Sunday, March 18, 2018


This illustration was done by artist Mitchell Toy of Melbourne Australia. Columnist Rita Panahi shared it on her Facebook page. This illustration has the disabled community talking.

They say the illustration is ableist. The term ableist refers to an individual who discriminates against someone with a disability in favor of someone who is able-bodied.-.

Stephen Hawking was a physicist, a lecturer,, and an author. He explored black holes and other mysteries of the universe. He was a husband and father. Stephen Hawking focused on his work, not his disability.

This illustration is a tribute to Stephen Hawking., a great visionary and scientist.

 Some people think that the message of this illustration is that when we die and we are free of our mobility devices,  then and only then, will we be whole and equal to people in the non-disabled community. .I do not view this illustration that way. In my opinion, this illustration has a very positive message

I have had to depend on other people any entire life. I have used a power chair since I was sixteen years old. I appreciate the people who care for me.  I would not have any life without my power chair and caregivers. As much as appreciate the people and technology that allows me to function, depending on them can be a pain,  I wait a lot for my needs to be met. Outings have scheduled days in advance. .I would rather be able to depend on myself.  I'd love to be spontaneous.

I am not less of a person because I have a disability. Neither was Stephen Hawing. The illustration does not diminish in any way his brilliant discoveries and accomplishments. All it means is now that he has entered the Afterlife, Stephen Hawking can walk and speak without the assistance of a power chair,, a computerized voice or, a caregiver. He is free to go and do whatever chooses. He is on his own again. I believe that is what Mitchell Toy was trying to convey in his illustration. I do not believe he meant to detract from Stephen Hawing's great accomplishments or discriminate against anyone.

Sometimes a picture is just a picture

Rest in Peace, Mr. Hawing, Your legacy lives on.


Friday, March 16, 2018


I know a lot about barriers.  Before the ADA was passed on July 26, 1990, people with disabilities were segregated. I attended a "special school."  Society did not think anyone with a disability as severe as mine could do very much. Being segregated from my able-bodied peers affected me not only academically, but socially as well.  I often wonder how different my life would have been if I had been given the opportunity to be mainstreamed. If I had judged on my intellect instead of my disability.

When I entered Washington University's School of Social Work 1n 1980, the dean of admission told my mom the school did not want me. The school had to accept me based on my GPA. Imagine my mom being told that I was not wanted.  I started classes knowing that I had to prove that I was worthy of being there.

I have encountered more architectural barriers in my lifetime than I can remember. I have been taken through restaurant kitchens because there was no other way for me to enter a restaurant, I have ridden in a freight elevator because the building did not have a public elevator or the elevator was not working.  Curb cuts did not exist when I was growing up.  Lack of curb cuts made it difficult to get my chair on the sidewalk forcing my chair to be pushed in the street.  Narrow doorways and bathroom stalls made it difficult for me to use a public restroom. When it was too difficult we would just go home.

The biggest barrier I have faced is people's perceptions of me. People form opinions about me before they even meet me. They base their perceptions on what they see. on the outside or what others have told them,. I constantly have to prove to them that their opinion of me is not justified.

I love my country. However, the idea of building a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico is an embarrassment to me.  How can the United States deny help to people who just want a better life?  How can we deny help to people we don't even know?. Do we really want to be known as the nation who denied medical care to someone who is ill?  Do we really want to be known as the nation who denied someone an education?   Do we really want to be known as the nation that deports someone who has made a life in this in this country and whose children are American citizens?  In my opinion, it is not right to tear families apart. Help them to become legal citizens.

The knowledge I have of Mexico and its people is based on what I have read on the internet and social media/ I am not political. I have been called a bleeding heart. I guess I am. Building a wall to keep people out is wrong. .Walls won't lead to peace.

Barriers make me feel like I  am inferior. Barriers make me feel like I don't belong. No one should be made to feel that way.

I read a post on Facebook, "Walls won't lead to peace, bridges will."  Wouldn't we rather be known as the nation that built a bridge rather than a wall?

That's the first step to peace

Sunday, December 31, 2017


In few hours 2017 will be a memory. I was going to write a completely different blog post. I was going to do a personal inventory of my year. I was going to tell you how I have changed and grown this year as a person as well as a writer. What I still need to work on so that I can move forward with my life in a healthy way.

I've had a roommate for almost two weeks. It has been a huge adjustment for me. The thought of taking an inventory of my year and blogging about it was more than I could handle. I am happy to say that I am coping relatively well. 

In a few months, I will be leaving this facility. I still cannot believe a day that I thought would never come is getting closer. My profile is in the system. I have chosen the area I want to live in. I am waiting to hear, who will support my care. I am told it is a long, slow process. Being granted approval by the state was the difficult part. I  am waiting to learn who I will be working with. I am excited and scared at the same time. 

That is what a new year is about. .Tomorrow all of us begin a new chapter in our lives. A chance to do better. A chance for a fresh start. I  am so grateful that God is giving me my life back. The thought of living in a house, having my own room and feeling normal again brings tears to my eyes.

My goals for 2018 are to begin writing my monthly column for the West End Word again.

