Stranded (Also International Women’s Day)

Today I was stranded. I knew it would happen eventually, when the expensive repairs I still had to pay for did nothing with my chair’s working. I absolutely knew someday I would be stranded in my chair. I had plans in place in case this happened and every single one fell through. It was frightening. I was alone in this swirling mass of people. I knew I shouldn’t go out too but I felt pulled and it was WONDERFUL, up until my wheelchair stopped moving permanently… in a street with cars moving zip zip zip. I grabbed a man’s arm, and asked him to help me, explaining the chair was dead. He asked if I had a way home after we worked as a team to get me out of the street. His daughter called him Superman. He really was to me. I am still having images of pancakes shaped like me dancing in my head.

I was left with no recourse but to call my Mother. Mom maybe, today she was a mom. I saw that she is changing. Just as I am returning to who I am at my best. This day was full of sparks of potential. It all started when I woke up with energy for the first time in what feels like my entire life. I wanted to go out but it was too cold, so I fiddled online. I almost wrote something about that tug to go do, then checked the temperature. Twenty degrees warmer and I was out the door. There were no hesitancies in the chair like usually come before a death, it was smooth. It was beautiful. I went to the fleamarket, which is close enough that I only have to cross the street a few times, at least a major street where cars actually are an issue. This street is big, and I always scream my way across “I am going to die I am going to die I am going to die oh gods oh gods I am going to die please don’t let me get smushed” on repeat until I hit the other side of the street and merge into the slower traffic that leads into the flea market. pedestrians and cars comingle there. This is not the fleamarket that is at our fair grounds but is a smaller one, which means it is less diverse but still fun.

I just met with a new friend, who has an interesting past and felt connected to me because I looked him in the chin (fake eye contact is a go) and treated him like a person, being that he is one. He is from Jordan, and we met when he was struggling with acceptance in this country. He sells jewelry and I have been saving for this pair of earrings he made. I can wear them with my headset on even, they are the most comfortable pair of earrings I have ever had. They are solid silver with a silver cat’s eye. He charged me the cost of making them, and held them for me for a month. All I had to do was treat him like a person consistently. I promised him I would come to the fleamarket whenever I could and would say hello. It was there at his booth that I heard two people talking about a convention in a small building not far from where we were. The entire building was full of women celebrating International Women’s Day. I couldn’t believe it. I could go! Enroute to the proper exit that would spit me out right across another street to this event I even found another booth. There I bought $500 worth of Star Trek Geek Paraphenelia for $4. That’s right. The deal of the century.

I always get good deals at the fleamarket. I look for quality, I bring a limited amount of money, and I only haggle on items that I know are worth it. I also tend to know what I am looking at. There is an antique set of glasses that I want to get but thirty dollars is a lot despite their actual value. I am saving and hoping no one else sees them for what they are. Then, I ran into a friend who moved away years ago. Her son is actually double his size, and the DVD I never returned to her? I still have it. It was amazing. I felt almost high from the warm sun (not on my skin but the AIR was warm enough I didn’t need my coat for most of my day)

I made it to the celebration. I actually attended and performed at the first celebration Albuquerque had on this day. I stood up and read a poem. I remember trying to focus on not fainting, I remember though how good it felt to be a woman. To celebrate that. The celebration has grown. The building was actually a warehouse that is the size of an entire city block, and once inside I had to pay an entry fee (the exact amount of money I had left). The women at the door asked if i was allergic to the stamp AND the ink. The stamp was a silicon base and the ink is natural dyes which for me is a better shot than chemical. I wasn’t required to get stamped but I went for it. I will wear this turtley shape for about a week. It may be a sea monster? I am not sure. I started to explore. I talked, I advocated, there was plenty of advocating to do.

I spoke with women at a Domestic Violence Awareness Booth, and helped a young woman decide to get some counceling and potentially leave her abusive boyfriend. It was accidental. It was unplanned. She felt safer talking to me than the actual people at the counter. They supported this, and I let her talk. I am possibly going to give a speech at some of the local high schools now. The key that lead to this was my obvious first hand experience and the fact that I am recovering. I admitted to her it takes a long time.

From there I went around to another booth, I was given some pretty roses, which I have one of on display. The other I sent with my mom, she loves flowers and she did rescue me. Besides, the roses were planted a year ago in honor of Women, and she IS a woman! There were a lot of booths. I am going to work with a breast cancer group and we are going to create a FREE seminar for women with disabilities, the seminar topic? How to adapt to the self exam. I also was given a great history lesson by the Census worker. She thought it was interesting I wanted to know the history as no one seems to ask that. Women did not used to be counted in the census, and in my state this is the first year SINGLE women (divorced, single moms etc) will be tallied. Last year the census estimates we were shorted by over 1 million people because of this “oversight”. I wish I could work with them more, but, no matter where you live get counted in the census. If you are low income, this will effect funding for local programs like foodstamps or even your transport system. This is a big deal.

Most of what went on swirled around me. I had brought my MP3 player, as sometimes crossing the street panics me and I need the music to calm down. So I used it as needed. I left Sprite at home, as I was only going for a few hours right? Right? (I was so wrong) I wanted to bring her but she wasn’t feeling as good as I was this morning. She’s fine now, and is clinging to me.

Advocacy I had abandoned was revived today. I did not abandon it because my passion was gone but because I could not advocate. The orphan goal did mature on it’s own. Accessible Mammography. When I needed a mammogram a year ago (I am due for another one this year oh “joy”.) I had to first fight for one based on age, then I had to find one where I would not be forced to stand, as you must stay still. It was unpleasant and at that point there was only ONE accessible mammogram machine. Now one of the hospitals I called has several mammography machines and… they went further. My concern was small as I had to start small to be heard. They have an MRI machine now, that is larger for the larger bodied person, and is a sitting/standing MRI! If you cannot lie flat, you can NOW get an MRI in my state without being in the very long list at the VA.

There’s more. There is a van, with a portable ACCESSIBLE mammography set up that will go to the low income neighborhoods and give FREE mammograms. That’s right. Free mammograms to the poor who cannot go to a doctor. I am sure that this was a long term goal to a degree for them but, this was what I was advocating for when things went badly and my life was ground to dust. Access for all. My heart is singing. Even the BMI and weight loss booths couldn’t bring me down.

