August: The Recap

It’s difficult to know what to say about this past month. I’m (still) trying to rehab my shoulder. I know it could be taking longer than it is, but it still seems too long. I’m trying to take things slowly, but I’ve learned firsthand the double-edged sword of rehabbing as an athlete. Being goal orientated isn’t the problem; being patient and taking the time it needs to take to reach goals successfully is the problem.

I was out of the pool for a month. It went faster than I thought but it was still a long time away. I’m slowly working up to what will hopefully be full workouts sooner rather than later.

I had planned on staying away from the gym too, that is until my legs looked like they were having episodes of Clonus, at least to the untrained eye. I never thought I’d look forward to “leg day” but here we are.

Since my schedule has been cleared (basically obliterated) it’s given me more time to do other things.

And by other things I mean not leave the house and toll the internet for anything that pops into my head, which ends up being a lot of stream of conscious thinking.

I’ve been able to really look at the content that’s out there. A lot of it is great. A lot of it is a complete dumpster fire.

A while ago I wondered if I was screaming into the void known as the internet. Now I’m seeing a lot of people screaming, and it’s not into a void, it’s at other people.

While I’m enjoying countless Tw!tter threads and the exchanges happening (good, bad, and indifferent) I’m mostly enjoying them as a spectator. I want nothing to do with it as a participant. I have no desire to defend or deflect anything on social media.

It got me thinking, if this is the nature of social media now, do I have a place out there?

Of course, everyone has a place online, and if there isn’t one, you can make one for yourself. But that doesn’t mean you’ll get noticed or be accepted by others.

I’m at this crossroads of my digital life. There are plenty of people out there doing what I want to do, and I support them as much as I can, because they express themselves better than I ever could. Add into that that I’m finding social media is causing me anxiety and my lack of desire to engage in dialogue in a “public square.”

I’m finding more enjoyment in being a spectator than being an active participant, and that’s just fine with me.

I’m hoping once I get back to a more normal schedule things will just fall into place. If it doesn’t, I’ll figure it out. The internet isn’t going anywhere and it’s not like you can go “off grid” that easily these days.

Other that, Mister Lincoln, the play was great……

Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month: 2019 (Review)

Cerebral Palsy awareness month ends this weekend, which means today is the last day for my month-long marathon of posts. I always say that it gets harder and harder to come up with topics each year, and this year was no exception.

However, this year I managed to stir up more controversy than usual. It’s not something I intended on doing but I’m not 100% sorry for anything I’ve said either. So, I’m in a different position this year than I have been in years past. I’m happy to have a blogging break but I’m taking what I’ve learned this month and I’m going to use it in my future endeavors, in some fashion.

Rather than try and sun up the month with some grand conclusion I’m just going to outline all of the posts I’ve written this year and include some others.

As for next year, we’ll all just have to wait and see what happens.

2019 Posts:
Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month: 2019
That Thing About The Road To Hell
A Question About Questions
Spread The Word
End The Word
Back To Basics
Growing Up Disabled
Cerebral Palsy: Blogs
Cerebral Palsy: On Twitter
Cerebral Palsy: On Instagram
It’s Not Easy Being Green
Cerebral Palsy: Books
Cerebral Palsy & Aging In Community
Difference Is OK
Cerebral Palsy: Movies & TV
7 Questions: A Few Years Later
Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day
Poor Fortunate Souls
Chase Dreams, Change Dreams
Cerebral Palsy In The Future

(Previous posts)

Poor Fortunate Souls

Although Cerebral Palsy is the most common motor disability among children (who then become adults) it’s pretty common to hear stories of how having CP makes someone or a family feel lonely. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t experienced it myself

I’ve realized something in these last few weeks. There’s no reason for anyone effected by CP to feel alone, there are people on every social network available to talk to, there are books with medical knowledge and personal stories to draw from.

I know that living with CP could be better, and that it’s getting better, but it could also be a lot worse.

I’m not trying to say that there won’t be times when loneliness won’t occur but people with CP aren’t like some people who have disabilities that make them 1 of 10 people in the world today.

It can take some effort to get to see a specialist, like a long car ride or maybe a flight, but it’s not like we have to fly more than half way around the world to see the one doctor who specializes in your disability and potential it’s complications.

