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"I am a wife and mother of four who went from destination photographer to a wheelchair. Which has given me a lot of time to think."

 

Micaela Bensko launched MoanaVida.com in 2013, focusing primarily on her transition from photographer to professional patient. In 2014 the title switched to Fried Nerves & Jam. Her entries filet her health challenge with humor and candor while following her journey through spine surgeries and endless procedures during a progressive loss of mobility.No detail is spared. It is her hope that in sharing every uncomfortable moment, her story might help others facing life's struggles and realize they are not alone.

In May of 2013, Bensko's blog  'Open Letter to the Entertainment Industry' (as a Producer's wife) confronting industry practices to Lionsgate Studios received national attention, requesting humanity in its business practices. She is completing her memoir, Fried Nerves And Other White Meat and has just published her first children's book The Soldier And The Squirrel. As a photographer, Bensko was featured as a leader in her field by Professional Photographer Magazine and has transitioned to Editorial writer for KHTS Hometown Station for The Santa Clarita Valley. Her photography has been displayed at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and has been the subject of an Emmy Award winning FOX News segment. Bensko is also Vice-President of Rebuilding America's Warriors, providing free reconstructive surgery to  troops returning from war. Bensko is married to Hollywood Producer Don Bensko. They have four children and live in Los Angeles, California.

 

Who Is This Lady, Really...

 

"I like pizza with soft crust. My egg yolks fully cooked. Sea salt from a dish scattered from the brush of my fingertips. Lobster reminds me of my grandfather who taught me the art of eating it whole, its eyes teetering from the snapping of its claws. Dipping the meat in melted butter then dragging it through the salt on my plate.

Sometimes I stand barefoot in the grass and regret I wear shoes at all. My favorite day is seventy-four with a Santa Ana wind. A house without dimmers makes me sad. Showers are my think tank. The toilet is my bunker. No one can expect anything from me in the toilet. I love when my dog kisses my feet or his tongue swipes my nose. The smell of someone else's fireplace gives me hope. The silence of a neighbor's house makes me wonder. I care if the checker at Ralph's thinks I'm nice. I try to return the cart in case someone's watching. I listen to people's conversations in line and wish I could say something. I wonder if my hairdresser is really happy. If my children's friends think I try too hard.

I worry if I'm parenting properly. I believe love is based on respect and without respect there cannot be love. The proudest moment of my life was completing my degree as a single mother of two. I think everything we endure we chose to happen before we were born. I believe fame is fleeting. Feeling is forever. Relationships are the key to purpose and meaning is only found in following your truth. I think people talk about others so they don't have to look at themselves. I believe mirrors lie. I believe we are not supposed to see ourselves as others do, otherwise we wouldn't be us. I think we have many soulmates and not just one. Like many teachers so we learn different lessons. I think marriage is made by hands with hope for the future of our world.

I think government is where hope goes to die as it is wrapped in a silken web of hypocrisy.

I wonder why war is an option. Why a young person cannot vote but can take a life for a country he is just getting to know. I wonder what patriotism means today.

When an old person walks slowly past, I wish I could see a picture of when they were young. My junk drawer gives me comfort. I can never find a pen. Or scissors. Or tape. But my children can. I cut my own hair when I was five. I first learned adults can lie when I was four. A crashing wave makes the Earth seem legit. The beach seduces me into retreat. I think adults are kids who've been around a long time. I think everything will be valuable someday. My idea of organization is putting things in bags. I'm obsessed with butts. Women with liposuction make me jealous. Perfection to me is fascinating and then boring. I like my dogs to sit on the sofa.

I admire people with manners. When children call me Mrs. My husband is my best friend. I wonder why he loves me. If one of my children died I would consider suicide. But I would stop. Because my other children were alive. If my husband passed I would never remarry. Because I loved the best there will ever be.

I see myself aging. It makes me scared. But it makes me relieved. Because now it gets real. Men do not stare but will care what I say. Women won't judge and might admire my age. When I feel strongly about something I will express it, but time has taught me to listen more than to speak.

I wish to be cremated. My ashes spread over my grandparents' farm. I believe in God. A power greater than anything our world could ever understand. So I don't try to understand. I just believe. I believe God is in me. In my children. My husband. In my neighbor's quiet house. It is in the boy who broke my heart and the man who stole it and made it whole. I believe one day it will all make sense. So for now the only thing I can do is be me. I am broken but aren't we all? We connect because we have missing pieces that others fill. Life is a puzzle. When it's complete we will see what it is. From above.

I know there is more to life but for now it is enough. Because grasping for it too soon will be fruitless. I believe in stopping. In letting life happen as it should. In showing up.

I will live until my time has come and embrace the end as the final chapter in the most wonderful book I've ever read. Like a child not wanting it to end, but too desperate to know the ending to stop.

This is what I think. Who I am. To anyone who cared enough to read this. I wish you the same. To stand in the beauty of our unfinished self and in the awe of a world that is not our own. I hope you embrace your journey with observation and reflection. And to believe that all you are is already enough. Even if you are perfectly broken. Like me." Micaela Bensko