BB Squared: Beautiful Brains, Bold Bodies

Starting and Celebrating Conversations About Differences

On Courage and Fear March 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beautifulbrainsboldbodies @ 7:29 am

A few days ago I had an opportunity to go with my dad to a luncheon where Greg Moore spoke. Greg Moore is a man who has quadriplegia who decided last summer that he wanted to road trip to Los Angeles. He hired Personal Support Workers from kijiji.ca (a Canadian online classified site) and off they went. Interestingly, before Dad and I were even invited to this luncheon, I had seen the article about Greg in The Toronto Star (linked above), so going to this luncheon was kind of a dream come true for me. I loved seeing Greg’s pictures (just a fraction of the enormous amount he had taken), and hearing his story there, but, for me, that isn’t the thing that had the biggest affect. It was the entry he wrote on his blog in August 2011 about fear. He talks about how he wouldn’t want anyone to describe him as sane at his funeral. This statement takes my breath away. Don’t we, as persons with differences, have a responsibility to be sane, so that we don’t hurt ourselves, or cause too much trouble? That’s the thing, I have lived a wonderful life, but it has been a life filled with doing what makes sense. Part of this is because of my own real fear, but part of it is that I feel obligated to be cautious, I feel like that is what is expected of me.

But I don’t think being too afraid to do something is an option when one teams up with Jill Clark and Aaron Fierling. They have dreams, people, and they have already proven that they have the courage and the drive to see those dreams through. I hope that through BB Squared and my friendship with these people, as well as continuing to be inspired by people like Greg, I can nurture these qualities inside of myself, and come out stronger for it. I know that whatever direction our organization goes in we will do things that are scary, but I believe that just like Greg we will do what we can, revel in the risks, and hopefully someday we will be the ones sharing our adventures.

 

Grey’s Anatomy, BB Squared and Me (Note: This Post Contains Spoilers for Grey’s Anatomy Episode 817: “One Step Too Far” and Very General Information About Other Episodes) March 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beautifulbrainsboldbodies @ 7:21 am

A fun fact about me: I love television. Yesterday, I was watching one of my favourite shows, Grey’s Anatomy, which is a drama that combines the characters’ personal lives with supposedly accurate medical drama. In the episode I watched yesterday, a character named Meredith, made a poor surgical decision, and, because her husband was also her boss that day, he was extremely angry about it. Now, because I know Meredith as a character, I know that she regretted her decision, or at least felt terrible about its result, but she faced her husband both professionally and personally without fear. In particular, it was the latter that stood out to me. See, Meredith has made several other mistakes in the past, so if I was Meredith, I would have completely shut down in terms of personal communication with my husband out of guilt  as well as fear about what it would mean for our marriage.

This is a long-winded way of telling you that I have difficulty making and standing by serious decisions, as well as resolving conflict. Perhaps that is too much information to reveal on a blog that is, once again, not just mine, but I truly believe that these problems have to do with my difference. See, I have very good but very involved parents who, because they are so good, and because I am living in their home, can’t resist weighing in and assisting me in making my decisions even though I am 27 years old, and because old habits die hard, I can’t resist allowing this. I truly marvel at people, both fictional and real, who can ardently defend a decision they have made, even if they stand alone or with only one other person. As for my lack of skill in dealing with conflict, I think the reasons for this are harder to pinpoint, but it probably comes down to lack of experiences. Perhaps I have not had enough varied experience with either friends, colleagues, or strangers to learn how to masterfully deal with conflict with both grace and conviction. Perhaps these issues are unique to me, but I would not be surprised if other persons with differences struggle with one or both of these problems.  I believe that whatever direction BB Squared decides to go in, this organization will only help in these areas, because our overall goal is to get people with differences more involved in the world, which inherently means more challenges, but also more opportunities to learn.