I did something a bit horrible to the BMI guys. They were men, first of all. Second of all they were telling people they are fat with the BMI, which is not scientifically proven. It ignores things like breasts, bone density, hip and buttock size. It ignores genetics. It ignores a lot. they also were trying to get people to stand and walk in this really awkward way then telling them they needed the gym. I found out about this because they made someone cry. She’s very thin, and they called her fat. I went over and started laying out scientific facts, I blocked their booth with fact. People could come and go but I spread the word and listed my sources. Some still went but, before I left people were talking. Big impact there? Teenagers were excited by the idea that they don’t need to lose weight. I heard someone say “So, I am really okay the way I am. No one ever said anything like that to me before.”

Today I played pebble in the pond. it was beautiful. There were more moments. Every single moment was something impactful. I admit I avoided the rape crisis center booth. They were exuding sorrow. The women running the booth looked depressed, and sad. This was something I couldn’t face. I don’t feel the same stabbing pain in my chest when I say rape most of the time, but, they were breathing it. No one stopped there. I did a drive by snatch and grab of a business card but I couldn’t talk to them. Penetrating sorrow is just not my thing.

There was one other thing, I found something for me. There is a program for the disabled in my city, to socialize us. To get us out there. They provide transport, safe food if you want, activities, and the thing that they do is… they offer this to people with mental health issues, physical disabilities, developmental delays, and more. This company, as they do take insurance but do not discriminate on the cost of poorness itself (IE it’s free if you can’t pay) they saw the need for more than just children to have access to programs. There is a special program for Autism AND one for the depressed. The woman said often these groups overlap, and the company does not see Autism as a disability, but a different type of mind where at times things may be disabling. I am calling on Monday to find out what services I can get. this includes therapy. Therapy. At long last, the help I need for my depression GEARED for the person who has physical challenge and pain. Therapy… amazing, like fresh water from the earth, the idea flows over me, it refreshes me.

Normally this much would exhaust me, I was a bit sore but had enough energy. I checked my battery. It read a full charge. Actually it still reads a mostly full charge right now, so we know it’s not the battery that left me stranded… I heard it, as I was about to leave. This music from my past. The dancing twitch hit me, and I followed it. I got to stand (well sit) with the dancers, as this was the access area. I was far from the only person in a chair as well. It was beautiful. There were Irish Step Dancers. I left before the belly dancers went on. It was a bittersweet expierience. These women, 3 years old to 53 were dancing. I could feel the music. I rememebered every step. They were flawless. Even the one who fell (the stage moved, it wasn’t her fault) got up and fell right back into step. She was far from adult but had the perfection of skill of the adults. Even the three year old was moving as if born to it. Likely she was. The pain was from my memories so I tried my best to shut them out. I got to thank the dancers, and that was when I left.

After things like suggesting planned parenthood give out latex free condoms (just an idea, and they did ask) on through finding out my victories, I was satiated in ways I have not felt in what has been a year, but a year that encompassed a life time. I left, the music swirling in me. I went back through the fleamarket and just as it was safe to enter the street I zipped out then… WHAM… a hard stop. My chair was completely dead. The light was changing color, as I would have been across. A man was about to cross and I grabbed his arm. I hate that, but I was desperate. “I need your help.” He looked startled. This man wasn’t exactly approachable. Given the type of people who frequent this market, I would call social cast offs, non typical, and sometimes scary (but only in cliche ways, not actually dangerous). I think as he looked at me he was just stunned. No one asks for help here. It was help or die.

I told him how to put my chair into freewheelmode, an idea that he said was the best invention ever. He offered to push me home. It was too dangerous, and too far. I considered it. He made sure I was safe and I put into action my plans. Plural plans. No one was home, no one answered, and one is highly contagious. I called my Mom. I explained what was going on and we brain stormed. We found a way and she drove the two hours to get me home, then raced back to get my stepdad to one of his mandatory do this or go to jail things.

The man I stopped for help was so wonderful and kind. I love my neighborhood because I feel safe here. On the outside it looks like a horrid place with violence and gangs but, appearances lie. It is like a small town in the big city. The man’s wife and kids were going to wait for the next light, he was showing his daughter how to cross the street. I did not know this as my chant had begun. His daughter said the most amazing thing. “Daddy, that was just like superman!” It was too. He saved my life. Cars were coming, it took a moment of choice, and he chose what i would say is the right thing without batting an eye.

I rested and ate, and Sprite yelled at me for a while for being out so long. She was really loud, so it was definately yelling. She then forgave me and won’t leave my side. I cannot go out until I get my new chair, but, man waas it worth it.

Sharing the Dream

I have a dream. It started small, with the idea of teaching other women with disabilities how to get their doctor to adapt to their needs, to make certain that they have proper medical care and it grew. A part of this is the rumor that in California there are accessible facilities for medical care. This access should be for all women and men with disabilities as well as those who are aging. A second portion is a discussion I recently spent two weeks taking part in. The third part is my own experience and the frustration that is omnipresent with my current medical needs.

I am sharing this dream with you for two reasons. The first is that I want your input. I am not an expert on all disabilities and I want to make this dream a reality. The other is that this will be my platform when I make my run for Ms Wheelchair USA. So, here it is, my dream.

I want to create not just an accessible doctor’s office but an accessible facility that has several purposes. First and foremost I want an accessible mammogram, one where you do not have to call, beg, and push to get access but where it is expected that you will need access. This will be furthered by a program to teach you how to adapt to your bodily changes and limitations while being able to fulfill the self exam for breast health. If you cannot adapt, either due to paralysis or other limitations then I want to offer the option of having a doctor or nurse perform your exam for you. Breast cancer risk does not magically vanish the minute you are suddenly disabled. It often goes up!

This goes further, I want accessible exam tables and facilities to offer every woman regardless of function and mobility a pap smear. I have an annual cancer scare, something tries to trick us into thinking it is cancer yearly. This year’s cancer scare surrounds my pap and it’s abnormal results and other tests that scream, “You might have cancer!” I am more worried about the high table, embarrassing lack of hospital gowns that actually fit, and my physical issues hampering the test than the actual possibility of cancer. I am loathing the idea of half climbing half being shoved up on that table, half naked and without any chance at privacy because I need help at times to even move my hips. There are accessible tables. Other forms of accesibility will be needed. I want to hear from any persons of short stature, what are the needs you face in the doctor’s office that are not being met? Even the most accessible table for a tall person will fail you, so please tell me what you need so that you are not excluded from my dream.

I want accessible facilities for rape victims with either severe injuries due to the actual rape or a previous disability. Writing these words has me panting with fear, but, how many women could be protected with evidence that is not obtained? There is enough of a violation with in rape itself, but being violated and treated like you do not matter after is a crime as well. This alone could be my platform focus, this alone could impact the lives of countless women. Accessible rape kit access with proper training for those taking the kit is a must. this is the part of my dream that is frightening, this is the part of my dream that feels the most out of reach. I must reach this goal however, for every victim and survivor that exists now or may exist.

