Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Will You Stand/Speak?

This is Jack! He is one of KEEN New York's young Athletes. KEEN is a non-profit volunteer based organization, providing fitness, sports, and recreation activities to #DiversAbleYouth at no cost to the family.

Click Here to learn more about KEEN New York
 
As the Program Coordinator, I am blessed to be in regular contact with children like Jack: fun, bright, sweet, and resilient. I get to see parents like his every weekend: dedicated, loving, persistent, advocates.

Our society has come a long way in integrating #DiversAblePeople into everyday life, but the journey is not even close to an end. What happens to children like Jack when they grow up, when their parents aren't there anymore? Who will advocate for his best interests? Who will take a chance on giving him work? Who will offer a helping hand so he can do the "normal" daily life activities?

Jack has a lot more "abilities" than some of our other Athlete's and I often ask, "Who will stand up for them? Who will be their voice? Who will see them for who they are and all they're capable of?" I will! I will step in when someone is in need. I will speak up for someone who can't! I know I can't do it alone and that is why I created The #DiversAbleModel Project!!
 
My dream is not far from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's...equality! Equality is more than laws, more than changing physical infrastructures to be accessible. Real equality is about people! It's about how we see each other, how we treat each other. That is why I chose to begin my project with a focus on the fashion industry. The fashion industry has a lot to do with perception. Starting a social movement within the fashion industry, changing the way people look at each other, can help us take a huge leap in the right direction. 

Will you stand up for children like Jack? Will you advocate for his best interests? If YOU will join me, then show your support by placing an order on my Chloe + Isabel boutique TONIGHT. Proceeds from all of tonight's orders will go toward funding for the DiversAble Model Fashion Show (coming soon!) Here is the link to SHOP: http://bitly.com/MandiCandI
 

Monday, October 5, 2015

A DiversAble Boob Story!

Every one who knows me know pink is my favorite color, particularly baby pink. This month in particular always draws my attention to Breast Cancer Awareness because I'm surrounded by baby pink! I would love for you to watch my video and considering making pink, not just a fabulous color, but a color of hope <3




 
Still blessed by these memories!

Shop here for these beauties & so much more: http://bitly.com/saveaboob


 


Friday, September 11, 2015

14 Years: Don't Forget



14 years ago I had just returned to the U.S. after a wonderful trip to Ireland. A new school year had started and I was in my 10th grade first period Science class. I remember my friend Miracle rolling into my classroom and saying, "The Twin Towers were hit by planes." I didn't understand then the seriousness of the situation, but my teacher's face spoke a thousand words.

The rest of that day is such a blur...an assembly in the gym, teachers crying, kids playing, bridges shut down. I knew things would be different. Every school bus was escorted by police to the bridge that would take us city kids home from Long Island. It was late, maybe 8:30pm. At home I watched as the video of the attacks replayed, the death count rose, missing persons were called in, people walked miles to get home. My city was turned upside down.

In those dark, scary, painful moments, I got a glimpse of God's glory. No one cared about each other's sexual orientation, disability, race, gender...we were truly the United States!

Today I see the tension between police & civilians, different races & cultures, hatred among families. Today we write #NeverForget, but haven't so many of us forgotten? Maybe we didn't forget the event, the images, our own pain & fear, but so many of us have forgotten what it means unconditionally sacrifice for another. We've forgotten how to put compassion, dignity, respect and love before apathy, disregard, anger, and hatred.

I challenge you, not only today, but in your everyday, to do something outside of yourself for someone. Sacrifice for someone. Take it a step further by sacrificing for someone you would normally think "unworthy." Stand united, not as a nation, but as humans! Let's really #NeverForget

Send someone a gift letting them know they aren't forgotten: http://bitly.com/MandiCandI


Sunday, September 6, 2015

KEEN for Coffee

Hello to all my blog readers!!

It has been quite some time since I've posted here. Those of you who keep up with me on other social media platforms know I have been working very hard on several different projects. Between exploring The Axis Project, running my Jamberry Nails business, and officially becoming a Merchandise Manager (MM) with Chloe + Isabel, plus family responsibilities and my "day job," it's been hard to post as much as I'd like.

As a CandI MM, I am in the process of getting a team of at least FIFTY Merchandisers! My responsibilities are to inspire, motivate, and challenge them to achieve their individual goals. Every one of you who reads my posts has had a hand in helping me achieve this level of success in my business and I'm so grateful. I went back and forth on names for my team and finally chose #candiconquerors. Check out my Facebook post from a few days ago to read about the inspiration behind the name.


On another note, I want to share an exciting opportunity to support a great cause! Some of you know that my CandI business is not my only job. I am also the Program Coordinator for KEEN (Kids Enjoy Exercise Now) New York. We are a national, not-for-profit, volunteer based organization. We provide FREE fitness, sports, and recreation activities for DiversAble youth (ages 5-21). Every young person who attends our programs is paired up with a volunteer coach, who's responsibility is to ensure that the Athlete is engaged, safe, and having fun! The KEEN experience is unique in that no child is rejected from our program due to their Diverse Ability. We work with all abilities, from Autism to Cerebral Palsey, and Down Syndrome.  Many of our families are so confident in our care for their young ones that they use the program time to run errands or just get some well deserved respite.

I, along with members of my church, LifeHouse Church, are organizing a fundraiser event called KEEN for Coffee! This event will allow you to interact with some of the families and volunteers I have the pleasure of working with, as well as learn more about this amazing organization. There will be food, snacks, music by DJ Ariel, and of course coffee! As this is a fundraiser, there will be donation boxes at the event.  I will have a CandI display table and Jamberry Nail designs available. I will be donating all of my CandI commission from orders that night and Jamberry will donate 10% of total sales to KEEN. 80% of all donations will go directly to the KEEN New York Affiliate!
Learn more about KEEN NY here .

Here are the specific event details:

 If you are unable to attend this event, but would still like to support me and this organization, please visit http://bitly.com/KEEN4Coffee. Scroll down on my boutique page and click on the KEEN for Coffee image. Proceeds from orders placed from the selected pieces will be donated to KEEN!
    No time to browse? Comment or message me with which pair of studs you want (KEEN colors!) and your email address :-)
If you'd rather represent KEEN on your digits with this exclusive Jamberry Nail Art Studio design, comment or message me saying, "KEEN Jams," and your email address - Each sheet of nails is $25 or 2 sheets for $40 (every sheet gives you 2-3 manicures & pedicures + lasts up to 2 weeks on fingers, 6 weeks on toes)
*Another design will be available soon!

Thank you for all your support!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The DMP Features #NIKEFLYEASE

A friend of mine shared an amazing link with me and I have to share it with all of you :-)

As you may know, one of the methods The DiversAble Model Project is using to create opportunities for the inclusion of people with Diverse Abilities is promotion in the fashion industry. Though we started out focusing on women, I was very excited by the launch of the c+i's Men's Shop. I have been able to reach out to those DiversAble Male Models! This week in NYC is the first Men's Fashion Week and if you're a #DiversAbleMan going for an urban look, then you'll want to get this bracelet https://www.chloeandisabel.com/products/B269/mens-braided-leather-wrap-bracelet?m=amandafrantz and a pair of Nike FlyEase sneakers.

