Three Important Ways to Define Yourself

Let’s face it. We have all tried to define others with our thoughts, judgments, and opinions about them. To some degree, it’s human nature.

It can also be pretty damaging to one’s self-esteem, particularly when one lives with a difference that sets him apart.

Stop Looking For The Magic You Are It Concept

Next week I’ll be rolling out the first personal development training video for people with disabilities, How to Define Yourself: Why It’s So Important When You Have a Disability.

I actually learned to define myself by going to the grocery store. No, it wasn’t the produce or frozen foods that helped define me. Although, if you look at my cart most weeks, you’ll see I generally eat pretty healthy, but have a wicked sweet tooth.

What helped defined me was realizing all the perceptions people had of me as I grocery shopped – “That poor woman…” (pity), “Oh, I really admire her for trying to grocery shop” (misproportioned admiration), and “Someone should really be helping her” (assumption of lack of ability). To defend the general public of Central New York, there were also naturally people who saw me as just a woman with cerebral palsy, doing her grocery shopping.

Every time I encountered these perceptions and definitions of me, I had to say to myself, “Uh, that’s interesting, but it’s not me.” I would highly recommend trying on this phrase when you experience someone trying to define you. It’s a good way of developing a filter for others’ opinions of you, while taking on the role of merely observing how others react to you.

Naturally, it also helps to have a strong definition of yourself to return to as you’re filtering out the misperceptions and false judgements. Here are three very basic, but important ways to do so:

1. What you can do? What are your abilities? These don’t have to be things you necessarily do, but your strengths as a person.
2. What you enjoy? What helps you live and enjoy life?
3. What interests you? What makes you uniquely you?

I would encourage you to begin to make a list from answering these three questions, either on paper, on screen, or in your head. To get you started, answer one of them below in the comment area. You’ll see my answer to #1 down there.

Return often to this list of yours. Let it strengthen YOUR definition of YOURSELF. And remember, no one knows the magic of who you are like yourself!

Posted in Believe in Yourself, Confidence Builders, Strategies/Techniques | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Dating: Put it Out There

Recently a friend told me she could not open the full posts of my blogs at work (a school system) because Radiant Abilities came up as a dating site.

Yes! That’s great news, although not at all true.

My intention is to periodically have dating resources for people, particularly in the areas of having the confidence to date, radiating the Power to Attract, and Healthy Relationships and Sexuality.

However, in keeping with the reputation of being a “dating” site, let’s talk about whether or not you should disclose of your online dating profile if you have a disability. I’ll share my answer through this story.


When I was doing online dating, I always put on my profile that I live with cerebral palsy. In the dating world, and pretty much in general, I’m a “cut to the chase” person who likes to put everything on the table. When I was dating, I wanted people to know I live with CP so that if they could not live with it, they could step aside and make room for those who could. Remember, You’re Not for Everyone.

This one time, as I was planning to meet a guy for coffee, I emailed him specifically about my disability. We had been emailing each other for a bit and the subject had not yet come up. I remember writing that I just wanted to mention it so that he wasn’t surprised. No response.

Turns out I was the surprised one. He had cerebral palsy too.

As he approached me in the restaurant with the familiar gait and hand movement, I thought, “You got to be kidding me.” Not that he had cerebral palsy, but that he refused to go there. For me, things were over before he sat down.

His lack of acknowledgement about his disability (let alone mine) spoke volumes to me about how he was coping with his disability, and about his communication and problem solving skills in general. Important factors in dating.

Another reason why I say a resounding yes to disclosing your disability on your profile is because I believe that by not doing so, it reinforces the shame of disability.

Put it out there! Your disability is a wonderful part of what makes you YOU!

To reinforce that, share with me below one aspect of your disability that attributes to your wonderfulness. See mine below.

Posted in Confidence Builders, Dating Resources | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Why is it So Easy to Shock People?

I was told two stories yesterday of people with disabilities going out in life, taking advantage of living life, having fun and others being shocked by their desire to do so.

You have a disability and you're doing THAT?!

You have a disability and you’re doing THAT?!

It begged these questions in me – Why are people still so easily shocked by people with disabilities just living their lives? Why is it that some people think a presence of a disability negates the desire to have fun, take risks, and feel alive, enjoying life?

No disability can quell those very human desires.

The first story was about a man who has paraplegia and uses a wheelchair. He was at a wedding recently. During the dancing at the reception, the guests circled around the bride, taking turns getting in the center with her and dancing. When this man joined in, pulling his out his dance moves with his upper body and tipping his wheelchair back, the dancing crowd was shocked.

