I read an op-ed by a mother of a daughter who uses a chair like I do today. She was telling the world her child wasn’t an inspiration merely because she existed. I read that & cheered. Then I read the comments on the piece. Holy moly were people brutal to this woman! I couldn’t wrap my head around why they were. I’ve always squirmed being called an inspiration. People mean well, but it makes me want to hide. My chosen family and I’ve had many conversations about my reaction to the term inspiration and my name in the same sentence. “Why does it bother you so much, sis?” I am not doing anything special, y’all. I’m just living my life. I’m just choosing to play ball even when it’s hard. I can’t just give up on myself. Y’all won’t let me. This last sentence is followed by: “you got that right!” and laughter.
The more I thought about that op-ed today and the reaction to it: I thought you need a perspective reset, Stace. You don’t like that term. Answer me this then. What are you trying to do with your life big picture? Change the world…at least some. Leave the world better than I found it. Okay, what are you trying to do by putting your journey out in the world in blog form? At first, it was to dispel misinformation about living with CP. I get so mad with the notion that I can’t have a full life just because of my diagnosis. I want to thrive with cerebral palsy and, for the most part, I do. Okay, and now, almost five months in? What do you want your blog to do now?
I want to use my journey and blog to help as many people as I can. I want the blog to grow as big as possible because it strikes a chord with people. I want to show everyone who comes to the blog itself or the blog’s social media: no matter what they are going through or facing it is possible to thrive in every circumstance. It’s not easy, but it is possible and worth not giving up.
I want everyone who reads my words or watches my videos to know: you matter, are valid, seen, valued, and loved. I want to build a community I wish I had years ago. I want to build the community my child and teenage self needed. I want to be a light in this, too dark, world. I want to make a difference in people’s lives. I want to show them my journey so they think: “If she can do that, I can do __________.” I want to be a source of encouragement and a cheerleader for anyone who wants to tell me their story. Okay, so all you need to do is swap out the word inspiration with encouragement, light, trail blazer, world changer, or cheerleader. Same thing, different words? Pretty much, so you can get over being so uncomfortable with that word and do what you want to accomplish with this blog.
I share the conversation I had in my journal, with myself, to show y’all, and me, if we change the words we don’t like or make us uncomfortable: imagine what we could do. If we can just get out of our heads: holy wow, how much better our lives and the world would be. If you don’t like a word, and it feels to expectation-laden as inspiration does to me: change it in your vocabulary to something easier to handle.
If we all do that: we can still do the work we were called for…it’s just that work becomes easier to manage then. We have to be kind to ourselves before we can extend love and kindness to others. If swapping one word for others does that for any of you, as it does for me, do so immediately. The world needs you to show up for you and our fellow humans.