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Last year a friend asked if I wanted to volunteer for a Vancouver event that helps deserving secondary grads that can’t quite swing the “costuming” aspect of the event. It’s called the Cinderella Project, and yesterday was my second year volunteering as what I like to call a “bird”… although I’m probably the only one that thinks of us that way. You remember in the Cinderella cartoon, where all the little birds flit around her and sew her dress and fix her hair, etc….

I worked with a team of seasoned costume/fashion construction experts. There were about 8 or 9 of us there in the alterations department. The girls would come up one at a time, Deb would do the fitting of the dress and make notes. The dress would then be altered and hung up on a rack where the girl and her fairy godmother would pick it up.

Here I am... looks like I'm just standing around watching Mel work... I'm sure that wasn't what I was doing....

Maybe this was taken just after I melted a hole in that red dress hem with the incredibly hot iron…… I do look rather worried! That was last year. I didn’t burn any dresses this year!

This is a huge event and these kids literally get outfitted from head to toe…. hair cuts/styles, make-up, undergarments, dresses, tuxes, shoes, and accessories.

Then they get a professional picture taken. I don’t get to see many of the guys, because I’m doing the dress alterations, but, the girls are so happy, they glow.

It’s a really rewarding event for everyone that get’s involved. I will be doing it again next year.

I hate to bring this up again, but….. when I was at the Dragon’s Den Auditions……

First thing I want to do is congratulate my friend, Owner/Creative Director of PumpEase™ Hands Free Pumping Supports, Wendy Armbruster Bell. She got the call yesterday to confirm that she had been selected as one of the businesses that would get a chance to make their pitch to the Dragon’s on the Dragon’s Den CBC. Awesome. I knew she would get chosen.

I met a fellow by the name of Jamie Marriott, at the Den Auditions, and he was telling me about his idea for his business. I really got excited about the whole thing because it deals with a few of my favourite things; art, clothes, team effort and charity.

His business, put simply, involves artists submitting their T-shirt Art Work, then visitors/customers vote on their favourite design submissions. The top 5 men’s and top 5 women’s styles then get made into limited edition runs on beautifully fitted Bamboo T’s, which are available for purchase. The artist/designer will receive a percentage of the sale and the purchaser will be able to choose a charity of choice for another percentage of the sale to be donated to.

Very cool concept because everyone gets to be involved on some level.

Here is a picture of Jamie at the Dragon’s Den Audition. S2S Nation… Something to Say…. express yourself…

Jamie with S2S cotton bag

The S2S Nation site launched just a couple of days ago, and is just in the early phases of gathering the art submissions. So this is your chance to get “whatever it is you’d like to say” out on a really nice Bamboo T-shirt. You can download the T-Templates on the site. Here’s what they look like.

I touched these T-shirts when I was chatting with Jamie, and they are a really soft, very high quality Bamboo, with nice fit. They are really sleek fitting T’s. Good luck Jamie, all the best with this, I’ll be keeping my eyes on your site, so I can vote, when the submissions are all in! And, I have many very talented artist friends who I think will be interested in submitting.

Today, I took my laptop, 100 flyers and business cards and some Buggy Bag® Lap Blankets downtown to the Roundhouse Community Centre. I had a table a the Disability Foundation Expo. What a great afternoon it was. I met so many interesting people. Everyone was friendly and I think most people stopped by to see what I had on the table regardless of whether or not they could personally use it. There is such a sense of community in the way that everyone seems to be on the lookout to help someone else. I love that… it feels great to be involved with a group of people that are so selfless and caring.

There was live music, videos, and many presentations on the stage. The whole perimeter of the huge, high ceiling room was lined with tables with people that were showing products or services that could benefit or make a persons life easier. It was a nice atmosphere, and I came away from it feeling elated. I bought a CD, Straight Goods, put out by Vancouver Adapted Music Society.

One of the exhibitors I met is an artist by the name of A. J. Brown. I was looking at her work on her site and came across a piece by the name of “Puck“. I’m not sure why, but it really struck me in a strong way.