What is a Nike Flyease sneaker? Here's the link I was talking about: http://hooplaha.com/2015/07/nike-creates-game-changing-sneakers-for-people-with-disabilities/


Be sure to watch the video to get the full story. Matthew Walzer took a chance, raised his voice, and made an impact that will affect thousands, maybe millions, of people. I love when Designer Toby Hatfield says, "At some point, some people become less able sooner than others, but eventually we all become less able." If one young man could change the perception of a large company like Nike, think of the impact we could make if we organize ourselves and raise our voices!

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this sneaker. Do they look good? Would the adaptation make a difference for you? Please share this post on your social media using the hashtags #DiversAbleModel and #NikeFLYEASE and TAG ME :-)

Support this project today by ordering from my Chloe + Isabel boutique: http://bitly.com/AbilityPride and/or donate to our GoFundMe page: gofundme.com/DMPFashionShow



Sunday, July 12, 2015

Where's the Pride??

On June 28, 2015, the day of the Gay Pride March, Newsday reported that "hundreds of thousands attended the march..." to celebrate the Supreme Court's ruling to legalize same-sex marriage across the nation. The event interrupted regular TV programming.

Crowds gathered to celebrate a history making event!

On July 10, 2015, the US celebrated our woman's team winning the Soccer World Cup. According to an ABCNews article, over 12,000 tickets were requested to this celebration for a venue that could only hold 3,500 people. This event also interrupted regularly scheduled TV programming.

How many people are behind the rails?

On July 12, 2015, The Wall Street Journal said the Disability Pride Parade "attracted 3,000 people..." and it "was relatively small..." TV programming carried on as scheduled!

How many people are behind the rails??

I spent two hours flipping through channels to see coverage of the parade, but found not a single live report. Many people may say, "Well, this is only the first one." To that I say, for that very reason it should have been one of the best!

I chatted with Tiffany Hall, a DiversAble Model, who expressed on her Facebook page that she felt the parade was unorganized. When I asked her to explain she wrote, "The streets were only partially blocked off, so we had to wait for traffic lights. We had to wait in the sun for the parade to start" She personally wrote me a message stating, "I doubt many people outside the disabled community even really knew about it. Felt like a waste of time."


This did bring up some important issues though, like the limited accessibility of trains and taxis. Perhaps that's why more people didn't attend. I was disheartened at Mayor de Blasio's treatment of the limited taxi accessibility. ABCNews quotes him as saying his administration is, "very, very committed already on the issue of accessible taxis, but all Tom Harkin had to do was say London was doing better to get my competitive fire going," He is reported to have laughed while making this statement. REALLY?? Full access to my city is left in the hands of a man who sees the issue as a competition??

I am clearly disappointed with the impact, or lack thereof, of this parade. I think we missed the mark today. I know we can do better!

Please do not confuse my criticism of the parade as a lack of acknowledgment of everyone who supported and "organized" the event. I'm proud of those who went out today and celebrated the accomplishments we've made so far! Thank you for proudly representing all those with Diverse Abilities. I'm grateful for the friends & families (DiversAble Allies) who attended and brought their children out to this history making event. I congratulate you all for rising up and making a dent in society!

HELP ME MAKE A DIFFERENCE! SUPPORT THE DIVERSABLE MODEL PROJECT BY PLACING AN ORDER AT http://bitly.com/AbilityPride

Saturday, July 11, 2015

#DMPChallenge

Whew! It's been too log since I've posted. Forgive me for the hiatus, but life does get crazy when you're trying to change the world! :-)

Let me ask you a question: How do ribbons and "disabilities" relate to each other? Read on to find out...

Many of you know that this month is a BIG deal for the Diverse Ability community. Tomorrow, July 12th, NYC is hosting the First Annual Disability Pride Parade. On July 26th, we will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act! I want to briefly share my thoughts.

DMP Logo
I'm glad that people with Diverse Abilities will march tomorrow, reminding people that we are here. I'm excited that the march will culminate with performances by DiversAble musicians, DiversAble comedians, and other acts. Yet, I'm also concerned... Just like with all groups of people, there is always opposition, always another group with something negative to say. Then there's the other side, the side where people feel pity. I'm cool with sympathy, even empathy, but not so much pity.  I do have "disability pride." I'll never deny that my limitations have helped me develop strength of character, creativity, determination, and perseverance. I'm even prouder of my ability!

My hope for tomorrow's parade is two-fold:
1. People will celebrate the accomplishments, strengths, and ability of those with Diverse Abilities
2. People will become aware and/or appreciate that there is still a long way to go in regards to equality. True equality is not created through pen & paper, but through a change in attitudes, perceptions, and mindsets.

Now to answer the question of ribbons and "disabilities..." There is a ribbon color to represent almost every Diverse Ability out there! Check out this link for a look at a pretty solid list, though not an exhaustive one: http://www.disabled-world.com/disability/awareness/ribbons.php

CHALLENGE:  1) Find a ribbon that represents you!
                          2) Go to http://bitly.com/AbilityPride and order any piece that has your ribbon color (our Birthstone Studs are perfect for this and super affordable, see image below)
                          3) Shout out on social media that you accept the challenge using #DMPChallenge, say the color you chose, and post the link for the jewelry you order (please tag me!)

PRIZE: Everyone who places an order by Monday will have a chance to win all Hostess rewards (message me if you don't know what this means!)

ALL PROCEEDS FROM THIS CHALLENGE WILL GO TOWARDS THE DIVERSABLE MODEL PROJECT!
Only $22
 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

**Special Edition** - Hope!

In the wake of the Charleston shooting, I'm reflecting on how many crimes have been called "hate crimes," or "crimes of passion." What drives these people from intention to action??

One theory I have is that many people have a sense of hopelessness. When that hopelessness becomes so unbearable, people are often moved to act. Some people harm themselves, while some people harm others...

What if we reversed this theory for a positive outcome? What if many people had an overwhelming sense of hope? Could hope move people from intention to action?? Could hope cause people to help themselves and others? I vote yes!!

The #DiversAbleModel Project is based on hope. There are many ways that this world needs to be changed, but I have hope that I'm not the only one who cares about equality for people with Diverse Abilities. I have hope that I can help make a difference in my life and the lives of many others. My hope moves me from just having good intentions, to taking good action!

Today you can join me! We can instill hope in people around the nation, maybe even the world, by showing them they are NOT alone. We can show a marginalized, often bullied, often forgotten group of people that we are going to do more than just have good intentions. We are going to take action...Will you give hope?



Pineapples have been a sign of hospitality since the days of the early American colonies. Order this charm today as a badge of hope, so people with Diverse Abilities will know you can either relate, or that you are willing to show them sincere hospitality! http://bitly.com/FashionShowFund




Donate to The DiversAble Model Fashion Show directly at: GoFundMe.com/DMPFashionShow

Friday, June 12, 2015

Fashion Friday - Maureen Lovetro

It's been quite a challenge finding time to blog lately! I apologize to all my supporters for not being more diligent. I didn't want to let another Friday go by without showing off another beautiful DiversAble Model. Maureen Lovetro was excited when I reached out to her and asked her to participate in this project. Since writing her short bio, she has anxiously awaited this post and I'm honored to have her on board!