So were they astonished because:

A. He wanted to dance and joined in on the fun.
B. That he had the courage to get in the center with the bride. (Because let’s face it, we’ve all had that feeling of wanting to get in the center of attention, but feeling held back by our self-doubt.)
C. That he had better dance moves than the other people.
D. All of the above.

My vote is on D. This story reminds me of the new “frontier” we have in disability education – to teach society that it’s not just about getting accommodations and basic rights, but honoring our desire for FULL participation in ALL aspects of living life.

The second story was shared to me by an employee of Arise, the regional Independent Living Center in Central New York. Arise runs a Ski program every winter. The employee told me about giving a presentation about the ski program and someone from the audience asking, “Why would anyone with a disability want to ski?”

Really? People think that having a disability alone would take away the desire for fun, risk, and adventure?

Then I have to silently thank the person who asked this sincere question and the people at the wedding who stood in shock on the dance floor. They are both reminders and motivators for me to teach more and more about the importance of living life in ALL aspects (dance floor and snowy slopes included!).

As Radiant Abilities emerges into its new online presence as an information and training resource, look for a heavy emphasis on the art of living life fully with a disability.

You’re turn now, regardless of whether you have a disability, what action have you taken in which you have shocked people by your zest for life? Comment below and check out my answer.

Posted in LIVE your life, Taking Risks | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Letting Go of Safety: Great Way of Coping with Disability

Some of you may disagree with me on this.

When we live with a disability, sometimes we really do have to throw caution to the wind and just experience life.


Last week as I was writing a section about my family for the About Page for the new Radiant Abilities website (to be unveiled very soon!), I realized a core reason why I am so focused in helping people live fully with a disability is because my family was so committed to having me experience all the fun and joys of being a kid.

Here’s a snapshot of my family’s philosophy of my disability. I have never been able to balance myself on a bike. Some of my earliest memories, though, are precariously sitting on the very front edge of my brother’s bike seat while having my feet resting on the “bar” part his handle bars and holding on to the handles. He would then sit on the seat and ride the bike. By doing so, he would help balance me on the bike. We’d go tooling around the neighborhood like this.

These were of course the days before the helmet law and when we did not have as much safety awareness as we do today. As an adult, I’m amazed my mother let us do this and so grateful that she did!

This was the start of teaching me to strategized (albeit, not always safely) around my disability in order to have the experience of fully living life. My family had the insight early on that sometimes the best way to cope with a disability is to focus on how to take it along for the ride (literally in this case), rather than having it hold you back.

As Radiant Abilities begins offering online resources to people with disabilities and their families, look for strategies and tools for helping you, or your loved one, take healthy risks (don’t worry, I won’t make you ride the handle bars) to lead the life they want. But first, go ahead, be brave, tell me below the experience you want that is worth the risk.

*photo by Solemar Del Sol Pansol via Instagram

Posted in Family Support, LIVE your life, Taking Risks | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Is it Really Hate or a Lack of Self-Love?

Let me begin by saying I hate the word hate. Sure, hate exists and we can see it all over if we look for it, but I personally rather spend my precious time focusing on all the love that’s out there.

Yes, you’re welcome to call me a Pollyanna. I’ll take that any day over a “hater.”

I came across something this week that made me decide to speak about this subject.


Maysoon Zayid is a talented actress and comedian, who happens to have cerebral palsy. She has a funny, light-hearted, yet incredibly insight view of living life with a disability. You see this come across in her interview with Marie Forleo. Maysoon’s TED talk, “I got 99 problems, palsy is just one of them,” is also a must watch.

Last week the Huff Post did an article and interview with Maysoon about the hateful comments she received after appearing on national TV.

I have to say it still amazes me that people take the time – their precious life time and energy – to spend on exhibiting hate. My initial reaction and yes, it’s a snarky one, but my honest reaction is, “Really? You don’t have anything better to do with your time??”

Then after this reaction, I pause and try to reflect…and remember the ONLY answer I have found for hate. To me, hate boils down to a lack of self-love. If the “hater” was truly happy with himself, would he ever want to strike out against one’s difference?

Once I remind myself of this, I can then begin to feel compassion for the person struggling so to accept differences, which is ultimately the expression of people with disabilities.

So I’m curious…..what’s your take on cyber-bullying and how do you counter it? Share your wisdom below.

Post Script: After I wrote this post, I watched last week’s TED talk from Monica Lewinsky on “The Price of Shame”. If you watch the entire talk, you’ll find she has great insights and perspectives on the effect of cyber-bullying.

Posted in All We Need is Love, How Others React, Strategies/Techniques | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dating Advice: You’re Not for Everyone


During the many years I was single, the best advice I got was “You won’t be for everyone.”

