Podcast #85: A vent? No big

In episode #85 of No Free Rides, we’re joined by Jenni Taylor, a positively fabulous woman from Minnesota, who’s a C1-C2 vent-dependent quadriplegic and the former Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota 2011. At 25, she’s had more deeper life experiences than anyone we’ve ever had on the show.

We talk about Jenni’s injury, her work as a motivational speaker, and possibly the most fun part of the show – her new 8 month relationship with another quadriplegic, Blake, who she met years ago after attending his benefit (after his injury). Tune in and hear some powerful, powerful stuff.

Tiffiny also talks about adaptive yoga teacher training weekend, which she just blogged about here

Use the player below to hear the show (37 minute run time). No Free Rides is sponsored by EasyStand.com. (view our show archive)


The Site That Breathes (Jenni’s blog)


Adaptive yoga teacher training recap

Twice a year I have the opportunity to help out with adaptive yoga teacher training weekends at my yoga studio Mind Body Solutions, a great non-profit. My yoga studio is one of the few yoga studios in the country that teaches adaptive yoga and they were the first to teach it in fact. My studio was founded by this amazing guy: Matt Sanford

As you can see, Matt uses a wheelchair. He was paralyzed in a car accident when he was 13 years old and discovered yoga in his 20’s while living in California. He decided to found a studio in the early 90’s to teach to others what he figured out himself, and Mind Body Solutions has been slowly growing since.

I had the opportunity to get into his class through a local rehabilitation facility and have been enjoying adaptive yoga for the last three years. And understatement of the year – it’s made a huge difference in my life, especially in my day-to-day quality of life and being able to feel comfortable while having to sit several hours in my wheelchair (usually 15+ hours. say hellooo to major back pain).

People from all over the globe have been wanting to try the yoga being taught at this studio. I’ve received emails from folks with disabilities asking, Where can I go to learn this??  Sadly, not many places. Adaptive yoga should be available everywhere, not just here in Minnesota (and the good news is that it’s slowly spreading, with great studios popping up in Denver, Philly and others).

This is why Mind Body Solutions started hosting adaptive yoga teacher training weekends to teach the basics of how to teach yoga to someone with a disability, to able-bodied yoga teachers from all around the world.

Wheelchair travel tips you can’t won’t find anywhere else

When I flew in a plane the first time as a wheelchair-user 5 years after my accident, I was so nervous. I didn’t want it to be a hassle, or rather “be” the hassle. I was hoping and praying it’d be quick and seamless.

It’s really too bad this video wasn’t available, showing how a wheelchair-user boards a plane (no you don’t stay in your chair. FAA regulations), when I was freaking in my early days. Had I seen this video, it would’ve calmed almost all of my nerves for sure.

And this video is loaded with wheelchair travel secret after another wheelchair travel secret; shared by seasoned traveler himself, Mark Schmidt, paraplegic and Vice President of EasyStand. What I love about this video is how he shares his tricks of the trade that you usually only figure out yourself.

In his video, you’ll learn about eight solid tips that I absolutely guarantee you won’t find anywhere else. My favorite is his trick in getting a free rental car upgrade. He also shows the process of checking-in (how early you should show up), going through security, arriving at the terminal, fanagling seat upgrades and more. There’s A LOT of tips here, so definitely make sure to take a look if you use a wheelchair.

Watch the videos on SPINALpedia.com

My behind the wheel therapy

When I’m behind the wheel of my vehicle, no one can tell I use a wheelchair (no disabled plate, only a placard). And I gotta say that feeling is pretty hard to beat

But the anonymity of being just another driver on the road is one of several reasons driving my has become the best form of therapy I‘ve ever run across.

When you’re disabled and depressed, doctors tell you to take pills, or to meditate, but no one ever mentions the therapeutic benefits of getting behind the wheel and being fully in control of a car (and for the life of me I can’t figure out why!).

They’ll mention you’ll be able to drive again, and they’ll tell you the steps you need to make it happen, but no one ever tells you driving can be used as a secret weapon for people with disabilities against the blues. Read the rest of my blog

So excited – Push Girls sneak peak

The Sundance Channel aired a 12 minute sneak peak of the Push Girls last night, and holy crap you guys, it looks better than I had hoped.

It’s not cheesy, it doesn’t have that “whoa feel sad for these girls” type of feel. No, the show has hit the nail on the head. I officially love the Sundance Channel for making this show. There I said it.

Hitting on guys when you’re out at the club, real life with your man in bed (“Yes I can have sex. Lots and lots of sex”) to being obsessed with wearing high heels even if you can’t walk, seeing all of this glossified on the small screen is very, very cool, especially for me personally; it’s like my life, but with a way less cool car (and I’m just glad to see a positive yet real portrayal of women with spinal cord injuries in the media for once).

In the sneak peak, you meet the four women starring in this new reality show, Tiphany, Auti, Mia and Angela. My impressions:

– Auti, a woman I’ve admired in the disability community since I was injured and have always coveted her rock-hard abs, turns out to be surprisingly funny. Who knew? (and I think she may be my favorite).

– And it is revealed that Tiphany, a gorgeous paraplegic (who I interviewed for an article I wrote in Penthouse last year called “The Would You Girls”), is now dating a woman. Crazy talk!

– And Mia, she’s super cute; love the clip were she’s rating guys as they walk by….

– Angela Rockwood? She’s insanely stunning. Cheek-bones to die for….cheek-bones to die for…

Push Girls premieres on the Sundance Channel June 5th. Can’t wait!

My dream kitchen has landed

I’ve seen some gorgeous accessible kitchens in my day. Beautiful, custom kitchens to lust after with cut-outs under the counter tops for plenty of knee space, huge slabs of granite cut-out to fit the countertops perfectly, stainless steel appliances with bottom loading freezers and pull-out shelves to reach things easier.

But going from point A, a completely inaccessible kitchen to point B, a fully accessible kitchen where everything is thought of from top to bottom, usually takes a qualified ADA building expert or some kind of universal accessible consultant. And if you don’t hire one of these people, the likelihood of forgetting an accessible feature is almost guaranteed.
This is why I am completely in love with the Skyline Lab Kitchen, a wheelchair accessible kitchen made by Italian kitchen manufacturer, Snaidero. Read the rest of this post…

Aussie wheelchair tennis players explain the game

I’ve been blogging for SPINALpedia.com, a very cool video site that contains thousands of spinal cord injury-related videos, for a couple of months now. What I love about this site (other than it wass founded by my friend Josh Basile, a really smart C4-5 quad from Maryland who’s studying to be a lawyer) is that the videos are categorized by movement – full hand movement, partial hand movement, no hand movement, and for all the other body parts too, making it easy to find a video that would actually work for you without wasting too much time (gotta love that).

My latest post for SPINALpedia.com highlights some of my favorite sports videos on their site. If you’ve ever wondered about wheelchair tennis, watch this video of two top Aussie wheelchair tennis players (one who is a low quadriplegic) having a ball, as they create a 6 minute video explaining everything about wheelchair tennis. You can watch the video here

Cheap hair accessories from Forever 21

While shopping for hair accessories for my little nieces the other day, I was directed to Forever 21 by an employee at the Baby Gap (“Leave and go down to Forever 21 instead!”), to their current selection of amazingly cute barrettes (several have silk flowers glued to them, which was what I was looking for).

While it was really odd to be given this advice in such a manner, I was seriously grateful for the tip. Not only did I score four barrettes all at $1.50/piece, I was able to find myself a few goodies as well.  My best find of the day – this black and white polka dot stretchy headband (with bow), also only $1.50. Cute, right?

Check out Forever 21’s hair accessories here