BB Squared: Beautiful Brains, Bold Bodies

Starting and Celebrating Conversations About Differences

What If… July 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beautifulbrainsboldbodies @ 7:19 am

If I didn’t have my difference for a week, that would mean that for seven days I could:

Be completely in charge of my own body; clean myself, take myself to the restroom, put on my own makeup, temporarily get piercings without anyone but me having to deal with them…

Get into my friends’ cars and houses with ease

Stop thinking by working my tail off at a difficult workout, preferably to Latin dance music

Go to Italy, BC, Illinois, Saskatchewan, Alberta by myself OR with friends

Have a meal consisting entirely of junk food and have no one around to comment

Get an adrenaline fix by riding roller coasters at Canada’s Wonderland over and over

Go to Jill’s family cottage and play water sports

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If you had my life for a week, that would mean that for seven days you might be able to:

Laugh at jokes that only you understand or are “allowed” to laugh at

Feel obviously special – and feel mostly good about it – wherever you go

Have some of your friends help care for you and be guaranteed to see them at a certain time each week

Be able to be proud of accomplishments such as opening a ZipLock bag

Be proud of your friends’ accomplishments such as watching them vacuum while sitting in their wheelchair

Walk into a room where everyone is getting assistance with eating and feel at home even if you barely know anyone

Have your friends try cool hair and makeup ideas on you

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I’m sure there are more examples I could have given in both categories, but the point is that there is bad and beautiful in every situation and I am excited to see BB Squared embrace that. Can you add more to my list? Or points that relate to your difference? I’d be thrilled to see that in the comments.

 

Dear Jill and Aaron July 19, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beautifulbrainsboldbodies @ 7:19 am

This week I have been reading many posts centered around the theme of A Love Letter to my Body, and also these (fair warning, both these links they contain Christian content) Inspired by that, I was going to write for you today a love letter, or more like, an honest letter, to my difference, but I decided that wasn’t the right post for today, and instead I would right “friendship notes” to Aaron and Jill to show you why I am so proud to be working with them in the context of BB Squared in the hopes that you might get to know them a bit better.

 Dear Jill,

I get a lump in my throat writing this, but I have to start this out by saying that you could do anything you wanted with your life. Yes, you have a difference, but you are also a girl with a million passions; space, environmentalism, general business are just a few. Your difference can be difficult, but it is invisible, so between that and your multitude of interests you could spend your life doing a million different jobs and I truly feel that you could both make a difference and feel fulfilled doing each one, but you are hoping to devote at least a great amount of your life to differences. For that, I thank-you.

Thank-you for being willing to take on a task that is big and difficult, because whatever BB Squared becomes it will be both of those things. Thank-you for taking pleasure in sharing your ideas with Aaron and me, and for appreciating feedback. Thank-you for having so many dreams about what BB Squared can be and how it can help people, for making it hard to choose what dream we should pursue because they are all so great. Thank-you for enjoying talking about BB Squared – at least in general terms – with others besides us because it shows you have confidence in the idea and truly want it to succeed. Thank-you for making me responsible for the BB Squared blog because you know I take particular joy from blogs. Thank-you for not being afraid of potential problems or obstacles because you believe we will find ways around them one way or another.  There are so many other things I could thank-you for, but these are some of the reasons that I am excited to continue our friendship and working relationship in the future, and I wanted the readers of the BB Squared blog to know about them.

Sincerely,

Carmen

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 Dear Aaron,

When I think about the fact that you co-own a Pita Factory, I just want to gape in amazement at how much of a challenge that must be. Then I think of how you volunteer your time for Ghana School of Dreams, and I am even more certain that you are a person that I am honoured to know, and am so glad to have on the BB Squared Team. You are clearly ambitious and goal-oriented, but you do not just want to use these great qualities to further your own ends, you want to use them to help others. In the time that I have known you, I realize and appreciate that you are unafraid to contribute your thoughts – and they are awesome! – or challenge someone else’s in order to get them to see things in a new way, trading ideas is truly a fun experience for you. Also BB Squared is not just something you signed up for because you have known Jill for a long time and like and respect her, you truly want to be my friend as well, and support me in my endeavors as well as try to ensure that I get the most out of life that I possibly can. I have confidence in the years to come that this quality will not only be true for me, but for everyone else that crosses our path at BB Squared as well.

My note to you may not be as long as the one to Jill, but know that I am excited to get to know you better and better through the years, and I have no doubt that you will do great things and inspire others to do so as well.

