New Year, New Beginnings

I thought long and hard about what I should do with this blog. In the end it came down to something relatively simple. It’s not what I had in mind. In fact it wasn’t even something I was considering but it’s what I’m going to do (at least for now).

I’ve picked up and moved to another site. So be sure to update any links, feeds, etc.

New Blog Shot

This blog will stay up, at least for now. Ideally I’ll find a way to merge the two in a way that maintains professionalism and cost effectiveness.

Why I: Am Choosing The Back Burner

Remember this summer when I confessed that I understood why people backed away from their blogs never to look back

I’ve been joking for a while that anyone who’s actually following my blog is watching its slow demise.

Honestly I feel like I’m stringing people along instead of just making a decision (NOTE: if my intuition is correct tell me, especially if you have any strong opinions either way).

Here’s the truth, I’m really enjoying school. Like, if I have any free time at all I want to spend time working on assignments, at least 90% of the time anyway. Why bother putting off “little” assignments that you can get done pretty easily, if you had the time.

The exception being major papers, midterms, and finals, I’m not that far gone. And does anyone really look forward to that stuff?

If it were up to me I’d go to school full time and continue to freelance, because that’s been awesome too. Plus my advisor, professors, and formation director are fully aware of my goals and more than ready and willing to support my simultaneous pursuits.

It’s a great ideal but it’s just that, my ideal. I have to work in order to make the rest of this work.

It’s a lot to fit in in any given day, but I’ve been able to make it work. In fact, my time management skills have improved greatly (although there is still plenty of room left to grow). So it’s not that I don’t have the time. I could make the time for something if I made it more of a priority.

Here’s the thing, my blog and who I am as a blogger needs to shift or maybe transition would be a better word. I’ve shifted topics from here to there and back again, so that’s not new to me. I still enjoy blogging, so I guess you can say the November Blogathon, was a success. But I’m not getting the feeling that “Keep Calm & Blog On” is the approach I should take here.

I don’t want to stop blogging. That doesn’t feel right either. I would just be leaving a bigger gap where I’ve tried to fill a void. Nor do I want to overfill the void by telling you everything that’s been filling up my life and how it relates to having CP. I’d rather share the soapbox, if I have to stand on one at all.

So I need to figure out what I’m doing here and more importantly why, at least when it comes to blogging.

Ideally, and I think what I’m heading towards, is more of an integration of all of my projects. Just how to go about that, if that’s really what’s meant to happen, is the challenge here.

But there’s one thing I have to do first, step back and think.

I’m choosing the back burner, because it feels right.

One Word: Review

Somehow the year is almost over. How does that happen?

I’m not exactly ready for the year to be over (for once) but I am excited to see what the New Year has in store. I guess you can say I’m not in a rush but I have no interest in slowing any of this down.

Are you confused? Me too.

At some point this year I stopped focusing on my word so much & it helped. I stopped trying to live up to my word and just focused on living, and if it “fit” my word, great. If it didn’t, oh well.

Plus I was pretty close to burning myself out, which is pretty much the opposite of the purpose of One Word 365 (Right?).

Somehow my brain turned “chance” into “say ‘yes’ to everything as long as it fits into your schedule.” It’s not the best predicament to find yourself in; although I did practically predict that the exact thing would happen many months ago.

You’d think a near prediction would serve as enough of a warning for that not to happen, but no.

I’ve discovered that your word can change you without your meaning it to. You can also live your word without trying.

Are you confused? I swear I’m onto something with that one.

Living “chance” has led to a lot of change this year. I doubt you could’ve even asked me if I thought my life would look like it does today. Never mind what I would say if asked.

I’m not the biggest fan of major changes (is anyone?) but I’m not much of a planner either, so so-called “big” changes probably aren’t as big when you attempt to anticipate them. But most of the changes have worked out for the best (the rest have to wait until the New Year thanks to scheduling).

I haven’t always been happy about them, especially at first, but once I adjusted to things (as they are now) I’m glad things are the way they are. It’s not all fun and giggles but nothing worth having is a leisurely walk through the woods.

One of the biggest things that “chance” solidified for me this year is that I’m not one to back down from a challenge. I go around saying it (as do others about me, which is a little weird) but I don’t actually believe it, yes even now.

I think of it more as “just get it done now instead of waiting and possibly making things worse for yourself.” Great philosophy, right? Well it worked pretty well once (maybe twice).

My year of “chance” is coming to a close & while I don’t think I’ve reached the end of this journey it’s time to move onto another chapter.

Build was one.

Chance was the next.

One word can make a difference and for me they work together from one year to the next.

What’s next?

I Went To Mass

This semester I had an assignment I really wasn’t looking forward to. In fact I thought about trying to find a way out of it (by playing the D-Card since the vast majority of churches aren’t accessible), but remembering my history of trying to get out of classwork I reconsidered.

The assignment was to attend a church within the Catholic tradition but not of my native culture; basically go to a mass that isn’t celebrated in English (or Latin, since that’s the 2nd language of some Catholics).

Once we chose a church we were to independently research cultural customs in relation to Catholicism to prepare for the visit. Originally I had intended on using friends for research and as “mass buddies,” because I’m not too crazy about walking into new and potentially uncomfortable situations solo.

Instead I found a church that looked like it would be more interesting, and potentially set myself apart from my classmates. But there would be no safety net. In fact when it came to “voice our concerns about our visit” I came right out and said (well typed) that I wasn’t concerned about the language barrier as much as I was the physical barriers.

