Friday, October 25, 2013

Twenty Years of Giving Thanks!

Speaking about what I am grateful for in my life comes up every year at Thanksgiving.  I can't just quickly say thanks for the past twenty years because it is not merely about the past twenty years, I am thankful for my whole life, especially for my family.  They are a big part of my life and I don't know what I would do without them.
Recently we celebrated Thanksgiving.  It was a great time.  I went to Lacombe on Saturday with my mom, my sister and my nephew and one of my nieces. We visited my godparents and their families.  My dad was working but I wished that he could be there.  I am thankful for our godparents because they are no different than blood relatives.  My family has limited relatives that live close by. So when I visit my godparents I am so thankful to spend time with them. 
Now that my sisters are married they have their own family and this means I am an aunt to four little ones.  I have three wonderful nieces and an amazing little nephew.   I am so honored to have them in my life. 
Sometimes when I see people who have challenges in life or who are physically impaired in some way, I wonder if they are fortunate like me.  It makes me consider if they have a wonderful family who is always there and loves them for who they are, like my family; or has a family decided to give up their child. Maybe someone thought they couldn’t handle being parents to someone who has a disability.  Perhaps the parents decided it was best to put the person in a home and neither one sees the other again.  This is a sad and tragic situation and I am grateful every day that I am with my parents and my siblings. 
When I turned eighteen, I decide to move into a group home.  At the time this location was a good transition to living an independent life.  I wanted to move out and it was an adventure.  I am so happy I can do anything that I want and I know it.  What I did with my life like going back to school and getting a diploma in Web Graphic Design is amazing to me.  This has opened many doors and has validated my beliefs about the opportunities that I can create in my life.  I am grateful to have taken the risk. 
Some people don’t have the support and the opportunity to make their own choices.  I believe that everyone has the right to choose in life.   I also believe that the best choices we make are greatly influenced by the support in our family and in our society.  The support I have had in the past twenty years of my life I am thankful for.   

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Art of Friendship

Over my life I have determined that there are a lot of different types of friends.  Some people think that girls and boys can’t be friends because romance seems to get in the way.  I had relationships with guys without romantic feelings, just common interests and respect for each other.  As school kids, growing up we can make many friends and some are merely acquaintances.  Special relationships can last for years.  These people are our “best” friends. 
People with life challenges or disabilities, as they are more commonly known, can have friendships with people that don’t have disabilities.  I am of the belief that most people have some type of disability – maybe not a noticeable one, but to some extent everyone has a degree of a disability in their life…life is challenging in a variety of ways.
I moved into a group home in Calgary 13 years ago and I have made several friends since then.  Some were roommates, some were participants in recreation programs and some were my caregivers.  When I was in school I had school chums, but not kids that I would hang out with outside of school.  Some of that was because of my disability and the fact that I had mobility issues. 
Friends come and go out of my life and that is fine with me.  I think that is pretty common for most people.  Sometimes, I have a bit of a harder time making friends because people tend to pre-judge me based on my disability.  For example, sometimes people won’t speak to me and instead they will talk to the person that is with me and ask them questions about what I might like or what I think.  At times it is very obvious that people feel sorry for me.   I won’t lie it is disappointment when people behave that way.  I often think the person is judging me as less capable than I actually am and although I am grateful they care, I would prefer they have a positive attitude and assume the best. The reality is I choose to always be surrounded by people who assume the best and I would not want to befriend someone who is a negatively focused person.  Consequently, I have some amazing friends who are in my life because they want to be.  The people who are currently in my life don’t tell me what to do or say because I can make those decisions for myself.  I am my own person and I live my life the way I choose.  I have room in my life for people who want to support me as I support them…friends of all ages from young to old.  In fact, many of my friends are not my own age.  They bring a variety of experiences to my life and a broad perspective to living. There is no better feeling than learning from someone who has already been down a particular road and has the wisdom to light the way.  My friends of different ethnic back grounds, broaden my horizons and help to fill my life with diversity. 
We all have busy lives and we all need friends.  Life would be very lonely if we had to spend it without people to share our accomplishments, our gifts, our sorrows and most of all our love.