Sunday, January 27, 2013

Going With The Flow -Part 2

Fitting In At Any Cost
Wish I could say that smoking was all I did in an attempt to "blend" in with the world, my choices spiralled down wards until Jesus saved my life in my early twenties.  Sparing the sordid details about my behaviour, let's just say, I was as lost as lost can be. More details on another day.
The point of bringing that up is to share just how compromised and desperate some of us can become when we are convinced, the only way to stop the pain in our hearts, is by going with the flow. Problem is, that flow can be likened to a river of icky white Bondfast glue. Sure at first, some may believe you are one of them and not "different" at all. You may even have a dude come and tell you are cool! But the longer you are trying to flow down that river of glue, that glue starts to form a skin as it begins to dry, as a result, you start to hit globby areas and end up getting caught up in behaviours you never intended. Slowly but surely, if you stay in that river, the glue hardens and so does your heart and mind. Before you know it you are being arrested for shop lifting, boys use and leave you, people are calling you seedy names behind your back, and your spending any time you can numbing the pain with alcohol or drugs, just to mention a few...
Embrace Reality!
More than anything, I am so thankful to our Lord Jesus Christ, for opening my eyes to see the lies I was believing and literally saving me, soul, body and spirit. He taught me to embrace the red. Meaning, let go of trying to be someone and something you were never created to be. Embrace all that is unique and different and me! Life with a disability or visible difference, that some like to point out, is just something that I would have to accept,  instead of hurting myself to show "them" I was equal. How silly to think that I could actually hide those four wheels!
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Looking back during the years I was up to my neck in bad, self destructive behaviours, I am in awe and thankful, for the many times it must have been God, Who made sure I would receive messages of Truth.  Not that I was always listening, but He knew what I needed to go through - nothing was in vain.
One time that was so obviously, Him speaking to me...still warms my heart...
Up until the age of fifteen, out of ignorance, I had no problem with abortions. Convinced that, it was just a means of ending a pregnancy and that was that. There will be more about this very serious topic another day. I bring that up because a few years later, after seeing a poster in my apartment building, I went to the community center next door. It was to view a special presentation that featured a film I had never heard of called,  "The Silent Scream".
It was the most traumatic short film I had ever seen. It was a video of an ultrasound during an abortion. I can't bare to watch it again, but I have linked the title of it, incase you want to see it. There was a discussion afterwards. Clueless at that point about the organizations called, Pro-Choice and Pro-Life at the time. That evening, my heart sank. It was there that I learned there were people who supported what was happening to this baby, even after watching what we all just did!
From the back of the room came comments and declarations about human life and the so called "right" to end it, that made no sense to me at all. It was logical, wasn't it? Then, the most amazing thing happened, a lady in the front of the audience, shared Psalm 139 out loud.
Up until then, opening the Bible my dear Grandma H, had given me was rare. As she read God's Word, my heart felt something it hadn't experienced before. Feelings of my own purpose and the love of a God who chose to make us, one by one. It was incredible!
Returning back to my apartment, I unburied my Bible, and looked up Psalm 139. These Words, His Words, were a huge revelation to me. The God of the universe, planned us before any parent ever even wanted to have a child!
Psa 139:15-17  NKJV - My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, [And] skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When [as yet there were] none of them.  How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!
Assuming my folks didn't know about this, I still remember the excitement as I dialled them up and read the passage to my Mom. 
Thank You Lord!

Going With The Flow -Part 1

As we saw in the short film, Butterfly Circus, there actually was a time in history when persons, who had visible differences, compared to the overall population, were exploited astoundingly, used as "attractions," making money for unethical circus owners. A horrible way to spend your life. Even today such things exist, but as far as I know, the differences have beeb chosen by the subjects, such as the lady who is really into snakes, the fire eater, or the dude who's body is fully inked in tattoos, face included. A far different thing it is, to make a living from being stared at because you have chosen to do so. That's none of my business.
Seeing Red 
No, I am not in denial. I am fully aware that it's "normal" human behaviour, to have our gazes drawn by anyone or anything, that is not part of our everyday life. As a visual artist, adding a contrasting punch of colour to a composition, causes the eye to automatically look at it. This is why we must be careful where and what we do with the elements and principles of design. Not sure what I mean? Well, look at the image to the right. Pretend this is a completely dull grey neutral landscape or street scene. In paintings, colour can definitely be utilized to evoke specific moods. It all depends on the artist's intent. Personally, I just love colour and couldn't even consider creating anything like this.
Now if there was a red spot on that grey based painting, no matter how small it was, you would see it right away wouldn't you? Just look, even as I type this, that red spot is popping into my peripheral vision, totally unavoidable. That's us! We're contrasts in a sea of grey. No matter how hard we may try to blend into the scenery, we can't. There was a time when I desperately tried to be grey, blending in and yes, actually trying to hide the four wheels "strapped" to my backside!
What Happened!
One day when I was about eleven, one of my caregivers at the institution I lived at, was pushing me in my manual wheelchair. We were planning on just enjoying the day. Suddenly, a total stranger stopped us and began gasping, "What happened?" She moved her face closer to me, as if I was something to inspect. As I sat there, stupefied at her behaviour, my mind raced trying to understand why she was behaving like kooky person. I knew she was referring to my wheelchair, but because I could still walk a little back then, I thought perhaps she knows my Mom and didn't know I use a chair. But, it appeared this was not the case at all. She was just a total stranger,  who had no second thought about stopping us to ask her question.
Not getting a response from either of us, after about the fourth, "what happened?" my indignant caregiver said something like this, "Look it lady, get out of the way, we're trying to go for a walk!" She moved over and we moved on, shaking our heads! That day is one of those imbedded memories that are as clear as yesterday. Being bullied since I was about seven, had become a consistent part of my life. But never had a full grown adult react like that, just because they seen me in my wheelchair! Kids, I had expected it from, but not an adult. No, she wasn't mean, she was sincere. But, when you want to just "be" as everyone else is doing, having a spotlight put on you makes you not only see red, but feel like that red spot on a canvas. Impossible to blend in.
In retrospect, it would appear that incident, was a key turning point. Something that I now, ashamedly admit to now, to "camouflage" my obvious, very visible differences, (or shall I say uniquenesses?) became my number one goal. It's not a secret that during these years most of us are self focused as it is. Desperate, I now can admit that Ieven ashamedly admit that by trying to not be around or sometimes even, associate with my peers who were in the same situation as me, in public, I ignorantly believed that others wouldn't view me as different. Yes, I am now ashamed to admit that I did the very thing, I was against. But the young mind is often desperate to survive, especially ones that have already been emotionally pounded with threats, names, taunts and physical intimidation. Thank the Lord, that all things happen for His good purposes and I am able to sit her today and write down these lessons learned the hard way.