Maureen is wearing Bouquet Rouge Rings
"My name is Maureen Lovetro and I live in NYC.  My Diverse Ability is Cerebral Palsy. I'm 25 years old and I have just become a certified Child Life Specialist, which means I help children cope with being in the hospital by making sure they understand everything that is happening to them. I explain everything to them in an age-appropriate way. I also run a playroom, giving the kids a chance to just be kids. I am currently pursuing a Masters degree in Play Therapy and Disability Studies. I also enjoy working with psychiatric patients as a Pet Therapist every Saturday. I enjoy volunteering, but hope to be employed soon . 
I am proud of my perseverance and my life motto is, 'Choose joy no matter what my circumstances. God has a plan for me.' 
I feel the world sees people with Diverse Ability as professionally sick people. This project helps change that perception. The world needs to know that we wish to contribute to society and that our existence in the world is not a tragedy, but another expression of God's beautiful creation."

Your words are inspiring and we stand behind you and all your accomplishments! Thank you for supporting this movement <3

If you would like to become a DiversAble Model, please comment below or email Mandi at amanda.frantz21@gmail.com.
Please support this project by placing an order at http://bitly.com/FashionShowFund
You can also donate to our GoFundMe Page: gofundme.com/DMPFashionShow

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Thankful Thursday - Angel Fernandez de Lopez

We all deserve an Angel in our lives. I'm not talking about the white-robed, glowing halo angel. I'm talking about this amazing friend, wife, and mother! She is creative, intelligent, passionate, and overall a Superwoman!



Angel has quietly supported my CandI business and The DiversAble Model Project from the beginning. Her encouragement and positive spirit have uplifted me in times of doubt. She brightens any room she enters and I know she will soon be sharing the success of her own future business!

Angel, we appreciate your support more than you know. You encourage and inspire everyone around you. We look forward to sharing our successes with you <3

Join Angel and support The DiversAble Model Project today!
Boutique: http://bitly.com/FashionShowFund
GoFundMe: gofundme.com/DMPFashionShow

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tuesday Truth - More Money, More Problems

America was once cutting edge, politically, technologically, socially.  That hasn't been true for the better part of a century.  Sure, we still have a huge technological step up to the world around us, and our entertainment is still cutting edge, but even that is waning.  Our legal system is so slow, and so corrupt, that we're playing with technologies there are no laws for.  When FDR started building the interstate highway system, he was in a unique position to coordinate the entire nation's efforts toward a single goal, something that he had already done with WWII.  In it's day, the interstate network was cutting edge.  The technology exists, today, to replace all standard pavement with an electronic smart pavement that would not only allow city planners to change the signage on the road itself, and use electric heat so that no one would ever have to plow ever again, but could use solar energy to generate three times more energy than the whole country currently uses.  That technology exists today, but the power companies, the road companies, the legal system, is just too bound up in tradition to make any changes.

Something else that's broken, and everyone knows it's broken, but there are just too many powerful people involved to change it now, is America's social security system.  That, too, was mostly put together in FDR's day, in response to the communist and socialist revolutions overseas.  He figured if he gave us a little of what we wanted, we wouldn't overthrow our government, too.  He was right, to a point.

 In today's world, there is not just a glass ceiling, but a freaking bullet-proof glass ceiling, in that there is a maximum amount of money a household is allowed to make and still collect social security benefits.  Unfortunately, this maximum is way below what it actually costs to pay for the equivalent of all those benefits.  What this means on a practical level, is that people who have already enrolled in social security benefits have a virtual income that the government gives them to go towards things like: food, medical insurance, housing, and spending capital.  This virtual income, for those that handle it responsibly, is the equivalent to a solidly middle-class lifestyle.  However, the level of household income where these benefits stop is at an upper-lower-class level.  Meaning, there's a huge gap between your quality of life on social security, and quality of life off of it, if you are in fact running the spectrum of income and slowly growing your status.  In order for this to not be a problem, one would have to magically quantum leap in income level.

For people with Diverse Abilities, this is even more pronounced.  People with Diverse Abilities debilitating enough to require home care or home-based healthcare must be so disabled that they cannot make an income.  If they can afford to work from home, or be able to get out enough to go to a place of employment, then clearly they're not "that" disabled, in which case they don't deserve any benefits.  If every health insurance company offered ongoing home health care, then maybe that would work, but they don't because it's expensive.  Some people, like my wife, really do need it, so someone has to offer it, if we're to consider ourselves a moral society, and since the government has taken up the role of doing jobs no one else will do because they're not profitable, that means that health insurance that will pay for home care must come from the government.  Since the only health insurance company that offers home health care on a permanent basis is the government, well, it gets tied up in that glass ceiling.  People with Diverse Abilities in America are expected to stay home, do nothing, maybe get a job they can do on their computer or over the phone, but stay out of everyone else's hair, and if they don't, if they push through all that pressure and make something of themselves, then give them a medal, because they're amazing for acting like "normal" people.  What makes them amazing is that they broke through all that pressure.  No one else gets medals for starting their own businesses, or doing well in the corporate environment, or having a family.

My wife has to carefully navigate this broken system. As you have all been witness to, she is intelligent, driven, diligent, and creative. While these are all qualities I admire about her, it is these same qualities that makes our government question if she is "disabled" enough to receive the benefits they offer. Mandi has severe mobility limitations and does need the services she gets, but why should her Diverse Ability define who she is?

We'd love to hear your own stories of balancing "being disabled enough" and pursuing your goals and passions. We are also asking that you support Mandi's business by shopping at http://bitly.com/mandifashionshow and/or donate to her GoFundMe page to raise funds for The DiversAble Model Fashion Show, since she is limited in the amount of income she can have: gofundme.com/DMPFashionShow

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thankful Thursday - Love Andujar

Love.

Let's be honest, love is the state of being we all aspire to be in.  Love is so much about endearing attention, unconditional positive regard.  Don't we all wish there was someone that liked us, was interested in us, and cared about the things that were important to us?  These is a person who will do that perfectly, and his name is Jesus.  But there is someone who does a pretty good job of representing that kind of attitude today, someone physical right now.

That person's name is Love.  Love Andujar!  There are very few people who succeed at creating an environment of acceptance, and hospitality.  Love Andujar is one of these people.  Not only is her personality great in recreating a little bubble of a more heavenly atmosphere, but she pursues things that are of God's heart as well.  In that vein, we'd like to recognize Love Andujar as a great DiversAble Ally!

While she doesn't have a lot of wealth or stuff to her name, she's seen the value in the DiversAble Model Project, and has supported it as avidly as anyone.  Beyond jewelry, she's advocated for family members with DiversAbilities, which makes her a super DiversAble Ally!  Love, we thank you, and we look forward to working with you going forward.  Thank you for being such an inspiration, such an advocate, such a DiversAble Ally!

