along with being a teenage. Today with social media I think being a teenager would be even harder. I fear for our youth as they are learning more and more on how not to communicate with each other, how to hind behind Facebook and other social media outlets. How getting more likes and comments builds their confidence and how they are learning less and less to ask for help when needed. Decent role models in this world are becoming harder to find. Life is hard, as a teenager I didn't realize how hard life could actually get, even as an adult and everything that Ryan and I have gone through its still blows my mind how hard life can be. Asking for help is ok, its good! I think teens are afraid to ask for help from their parents or certain adults for fear of getting in trouble or being judged. I think teens are afraid of going outside the norm and not giving into peer pressure for fear of what their peers might say or do to them. Ryan and I tried to get the point across to these young minds that life can change in the blink of an eye and its how you handle these situations that make a difference. Even though Ryan's accident wasn't caused by being under the influence, he has met individuals who have become paralyzed because of it. We all used to think in our youth we were bullet proof and sooner or later life teaches you that you aren't. We also tried to teach them that anything is possible if you are determined and have the right attitude. Ryan hasn't come as far as he has come in his recovery because of a crappy attitude and lack of work. He was determined the whole time to continue the life he was living prior to getting hurt. This didn't come with out struggles and days of wanting to give up, but his Faith, family, friends and determined spirit got him through it.
During hard times or when we need to make certain decisions in your life who do you turn to for advice? Maybe its your faith, your parents, best friend, counselor, spouse or mentor. For me I have multiple resources, and I am blessed to say multiple! I know I can always go to any of my family and friends for advice but I have certain ones who I entrust the most. For those reading I hope you have the same. For those parents out there reading I hope you teach your children that asking for help is ok, teach your children to be comfortable talking to you about those uncomfortable conversations. It will better your child and your relationship with them. Your kids will make mistakes, and thats ok. God knows I have made them. Eventually you get to the point in a child's life when you can't make decisions for them, but you hope and pray that how you raised them will help them make the right decisions. I remember as a child my parents saying, someday when you're older you'll understand why, someday you'll agree with us when we say we are right. Guess what, THEY ARE RIGHT!
At the end of the evening we told the the kids about our upcoming trip to Canada, they seemed pretty inspired that Ryan would be bear hunting with a crossbow none the less. As we left that night I couldn't help but feel that sharing our story is part of God's plan for us. I enjoy and so does Ryan being able to talk to the youth but also adults to. I hope that God continues to open up opportunities for us to do so. Its so important to have positive people in your life, to have the core group of people you use for your support system. People that inspire you, build you up and know how to push you the way you need to be pushed to better yourself. Do you have that in your life? People will come and go in your life but the true friends, your true support system will stand by your side in every situation. I know I wouldn't be who I am today and Ryan wouldn't be who he is with out our support system.
So to the Bomber Football team, thank you again for having us out to speak to you! Good luck on your upcoming football season and remember to be an inspiration to others!!
For those of you who don't know Ryan surprised me for my 30th birthday with a trip to Canada to go bear hunting. Yes you read that correctly bear hunting! This will be a guided hunt for both of us that our friend Casey Heeden, who is co-owner of Apline Hunting and Fishing Adventures helped set up. Needless to say when Ryan wrote in my card that Id be needing to pack my camo and take time off of work I was more then ecstatic! Seven days in Canada not only to bear hunt but to also fish during the day.
I grew up with my father and brother hunting with other family members and local neighbors but never myself hunted. Last year I wanted to go to be able to do something with my father where we could have some father/daughter bonding time. For myself anytime in the woods and outdoors is time well spent and to be able to hang with my dad, well even better. I remember my first day out with dad, we were party hunting and we walked into the woods together we stopped waited a few minutes and sure enough what comes running down the hill through the trees a big buck. Of course it was to far away and going to quick like those elusive bucks do, but what an awesome first encounter with a deer and having my dad by my side. I never did get a deer my first time deer hunting but I enjoyed every minute of being able to be with my family. I knew after gun season ended that I was hooked and that I wanted to try bow hunting.
Ryan grew up hunting and still currently does. He hunts from a ground blind and because of his paralysis can also hunt from his truck. What gets more redneck then hunting white tails from your pickup truck, right?! Ryan purchased a bow for me for Christmas this past year and he also purchased a crossbow for himself. Bow hunting and archery quickly have become a passion of ours. My parents have also joined in on the fun of archery and we are blessed to be able to shoot at their home or at the shop on the farm where we have an archery range and 3D targets. We also joined a fun archery league in the winter in our local town. Lately we have been putting more of an effort into shooting during the week and weekends to prepare for not only Canada bear hunting but also for when bow season opens up in Minnesota in September. Ryan and I both will be hunting from a tree stand. We just recently found out that the stand Ryan will be in is 16 ft in the air and has a ramp built for him to get up to it.
Im not going to lie I am a bit terrified to go bear hunting by myself in the fear of a bear climbing my tree but a lot my fears stem from the fear of the unknown. I know that once we arrive and get day one of hunting under our belt those fears should settle. Most days my excitement out weighs my fears. How many people get to experience a bear hunt or seeing bears out in the wild, not many. I feel pretty blessed to be able to have an experience like this and to be able to have it with Ryan by my side. God is answering my prayers for wanting more adventures especially outdoor ones.
