Showing posts from October, 2019

A New View of Compassion: A universal idea gets specific

This week, my church hosted a community non-profit called The Compassion Project . Their mission is to lead arts-based educational projects that cultivate compassion for others. The workshop began with a meditation on compassion.  ... I closed my eyes  ... I breathed in through my nose  ... I exhaled through my mouth  ... my body melted into my chair ... my mind cleared. The leader asked a series of questions, pausing between each one so we could listen to our silent answers.  "What is compassion?  What color is it?  If it could speak, what would it whisper in your ear?" As we opened our eyes, we were invited to sketch our visions. I knew coming into this session that we'd be painting a wooden tile, and I felt called to include something about disability, so I weaved my meditation ideas around this topic. I took my time developing my drawing then went to get some painting supplies.  I began with a yellow background so I could layer in a sunset.

Beauty In a Wheelchair: Overcoming guilt, enjoying attention, and leaving judgment behind

I have used a wheelchair for the last four years. For now (thankfully), I only use it part-time, but it still requires several accommodations and changes to what used to be "normal" activities - like attending a concert. A few months ago, one of my favorite performers (Post Modern Jukebox) announced they were coming to my state, to a town about an hour and a half north of where I live. Montana doesn't get many concerts, so I jumped at the chance to buy tickets. I looked at the website to see if I could purchase online, but it didn't have an option for buying tickets in the accessible seating area. Since the handicapped row was on the floor, the site wanted to charge me the premium price. However, as the facility's only available wheelchair seating, they had to give me the price of the lowest-cost section. I needed to talk with someone in person to get this done. After a couple of phone calls, I finally got in touch with the manager who was able to gi

Beauty on the Bad Days: Managing stress by looking for beauty

Due to a rare form of muscular dystrophy, I am a part-time wheelchair user. This means that I rely on my wheelchair for certain tasks, but I'm still able to get out of it and walk when needed. That said, I'm spending more time in it than I used to when I first got the power chair four years ago. A couple of weeks ago, I met with a team of people to adjust the seating on my chair. I'd been having some muscle pain, and my physical therapist noted that the wheelchair wasn't supporting my body as well as it should. I was eager to make changes. When I arrived, I explained to the wheelchair technicians the issues I was having, including low back pain, neck tension, and rib tightness. My physical therapist, one of the team of three assessing my situation, associated my complaints with my crooked hips. The lead technician asked, "Can we fix her pelvis?" The physical therapist replied, "No. We can only support it." "Okay. Let me see...&q

I've Got Your Back: The beauty of a supportive friend

About four months ago, I was finishing an online writing class that had made me realize the benefits of having a mentor and a group of fellow writers for support. I didn't want to lose that connected feeling, so I searched for someone nearby. I found Ramona, a book-club acquaintance and friend that I didn't know really well but thought would be receptive because she was a writer, too. I sent her a message with my proposal. "How would you like to meet me for coffee and write together?"  She admitted that it wasn't something she had thought about before but was willing to try. We made plans to get together the following week.  We showed up with our computers and notepads and found a cozy table. We drank from ceramic mugs and enjoyed the music playing in the shop, noticing that it was just our style.  But we didn't write much. Instead, we discussed our writing goals, commiserated on the obstacles that got in the way of our creativity, and encouraged eac