A beautiful, successful and privileged seventeen-year-old, Carlana Stone Lawson had it all: she was a gymnast, cheerleader and president of her class. In a moment of bad judgment, she got into a car with some friends in Dallas, Texas, after a night of drinking. A terrible accident occurred, and everyone walked away unscathed except for Carlana, who never walked again..
|Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Ohmigosh! I did it! Finally after 6 months of training and struggling to get my FAA medical clearance and fighting bad weather.... I finally did it! I solo'd! And not only did I have the pressure from just doing the solo but every TV station in town was there to watch it. I'll soon be posting the stories from KABC
, KCAL, KNBC
, FOX 11
radio and KNX
radio. It was amazing. I made three perfect landings, better than I think most of my landings have been with my instructor! On Sunday, I practiced like crazy and didn't have the greatest day flying (landing especially) but you know what they say.... bad dress rehearsal, great show! And that was definitely the case.
Just goes to show you ,.... we can do anything we put our minds to. Learning to fly is a lot like life. You do it again and again and again until you get it right. Just like life isn't it? If we mess up, we go around and do it again and learn from our mistakes. Yesterday was the realization of a dream for me made possible by my loving husband John, who has been my inspiration to fly and also taught me so much and also Mike Smith, my instructor who's had to put up with me. Wait til y'all see some of the pieces. He calls me nuts but did say I was a good student.
The sky's the limit y'all. Don't ever forget it. Our dreams are within our grasp. We just have to reach out and grab 'em!
|Thursday, January 19, 2006
I just wanted to update you guys about everything that's been going on with me lately. I've been busy doing LOTS of publicity and radio, which you can find archives or schedules of at the site
. I've also been featured as an expert on TVGuestpert.com
, so check out my profile!
We've been working hard collecting stories from people who have overcome incredible odds for a reality kick show we might be incorporating onto the site soon. We're looking for incredible people who have defied all odds, so if you or someone you know has a story they might like to share, don't hesitate to send it in!
I'm finally getting to do my solo flight on the 30th of this month, right after what UK researchers have found to be the most depressing day of the year, January 24th. Maybe my record and boundary breaking flight will help lift up some of those depressed souls!
Hope everyone's keeping their resolutions!
|Friday, December 30, 2005
Hey Y'all!It's been a while since we've talked - I hope everyone had a great holiday! I spent a wonderful Christmas with my husband and his children. I made us all a real Southern meal, complete with fried turkey, and we opened gifts and had a fabulous time. I gave John a certificate for a dogfight, which is kind of like a re-enactment of mid-air battles pilots fought during the war. You use blanks of course, but it's SO cool - you get to fly with real members of the US AirForce, and even take some of the controls yourself! I gave it to him so he could fight whoever he wanted, but he chose me! We are going to schedule a date and have a SHOWDOWN! Bring it on, brother!!!! He got me a killer pair of Chrome Hearts aviators. I LOVE them! I feel like a real pilot - I can't wait to do my solo flight in them!We got so many great gifts from people, including cards and letters (with beautiful photos of my friends and their gorgeous families) that all our work on my website helped me reconnect with, but I wanted to tell you guys about a few BIG ones. My sister Karen and her husband Jimmy sent us an awesome gift, an adorable poem they wrote just for us, inviting us to New Orleans next year for a little family reunion. John and I are SO fired up! The Big Easy is coming back!Yesterday we received another incredible gift, a gorgeous mirror from my Grandparents' house sent to us by my father. Not only does it fit in perfectly with the decor of our house (which we did in all Art Deco to go with the exterior), but it reminds me of my family, which is SO important to me. John is putting it up this weekend, I'm really excited.On the 27th we celebrated John's birthday, I made him breakfast in bed and mimosas with fresh orange juice with fruit from our orange tree. We stayed in all day and just spent time together, I cooked us some great steaks for dinner and we had a wonderful time.We're looking forward to spending tomorrow night at a friend's house with some of John's band mates. We're having a FEAST to ring in the New Year, and John and I have decided to spend the night in a hotel room to avoid the roads. I'm looking forward to breakfast in bed! Every year before we go out, though, John and I have a tradition of sitting down together to make a list of things we would like to accomplish for the New Year. We make a commitment to one another to keep the resolutions we come up with and we look forward to checking them off as we complete them later. It's a great way to stay true to our resolutions because we hold each other to them like promises, and doing them together creates an imbedded support system, and even big tasks seem easy when you've got the loving support of your husband!My New Year's resolutions are to return more emails and stay focused, but I'm sure I'll come up with a hundred more by tomorrow. I want to wish everyone a happy and healthy 2006, and remind everyone to STAY SAFE tomorrow night! Take Care, Y'all!Kiss Kiss ~Carlana
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...
