October 9, 2011

Nice Emails from Some More Houston High School Students

So I received a lot of emails from a high school class in Houston this week.  Here's an excerpt of an email from their teacher:

well, I am the Houston teacher who last year emailed you about some students maybe emailing you and not much happened....

Well, we are giving it a try again and several students say they have emailed you.

Aside from watching your Miami Ink episode, they also read a short summary about you that you have posted online. My preAp class also has to do a report on what they thought about you and what you have gone through- Page 1. They have to look up a "handicap" others may have and write about it and what laws, technology, medicines etc are they to help them out- Page 2.

Page 3, they have to looked up the American Disabilities Act and give me info about it in regards to how it affects business and whether this is a good law to have or not...plus their own opinions...

page 4 is what they have learned from this report.

By the way, the students also did a one period writing about you and the video they saw or about someone they may have treated improperly due to any handicaps, culture, religions etc.... Those are handwritten and do have some nice writing to them.

As I had said before, my kids are from very low income families and most are from families that are new to the US. They themselves are going through adversities in their own.

They speak of you as a celebrity. Apart from the ones who have actually written to you, there are few more that seem like they would want to be something stops them.

I do teach science but I enjoy the medical/science aspects of science and really want my students to understand how science impacts all our lives.

You have been great and I really dont want to burden you too much. I had meant to write to you before the first student did but she sure beat me to it.

Yes, I have some great kids to know.


Here's some of the emails along with my responses:

Hi , this is Michelle
i just got done reading this articles about you. i would like to tell you that you have inspired me that you didn't care what people thought of you and how it doesn't matter to be different from other people. When you was a childhood you said when people come up to you about your arms you come up with wild things to me that was funny because you came out of the blues telling random stories. Also i saw the tattoo you got that have a image of your hands on your shoulder yeah i was wondering why do you have a picture of your hands on your shoulder. What made made you get that type of tattoo and what does it symbolizes? and i would like to know how did you feel when you was different from everybody else?

P.S please reply back thank you

Hi, Michelle!!

Thanks for the great email!! You're very kind.

My tattoo was based on an inspiration my wife and I had.

It's obviously my hand. It is reaching out of some rough waters which represent our past and some of the challenges we've had to navigate in life. Between my childhood and my boy's being born with heart conditions, we felt like we'd sailed some pretty stormy seas in life. But regardless of our situation, we always maintained our hope and just kept swimming to the surface. That hand is working hard, reaching out of that water and towards a bright sunny sky which is meant to represent our future and the great days we have ahead of us as a reward for the sacrifices we've made.

Regarding your question about being different, I just wrote a reply to another student and I'm going to give you that answer here as well.

I know people now-a-days are so judgemental so I was wondering, after people have heard your story, do they still judge you?

I don't know. If they do, they don't really tell me about it.

I'll bet if you asked the people who I see on a daily basis, they'd tell you they don't even think about the fact that my arms are different. They know me as a goofball who sings a lot, tells inappropriate jokes, and just acts a little bit weird from time to time. People I know will make jokes about my arms, but that's basically us flipping crap to one another. I know how to trash talk with the best of them.

Occasionally, I'll catch strangers staring at me. It doesn't really bother me any more. Maybe I'm getting old and just don't care. Or perhaps I've figured out better ways to deal with it than I did when I was younger.

Many times when I see people leering at me, I'll tell myself "They must just know me because of my website." It's probably not true, but that line of thinking makes me feel better about myself. And that's all that matters to me.
I can't really blame others for staring at me because I do stand out in a crowd. It's human nature to sneak a peek. Believe it or not, I catch myself doing it from time to time when I see somebody that looks unique.

I could let it bother me when people treat me differently because of my arms, but I have no way of controlling it.

People are going to stare at me. They're going to say things to me about it whether I want them to or not.

For example, some times when I'm in a fast food restaurant, the people who work behind the counter offer to carry my tray for me. My first reaction is to get annoyed because I'm quite capable of carrying my own tray and I've never heard them ask other customers this same question. But when I think about it more deeply, I recognize that they're just trying to be nice to me. They're certainly not trying to offend me, even if I might infer that they think that I'm not capable of doing it myself. Instead of being upset, I smile at them, thank them, and politely decline their offer.

I try to remember I can't control how other people are going to treat me. But I can control my reactions to those situations. At some point, you have quit worrying about what people think of you. Instead try to lead a life that makes you proud of yourself when you go to sleep at night. Everything else will work itself out from there.

Thanks for your interest! Tell your teacher I said Hi!

Even with you're deformity are you still close to God? Do you feel he made you that way?

Yeah, I guess I feel God made me this way, although science would say it was a result of a Genetic anomaly identified as Holt Orem Syndrome.

I like to say that we all have to play with the hand that God dealt us. I have no idea why He makes some people a certain way and others a different way, but there's nothing I can do to change it so I just have to make the best of it. My son has had a lot of medical challenges in his life and I always tell him I have no clue why God chose to give him these challenges, but He must have something pretty special in mind for him and he's being prepared by enduring so many difficulties early in life.

We have a favorite saying around our house:

"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much."
--- Mother Teresa

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