But that’s another kind of loneliness one has to deal with, the medical loneliness that comes with being so rare, even when you’re not.

It’s strange to think that with all that we have at our fingertips these days that we still feel so lonely, that no one else can understand how we feel because we have CP.

The Cerebral Palsy community has its issues, which community doesn’t, but it’s not nearly as bad as it could be. We’re not necessarily a tight knit group but we are a fairly large group so it should be that hard to find someone else who has CP that you can at least try to form a relationship with.

I hope that in loneliness people do something similar to what I (and so many others) have done and seek out community. Look at the blogs, F@cebook pages, Tw!tter profiles, and Inst@gram accounts.

Make connections.

Find your tribe.

Read a few books by people with CP.

Watch a movie about someone with CP.

Be inspired.

Start a journey.

Carve a path.

Lead the way.

Having Cerebral Palsy can make you feel lonely for a variety of reasons but if you try to take an objective look around you will probably see how fortunate you are.

September: A Recap

This is going to be an attempt at a recap of the past 30+ days. I say attempt because I’ll probably forget something or get the order of events wrong.

Blogging: I haven’t done much, obviously. I intended to make some sort of cutback, but I never made a solid plan. I would sit down to write and not finish anything, and then it just became more natural to not write anything. I needed a break more than I thought I did. I’m not sure if it will continue or not but I’m pretty sure I’ll have peace no matter what conclusion I come to (or stumble towards). I have no idea how I kept up a blogging schedule with full work and school schedules.

Social Media: Every morning I (usually) lay in bed while checking email and scrolling social media. One day I found myself wondering why I followed some people because I found myself on an emotional roller-coaster that I had no intention or even interest in being on, yet there I was. The end result was going through all of the people I follow and unfollowing a good number. I can’t say I feel better, but things feel more manageable.

Books: I’m enjoying making use of public resources, and my bank account appears to be thanking me for it. I have slowed down my reading consumption but I’m still going at a somewhat steady pace. After checking out the wrong book, not once but twice, keeping up to date on Good Reads has become somewhat essential.

Clothing: I have a dwindling wardrobe, on purpose. I was looking for a pair of pants in my closet, and similar to what happened with my social media accounts, I ended up donating half of the pants I owned. I don’t know why I had so many pants because I think I only wear 3-4 pairs on a regular basis. The same thing happened with my sweaters soon after. I’m hoping this trend occurs with the rest of my possessions. Why did I feel I needed so much, because I clearly don’t need most of what I have even after a purge?

Ministry (or whatever you want to call it): I’m still working on my capstone project, even though it’s not really a project anymore. It hasn’t gained the traction I had hoped for and granted I haven’t been able to bring what I had in my head to the web, but it doesn’t feel right to just let it go.

Christmas: I have a fair amount of my shopping done. I don’t claim to be one of the “Christmas crazies” that enjoy starting the countdown to the big day in July, but I find it much easier to have a “shop as you go” approach to gift giving, rather than scrambling for the perfect gift closer to a deadline dictated by a calendar.

Work & Career: This could probably be two separate things but I’m making it one. I’m on the job hunt still writing cover letters and sending out my resume. Things are happening slowly but surely, and that’s fine with me. I made the decision to stop accepting speaking and educational engagements that don’t offer some sort of compensation. I can’t live solely off warm fuzzies an thinking I’m making the world a better place, so I needed to stop doing it.

Friends: They’re all off being amazing and doing amazing things, like this one, so I’m watching things happen wherever I go.

Podcasting: I’m considering a return of sorts so stay tuned, if you’re interested. I am listening to more podcasts, most notably The Catholic Family

Swimming & Other Physical Pursuits: The short of it is, same coach different environment. It’s been an adjustment, and a bigger one than I bargained for so I’m trying different things, for the sake of motivation, until something clicks. I have no idea how professional athletes change coaches and or environments semi-often and seem to not miss a beat.

So that was September. How was your month? Did I miss anything that I should have covered?

Is Blogging Dead?

I started blogging when it wasn’t a popular thing to do. I didn’t really read other blogs, if I did it was because another blogger left a comment on my blog first. It wasn’t until I was out late one night for a cast party when the director confessed that he often spent hours every night reading random blogs, literally random, he rarely read the same blog twice.

