Empower Me.

empower-meOur greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. You were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

It has been several ago now, but I remember the day well. I had gotten up early to get ready to go to the capitol building in Topeka. Shannon Jones, the then director of the Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas had asked me to provide testimony about a potential program that would enable people with disabilities who wanted to work the opportunity to do so without the risk of losing their government funded caregivers. The program made sense to me. I require caregivers on a daily basis to do fundamental things like dress and do my laundry. I knew I wanted to work, but couldn’t unless I had the support of my caregivers. My working would allow me to earn a paycheck and pay into the system that provided me so much support. I saw it as a win-win for everyone. So Shannon invited me to tell my story to Kansas senators and representatives who were unsure of the need for the program. I was excited about the potential good things that could happen in my life if this program came to be.

My caregiver was late that morning. Very late. I found out later that she had forgotten what I was doing that day and so the adjustment in time for her caregiver shift had slipped her mind. As I was waiting, I was frustrated. The day was no different from any other day in terms of what I could and could not do for myself, but because I did not have the support that I needed at the time that I needed it, that day it hit me hard that I can’t drive and I can’t put on my own socks and shoes.

I felt less than. I felt inadequate.

When my caregiver finally arrived, we raced around the house  like mice in search of the last piece of cheese to get me ready and made it just in time for me to catch my ride.

When I got to the capitol I was nervous and when I found Shannon she could tell. I was frantically going over the three pages of notes I had tried to memorize and was failing miserably. The fear of screwing up my testimony had me almost paralyzed. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t focus. Shannon got the vibe

She sat down next to me and said “Lorraine, you communicate well and you have a great story. You want to work and the program we are advocating for  would enable you to do so. Just go talk to the senators and representatives on the committee and tell them who you are.”

With that, she took my notes away from me and announced that I was speaking next.

Gulp.

As soon as I started talking, I felt more comfortable. I told that committee all the ways that program could make my life better and that I didn’t see a downside. I asked to be able to pay taxes. I asked to be able to contribute in that way. I told them that my ability to earn a paycheck would do wonders for my self-esteem because I wouldn’t feel like I was taking from government programs all the time. I told them I felt what I had to offer was valuable. I told them I wanted to work.

When I was finished, Shannon told me I had done a really good job. That made me smile.

On the way home I realized that I could share my story and be a voice for other people with disabilities, and feel powerful doing so.  In fact, my platform as Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2007, was “Use Your Power!”

In the years since on my blog and in my other writing I have tried to do just that and hopefully, I have made an impact and challenged some negative perceptions in the process.

I have heard it said that with power comes responsibility.

Empower me.

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