Join all the DiversAble Allies by placing and order at Mandi's CandI Shop: http://bitly.com/mandifashionshow

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tuesday Truth - Diverse Abilities on Screen

This is RJ Mitte.  He was in one of my favorite television shows of all time: Breaking Bad.  Mitte played the son of the main character, a teenage boy named Walter White, Jr.  Jr. is an interesting young man, who also happens to have cerebral palsy.  At first, I thought this actor was incredible, because his portrayal of a disability I was familiar with was awesome.  I'm ashamed to say, I assumed he was a typically abled person.  He's not, Mitte has cerebral palsy, and started his career in modeling!



This guy is Sebastien Rene.  He played a severely disabled boy in the movies Starbuck and the American version, Delivery Man. While the disability this boy has in the movie is not labeled, I get the impression that his is a more severe cerebral palsy.  Rene's portrayal of disability was so impressive, actually, the producer, Steven Spielberg, wanted him to come back from the French Canadian production and reprise his role in the American film.  He was the only actor who appeared in both films.  Apparently, he did an excellent job portraying a boy with cerebral palsy.

Something about this reminds me of the days in Hollywood when it was popular for meaningful black roles to be portrayed by white actors in blackface.  For those of you that didn't get to that part in school yet, blackface was what it was called when white actors would take on the roles of black characters, often with overly obvious, poorly done makeup.  Often, the point, was to portray black roles as comical fools, and typically was very derogatory towards black actors and audiences.  Now, I won't say Rene's portrayal of a boy with cerebral palsy was meant to be derogatory, but it's hard for me personally to take seriously when the most he can communicate is inarticulate sounds and a good amount of drooling.

Mitte, on the other hand, portrayed a young man who was in a severely disturbing situation, one in which the father he loved and adored turned out to be a villain in a very serious reality.  He presents himself in many ways as a typical teenaged boy through most of the series, not ignoring his cerebral palsy, but not making a giant issue of it, either.  When the crap hits the fan, Mitte's acting get's real.  It's in this way, I think people miss out on, that actors, models, and every role that portrays an image to the public, should be filled by people who are in the situation to portray.  Like saying black actors should portray black characters, because they could be good actors, too, and they could bring dimensions to a character no white actor ever could.  Well, so too should disabled roles be given to disabled actors.  They live the realities of their disabilities every day, and can easily bring that to any big or little screen that's ready for them. 

Help give people with Diverse Abilities opportunities to represent themselves by placing an order at http://bitly.com/mandifashionshow

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fashion Friday - Jenny Brackenridge

Jenny is wearing an entire set from the Meridian line
Jenny Brackenridge is quite the accomplished DiversAble Model! Her identity is not in her limitations, but in her abilities. I'm honored that she shares her heart so openly. Read her story:

"My name is Jenny Brackenridge and I live in Glen Head, NY. My Diverse Ability is called Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy and I use a wheelchair for mobility.  
I am the youngest of four children,  two older brothers, Craig and Steven, and an identical twin sister Krissy, who is typically able.  Krissy and I were born 3 months premature, exactly 1 minute apart.  I am a proud Aunt to my 14 year old nephew Trey and 4 year old identical twin nieces, Jenna and Kara.  I have a Scottish terrier named Gracie, after Gracie Mansion.  I earned Associate and Bachelor Degrees in Behavioral Sciences with a concentration in Psychology, as well as a Master of Sciences Degree in Mental Health Counseling, Master of Professional Photography Degree, and I currently hold Teacher’s Assistant – Level I Certification.  My current job is as a Head of Group Counselor at Uniondale Community Council.  
 I LOVE to travel!  In 2001, I traveled to Ireland as part of the Irish – American Youth Team via The NYS Games for the Physically Challenged.  In 2007, after taking a few Art History and History of Photography courses in College, I was inspired and had an overwhelming desire to visit Rome, Italy. I loved Rome so much that I returned in 2008, additionally traveling to Florence / Milan, Italy and also stopped in Zurich, Switzerland. 
In every aspect of life, I’ve overcome the pressure of adversity.  Everything that I do feels like it’s multiplied, because I have always felt that typically able people have a greater advantage over those with disabilities.  The physically disabled person has to surpass the able – bodied person from the start so that the playing field can be somewhat equal.  I have had moments where I felt like giving up, but then I realize that it’s not within me to do so and more importantly, I do not have a desire to be a failure.  This held especially true when I was obtaining my Master’s Degree.  My Professor / Advisor did not believe that I deserved the degree, attempting to do everything in his power so that I would not graduate.  Despite his efforts, I graduated!
This project is important to me because we can be real with ourselves and specifically, embrace that our bodies are not perfect, but then again, nobody’s is, disabled or not.  Essentially, this project allows people with Diverse Abilities to showcase their inner / outer beauty and accessorize it.
In terms of fashion, I am fortunate that despite my body’s structural issues, I am still able to dress in much of the latest juniors’ styles.   There are some body types that are difficult to dress due to disability (e.g. loss of a limb) and designers should keep that in mind.  If the disabled consumer doesn’t have to experience fashion limitations, it may increase self - esteem / image and that would hopefully lead to a more progressive fashion forward society.
People, especially children who have had little or no exposure to people with physical disabilities, don’t realize that it is often hard to explain different disabilities and the challenges that they present.  Sometimes the visualization of a disability makes people stop and think about their own lives and makes the whole concept of what it means and all that it entails to be disabled a little easier to understand, rather than just hearing the words or reading them from a book. With the right amount of courage and tenacity, people with disabilities can be successful, productive members of society.  The message is simple: Disabilities are part of life, but they in no way define who a person is."


Thank you Jenny! You have been one of my biggest supporters thus far and I look forward to continuing our partnership to push this movement forward <3

Please consider supporting DiversAble Models like Jenny by placing an order at http://bitly.com/mandifashionshow

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thankful Thursday - Pastor David Serrano, Jr.

Today I had a conversation with someone about how hurt they feel by a church they attended. In fact, I've heard many stories like this. Throughout our lives, especially our teen years, we have a desire to belong to a group, to be accepted. When people think of the ideal church, it's a place filled with people like themselves. Sure, people may debate on details, but there's no judgement. Most people don't dream of going to a church where they're forced to fit into a very small box, i.e. dress a certain way, give a certain amount of money, pray a particular prayer, etc. People who have a real relationship with Jesus know that these details don't really matter. Most people would love to go to a church for "people like us."

LifeHouse Christian Church is my home church and is the place for someone like me! From my first visit I was impressed by how easy-going and friendly Pastor Dave is. He is a visionary and is determined to empower everyone he comes in contact with. He has supported and stood behind all of my crazy ideas and helped me bring many of them to fruition. I rehearsed for two days how I would present the idea of our church being used for The DiversAble Model Fashion Show. TWO DAYS! I had a great speech prepared explaining how this could be a key to breaking into our community, how this could bring about partnerships, and how God could work in the lives of people by them just showing up. I think I spoke for about a minute, basically just saying that I'd like to do the show at church. I was ready for all the hard questions, but all he said was, "I think that's great. I have no problem with you using the church." That's just the kind of guy he is!

