Bucket List, The Insightful Wanderer, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, Travel, TravelWriting

I Am Brave Enough, #Travel #Mexico #Disability #kindnessofstrangers

It’s the name of Lindsey Stirling’s most recent work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOmc9uG1Ndg

Instead of a New Year’s resolution, it has been my question/statement to myself about 2017 and my own determination to make my life what I’d like it to be.

Well, I’m back. I made it. First, to start with how mind blowing Mexico was, but more about that later. I have a lot to say on it, as a writer, still trying to process.

About the part that scared me silly though, traveling by myself:
It isn’t easy to have to wait to be taken from counter to counter, gate to gate, plane to plane. There are some advantages. It can be nice having someone push you around, along with your luggage, but I particularly liked the one transportation vehicle they used, specifically in the Detroit Airport. I liked that one. The two guys who took me, from the first to the last, they were friendly and pleasant.
You are first on the airplane (early boring) and last off. Different flight attendants and others likely know different things about how to help someone who is blind. Some are more hospitable than others. Sometimes I felt ignored and sometimes I felt well taken care of.

I honestly have to say I liked Dallas Airport the least. I didn’t realize how big it is there. The porters are different. Some easier to communicate with than others. It was a far distance to go, on my way there, and luckily I had a few hours because I was left at a gate, which changed. I sat there and suddenly heard them announcing a different flight than the one I knew I was there for. This was when I decided to speak up and get some help. Thankfully, another porter with a wheelchair was called and I was taken to the correct place. Unfortunately, then there was a problem with the plane and I sat there for more than an hour, nearly two. I was afraid I would miss the opening night festivities in Mexico, at my workshop. I didn’t.

I am writing about this, even with all the array of wonderful things I could be writing about my week in Mexico, because I feel there is a need to explain what it is like to travel when you have a disability. I doubt people realize.

The last time I flew anywhere I had a hand to hold tightly when my anxiety of lifting off the ground and into the air got too much. I felt kind of alone on my journey there this time, with no hand to hold, but I realized I needed to experience that. I needed to sit and be okay with being alone, right where I was, doing exactly what it was I was doing there.

I had all these images in my mind of all the strange and wonderful souls I would meet while traveling, in airports and such. I met hardly any on my trip to Mexico. That’s okay. I was on my own journey.

I met a lovely porter to start off my traveling, in Detroit. He told me his name and asked me about where I was going and what for. I told him of my fears of traveling by myself and he assured me it would all work out. He was right.
He got me a bottle of water and brought me safely to my gate. He made sure to park my luxury vehicle right next to the desk at the gate, so the people wouldn’t miss me there.
I tell you, you hear a lot of behind the scenes drama and things when you sit in that spot. Interesting.

So, I was the only one in my row on the first flight (Detroit to Dallas). It was an experience anyway. Behind my row there was a young woman, traveling from visiting her boyfriend, and the older woman beside her took an instant liking to her. The two of them then went on to talk the entire flight. The older asking the younger about her plans and her dreams. I secretly wanted that sort of experience from traveling. Would I make any connection like that? Did people resist approaching me? And did I shrink back from reaching out to anyone either?

It was still all so overwhelming, this traveling by myself. I was on constant alert, fearing I would end up lost or misplaced. I didn’t dare listen to my music or be distracted in any way. I was depending on other people for my very safe arrival, but how much of it all could I take on myself, to take my own power back?

I had help to find the check in desk at the airport in Mexico for my trip home, from the shuttle driver. He took my hand and brought me to them. I was so flustered I forgot to tip him. I felt so bad when I realized. I didn’t want to be so wrapped up in myself and my own worries that I did that sort of thing. I wish I could repay him somehow.

The porter they called to take me spoke no English and she asked if I could speak Spanish. At least, that much I could understand she said. I told her no and that one of the only words in Spanish I know was the one for water. Thanks to my niece who learned it from her Spanish speaking babysitter.

She had to go help someone else and found a woman who spoke English to stay with me. The woman then proceeded to tell me all about her life until I heard a familiar voice.

It was one of the women from the workshop. I could tell it was her, first, by the clunking sound of her shoes. She could keep me company, but the English speaking lady had to go. Still, you meet some interesting people when traveling.

I felt, at times, like the girl from the workshop was having to help me with my stuff, not relax while waiting for her flight, but that is all on me to not look at things life like that so much.

The porter returned and we went to our gate. She took me to the chairs while the girl from the workshop went into a special lounge for those with special bonuses from the airline. The porter then left me in the wheelchair. It probably seemed easier for her, in her mind, but I didn’t want to have to sit in it while waiting an hour or so for the flight. When the girl from workshop came back she agreed and we found two seats. This still required dealing with the wheelchair and my luggage, along with her things. She brought me a yogurt drink from that special lounge. It tasted so good in that moment.

We spoke a little and she helped me to the bathroom. We had to manage our luggage because leaving it unattended would not be a good idea.