 

On Belonging March 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beautifulbrainsboldbodies @ 6:56 am

I was talking to a friend the other day about our times at Beckwith Hall, the dormitory I lived in during my undergraduate studies that was designed specifically for persons with physical differences. Each time I talk about that place, or stalk the Facebook pages of people I lived with or still live in that community now, or are connected to it in some way, I ache. Of miss specific people, but the biggest thing I miss is the sense that I belonged there. I lived with people who understood my life, either directly because they had a physical difference, or, in the case of the Personal Support Workers, indirectly because the people the people they spent a ton of their time with had physical differences. I’m spoiled, because I have chosen to work with people with differences in my profession, so I can sense the community forming around me in my various volunteer positions and personal relationships, not to mention between Jill, Aaron, and myself. Still, whenever I am in a situation where I sense that people want to know me, but just are unsure of how to go about it, I long to invite them to activities including my friends with differences. Come, I ache to say. Come see this important piece of who I am, and let me show you how we are both beautifully similar and fabulously different from you. I guess what I am trying to say is that I desire both to be part of a community of people who share my experience, or aspects of it, and to invite other people to witness the beauty of that community.

This, I believe, is the goal of BB Squared, to create a community where people with differences feel like they belong, as well as a place where people without differences can see the talents and gifts we possess. Again, we are not yet sure what form this will take, but as we figure it out, we hope you will join us.

 

Anything Can Happen March 8, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beautifulbrainsboldbodies @ 8:28 am

As is likely true of many people, I’ve always loved the idea that “anything can happen”. Usually, I apply it to romance, but I have been thinking this week about how it applies to working with people with differences. It’s amazing to me that I work in a field, really, that I have been given a life, that is just bursting with areas that need improvement. There are definitely times when this can get discouraging, I hate talking to friends who have done everything right in terms of independence, but cannot achieve one key aspect, such as moving out or purchasing a car because of circumstances beyond their control. This is horrible and it infuriates me on their behalf. At the same time though, it makes me smile to think that someday, I, or someone else I know, could contribute directly or indirectly to solving a friend’s problem. Jill has this saying that if one wants to learn about something, he or she should “indulge in it.” In Jill-speak 🙂 this means that one should learn everything one can about a topic. But it’s also fun to “indulge in” possibilities, to see the needs that exist in the world one inhabits and dream and think of solutions to them.  Our fearless leader (Jill) might chide me for this post because she is a fan of putting together solutions to problems, which is why she is so great to have around, but I’m not really saying that one should spend all her time indulging in the exciting world of possibilities, simply that I feel privileged to be part of a group – both in terms of BB Squared and in my status as a woman with a difference – that offers so many possible directions to go in. If I am willing to indulge in one or a few – as I have begun to do already thanks to other organizations like Waterloo Region Family Network – then my life will never be boring. And I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that as Jill, Aaron and I continue to ponder what pursuits we will indulge in that life at BB Squared will never, ever be boring either.

 

I Don’t Get It March 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beautifulbrainsboldbodies @ 8:43 am

Jill, Aaron and I have been talking lately about how it’s often hard for the community of persons without differences to understand how to incorporate persons with differences into their “world” in a meaningful way. Well, this week I have been thinking how there is a flip side to that; there are a lot of things that I, as a person with a difference don’t get either. For years, I have said that if I ever facilitate a workshop for persons with differences and their personal support workers, the first thing I would say to the group is: “We are never going to completely understand each other.” And it’s true: I don’t get how physically difficult it can sometimes be for Jill – or my parents – to help me with all of my daily tasks. I don’t get how at times it must be annoying for Jill to do homework while she is spending the weekend because I could call her to help me at any second. I also don’t get the particular struggles that people with other disabilities have; I don’t get what it is like not to be able to spell certain words automatically because of a learning difference or how boring it must be to sit through a church service that is not completely understandable because of a cognitive difference.

In reality, I can only completely understand my own experience, and the aspects of the experiences of others that are easiest to empathize with are those that mirror my own. At times, this leads me to believe that I should strive to only help those with physical differences, because that is what I would be best at. But I know that this way of thinking undermines the purpose of BB Squared, both in the sense that our goal is to help as many people with differences as possible and while helping those people we want not only people without differences to understand us better, we want people within the differences community to understand each other better, too.