Monday, August 16, 2010

Disability: Limitations or Opportunities?

- by guest blogger Stephanie Hickey -

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I came to be doing this blog and I have to give the credit to my mother. She never allowed me to feel sorry for myself. She never allowed me to dwell on what I couldn’t do. She helped me see what I could do.

I’ve had Cerebral Palsy since I was a toddler, so from a very early point in my life I knew there would be a lot of things physically beyond my reach. For instance, I will never be a great figure skater, like my idol Michelle Kwan. But my mother helped me to see that every single person --disabled or not--has dreams of achieving what he or she knows is beyond their reach. And we all know our dreams are always going to be just that--dreams. My mother stressed that although my physical world may be limited, my mental world was not and it was vaster than the physical world could ever be.

Taking that advice, I began to read a lot and I saw that my mother was right. Entire worlds opened up to me. I totally absorbed the characters and their realities, finding that I was capable of doing hundreds of things impossible to me in the “real” world through all these characters, these other realities. And I began to fall in love with words, discovering just what could be done with them. I wanted to create those different worlds. I wanted to manipulate words. I wanted to see just what I could accomplish with them, because--as my mother said--my mental world was not limited--and I could take that to any heights I wanted to take it.

From that point, I began to discover my talent. Of course I may sometimes still wistfully wish that I were capable of doing something I know is physically beyond my reach. However, this is mostly around the time of the Winter Olympics or skating’s World Championships when I see the skaters performing and am just blown away by their physical prowess. But my mother helped me learn to find what I could do instead of coveting someone else’s gifts and being resentful of what others could achieve.

So now here I am, writing. It became my passion and grew into something I love to do more than anything else. I might not have discovered this passion and nurtured it into a talent that has grown and continues to do so had it not been for my mother. Had it not been for her outlook, I might not see things as I see them now.

Sometimes what we see as limitations are anything but that--they are opportunities. They are chances to find things you never thought were in your power to do. Setbacks are not always setbacks. We just have to push ourselves to look hard to find the opportunity in the setback or limitation. And to my mother, for helping me learn how to do just that, I say thank you.

Photo Credit: Flickr

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