|Monday, December 19, 2005
My parents flew into town on Wednesday for the weekend, and we had a great time. My Dad had a business meeting to attend their first night, so my Mom and I had a fantastic dinner with my husband, John, who is a great cook and even made seared foie gras for us!
Thursday we went over to Alfred Mann's house for lunch. They are such good friends and I'm so excited because the work they do holds so much promise for people like me. They are currently working on something called 'bions,' which can help rejuvenate muscles as internal electrical stimulants. They have the potential to help not only people who are paralyzed, but people who suffer from chronic pain and many others. Later that day my Mom and I did and little Christmas shopping and bought the perfect tree for my house. It's our first year in this house and it was so nice to bring the Christmas spirit to it. We had such a great time decorating the tree, drinking lots of great wine and having another fabulous dinner. We put it right in our front window so everyone who drives by can enjoy it too - I absolutely love it!
Friday afternoon we did some more shopping and we all got to see John play with his jazz band later that night. The next morning my parents left and John and I spent a lazy day picking oranges from the tree in our backyard and making a huge pitcher of fresh orange juice. There were so many that we have an entire bowlful on our counter now and they just look so festive. Our whole house is in the spirit of the season and I got to spend some quality time with my parents. I really needed this weekend, but I'm looking forward to the weeks ahead!
Happy Holidays, everyone!
Let's Talk London
|Sunday, December 18, 2005
I had an INCREDIBLE time in England - I was hosted by the amazing Ray Cheng and his beautiful family and there is SO much to talk about! Where should I begin? The flight in to London was great - I got to stretch out on an entire row of seats by myself, and I got to be on the same plane as my great friend Evelyn Bernstein, who came to document the whole thing in a beautiful photo essay (coming soon!). We have been close friends for a while there but the time we got to spend together on this trip cemented our bond - we have so much fun together, she's a hoot! When we finally arrived, Ray and his beautiful wife took us out to a fabulous Chinese dinner with their two great kids, Jonathan and Andrea, where we got carte blanche treatment. What a way to kick things off!The next morning I was scheduled to speak at TASIS, the American School in England, and the weather had made us run a little late. When we finally arrived, I was so caught up with trying to make it on time and worried about whether or not I'd have time to catch my breath and have a minute to take in my surroundings, I neglected to notice a speed bump in the road we were rushing up, and ended up flat on my back! Everyone was so concerned but I thought the whole thing was just too funny. Despite the rain, I didn't even get dirty! Thank goodness for my brown suit! I dusted myself off and we made it just in time. As soon as we made it inside, I was rushed into a beautiful auditorium where about 350 kids were all ready and waiting for me! Despite not having a moment to prepare, my speech went off without a hitch and even though the crowd was a much bigger one than I'm used to, the event had a really intimate feel to it. I usually speak to high school students about drinking and driving, but because in England the driving age is a lot older, I tried to shift the focus of my talk from that to talk a little bit about loss of identity. It really goes beyond the superficial. We have to look at what's inside, beyond our differences and celebrate ourselves and each other for who we are. It was a great thing to talk about at TASIS, because not only are these kids incredibly polite and well educated, but they attend a school that is full of people with different backgrounds. They celebrate diversity every day without even thinking about it! The kids had a lot of really great questions, and they were so sweet, the warm reception they gave me was wonderful. Later that day I went to speak to the Girl Guides, which is the International version of Girl Scouts. I was excited to talk to them, but as I greeted them I could tell they were a little unsure about my chair. I talked to them for about five minutes before deciding to sit on the floor with them. It was a good opportunity to show them how I get in and out of my chair and get the ball rolling on the discussion. I told them about how I used to be a gymnast and we talked about their own experiences with injuries. Their little mouths hung open when I told them about all the stuff I can do, skiing, jumping out of airplanes and flying them, too! We had a great discussion, and it