Eskimo snow…

Eskimos and Inuits have forty to fifty words regarding snow, and Webster’s dictionary has six definitions for the word normal. I recently heard someone use the word normal degradingly when referring to a coworker with a disability, as if his disabled coworker is abnormal. We should eliminate the terms normal and abnormal from our vocabulary when referring to humans because a normal person is like a unicorn great in theory but does not exist in reality. So let me give you a few examples of people who think normal people are alive and do not realize the individuals they are referring to do not exist, just like sasquatch.

Tom made a derogatory statement and did not think it was a big deal when he referenced his Boss, Brian, as normal compared to the disabled woman in his office. It was just that the woman got a closer parking spot, and he had to walk a little in the rain. Tom said normal people like him and Brian do not get special treatment, although they are exceptional employees. However, Tom does not know Brian has a secret that has been affecting his life for years.

So Tom let me tell you about your Boss Brian, who you consider normal although he is not, and that is okay. Brian has had a confidence problem and is scared to talk to the public. A year ago, your Boss saw a woman who was larger than life, extremely boisterous, and excessively confident. Brian goes home every night and dresses in a skirt, blouse, and heels, just like the woman he saw several years ago. He does this to mirror the woman attempting to build his confidence, just like the brilliantly bold woman. There is no such thing as ordinary people, and there is nothing wrong with that fact, so stop using that word to talk about any human.

And then there is Lisa. She walked past the bus stop and saw a guy in a wheelchair talking a little slower to his assistant, so she kept her thoughts to herself. However, when she walked into the crowded coffee shop and sat down next to a gentleman, she no longer held her views to herself. Instead, she started a conversation and let loose about normal people to someone who is not because, to her dismay, normal people do not exist. They conversed for about forty-five minutes while finishing their coffee, discussing everything under the sun. Little did Lisa know people who are a little quirky sometimes hide in plain sight.

But what you do not know, Lisa is that the gentleman you sat next to trying to get away from abnormal people has a quirk he tells no one. Someone broke into his family home five years ago, which changed him mentally forever. No one was home or hurt, but he felt shame because it was his duty to protect his family and belongings. So now, every time he locks the door, whether to stay or to leave, he must lock and unlock the door fifty times, adding hours to his other daily daddy duties. When he locks his car door, house door, the shed door, his office door, or any door in his life, allowing very little spare time for extracurricular activities.

Jim, you have been working hard and extremely tired when you get off work, but you promised your kids a trip to the movies. As soon as you walked into the theater, you sat in the first seats available in the area meant for wheelchair users. A family with a child in a wheelchair came in and asked you to move, and you quickly apologized and mumbled that you and your offspring should be sitting back where the normal people sit. You then started a conversation with a woman who snickered at your statement and was sitting next to you. Since the talk between you both went well, you asked her to dinner, where you learned that normal is not the norm and she is not as ordinary as you thought. 

A week later, you could not believe the coincidence of meeting a beautiful and normal woman at a movie theater at the restaurant. This meeting seemed like a one-in-a-million chance and was going exceptionally well. However, when you ordered your meal, and she placed her food request, neither of you paid attention to the other and you learned a lot when her food arrived. When you looked at her plate to see what she ordered, you noticed it was colorless and looked quizzically at this. Finally, you posed a query to this quandary and questioned whether you noticed that your plate is not even dotted with color and is simply devoid of it. Her answer was astounding as she said she only eats white food as it releases her brain from the less important mundane task of choosing food by color. She said this as if she was a mathematician who needed to think of more important things, so Jim, does that make her normal in your eyes? 

If you are talking to a mechanic, it is absolutely acceptable to say my car is not making the normal sound, but when referring to a human the word normal is off-limits. In my opinion, those who are believed to be the mythical creature called normal are truly not, and that is okay. I always say you do you, and as long as it does not hurt anybody, why should I be concerned? However, I feel everyone is a little off, a little odd, or a little quirky, and I think that is the way it should be as it makes the world a bit more interesting. What an absurd world we would live in if we were all exactly the same; in other words, we talked the same, walked the same, and even think the same, how very lame. So my hats off to those who are out in the open loudly weird, diabolically different, or oddly off-the-wall because I think you help make the world a better and unique place.

The world is full of all kinds of beautiful people, so let your disability freak flag fly. 

Dear people with disabilities… 

Now that we have rung in this New Year and flipped to the next digit to enter the shiny new Era, we need more. We should desire something to make us stand out from the crowd, as it is too easy to vanish into obscurity if we do not grow. In life, no challenge should define us like struggles do not say who we are as they are just a blip in our timeline. So every year, we should grab the tree of life, and with all the strength, we can muster and shake it. So if you have a lot of power, rock and rattle its branches until they crack, or if you have less vitality, vigorously shake the twigs and leaves roaring, I am here. We must not merely survive this game called life, but we must thrive like a cactus in the scorching desert sun.

The key to finding the new thing which will change your outlook on life is to consider your limits. You should stretch slightly past your comfort zone to prove to yourself you can do more. Find something you have never done or are not good at and do it. Studies show this builds your brain connections and can make you smarter and a well-rounded person. Find your neighborhood community center and look into taking some classes involving art or cooking. If age-appropriate, find a senior center, check out the schedule, and make new and possibly lifelong friends. If you pinpoint and take part, there are plenty of events for the low and even mid-speed abilities.

For those looking for high octane options, there are a plethora of them from which to choose. Adaptive sports have become a massive industry, as no one enjoys being excluded because of life’s lousy limitations. We have come so far in technology, and what was once impossible is now conceivable. Great minds have gotten together and figured out how to make most things work correctly, specifically for the disabled. We have all heard the phrase; there is an app for that. Now we can say there is an adaptation for that.

Adaptive sports include surfing, kayaking, skiing, skydiving, and the list goes on and on. No matter your talent level and abilities, you can ride a bike with a handcycle, or if you have the required skills, you can whitewater kayak. If you are willing, it is not out of the question to snow ski in Colorado with the best of the best. Your willingness to act or not limits you, and what the imagination can create for these sports can help.

I have always said: do not tell me I cannot do something because, with time and effort, I will make it happen. People challenged me to do a 5k in my wheelchair, and even though others doubted I would complete it, I was successful. Some said I could not do two and a half miles of swimming, yet I blew that challenge out of the water, and I swam eight grueling miles. There may be obstacles in your path, but you decide to allow them to stop you or not. The question becomes, how badly do you want it, and how much are you willing to sacrifice to accomplish the goal? So get off the couch and pick up your feet, cane, crutches, get behind your walker, or even sit in your wheelchair and do something new for the New Year.

Do not let your ailment stop you; do something despite it.