Monday, October 09, 2017


It's Thanksgiving weekend and I'm seeing tons of Facebook posts about thankful Canadians being thankful for friends, thankful for family, thankful for friends who become family, thankful for their spouses, thankful for their kids, thankful to live in Canada.

Truth be told, I'm having a little trouble being thankful today. My family doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving. It's not that we're opposed to it, it's just that my family doesn't do a great job at family things. The only holidays we really acknowledge are Christmas and birthdays. And in the past few years birthdays boil down to a call or a text. I spend Christmas with my father and his wife; my brother and his wife do their own thing or spend it with my mother.

I've spent this past year trying harder at entertaining and engaging people. I have hosted a brunch, dinners, tea, game nights, a birthday party. I decided to make a celebration out of inviting people and I sent actual invitations. And people come. But what I notice is that if I don't initiate, nothing happens. I don't get invited. And none of those efforts have brought me closer to having any sort of a social life. Today, on Thanksgiving, as I am home with my cat, I find it difficult to see posts of everyone's Thanksgiving with their families and feel thankful for the friends who come when I invite them.

One friend asked me what I was doing for Thanksgiving and I said "nothing". She said "do you want to be doing something?" I said "it's no big deal"and shrugged or something like that. I don't know if that was a passive way of inviting me, but the moment passed and here I am.

And today I feel like there's no point. What's the point of putting myself out there? Sure people may respond but does it really get me any further to building rapport with people? And do I want to engage people who don't engage me back? What's with that???

Saturday, October 07, 2017


"Why are you so angry?"

"Don't you think people are just trying to be nice?"

 "Why do you always focus on the negative?"

 About a year ago I started to post issues about accessibility on my Facebook page. At first I used humour; I posted picture after picture of "accessibility fails" and asked people what they saw. At first the pictures were quite obvious and over the top that it was amusing (have you seen the "terrifying pit to hell"?

But as time went on I posted less obvious pictures and asked people what they saw. It set the tone for a discussion about accessibility, awareness, exclusion. In my attempts to have non-disabled people understand what people with disabilities face on what can be a daily basis, I started posting personal experiences; anything from a rude bus driver to the really inappropriate questions and things people say to me and everything in between.

For the most part these posts are well received, but every now and then someone comes along and asks one of those 3 questions. And I can feel my anger starting to boil. I try to answer in a way that promotes discussion and learning, not in an angry or belittling way, but the truth is yes, I'm angry an awful lot of the time. Angry at the amount of inaccessibility around me. Angry at the ignorance about it. Angry at the how inaccessibility influences my life. And I'm angry at having to explain why I'm angry all the time. Ok, so I'm not actually angry all the time. And I don't always focus on the negative. And yes, I know that people are indeed, mostly, just trying to be nice and helpful. And in fact I'm not even angry all that often, but if I'm going to be open and talk honestly about disability and accessibility and inclusion, my anger is a big part of that story and people need to understand that.

I'm angry about having to explain things... all... the... time. I get angry when people tell me why I shouldn't feel the way I do. And I'm angry that my anger probably makes things harder to bridge that gap between disabled and non-disabled. It makes people uncomfortable. But would you ask an African American facing racism why he's angry all the time? Would you ask a gay woman facing homophobia why she's always angry? The difference, I know, is that ableism is not so overt. It rarely takes the form of someone actually verbalizing "you are other and lesser because of your disability and you don't belong here". But that's the message inaccessibility gives. That's the message not validating how I feel about my experience gives.

I was really intrigued by people's responses to my posts. Some were lighthearted, some were heartfelt and supportive, some were thankful to get my perspective. And some were questioning whether I was too harsh on people, too sensitive because people were trying to be nice, kind. I see their point, I really do. But I think that answer, though well-meaning, misses the point. You don't get to tell someone with a life-experience that you've never had, that what they experience and feel is wrong. Sure, we all think that about people (or is that just me?). We judge people, whether we mean to or not. We judge people without realizing or acknowledging it. But until you've lived someone's experience (and that never can really happen because no two people necessarily experience the same thing in the same way) you can't justly tell someone their experience is wrong.

 I keep thinking about this need I have to educate, to bridge the gap. Doing so with anger is not productive, but doing it because of anger may be, as long as you use the fire of that anger as the catalyst for change and not to just lash out at anyone who doesn't agree with you or understand your story.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Ho hum...

