Sunday, July 29, 2012

Physically Challenged and Successful

     Recently, we went to a local restaurant that sets near a channel to Lake Michigan. The restaurant has an ambient atmosphere with fresco seating. The inviting soft- breezes whisper to you there.     
     A   friendly, attractive young lady served our table with a smile and grace. When she walked away and down steps to a lower level, I noticed she limped.
      Later, when she returned with our beverages I observed her flesh-colored prosthetic leg. She wasn’t trying to hide it, as she had on a pair of shorts accompanied with the restaurants logo t-shirt. We hadn't noticed her disability, because of her self-confidence and attitude. 
       In the United States there are 45 million Physically Challenged people over the age of five.  This is the largest minority group in America and only 15 million are 65 or older.
      I've been around people who are physically challenged all my life. Mainly due to having polio as a child which left me paralyzed on my right side. After years of intense therapy and numerous surgeries, I maneuver  almost "normal." During this time, I was surrounded by other crippled children and adults. It became the norm for me. 
      And I was blessed to have a close relationship with a cousin whose spinal cord was severed at T1 in a vehicle accident. Jack, a cowboy, stayed active even with his disability, but he did fight depression. For years he ran a large cattle ranch, throwing himself in and out of his hand-controlled pick-up, from his wheelchair. He was my hero, but when he grew older he turned to alcohol to dull his pain from declining health.   
      A good friend in Arizona had a spinal cord injury at T10 when she was eighteen years old. She is an enterprising person and never gives up on living a happy and inspirational life. A few years ago, she started The Annabel Inn, a Bed and Breakfast, in Cottonwood, AZ. It has a French atmosphere and is quite successful. She has plans to expand. Annabel writes articles for newspapers, and has written several novels. Many able bodied people can’t keep up with this lady. She is one of my heroes. 
      Of course, there are physical challenged people that hole up in their houses, do nothing for themselves, refuse to learn a new trade and waste away. How sad.
      In Sedona, I know a man who has a spinal disease. He can only move his arms and is slowing losing that ability. He works from his home for a large drugstore chain writing programs for their systems and constantly updating their files. He earns over $100K a year.
      Down the street from him, able-bodied men ask for hand-outs.  Why?
      A good friend of mine, started a travel business for physically challenged people after she lost a leg to cancer in her mid-40's. After the amputation, her husband left her, stating he couldn't live with a person who was incomplete. 
       Carroll never allowed her disability stop her from living a productive and positive existence. For a time she moved to Alaska to experience a different kind of life. 
      Many able-bodied people fear leaving the areas where they were born, wilting away doing the same things, riding their limited "Merry-Go-Round" of life, forever.   
     Carroll died at the age of 65 from heart disease. Her kindness, support and uplifting spirit, inspires me to this day.
     I will continue to surround myself with people who are supportive, productive, positive and inspiring. It's not healthy to have the negative, "Oh, woe is me's," or the "Naysayers,"  in your life.   
     When I became a successful author, a family member remarked, "How silly is that? Everyone I know thinks they can write."  It stunned me at the time, but now I understand that negativity. 
     I believe many of these people can't stand to see anyone happy or successful.   They want to bring you down to their pitiful existence of life, into their hell. A life that they have created or settled into. 
     It reminds me of the "Crabs In the Bucket," story. When a single crab is put into a lidless bucket, they surely can and will escape. However, when more than one share a bucket, none can get out. If one crab elevates themselves above all, the others will grab this crab and drag'em back down to share the mutual fate of the rest of the group. 
     I'm sure you all know a Hero who is Physically or Mentally Challenged. Tell them how they inspire you and congratulate them on doing their best with what life has delt them.  

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