Sincerely,

Carmen

 

Sometimes Horrible Things Are Beautiful Things in Disguise July 12, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beautifulbrainsboldbodies @ 3:13 pm

Today’s post comes to us from the President of BB Squared, Jill Clark, who wanted to share with us an important lesson that her difference taught her and one of the messages she wants to convey via BB Squared:

Life is a funny thing, how things work out and fall in, and many times, out of place. Does everything have a meaning? Does everyone I meet change my life? Who knows, and personally I don’t care. I do know though, that everything happens and all you can do is really make the best of it, even in the stickiest of times.

Lately this is the thought has been what has been going around my brain. No matter what your differences or situation, it always feels impossible to obtain those dreams and goals that you have which you think, I will never have that or get there. You may not, and that’s okay. As long as you are happy or doing all the things possible to make yourself that person you want to be, you will find a happy medium along the way.

Let me give you an example of this, let you into a bit of Jill. When I first discovered what my ‘difference’ was, I had trouble making friends, I was miserable, couldn’t sleep, lost and gained weight, and did some unspeakable things through my teenaged years. I also became more creative, the friends I made will last me a life time as the ones who stuck through it with me I know are true friends, I was forced to grow up more quickly in some areas as I needed to understand and manage my emotions to a “T” in order to function. It took me much longer to read than most other children, I had to write tests in a different room, someone would dictate questions to me, and I got funny looking knee braces (which don’t have anything to do with n diagnosed difference, but did make me different). I also became resourceful, and understood what hard work was as well  became an excellent advocate for myself.

My diagnosis of parts of my difference were not completed until I was into my first year at University, which resulted in me leaving to go and figure out exactly how to deal with these differences  to become successful. There were also personal reasons for me leaving school the first time, and I am very happy now that they all happened, but I sure what not happy at the time.

I was accepted to Conestoga Collage and had the goal of only staying for one year, figuring out my learning differences, and then going back to University for what I really loved. Two and half years later I am still at Conestoga as I learned how to love to learn. I realized that while marketing is not something that I want to do for the rest of my life, it is something that I have enjoyed learning about has opened up a number of doors for me.

I could keep going on and on about all of the things that did not go according to plan in my life and how they all have showed me something new about myself but I’m pretty sure you have the point. Life is hard and when you have a challenging differences, or situation it is hard to look past that. But think about it, if you can’t look past your differences and find ways around it than how is anyone else going to be able to look past your differences and challenging situations.

It’s not an easy thing to do, look at sometimes seemingly impossible situations or differences in a positive light, but if you do and you look at what you are learning from each situation, you will amount to much more than you ever dreamed up.

When I thought of the idea for BB Squared, this was the message I have always had in mind to share with everyone.

 

10 Quotes About Differences July 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beautifulbrainsboldbodies @ 7:20 am

Today, I thought I’d give you ten quotes about differences that I found that on the internet I thought people interested and involved in BB Squared would appreciate:

It is a waste of time to be angry about my disability. One has to get on with life and I haven’t done badly. People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.

Stephen Hawking

Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn’t mean he lacks vision.

Stevie Wonder

 It isn’t sufficient just to want – you’ve got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

I discovered early that the hardest thing to overcome is not a physical disability but the mental condition which it induces. The world, I found, has a way of taking a man pretty much at his own rating. If he permits his loss to make him embarrassed and apologetic, he will draw embarrassment from others. But if he gains his own respect, the respect of those around him comes easily. 


Alexander de Seversky 

I choose not to place “DIS”, in my ability.

Robert M. Hensel

Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you’re needed by someone.

 Martina Navratilova

 Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.

 Helen Keller

 The only disability in life is a bad attitude.

 Scott Hamilton

 It was my ability that mattered, not disability, which is a word I’m not crazy about using.

 Marlee Matlin

 You have to train your brain.

 Jill Clark

 Anyone have anymore that they would like to add?

 

5 Recent Instances Where Differences Have Made Me Smile June 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beautifulbrainsboldbodies @ 7:31 am

I know I have written about this before, but today I thought I would write another simple post talking about six ways my difference has brought joy into my life in recent months, in no particular order:

1) On my birthday, I met an adorable little boy, with an adorable little wheelchair. He was already learning to operate the push chair himself (show-off! :)), he was fascinated by my wheels, and I loved being able to tell him that we have wheelchairs because we’re cool, even if he was too little to understand me yet…you can never start to early!

2) Two of my friends with differences recently had a baby. For one thing it was beautiful to see two people with differences have their dream come true. If they are anything like me, part of them never thought this day would come, and they probably have to pinch themselves in order to believe that their beautiful daughter is really theirs to keep. It is further proof that nothing is impossible.