I also want a center for adaptation. The Center for Adaptation would include a kitchen, a bathroom, and other areas that the once-abled take for granted. I still have not managed to cook a meal without harming myself in years, but a place where I had the safety to learn without being in danger of literally killing myself would help. This adaptation center must include potential assistive devices so that before the money is spent by the individual they know if the device will work. I wasted so much money on items that I cannot even use. Everyone does. Most persons with disabilities or freshly disabled persons have a very limited income, therefore this is a key component to creating universal access. Imagine learning how to cook around your limited energy, ability, and strength? Imagine learning how to clean again, and imagine too learning other things such as crafts, or finding ways to adapt so that you can create art? Dream with me and see it, a place of learning for all levels of ability.

Not just learning but socialization. I want people of all ability levels to commune together. There need to be varying support groups, socialization groups, and even a place to coordinate activities for the single individual and the couples. There needs to be a safe place to discuss sex with in ability, there needs to be a safe place where intersetion occurs. If you are gay, bisexual, a lesbian, or a transgendered person with a disability you deserve this just as much as someone who does not overlap two subgroups with in the realm of minority. The able bodied need to be welcomed here too, so that they can learn, assist, and so that there is a lack of segregation.

There needs too, to be a place to work with Service Animals. This facet will have to have answers to questions about the legalities of service animals in the given area, certification challenges, and training suggestions. Although it will not be a place to get a service dog, there needs to be a place where safe support can be found easily. Safe support that can come and help you advocate, safe support that teaches you to self advocate, and safe support for the process of accepting your animal partner.

Less medicalization of life needs to happen, and the focus on that aspect is a place to find good fashion, perhaps this could even become the funding source for my facility. The fashion needs to be adaptable to the wheelchair users needs, most likely this will require custom tailoring. The clothing needs to be affordable but also fashionable. Persons who have disabilities cover all age groups and the institutionalization of clothing is unacceptable. The clothing must also be in a broad range of sizes. Just as wheelchairs need to fit everyone from the small child up to the very large adults, the clothing must as well. Giving a place to access good, quality, stylish clothing for men and women with varying abilities will be a huge part of this, simply out of my own desires. I desire affordable clothing that works with my ability. I do not want to trip over skirts that are too long, I do not want to have my sleeves caught in my wheels if I use a manual chair, and I am presuming this is a universal frustration.

There need to be classes as well to train those with degenerative conditions to adapt, or those with compound disabilities to adapt. Perhaps the adaptation center is a new spin on the idea of an accessible home to learn in, yet, the focus on this portion includes teaching skills you might not have. What brought this to mind is my own degeneration. I lost my ability to walk and my sight is endangered. What adaptation can I have if I cannot see to drive my chair? I must learn and there needs to be a safe place for this. There needs to be a place where it is safe to feel the fear, the hope, and a place where there is hope. There is too little hope for the disabled demographic in this world.

A part of preventative care is dentistry, though I have yet to find a dentist who can work with my limitations. There needs to be a facility for dental care. I have a cavity I cannot get tended due to my combination of allergies and inability to bend backwards in their chairs. This cannot be. This is discrimination, yet to stamp out discrimination there needs to be action. If the facility cannot have a dentist, then it needs to have an office where accessible vision and dental care is listed, where referrals can be given, and it needs to be a place where there is acceptance that every body has a different need.

Disaster Safety is also a concern. During the disasters that hit the world, such as Hurricane Katrina, the disabled are often left behind. Their families may stay so that their loved ones do not die alone, and therefore these devalued people are murdered. It is murder to leave someone behind because it might be hard to deal with their wheelchair. A part of this facility needs to house a program that teaches people how to advocate, adapt, and prepare for emergencies. This program also needs to teach FEMA and other rescue organizations how to rescue the disabled. We are people, we deserve life, and being abandoned because of a wheelchair or cognitive disability is murder. It can be helped, it can be changed.

A lot of the focus here is on prevention and adaptation. My focus is not to cure disability, to wipe it out. That is impossible and I have gained from my own limitations. I cannot imagine a world without Autism as being beautiful, for without it I would not exist. Therefore the focus needs to be on preventative medicine, there needs to be a focus with in the facility on adaptive medicine, and there needs to be a focus on demedicalizing the bodies that have limitations. There needs to be a personalization of existence. I exist beyond my disabilities, though they are a part of me. We need to foster acceptance of self, of difference, and we need to offer a safe harbor for all people with all abilities to commune.

A lot of people are unable to work, are fighting for government assistance, and are dying without durable medical equipment. I want to offer rentals, loaners, and at times even the purchase of needed medical equipment such as CPAP machines, wheelchairs, and walkers. These are just examples. There would be a qualification process, and yet the freedom I felt that first time I sat in a manual chair and had more than three hours of coherent function haunts me. I have nightmares of being trapped without my chair now, I have nightmares that others feel that same terror. Those nightmares are realities. This program could use older equipment that was donated, purchased equipment, and could perhaps eventually include low interest/zero interest loans with minimal payments to allow people to obtain equipment. This could help those with a copay and a minuscule income to make ends meet. This could help someone who is choosing between homelessness and a wheelchair to get the chair and keep their home.

A second facet on employment is access to workforce training. There are already facilities yet at times access is denied based on a lack of visible potential, so, I want to coordinate with them to try and educate and prepare those who want to work but are being told they aren’t worth the training. An entire segment of this facility needs to be coordination with existing organizations to get people what they need, to get people connected with the programs that exist. A lot of people who ask me for help do so because they cannot find programs that fit their needs, even when they exist. A hub in the network could make their impact broader, while in a way delegating some of my dream over to their offices. I know one facility cannot possibly do it all.

This is my dream, this is also why I was so quiet this past week. I was dreaming, trying to put into a coherent idea what is needed. This facility will need funding but the insured can be charged. I do not see this as a fee free environment but money should not cause a person to not be able to participate. If a person can pay, or if their insurance can allow coverage then they should pay. Much of what is offered should be covered under Medicaid/Medicare and other insurances without issue. The rest could be funded via donations and grants. I have no idea what I would call this facility yet, but, that is not the most important focus at this time. Branding must come after a plan for action is laid out.

Share the dream. Share what you see as a need. Please feel free to pass links to this post around, I want to offer a taste of freedom to a set of people that anyone can join, to the only equal opportunity minority. If we band together, we can change the world and create universal access. This plan is flawed, this dream is imperfect yet it is merely a start.