My biggest concern, other than being left somewhere, was the bathroom situation. Anyone can find a bathroom in an airport if they need it. For me, I would have to depend on whichever porter I happen to be with if I needed to go. Many of those were men who hardly spoke English themselves. Not the best of situations, but best there was. Otherwise, I would be on my own and would have to find someone, a stranger or airport employee walking by, to help and show me where a bathroom was. Not fun.

I sat in my row, on my way home, and looked at a Mexico I could not see, through my oval airplane window. Suddenly, amongst the dozing I did and the boredom of sitting there in a row with a guy and girl I didn’t speak to, the familiar voice suddenly said my name, handing me a bag of warm mixed nuts. More perks from first class. That was the last I saw of her. I was truly on my own again.

The airport in Dallas was chaos. They had only one porter when I got off the plane and there was also a man in a wheelchair who needed assistance. His wife ended up guiding me, helping me with my luggage, while we followed the one porter and the husband through the lines and crowds. She did not have to do that, but she did. They were both very kind.

I suddenly heard protesting to my left. I couldn’t make out all they said, something about the US, no Trump, and no KKK.

It was a bit nerve racking as I followed the woman and her husband through customs and I forgot about the bottle of water in my bag still, from the girl from the workshop. I wish they didn’t have to take it from me. Silly regulations. I even got patted down at the airport in Mexico, by a girl who had to try to ask if it was okay first, but did not speak any English. Now I was having my bag inspected. Oh the joys of airline travel.

Finally we found our correct gates and the porter left me at mine. I thanked the mysterious couple, the ones who asked me about my time in San Miguel and told me about the house they rent there, and I sat and hoped for the best.

The people at the desk did their job. A nice lady helped me to the plane. I found my seat and a friendly woman, traveling alone for the first time too, she was feeling anxious and asked me if my folded up white cane was drum sticks. I liked her at once.

The flight went by a lot faster, long long day, with someone to talk to. She asked me about my writing and my blindness and family. I asked her about her five children and the plans they had to move from Detroit to Dallas. Her and her husband had just put an offer on a new house there. I wondered at the differences, the separate lives of so many, including this stranger who took the time to speak to me and I spoke back.

I was afraid, the entire time. I was afraid and still I didn’t want to let that stop me anymore. I did it once and I know I can and will do it again, until I am no longer so afraid. I know even sighted people can be afraid of such things, when traveling alone, when being afraid to fly or confused by flight numbers and gate changes. I know. I know we are all the same somehow while oh so different.

I appreciate all the help I received and all the assistance and the company kept. To all the strangers I will never see again. To the amazing souls I met in Mexico. To my amazing mentor for all she did for me. To my family who supported me. I say thanks. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

I am brave enough.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

Tap Tap Tap

Took a bit of a break there, from:

THE REDEFINING DISABILITY AWARENESS CHALLENGE

http://rosebfischer.com/2014/07/15/the-redefining-disability-awareness-challenge/

I found it a challenge to talk about disability on a weekly basis and needed to leave it for a while. This blog is not, strictly, a blog about disability and/or blindness.

I realize, as much as I want to forget about such challenges for a while, I can’t get away from disability. It is tangled up in me and with me wherever I go.

I write about it, in small ways or big ones, anyway.

So I will address a few stories in the news lately and use a specific example from the other day, in my life, to illustrate a point. Hmmm. Guess I should hurry up and think what that’s going to be right now.

😉

I guess this might answer number 40 in the list of RDAC questions, as I feel quite sure I want to find ways to become in volved in awareness and social issues: feminism or equal rights. Either way. This involves disability in a big way.

Q: Are you involved in any political or social activities related to having a disability? This could be anything from an advocacy group to an informal social gathering to participation in adaptive sports.

I try to deny it sometimes because the feeling is often uncomfortable, but I keep being dragged back to it.

I have an interview coming up on this blog with a guy who just graduated with a degree in Women’s Studies. I am very interested in hearing his story and viewpoint.

I have spoken with my friend Steph from

Bold Blind Beauty,

who has been working on a new image, one she feels represents her site and her mission:

The Unveiling of a Stylish Icon

I get involved when and where I can. Who knows what that might look like in the future.

There are others who are doing a lot more:

Stand By Me RP awareness page

This poet has recently been highlighting a story that made the news, over in Britain:

Paul Franks speaks to the mom of a blind schoolgirl who has been asked not to use her white cane in school due to health and safety

Maybe you’ve heard about it. This is the kind of thing that makes one want to speak up and stand up for what is right.

It’s hard to imagine, in 2015, that this would happen.

It’s the kind of thing my mother would have fought hard against, if it had been me being told I couldn’t have my cane at school, instead having to rely on others. This girl was told to be with supervision at all times. So much for the independence that is the whole point of school.

If this were true, white canes everywhere would be tripping people, left and right. There would be anarchy, injuries galore.

As long as she is taught how to use her white cane properly, this should be a non issue.

