A Renewed Sense of Gratitude

May 5, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Speaking Engagements | Leave a comment
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Yesterday, Megan and I spoke at the International Conference on Self Determination. We were part of a panel discussion on making lives of people with disabilities thier own, if every sense of the word. The other panelists ranged from people who once lived in group homes but had transitioned out, those in the process of transitioning out of a group home & even those for whom the move from the house of a relative to a group home was a significant step toward their independence.

Megan and I were participating as the “supposed ideal” example of self-determination. At one point, a colleague even called me the textbook model. In many ways this sounds so ironic to me because I see nothing extraordinary about the situation I’m in. From the very beginning, whether it was parental influence or whether I’m simply hardwired to be stubborn, I had no doubt, ever, that my life would simply unfold in the same way that anyone without a disability would watch their life unfold.

I found myself listening to the other panelists talk about their present life, how they got there, and what their dreams are, and with a fair amount of astonishment realized that quite often I take for granted my gift of total independence and freedom to live the way I choose. I even have my moments, and very often in fact, when I find myself complaining about my work or other responsibilities, and fail to recognize that in many ways I’m living my version of the ideal life that so many people with disabilities haven’t yet achieved.

I’m very grateful to have had opportunities to speak alongside other panelists, for they provided a wake up call for me  snap out of my complacency.

Last night, as Megan and I had dinner, I asked if she would remind me every so often of those who must fight harder for their ideal life, when she sees me begin to slip into laziness. I also hope that the example that Megan and I provide inspires others to bring their dreams to fruition.
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