If you look hard enough, you will find plenty of situations where you can feel useless; whether you have a disability or not. The same formula applies if you want to be, if you want to feel useful. Yesterday, I could not organize pots and pans or mop the floor. However, I did pay bills, schedule a repairman, feed the dog and make a shopping list. My wife hasn't written a check to pay a bill in years. [She was shocked about our electric bill (ok, way too silly)]. The point is that I am putting my effort into finding out what I can do. I am trying to be useful. Being useful feels good.
Today is one of those days that there is lots of household work getting done; but not by me. Experience has taught me that while good intentions and a desire to help are nice, they don't get the job done. It is better just to get out of the way and let the worker do the work without me in the way. The other thing experience has taught me is that unless I get an invitation to supervise; DON'T.
Unfortunately, even with all these wonderful lessons from experience, you would think that I would also have learned that feeling useless shouldn't be a problem. Well, once again, my emotional Steve blocked the rational Steve's messages. However, I didn't curse, snap at my wife or try to kick the cat. I stayed out of the way and worked on other projects. I believe that I have witnessed some personal growth. Of course, the day is not over, yet.
My wife and I went to complete choosing our kitchen countertops. The gentleman we were dealing with for this part of the job is a wheelchair user. We went into the shop, discussed our preferences, created drawings and discussed time tables. We never mentioned disability, wheelchairs or the question, "What happened to you?". We were just people taking care of life. We were just people living. It was a day of acceptance and adjustment.
There were no complications or problems. It was a very nice day.
Feeling helpless when it revolves around you was the point of my last entry. Today, my perspective comes from watching things happen to other people and there's nothing you can do to change it or keep it from happening. You try to be supportive, you look for the opportunity to assist or help, but, we have to watch the situation unfold; waiting to determine how we will respond. Feeling helpless seems to be something we will have to contend with throughout our lives.
One of the toughest aspects to having a disability, regardless of the cause, is that moment; that situation when you find yourself being totally helpless. I have experienced myself and observed others that no matter how much you curse and carry on, no matter how much or how hard you pray, it doesn't matter. You have reached the dead end. Nothing you can do about it. Period.
The question then is: What do I do now? The answer, of course, depends on what I will term here, your "oh--oh" moment. [language curbed for sensitive eyes] Spill your hot coffee on you or someone else? Lose bladder control? Jab the cat with your cane? Fall on the floor?
While it is impossible to have a plan in place for all helpless moments, it is worthwhile to play the what if game. What if I spill coffee, pee my pants, jab the cat or fall on the floor? What would you do? Ask your spouse, caregiver or friend to put themselves in your shoes and find out how they might approach it.
Those helpless / oh--oh moments do occur more often than I would care for. However helpless the situation may feel, it is not hopeless. How will you handle yours?
I've been waiting for this day to get here; I've hit the Wall. Typically, the way I seem to be so adjusted and at peace with my disability situation is that I don't put my focus on it. I try to keep myself busy and put my energy into the task at hand. Well, my task for the past several weeks has been writing about and sharing information about disability. This poses quite a dilemma. My task [usually my distraction] is writing and talking about my disability. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.
How do I not focus on it when I'm supposed to focus on it. Clearly, this babbling only supports my claim. Ouch. Those bricks are really hard...
The Gift of Love. When you care more about someone else than you do about yourself, no matter what. I am truly blessed to have someone in my life who has given me this gift.
I have been following the challenges faced by Steve & Hope Dezember. [click here for 'Hope for Steve website]. Their story, put out there for all to see and share, models the kind of love I'm talking about.
God gave us this gift and the capacity to share it with others. That's what is meant by, "God created man in His own image."
We all need this gift, especially when it comes to dealing with a disability. Of course, love makes the difference in every circumstance. Share the gift
July 26th will mark the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As I reflect on how much I personally benefit from this legislation, I think about the people who pushed to get this law passed.
I thank those people who chained themselves to busses, the people who crawled up steps, the people who blocked doorways. Without their 'in your face' activism and tactics, we would not have as much opportunity and access as there is today.
In such an "advanced" culture and society, we still have a really long way to go. Let's continue to work for universal design, products and environments that everyone can utilize without the need of adaptation. Everyone benefits!
Thank you again, all you activists, for bringing attention to the issues that prevented full and active participation by people with disabilities into our communities.
I was recently speaking to a person, asking them about their disability. They shared that they were gimpy. I asked for clarification on what they meant by gimpy. They chose the word to describe / explain that they walked with a limp.
Over the past 35 years of dealing with my own and assisting others manage their challenges, the words gimp and gimpy sound like fingernails on the chalkboard to me. As I have looked into the mirror to understand why I react so strongly, I realize that they come from a negative perspective. These are words that, in my experience, have been used to mean useless, helpless, irreparable and broken. You would think that after 35 years, it wouldn't matter what words are used. In fact, I know that I wrote that comment on this site, "it really doesn't matter what you call it". However, I find myself falling into the same potholes and road hazards as everyone else. [There goes my Superman image]
My survival, my adjustment has depended on me finding a more positive perspective. Words show how you see yourself and influence how others will respond to you. For me, gimp doesn't work. It shouldn't REALLY matter, but it does. This won't be the last time I cringe.
A friend has been sharing quotes from a book by Tony Dungy, "Uncommon Life". Today's quote that he
shared really highlights the point that although we can't control our circumstances, we can control our attitude towards them.
“....experiences serve as a reminder that even though we can’t always choose our circumstances, we can always choose our attitude In the circumstances. We can realize the capacity within each of us, with God’s hand on our backs, to rise above those circumstances. Our choice reveals the depth of our inner character directing our lives and will shine brightly in the most dire circumstances, whether the outcome is life or death.”
Attitude. Whether you're dealing with a life changing decision and condition; or just
dealing with the person delivering your pizza, your attitude makes a difference.
How is your attitude today?
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