really was one of my most memorable experiences in London. In the end, they were able to see that I am just like they are, but that I might not be able to move my legs like they can. I think it's SO important to show kids when they're young that the difference between people is not something to be afraid of. Just showing someone that you are ok with yourself makes it easier for them to be ok with themselves as well. They showed me what they had been practicing in gymnastics and we had a BLAST. They were hugging and kissing all over me. They were so sweet, cute and SMART! We ended up having to cut them off at the end because they were asking SO many great questions, I was so impressed. It's funny to think that I got kicked out of brownies for being precocious!The next night after I met my UK literary agent and took care of some business, Ray and I had dinner at the House of Lords, where I met Baroness Uddin for the first time. She is INCREDIBLE. Besides being the first female Muslim in the House, she is an amazing hostess. The House of Lords is so prestigious, it is easy to feel intimidated going there, but she possesses such a warm spirit, and she is so loving and caring, I forgot I was in the confines of such a powerful place, and felt like I was just having dinner at an old friend's house. The dinner was fabulous, of course, but the company was unbeatable. I sat next to the former Head of NATO, who has a great foundation that operates as a kind of Make a Wish for adults. (I want to tell y'all all about this and other great foundations, so if you haven't already signed up for my newsletter, go to CarlanaStone.com and do it! An entire section of it is dedicated to profiling outstanding organizations just like this!) There were so many other amazing people at the dinner who do so much to spread their own messages of hope that came to see me. I can't even find the words to convey to you what it feels like to be supported and loved like that. On my last day in London I gave my presentation at the House of Lords, attended by scores of people from all over the world (including, of course, Baroness Uddin and members of FAWCO). Some people had even flown in for the event, from places like Canada and the Netherlands; I even got to meet a representative of the Dalai Llama! I felt so special that they had all come to hear me speak. I even got to enter through a special entrance called the Peer's Entrance that is usually reserved only for the Lords and Ladies, but it also happened to be the best place for my chair to fit through! My speech went really well, and I was SO happy to have been given the opportunity. Talk about Royal treatment!My trip to London really proved to me that there are no borders... That they are forced to disappear because we all HAVE to participate in the human experience. All kinds of insanely great things happened there, I am still pinching myself!
|Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I'm in London! I've been really busy with speaking engagements and getting settled but I promise an action-packed update VERY soon!
I can't wait to tell y'all all the awesome news!
|Thursday, December 01, 2005
Today has been totally crazy... Not only am I trying to prepare for next week's trip to London, but I had been wrangling publicity for my first solo flight, which I will be the first American female paraplegic to do!
Unfortunately weather forced us to push the flight back from tomorrow to the 13th, but that just gives me more time to get more media outlets interested and to get more people excited about it! I'm looking forward to my trip to London, which there will be more information about in the next week. Look out for my newsletter, too, which we have been working on. It should be out tomorrow, so go to CarlanaStone.com and subscribe now if you haven't already!
Bye for now!
|Wednesday, November 30, 2005
It's time to talk about my fantastic trip to Houston! Ray Chang, my special angel in the form of a restless Chinese guy, was joined to me at the hip the entire time. He is so determined to make a difference in this world, and I know that he will. One step at a time, one city at a time we are going to make it happen!
My dear friend Jay Silverman's company Vibrel sponsored not only my trip, but my two amazing speaking engagements there and I am eternally grateful to him for making it all possible. My first order of business was the Vibrel ''Women's Empowerment Series,'' where I not only got to speak, but meet and interact with some really great people. My dad made the trip to Houston for this one, and I was so happy to see him, but it really laid the pressure on thick. He used to be a public speaker and I practically grew up at his seminars, in complete awe of him. It's kinda cool that I'm doing what he used to do, but I really wanted to impress him.