Beauty

I am tired of the stereotype of beauty. I grew up being told that a girl should like men who look like Brad Pitt. I like women with soft lush curves, big and strong ones too. Many would consider my past conquests masculine, or overly thin, or fat. No one type fits what I like. I too have “strange” preferences for the men I have dated and these too tend towards those with meat on their bones, they have body hair, they are dark skinned, fair skinned, or really just alive.

Most of them, but not all, are tall. With either sex I tend to reach out for the taller people, though tall has changed in meaning since the wheelchair entered my life. I can’t look up at my baby brother without hurting my neck. He sits down for me, and still towers above. He is about seven feet tall. I love height because my family is full of tall people, except my own biological father. I associate height with safety. What does this mean about the other standards of beauty? Are we all programmed to like certain things?

Yes!

A huge part of my persecution in this life has been based on facets of my physical appearance. I have red hair, very pale skin that burns the instant sun touches it, soft full lips, and I have always had curves. My smallest size is a fourteen. I was barely eating to maintain that. My body needs meat on it. I am simply a curvaceous woman. I do have an ample bosom as well, and all of these things have been picked at.

I grew up being told I should be blonde. Blonde meant perfection. I hardly find blondes attractive as a result. I am aware that most of my siblings and my own mother are all blonde, and this factors in too. I think Blue Eyes are the best, though any shade is lovely to me. Blue eyes were mocked, because they are pale. Being a minority as a white person is very rare in any part of the world, the patriarchal structure still dominates and is usually white, even in countries where white is the minority. I have always been told my pale skin makes me wealthy. Whiteness in my state is a status symbol.

In India women who are by nature in the darker end of the spectrum are considered harder to marry off, they have less value based on something as simple as their genetic make up. The lighter you are, the more respect you can gain. This is White Privilege. It has defaced an entire culture, this love of all things white has poisoned us. You see whiteness in media, dominantly with able bodied super muscular WHITE men. You see their blonde perfection everywhere. I think back to the Nazi Propaganda studies group I was a member of in High School, and that is what I see. Reflections of past propaganda, continued, accepted, and fully realized.

Curly hair is considered disheveled. Girls with curly hair wake up at odd hours to iron their hair out. I think it is lovely, and my standard of beauty includes the use of a curling iron to add curls to my hair. This is rare, the era of the Super Perm died out at the end of the Eighties, except for a few hold outs.

I am told I must wear make up to seem presentable. I do, at times like to wear make up but I do it when it feels good. Usually I will also hide some of my facial scars under make up, if I cannot shake my feelings of Paranoia. I do not allow myself to wear make up on days when my self worth is being questioned, or when my confidence would hinge only on sultry red lips.

As I write this I am watching a movie that has what I consider the equivalent of Black Face. Sophia Loren is the Millionairess, Peter Sellers is the Indian Doctor who teaches her how to be more than a spoiled snob. This movie is full of propaganda that is anti woman, anti persons of color. I was enjoying it until I realized the fallacy that a white man is playing an Indian, with hardly any alteration of skin color and a very cliched accent.

I also note that the famed figure of Sophia Lauren seems to be aided via a corset. I might be wrong, but the extremes to her figure seem to need assistance. It doesn’t feel natural to me, though it does fit the “standard of beauty”. Her hair is lightened a bit, and of course she is always shown in posh and polished appeal during this film.

I do not think Brad Pitt is handsome. I think he is mediocre. This is all about looks, not his acting. I will not malign someone for having a career. I will however state that I do not understand the requirement to find him attractive. If you want to know who I find attractive in Hollywood, you will have to dig deep. There are few people that strike me as gorgeous or stunning, especially since we have entered the Anorexia Age of Hollyweird. Health is beautiful. That inner glow of self acceptance can make anyone gorgeous.

Since my blossoming into awareness about privilege I have seen more beauty in the world. This side effect shocked me. I like to compliment people when I find them attractive, and I have had the urge to tell the entire world how beautiful it is. The beauty I see is nothing like what is in the Movies or on Television. I live in a world of diversity. The people I see daily are of mixed race, from other countries, and their voices alone are a rhythmic song.

I am not beautiful by the overly BMI oriented modern sensibilities. I never will be. I’d have to break my bones, cut my body apart, inject myself with dye, and lose my sense of self. (This statement does not mean that those who naturally fit this standard are not beautiful, it is merely a rejection of the expectation to alter myself to be just like them) I reject the need to starve myself to fit a rare body type. I reject the fashion industry’s expectation that “fat” women do not like Fashion. I LOVE clothes shopping, and am discovering that I could easily spend a million dollars on cute shoes. These are cliches about womanhood, and yet you will find I only have four pairs of shoes, two for winter, two for summer. My clothing is all rather sensible, black, and boring.

I am pigeon holed by my lack of thinness. I am trapped by the need for others to stigmatize those who are not identical to them. I am not a Stepford Cripple, I am not anything but a person. I am flesh, I am bone, and I have soul. You are beautiful. My friend who is an immigrant is beautiful. I love listening to her voice, the way that she sings while she speaks entrances me. My friend who is the son of immigrants is beautiful. He cannot see that because his world is full of hatred, hatred of the Other.

I discuss privilege with my friends. It is an unavoidable conversation now. Eventually it is addressed either by discussion of politics, feminism, or simply the venting of frustration. I no longer hide my beliefs, to survive until the next day. I am free to speak them. Most of the time these conversations hold a similar impact, someone learns something. We all do really. My friends are all shapes and sizes. I have friends who are thin, blonde, and blue eyed. I have friends who are extraordinarily fat, but give hugs that are so soft. I have friends of every shape, size, mental capacity, and ability. My friends are all beautiful. You are beautiful.

Stop stigmatizing people for not being clones. Clones are scary, according to the media pundits and science fiction. Every time the word cloning is mentioned on TV it is with the hush of fear. Disability also has that hush of fear. Stop being afraid. Fear stops you from living life. This doesn’t mean you should ignore some fears, such as the fear of hunger or the fear of a snake bite. Stop fearing things that are different. If you do not understand something, educate yourself. Don’t fear it. Don’t shun it.

This includes fine art, not so fine art, but most especially people. Children are people. Women are people. I see often abuse launched at those who are different. I experience it every time I go out. I was reminded however, of the power of kindness and decorum.

I write often about the importance of gentle resistance, passive resistance, and not striking back. I admit I fail this way at times but, every so often I am given the reminder I need, the proof that I am right. I had transferred out of my chair at Sam’s Club, into the van and rolled down the window. Beside me a harried mother of two beautiful children, her disabled mother, and a cart of groceries struggled. I watched in silence, until they were about to leave, calling out to the woman that her mother had forgotten her cane.