It was only a few years later that my bookmarks were full of blogs, which I checked before starting my day, every day. At times it took up so much time that I was almost late to class on multiple occasions.

At some point I stopped reading my laundry list of blogs and moved on. I’m not sure why but it’s how it happened.

However, I knew the power of blogging. So much so that I compiled a list of blogs that were similar to mine in one aspect. Mainly because I wanted other people to be able to find what I wanted to see for years.

Every once and a while I’d check in on a blog or two that I used to visit daily (or even multiple times a day if called for) to catch up on what’s been going on with that individual, or their child, or their family, or some mixture of any of it.

Some have disappeared. Some of their authors and/or their children have even died.

Some haven’t been updated. Some are still around, a few are even thriving, but it’s not the same as it was.

I suppose it’s a good thing, but I wonder what the downsides are.

These days it’s rare that I read any blog on a regular basis.

These days I grab my phone, 99% of the time before I’ve even gotten out of bed and scroll through social media platforms. I scroll so fast I doubt I’m actually reading anything, unless osmosis is indeed possible.

Some of my blogging friends have turned to Inst@gram I feel like that’s become the new blogging in some ways. I miss the blog posts, but I appreciate that Inst@gam is probably a better fit for their lives these days.

One of my biggest issues with social networking platforms is that I can’t compile a list of people in similar life circumstances that I can with blogs, even if I make a list it’s hard to let others know about it in the same way you can with blogs.

It’s difficult to foster the same type of environment on social media platforms as you can with blogs and the opposite is true as well.

And given how the internet & other technologies have evolved over the years I keep coming back to one question:

Is blogging dead?

My first instinct is to say yes. But upon deeper reflection I’m more inclined to say that it’s just not how it was. It’s just evolved.

Why I: Don’t Suggest Giving Up Social Media For Lent

There are certain things I can count on as Lent approaches. Without a doubt, “What are you giving up for Lent?” is the most popular question to ask and/or be asked.

Now that social media has become such an important part of our lives it’s natural to consider whether or not to give it up for 40 days. I have several friends who engage in this practice, problem is most of them don’t use social media that much anyway. So is it really that sacrificial or are they really getting any benefit from it?

A point worth considering, but not the one I wanted to make right now.

As I write this there’s a snowstorm outside (I’m a write ahead & schedule blogging type). In fact at one point it was snowing so hard that it was snowing sideways. Thus my plans for the day have been canceled and I’m attempting to stay occupied indoors. In a way it’s going to make the point of this post much more poignant, at least I hope so.

The internet, and social media, has opened up everyone’s world. What I don’t think a lot of people realize is just how much it’s opened up the world for those with disabilities.

I wouldn’t be friends with many people if it weren’t for the internet, or at least I wouldn’t be as good of friends with people if things didn’t start on the internet. Let’s just say as an introvert with a disability it’s nice to get the “getting to know you” stuff out of the way when you only get to see people in person a few times in your entire life.

I can’t forget to mention Sara. If there’s anyone who taught me that just because you have physical limits doesn’t mean you can’t create solid friendships and an intentional community. Our friendship may have been short but it left me forever changed.

I don’t suggest giving up social media for Lent for one quasi-simple reason:

You may be part of someone’s community, and it may be the only community they have access to (especially in the winter months).

Giving up your social media routine for 40 days may seem like a good idea and in some ways it can be beneficial but if you do consider who you’ll be leaving behind for 40 days.

Here are some thoughts to consider:

How much can happen in 40 days?

Also consider your group of friends, do they also give something(s) up for Lent?

Do you all give up the same thing for Lent? If so, do you still have that same sense of community because you have other ways of keeping in contact or are you able to see each other in person?

Do you have one friend (or maybe more) that seems uncomfortable with your plan for a 40 day social media fast?

Have you ever stopped and really considered why someone is resistant to give up social media (especially if you “only” know them virtually)?

Lenten sacrifices are meant to make you a better person, but not at the expense of other people. If your sacrifice is harmful to someone else than are you really working towards a greater communion with the Body of Christ?

Alternatives to consider:

Cut back on your social media practices. Check in once a day or once a week.

Post the same thing on all of your social media accounts (idea borrowed from Pat Padley FYI).