I did as much research on the physical barriers as much as I could, which was probably more effort than I put into the cultural research. I could’ve called the parish office and asked but decided against it, for one thing being told, “we’re accessible, we just have stairs” is one of the more annoying oxymoron’s ever told, for another, if I’m going to be realistic about my research I need to know what’s out there, even if it’s ugly.

I was lucky enough to find one of the very few churches that has daily mass twice a day (1 English mass, 1 not) so I decided to go to daily mass rather than a Sunday mass, figuring daily mass would have a smaller crowd. I figured a smaller crowd would already be inside when I arrived so I could take my time with the stairs, if there ended up being any.

I arrived at the church prepared to climb a substantial amount of stairs, and there were a few, but there was also a ramp (And the heavens parted). It wasn’t a ramp that required much of a remodel to the building since it went over the existing stairs but it was clear that this ramp was meant to stay since it’s big, sturdy, and at a good angle for anyone that may have to propel themselves up it.

Although the ramp wasn’t at the main entrance it was close enough to the main entrance that I didn’t feel that instant pang of separation as you would seeing a sign saying “handicap access at back of building.” The door looked like a typical stained glass door that you would find at many other churches, except there was a hand plate for an automatic door to the side. I thought, “How much do you want to bet this doesn’t work because it might cause damage to the glass” (which I can understand but then the door should be made of another material). I hit the button anyway, and the door opened, and a choir of angels sang (not really, but they should have)

Although there were no “pew cuts” for wheelchair users or obvious places to safely put mobility aids the aisles were big enough that parking a wheelchair at the end of a pew wouldn’t cause an obstruction to others. Nor were there any rows that were marked as “reserved for the handicapped,” a personal dislike of mine.

It was obvious that this parish community wanted as many people as possible to feel welcomed. How many churches do you know of these days that offer 2 masses daily (in 2 languages), 5 masses on Sunday in 3 three different languages, AND is accessible? (The bulletin is bilingual as well.)

I may not have understood the language and fumbled my way through mass, because I’m still adapting to the “new” responses (it’s only been like 3 years), I still felt welcomed. A feat every church should strive for but few actually attain.

After mass I sat down to write out my assignment, reflect on the cultural differences one can find in the Catholic Church, and I did. However I spent twice as long on the assignment because I kept diverting to other aspects that caught my attention, like the ramp & the automatic door, and how in the end the language barriers didn’t bother me at all because I was in a building that was built at the turn of the century, looked it, and was still nearly barrier-less.

In hindsight I probably should’ve made the case for the fact that the disability community is its own culture within itself.

I went to a church that wasn’t mine & felt truly welcome. (I may even go back for an English mass or two).

On Being An Activist, Not An Inspiration

Typically I write and schedule my posts ahead of time. For someone with some of the worst time management skills on Earth, coupled with ADD, it’s just a better system (and why I can’t manage to post every day without some sort of help).

The post I originally planned to post today didn’t feel like it “fit” today. You know those strange feelings you get like, you shouldn’t go somewhere, or Déjà vu? Sometimes that plays a part in my blogging process. So I moved my post for today to next week (unless the feeling comes back).

Then the news broke that Stella Young died unexpectedly.

She wrote a letter to her 80 year old self, recently, that people shared all over the place. I read it at my earliest opportunity, which happened to be the night I heard of her death. (I’ll spare you my philosophical and emotional thoughts on that).

Although I never got the chance to know Stella personally I feel a sense of loss with her death. I don’t want to go all, “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers,” but it wouldn’t be the biggest stretch of the imagination since the bonds of the disability community seem to run deeper than the everyday population.

There’s this thing that happens when you’re asked to give a speech, at least if you’re anything like me, you spend more time watching other people give speeches (and thanks to the interwebs this can go nonstop for days on end). You don’t really listen to the speeches either; instead you’re watching their posture, movements, what they do with their hands. Seriously, what to do with my hands always puzzles me.

I really wanted to find wheelchair (or crutches, walker, cane) users giving speeches & how they handled their time in the spotlight. What do they do with their hands? What’s their mic set up? Do they use note cards or have notes on their computer from behind a podium?

And I found Stella.

I watched how she presented herself AND her topic.

She made me laugh, not just because she brought humor to her talk but because there are some experiences that everyone with a physical disability seems to share, and if you don’t laugh about it the inner angry cripple isn’t going to become the outer angry cripple.

She’s also the one who introduced me to inspirational porn.

It’s also nice to see someone else out there who has a similar outlook on life and similar thought process, and has a bigger platform no less.

One of my favorite quotes from Stella is this, “I want to live in a world where we don’t have such low expectations of disabled people that we are congratulated for getting out of bed and remembering our own names in the morning. I want to live in a world where we value genuine achievement for disabled people.”

I don’t like living in a world where working incredibly hard to regain your physical baseline is seen miraculous. It’s not fair to the person with a disability or the one(s) claiming miracle, not to mention a big fat lie.

Stella wouldn’t like it if I ended this by calling her one of my inspirations, so I’m not going to do that. She’s not an inspiration, but she’s shown so many how to advocate and be an activist. That cannot be overlooked.

I read that Stella considered herself to be an atheist ever since she heard that there was only a stairway to heaven. So wherever she is now, if anywhere, I hope it’s universally designed :)

I know many of you out there have no idea who Stella Young is so I wanted to give you a chance to get to know her the same way I did.

17 Things Stella Young Wanted You To Know

How Stella Young Wanted To Be Remembered:’Strong and fierce, not sweet or fragile’