This is such a small example of why I call Pastor Dave a DiversAble Ally. I'd like all of your support to thank him today for the impact that he has had on my life and my family's life. He believes in me when I doubt myself and has given my family opportunities many people wouldn't. The Frantz family loves you and is blessed by your friendship and honored to be shepherded by you <3

Support The DiversAble Model Fashion Show by placing an order at http://bitly.com/mandifashionshow

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Worship Wednesday! Woot woot!

Hey guys!

So, I've been thinking a lot about eternity lately, and what's politically correct to say about it.  I want to start with the Corinthians.  In fact, let's start with I Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 35, and read to verse 49; then I want to move to II Corinthians, chapter 5, starting with verse 1, through to verse 10.  Go ahead, go read those passages.  Don't worry, I'll wait here for you, just let me know when you're finished.

Weren't those amazing?  I find that in today's environment, it's a little unpopular to talk about the afterlife.  Who wants to hear that a terrible situation may not come to an end before you die?  That you just might have to live with it.  A lot of things I heard, well, they beg the question: is God a god of Good and Bad, or is he just Good?  We like to think that he's just a loving and good God, that we would spare us harm if he could.  How terrifying would that be?  I mean, would you rather a God who was just a god of good things, and had no power over bad things?  Would you have faith in a God like that?  Or would you rather recognize that even the things we see as bad are the tools of a loving God in the end?  I heard by an old pastor of mine that God was more interested in character than comfort.  So, if I get into a car accident and become paralyzed from the waist down, who's to blame for such a "bad" thing?  Satan?  Demons?  How about God?  Considering that God is making it so he has to live with me, and not just him, but a bunch of people he cares about, for the next thousand, million, billion, trillion years, wouldn't it be more important for me to be worth living with for all that time?  Isn't a happy nation of people for a quintillion years more important than a miserable man for thirty years?  Imagine if I never learned the lessons that accident ended up being responsible for teaching me, things like long-suffering, patience, compassion, and went on to eternity.  Don't you think that at some point in the next million years, my impatience and callousness would at the very least irritate someone?  That's not paradise.

The DiversAble Model Project Logo! More info to come
In my time, I've also heard people talk about quality of life.  Some people have told me that if they were ever paralyzed from the neck down or something, that they would rather die.  Knowing that my wife has the comparable flexibility of a quadriplegic, and seeing the vibrancy and the fullness with which she lives her life, I can't help but see the blaring ignorance of such statements.  Some people see it as reasonable to abort children, on the basis of knowing whether or not the child would live with certain DiversAbilities.  For certain people, it's physical DiversAbilities, similar to that example of quadriplegia I mentioned earlier: certain people can't imagine a valuable life with such limitations.  For others, it's mental DiversAbilities, because they think that if the child can't understand the fullness of their life, they won't be sorry to lose it.  And the answer to that is twofold: one, reminds me of a guy I grew up with in my home church; he was forty-something years old, and was severely autistic.  For most of his life, his family assumed he didn't understand anything about what's going on around him, like the death of a pet or a grandparent.  It wasn't for many years when he found a computer and typed out his own words that they realized that there was someone under that restricted and disabled shell.  The second aspect of that problem has to do with something I've witnessed while working in ministry that catered to people with DiversAbilities; people with mental disabilities inspire boundless love in others, meaning that people can express love for a person who doesn't seem to be mentally present without expectation of reciprocation or thanks.  Learning to love that way, most would agree, is a good thing.  So, by their existence, they teach those around them to love more fully.  From an eternal perspective, is that important?  Would we be grateful that we learned how to love selflessly thirty billion years from now?  Probably.  Is it worth the fifty to eighty years this person experienced severe limitations on this earth?  Probably.

All this being said, are we to deny the hope we look forward to, in the resurrected body? The whole point to the DiversAbilities project is to recognize the value of the person living with those DiversAbilities, and perhaps even acknowledge the source of strength those DiversAbilities can sometimes provide us.  But is it so wrong to recognize that once our bodies are resurrected, they will be made new and be made whole?  As much as we use these DiversAbilities as badges of honor, we have to acknowledge that they are a result of living in a world where sin has entered and brought death with it, including all the little defects that that entails.  We should also celebrate, look forward to, and hope for, a world where sin is erased, death is erased, and all the terrible things that those things bring with them are erased, including any DiversAbilities.  There is nothing wrong with my wife looking forward to an afterlife where she'll be able to walk, hand in hand, with Jesus.  It does not diminish how great a person she is, it does not cheapen the things of value living her life has brought her.  If anything, it celebrates her ability to live out the lessons she's learned here, and enjoy the freedom of full ability she'll have access to there. 

Support the DiversAble Model Project by placing an order at http://bitly.com/mandifashionshow

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mandi's CandI Corner - Fashion Show Update

Hey guys!

Today is going to be about an update.  I know, so many of you are generally really excited about seeing my wife don some awesome CandI and flash it for everyone to see, giving you sage-like advice about what to wear it with all the while. Today's more of another look at the upcoming fashion show we're putting together for October 31st!  Remember how much I said we needed?  $3,000, for this month.  So far, we've got $2,820 left to go.

We really need your help, guys!  This is a huge project, and it's going to impact a lot of people, make a huge statement, but we need your help to get it off the ground.  With Mother's Day just passed, it's not too late to buy something for your mom, or for at least one special mom out there that you know. Also, the number of models we're gathering for the fashion show is pretty impressive; you could help us out twice by buying one of the models a piece of jewelry, which means they get something to wear for the fashion show, and the proceeds can go towards helping pay for the fashion show itself!  Not sure what to buy that incredible mom you know or the model you want to empower?  CandI now offers e-gift cards, in 25, 50. 100, 150 and 200 dollar denominations.  That way, you don't even have to do the hard part of picking something out that person may not like, you let them pick out what they want!

We also know not all of you guys have the coin to be giving to the cause.  We get that and we respect that.  But you do have time, and obviously, you do have connections.  Make this cause your cause!  Share this post with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google+.  Find those partners that can contribute to our cause, and make sure they know who we are and what we represent.  Put in the time, and put in the effort, and see your contribution flower exponentially!  You can make up for not donating, if you can help us find those that are able to contribute!  Don't give up, there are so many out there that need to hear this message:  Fashion belongs to the DiversAble now!

Contribute today at http://bitly.com/mandifashionshow!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Fashion Friday - Trisha Douglas


This beautiful woman is my (Mandi's) friend Trisha Douglas! She has faced much adversity in her life, yet through her faith in Jesus Christ she finds the strength to smile and make others laugh too. She has no fear of saying what's on her mind, so here she tells her story:

"My name is Trisha Douglas and I live in The Bronx, NY, but I'm originally from Brooklyn. My Diverse Ability is called Cerebral Palsy. I was born with Cerebral Palsy because I was born premature at 7 months. I am 27 Years old. I love to read and write poetry. I love fashion and really have my own sense of style. I love certain trends, but I love to put my own twist on them. 
My greatest accomplishment in life so far is being the first one of my siblings to get accepted into college . I'm not enrolled in college at the moment due to tuition issues, but I hope to one day receive my bachelor's degree in Nursing and become an emergency room triage nurse. 
I believe you should never let your physical limitations stop you from achieving your dreams. I support this project because I believe that people with Diverse Abilities deserve a face and voice in the fashion industry. I hope the fashion industry begins to include more than just a hand full of DiversAble Models, because people with Diverse Abilities need to see people like themselves represented."