Keep community connected through email or text, or an old fashioned phone call.

Make your intentions known early on, as in before today, so if any of your friends have reservations or objections you can engage in thoughtful conversation.

Have a way to contact you on your social media profiles and make it easy to find. Have you ever received an “out of office reply” with a contact email or number included? Like that.

I’m not saying that you absolutely shouldn’t give up social media for Lent.

I’m not God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit so I can’t say such things with absolute conviction. But I wish people wouldn’t make the decision as easily as they seem to. Virtual community isn’t the same as in person community but it’s still a community that needs nurturing, attention, and people to take part in it.

*A similar version of this post first appeared on an old blog on February 10, 2016

Tip Tuesday

Although I spend a fair amount of time engaged in some fashion in social media I have mastered none of it. In fact, I find it frustrating, meaning social media itself, not the mastery itself.

I have no expertise in it whatsoever.

Instead I find people who are and pick their brains to no end.

I’ve realized I can make better use of my time (and my sanity) if I don’t try to become an expert in everything.

(I may have studied a little too much Plato in college, but it makes this make sense)

A few years ago, I attended the Catholic New Media Conference. I’d like to tell you I did it on purpose but I just got lucky. It was small, reasonably priced, and easy to travel to. I had reached a point where I needed to learn more before I got buried in the noise of the internet.

I was so overwhelmed after one day, but I knew I was in the right place for the right reason, and I knew I wasn’t done learning from this pool of talent.

I went home and did my research, and then I kept tabs on the people that gave talks, the people I remembered seeing, even the people who started following me on Tw!tter for no reason in particular.

At the most recent CNMC I came prepared. I made two mental lists the “need to” and the “want to” list.

Patrick Padley was on the “need to” list. After sending an unknown amount of emails to companies I thought would be a good match for increasing CP awareness and getting no response. I knew I wanted to pick his brain to know what I could do differently, what I could do better.

Maria Johnson was also on the “need to” list. I needed to thank her personally for her help and inspiration. She made my brain light up like a pinball machine at my first CNMC and the lights haven’t dimmed much since.

Lisa Hendy was on the “need to” and “want to” list, for reasons that are too long to list. Let’s just say if you want to see what can happen with a small venture see Catholic Mom

And lest I forget Greg Willits who ended up at the top of my “want to” list after delivering his keynote. You know how there are people that can tell you things you don’t want to hear but when you hear it it doesn’t seem that bad? I never thought I’d thank someone for telling me things I didn’t want to hear.

Basically, my advice for using social media for advocacy is this, do what you’re good at (hopefully it’s something you like too). Seek out the advice of people who are experts in the areas in which you fall short.

I’m participating in WEGO Health’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge. If you want to find out more about Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge visit their blog, Facebook, Twitter. You can find more posts by searching #HAWMC.

Follow Friday

One of the biggest reasons I started writing about Cerebral Palsy is because the internet was lacking when it came to voices of people who had CP.  Thankfully the internet has grown. This is only a small portion of what’s out there now.

10 Tweeters
@LCarterLong
@KateTheMuse
@MaysoonZayid
@CPInspiration
@JohnWQuinn
@ZacharyFenell
@htlcy
@AbilityCatcher
@BirdOnTheStreet
@TimDRose

10 Blogs
CP Shoes
Mama Lewis
Free As Trees
Trousdell Five
Robyn Lambird
The Blessing Counter
Smith’s Holiday Road
Tonia Says
The CP Mommy
Spashionista Report

10 Facebook Pages
CP Teens UK
Reaching For The Stars
Hannah Cockroft
Fit With Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy Foundation
OM Foundation
Handicap This!
Teen CP
#CPChatNow
Karen Pape

I’m participating in WEGO Health’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge. If you want to find out more about Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge visit their blog, Facebook, Twitter. You can find more posts by searching #HAWMC.

I’ve Learned To C.O.P.E.

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I wouldn’t have most of the friendships I have without it but at the same time I get overwhelmed trying to keep up with everything that I can look at daily. Plus, I use it for business purposes so things can get tricky.

Pat Padley has a formula that has helped me attempt to keep my head above the metaphorical waters of the internets.