3) Not to make this about me, but the other joyous part of this event came for me when I got to hold Baby Girl the other night. People, I can not even tell you what it means to me that I held this tiny child independently and I did not freak out, at all. It was kind of like a primal instinct took over, like even though I had only done this one other time in my life, I somehow knew what to do. And to top it off, one of my other friends looked at me while I was holding her and said, “You’ll make a good mother.” I appreciated the comment at the time but now as I write this it is hitting me harder. I don’t know if being a mother will happen or is even an essential dream for me, but in a way this event gave me permission to imagine it in a way that I haven’t before.

4) A couple of weeks ago, I was honoured to speak at an an event that celebrated the inclusion of people with differences. I love to speak, but I do get nervous when I do it in front of a large group of people. In another miraculous moment (in my opinion), I spoke calmly and clearly and received many compliments on it afterwards. As I’ve said before, I loved knowing that I had something to contribute to my community that was appreciated and respected.

5) At this same event, we were treated to a performance by a singer with a difference named Justin Hines.  He is a very talented performer who truly impressed me a lot Although I did not get the opportunity to chat with him like some of my friends did, it was still great to see a guy who uses a wheelchair truly exhibit the attitude that nothing could stop him from following his dream. If I sit and thing about all the logistics he must have to handle in order to have a successful career, I am just so pleased that he has been able to negotiate all of them in order to pursue his goals in life.

This was a rather self-centered post I suppose, but I wanted to reiterate again how much joy can be found in life with a difference if it is sought out. I believe that BB Squared will be an organization that will contribute both directly and indirectly to the joy of the people it serves and I am so excited to witness that.

 

On Being Needed June 21, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beautifulbrainsboldbodies @ 7:19 am

One characteristic that having a difference has given me is that it really means a lot to me to be needed. Ever since I was a little girl, I have adored being the one who helps. Besides being thankful that I can fulfill the needs of others, it truly feels good to be the one helping when the reality of my life dictates that I am very often the one who is given assistance.. It makes me feel empowered, it helps me feel like a woman instead of a girl, it is not just – hopefully – good for others, it is good for me.

I know this is a sentiment that Jill and I share, wanting to help others both for their benefit and her own. It is the reason she started BB Squared as well as the reason she does a multitude of other work to support the differences community. Jill is someone who truly wants to see all people with differences succeed and become the best they can be, she and I both understand the powerful feeling that results from someone benefiting from advice we have given them, or a skill we have been able to share, and we want others to experience that feeling as well. As for Aaron, even though our friendship is still developing, I am absolutely confident that he believes in this dream as well. After all, one doesn’t start building schools of dreams in Ghana without the goal of empowering people.

Whatever BB Squared becomes, it will not be an organization that simply adds one more possibility to the list of services for people with differences, it will be a placewhere the underlying goal is to help people achieve their dreams so that they in turn, in their own way, can help people do the same.

 

Voices June 14, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beautifulbrainsboldbodies @ 7:32 am

My parents are different from one another in many ways, but one way that affects my life probably more than it should is that my mother is often cold and my father is almost always hot. In my world, this translates into constant debates about what I should where when I go outside; jacket or no jacket, windbreaker or heavier coat.

This may seem like a stupid thing to discuss in a BB Squared blog post, but I do so to illustrate that one particular aspect of my life with a difference is that I constantly have people giving me their opinions about various subjects in my life, both simple and complicated. Now – with the exception of my parents much of the time, because I am a brat – I appreciate this advice because I know my friends are just trying to help me, and a lot of times I really need it because I am having trouble making a decision or I am deciding what to do about something that affects more than just myself. The issue isn’t really the loving, intelligent voices of those around me, the issue is I have to learn to find and trust my own voice. I have to learn to be OK when I make a decision of which my parents or friends don’t approve,  especially when it is a decision that is only affecting me. I need to have enough confidence in myself and my relationships to know that even if people in my life do not agree with a decision I am making, they are not going to be less inclined to be my friend because I am making a different choice than they would.

One of the awesome organizations for which I volunteer, Waterloo Region Family Network, considers choice an extremely important part of the way that they serve people with differences. They make it a priority through their model of service to give individuals and families as many choices as possible, and then support these people in whatever choice they make. I believe this is a method that BB Squared will adopt as well, we want to develop an organization that gives people the tools to make choices that are right for them, while being one agency of support they can use to help make those choices. Ultimately, we want the people we serve to learn to make decisions for themselves, so that they can feel mature and confident and in turn serve as an example to others that such choice making is possible.