Happy Friday! If it is a different day where you are, I hope you’re having a great day too. I’ll admit I’m a little nervous posting this, but I’m an honest person. Plus I know someone will need this. One of my followers sent me a message yesterday thanking me for my dignity post. If you haven’t checked that one out, please do. I talk about some stuff in this post that’s not often talked about. That’s why I’m doing it though.
Have you ever had those moments when you have a feeling for some reason and decide to go with it? You’re not sure why, but something is either telling you something doesn’t sit right with you or sometimes you have a feeling that everything will work out? Some call this intuition or gut feelings. I call this a few things. I believe in intuition and use that term for situations in my life. I’m also a believer in God and the Holy Spirit, so I personally believe that guides me. I’d like to thank one of my dear friend’s for inspiring this post. Let me say for those of you who don’t believe, I’m not trying to push religion. In fact, I think pushing religion on people isn’t right. In my opinion, there’s a difference in talking to someone and being too pushy. I know sometimes with reading though, it helps when points are repeated to help some people process them. I’ll do that for you here. I’m not here to push religion on you. If you’re not sure if you’re still interested now that I brought up God, I hope you will take away these two things. Always listen to your gut. ALWAYS. (In caps.) If you don’t know how, talk to someone who can talk to you about why this is so important. I believe we don’t teach young people and people with disabilities how important listening to themselves really is. In fact, people with disabilities are almost always talked out of it. Secondly, if you really love your friends, please respect them enough to understand you’re not always going to agree on everything. Notice I said respect and agree. I didn’t say go ahead and tell your friends what they want to hear all the time. In fact, if you do that you’re helping no one. We should be honest and tell people what they need to hear, even if it is difficult. Even if we think they’re sensitive. We should also respect our friends when they might disappoint us. If you are going to wait and see if my next post will be more interesting to you, thank you for reading this far and I hope you’ll come back for another post. If you decide to stick with me through this much longer post, thank you.
My mom taught me from an early age to always listen to my gut. In church my pastor (who I consider my adopted dad, so in this post I’m calling him that.) talks about listening to the Holy Spirit. He teaches that this is the advocate inside all of us. We all have access to it should we choose to figure out how.
One of my best friends had a birthday party last weekend. She had another awesome event planned that for months now I tried taking part in. It will happen this year though. Another friend and I were going to do stuff that weekend. Part of me thought it would be a fun weekend. The bigger part of me kept thinking, “I don’t know why, but something tells me I should stay home.” I also believe a lot in thinking things through. I think it’s important sometimes to sit with things, give them time, pray and see what happens. I’m not saying wait around forever and never take action. I went back and forth a lot that week, going through the pros and cons over and over in my head and talked about them to a few people. I finally said “Okay, I’m going.” Then that feeling hit me again. I went to church and talked to my dad about it. He prayed for me and said he’d love me no matter what choice I made. Later that night, I texted my friends I would be staying home.
The night a friend and sister in Christ would have taken me to the train, I ended up going to dinner with a dear friend. I would have had fun with this dear friend (not sure yet if she minds me mentioning her yet so we’ll leave out her name.) or with the other people. We had a great time at dinner like we always do visiting this friend. After dinner, we went back to her place and enjoyed each other’s company and laughing. I’m so thankful for all my followers and all the views around the world I’ve gotten, but there’s nothing quite like your real life friends.
After a little while, this friend says that she was thankful for our company because three years ago that night her husband was passing away. She was by herself and the only person checking in was the CNA. I knew then God was using me. For the longest time I had no idea why I got this gut feeling but after she said that, it all made sense. It was not only me but I’m glad God used me to brighten things up for her.
I said above that I believe people with disabilities need to be taught how to listen to their gut. In many situations, you will find when a blind person says no to something or something doesn’t feel right, people in the disability field will try to convince them otherwise. I know I’m getting into hot water here, but that’s why I write. I started my blog to be a voice for people and shine a light on issues. I want people to know they’re not alone and to know it is okay to speak up about issues. People won’t speak up about this one for many reasons. Fear of losing their job, backlash from someone in the field, the list goes on. That’s okay. I was in your shoes once. I’ll speak for you. I will write for you. I have many viewers outside the U.S and I am so thankful for you! I have no idea what things are like there, but I know that sort of thing definitely happens here.