The conference took place in a special room at the Marriott, and a few people who had never even heard of me before wandered in out of curiosity and left with hope and inspiration! Everyone there had a story to tell and interacting with them was such an awesome time. I met a recovering addict who had been clean for 66 days. Vibrel gave everyone who attended a copy of the book and I signed hers with that magic number. Her family didn't even know that she had had a problem, but I am confident that she left with the courage to continue her battle and win! One woman came up to me before I started speaking and told me she had noticed my poster after another function she was attending at the Marriott ended, and she read the words ''Never Give In, Never Give Up'' and felt like they were a message just for her. She was undergoing a terrible divorce and really came away with a new outlook. The conference was great - we were really making a difference, and my Dad was so proud of me! He even filled out the flip chart! Look out for a video of the whole thing on the website very soon!
The next night I spoke at MD Anderson, the top cancer research facility in the US, to a big group people in the Rotary House International. This center houses about 400 people going through chemotherapy and their families. For me, meeting these incredible people really put things back into perspective. Meeting these people really drove home for me the fact that we have so much to learn from one another. There were so many tears in the room that night, but it was SO special, because I felt like I was really making a difference. It was a great feeling. That's what it's all about.
I am so grateful to my friends Nicky de Berardinis and his fiancee Belma for setting up this opportunity for me. Belma beat cancer and had a special connection to MD Anderson, and when I found out about the chance to speak, Vibrel stepped up once again to sponsor, and brought along even more books for the patients and families. This was a really great experience to meet some very special people.
Ray and I realized on this trip that we are on to something big and that the message I am trying to get out there really does resonate with people. Regardless of status or background, there really are no boundaries when it comes to effecting change. I couldn't do this without him, he is one of the most wonderful people I have the privilege of knowing, I'm so lucky to have him on my team.
I'll be very busy in the next few weeks (the newsletter is coming out, and I have my first solo flight on Friday and London after that!), but I'm going to start writing in this blog every day. It is a journal after all! We'll meet again soon, but until then take care!
It's that time again!
|Tuesday, November 01, 2005
It's time for another update and all I can say is WOW ~ what a week!
Thursday the 27th was my birthday, and I spent a fabulous evening out with my husband. He took me to one of our favorite restaurants, Ruth's Chris Steak House. Our waitress, Robin, was from New Orleans, and when she evacuated, Ruth's Chris helped her move out here where she has family and even gave her a job! Apparently Ruth's Chris has promised all of their employees affected by Hurricane Katrina a job if they can find family in an area around one of their restaurants. Their generosity made our steaks extra tasty that night! We exchanged phone numbers with Robin and offered to have her in our home over the upcoming holidays. She seemed happy to oblige, and it felt great to be able to help someone from my home make a new home where I had made mine! John gave me a really nice pair of aviators, flowers, and all kinds of goodies - of course lots of love, too! What a great way to spend my birthday!!
But most of this week was spent gearing up for a SUPER exciting November. I'm planning for my upcoming trip to Houston, Texas on the 14th of this month to speak at the ''Vibrel Women's Empowerment Series'' on the 16th, hosted by an awesome friend and his company, Vibrel. Check out the link to their website to RSVP - the seminar is free but there are limited spots available! We should have a few book signings for Houston set up within the next few days, too, so check back at the events calendar on my site for details!
I also just got confirmation that I will be traveling to London the first week of December!! I'll be making a few VERY exciting stops while I'm there. I will be writing about it all for you guys, of course, with photographs! Evelyn Bernstein, close friend and world renowned photographer (she even has stuff in the Smithsonian!), will be with me every step of the way to document the entire thing. It will likely be the first in a series of photo essays we will collaborate on called ''Images of Hope.'' More on all that soon, I'll keep you posted!
AND I had a very important meeting with someone this week... It's a secret for now but stay tuned!
Hope everyone had a fun Halloween!
|Sunday, October 16, 2005
When Katrina furiously swept away the heart and soul of my home state of Louisiana, she took many of my childhood memories with her. This hurricane knew no bounds; the devastation in her wake was blind and complete. Old or young, rich or poor, well or sick, anything you had in that city, material or not, is gone. And who's to say whether it can ever be recovered?