Her son looked up as she thanked me, glad to not have to spend another twenty five dollars on a cane, and said, “Mommy, that’s the lady from the Walmart with the kitty!” His mother paused and said, “She was on TV too.” We talked then, and I complimented her for handling the stress. I could see she was frazzled, and I let her kids talk to Sprite while she settled them in. No petting of course, but, I told her how beautiful her family is. Three words. “You have a beautiful family.” Okay, five. I never was good with numbers.

She froze, looked at her kids, and then smiled. “I wish everyone could see that.” The thing I have not mentioned is this. Her children are Triracial. They are of Asian, African, and Caucasian Descent. I wanted to take them home with me, their sweetness gave me a rare pang of desire for Motherhood. It went away before we were out of the parking lot, but not the reminder that everything you do has a lasting impression. Every word, Every laugh, Every shout, every time you teach someone something. There is impact.

What draws me to people is never what they look like. It is instead their personality, the joy they have for life, and sometimes the hope that I can grow up to be like them. I may never grow up. I am always surprised when I realize for a moment I am not a child anymore. It fades, but, that too reminds me to be innocent.

Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. It is not what media tells us it should be. Beauty is merely in the existence of life. Flowers, Puppies, kittens, children, lovers. All beautiful. Be you a Homosexual, Transgendered, A person of non Caucasian ethnicity, red haired, blonde haired, black haired, green haired, or even a strange shade of orange. You are beautiful.

Violence (Trigger Warning)

I keep rewriting this post. Violence is bad. We all know this. Violence is often celebrated in our culture. In the US most of the television shows, even for children, include some sort of violence or attempt to teach children what boys do and what girls do. Girls like fashion, pink, and hair. Boys like to fight, are great leaders, and work. Bull pucky. The media also rarely illustrates that women can be violent.

I am capable of killing. I am not capable of murder. I know that if I had to kill someone to defend myself or the ones I love, I could. I discovered this when I was young. I am very loyal, it is a part of my nature to protect people. This does come from my history with violent abuse. If I could take the pain then I could save my sister or brother. They used to do that as well. Each one of us did our best to be the only one in pain. I am capable of killing, but, I never have.

I have had run ins with so many things, my life sometimes reads like a fiction novel. I never used to think about writing nonfiction, so afraid of being told I had dreamed it all. My biological mother and I talked on the phone today, partially about violence. The violence of doctors.

When I was eight I began to see a psychologist. After the first meeting they handed my mother a prescription for Zoloft. The pills made me sleepy. I hated taking them, because I couldn’t think. My father was still around, and taking the pills at his house always meant more pain. My reflexes were already slow, how could I fight back? I mentioned this to my doctor and the threat came. “If you do not take your pills you will be locked up with the other worthless children.” This doctor was a man, I remember falling silent, wishing to tell my mother. He threatened too that if I told her that she would be sent away, abandoning the others. I took the pills.

This man is no longer a doctor, he tried this on a competent adult a few years ago. There was a scandal, it made the papers. This was just after I fired him. He was the first doctor I fired. I spent years after that taking more and more pills. At one time I was on six antidepressants, an anti psychotic, an anti epileptic medication that they thought would make me not depressed, birth control pills to try and force my body to have a period, and a few other things.

When I threw up, I had to take a second dose. Doctor’s orders. There are chunks of my life lost not just to suppressed memories but to my brain shutting down from the constant overdose. Most of the medications I was on were not approved for children, just adults over the age of eighteen. I reacted to most of them. Being allergic to so much, that is no surprise. Throwing up, bleeding with each dose, and hallucinations weren’t big enough side effects to be taken off of the drugs.

I was more violent during that time, as they tried to fix a chemical imbalance that did not exist, due to the drugs. They are not the only reason I lashed out at the world. Abuse does that, it teaches people to strike before they get hurt. I barely remember assaulting my best friend in High School. She touched my sandwich and teased me for it. I remember the anger and seeing her on the floor but not the act of hitting her in the head with a chunk of wood.

This was caught on film, there were witnesses. I went into a psychotic rage over food. I have some serious food issues, and I thought she was going to take my food. The fear of being deprived was so strong, that I had to protect myself. This was what I knew, I never knew people could share. I was a beast, primal in my reactions. She did not suffer permanent damage but was hospitalized for it. This lead to the only psychiatric hospitalization that benefited me. Hospital hiding the institution, feeding on itself and drugging children. Teaching them first hand who Nurse Ratchet was.

The reason being I finally needed help. I was shunted around the state, with my history and diagnoses no one wanted to treat me. It feels familiar at times with doctors, sending needles into my heart. I was misdiagnosed with mental health conditions. One to explain every disability. I was accused of things, such as self mutilation that came from my disabilities. I was lazy, I was stupid, I was just not good enough. Years of that, a decade in fact, of being told how worthless I was by doctors and I did not trust them.

I was sent to an experimental facility. The Ranch, as my family calls it, was a peer support program. We did see therapists, and we did have medication given to us but we lived in a boarding school environment. The program depended on it’s recipients to function. This made a difference, as I found people my age I could talk to. This was a first. I also learned I was not alone. At the other facilities you were shoved in until you behaved for three days or so, then went home. In and out like a yo yo.

Each of the children at the Ranch had been in and out as well. Most were not from New Mexico, but a few of us were granted access to keep diversity up. There was violence there, though there was also nature. The Ranch is the only place I have ever been able to drink the water. The water came straight out of the ground. The first thing the doctors did was take me off all of my meds. They gave me two months before they started me on another. They came so close to freeing me from my shackles of medication. The medicine they put me on did change things, it seemed to reverse some of the damage to my brain from the drugs that came before. I stopped losing my hair, I gained some weight and lost some girth. I even began to smile sometimes.

I also met horses. I was one with nature there. There was silence at times, and there was bonding. That was where I learned I could love. The fact is, my father was a diagnosed psychopath. Even knowing this these “great” doctors did not seem to consider that my behavior was environmental. The ranch is where I learned about PTSD. It is also where I learned that flashbacks were not just my burden.

One of the other dorms, full of boys, found a dog. I was triggered when the dog came to us bleeding. The flashback lasted for six hours. I relieved my father killing people’s pets because I liked them. I still cannot go into detail on those horrors without triggering myself. This poor dog was hungry, lost in the middle of no where, and then was assaulted. When he came to our dorm, my brain left. I woke up, and found that the world had for once stopped for me.