Let’s be clear about something here. There’s a difference in saying no to something simply because you don’t want to and saying no because something about it feels funny. I’ll never say the place here, but let’s take a certain center for the blind for example. I went there in 2003 before we knew I got into Perkins. There were not many nice people and I didn’t like how they treated the people they were serving. Fast forward a few years. It was suggested I look into this place again. I listened to this person even though we don’t usually get along. I said I’d look into it but something always felt funny. Even as a teenager when I was there, something didn’t feel right. This person told me to have an open mind and I was told not to be negative. Why is it when a blind person says “I’m uncomfortable,” or, “No, I’m not going to do that,” we’re always told we have a negative attitude? A good friend went to this place a few years later. I always say though that just because I had a bad experience, don’t go off of me. Try for yourself. You might have a better time. This friend would tell me everything happening to her, knowing I’m a writer. Just because I write about many topics doesn’t mean everything gets out in the world. She’d tell me about awful and positive events happening throughout her time there. She had a lot of issues there too, and again, I found myself going back to that feeling I got. I knew something wasn’t right! I told her about the feeling that place gave me and talked to her about listening to her gut.
I won’t lie to you. Perkins isn’t perfect and I hated one of the cottages. Notice I said one of the cottages, not any particular people. For those who don’t know, cottages are like dorms, but Perkins calls them cottages. I didn’t like how the staff ran the place, how they treated students, and felt bad for leaving my friend when I moved up to the cottage for students about to graduate Perkins, but part of me was so thankful to be out of there. I realize talking about Perkins like this may be a little risky. I was one of their poster kids and there’s many great things about the school. I won’t lie about things either, so I said what needed to be said.
I have one last example I’d like to share. I know, this post is already long! What can I say, certain posts end up longer than others. When I was in college, I had many readers. This is a term in the disability community that talks about paid students helping blind students with visual tasks. Reading materials not accessible to them or helping them upload assignments on websites they can’t use themselves. My last semester, my entire church was praying a reader would come forward. My school found a few but said they were finished looking and no other students were interested. I knew with a big school like mine, there’s no way that was true. Disability services connected me with this young woman. We had one phone call. And what happened? That “no, no. This isn’t right,” feeling came over me. Even though I had a bad feeling, I kept it professional. She told me she was scared of graduation. I told her if I could graduate college, she could do it. Being blind, I know right away when my blindness makes someone uncomfortable. We only had one call mind you. We hung up and I said, “This won’t last.” Again, let me say, there’s a difference in a negative attitude and a gut feeling. Then what happens? Not too long afterwards, disability services emails me. It is to tell me that this student won’t be helping me. The semester hadn’t even begun and she already quit.
I dealt with a lot of students and stress in college that you don’t understand unless you are blind trying to make it through the disability services hell. Knowing students usually don’t understand this, and hoping at least one will see me for me rather than the white cane I use, when speaking to readers by phone, I always kept it together. I made a mental list. Did I ask them about themselves to pick up a little of their personality? Make sure you ask them to read a little of something so you get a feel for their voice while they’re reading. Did I ask about school stuff like when they can start working? If disability services didn’t hire the students right away, I began my semester without any help. By the grace of God, my final semester they all started right when school began. I knew it had to be God. I tried to always not make it obvious I had a lot going on so they’d get to know me and not my mess. I have to say, there was three times in six years my gut told me these particular students weren’t in it for money. It happened with Phillips (he told me once I could call him that. This way I can make it clear what Tyler I’m talking about.) It also happened with two young women. Phillips was the only male helping me, so as to not hurt any feelings, I won’t mention the ladies. I knew these three were going to help me in all areas and make me a better person. I was right. I could tell from our first call that these three just understood me. I believe God allows me to have these gut feelings and teaches me to pay attention to them. It’s certainly nothing I’m doing alone. All glory to God here.
Whoever read this entire post, thank you. Like I said, always go with your gut. If you don’t know what that is or how to do that, find someone who can help you learn about it. Speak up for those with disabilities when others won’t.