Thousands of evacuees landed in Shreveport where they were either put up by families or taken in by kind strangers who offered what they could. Thousands more are living in shelters and makeshift stadium housing projects. In the blink of an eye, we learned so much about loss and coping with tragedy. We find new meaning in the word "family"; we all seem to belong to the same one in the wake of tragedy. It is heartwarming to see people pull together as they have in times of dire need. As the survivors of Katrina have been adopted by their new "families," it is easy to feel like you can never repay all that you have received.
Helping these people to come to terms with the sheer devastation and the reality of their loss without destroying their hope is walking a very fine line. When all seems lost, the only thing a person can hold onto is hope. Without it there is no turning back. Hope is they key to our very survival.
I have said it before and I will say it again, New Orleans in a great city and she will emerge from the rubble and the scandals. As the song says, "What it means to miss New Orleans" - missing her means she will be reborn even stronger and better for those who live within her limits.
There are so many stories, similar or different as they may be, that have coping at the core. They are about coping with overwhelming loss and survival against all odds. Miracles and hope must carry these people and families forward.
The unsung heroes of this tragedy may never all be recognized for their deeds, and there may arise many issues that only someone from New Orleans can truly understand, but the important thing is that we all have something to learn from this ordeal, and we can all do something to help.
Please continue to support all of the people affected not only in New Orleans, but throughout the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. They are counting on the kindness of strangers as they move on and start to pick up the pieces of their broken lives.
Book Signing Tours : Inspirational Interactive Connections
The past few weeks have been crazy, but I do enjoy a challenge! I started my book tour, defied a ghost from my past, and met some incredible people - but hey, it's all in a day's work!
My friends Gail Bershon and Evelyn Bernstein hosted my very first book signing at the home of Evelyn and Bill Bernstein in Bel Air, California. There were about 60 people there, most of whom I didn't even know. My coauthor, John DiRienzo, my sister Karen, and her husband Jimmy all flew in from out of town to be there with me for this special occasion. Of course my husband, John, was there too, video camera in-hand.
It was such a magical and emotional event. I read some favorite excerpts and fielded lots of questions about the book. I broke down in tears more times that I can count, but I think that shows just how genuine everything really is. I looked out at the group a few times and saw that people in the audience had tears in their eyes right along with me. I underestimated just how vulnerable I would feel putting myself and my story out there for all to see. I really put everything on the table in this book! Wow!
The book signing at the Bernsteins' was a great start for the first leg of my book tour, the response really fueled my desire to get out there and show more people what I have done, and what they can accomplish!
I did another book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Walnut Creek. It was my very first signing in a book store full of strangers in a different town. As I began to speak, there were about 10 people or so that sat down to listen to the story for a while. But by the end, over 50 people had convened around me! Many of them bought the book and interacted with me and each other, sharing their own stories of overcoming adversity. There was even a woman from Greece who shared her memories of WWII and a Russian girl who was only 14. She said she was made fun of at school and that she was inspired by what she had heard but couldn't afford to buy the book so I just gave her one. One guy actually asked me for the poster from the front of the store. When he asked me to autograph it, I wrote "FIRE YOUR THERAPIST AND WRITE A BOOK!" He laughed and said he was going to put it up at work to encourage people to buy the book and spread the word.
On a layover in Dallas on my way to Louisiana, the on-site shuttle bus driver and I had such a nice visit as he drove me out to meet the plane. I have to transfer onto one of those aisle chairs because my wheelchair won't fit down the aisles, so I boarded before everyone else. The bus driver waved goodbye, and I settled in as everyone else filed onto the plane. Before we took off, the driver came back with a couple of other employees to tell me he was going to buy a book for his aunt and sister-in-law. The flight attendant told me it was the first time she had ever seen him smile. That made me feel really great!