I am going write more positive blog posts. I enjoy learning about people. I hope to do more interview posts in the coming year too.

I will continue writing fairy tales featuring Prudencia. Writing Prudencia is a great stress reliever for me.

I will make sure I have a smooth transition into my new home. I will be the best housemate I can be. I will learn the skills I need to be more independent.This is my last chance. I won't blow it.

In  2018 I want to have a better relationship with my family. I want them to be proud of me. I will do all I can to prove to them that I have changed.   I love them all very much.

As I write this 2017 has just two hours left.  This has been a difficult year for me. Maybe it's been difficult for you too. Tomorrow we start a new chapter. The pages are blank. It is a new beginning.

Make 2018 your best year yet. .Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 24, 2017


I write fairy tale journals for my friends here. The narrator in all of my fairytale journals is a spirit named Prudencia. Prudencia is funny, operated and outrageous.She also very wise. Prudencia possesses all the qualities I wish I had. I think of her as my alter ego. Her voice is high-pitched and a little nervous.It's a combination of Aunt Clara from Bewitched and Mrs. Mondello from Leave it to Beaver.

The only thing that I cannot take credit for is her name. The name Prudencia came from my favorite telenovela Lo Que La Vida Me Robo. I thought it was the coolest character name in the series.When I heard it I know that I had to find a way to use the name in my journals

The following is the Christmas entry from Prudencia's journal.  She is fun to write. I  hope that you enjoy her holiday message.

.Hello Dear Readers,. 

My name is Prudencia. You have probably heard of me. What?  What do you mean you have never heard of me?  I am crushed. Deeply, deeply crushed. I am giving you the benefit of my 5,000 years of wisdom.My friends are always saying to me,"Prudencia you don’t look a day over 2,000.". I eat healthily, drink plenty of fluids and I fly five miles every day. 

I am a spirit of love and light.   I was sent to Earth to help people who are alone or in some kind of peril. I wanted to be a fairy godmother. I tried so hard, but I failed the test. You have no idea how difficult a magic wand is to control. They are heavy too. I wanted to turn a  rock into a flower. I pointed the magic wand at the rock. That wand had a mind of its own. I’m serious. One minute my magic wand was pointing at the rock...The next thing I knew poof! The magic wand had changed directions. That wand had quite a kick... The smoke... I was wheezing for days.  I turned one of my boss’s assistants into a frog. He was so angry that he almost disappeared.  You never want good spirits to disappear. The universe needs all the positive energy it can get.

I like helping people. It makes me feel needed.  Human beings are inherently good. Sometimes they make bad choices. That’s where I come in. I try to watch over them, protect them and guide them.  I care about all of the people that I am in charge of.  It is not just a job for me. it is a calling. I  want the people I care for to have the best lives they possibly can.  It is my job to make sure that they do.

I ponder about everything. I hope all of you like to ponder. Pondering is good for your brain.  I have been pondering about Christmas. Why do people get so caught up in the hustle and bustle?  That’s a fun expression to say. Try it. Ready?  Breathe in, .hustle/. Breathe out,, bustle. See, fun night?

The Christmas season is about love. Why don’t people realize that? What do they think Santa really represents? He is not about gifts, cookies, or candy canes. Although just between us, I have to admit, I love a good rum ball and eggnog spiked with rum. Delicious.

People need to remember Peace and Goodwill the other 364 days of the year.,not just on Christmas. Why is that so hard? I  ponder about that so much I get a migraine? Spirits can’t take medication.We cannot fly if we do.  I start to nosedive straight to the ground. It's embarrassing. I just have to ride a headache out. That is exhausting.

I hope that you enjoyed my blog post. I have never been a guest blogger before.I hope I did not ramble too much. My friends tell me that I never know when to shut up.  I have been around for 5,000 years. I have a lot to say.

Ta Ta,

One more thing. If I happen to be on your Christmas list there is a Kate Spade bag I have had my eye on.  I know Christmas is not about gifts, but I  just can not help it. A Kate Spade bag would make my entire century.


See what I mean?


Wednesday, November 22, 2017


My family was unable to attend the facility's Thanksgiving dinner this year. I was not sure if I wanted to go.  I hate going to an event alone.I weighed the pros and cons.

If I attended the dinner I would be served faster. Getting a room tray takes forever. I decided to go.  I sat with a woman who lives on my floor. She was alone too. We talked. We enjoyed the delicious food. Both of us were grateful to be together.

I have been approved for placement in community-based housing. The difficult part is behind me. It will take a few months, but eventually, I  will leave here. A meeting will take place later this month to begin my transition process.  I am grateful for a second chance.  I know that a better life is waiting for me.  On Thanksgiving Day 2018,  I will give thanks for my new home

I am grateful to have the opportunity to spend this Thanksgiving with my family. It has been hard for me to be with my family on holidays since my mom and Lucie died. I always felt there was something missing.I would get emotional. I would get lost in memories. I have wonderful memories of my mom at Thanksgiving. I cherish them.

