Before I begin this week I would just like to thank Judy Huemann, the woman considered to be the mother of the disability rights movement. Judy passed away this past weekend. She was a powerhouse. She contracted polio as a child and spent the rest of her life using a wheelchair for mobility. She was the first teacher in New York State to be in a wheelchair. She fought tirelessly for our rights and the passage of the ADA civil rights law. She will be missed. I admire and appreciate her tireless efforts to make our world more accessible.
Have you ever made a mistake? We all have. Some mistakes are big while others are small. Some people see mistakes as failures, but I see them as chances to learn. They are stepping stones to help me move forward and create a path to follow. Since I started writing this blog I have been trying to focus on learning from my mistakes and advocating for what is right. I recently learned that it is not only about doing things right, it's about doing the right thing. I am lucky everyone around me lets me make mistakes, from spilling coffee on my freshly washed wrap to making Facebook posts without thinking first or allowing people to make me feel less than others and not saying something. Making mistakes is part of the human experience.
We have all spilled coffee, wear more of our lunch than we ate, or even had an accident. All of these things happen to me all the time. I remember when I was little my dad and auntie joked about my Tappy wearing his dinner on every tie he ever owned. It is a fond memory now that he is gone to think of him instead of the food on my shirt and wear it proudly as he did, as though it wasn’t even there. Or that I am saving it for later Sometimes that is not practical. I have learned from this little mistake to keep a fresh shirt in my backpack. It is a black shirt because black goes with everything and no one will know the difference except for me. People are so busy trying to look past me or at anything other than me that they won’t notice. It's like when I get my haircut and I have to remind dad by asking him two days later if he likes my haircut.
Thank you, Brianna!,
I know no one wants to admit it but I am here to say, my mom was right. The other day I was approached by a friend who is taking a business class. As part of her final project for class, she has to run a fundraiser. She approached me and asked if there was something I needed that she could run the fundraiser for me or if I knew of a not-for-profit that she could do it for. We talked about raising money for agencies but she felt that was too impersonal to her and she really wanted to do something for me. I told her I would first need to talk to mom and dad. You see other people have done this exact thing when I was younger.
Thank you, Jacki
A friend had raised $20,000 for us to make a downpayment on our first wheelchair van. That generous donation took our payments from a mortgage payment to a car payment. We still have the van, Dreamy, but she has been retired from my main wheels for a very long time. Mom and dad explained to me at the time that it was kind of awkward because they both had jobs and we lived comfortably. They appreciated what was done but didn’t want others to think we needed a handout. Pride I guess.
To make you feel special
I really didn’t understand that. As I saw it they wanted to help. They wanted to make my life a little easier so that I could be part of the world and go on adventures. I think I helped mom and dad understand that people just want to help. It is not a reflection of their ability or inability. We as human beings want to help our friends, loved ones, and people who have lost a loved one. We make food for them, send flowers, cards, hugs, or even shovel their driveway when it snows. That is what people do, we help each other. No big deal!
I wanted to help
You might be asking how is this a mistake on my part. You see I was bound and determined. My friend sent me an invite to the fundraiser page. I thought great I going to invite all my friends and everyone I know. I told mom that I needed her to post the information on my Facebook. She stopped me dead in my tracks. She told me no. I told her she needed to do it for me because I couldn’t do it myself. That fine line between needing something done and making mom do it. She explained to me that she didn’t feel comfortable. That it was my friend's responsibility to send out the invites, not mine. By sending the invites I was somehow asking them directly for support and money. Pride again? She reminded me that we had no involvement in the previous fundraiser except to show up. She also reminded me when I ran a fundraiser for someone else they too were not involved in asking people. She felt uncomfortable. I didn’t care and I didn’t understand so I told her she needed to do it for me because I couldn’t. She again resisted and told me to sleep on it and ask Lisa to do it in the morning. To say I threw a hissy fit is an understatement.