This was my turning point. It wasn’t being threatened with institutionalization in the adult hospital, it wasn’t the new drug. It was coming back to myself and finding that every girl had stopped what they were doing, had sat in a circle around me and the dog to which I was clinging and waited. When I stopped screaming, apparently I had been, my roommate asked what happened. When I told them, no one told me I lied, no one told me it was my fault. The first time in my life, someone hugged me and cried with me. No one punished me for needing help, a first in my life.

I was on the cusp of adulthood when this finally happened. I was about to reach a point of no return, trapped in the system. They saved me from my violence, and I saved them in turn. I love each of those girls still. Someday I may cross their paths again, though I do not plan to admit it to them if I do. We each deserve the right to deny our childhoods to an extent.

I spent my childhood dying daily. I am certain that not every therapist was bad, I do not remember them if they were not. I only remember the incidents of threat, of lies, and of burden. Child psychologists often can get away with crimes and breaking the rules of conduct that their profession has. Not all of them do, but, an adult has power over a child. A psychologist is alone for at least an hour with a child, and some of them abuse this power. I had one who found out I would turn on her like a dog hit one too many times. She spent the sessions telling me about her husband’s erectile dysfunction, and telling me I was fat. The male doctor who gave me the pills threatened me each time with different torments. One of the other psychologists took part in encouraging the children at my school to burn me at the stake.

It is no wonder that I hated the world. Until the ranch only a few teachers had ever shown me adults could manage to not hurt me. Each of them saved a part of my soul, saved a fragment of hope from the violence. My mother did try, but, it seemed hopeless that any of her children would turn out to be a healthy adult. How could we? She wasn’t. We only knew violence.

Perhaps the violence I know tempered me? I doubt it. I believe it was the small bits of love I could find. I do not believe the Ranch did all the work in saving me, I think instead they unburied the ground work set by another.

After Toastmasters I will write of my first Sensei, I will tell you of my time as Little Lotus and how the Batman was my father until I was six. It sounds silly, and the fantasy was. It still held violence but my Sensei taught me ways to thrive, not just survive. I will also write about my experience with hate and nearly being burned as a witch.

We, the subjects of oppression are forbidden anger, we are forbidden violence. Even when it is used against us, violence is often attributed to us. Those with mental health issues, mental disabilities, and physical disabilities are vulnerable to violence in unique ways. When defending ourselves we are demonized. Women who show anger are told to simmer down, they are told that their anger is inappropriate. Some are raped to control their power, to try and punish them for anger. Persons of Color of any gender are also forbidden anger. The stereotypes tell how violent they are, and yet when a man is shot down for his skin color and people get angry, the murdering cops get away with it because the people get angry.

Violence is all around us, it is on the TV, it is in books, it is in my beloved comic books. Violence is in our history. It is sadly in our future. I mourn for all the children and those who once were children who know violence. The kiss of violence is the scar of fear, the spectre of disillusionment, and the taste of bitterness that shatters dreams.

Violence is the most horrifying entity that has ever been introduced into society. Violence is not a part of human nature, it was taught. We learned it from somewhere. Violence is not never ending. The cycle can be broken. I have broken the cycle in my family. Even when attacked I try to protect myself without violence. How do you survive violence? How do you endure?

Anger is violent. Violence is a poison. My antidote for violence is to sing, to write, or to create something. To be violent is to become what you fear. Fear can turn to anger, anger turns into violence. The cycle swirls around. I created this post not just to educate, but to share. I want to share my peace. In order to do that, you must see my pain too. I fear these words most of all, therefore I offer them up to transform and fly into the universe like butterflies, unlocking the caged minds of others. I write these words not with anger, but with sorrow for who I was, mourning for the death of innocence as I knew it, and with love. The love is not just for myself, though I truly love myself. It is Wishing Love, I wish love upon each and every person in this world.

I wish love upon you, for whoever you are you do deserve love. I may know you, I may not. I embrace you with my soul. I offer you a haven of knowledge, a haven of peace, and a haven of change. I am a butterfly. Here you too may learn to fly.

Isms, Hisms and Hersms

I read a few blogs on the internet circuit, some of them deal with feminism, some deal with racism, some deal with ableism, and others deal with Fatism. Isms of all shapes, sizes, colors, and one for each of us, sometimes two. Someone was having a sale on their isms when our culture was created, tossing them out like sprinkles on a cake. I am tired of isms today.

I have a great doctor. I will recommend her to just about anyone, for in her office there are no isms, just lists of things to get done. I now have an epipen, a referral for the dozens of undiagnosed whats its, and even a new diagnosis. I also was given the option of advocating for breast cancer awareness. The point was made that with my body being as it is, I have become acutely aware of risks and am in the perfect position to teach other disabled women about breast cancer.

I have thankfully never had breast cancer or even felt a strange lump but I do self exams weekly. I know it is recommended that you do monthly examinations, yet, this is not enough for me. I have relatives who have had cancer in all of their parts. Breast, brain, uterine, ovarian, liver, lung, you name it, and it has had cancer. I also have a lot of conditions, including one that effects my skin and therefore hypervigilance is necessary. Beyond this, what has made my doctor decide I am a great advocate? Self adaptation.

My breasts weigh a lot. Not only is the tissue very dense, making them pert and perky despite their size, but, it makes it harder to find lumps once you breach the FF quadrant. I left that a long time ago. I shared with her today my methods for a successful self examination. I have to adapt to the needs of my body and this means I may lay on my side, I may hang upside down, but, I always make certain to feel not just my breasts in a circular and consistent fashion, but my armpits and down my sides a bit.

I am lucky that I have had strong women in my life. I have an aunt who has had stage four Breast Cancer for longer than I have been alive. This woman has fought, and fought and thrives. She does at times worry her family for her life, but, she has dealt with cancer with no break for over twenty five years. In my mind she is the best teacher I can have about why cancer awareness is so important. Without knowing her, I might not have decided to live during one of the bouts with suicidal thoughts that I went through as a teenager. I might not have begun to battle with myself for proper medical care.

I have a lot of diagnosis, the list grows daily, but, my isms are mine. I am a short, fat, white girl in a wheelchair. I am also blessed with very rare breasts, the sort that women have painful surgery to mirror. I have great hair, great eyes (when they see) and a brain. I am facing daily challenges with ableism, fatism, and even some fetishism. Sexism is a consistent battle. I also face the blessings of people who are better than the isms. I face the knowledge given to me by my fellow females, and now I must learn to share.

Take stock of your isms, be you male or female. Take a look at what you are given by station in life, what you have fought for, and, if you have enough to share, reach out and help someone rise above. I will post about my chances to advocate for breast health. I am even going to start getting mammograms, a need I had hoped to put off for at least ten more years, but perhaps I can come up with a way to make them less painful.