I met another really interesting person, who specializes in adaptive clothing. Her name was Amberin Bonnett and her business is A Dressing Needs/Disabled Services Clothing. I’m sure we have much in common, both working out fitting issues for a living.

All in all it was a really great day and a great Expo. I came home with no business cards and only 3 flyers left, many new friends and memories, and I sold 4 Lap blankets.

This is the outside of the Flyer

Flyer designed by Rina Liddle

“Always was a skier, since I was about 8 or so. The fresh air, the snow, the rush of adrenaline… these are a few of my favourite things! Out with my family every weekend, which was no small feat for my parents since we lived in Kingston, Ont. usually it was a weekend event because the drive was more than 2 hours… into PQ, NY,  Maine or Vermont. Boy, we were lucky kids! When I moved away from home, I found out that it was a super expensive sport and I didn’t have the same opportunities for many years… until, I moved out to Vancouver. Mountains everywhere, and you could get to them in 45 minutes or less! I was in my bliss.  I bought myself brand new equipment and went out as often as my poor paying job would allow. About 5 years of that and it became apparent that I had inherited the knees of my great grandmother… but, I wasn’t alone, my mom and her mom had also won the lottery! I wasn’t going to give in that easy and I bought myself a Brodie mountain bike and began commuting to work in an effort to build the muscle around my knees.

Two years, four tires, new gears, one “endo”, one broken nose and  roughly 5000 kms later, and I was finally ready to go skiing again. In October 2002 I told my friend Lana, I was ready to go to Whistler with her this winter! Then, at the end of November, I had a cycling accident on my way home from work, which resulted in completely shattering the top 6″ of my Tibia, severing the patellar tendon and the anterior cruciate ligaments. I lucked out and got this surgeon that was just about to leave Canada to work in the US. He did a bone graft from my left iliac crest bone and apparently he had some kind of an underground source for “skele-grow”, known in the doctoring world as “osteoset beads”. All this, a couple of shapely steal plates, and what looks like all the extra screws that happened to be kicking around at the bottom of his tool box (a couple look like drywall screws). Near the top, he had to put all the screws in at angles to form a triangular spot to stick the patellar tendon back into. The guy was genius…. look at this!

Leslie's Beautiful Left Leg

I spent most of my life being self-conscious about my legs. They kind of resembled  tree trunks. When I asked for advice my grade 10 gym teacher told me I would have to have my legs in two casts if I wanted skinner legs. I had what I had, but I tried to avoid dresses as much as possible.

The day after the operation, the surgeon sat beside my bed and told me that he had done the best he could with what he had to work with and that in every likelihood, he would be performing an amputation on my leg in the next three days. Best case scenario was that I would always walk with a bad limp. What he saw, was my face saying “uh, huh”…. but in my mind I was saying “f-you…not going to happen”! All I did from that point on was focus every bit of my brain into healing myself. I pictured the bone re-growing, and the tendons and ligaments re-attaching and healing. I pictured myself walking. I picture myself walking with no limp. And I pictured myself feeling great.

I was not allowed to flex my quad for 6 weeks, because of the tendon being so tenuously attached, but I had to start flexion of the knee joint within 4 weeks, so the new bone that was growing wouldn’t fuse to the patella. I rigged up a pulley thing and let gravity do the flexion work while I held the leg up with the other end of the rope from my wheelchair.

Three weeks after that I was in physio twice a week, and 3 months later I was at the gym doing 2 hours of cardio, one hour of weight training and topping it off with swimming, 5 days a week, every step focused on symmetry of motion. Seven months after the accident, I got on my bike and rode back to work…no limp what so ever.

The point of my story here, is that, I once saw my legs as ugly….. now I see them as a gift…. one of my biggest assets. Things don’t really change, only the way we choose to see them.

Tomorrow morning I’m heading off to Whistler to try my newer leg on the “Bunnie Slope” first time after 15 years! I can’t wait…

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