The memory that stands out the most in my mind is my mom's last Thanksgiving. Mom always made a carrot casserole and a spinach casserole as her contribution to Thanksgiving dinner. Her last Thanksgiving she was unable to make the casseroles. Our caregiver had to make them. Mom was never one to give up. I can still see her sitting in her wheelchair instructing our caregiver on how to prepare the dishes. I am grateful for her example.  My sister-in-law is carrying on the casserole tradition. She does a great job.

This Thanksgiving is a new beginning for me.  I am filled with hope. I  will not become lost in the past.  I  am looking toward the future. I am ready to make some new memories.

Be grateful. Make memories. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


Mass shootings, terrorist attacks, people fighting over different political and religious beliefs, natural disasters and thinking that building a wall to keep people out of this country will make the United States a better and safer nation. These are the reasons I do not watch the news. It's not because I do not care.   It's because I care too much. 

A man I knew was hit by a bus while on vacation in Florida. He was fine one minute. Gone the next. It really did happen that quickly.

I have no idea what the future hold for me. Only God knows. I could fall out of bed, break my hip and die from surgical complications. I do not mean to be morbid. All the silly little disagreements, all that I have had with people will mean nothing when my life is over. Will who was right really have mattered.?  All the wasted time nursing hurt feelings and grudges is a waste of energy.

"I don't have talk to you. You're not my mama.' I just want to do my job and home.' Those were comments made to me by two different aides. Where is the kindness?  Where was the empathy? Where was the compassion?  They were just counting the hours until their shift was over.  I 
had to wait to go to bed until my aide finished her French fries to go to bed.  Nurses admit to forgetting about me. I am a resident here. Where is the compassion? My requests take two minutes to fulfill. Would they like to be forgotten if they were in my place?  Life is too short for me not to get the best care possible.

Leona is a traveling nurse from Springfield. She is under contract here for thirteen weeks. She has been on my floor twice.  One night, after she had fulfilled my request, Leona noticed my swollen ankles. She asked if  I would let to put lotion on my feet and legs and massage them. She said it would help with the swelling and improve my circulation. I am not a fan of lotion, but I agreed. While she was massaging my legs and feet she talked to me. Leona went the extra mile. Leona cared.  In a facility where I am often forgotten by nurses, I appreciated her concern and the care that she gave me. I hope that Leona will be on my floor again soon. 

A tragedy is in the news every week. A sobering reminder of how fragile life is.  We are entering the holiday season. The season of giving thanks. The season of peace on earth. The season of hope. The season of miracles. The season of forgiveness.

Be kind. Show compassion.  Show empathy. Help others. Life's too short not to. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017


 Thirty dollars was taken from my room last week. I was saving it to get sushi with friends. (California rolls, seaweed salad, and Philidelphia rolls.) It wasn't even my was my family's money.

"It's happening again."  "Why don't they care enough about residents to install video cameras?" "I feel violated. I wondered who'd been in my room going through my things. "I don't feel safe here." These were all the thoughts running through my head.

I  have had a lot of things disappear in the last three years. I was always reimbursed for missing items. The new administration does not reimburse for lost or stolen. items. I was reprimanded for keeping money in my room. If this is my home I should be able to keep anything I choose in my room.I should feel safe and secure. If items are lost or stolen the administration should take responsibility and replace them. I have lost count of the number of things that have gone missing. It should not be my family's responsibility to replace them. Video monitoring systems are needed on the halls.

Please keep other residents out of my room. .A dirty bed pad was in my room recently. The pad was not there when I left for dinner Staff comes in my room when I am at meals. I have been asking for three years, "Please respect my things."' I am said that thefts are happening here again.. I don't like to leave my room. I do not know what or who  I might find there when  I return.  If I close my door I have to wait for someone to open it for me. The staff is not always available

Living here is a lot like high school. There are cliques. I have been called names, laughed at, gossiped about. Everyone knows my business.

I have tried to fit in here. I had tried to find my place here. I have tried making friends. I found a table in the dining room that I really liked. Three women who are around my age sat at the table. Good conversation. I was happy. I was finally accepted/ Until...

One of the women at the table is friends with a male resident. The man took my spot at the table one evening. I told him that was my spot. I had been sitting there for several weeks. The gentleman informed me that there has never been assigned seating, (not true) that he could sit wherever he wanted. He told me to stop whining.(What is it with people making comments about my voice?) The staff told me to get to my spot early the next night before. he could kick me out. I asked the woman if she minded me sitting at the table. I foolishly thought she'd say no. She told me that she'd wanted her male friend to sit there. He'd be leaving in a few weeks. (He has been leaving for six months) .Agan, I left. I told them I would never sit with them again..

I sit with two men. The one man's wife occasionally eats with us too. She has Alzheimer's. I mean no disrespect to anyone. I would rather eat by myself.

I  am finished with trying to make friends here. I am thankful for my two friends on staff.  They listen, support me and make me laugh. My life would much harder here without them.

This all happened in the same week.  I had a strong feeling of deja vu. I kept thinking, '"This is where I came in."' I urge the administrator to consider installing a  video monitoring system. It would also be nice if residents who are rude to others were reprimanded. They are the ones who should be asked to move. Not rewarded by getting their way.  (I know that's not going to happen.) I  hope this facility will change for the better soon.