I recently read an article found here, www.outdoorhub.com/news/2016/08/01/10-reasons-bow-hunting-makes-better-person/ and these 10 reasons couldn't be more true. Bow hunting, and hunting in general has taught me so much in such a short amount of time. Patience is the number one for me, but also respect for nature and the animals. I think its pretty incredible that we can harvest an animal from nature to feed our family. This last spring I went turkey hunting for the first time with our friend Casey. I love, love, love getting up early, heading out into the woods and watching God's great earth come to life. The beautiful sunrises, the sounds of birds waking up and those early morning gobbles to get your heart pumping! Part of the reason why I love hunting is for this reason. Hunting doesn't come with out its frustrations and disappointments but its all about the experiences and the memories you make. Im like a sponge wanting to learn everything I can from the people who have the knowledge of hunting, in hopes to not only better myself as a hunter but in hopes to be able to pass this knowledge to our someday children.
So in a couple short weeks we will be packing our camo and heading up North. Stay tuned for a blog post recapping our trip!
Ryan recently posted this article, wheellove.ca/10-thing-we-learned-from-dating-someone-in-a-wheelchair
on his Facebook page. We found this article to be pretty hilarious and very true. Its a quick read and for those other wheel wives or husbands who follow along with us you will completely relate to this article, for the others it may open your eyes to what its like to either date or be married to someone in a wheelchair.
After Ryan got hurt it definitely was a learning curve for us. How to go from a relationship where your partner was walking to now having life be completely different. It most definitely opens your eyes to how this world is made for walkers. Like I said in my previous blog post it is incredibly frustrating to us that we are in the year 2016 and accessibility in this country is not the greatest.
The one thing I expected to happen but didn't realize of how much it really would happen was all the stares. In our small town of Goodhue where we actually have 2 other individuals besides Ryan who have some degree of paralysis, you don't get the stares. This community lifts each other up in times of need and the love and support we received was a blessing. When we started to branch out of our bubble of small town we got the stares, the comments and the curiosity. Ryan has experienced more times then he can count on both hands a stranger coming up to him shaking his hand and thanking him for his service to our country. Majority of people think that Ryan is a veteran, maybe because he is in good shape and is young but we always find this kind of funny. The hard part is when you get the stares from adults and they just continue staring. Its a freaking wheelchair people, really have you never seen one before! With kids its expected they are curious and we usually hear them ask their parents whats wrong with Ryan. Even with our 8 month old nephew, he can already tell that there is something different about Ryan. His eyes usually love to watch him wheel around and his chair is this extra cool thing to play with, plus the rides on his lap are an added bonus for him and for all our nieces and nephews. With our friends who have kids they aren't afraid to ask questions and this we most definitely encourage. It is interesting to hear what questions they have and what their minds are thinking, but answering their questions helps them learn and hopefully will teach them to not look at people differently just because they have a disability. We try to teach everyone we know that Ryan is Ryan, just because he is in a chair doesn't mean you have to treat him differently. We also want to encourage adults to ask questions. Maybe you feel more comfortable asking me then asking Ryan and that usually is the case, but ask questions. We aren't afraid to talk about his accident or how he does things. "The aim of education is the knowledge not of facts but of values." Willam Ralph Inge
Another situation that happens more then it should is when we park in the handicapped parking spot. Before getting out of our truck boy do we ever get the worlds dirtiest looks, comments and stares. Why would two young, healthy people dare take up a handicapped parking spot. How dare they use their grandparents handicapped tag. We have had some very interesting moments. One individual actually took a photo with his cell phone while Ryan was sitting in his truck and said the police will like that. Ryan just smiled and waved. Another instance we had when we pulled up to our parking spot at a golf course for a wedding and some people standing outside just shook their heads at us and were mouthing how awful it was that we were parking there. Boy did they eat their words when they saw Ryan wheel around his truck as we headed inside. It is so easy to judge a book by its cover and our society seems to be getting worse at this. Initially these types of instances were really hard and boy was I fully ready to teach these individuals a lesson, and now, yes its hard but we just learn to shake our heads. People can be very ignorant at times and you learn to just let it roll off. It has definitely opened our eyes to not judge others.
For those who know Ryan best they don't even notice his chair anymore, he is just Ryan. I had a friend one time tell me when she saw a picture of Ryan standing that it was weird to see him like that because she is so used to him sitting. Its nice to see people treat Ryan just like a normal person now versus when he got hurt and forever it was Ryan in the wheelchair, were some people were treating him like he was incapable of doing things. Over our 6 years of being married I have learned that Ryan is fully capable of doing way more then what I thought he could. He usually doesn't ask for help because he is to stubborn to, and I don't always offer because well tough love is good sometimes. That may sound cruel but Ryan has to do things on his own because he has learn how to. Just like how I had to learn how to do some "man" jobs around the house and he had to learn to do some "womens" jobs to. We have learned to do things together and the things he can't do I take on the responsibility of or have wonderful family, friends and neighbors wiling to help us out. One of the things I do miss is having a spouse that can change a light bulb. When you are short and have to drag the giant ladder out to change them it becomes a pain, usually parts of our house our in the dark because it never fails as soon as I change one, the next day another goes out so I tend to wait on changing them. Another thing that never happens in our house is a clean floor. We have hard wood floors and I'm constantly cleaning them from all the wheelchair marks. Winter is usually the worst. But those wheelchair marks would be missed if Ryan wasn't here, even though I would never admit that to Ryan. Those are a sign of a well lived in house and a sign of my best friend near by.
Marriage itself is an adventure and as we continue our life together we know that new adventures in our marriage will unfold. I hope that this post will encourage all of you to ask questions, to treat others with respect and kindness and to hopefully open your eyes to what my marriage is like to that handsome guy on wheels.