Monthly Archives: May 2016

Unconditional…

I’ve been pondering what to write about tonight. I was about to give up when I found my way into a conversation with my friend Ski (AKA Karen). She has wanted to volunteer for Special Olympics but because of her hearing loss she has been afraid it would be awkward to communicate with the athletes.

I told Ski she would likely find the athletes willing to find a way to communicate with her.
Her response…”Life is funny. I’d be going to a place with lots of people with special needs – and worrying about them – accepting me. Kind of lets you understand how they feel every day of their lives.”

She is so right.

Even though people with developmental disabilities tend to be discriminated against they don’t typically discriminate against people for their outward appearances. Sonya is a fine example of this. I have never witnessed her judging people for the physical appearance…she judges them on their kindness. If a person is nice, Sonya likes them. She does not judge them by their size, color, hair, clothes, or their gender (even if it is different than their birth certificate!)

I have learned so much about acceptance from people with developmental disabilities.
Many years ago I watched a white lady with Down Syndrome sit on the floor with a 4 year old african american boy…they had a conversation none of us could understand…they had a connection only the two of them understood….we, the “adults” stood around and wished more people could be like the two of them. A true unconditional connection of friendship.

Over the years I have had the privilege to know many people with developmental disabilities. Just like those without developmental disabilities none of them are perfect….but the true difference is, they don’t judge the imperfections they simply love the person.
I am grateful for the many people with disabilities I have gotten to know over the years and I am certainly grateful for the lessons of acceptance they have taught me.

With Love…

I hang my towel on the right, Tina hangs her towel on the left. That is just the way things started. No one said, “I want the right side.” We simply fell into the routine.
Another routine that started early on in our relationship was replacing each other’s towels and wash cloths with clean ones.
Again, no one mentioned it. Actually we were probably together over a year when I finally said, “I really like this little thing we do.’
When Tina finishes with her shower she places a clean wash cloth on my towel. When i finish with my shower I do the same for her.
It is a silly little thing. But it means so much. When I go into the bathroom and see my towel and wash cloth hanging over the shower door, I know Tina thought about me. I know she took a few seconds out of her day and did something especially for me.

I certainly don’t mean to say this is the only thing Tina does for me. She does so much and supports me through all my crazy ideas (like riding my bike for 100 miles) but there is something about this tiny action. Not only does it mean something to me that she replaces my towels. Each day when I replace her towel and wash cloth I realize I am actively thinking about her and it makes me smile and realize how important she is to me.

I am thankful that Tina is the person I get to spend the rest of my life with. I am also happy to know neither of us will face another shower without a clean towel and wash cloth, placed neatly over the shower door, with love and thoughtfulness!

Strength…Where Does it Come From?

In 3 weeks I will be riding 100 miles from Boston MA to Hyannis Port MA.
Today I rode 56.61 with my friend Rachael (she is also doing the 100 miles). We completed the 56 miles in 3:55:57. This means we will hopefully finish the 100 miles in less than 8 hours.

We only have one more long ride between now and June 4th. It will be an organized ride of 63 miles.

Today I lost my “umph” during the last 10 miles. I kept riding and I continued to push myself…but I was beat!

Why do we push ourselves to do physical activities that are painful?
I realize not everyone does this…but for those of us that do….why?

For me it has something to do with proving to myself that I can do certain activities. I need goals to reach. I need obstacles to knock down and I need challenges that are just out of reach.

I know I mentioned not long ago how my negative talk was trying to convince me to give up. My own brain was working against me. I like the saying “The hardest part of working out is putting on your gym shoes.” Well I think the hardest part about accomplishing certain goals is “the ability to ignore my own negative talk.”

I felt strong today…I beat “Smiley Hill”, I rode 56.61 miles and most importantly I strapped duck tape over my own negative words and chose to be successful.

I am thankful for my ability to be strong, even when my brain is trying to convince me I am weak.

The Internet

Facebook is a waste of time. People should live in reality instead of on the internet. No one uses their brain anymore…all they use is Google. Comments we often hear about the internet and various locations on the web.

I know Facebook can be a waste of time. I’ve grown more fields of corn only to lose the whole crop the next day because I didn’t water it. I’ve spent 5 minutes taking a “test” only to find out my favorite color was green….when all along I thought it was blue.
I know my brain is going to mush….I can remember my childhood phone number, my childhood friend’s phone number but I can only currently store 3 numbers in my head, my cell, my wife’s cell and my job….no other. My mushy brain is stored in my phone and any information I can’t remember like, “name the detectives on Barney Miller,” well I keep that information on Google!