Trisha, you always put a smile on my face! I am truly honored to have a friend and supporter like you. Thank you for joining this movement and helping us change lives <3

Please shop at http://bitly.com/mandifashionshow today! 90% of this month's sales proceeds will go towards funding The DiversAble Model Fashion Show. Thank you!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thankful Thursday - Call for Allies!!

Hey guys!

So, I missed this week's Worship Wednesday, and I'll make it up to you.  In the meantime, we got a Thankful Thursday to write.  Well, we're all out of people to be thankful for, you stinkers! I'm just kidding.  Haha!

No, really, we wanted to thank everyone who reads this blog.  We understand that not everyone has the financial ability to support causes they feel strongly for.  Well, come October 31st, the DiversAble Model Project is going to the next level: we're running a Fashion Show in the South Bronx!  It's going to be huge, with some models, hair stylists and makeup artists coming in from out of town, even from out of state!  We're trying to get as much support from local organizations, even coverage from local press is something we're aiming for.  But a project this huge carries with it a substantial price tag. Mandi needs to sell $3000 in jewelry this month just to set this thing up!

And that's where you folks all come in!  Right now, we're asking that you buy jewelry, for yourself or someone you know, as 90% of the proceeds from this month's sales are going towards funding the Fashion Show!  Like I said earlier, we understand that not everyone can afford to buy something.  What we are going to ask is that you take what responsibility you do have very seriously!  First off, we need your help spreading the word!  Get out there, share this post on you Facebook feeds, your Twitter feeds, your Google+ pages, everything and everywhere.  But also, we need you to put some spirit into it, meaning, when you share it, act like this is a project you believe in! Let people know that we need financial support to get this thing running, and you need their help to reach this goal!  We need you to buy into this as much as we have, because a person who's passionate about a product or cause, in this case both, is the greatest sales asset you could ask for.  Be our greatest asset, put in the effort to sell others on this amazing idea, because as you can tell, haha, we need all the help we can get.

Help raise funds for the Fashion Show by shopping at and sharing this link: http://bitly.com/mandifashionshow

**See images below for other options & updates**

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tuesday Truth - Cinco de Mayo


Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone!

Of course, this isn't a greeting that's entirely applicable to everyone.  In fact, a ton of Americans use it simply as an excuse to get drunk, celebrating their nonexistent Mexican heritage.  Kind of similar to St. Patrick's Day with the Irish. 

Today is an Independence Day for Mexico.  For Americans, our Independence Day is July 4th.  Now, of course, these days represent national sovereignty, and separation from the colonial powers that planted them.  For Mexico, it was Spain.  For America, it was Great Britain.  It's a very specific kind of independence that we're celebrating, one bought with lives, blood, hard work.

It does get a person thinking, though.  For me, it gets me thinking about independence, and how it relates to people with DiversAbilities.

The first high-risk maternity clinic my wife and I went to when she got pregnant with our Little Bear was a disaster.  One of my strongest, most pungently unpleasant memories was after the local medical student violated my wife to the point of causing her pain, and we were all ready to go, a social worker was summoned to her room, and those of us that were there with her, myself and my mother-in-law, and her aide, were asked to step outside.  Then they asked her, repeatedly, if she was sure she wanted to keep the baby.  There was a pressure to abort it, because, let's be honest, a woman like this couldn't possibly be in a position to care for a baby.  Right?

I was furious.  When the social worker was told she had a husband, and that we were determined to keep the baby, he seemed shocked, surprised.  How does a woman like this even conceive a baby willingly?  How is any relation anything but something akin to date rape?   As you can imagine, we found a new clinic.  Immediately.

You may remember, a couple of our DiversAble Models that have been highlighted over past Fridays have had experiences living outside of their parents' homes.  And they were empowered by the ability to do so!  Let me tell you something.  No one is truly independent!

As children, we are dependent on our parents, to provide shelter, food, clothing, socialization, structure.  As we get older, those needs are met by others.  We get jobs, we pay for our own shelter and food and clothing.  But, let's be honest.  If you were truly independent, you'd have to build your own house.  You'd have to grow or hunt for your own food.  You'd have to collect fibers, spin, and weave your own cloth, to make your own clothing.  Do any of us do any of that?  Not really.  We are all dependent on someone for our well being.  The sense of independence, that sense that comes from becoming an adult, comes from the power to choose whom are you dependent upon?  And people with DiversAbilities have this same power.  For some, it means procuring 24-hour aide coverage.  For others, it means moving into a group home.  For some, it means getting married.

We all have differing levels of independence.  As we get older, many of us will be relocated to old homes.  Or maybe some of us have accidents that put us in situations we weren't in before.  When I was in high school, I had surgery on my foot, and was bed bound for about two weeks.  And I was severely hobbled after that for months.  I understood a certain level of independence disappeared from my life for a while.  So, none of us are truly independent.  But we are each powerful, in that we can choose who we depend on!

Support people's right to independence by placing an order at http://bitly.com/mandifashionshow
*Please note: 90% of this month's proceeds will go towards funding The DiversAble Model Fashion Show

Monday, May 4, 2015

Mandi's CandI Corner - Fashion Show


 

**PLEASE NOTE: Models do NOT have to have visible Diverse Abilities to participate! Models can be any age, body type, color, etc...

If you would like to make a financial contribution to the Fashion Show, please visit http://bitly.com/mandifashionshow and place an order today!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Fashion Friday - Nicole Cavanagh

This is Nicole Cavanagh from Hempstead, NY. She has a Diverse Ability called Athetoid Cerebral Palsy and this is her story:

"I am a 25 year old college student at Hofstra University studying Information Technology.  I went to the Henry Viscardi School (HVS) from kindergarten through 12th grade where I graduated at the top of my class.  HVS was a school for kids with physical Diverse Abilities.  After graduating high school in 2007, I attended Briarcliffe College where I studied Graphic Design for two and a half years.  I decided to switch colleges and my major to Information Technology in 2009.  In 2010, I attended Nassau Community College.  While I loved it there, after another two and a half years, I desperately wanted to live on my own, so I decided to go to Hofstra and dorm there.  All colleges only allow full-time students to dorm (those who take four or more classes per semester.)  Due to my Diverse Ability, I could only attend college as a part-time student because I type very slowly and simply cannot keep up if I were to take four classes per semester.  Thankfully, Hofstra allowed me to dorm even though I was only a part-time student.  I already had an aide  who had been with me since 2007; however, I needed additional aides since I now lived on my own and needed 24 hour care.  It was a completely new experience for me.  At one time, I actually resorted to posting on Hofstra’s Jobs and Internships Facebook page asking for an aide which ended up working out perfectly.  I believe that my greatest accomplishments have been graduating at the top of my class in high school, learning how to advocate for myself, and living on my own and dealing with issues with aides.

