by Nerissa Cannon
One of the original Freedom Chair Trailblazers, Nerissa, now works full time with GRIT! Her own journey with chronic illness has made her very passionate about helping other people get the most out of life in spite of a disabling condition. In her new series, IT'S A GRIT LIFE, she shares how the GRIT Freedom Chair helps her engage in her favorite activities and live a life of adventure.
Today, I wanted to talk about taking a trail buddy with you on your adventures, and what better way than by introducing you to my main trail buddy! My boyfriend Kelsom is an avid mountain biker, so when we met he just saw my Freedom Chair as another fun, wheeled device to go off roading with. Now, while I can't keep up with him on his mountain bike, the Freedom Chair has enabled us to have some pretty wonderful adventures together.
There are some advantages of having an experienced mountain biker with me on my hiking trips. He's able to give certain tips and tricks in the moment such as ideal tire pressure for certain obstacles, and not being afraid to let my weight back a bit on a hill so my tires can grab better. My challenge has been letting go of some of my independence.
For the first few months of my Freedom Chair, I explored primarily solo, and when I had companions hike with me I adamantly rejected any assistance from them. It was a point of pride with me, but I have come to realize that my stubborn independence had been limiting me. I was always worried that if I had a trail buddy as a spot on steep and difficult terrain that they would feel sorry for me working hard and would want to help me without asking. I really want to push and strengthen myself. This is where an awesome trail buddy comes in handy.
Kelsom has always been wonderful about not helping me unless I ask for it, and when he sense that I have it, he lets go. He's simply there to make sure I'm safe as I push the limits of the Freedom Chair and my own abilities. Simply because of his presence I've been able to go further and tackle more challenging terrain. He offers encouragement and belief in me when I'm hesitant to try new obstacles - instead of me feeling like a burden, which is always my fear. It makes me feel like we are working together. On the flip-side, on downhill stretches he can't keep up with me! As a mountain biker, though, he understands how rewarding and exhilarating downhill is after you've worked to make a climb.
I feel very strongly that the Freedom Chair has been instrumental in the growth of our relationship. Whether it's enjoying a glorious day out hiking, going camping, working on construction projects, or setting up holiday decorations, it seems the Freedom Chair is always there to enable me to keep up, fully participate, and enjoy myself.