January 16, 2011

Community Cookies

(If you're looking for (or are interested in) the photo project information, please scroll down to the previous entry or click here to be taken to that post.)

WEGO Health has a monthly Blog Carnival, wherein they invite us all to share a blog post based on a specific topic or prompt.  I was particularly interested in this month's topic, because of a takeout meal I had on my first day back at work this year.

That day, I went out to the previous client I had worked on to clear up some documentation and since we stayed late, we ordered dinner from a local Chinese restauarant.  Being one who enjoys fun little traditions, I insisted that we open our fortune cookies for a quick giggle.  When I cracked open my cookie and slipped out the small rectangle, I certainly didn't expect the 10-word prediction that stared back at me:

"You will be recognized and honored as a community leader."

Why, thank you little slip of paper!  What an inspiration you are - and just the encouragement I needed!
You see, the next day I had a meeting scheduled with the head of our office - a man responsible for the entire 800+ person operation in Philly as well as being involved in firm activities at a national level, and who literally won Father of the Year on top of it.  I was meeting with him to discuss the Disability Network and how to give it some fresh life, enthusiasm, and ways he could help.  This may have been the only time I've been that nervous before a presentation since the 7th grade.
(As a note, the meeting was an absolute success.  I'll write a separate post about that and the rest of my recent activism activities.)

My little 'fortune' proved to be more than just the usual silly fun I usually expect.  In the first two weeks of this year, I had two major meetings with high-ups at work (including the one above) about the Disability Network AND other new related projects, began putting together a great awareness project (the photo display from my previous entry) to go up at Villanova in early February, developed a panel presentation for February 22nd, booked a pre-interview chat and radio 'featured guest' spot for early March, signed on for another activist panel with WEGO for May 4, and have the SSF Walkabout on May 7.  Yeah, I'd say we're off to an amazing (and manic) start!

Since my year kicked off with what may well be a prophetic fortune in my cookie, WEGO's January prompt "3 Fortune Cookies" certainly caught my attention!  (You can read the entire prompt, as well as see links to other people's posts, here.)

And so, dear readers, here are my three "fortune cookie slips" for you, me, and our community this year!

1. “Power comes from who you are, not what you have, and the transformation starts with how you allow others to treat you.” ~Suze Orman

 You are your own first, best, and most powerful advocate.  Even when accepting help and support from others, you are steering your own ship.  That of course means telling people your needs, seeking information, and insisting on getting what you fairly deserve.  But it also means controlling how you let people treat you!  Just because (for instance) someone is processing your application for disability payments or moving from a handicapped spot they blocked while unloading a vehicle doesn't mean they have any right to treat you badly.  The same is true for doctors and healthcare professionals, religious leaders, even friends and family.  Those close to you may need to share their own feelings about what you go through and how it affects them, but even then they should respect that you are still a person with feelings and it is not acceptable to treat you like a burden or idiot.  People aren't perfect and from time to time they're going to slip and say or do something hurtful to you - and it is then YOUR job to let them know it's not ok.  If all else fails, you always have the option to remove yourself from their company.  Insisting that others treat you right will ultimately remind YOU of your own worth and the power you have in your own life - no matter what chronic battle you face!

2. “I am successful today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down” ~Abraham Lincoln

If you want to learn a new skill, travel to a new place, achieve a career goal, or realize a personal one, it's going to take confidence in yourself.  However, we all know how easy it is to lose that confidence when living with a chronic problem.  If your problem never goes away, how can you see your way around it, afterall?  The fortunate truth is that while yes, you probably will have to change or eliminate certain plans you had for yourself, they don't all have to go out the window, and there are often ways to accomplish things you aren't considering.  Thinking outside the box (and especially tapping into the brainstorming power of a group of people) will often get you where you want to be.  But if you're unsure of your own abilities, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and alone, and give up.  That's when we most need the support of our friends.  I'm very lucky, my husband, mother, and best friend are ALWAYS right behind me with pompoms at the ready - they are my personal fan club!  I know many chronically ill people aren't as fortunate - and please understand I have people around me who are completely unsupportive too (I just don't keep them around me for long).  But corny as it sounds, if you're reading this post, you do have a friend who believes in you. In fact, you have a couple dozen people who believe in you, because all of my followers are optimistic people who love to buoy each other up!  We know that it is only by helping and supporting each other than any of us will see any positive change, and that means we WANT you to succeed too!  And not only to we want it, but we've seen each other do amazing things and KNOW that you can be amazing.  We BELIEVE in you - and if you want proof, all you have to do is let us know what your fear is and we'll be right there to hold your hand.  The only way you could let us down is by giving up - so don't!

3. "There is no more satisfying sound than that of wheels in motion."

This was the thought that went through my head the other day.  I had just come from one of those meetings and knew there were a lot of action items in the works.  I had my to do list, as did a few other people, and things were happening.  Usually we try to take a moment after a project, event, or initiative is complete to enjoy the fruits of our labors - and certainly that has a lot of merrit.  But sometimes it makes me feel a little deflated, kind of the way many people feel after the holidays when the fun and excitement they've anticipated is over and all that seems to be ahead is returning to 'normal' life.  I still reflect on things that are finished to consider a job well-done, but my favorite time in the process to pause and enjoy is when things are just starting or a flurry of activity is in-process.  There is so much hope, so much potential for what can come out of the activity going on around me - and I love that feeling.  For me, it's when the wheels have begun to move that there is the most promise and excitement.  And, in recent endeavors, those wheels have carried more than just my own efforts.  There have been other people working with me on projects, and that takes my satisfaction to a whole new level.  There's no room for let-downs or disappointment at this stage; there's nothing yet that 'could have been better', no 'room for improvement'.  That will come later, when we take stock after a project/event of how to do it more efficiently and effectively next time.  It's an important part of the process and even has a hopeful aspect, in thinking ahead to an even brighter future...but while the wheels are still spinning, there is ONLY a bright future and nothing yet exists which is imperfect.  Think of it as a way of counting your blessings or taking stock in the joys in your life.  If wheels are in motion, you are not stagnant.  This is my favorite feeling of all.

(If you're looking for (or are interested in) the photo project information, please scroll down to the previous entry or click here to be taken to that post.)


  1. Chinese restaurant doens't have this tradition here. That's sound fun.
    Thanks for your "fortune cookie" sentence; they can be really encouraging !

  2. What an omnipotent prediction. You are so wise for one so young....keep up the great work.

  3. Glad to find this site. Would you consider adding a subscription link? I'd love to get the posts in my e-mail.

  4. Gena,
    So nice to meet you! I tried adding a subscription widget on the left...I usually have to learn each blogging/techie thing as I go so I'm not positive if that's the kind of tool you meant:) If not, let me know (and any suggested tools for it would be great). Hope to talk to you again!


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