The DiversAble Model Project is important to me because it shows those with Diverse Abilities in a positive light without making us seem like some kind of inspiration.  We’re just modeling jewelry like non-disabled people do. It would be great if the fashion industry included those with Diverse Abilities without mentioning the persons disability, as to not make the photoshoot, or whatever it may be, about the person’s disability.  Too often, people with Diverse Abilities end up being portrayed as just a disability and not an actual person.

Non-disabled people's opinions of people with Diverse Abilities needs to change.  We are not to be pitied just because we use mobility aides, or to be thought of as inspirational just because we don’t let our disabilities prevent us from leading normal lives. We’re just regular people who just happen to do some things differently than you.
"

Thanks Nicole for just being a normal college student living a normal life! Your support of this project will help change lives.

PLEASE SUPPORT PEOPLE WITH DIVERSE ABILITIES BY PLACING AN ORDER AT http://bitly.com/DiversAble

Thankful Thursday - Curtis Frantz

Besides being a day late, this post is long over due! For those of you who know me, I am blessed with big vision. God has granted me the ability to see something in my head, and then make it happen. However, there is no way any of my vision could become reality without this strong father and husband. He often works behind the scenes and rarely gets the recognition he deserves, but he truly is a DiversAble Ally! Today it is my true pleasure to give an enormous THANK YOU to my husband Curtis Frantz!!!

Curtis was the very first person I shared my idea of The DiversAble Model Project with. He always encourages me to pursue my craziest dreams and often sacrifices his time and energy to ensure my success. He pushes me when I feel like giving up and celebrates my accomplishments.

Curtis cares for me and my Little Bear on a daily basis and makes living a relatively "normal" life possible. He helps me run my business and lends a hand whenever I ask. His posts on this blog barely scratch the surface of his creativity, eloquence, and passion. He has grown to accept his own Diverse Abilities and uses his story to empower others!

Thanks babe for going on this journey called Life with me. I don't tell you enough how much I appreciate everything you do for our son and for me. My prayer is that we will be remembered as a God-loving, God-fearing power couple that made a difference in people's lives. You are well on your way to an answered prayer! I love you <3

Support The DiversAble Model Project today by placing an order at http://bitly.com/DiversAble

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Worship Wednesday - God & Fashion

Fashion is about esteem, confidence, and sometimes, in ideal situations, artistic expression.  When God made Adam and Eve, they were created naked, and they remained naked, until they fell out of perfect relationship.  Then they built clothes out of leaves, what they had available.  Not because they were uncomfortable physically, but because they now needed masks.  That's what clothing, and fashion, is all about, mostly.  Create an image you want people to see you by, often create an image that manipulates people into acting a certain way towards you, which can affect how you live in public. 

Sometimes, very rarely, we use our clothes and our accessories to show the world parts of who we really are.  That's artistic expression.  Mostly, though, we show the world who we want to be, who we want others to see us as.  It helps us believe some of those things about ourselves when we can't do it in our own power.  This sounds sad, and it is a result of our living in a Fallen World(tm), but in some ways, it's a way we can fight some of the symptoms of living in a Fallen World(tm), too.  We are all of us, beautiful, brilliant, important.  To God, to each other, and to the Grand Scheme of Things(tm).  Otherwise, to be really honest, we wouldn't exist.  God is too meticulous for that.  Sometimes, we let ourselves, or others, or the Enemy, convince us otherwise.  That's where good fashion can sometimes come in.  We want to feel strong, we dress like a B.A.M.F (acronym for something I can share with you later, in private), whether that means like a biker for some of us guys, or a hot, boss chick for some of our ladies.  We want to feel beautiful, worthy, we try and get people's attention.  We want to feel loved and cuddled, sometimes we put on pajamas, or sweats, or something that will help us feel cozy.  That's a fashion choice, too.

The DiversAble Model Project, well, it recognizes that the fashion industry itself has become a tool for the devaluation of people.  Society, including ourselves, have created these images of what a perfect man and woman look like.  None of us look like them, and we all feel terrible for that.  People with DiversAbilities can get hit the hardest with this.  Others can work out, or diet, or have surgery, or change their clothes, and at least get closer to what they want to look like.  Most of the time people with DiversAbilities can't.  The DMP (DiversAble Model Project) tries to look away from the pretentious image we all hold to be the perfect man and woman, and tries to look towards the reality of all of our value in the eyes of God.  Then the DMP tries to remind people, models and allies and onlookers alike, that even if fashion is a mask to help us look like who we want to be, we really want to remember the beauty God sees in us, and that's why we celebrate the way he made us!

One day, we won't need fashion, as we'll be perfectly safe and welcomed.  Also, we'll probably be able to artistically express ourselves somehow else.  But, in the meantime, fashion is not bad, it's just a tool for coping with the fallen nature of our world.  Keep up the good fight. 

Support The DiversAble Model Project by placing an order at http://bitly.com/DiversAble

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday Truth - #CutTheBull

Hey guys!

It's me, Curtis, and I wanted to talk with you guys about something that I think needs more limelight:  bullying.

First and second grades were the worst years of my academic career.  Schoolwork was never an issue for me, it was socialization.  I had always gotten on really well with adults, growing up.  It was the other children that were hard for me.  In first grade, I had found a small group of boys that I was fitting in with reasonably well.  I even pretended to really like the Power Rangers to fit in.  By the end of the year, and into the next one, something had gone horribly wrong. One of the boys was Guillermo and he was the ring-leader. His older sister was friends with my older sister.  There must have been some kind of falling out between the two, for Guillermo to wake up one day and say to himself, "I'm going to make Curtis' life a living nightmare!"  To be honest, I'm not one hundred percent sure what did happen, but I do know things became terrible for me.  They handcuffed me to a fence, with toy handcuffs, but when I tried to get away, they dragged me back.  Jason was still willing to be my friend, but only outside of school, so he wouldn't risk being ostracized with me.  I invited them to my seventh birthday, and Guillermo decided his time would be better spent elsewhere, so he left early, leaving me in tears over a birthday ruined.

Bullying is no joke!  Those early, formative years set the stage for the rest of my school career.  And to think, a child with Diverse Abilities is twice as likely to be bullied in school than a typically-abled child.  This is the motivation behind a movement that my wife and I truly believe in, and want to bring to the attention of all of you, out there.  #CuttheBull is a campaign, developed by Shriners Children's Hospital, meant to raise awareness of the bullying of DiversAble children, and bullying in general.  Check out their website and take the pledge at www.cutthebullnow.org


Don't let bullies get away with this.  Join The #DiversAbleModel Project and #CuttheBull!

Support DiversAble people by placing an order on Mandi's CandI website: http://bitly.com/DiversAble

Monday, April 27, 2015

Mandi's CandI Corner - Mandi CandI Stylebox

Do you know what I saw on the news the other day? It was a segment on the latest thing trending, particularly for women. It's the Surprise Stylebox! That's right, it is the thing to shop for this year.