Being bullied, doesn't justify negative behaviour in return, but it can help us try to understand the state of mind some are in when they commit awful acts. No, I never went that far, instead I chose to hurt myself instead. How? Well, it was the beginning of grade seven and we all know what happens to twelve year olds. Okay, at least most of them. They struggle with fitting in, finding their place among classmates and peers. Personally, smoking was never a result of peer pressure. Not once did anyone ask me to smoke. Assuming, the more I did what some of the "cool" kids were doing, the more I would be accepted as part of the crowd. Being "normal," if you will.
So there I was, grade seven, far out across our school yard, huddled with a group of fellow students. All of us with a lit tube of smelly tobacco, hanging between our lips. Smoke billowing all around us, as if we were in a huge London fog.
Way Cool!

Then, to affirm my coolness, wouldn't you know it, a fellow classmate/smoker dude, actually came towards me and declared proudly, "Anita's smoking, ever cool!" He wasn't even someone I ever spoke with, but it didn't  matter. The fact that we weren't even friends made it even more meaningful in my delusional young mind. After all,  he made the effort to point out my coolness. Up until that moment, I don't believe I had ever experienced pride. It swelled my head and felt a warm fuzzy well up inside. To me, he didn't see my wheelchair, he saw Anita, being cool! Needless to say, in spite of the disgusting taste, smoking for the sake of being cool (thus blending in) became a way of life for a long time to come. Don't get me wrong, in no way is smoking cool. In fact, most likely, it was the stupidest choice I had made up until that time of life. Notice emphasis on that time of life. But to my twelve year old brain, blending or fitting in, was worth any amount of smelly old smoke.
Actually, I was so afraid of death back then, that I bought lower tar cigarettes and wouldn't hold the smoke in my lungs for more than a split second. Oh right, that was once I finally could inhale the toxins! be continued

No Arms, No Legs, No Worries!

We all know why caterpillars are all bundled up in their cocoon or is it called a chrysalis? Hmm, must do some research. Anyhoo, this morning as my husband and I were waiting for our weekly online church service to begin, I wanted to show Craig a video interview of an incredible man we have shared with readers before, Mr. Nick Vujcic. Last February, God answered one of his prayers about marriage and now he and his lovely wife are expecting! Here is the video interview of the blissful couple.
As we were on You Tube watching the above video I gazed down the list. You know the list of other You Tube videos we might like...the list always leads to watching other videos. Videos, that you never planned to look at to begin with. That is the challenge I face every time I am on the net! The urge to look up a topic or person hits me, so I search, and before I know it, usually something else catches my eye and surprise! Suddenly, I am looking at topics that may not even be close to the original topic! Ever ask yourself this..."What was it I was suppose to be searching for?

Ooops, back to the topic, (see what I mean!). Today however, I believe we were meant to see this video. At least it was still about Nick! The film below, is a short film, about twenty four minutes, called "Butterfly Circus." At first it's heartbreaking, but keep watching! We knew Nick wouldn't be acting in something that had no purpose or point. This film has a powerful message, full of meaning and richness.

Walking, Way Overrated is meant to be a blog that provides resources and inspirational persons and stories to encourage and assist all persons who are differently abled, or for family, friends or anyone who is just interested. That being said, it means we also  share our own experiences as well. As you will see in the video, we may not have been part of any circus that exploits others who may be deemed as "unique." But, all who use various methods to move around, or if we have any visible characteristics that cause others too stare, we can relate to what "Will" is experiencing in this video. If you do hide out because the stares and taunts of others who are just plain ignorant, stop! Been there, done that. More in the next entry.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

An Unexpected Christmas, errr, Journey?

Christmas, An Unexpected Journey!

We joined Bilbo Baggins and crew, on his Unexpected Journey. Little did we know, we'd have our own unexpected event just trying to leave the theatre! Watch below to find out what it was!

By the way, we love The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey, just as much the second time. And this time, we both stayed awake, so it was as if we saw it for the first time! (no, we weren't fighting heavy eye lids because the Hobbit was a drag, it's what happens when you are dead tired, sit in a dark room and tilt your wheelchair back like a Lazy Boy.