Empowering People with Disabilities .
When I reflect on the Americans with Disabilities Act, I think of the word Empowerment. Today I walked into the grocery store with my guide dog - sounds simple but there was a time when I was forced to leave. I will not forget the feelings associated with that experience. As we sat outside waiting for the police to arrive, I felt so disempowered. I decided on that day that I would choose the route of Empowerment. I could choose to feel Empowered. It could start with me. How did I feel about myself? my disability? Did I see myself as a person first ... the disability was simply a part of who I was? Since that time there have been many experiences that push me to the limit on my Empowerment. Incidents in stores, airlines, employees ... have left me asking myself -- do you really believe that you are a person first? YES, I do and I love that feeling of Empowerment. I feel love and acceptance for myself and those around me.
I have an amazing woman that is reaching out to be my friend. She has offered to be my guide as I want to start running again. I realized as she asked if we could go do something and asked where she could pick me up that I blurted out ... I don't want to be a burden. As soon as it came out of my mouth, I realized ... that is SO disempowering.
As I was in the grocery store with my guide dog I overheard three young men giggling and talking about us. Cricket, my guide dog, and I weaved around them. I smiled at them and told them to have a great day. I felt empowered and also felt some compassion for them.