I know you were expecting to find out how my summer ended but that will have to wait. Can you believe this is my 53rd Blog? That means you have been reading along with me for one year. In honor of my one-year anniversary, I would like to take a moment and remind you of five lessons to Remember me. Did you ever have a moment when you said huh? Doctors are not always right, Nobody is perfect, Waiting just a minute isn’t a minute, Looking on the bright side will lead to a happier life, and Being different is okay.
Life is about embracing our differences, finding our purpose, and reaching our goals. It is important to take responsibility for our actions and knock the chip off our shoulders so that we can help others reach their goal too. Life is full of obstacles. Some of them we can easily jump over or in my case, roll over while others seem to stop us in our tracks.
I have been disabled all of my life, I was born too early with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck. My parents were told I would never walk, talk, or be more than what they were looking at when I was 28 days old. A poor hopeless baby with no future. This is lesson number one, Doctors are not always right. I can talk, I am not hopeless, and I have found other means of mobility instead of walking. I am on my journey to find my future and make a difference in not only the world around me but in others' lives too. So that 35-foot climb or rather hoist up the tree, and being flung off a deck, attached to a line of wire, and flying through the air is impossible. I have video proof. I will never forget the day I almost caused my father to have a heart attack ziplining through the trees.
Video: me up in the tree, 35ft off the ground, being pushed off the platform while being attached to a wire. Flying 100 ft through the trees.
Lesson number two, Nobody is perfect. We have all heard that statement before but what does it mean? I think it means that everyone has faults; it is in how you see your faults as to how you handle yourself. I for one understand I am not perfect. I am a deviant. I don’t follow social norms. I use a wheelchair for mobility, not my legs. I use help just like celebrities and famous people to see and do things, not my eyes and hands. I see my mistakes or faults as a reason to try again. I try not to beat myself up or blame others for my mistakes. We all make mistakes, ignoring people, parking where we don’t belong, and driving while on our cell phones, but beating ourselves up over that mistake is worse than the mistake. Some of our imperfections can make us laugh and others cry. Well, I have made a few mistakes, but let’s just focus on one. I have a support person with me every day, she is my lifeline, my partner in crime, and my best friend. We tend to get into mischief, not on purpose but much like it happens to everyone else, by not paying attention.
Oops, read the sign
One day we were so busy gabbing with each other that we walked into the men’s room instead of the ladies’ room. You may think to yourself, I did that before so what? I would agree with you, but it would have been nice to gracefully leave the bathroom instead of almost taking out the sink and the wall from losing control of the joystick of the wheelchair because we were laughing so hard and the bathroom was not exactly accessible. If only the entrance were 36 “ wide instead of 34” I could have made a clean getaway. Instead, I left my mark on the wall of the men’s room on the second floor of the technology building. Yup, the men’s room not the lady’s room. I often wonder what the maintenance people think when I leave little marks like Kilroy was here, I have left my mark on bathrooms and walls across the country. Sorry Nana. Being perfect is overrated when you can be a deviant, like me.
Time is an issue for everyone. We are always hustling and bustling about. Have you ever noticed that when someone tells you they are only going to be a minute that they really aren’t? They are just trying to buy time or move you along. Not a day goes by that someone is in such a hurry that they either park in a handicapped marked spot or block the access lane. Their excuse is lesson three, I’m only going to be a minute. For those of us in a wheelchair who need that lane, that is unacceptable. Many people don’t understand what the hashtagged lane between two spots is for. I always thought it silly that a sign was there saying no parking. But as luck would have it, I was blocked by Vanman, who must not have seen the sign. Who is the van man you are asking, he was a cop in a hurry at a 5th-grade concert who couldn’t find a parking spot and parked in the spot that said no parking. Vanman is not his real name but what we call him. He was as inconsiderate and unapologetic as they come. He didn’t care that we had to wait for him to get into our car. He only thought of himself and how important he was. He must have thought I was only going to be there a minute.
I know I told you this story before but here it is again for those who forgot. It was a packed house for the 5th-grade Christmas choir concert, our last one ever for elementary school, held at the middle school. We were all dressed in our Christmas attire ready to sing our hearts out as loud as we could for our eager parents who just wanted the night to be over. After the fat lady sang the concert was over and the mass exodus began. As everyone was storming the doors to leave we got caught up in a traffic jam of children and parents trying to get to their cars. We finally broke free of the pack and got to our van, thinking confidently this should be a breeze, after all, we parked in a handicapped spot with room to get the lift out and me safely stowed. But as luck would have it, we were blocked in by someone who chose to park in the no-parking spot for a minute. You know the spot, the one with the sign that says this is not a parking spot, no parking, and the blue diagonal lines. So we waited and waited and waited. Cars zooming past us narrowly missed hitting us as we waited in the dark parking lot.
Finally, a man and his daughter appeared. As they jumped into their car, my dad said to the man. You know you parked illegally and have blocked us from leaving. This is when the fireworks started. Vanman said he was a cop who was allowed to park there because he was running late and didn’t want to miss the concert. I did not know that cops who are running late can park anywhere they want, did you? I remember this story exactly: there were a lot of four-letter f-words coming from Vanman, but never an apology. I guess we were supposed to allow him to park there cause after all he was a cop running late and we could wait a minute to get into our van. Years later, he approached my mom and apologized for his language but not for parking in the spot. This type of entitlement seems to be a common theme, I’ll only be here for a minute. Or my favorite one, when a disabled person needs the spot they can ask me to move. REALLY?!! We were supposed to get out of our cars and knock on your window and ask you to move from the reserved spot because you were only going to be there a minute, and needed to get your coffee fix. If you’re only going to be a minute make sure you plan for more time because that minute will be longer than you think.
In order to live my best life, I need to get over my big bad self. Stop feeling sorry for myself and look at the bright side. Every cloud has a silver lining, even the darkest of rain clouds. I remember making a life-changing decision when I was 14. Have you ever had to make such a decision? I had to choose between graduating from high school on time with my friends or graduating from high school with a regents diploma. Do I choose my present or my future? I chose my future. Looking back, that was the best decision of my life. At the time I struggled with doing what my emotions wanted and what my head was telling me to do. Instead of focusing on all the negative things, I focused on the positive. I looked for the silver lining. I didn’t have to compete with my friends for a date for my graduation party, because they had theirs the year before. When it came time to start college we had time for a farewell dinner because they were around longer because they were not freshmen anymore. What I didn’t see was the positive impact and confidence builder it would be for me. This is lesson number four, look for the positives in any negative situation. They are there, you just have to find them. If you cut your finger, at least you didn’t cut it off. If you have a car accident, at least you are okay. If you fail a class, at least you tried. Surround yourself with the positive and positive things will be all you see.
Just when you think you have nothing to offer remember me and the lessons I taught you. We are all afraid of failure, of not finding happiness, or of not being accepted. Stop looking and comparing to find what is different about us and embrace that we can learn from each other and we are all different. This is lesson number five it's okay to be different. The next time a doctor gives you a prognosis, remember me, Doctors are not always right. Remember me the next time you strive for perfection, nobody is perfect, so leave your mark. Remember me, the next time you say “I’ll only be a minute” because a minute will be longer than you think. Do not be Vanman. Remember me when everything seems to be falling apart and you don’t know how you are going to get through it. Look for the silver lining. Finally, remember me when you are trying to be the same as everyone else. Embrace your differences, it's okay to be different.
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 hear about a secret about the fair and hear more about my experiences and The View From My Wheelchair.