Tag Archives: disability

Thinking differently about your brain

     Monday, I got a few small lessons in neuroscience. An article was forwarded to me in the morning entitled, “Your Brain is a Rainforest.” The article, by Thomas Armstrong, examined the nature of the brain and society’s tendency to diagnose the differences that exist among all the brains out there. Armstrong calls for a focus on the strengths that the differences between brains provide to individuals, instead of the negatives that are associated with mental disorders, which only serve to fracture society and stigmatize individuals with disorders or disabilities. “The concept of neurodiversity provides a more balanced perspective. Instead of regarding traditionally pathologized populations as disabled or disordered, the emphasis in neurodiversity is placed on differences,” Armstrong writes.   

     After reading the article (which I strongly recommend), I thought to myself, “That makes sense. No two people are exactly alike, so why should two brains be exactly alike?” What would the world look like if we celebrated the differences between us, instead of trying to diagnose those who don’t fit our ever-evolving and very narrow mold of “normal?” What if we played to the strengths of each individual instead of forcing individuals to perform tasks for which they aren’t suited?

     In order to answer these questions, you may have to step into a different hemisphere of your brain. This is where my second lesson in neuroscience comes in. Monday afternoon, I was forwarded a video of Jill Bolte Taylor speaking to a group of people about how the brain works and the unique opportunity she had to study the hemispheres of the brain. I won’t spoil it by going into detail about her speech, but I recommend that you take 20 minutes and listen to what she has to say. Then see if it helps you answer the questions I posed. I have a strong suspicion that these two concepts connect somehow, and that we could make the world an altogether better place if we took these two small lessons in neuroscience and turned them into actions instead of words.

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 Cheers,

Lindsey

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Filed under Culture, Disability, Perspective

Finding Judy Garland in my flowers

On Monday (Valentine’s Day), I received a lovely springtime bouquet of flowers. After unwrapping the plastic and filling the vase full of water (I think it had tipped over in the delivery truck), I trotted back to my desk and placed the bouquet right next to my computer. Since Monday, I have spent countless minutes just staring at the flowers. They are gorgeous—bright yellow lilies, subtly purple daisies, light pink alstroemeria, 2 silky carnations, deep violet limonium, a tulip, and an iris. I also had one cheery daffodil, but it fell victim to the delivery truck.

The more I admired the arrangement, the more I found that my favorite flowers were the ones that were rarest in the bouquet; my solitary iris, the lonely tulip, and the single stem of limonium. Each day I watch these fade and regret that I will eventually only have a bunch of daisies and Peruvian lilies. They don’t seem special or unique if I have dozens of the same thing.

The same is true of people. I have spent a good deal of time trying to conform to the standards of society and the trends of the marketplace, but what I find is that people tend to remember and appreciate my quirky qualities, the ones that make me Lindsey and not a cookie cutter replica of Amanda or Leanne or  Erica. So, today, let’s all try to appreciate what sets us apart from everyone else. Let’s be the iris in a sea of daisies. Judy Garland said, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” I think that is good advice.

Cheers,

Lindsey

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Filed under Disability, Inspirational, Perspective

What goes around, comes around; or Lessons in good karma

“Life’s most urgent question is:  What are you doing for others?”

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s funny—most of us think that life’s most urgent questions are about what other people are doing for us. It’s all a perspective thing. If, in fact, this is life’s most urgent question, let’s all take a moment and at least pretend that we agree with Dr. King’s statement.

So, what are you doing for others? The answer could be on the level of volunteering regularly or spearheading an effort to save the world from pollution, disease, famine, war, hate, illiteracy, etc., or it could be more in league with random acts of kindness done on a daily basis. Whatever you come up with, I’m sure it will either be more or less than you estimated. When it comes to service, we are normally pretty bad at gauging our involvement. I typically find that I am surprised by all the small acts of kindness I tally up over a span of time, but that I fall short of my estimate of the larger-scale, big picture kind of acts.

Now that you have taken a moment out of your day to answer life’s most urgent question, I invite you to share how you rate. Do you do more or less for others than you estimated?

If you are looking for a way to increase your service points, ask us how you can use your talents to impact the lives of those we serve. We have plenty of volunteer opportunities and we are always open to suggestions.

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To my Indianapolis readers: Enjoy the sunshine!

To everyone else: Happy Friday!

Lindsey

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“It’s about time you got a job!”

Remember your first job? My very first job was working behind the meat and deli counters of a family-owned market in Fort Wayne. I loved it. My interview for the job consisted of one question, “How old are you?” When I responded, “16,” the owner of the market looked at me and said, “It’s about time you got a job.” I really didn’t feel like I was too far behind schedule in this respect, but I accepted his criticism and continued with the interview (which consisted of being asked when I could start).

The thing that most appealed to me about having a high school job was that I suddenly had money. I could buy gas for my car, put some in savings, go to the occasional movie with friends or shop a little at the mall—you know, typical teenage stuff.

Now, as I sit behind the desk of my first job out of college, I reflect on the benefits of having a job.

1)      I don’t have to live in my parents’ basement.

2)      I can make payments on my student loans.

3)      I can buy lamps (if you had to deal the considerable lack of light in my apartment, you would understand the importance of this one).  

4)      I can purchase gas for the car and can sometimes afford to have the car fixed when it is broken.

5)      I can buy groceries.

6)      I have entertainment money and money to eat an occasional dinner out.

Raise your hand if you see a theme. That’s correct—I have income. And that income allows me to live comfortably, pay the bills, buy things that I need and some things that I want, etc. After college, I was just plain lucky to get the job that I did. If my boss hadn’t been willing to take a chance on an English major without a lick of experience in the real world, I would have been back in Fort Wayne peddling round steak and potato salad.

Isn’t it time that individuals with disabilities were given the same chance that the rest of us expect? Isn’t it time that more employers hired those with disabilities? Why shouldn’t they be given the opportunity to earn income, pay taxes, pay bills, buy lamps, purchase groceries,  eat at restaurants, buy movie or concert tickets, and so on? Walgreens and Goodwill are known for their practice of consistently hiring employees with disabilities, and they have barrels full of successes to show for it. Let’s follow their lead and welcome a new, more diverse population to the workplace. It’s time.

Until next time,

Lindsey

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Filed under Community, Disability, Perspective