I've been feeling really down lately and refraining from posting because I don't want all my posts to be about how my life sucks. I am in the last week of my contract and I will miss this job, although it has been crazy crazy crazy busy. I am really tired and could really use some time off, but the good news is, as of next week, I will be starting a new PERMANENT job! And guess what population it's with?... for those of you who have read my previous posts, you'll understand my hesitance when I say... "rehab!". Yes, I applied for the job, it's true. But I know that's where my boss has seen me all along (and you think my disability had anything to do with that??). So, while I am extremely happy to at least have an in (and that is exactly why I decided to apply to the position in the first place... use my boss' wishes to my advantage) and can apply to other positions as they come up. Actually, only half of my job will deal with disability, the other is a different type of rehab (and no, not alcohol ;)). So, we'll see how it goes. The pace and work will be very different from what I'm doing now, and that will be a welcome break. So yay benefits! Boo loss of pay in lieu of benefits!

As for why I've been feeling down, as usual, I am stuck. I've previously mentioned that most of my friends have either moved away or had babies this year. Of the two who moved away, I was really close to one, not so close to the other. And since they've been gone, I have hardly heard from either. The one who I was close to actually came back into town and I received an email from another close friend of hers saying she was organizing a dinner out (her usual big do with 20 of her closest friends... which is just not the type of thing an introvert like me enjoys). I opted not to go for 2 reasons. One was precisely because of the number of people invited and I knew I'd maybe get to talk to her for 5 minutes. The other was I was a little miffed that she didn't call or email me herself. Not to tell me she was coming, not to say hi when she was actually here. Since she moved away almost a year ago, I have had a few emails, and one phone call. She never gave me her new cell phone #, and she's never home to answer her home phone (left 2 messages). It's left me really hurt.

My pregnant or newly mommied friends are all into their kids, obviously. When we meet we don't really talk about much other stuff. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for them, truly, but I miss my social life, what little of it there actually was. And I feel helpless to change this pattern of meeting people, becoming friends, and they either not liking me, or me not liking them. I've been contemplating counseling, but part of me is hesitant for 2 reasons; 1, I've been in therapy before, for about 7 years for the same issues. 2, with my new permanent job comes the substantial pay cut and I don't know if I'll be able to afford it. I will be starting some new activities in the fall, so it'll be nice to get busy again and meet some new people, but I always feel like I'm starting again. Of the two friends I have who are not pregnant or moving away, one I could call up and do stuff with, but I don't really enjoy being around her. I wish I did, it would make my life much easier. But I don't. And there's no point hanging with someone you just don't want to be around.

Anyway, forgive the whiny post. I obviously need to do something to get off this whiny downward spiral, just not sure what yet.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Does anyone have an extra social life to spare?

In the last 12 months, there has been a baby boom in my city. I can name about 15 people who have had a baby. Among my friend circle, which wasn't huge to begin with, 2 have moved away, 2 have had babies, and one is currently pregnant. There remain 2 who are not likely to become pregnant nor move away. The thing is, I don't see them that often. One of the two is someone I find it increasingly difficult to be around and I don't really contact her much anymore. The other is a friend, but someone I don't see all that often. The summer has, well, sucked. Big time. Not only do I have no social life whatsoever, it has rained, rained, rained, and, oh yeah, rained. We're approaching mid-August and I feel like I've had absolutely no summer at all. Add to that the fact that I've not taken any time off work due to the fact that I don't get vacation pay. The position I've been covering for over 6 months became available, but, as my luck would have it, someone with 15+ years experience at my place of work also applied. She's actually done my job for about 6 of those years. So, I didn't stand a chance. So now I'm applying for her job. It's not somewhere I really want to be, but it's in an area my boss really wants me, so I figured I may as well give it a try and if I get it, I can try it for a while, and apply to move internally if I don't like it. I feel very much like I have no control over my life these days. There are all these things I'd like to do, but they are all hinging on other things. I'm one who usually doesn't mind spending time with myself, but right now I'm pretty sick of myself!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Found it!

Here's a link to the advertisement in question:

Maybe One Day video.