In Shreveport at the Red River Revel, I met Keith Badeaux from New Orleans, who told me his story of being a two-time evacuee. When Hurricane Katrina hit, he packed up his car with as all he could fit and left New Orleans for Texas, but had to hitch a ride to Lake Charles, LA when his car broke down an hour later. Katrina had completely obliterated his home, so FEMA put him up in a hotel, but it wasn't long before Hurricane Rita ripped the roof off of that hotel and forced him out again. He hitched a ride to Shreveport with a group of strangers, and is now living at the Hirsch Coliseum in Shreveport with over a thousand other evacuees. Now in the aftermath of this tragedy I have met a lot of people from my home town of Shreveport and beyond, and I have to say that Keith is one of the most positive people I have ever met. When Marla, the assistant news director from the NBC affiliate, came to visit me at the Revel, I knew I had to introduce her to Keith, and we all put our heads together to try and help Keith start his life again. He fixes outboard motors for a living, but was willing to do anything to be able to get back on his feet. He wasn't looking for any kind of handout, but knew that a job was the best way to get started. Before I left Shreveport, Keith came to say goodbye and told me he was on his way to a job interview! In the wake of a huge tragedy, Keith remained positive and truly celebrated what he had left instead of mourning all he had lost. We all have so much to learn from a person like Keith. I will definitely stay in touch with him and follow his progress.
I thank fate for crossing my path with his.
I also did a lot of media in Shreveport at all of the major stations there. A high school friend, Mike Sieve, hooked me up with an awesome radio spot. I got to do an interview with him on KEEL-AM and then we did a half-hour with a couple of really funny guys. During my stay, Teddy Allen from the Shreveport Times even wrote an article on me.
My trip to Miami can only be described as surreal.
As soon as I set foot within city limits, I broke down. Why?
I'm still not sure. I was under the impression that I had dealt with everything as far as my abusive relationship I mean, I really thought I had put that one to bed - but obviously I hadn't. The thought that my story was out there in the city where so much history had taken place was really hitting me hard. Until I wrote this book, my abusive relationship was something I took extra care to hide from so many. Now, not only did I know, but people around me knew and that meant HE did too. My story was public property! I thought I felt vulnerable at the first book signing, but this was something entirely different. I guess I'd be lying if I said I didn't fear the possibility that he might see me on TV, or read about me and show up at one of the signings. I called my husband John and cried my heart out. I was practically hyperventilating! I didn't understand why all of this stuff was resurfacing. He reminded me that I was a survivor and assured me that everything was going to be fine. Just knowing that he was only a phone call away made me feel so much better.
Afterwards, I talked to my parents and my mom offered to fly down, but I knew I could get through it on my own. I ended up doing spots on NBC, ABC and a few radio stations, too. I put myself out there and felt that vulnerability, but I managed to stay and accomplish everything I set out to do and more!
I was positively ECSTATIC to come home to LA and my gorgeous husband, but my work was nowhere near over. In fact, the evening I got back I was dog-tired, but I got off the plane and drove straight to an interview for a job as a producer for a new show on NBC. It's all very hush-hush for now, but I'll let you know all about it as soon as the show gets the green light! Afterwards I drove to my favorite sushi place (Yoshi's in West Hollywood) to pick up dinner for myself and my husband. He was working the night shift, so I drove to Warner Bros. to have dinner with him and get a few much needed hugs (and kisses, too)!
Oh it's sooooo nice to be home!
My First Blog
|Thursday, October 13, 2005
I am a paraplegic. When I was 17, I got into a car with a group of friends. The driver was drunk and we crashed. Everyone but me walked away. My life has been different ever since.
I wrote a book. Never Give In, Never Give Up truly reflects the person I have become, but I didn't get to be where I am overnight.
I was Miami's first on-air reporter in a chair.
I survived an abusive relationship.
I live in LA, but I will always be a Southern girl true to my Louisiana roots.
I never slow down. I have learned to sky-dive, ski and even fly!
I believe in stem cell research and love discussing it with anyone, any time, anywhere.
I recently married the love of my life, and I have never been happier!
I am a Hollywood TV producer.
I have learned that our responses to obstacles define who we are.
I went through some hard times, but I got past them, picked myself up, and went on to live my life with more passion than ever before.
I believe that by sharing I can help others.
I hope to share my life experiences with y'all and just maybe, help someone else make opportunities out of adversity.
I am Carlana Stone Lawson.
This is my blog.