My Thoughts On Being “An Inspiration”

I watched them. They had been married for over 50 years and they still snuggled up next to each other. I could tell they actually liked each other…after 50 years of marriage! I want that marriage after 50 years. I was inspired.

I know a Mom with many children…12 to be exact. I was around her a lot! She is one of my very favorite people in the world. She is not a saint…but probably pretty close! I loved being at her house as a kid and I still love it now. She was always so loving and calm. She didn’t endure her kids. She liked them. She enjoyed them. They all still adore her to this day. She inspired me to want my own large brood!

In Disability Land, this idea of being an inspiration is tossed about with different opinions. Some don’t mind, but others are very offended! If I run to the store to grab some milk for my family, and someone looks at me with sad eyes and tells me how wonderful it is (or how brave I am) that I get out in public, well, that doesn’t always hit me so well.

Once I went with one of my besties to a concert where her girls were performing. The auditorium really only had one little space for a wheelchair to sit and then it cascaded up a set of really wide steps. Our family came to be with our friends and support their girls, so the idea of sitting all alone in my designated spot wasn’t going over so well. I just told me hubby to pop me up those steps (they were good and wide and my chair easily set on each step) and I would transfer into a seat and sit near my friend! On my way up the steps, one dear lady looked at me and said, “You are SOOOO brave!” Uhm, thank you. I am not trying to be brave. I am just trying to do a normal thing and sit with my friend!

I have had some look at me and say, “I don’t know how you do it. If I was paralyzed, I would kill myself. You really inspire me.” Well, I just don’t know how to really answer that. Part of me thinks, “How bad do you think my life is?!!”. The other part of me says, “I can’t believe that a paralyzed life would have no value to you!!” Another part of me thinks they are extremely selfish people. There are people in my life that are so happy I am alive…paralyzed or not. I happen to be happy about being alive too! So that statement is pretty offensive to me.

Do I like being inspirational for buying milk, enjoying a personal outing or just breathing? No, not really.

Allow me to flip the coin now.

I have met many who have stereotypes about wheelchair users. They have never been around an active wheelchair user, or they are stuck in a bit of a cultural time-warp. They mean no harm and most are the older population. They are shocked to find out I can shower myself, drive a car, transfer without help, mother children, take care of my home, cook, workout and on and on. Do I like changing this perception? Yes, I do! I like to inspire new thoughts! I like to inspire new mentalities! I like to inspire new perceptions!

I have also met many disabled people who do not push themselves at all. They don’t have much of a life. They are content to live with family and be taken care of. They are discouraged, lonely and not seeing a very happy future for themselves. I am not talking about those who must have caretakers because they do not have the functions to do it themselves (like a high level quadriplegic). I know several high level quadriplegics who need personal care but they live a very full and active life! I am talking about those who are held back by their own fears and insecurities. Do I like to inspire them that they are more capable than they think? Yes I do!

Some of my most rewarding times, are when someone learns a new skill and I have been the one to teach it to them. I have a close family member that was born with a disability who was inspired that he was capable of living alone. I have a dear friend who never thought she would be able to drive. I will NEVER forget the day she came and picked me up for lunch! I have another friend who was able to learn how to put her own chair in the car with her. Those are precious times and I am so thankful that I was able to help inspire them to move ahead farther in life!

Then there are those who love to live as a martyr. It doesn’t matter if they are disabled or not, they are the ultimate victim. They have all the quick answers as to why their marriage just won’t make it, their kids don’t like them, they can’t keep a job, they won’t work on their health, how life has treated them unfairly and…..well, pretty much everyone and everything is against them. I don’t know if I ever could inspire them or not, but I would love to try. I would love for them to know that life is life. We are all faced with challenges and things that can knock the breath out of us. But….excuses and being a victim just hold you down. Only when you decide that you are not going to be held captive by your circumstances, and decide to be a victor instead of a victim, can you shed your circumstance and rise above it! I have a very hard time not going into “pep talk” mode when I am around these kind of people.

If I can inspire people to quit looking at their problems, and instead look at their possibilities, then I am all in!

I love to see those frowns turn into smiles!

Do I mind being an inspiration? No, I do not.

I love being inspired by others to go forward in my life, and I absolutely love it if I can help others go forward in theirs!

(I though you might enjoy this pic I saw on Facebook. It is pretty funny, although I really don’t mind some of these things.)

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