Okay, so there may have been one incident, when I slipped on a wet floor and sprained my ankle in the hallway at school, my own white cane going flying as I went down. This may have nearly empaled a staff member. I say “may have”.

But this could very easily happen with anything, with any child. There is no way a child should be told she can’t have her way of getting around school.

http://www.freerangekids.com/blind-girl-cant-use-her-cane-at-school-its-a-tripping-hazard/

This is the sort of thing that we must not accept from people. This is why awareness and consciousness of others is so important.

How dangerous is a white cane?

How dangerous is a wheelchair? That’s like saying a wheelchair is dangerous because it might run over someone’s toe. Ridiculous. Care is always needed, of course. No waving it around madly, but man…this story is everywhere.

What is a school mobility officer anyway? Differences from North America to Britain I guess, but she should be having mobility lessons of her own, with an instructor, to learn how to use her cane safely and correctly.

They said it was just temporary, while they discussed the matter with the family. What does that really mean anyway?

This story has made the news, in the papers from the UK where it happened, over to Canada and the US, all the way to New Zealand.

It makes an excellent headline, but it really is the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.

Well, I’m so worked up, that perhaps I’ll save the other stories for next week. There will be one of those, and much sooner this time.

The schedule calls for next week to be a free post day anyway and there are only ten or so more of these RDAC questions left.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday, Special Occasions, This Day In Literature, Writing

Literally

For this week’s instalment of

The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

I thought it might be helpful to ask the next question to the two people in my life who could best answer it.

These two were, if you believe in that sort of thing, meant to be mine and my brother’s parents. Whether you call it God or fate or whatever, I believe it to be true. They had no previous experience with children with “special needs” when I was born and they had no choice but to dive into the world of specialists and specialty teachers and programs, to give me the best possible chance at a happy and successful life.

As if that weren’t enough. They didn’t just do this at home. They go out into the world and make a difference in people’s lives every single day. Here is more on how they care.

Week Two: Part B
(Part A can be found here

Awareness.

Q: Do you have loved ones who live with disabilities? Do you work with people who have disabilities?

A: (My mother was a stay-at-home mother while I was growing up. It wasn’t easy for her to jump into the working world after so many years removed, but she stepped up to the plate and used her skills wisely. She does a job each day that not a lot of people could or would be willing to do. She makes lives better and she treats her clients like human beings, doing all she can to bring light and fun into their lives.)

I work in a group home with individuals with both physical and developmental disabilities. Our job is to give them a home and help them contribute. Whatever each person is able to do, look after each of them and help meet whatever their special needs may be. 

For example: food and Meals.
Some individuals can help shop for groceries, one can do a great job of barbecuing, some can make their own breakfast, one needs assistance to steady their hand in order to get a spoon of food to their mouth, and one needs to be spoon fed every bite. Everyone is unique and you assist each special need and even more important is to promote each ability.

(My father worked in a retail setting for over twenty years, until he grew weary of the long hours and high demands and went in search of more meaningful work. He did something I will forever be in awe of: he walked away from a highly stressful situation, left a steady paycheque, and regained his sanity and his self through the unknown of a future career he did not yet know he would find. This leap of faith brought him to the necessary and valuable work he has done for over ten years now.)

I’m the owner and driver of a wheelchair cab. About 20% of my clients have disabilities such as strokes, amputees, MS and the elderly. My service gives these individuals the ability and access to travel  in their community, anywhere that they may need or want to go.
Having had two children with disabilities, this is my way of feeling good about a job that contributes to the special needs of others.

My parents are the two best examples I know. They do what they can, in every aspect of their lives, to help others. They are selfless and kind, generous souls, literally working every day to make the world a better place.

Next week’s two-part question starts with: If you have a medical diagnosis, do you see yourself as having a disability? Why or why not? If you don’t have one, how do you view the concept of disability or the people in your life who have them?

***

Happy International Literacy Day

Rilke wrote:

“You ask whether your verses are any good. you ask me. You have asked others before this. You send them to magazines. you compare them with other poems, and you are upset when certain editors reject your work. Now I beg you to stop that sort of thing. You are looking outside and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you. No one. there is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. this most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must”, then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life must become a sign and witness to this impulse.”

I MUST!!!

As I read this quote, deciding to include it in today’s post, I stopped and looked at the individual words that made up each thought. I felt a wild connection and a fierce excitement about how each little word can come together to create something so powerful and meaningful. I was in awe of the written word and I thanked all of this for enriching my life and making it a better place every day.

I know I am lucky to have it, to have the gift of literacy. Where would I be without it? I would be lost.

So on this day and every other I appreciate the fact that I have this most precious entity and I realize that not all my fellow humans on this planet are as lucky as I am. For all the girls and young women around the world who are being denied the chance of literacy I write this. For every child who can not go to school for whatever reason, I speak up here today.

On this important day I owe everything I have to literacy. Go

Here.

I can never thank those enough who brought the gift of literacy into my life.

What does International Literacy Day and literacy in general mean to you? How has it impacted your own life?

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