Identifying as Disabled

Declaring oneself disabled doesn’t have to be all bad. Once you accept having limited abilities and turn your focus on what you can still do – which is often a lot – you might be able to relish having some time removed from the hustle and bustle of a stress-filled work life.

What does “disabled” mean, anyway? According to the US Social Security Administration, a person is considered disabled if they provide medical evidence that their physical and/or mental incapacity precludes them from working a full-time job on a regular basis.

I probably worked past the time I should have. In 2001 I quit a full-time job that was by far more demanding than 40 hours per week, and which involved lots of travel. I was frequently getting sick and although I earned a nice paycheck, the quality of my life suffered. For years after that I did contract jobs.

Some weeks I worked 20 hours. Other weeks, I had to crunch to meet a deadline and ended up working more than I had energy for. It took its toll on me in many ways.

Eventually, I realized to salvage the quality of my life I would have to learn to live on less and applied for disability benefits. It was emotionally draining to come to this awareness and follow through with the bureaucratic hurdles, but I do not regret it. It provides some peace of mind and allows me the opportunity to rest when I need to. When I replenish my reservoir of energy, I’m able to do things that help me remain attached and productive.

Don’t get me wrong, identifying as disabled takes some getting used to.

According to the US Census Bureau, nearly one in five Americans have a disability. That’s twenty percent. We’re in good company! That’s the largest minority group I belong to. But not all disabilities prevent someone from earning a living. I’m fortunate to have found ways to remain engaged, challenge myself creatively and intellectually, and feel as if I am still of service to my community. And when I need to, I take a break – an hour, or sometimes a full day – and disengage and refuel.

Yoga teaches us to listen to our body – A conversation with JoAnn Lyons

Any body can do yoga. With teachers like JoAnn Lyons of the Piedmont Yoga Community making it possible, that is.

In this conversation JoAnn mentions different styles of yoga — Iyengar, Integral, Vedanta, and Sivananda. Check out these links if you want to learn more but this podcast is geared toward anyone with either an advanced or limited understanding of yoga.

For those wanting to know more about yoga for people with disabilities, JoAnn recommends the books Recovery Yoga and Yoga and Multiple Sclerosis.

Here are two books with great illustrations of people doing yoga using chairs: All I need is this Chair Yoga and A Chair for Yoga: A complete guide to Iyengar yoga practice with a chair.

Additional resources include the International Association for Yoga Therapists (this is where I search for yoga instructors in locations outside of the SF Bay Area) and the Accessible Yoga Conference.

Matthew Sanford is an inspirational yoga instructor who shares his personal story of surviving a car accident as a teenager in his book, Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence.

The Cancer Fight Song

GHF004This week’s guest is Melissa Marshall. We’ve known each other since elementary school. And guess what? She wrote “the cancer fight song!”

Listen to Melissa’s story and visit her foundation’s website.

Let me know on Facebook if you’d like to see a photo of us from elementary school.

003: Accessible boating on the James River

Ted Abbott on the James RiverTed Abbott is making his dreams come true in Virginia. He started a nonprofit organization, Sailing 4 All, to provide recreational opportunities for people with disabilities, youth at risk, and other individuals with special needs.

If you’re in the San Francisco area, check out the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors; in Maryland there’s Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating; and in South Florida there’s the Freedom Waters Foundation.

On a national level there’s Disabled Sports USA.

While related to sailing, a friend of mine diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease found this book, Go Anyway: Sailing Around the World with Parkinson’s, very inspirational.

Please share this podcast with friends and family. Thanks!

002: Mental health consumer, advocate, speaker & writer

Laurel Roth PattonMy first conversation is with a dear friend, Laurel Roth Patton. Laurel talks with me about her diagnosis with bipolar condition and shares some of the most useful tools she’s gathered over the years. Please visit Laurel’s blog as well as an article she wrote which appears in a collection of writings.

The book Laurel and I discuss at the beginning of the podcast, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir, is highly recommended.

I look forward to hearing your comments, questions, and ideas on Facebook.

001: My First Podcast: Who am I? Who are You?

Leslie at MDA Dance Marathon, 1979

MDA Dance Marathon, 1979

Here it is! My very first podcast! I want to lay the ground work, a foundation, that provides an understanding of where I’ve been and what I’m most interested in doing. This episode is just me; future episodes will include conversations with others — people dealing with a chronic health condition, caregivers, as well as health practitioners of modalities some of us have found helpful. But basically — it’s all about maintaining a perspective of the Glass Half Full!

Self-Management 101

I was way into Self-Management before I knew anything about the term. My earliest memory of being in touch with how my body felt and trying to do something about it was in college. I’d spent most of my childhood feeling bloated after meals. I did love my mother’s cooking but dinner was the heaviest meal of the day and usually included some type of meat. I thought feeling like a beached whale was normal.

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Assisstive Technology for Older Adults

The other evening I attended a session at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club called, “Assistive Technology for Older Adults.” I was drawn to this because many of the people in the support group I facilitate are older adults AND much of what is marketed toward seniors can help people with certain chronic health conditions.

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