No matter how silly and wasteful we think the internet is….it is also a wonderful thing!
Thanks to Facebook I have reconnected with family members I haven’t seen for decades and friends I haven’t seen since high school.
Thanks to the internet I have met people that live all over the world and get to experience life in places I may never travel.
Thanks to my phone I will never be without a camera, GPS, entertainment or a way to place a phone call.

Though I occasionally long for “the good old days” I am actually thankful to live in this era of technology.

Frustration…

“I’m going to become my own payee.” This is a statement I frequently hear from my clients when they aren’t getting what they want.

Today one of my long time clients said this very thing to me. Over the last couple months he has grown more and more frustrated because he wants more money. The problem is last year he decided to work. For 3 months he worked nearly full-time, despite my warning that his disability check would be affected. A few months after he lost his job the Social Security administration began docking his check. For approximately one year money will be deducted from his check leaving very little for him to have for the “wants” in life.

When he told me he wanted to start getting his own check I said what I always say….”if that’s what you want you’ll need to go downtown and to talk someone at Social Security.” I warned him that becoming his own payee would not increase his check.

I frequently hear people talking about the people ‘cheating” the system. The lazy bums living off the taxes of those out there working for a living. The truth is this young man has a legitimate disability. He has lived his entire life with an intellectual disability but he wants to be a productive member of society. He wants to support himself and his girlfriend. He wants to pay taxes. But his disability makes it difficult for him to maintain “competitive employment.”

Unfortunately our government makes it difficult for people that receive disability checks to find their way out of the system. If they make too much they start losing money from the government check usually before they can get enough stability under them to maintain their housing, food, transportation, etc. If they simply receive a check and not work…they may lack self worth and may feel they aren’t contributing to society.

This post is not meant to be controversial. These are simply thoughts I struggle with regularly.

I get frustrated with our government when I see my clients struggle to have a meaningful life. Yet I am thankful that our government is willing to help those that need a hand up.
I get frustrated when my clients vent their anger at me….simply because I can’t make money appear from nowhere, yet I am thankful for the determination so many of them show. I am thankful for their desire to make a difference. I am thankful for their desire to be part of the solution and I am thankful that I get the opportunity to support them through these frustrating times.

Choices

I am always impressed when I see a plant (even a weed) growing from concrete. It seems that one plant decided, against all odds, it would live and maybe even bring a spot of joy into someone’s day.

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There are people in our world that are the same way. They choose to make people smile even if their life hasn’t always been a ray of sunshine. They decide not to allow the place they were planted to dictate how they grow.

Sometimes it is an individual that holds the door for the next person. Sometimes it is a teacher that inspires children to be more than anyone else has told them they could be. Maybe it is a person of wealth that shares their financial excess with those that have so little. Often times it is that person that views their challenges as a gift to be shared rather than a punishment to be feared.

I am grateful for people, much like this plant,  that choose to grow toward the light rather than hide in the darkness.

 

Street Poet…

We met Ronald Miller during our recent food distribution to the homeless.Robert

He first appeared as any other guy on the street, until we started talking. He told us he enjoys writing and asked if he could share one of his poems. He told us he appreciated that we took time to serve him and this was the only way he could re-pay us.

We agreed to hear his poem. We asked if it would be ok to record him and he said yes and I am so glad he did.

I’ve listened to it over and over. I am moved by his honesty and inner reflection and touched by the joy emanated from his smile.

The Beast That Wanted to Die

I was born a beast, from yet a mother who was also a beast.

Not knowing at first that the ability to transform was within me.

For every creature that roamed in my domain I destroyed. Taking the very breath from a body until it was lifeless.

Yet while I watched the lifeless body before me, this pain within my chest began to transform me.
Sending me into a deep sleep, yet as I awoke i realized that I was never that beast at all.

But a beast had taken over, my every thought, my every dream, my every hope.
But now I can see there was this beast in me, that wanted to die.

A great reminder to look beyond the outer shell and seek the beauty within.

Unfortunately I have not chosen to upgrade my blog here at WordPress so I am unable to upload the video of Robert reciting his poem. If you would like to see the video please visit my Facebook Page “365 Days and Counting”

I am grateful for the lessons I am able to learn from complete strangers…when I am willing to open my eyes, heart and thoughts.