Searching for Happy Ever Afters
One of my favorite quotes is: “Look at what you have left, not at what you have lost (Schuller).”
Great advice. But when your life is full of losses, it is difficult to let go of the sadness and find joy in what is “left.”
Aaron was losing skills that took decades to build; and,
The pendulum was swinging back toward segregation and away from inclusion; and,
My best efforts at change weren’t making any difference; and,
My best friend died tragically.
Up until that point, I spent my free time reading non-fiction books like: Enabling and Empowering Families, Whose Science? Whose Knowledge?, Man’s Search for Meaning, When Bad things Happen to Good People…
You see a pattern?
I kept trying to learn a new way to make an inch of forward progress on our journey toward inclusion.
I kept beating my head against a brick wall, and the only thing I was getting was a bloody headache.
I decided I needed a new direction. “What did I have left”?
What new patterns could I make in MY life?
Not Aaron’s? Not the community? Not disability world? MY LIFE.
One for the Money: One hot Ranger
A friend gave me Janet Evanovich’s book, One For The Money, a romantic comedy about Stephanie Plum, a blundering bounty hunter who has help from a hot cop and an even hotter businessman named Ranger.
Well, it was funny and made me happy. I finished it in one day and it gave me new energy and spirit. I felt a touch of “normal.”
I began to read romance novels which would guarantee a “Happy Ever After”–something I probably won’t be able to achieve in real life.
I know, I know… people make fun of romance novels. But not booksellers–they know the romance genre makes up over 30% of all books sold.
Well I was hooked, probably for many of the same reasons as many women (and men). I was able to escape into a good story, ignore my problems for a while, and know the ending will be “happy ever after.”
I WANT HAPPY EVER AFTER.
Since I am obsessive about everything I do, I joined National and OVRWA, our local chapter of the Romance Writers of America. I even started writing a novel and became an editor for a small online epublisher.
Hey, I’ve been on boards of the Arc, TASH, Autism Society, County Board of MR/DD and scores of national, state and local organizations for people with disabilities. I can follow Roberts’ Rules of Order with the best of them. I even have a wooden gavel in my desk drawer from my tenure as president on one board.
What I don’t know how to do–is be normal. I don’t know how to include myself in my community.
Yea, the topic I have spent my life on–for Aaron.
But what about me?
How do I “normalize” and “include” myself?
Ranger meets the Rangers
OVRWA has been a terrific experience because of some amazing women. They are serious writers. Some just beginning, some NYT best sellers whose names you might recognize, or will recognize in the future.
I enjoy every minute of their company… and have learned much about writing, publishing, and … living.
In a previous post I wrote about Wheelchair Becky becoming a romance writer. I am finding I don’t have to give up my beliefs, they only become clearer. I don’t have to change my passion for inclusion, I can find it everywhere.
Last month’s presentation was for the historical romance writers in our group. Two men (much sexier than the stock photo above) brought their collections of American Revolution costumes, stories, artifacts and gave a well rounded presentation of the English and the colonist’s viewpoints. They helped us relive the time period and much more.
Professional vs. Amateur
In their opinion, the Americans won because of their passion for the cause and their ability to adapt to the environment.
The Americans were amateurs, with few men, no royal blood or fancy educations, little professional experience, less sophisticated weapons, few funds…. taking on the most powerful military force in the world.
The professional soldiers kept insisting on fighting with traditional European formal rules of engagement wearing bright red coats. The Americans fought as the native Americans and wore dull natural clothing blending into the landscape. The English had many strategies to induce fear and authority. The Americans brought passion and dreams for a better future for their children.
How many administrators tell parents of children with disabilities: “we are the professionals, we have degrees and experience”; “rules is rules”; “this is the established way we do things”; “we control the money and you have to do things our way” or “we are just doing our jobs”?
How many parents say: “we don’t care about your fancy degrees or experience”; “if a rule doesn’t make sense–change it,” “we don’t want to be ‘special’; we want our children to blend into a normalized environment” and “this is my child, and his/her future is at stake–we will challenge you with every breath in our body”.
At one point the presenters demonstrated their “Ranger” battle techniques where–if you knew what you were doing you could disable your enemy with a single movement.
The presentation was compelling and informative as doubting members of the audience were “gently” flung to the floor with one twist of the arm.
I wondered when I might be able to use some of their information when I happened upon this video.
A woman with a physical disability, I’m assuming paralysis from the waist down, is able to flick off her attackers with a single arm movement. It is remarkable and looks exactly like the Ranger’s technique.
It is so easy to get caught up in Disability World. So hard to be part of the normal world. But there are many opportunities if we look.
And, it is exciting to be with people who are not active in Disability World.
They can teach us lessons, but more importantly, help us learn about the human spirit.
I love that last month’s OVRWA meeting made me think of the professional/amateur professional/parent connection. If a rag tag group of farmers could win against the most powerful military machine of the time–there is still hope for us parents. The strategies and techniques of defeating professional soldiers, paid mercenaries, and hostile native Americans brought the two worlds together for me as I watched this woman the world would say was weak and vulnerable–ward off her attackers with the flick of her arm.
Survival strategies remain the same.
We need our vision and passion–Freedom and Liberty are still powerful motivators.
We need to continually change and adjust to the situation if we are to survive.
We need to blend into our normal environment (INCLUSION).
We need to keep learning new moves.
ps. One for the Money will be coming out this summer. Katherine Heigl is playing Stephanie Plum and Daniel Sunjata is Ranger. And there is a plot, I swear (at least in the book).
What do you think?
In the comments share your thoughts about the analogy of the American Revolution Rangers and Parents of children with disabilities? The video? Any lessons from books, recreation activities that inspire your work? Anyone want to sign up to be a Ranger? Take Aikido? Any new insights about inclusion? Any ideas about “Happy Ever After”? Any ideas about “looking at what you have left”?
Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward
All the best,