As your personal Merchandiser and stylist, I've decided to help you get in on this latest trend. Beginning May 1st, I will be offering all of you a subscription to a Mandi CandI Surprise Stylebox!!+ This is a perfect way for you to stay in fashion + support The DiversAble Model Project*. Every box you receive will include at least one piece from our latest collection. If you live locally, or are willing to pick up your boxes, I may include extra goodies ;-)

Check out the image in this post to see all the great budget options I'm offering. Once you select your style, budget**, and frequency, or if you would like to discuss other Stylebox options, comment here, message me on Facebook, or email me at amanda.frantz21@gmail.com and I'll get you set up.


+This offer is EXCLUSIVELY offered by me; this is not a Chloe and Isabel wide opportunity
*A portion of all Stylebox proceeds will go towards upcoming events for The DiversAble Model Project
**Payment will be accepted via credit card on file, Paypal, or cash/money order (for locals)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Fashion Friday - Alicea Pratt Saldana

On August 2, 1992 a three year old little girl played near her tenth floor window in Brooklyn. Dad was out for breakfast, while mom awaited comfortably in her pajamas. Within seconds, the unthinkable happened. The window guard was loose and the little girl fell down ten stories! I am blessed to present the survivor of this horrific accident, Alicea Pratt Saldana:






She spent two years recovering from her fall and is paralyzed from the waist down. However, as you can see in the picture above, Alicea is no stranger to a good time! She will be 26 years old on May 20th and says her greatest accomplishment is the ability to live her life the way she's always wanted to. Alicea now lives in Freeport, Long Island and is very enthusiastic about The DiversAble Model Project. She joined the project because she believes it gives women with Diverse Abilities a chance to be seen as equals. The project allows women with Diverse Abilities to be just as fashionable as the next person!

Alicea, your joy in the face of all you've been through is encouraging! Your story is a reminder that anyone can become a person with Diverse Abilities. This is such an important reminder for people because the need for support and compassion is urgent. Thank you for being the feisty, fun, and strong woman you are!

Join the movement today by placing an order at http://bitly.com/DiversAble

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thankful Thursday - Angelica Tineo

Hey Everyone!

This is Angelica.  She's one of our son's Godmothers.  She and her husband Franklyn, they've been lifesavers for Amanda and I.  We've known them for a few years, but really, it feels like we've known them forever.  I thank God, often (probably like every week or so, give or take ;-), for these two, especially Angie.

As a lot of you may have read in my post on Tuesday, life can get a little hairy around here.  Since Little Bear was born, there are very few people that we've trust to take care of him, until more recently.  Angie is on that very short list.  She has done so much to support us in our everyday lives, that's almost enough to warrant calling her a DiversAble Ally with just that.  But there's more!

Even before Amanda started pursuing the DiversAble Model project, Angie has supported her jewelry business.  She has hosted parties, she has helped Amanda set up her displays, run events.  Now that Amanda's added the DiversAble dimension, Angie has been more on board than ever.  Even though the DiversAble Model Project is bigger than Angie, bigger than each of us individually, really, I don't think there would have been a DiversAble Model Project if it hadn't been for her.  So, on behalf of all of the models, and everyone who'll be inspired by them, thank you Angelica!

Support the project today by checking out Mandi's CandI Shop at http://bitly.com/DiversAble

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday Truth - Spouse/CareGiver

"Oh, you're such a great guy!"  "She's just so lucky."  "She must love you very much."  "You did her makeup?"  "You did her hair?"  "You could work at a salon!" 

These are things people say when they get the five minute version of both how my wife and I met, or a general rundown of our lives.  I must be some kind of saint, right, to voluntarily take on the burden of a wife with a Diverse Ability, volunteering to take on the physical responsibilities of two parents in our family?  Wrong.  I'm kind of part husband, part home health aide, and whatever problems you can imagine occurring with either station, we've had them. 

What are some possible issues you could imagine having with a husband, all you wives out there?  Neglectful or forgetful behavior?  Not spending enough time with you, or not interested in what goes on in your life?  Too focused on his own stuff to want to focus on your stuff, too?  Spending too much time trying to spend time doing stuff with you, instead of spending time with you?  How about when he gets bored, or feels sad by your relationship, for any reason?  Maybe he looks at girls in ways you're not entirely comfortable with, or he doesn't realize, at least not consciously, when he sometimes sounds flirtatious.  Yeah, we've been there.

Now, how about all our DiversAble readers who've had aides at home?  Ever find that they can split hairs, about what they're supposed to help with and what they're not?  Or that they don't take initiative, they just sit in a corner until asked to do something, never seeing an opportunity to help before asked?  Or, maybe they never outright deny service, but have a kind of general attitude that while they do actually do what you ask them to, they seem reluctant, like they have better things to do with their time and you're a bother?  Or, maybe, they spend too much time on the phone, being disruptive, and in an effort to be less "bothersome", they leave the room, maybe find an isolated place they can continue their conversation, and don't return for hours.  Yeah, we've been there, too.

What I'm trying to say is that even though I volunteered for these positions, there are plenty of people who do.  All kinds of men get married.  All kinds of people become health aides.  Does that make every husband a good husband?  No.  Does that make every aide a good aide?  Oh, no.  This isn't one sided, either, just because I'm not a saint for volunteering for this, neither is she for putting up with this.

For all those husbands out there, what kinds of things would you consider to be frustrating?  You ever want to share something you think is awesome or incredible with your wives, and find she has little to no interest?  You ever feel like she demands so much of your emotions, you end up exhausted some times, but when she goes to someone else for emotional gratification, you feel slightly betrayed?  How about those husbands whose wives make more than they do?  I know you're out there.  You ever find that while out in the open, the money is "yours" plural, collectively, but when she wants to spend a little extra on something, there's not a second word, and when you do the same, you're not considering how hard it is to make that money?  You ever feel like arguments like "this is my house," or something like that, deflate when you most need them?  Yeah, we've been there.

I have often felt at odds with her aides, too.  Ever since my wife was pregnant, the only person who can transfer her has been me.  Earlier, it was because she got heavier with the baby.  Now, it's because having the baby severely hurt her hip, and her aides typically didn't transfer; they helped her transfer herself, which she can't do anymore because of that pain.  One of her transfer chairs is also broken, and can't support her.  So I do more of the physical work than I used to.  My wife, to her defense, has a strong sense of dignity, and modesty.  She prefers a small group of people to help her when she needs it, because she feels violated to be exposed to too many strangers.  Wouldn't all of us?  Also, her aides have been there for us in ways none need to be, officially, and she's grateful for that, as am I.  Finally, she finds that I take care of her the best in a lot of ways, so she thinks about me when she needs something, because I do it so well.  That's kind of a complement, and I'm grateful for it, but with the increased work load I mentioned above, that means I'm still doing things her aides could be doing. 

So, the final verdict, is that we love each other.  I bit off a lot to chew when I decided I wanted to live my life with a strong woman with physical Diverse Abilities.  She bit off a lot to chew when she decided to spend her life with a guy with some emotional Diverse Abilities and some character flaws.  We're both human, and we have enough problems individually not to have problems with each other.  But God has blessed this marriage, this shared life, and I am ever thankful for it.  I only see it as something worth celebrating.  So, am I a saint?  No, but neither is she.  We're just people, and in that way, we're just like everyone else.  And also just like everyone else, we're working on it. 

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