This is hardly a new idea, I am merely following in the path of others who have taught me. This is not an area I had ever expected to be asked to advocate in, but, how can I deny the request when I know that even one person may become self aware?

Hidden Abuses in our Culture…

I am far from the only person who has blogged about misogyny. I hope to not be the last. Recently I have become aware of a subtle malignant cancer in our world. I turn on my TV and see a woman in a cast giving various excuses often used by abused women to justify her injury, which came from cleaning too much. I got angry fast. Growing up in an abusive household I could see myself there, I could see my mother there. “I fell down.” Really? You fell down… Then at the end another woman comes up and is wearing an identical cast and points out she was just cleaning.

Oh, let us mock the plight of women trapped in abusive situations fearing for their lives daily. Ha. HA. HA. Very funny. /sarcasm

I am aghast at the horrors that can be made to denigrate women. At Shakesville there is an entire series about disembodied body parts. This is a huge eye opener. I am not just a pair of legs, breasts, or a disembodied mouth opened for the pleasure of man. Really, as a disabled woman I am not sure some of my parts would work in the ways that these “artists” claim they would. Is it art to make a pillow out of a woman’s vulva? Some might say yes, but I disagree.

I would not classify myself as a feminist in many ways, but, as a woman who advocates for her own needs and the needs of others, and takes a special interest in the rights of women and hidden privileged in this society, I am a feminist. I am not sure how else to say it. I do shave my legs, I do like pleasure, and I do not hate all men. I used to, as a psychological reaction to my abuse, but, now I can appreciate their value equally with the values of women.

I am aware that just talking about what goes on in the world here won’t necessarily make a difference, however, it is a start. I can start a discussion. I can perhaps get someone to think. I can perhaps open someone’s eyes so that they can see themselves in a new light.

Not the kind of light a new study talks about. This study is trying to excuse the objectification by men of women. The problem with their result is that these are grown men, and they are already trained by their parents to objectify women. I am not an object. Treat me as one and I do kick back.

For more reading on this subject, you can try these links.

The Disembodied Parts Series at Shakesville

The New Study in more detail at Feministing

Eventually I will try to get a vide of the atrocious commercial.

Thank You is Sometimes All You Can Say.

This feels strange, to write. I am going to go for a crown. It took me a very long time to become aware of my own value, and through the Ms Wheelchair USA program, I can not only show my own skills and confidence but I get to hopefully inspire other women and men to be confidence. I have conversations daily with my friends, sometimes strangers, and every so often in the mirror with myself when my pain has me grasping for strength I am sure I will not find about confidence and value.

I minister aid to those in need. Today I recieved two gifts. One, is the first donation for my campaign towards the Crown, and the other was a bottle of holywater. I will not discuss my religion here, as I do not think that has bearing on who I am or what I am capable of doing, but I see this as a beautiful thing.

The woman who sent me the holy water is one of my strangers. It was just before Christmas and I went with a friend to the bookstore. Meandering we agreed to meet at the coffee shop and I went rolling through the shop. She looked happy, except her eyes. I remember how utterly void of joy they were, and she couldn’t seem to stop staring, so, I struck up a conversation with her about the books on the table. She didn’t take long to open up to me. I remember my utter shock at her telling me she was going to commit suicide. I responded before I thought with, “Why would you want to do a thing like that?” After an h our of conversation we hugged. I rarely hug people because it pains me, but, she needed a hug more than anything else. She told me she wanted to send me a package and after meeting me she couldn’t kill  herself. Our conversation touched on the spiritual, but mostly her need to be someone. She had forgotten herself for years to be a mother to a disabled child, and now her own grand child was disabled and she couldn’t fathom happiness for anyone. Today I recieved a thank you card, and the bottle from a local blessed spring. It reminded me of my power to inspire people. I did not need a reminder to know I am good, but, the reminder that I can touch people by being who I am was a surprise.

I then talked with a male friend of mine who often forgets to love himself. For years he has battled this and tonight I shared with him how I learned to love myself. I started telling myself three times a day in the mirror I love you. That was all I saw myself, when washing my hands. Then, I wrote on my stomach, legs and anywhere that was invisible to others, I love me. I love me. Over and over. It took a long time, then I started to believe it. Mike and I met over something daring, I did something that I might be ashamed of now, online as many others do. The evidence is thankfully washed away by server errors and time. I had made myself do something out of character, to see what would happen. I never went back in my shell. I instead became a real girl. No more hiding, no more sorrow. Shortly after this I broke my back, and had to resume chanting how much I love me. I still do some days, to help myself along when the pain burns me through and I forget that I am more than a disabled chick who can barely walk. When homeless Mike fed me, he even helped pay for Sprite the Service Cat’s vet bills. He is amazing, and, I hope that he remembers that. He reminds me of who I used to be, and even admits when he is wrong. A very rare individual whom I appreciate. He is who I turn to when even my well worn tactics fail, he can always make me smile and is the Brother of My Soul. He is greatness himself, and proved to me, before any other male could, that not all men are evil. Without him, I would still be fighting daily to not feel afraid in this world. Instead I feel love and warmth even in my darkest hours.

Then, I went into my favorite IRC, dedicated to graphic programers who make animal skins for IMVU, a 3D Instant messenger and started talking with a brilliant young woman. Her name, posted with Permission, is Weesha. We talk often, though the last few months before I started this blog that contact was rare due to no internet connection. I told her of my discovery, just before the deadline and without enough time, this year, to dedicate to my new goal of Ms Wheelchair USA. We brainstormed for ways that she can help me to spread the word about MWUSA, to reach my goal, and so that people can learn about my Platform. I haven’t finished fine tuning the platform yet, but tonight she spread the word far enough that the first donation was made by Jen, a person of similar interests, taste, and a person who deserves a very special thank you. My wonderful day started off in tears and has blossomed into a garden of delights.

I just want to say thank you, these people are beyond special. May any who read these words have as dear friends and family as I have. They feed my soul, they nourish my dreams, and wish for the dreams of all to come true. They deserve as much as they give. Each one has their hopes and dreams and this, dear readers, is my hope for them.

For Information on Ms Wheelchair USA please visit their website. There you can learn about the current Crown holder Beryl Holzbach.  I saw some of her youtube videos today and was brought to tears, mourning what is, and hoping that her advocacy brings great strides to the medical field.