I should have slept on it
Mom will do anything for me and she has always encouraged me to tell people what I need to be done because I can’t do it for myself. Never had she refused to do something for me. I was so upset. I told her it wasn’t fair that I couldn’t do it and needed her to do it for me. As I saw it, my friend was helping me so I wanted to help her. She let me make the mistake. She posted it but didn’t invite everyone, it was the principal. She didn’t invite my direct family because this is a bowl-a-thon in NY and they live out of state. Mom reminded me they already do enough for me. Even though I protested, at least she had done as I asked. After I went to bed, I realized I could have slept on it or even talked to Lisa about it and gotten her opinion. Trust me, mom has not let me forget this. At dinner she asked dad what he thought, he felt the same way as a mom. I didn’t think this was possible! The next day she asked Lisa with me at the table. She too agreed with mom. I had heard enough, mom was right but there was nothing I could do about it. So what I learned from this mistake was to always sleep on a decision. It doesn't have to be right now. It can wait. I also learned that I should hear others' opinions and both sides before I decide. I would have made the post anyway, and that's okay.
If you have been following me along in this journey through my blog you may remember “Don’t be one of those people”, from the 10 things that annoy me series. In it, I talked about the dentist receptionist and how she made me feel. I vowed to speak up the next time this happen. Opportunity knocked and it happened again. I went to therapy and there was a new receptionist at the front desk who I had not met yet. Lisa had brought me up to the front to check in, as she always does, knowing that I can do this on my own. Lisa went to get the door for another person who needed help. During that short amount of time, the receptionist asked me if I was okay with using my card on file for the copay. I said “yes” and she asked if I needed a receipt. I told her “no, it wasn't necessary”. Lisa came back and the receptionist asked her the exact same questions that she had asked me. I was so taken aback by this that I could not say anything at the time. I felt invisible. Lisa, seeing that I was at a loss for words, yes it does happen, said to the receptionist, “ask Allison as she is more than capable to answer any questions you had for her”. The receptionist said “I did, but I wanted to double-check with you” Lisa repeated herself again. She apologized but I felt like it wasn’t a genuine apology. I accepted it anyway, I decided if she did it again I would address it next time.
I was very nervous to go in the next week because I was scared she was going to do the same thing again. I told myself if she did, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake of sitting back and keeping my mouth shut. Sure enough, the same thing did happen again. It was like Groundhog day, Lisa repeated herself yet again. I was fuming mad and ready to rip the reception a new butt. Gone was my fear and in its place my fury.
Talk to me!
I told her she made me feel like I was less of a person by talking to Lisa instead of me. I told her that I was capable of making decisions on my own. I had been coming to this center for over a year. I asked her to please speak to me directly. She apologized again. I told her this is the second time she did this to me and it was making me very uncomfortable. She apologized again and we headed straight to the therapy room.
I'm so proud of myself!
As luck would have it, this session of PT was being held in a private room instead of the open gym. My PT is also the office manager. I mustered up the courage to tell her about what had happened the last two times I had come to the office. She was very apologetic and assured me “ this should not have happened”. She will talk to her personally. At the next therapy session, I was informed that the receptionist no longer worked there because it turned out that there were a number of issues regarding her actions. I just happened to be the straw that broke the camel's back. I learned from this experience that it’s always a good idea to speak up and don’t hold back. I felt so much better having stood up for myself. I think it will only get easier next time.
Learn from your mistakes
It’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. Instead of carrying them on your back, put them under your feet and use them as your path forward. So take it from me, keep a change of clothes in the car, and an umbrella in case it rains or you need a shield from the sun, and always educate someone in a polite way when they have made you feel bad. Sometimes people just don’t know, even though we think they should. By explaining how their actions made you feel, maybe they will learn something from you.
It's Developmental Disability Awareness month
In honor of March being Disability Awareness month, I’m still waiting for the national coverage, sales, and clothing. I would recommend that if you haven't seen Crip Camp watch it.
Thank you for reading until the end!
This is the view from my wheelchair, where miracles can make a difference. Always Strive for the Impossible. Come back next week to Celebrate the Luck of the Irish and hear more about my experiences and The View From My Wheelchair.