Gadget Girly Tries Out Smart Home Automation with the Belkin WeMo

"Gadget Girly" Julia Dorsett
As a globe trotter, I am always looking for gadgets to help me when I prepare to leave the house for a trip. Light timers are good, but with power outages and daylight savings time, they can fail as a reliable sources of security. Enter the Belkin WeMo. This fun, little gadget allows the user to control any outlet in the house with a smartphone; it's the latest in smart home automation. 

Setup is very simple. Plug in the modular unit, connect to your WiFi, select the WeMo option, open the WeMo app (download from ITunes) name each of your devices and you are ready to go. I used it on several lights, but you can plug in anything. Start your coffee from bed, turn on your table fan from across the room or fill the room with your favorite jams before you even enter your house. I found the setup very easy and just last night sat in my car and turned all my lights on from the car! Very cool! The WeMo even has a motion sensor which allows you to trigger any outlet when you pass by the motion detector. I have mine set up at my front door, so as I enter my house a hall light goes on.  You can also use the small button located on the outlet device to turn your appliance on and off. So, not only does this system enable you to turn your stuff on/off from 30,000 feet in the air,  you can also light up the house with a simple swipe on your smartphone as you sit on the couch watching the sun set.  

When It's Not a Big Deal

By Wendy Crawford
One of our editors recently brought to my attention an article about a quadriplegic rugby player, Jessica Kruge,r who landed a modeling contract with a large Canadian cosmetic company, Lise Watier. Jessica beat over 400 competitors and was chosen unanimously by a panel of judges to represent their new perfume, Something Sweet.  
“Finally!” I thought. Twenty-nine years ago I was an up-and-coming model, working in Toronto and Montreal , Canada.  After six months, I secured a two-month modeling assignment in Tokyo, Japan. I was ecstatic! My dream to travel the world was becoming a reality. 

Wendy Crawford, before her accident
Unfortunately, I never made it. On the way to the airport, my vehicle was rear-ended by a driver that had been drinking, shattering my vertebrae and my dream in a split second.
After surgery and almost a year of rehabilitation, I only wanted to return to my life as I knew it. I wanted to model again, only this time, I would be returning as a C-5/C-6 quadriplegic . Since I had mostly done print work in magazines before the accident and I looked basically the same, I didn’t think that it would be a problem. The only difference to me was that I would be sitting when I was photographed.
Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong! This was the 80’s and models with disabilities were unheard of.  My agent urged the clients to hire me, but there was no work for me. Everyone in the industry was compassionate, but I got the feeling that they just didn’t know what to do with me. Many fashion magazines were interested in covering my story, but to me, it wasn’t the same. I just wanted to work as any other model and pay my bills.
Fortunately, I was blessed to find a fulfilling job, public speaking to high school students and community groups about the perils of drinking and driving. I loved this work and even though I knew this job was important, I was still confused and frustrated as to why I couldn’t continue to model. Years later, I did a few modeling jobs for companies like Carnival Cruise Lines and Nordstrom, but there was not enough demand to make it a career.
As the years have passed, I realized that some of that frustration was me coming to terms with my injury, but also the longer that I am disabled, the more I understand the importance of fair representation in the media. 

Robyn's mobileFRIENDLY Recipe - Cucumber, Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

Robyn Keller, Contributor & Outreach Coordinator
I come from a family of foodies so it was natural for me to want to cook.  I am a c6-7 quad and married to another quad. It's important to both of us to eat healthy but can be a challenge.  What better way than to cook our own food? With my limited hand use, I knew if I was going to cook, I would need to be creative.  So over the years I’ve found some helpful tools and great recipes that taste wonderful yet are simple to make.

I find this the best time of year to create flavorful dishes with a bounty of healthy vegetables to choose from. When planning meals, utilize some of the fantastic local produce that is in season – it’s inexpensive and super-fresh. YUM! If you have your own garden, you probably are buried in tomatoes and cucumbers right now so here is a recipe for a refreshing salad with some tips for those with limited hand function: 

Sail Away

By Bethany A. Hoppe 
mobileWOMEN contributor, Bethany Hoppe
In the middle of winter this past year, my friend Unita and I started up a fabulous conversation about summer vacations.  She and her husband, who works at the same university as I do, usually do a trip each summer.   So, we decided to plan a trip together.  It didn’t take long for our vacation daydreaming to take us to the beach, which of course led to chattering about our shared love for dolphins, which led to our shared wish to have a dolphin encounter, or at least go view them from a sailboat.

Ironically, while I love the water, I don’t really swim.  I am in awe of the ocean’s energy, vibe, and force – yet know that it isn’t the safety of a swimming pool with umbrella drinks.  A lot of my mixed emotions about the awesomeness of the ocean’s shore, and the rush of dealing with waves and wildlife, is wrapped up in logistics.  

Wheelchairs are not a fan of sand, or salt water no matter how much this Rolling Diva wants to play in the ocean and tan on the beach!  

Rolling on the beach may sound romantic, but it isn’t the picturesque stroll hand in hand with your man when you’re battling every victorious foot of progress in soft sand, sea foam, and shells.  I found very quickly that if I stopped for a moment, I sunk into a rut that reminded me of getting stuck in the deep snow of Northwestern Pennsylvania.  

If I wasn’t cleared out of the way enough for incoming surf, I would get dizzy with the gravitational tidal pulls that shifted the soaking sand under my wheels, relocating and sinking me into a new spot with zero hope of backing out of the current or next rolling curl of water.  

When you’re not a strong swimmer, and you weigh in about the same as a Jellyfish…diving into the surf isn’t the brightest idea.  But despite this, I craved adventure!  I wanted to be on the water. I wanted to be at the water.  I wanted to be in the water.  I wanted to encounter the life force of the ocean.  

My husband and I traveled with our friends to Cocoa Beach, FL for the vacation Unita and I had begun talking about back when there were no leaves on the trees of Tennessee, and the forecast was a constant gray drizzle and chill in the air.  

With help from Tyson, I got a quick carry-her-across-the-threshold, and then go-back-and-get-her-chair style of getting onto the beach.  Soon we discovered a strip of beach between the soft sinking sand, and the wet tide sand that basically acted like a sidewalk.  If I tipped back slightly off my casters, we were able to manage quite a romantic stroll along the beach.  Occasionally, tides came in closer than expected, and I would get a little stranded momentarily.  I have made a mental note that next time I take a beach vacation…plan ahead to rent a beach wheelchair.  It will be worth the fees and the freedom of joy-riding a bit more.  

Here are a couple of links to learn more about beach chair rentals that has a listing of multiple locations:

Even though I didn’t have a beach chair, I still enjoyed the beach.  The more I rolled around, the more physically fit I began to feel and become in a very short amount of time.  I quickly learned a few new ways of pushing my chair, and bumping up and down small steps of the resort.  But more than that…I learned something about my own physical integrity.