The Antidote for Discrimination Is…

I have felt the urge to blog repeatedly, but until now I have not given in. Blogging can be as personal as writing. I have spent the last week in preparation mode skimming the internet reading other blogs, seeing what I liked, what I didn’t like, and the power behind the words. Some of these bloggers brought me to tears, and that is no small feat. Others made me laugh, some caused me to feel sorrow, and a few gave me the chance to feel angry.

I wasn’t sure how to start my first post, but, since I am an advocate for all disabled, all women, all men, all people in need I will start there. The topic nearest and dearest to my heart is Service Animal Law. Some of you who read this might think you know about service animals, and you might be right. Others will presume that a service animal is only for a blind person. You are not correct. A service animal, by the federal definition, is any animal trained to assist a disabled person with a task. This does mean that if you have a seizure alert dog, it has to do more than that. The law even gives behavioral guidelines.

I have a service cat. She is trained to do things including retrieval, seeking assistance from specific humans in the case of an emergency, medication reminders, object retrieval, and she has also been trained to help me balance. A lot of these tactics came out of her instinctual responses, but those needed to be honed. She also had to be trained to handle a crowded mall. Now she handles it better than I do. People often ask me why a cat, and my response is simple. I am not allergic to cats, most of the time but I am allergic to dogs. I also trust cats, and I haven’t trusted many dogs in my life. I have to trust my service animal partner.

I have faced some serious discrimination because of being disabled. When I was still walking most of the time, it was harder because I was in extra agony since forcing myself to walk through a store took all of my energy. The more tired I am, the more pain I feel. There have been times when I have had shopping carts jerked out of my hands, causing me to either fall or nearly fall. I have been denied the right to buy groceries, and recently I have been illegally denied medical care.

I am perusing legal action but I am well aware that other people might not know how. Today, one of the blogs I read, reminded me that not every person is trained in how to handle discrimination. When you are disabled, you might feel more vulnerable to attack, and when people threaten to take away your service animal or refuse access, it can be terrifying. I feel often as if I am going to be hit if I push forward. I was an abuse victim for most of my life, but, adulthood came and I found a way to break free. Not everyone is that lucky.

So, here it is, my guide for other disabled people with any LEGAL service animal on how to advocate their rights. A side not before I begin, if you do not need a service animal, do not lie. We will catch you eventually, and the crime has a punishment. Depriving people of their rights through your shallow behavior is the worst thing you could possibly do, and, whether you believe in Karma, Hell, or just recriminations in this life from other people, you will pay for it. The law will get you, Advocates will get you, and if Karma gets you, it will be worse than anything I could dream up.

The Guide– Dedicated to Renne, Helen, Aimi and Snow, but especially Bree. (All Links will open in a new window/tab.)

Step 1. Stay Calm. This is for me the hardest part of advocating for your rights. Sometimes I want to run, other times I want to scream and cuss. Neither tactic is helpful. As hard as it is, you have to be the bigger person, and stay nice. You can have anger in your voice, do not deny the emotion but do not let the emotions over ride your goal.

Step 2. Calmly as you can, state that they are breaking the Federal Law. This is what I have practiced saying in the Mirror daily for the last two years. “You are violating the Federal Law. The Americans With Disabilities act provides protection for my use of my service animal.” When I say this I hand them a copy of the law. You can get a copy of the service animal laws from the ADA.  I  have the business brief printed with my state law on the reverse side. You can obtain access to your local service animal laws at http://www.animallaw.info/ I carry  my print out in aUSB case on my scooter keys. You can also buy laminated cards from various businesses with the law on it that explain your rights. For some people this is easier. Those cards are usually kept on your animal’s harness.

Step 3. Explain the law in simple terms and how they are violating it. This does mean you need to know the law. Not only does knowing the law protect you from discrimination, but, it lets you educate people. The biggest cause of discrimination in my experience is a lack of knowledge. If someone isn’t willing to learn, or admits they know, then you have a larger problem. One of the main causes of confusion with service animal awareness is that few businesses train their employees. It is illegal to require a service animal to wear a vest or show an ID tag. When someone asks me for this for my cat, I show them the law and educate them. Often, they will try and state she cannot enter because she is not a dog. My local laws state only dogs can be service animals. The laws are written so that the stronger law prevails. This means that if the Federal law says I can have any animal, that is trainable and meets the standards and the local law does not, we refer to the federal law. However if you live in a state like California that requires ID tags for all service animals, then, the law requires you have an ID tag. This is another source of confusion, but, it is an attempt at increasing the rights of many.

Usually by this point I am either in the building or they are just going to break the law anyway. If you have reached this point, it is time for Step 4.

Step 4. Take a very deep breath, and remember Step 1. Then ask to speak to their supervisor. If they refuse or are the supervisor you can try explaining the laws again, or calling another advocate to try and help. I keep the number handy to the local advocacy organization, and they have helped me countless times. Even knowing I can call day or night, is helpful because I do not feel alone. At this time I have no national links, but if you are in New Mexico, contact Service Animals and the Law. (Link forthcoming). If you have links nationally to websites that can help, post them in a comment. I want this page to be a resource for any person in need.

At this point you should be through the trying time, most managerial staff listen well and correct their employees. Recently I had to fight my way into an apartment complex using this tactic for three months. Even when I had food poisoning I had to try and follow my rules, but, eventually I prevailed. Advocating for yourself is the hardest part of having a service animal.

Not every person responds to this and if you still cannot get through to them, you need to contact the ADA. You can email them a detailed complaint, include names, addresses, contact information for both parties, and send it to ada.complaint@usdoj.gov . If you would rather call you can contact the ADA via their hotline using these numbers: 800-514-0301 (TTY-800-0363).

Remember, you are strong, you are beautiful inside and out, and you are not alone.

Other posts in this series: What is a Service Animal?

Additional Resources will be added as I find them:

Information:
http://www.assistancedogsinternational.org/
http://www.deltasociety.org
http://www.ada.gov/svcanimb.htm
http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm
http://www.equipforequality.org/resourcecenter/ada_serviceanimals.pdf

http://www.animallaw.info/
Service Dog Vests and Supplies:
http://www.pettop.com/
http://www.raspberryfield.com/
http://www.activedogs.com/servicetherapyvestharness.html?gclid=CI-6iKm7rpgCFQEpGgod3QL9Ug
http://www.ldsleather.com/patches.html
http://www.petjoyonline.com/ADA_Federal_Law_Information_Card_for_Service_Dog_p/svd-0054.htm The Law Info Cards
Scholarships
http://www.assistancedogunitedcampaign.org/scholarship.html
http://www.keystonehumanservices.org/ssd/ssd.php
Blogs:
http://www.servicedogblog.com/

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