Create
Once
Publish
Everywhere

The idea being use all platforms, since each platform appeals to different demographics, etc., but post the same thing, because why do more work than you need.

I don’t always follow this formula, because each of my platforms does serve a purpose so not every post fits every platform but I try to follow this formula when it fits.

Honestly I don’t have a favorite platform, if I do it changes often enough that it’s hard for me to keep track of. However, I do find some platforms easier to use than others depending on the purpose. I do wish it were easier to post across all platforms so “C.O.P.E. ing” would be easier to accomplish.

I find Tw!tter the most accessible in terms of versatility, meaning I can accomplish what I want from whatever device I happen to have on hand at the moment.

I like the idea behind Inst@gram more than I like using it. I find it frustrating that it’s “mobile only” and I try not to be attached to my mobile device (aka phone) 24/7.

I’ve used Faceb00k the longest but I’m far from their biggest fan, especially in terms of their mobile app.

I don’t use any other social media platforms because frankly 3 is enough, unless we’re counting blogging than 4 is more than enough.

I’ve tried to use G00gle+ for things other than the occasional hangout but I just can’t wrap my brain around it.

I like the opportunities social media has given us as a society but I don’t like the algorisms they employ behind the scenes. It makes me suspicious and weary to engage in anything. I like my timelines chronological. I’d like to go back to the idea that everyone has an equal chance of being seen/heard like when social media was beginning.

I’m participating in WEGO Health’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge. If you want to find out more about Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge visit their blog, Facebook, Twitter. You can find more posts by searching #HAWMC.

BADD ’16: Ablesim In Social Media

Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day. Blogging Against Disablism Day

I remember one of the first things I learned about the internet was don’t click on banner ads because most of them were viruses that could destroy your computer. As a result, it takes a lot to get me to even glance at an ad anywhere on the internet.

Every couple of weeks something happens to my computer, or rather the internet.
It thinks I speak Spanish.

I don’t know where or rather how it comes to this conclusion. I took Spanish for years in school but I can only remember a handful of words, none of which can be put together to form a coherent sentence.

I know people are worried that the data miners will find out too much about them from their social media habits. I have the same concerns; however, I’d need the internet to get something remotely right before I get that concerned.

In addition to thinking I speak Spanish the internet also thinks I use catheters (among other things) and want to sue people over the fact that I’m disabled.

That last one has made me change my social media engagement practices.

I realized that not paying attention to ads I am being complacent in what people assume I feel about being disabled. Yes, it would be nice to have more money at my disposal but that would mean stating that I think it’s wrong that I have a disability.

I’m sure whatever algorithms used pick up on the fact that I write about disability, and not being human don’t go much further than that. Still nearly 100% of the ads I see portray a negative view of disability.

Last week I started to not only look at the ads in my news feeds but do something about them too.

I’ve alternated between reporting “this ad is not relevant to me” and “this ad is offensive.”

Because 99% of them are not relevant to me, but they could be relevant to someone else.

I want to label all of them offensive because they’re offensive to me, but I admit I may be slightly oversensitive given that I’ve gone to paying attention to virtually none of it to all of it in the span of a day.

The internet is a powerful tool, it provides so much good to everyone who has access to it, but it also provides a lot of bad (and/or useless) information. Anyone can say anything they want and they can get away with it.

What does this mean for the disability community?

It means that ableism can come from anywhere, obviously.

It’s a good thing really. Not that ableism is ever a good thing but it gives advocates, like myself, talking points we might not have thought of if it wasn’t for things that came across our path that we didn’t agree with.

For every 1 ableist item we see we should come up with at least 2 disability items to highlight the positives of having a disability. The disability community may not have the money but we have the numbers, and more are joining the community every day.

For example, (and this is just one of the many examples obviously) the parents of the newly diagnosed child should be able to sit down at their computer and be able to find the good things about being disabled alongside some of the harsh realities. Because being disabled isn’t all doom and gloom, sadness and pity, or worthlessness or being less than.

Would I like ableism to be a thing of the past? Absolutely, but the world is full of ignorant people so, although it may seem like a pipedream now that doesn’t mean it has to be one in the future.

I’ll keep doing my part in small ways, big ways, and every way in-between.

Now about the internet thinking I can speak Spanish thing………

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2016