Tell me what you think.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Stupid commercials on disability

There's a new advertising campaign put out by some people (haven't paid enough attention to take note of who exactly is promoting this) promoting hiring people with disabilities. Honestly, I find these commercials extremely embarrassing and condescending. There's one where this woman with some disability (down syndrome or something like it... sorry, I'll have to pay more attention next time and clarify), and this customer is being really condescending saying things like "it's great that you people can find jobs" etc.. It's so stereotypically simple, it's embarrassing to watch. I cringe when I see it. Yes, I agree that some people don't think people with disabilities can work, etc, but I'm not a big supporter of the "in your face" approach. I think there's something intrinsically wrong with a commercial telling society that people with disabilities are human beings and have value in that tone. Sure, many people have preconceived ideas of what someone with a disability can or can't do, but I really don't think an in your face commercial is going to help. In fact, it was such a stupid commercial, I think it could be more damaging than not.

Actually, I have trouble with any commercial that tells you how you should see someone. Are we really that stupid that we need advertising to get involved?? Wait, don't answer that.

I can't seem to find a video of the commercial in question. If anyone can find a link to it, please let me know! Here are some links to some other pro-disability commercials. The MADD ones make me particularly squeamish. I'd like to hear your comments!

Disability Means Possibility
Disability Awareness
MADD commercial

I can't help but love the Wallace and Gromitness of this commercial, but still...

Leonard Chershire Disability Creature Discomforts

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dry spell

Howdy folks,

It seems I've hit a dry spell. It's been almost 10 months that I've hardly posted anything. I've been wracking my brain for things to say. It's not that I don't have fodder in my life. I do, for sure. I just feel uninspired to write. The thing I've been struggling with most lately is the fact that most of my friends, in the past year, have either moved away or gotten pregnant/had babies. I am left with 2 friends who will not be having babies, although one of those will probably move away in the future. Though that may be a good thing because I find more and more she's not someone I enjoy spending a lot of time with. So that leaves my social life kind of a solo act these days, which sucks.

I've been ruminating a lot lately about finding that balance between accepting my neuroticism, and making myself not too scary to others. Still looking. I've also been ruminating about adopting a kid. It's been on the burner for a while, but it's just not an option, financially, at the moment.

I read a comment from someone saying they are reading this and other blogs because their nephew has a disability. I think that's great. It's so important to be informed and start to think about what this person may need for the rest of their life. I think people, for the most part, see people with disabilities differently than they did when I was growing up. And I think the change is for the better. Schools seem to make more effort to integrate people with disabilities into regular classrooms, rather than assuming they all need special education. And there are less physical barriers at school, though of course many still exist. Most schools seem to have wheelchair access now, as opposed to a chosen few.

I think, equally important, is to treat that person as "normal" as possible, without being TOO strict about it. For example, I used to work in an environment that had a lot of disabled children. The parents would often tell me that they know they "should" be letting their children do more things on their own (dress and push themselves), but it often took longer and they just wanted to get things done quicker so they could leave the house on time, etc. In my opinion, this is a HUGE, HUGE problem! I saw so much of myself in these kids, although I had a mother who tried to force me to be more independent than perhaps I should have, which was the opposite extreme. I saw teenagers who were urine-soaked, unkempt, generally unclean. I saw kids who were spoiled, whose parents hovered over them to overcompensate for the fact their child had no friends or "less opportunities". Kids whose social skills were less than par.

I don't have the magic answer to anything really. But I think if parents of disabled children can remain aware that their child is the same as all other children, yet different. They will have talents and abilities that others don't have, no matter what they may be. Feed that, but not to an unrealistic proportion. If I brought a drawing home when I was a kid, my dad would praise me for it, no matter if it were just a straight line in black and put it on the fridge. My mom would praise me if it were really good and put it on the fridge, otherwise would say thanks and it woudl end up in a drawer. There has to be a happy medium there somewhere. All kids need to feel self worth, and they only get this by people being genuine to them. If family treats them differently than that, for better or worse, spoiling and overpraising, or neglecting or over-criticizing, then the self-worth is in danger of running amok.

To all you parents of children with disabilities: Good luck! You've got a tough job ahead of you. But rest assured that, no matter what you do, how fair and supportive, and equal you try to be, it's a constant process of trial and error. But there are so many resources out there now for info and support, which didn't exist as abundantly in the past. Use them. Learn. And keep going.