my life in GIFs: a look back at summer 2013

Summer 2013 has been a season to remember for the limb difference community. So let’s recap all the awesome events with some GIFs, shall we?


The season was off to a great start when Nicole Kelly was crowned Miss Iowa 2013:

Now we’re all rooting for her and thinking:

Nick Newell became an XFC champion:

And we cheered for him like:

Tony Memmel released the “Lucky Fin Song,” the official theme song of the Lucky Fin Project:

And we sang along like:

Bethany Hamilton tied the knot with Adam Dirks:

Which had us all like:

Then we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Jim Abbott’s no-hitter:

And we basically did a collective happy dance:


So yeah, I’d say this summer was a great one. And I have a feeling the next season will be just as eventful and exciting, so:



Caitlin Michelle

(Newell, Memmel, and Abbott GIFs made by me; all others were found on Google and Tumblr)
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media monday – tony memmel’s latest music video

“I wanna see like everything is still unseen. It burns inside, and I am so alive.” – Tony Memmel

Happy birthday to Tony Memmel!

In honor of today, here’s some music to get your Monday off to a great start! This is Tony Memmel’s music video for “Clenched Hands Brave Demands,” the single from his new album of the same name. I ordered the album – it’s so good! I love Tony’s lyrics, and it helps that he’s also a really cool guy. He even wrote me a long and thoughtful message on Facebook when I asked him about guitar picking (which I haven’t quite mastered yet). And how awesome is it that his wife Lesleigh plays the keyboard and sings backup vocals for the band? I love it when couples do cool things like that together, and the Memmels are so so cute!

If you love Tony, you can order the album and check out all the merchandise here.

Enjoy the song. I hope it makes you feel, well, ALIVE.



Caitlin Michelle

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For starters, I’ll just say now that I’m no doctor and I don’t pretend to have extensive knowledge on any topic in the medical field. I haven’t stepped inside a science class in at least three years, and I haven’t even taken biology since I was a sophomore in high school. So sorry to disappoint, but this post isn’t going to be filled with statistics and definitive evidence. Now that we’ve established that, though, I will say that I’ve always thought a lot about the scientific aspects of my limb difference. And recently, I heard a couple stories that made me wonder about something.

In the film Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story, which I wrote about here, Kevin’s mom and several of his coaches comment on how Kevin (who was born without his left arm, like me) is “left-handed.” They say that the way he moves and even his less-than-perfect penmanship indicate that he should have been left-hand dominant. I found this to be pretty funny, since the guy is super athletic and coordinated enough to be a Division I basketball player, but I didn’t give the whole left-handed thing a second thought until last night. As I was reading Katie Kolberg Memmel’s book about raising a son with a limb difference, I came across a chapter where she writes about baby Tony’s preference for starting and doing things with his left side. Tony, like Kevin and like myself, was born sans left hand. Weird, right? These two accounts now have me thinking: am I naturally left-handed too?

Looking back on my childhood, I distinctly remember that I would chant “Left is always first!” when pulling on my socks and shoes. And when I’d play soccer with the neighbor’s kids, I would always use my left leg to kick the ball. When I took ballet lessons (which lasted all of three weeks, since I had a hard time following directions and staying still for more than 5 minutes) as a little girl, my left leg was more flexible and could kick higher. Even now, I lean more on my right leg when standing so that my left is free to kick or move or take the first step when it needs to. So I’m definitely sure that I’m left-leg dominant, which means that I’m most likely left-sided in general. (This might explain my sloppy handwriting, which was the only subject I ever failed in school.) In any case, I did some research and found a few more interesting facts about the left-sided situation.

Twenty-one years ago when my mom first found out she was pregnant (with me!), she discovered that she’d be having triplets (two of which she’d eventually miscarry). In addition to left-handedness being more likely to occur in children of multiple births, I read in this article that left-handedness has “almost everything to do with prenatal traumas — with some sort of stress that damages the fetus.” And having two other people crowding an already crowded womb certainly counts as “prenatal trauma.” I’ve also read that since the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, left-handed people tend to be more creative. I don’t know if this means anything, but I HATE math. I’m decent at it when I want to be, but even seeing a calculator can trigger the gag reflex for me. I’d much rather write or play guitar or listen to music than solve algebraic equations or do a logic puzzle. And I’m not alone in that.

My left-handed guitar

It turns out that the two other “left-handed” people I mentioned earlier are a basketball player (the right side of the brain is more responsible for athletic coordination) and a musician (certainly a creative profession), respectively. Coincidence? I’m not so sure. Whatever the case may be (and whatever the reason), it seems that some of us with limb differences have strong preferences for the side of the hand we don’t have.

So can someone be left-handed if they lack a left hand? I guess maybe it’s possible.



Caitlin Michelle

(Guitar photo my own. Other images found on Tumblr.)


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what i’m reading right now

Hello there! Let me just start by saying that I hope and pray everyone affected by Hurricane Sandy is safe and warm right now. It’s been a rough week for all of us here on the East Coast, with flooding and so many homes losing power. There’s no light, heat, or internet at my house, so I’ve been crashing at my Grandma’s place for the past few days. During stormy (or post-stormy) days like this, though, there’s nothing better than curling up on the sofa with a bit of reading material. I’m halfway though Katie Kolberg Memmel’s Five Finger, Ten Toes, a memoir about her experience raising a son born without part of his left arm. I’m loving every page of Katie’s honest and inspiring story, and I can’t wait to stay up all night finishing it!

Check out the book on Amazon, and let me know what you think. I will be posting my thoughts on it very soon.


Caitlin Michelle

P.S. What’s on YOUR to-read list?

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