This came as a relief and it still surprises me that it was news to me at the time. Well, of course, I’m not for everyone! Duh!

The person who said this to me actually conveyed it in a very loving way and with the intention of helping me to let go of my arduous efforts to impress all potential partners. And it worked!

I began to breathe more deeply and relax into who I am, rather than what I was putting out there.

I don’t know if other people with disabilities think this way, but in my dating years, I believed in the impossible – that potential dating partners could work through their resistance toward my disability.

I look back now and sigh at my ignorance, as well as my arrogance. “You’re not for everyone” holds true for everyone. How on earth did I think I get a Disability Pass on this? Ugh, arrogance!

After all, I go through life, knowing that certain people in general will just have difficulty accepting my disability…and people who would have a more intimate relationship with me, would not?! Ugh, arrogance!

When I received this gentle slap in the face of “You’re not for everyone,” it was actually welcomed. Ahh, this meant I could focus on those who were for me and let go of my false need for the others.

Relaxing into this knowledge helped to foster my Power to Attract, meaning I put my focus more on what I had to offer to the dating/relationship scene, than trying to draw someone to me.

By focusing on our gifts and abilities,
you draw the right people to you.

On some level when you live with a disability, people will always look at what you don’t “have.” For better or worse, it’s human nature. Our job as people with disabilities, I believe, is to be open to all the gifts and lessons we bring to the many who are open to us.

If you’re out there dating, know you’re not for everyone. It really helps clear the way for those who are drawn to you.

The comment area has been pretty lonely lately. Take a risk, begin a discussion, your choice – tell about a dating or non-dating experience in which you clearly knew when you weren’t for everyone and that was okay. See my story below in the comments.

Like this post? Know someone who could benefit from it? Please share it on your social media sites.

Posted in Believe in Yourself, Confidence Builders, Dating Resources | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Why Embracing Our Imperfections Empowers Us

Can you take a guess as to what this is? The first three guesses posted in the comment area below get a free e-book of Firewalk: Embracing Different Abilities. Honor system applies here, enter your guess and then keep reading.

Followers of me on Twitter or Facebook have an advantage as I posted this a couple weeks ago.


Before I explain the picture, let me get to the lesson:

A significant step in feeling fully empowered as a person with a disability is embracing that things won’t look perfect, but the experience is.

This was my attempt to make Valentine’s cut-out cookies with my three-year old son, Jaden. They look nothing like the cute little frosted pink hearts they were intended to be.

To be honest, while I love to bake and I bake a lot, I avoid making cut-out cookies at all costs. They’re just so frustrating to make with my fine motor challenges. I struggle so with keeping the shape of the dough and trying to get it out of that darn cookie cutter and we won’t even get into the challenge of spreading frosting – I know, obvious from the photo!

Nonetheless, I wanted to give Jaden the experience in the “fun” of making them. I try hard not to let my physical limitations put constraints on his life experiences, even if it’s just making cookies.

When the cookies came out of the oven in there amorphous form, my husband and I could only laugh and be inspired to share my creation on Facebook. Surprisingly, my share got the most comments and likes than I have had in a while.

Why? Surely, not because it could have been on the cover of Cook’s Illustrated.

Maybe it had something to do with my ability to accept my imperfections and see that the PROCESS and EFFORT have so much more value than something looking good.

I have learned over the years that actually doing whatever it is I want to do (i.e. having the experience), rather than focusing on perfection, allows me to live life more fully.

I hope I’m passing that along to Jaden!

Posted in Confidence Builders, Lessons Learned, LIVE your life | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rising Above the Inner Doubt

How you doing with that whole Power to Attract thing that I spoke about last week?

If you’re feeling energized, a boost in confidence, and beginning to see people respond differently to you, go, go, go, and keep radiating that power!

If you’re feeling some self-doubt, overwhelm, and inner voices that say, “C’mon, be real,” YOU ARE NOT ALONE.”

Last week, I promised to discuss some steps for countering the negative pull of critical self-talk and self-defeating beliefs. It can be daunting to pull away your focus from the strong pull of negative, but it can always be done.

When you working on fostering your Power to Attract and feel the negativity creeping in, consider these four steps to remind you of your beauty that is always within you:

1. Honor all of you One has to carefully consider the entire body all its unique characteristics – muscle movements, different facial features, size and form, spasms, intellectual difference, and other effects – and begin to teach people to honor them as distinct parts of one’s attractiveness.
2. Release the shame Releasing shame is the most effective way to enhance body image. Talking about the shame someone feels is actually one of the best ways to begin the healing process. Giving a voice to it helps to lessen the weight of shame and free up a person’s energy to focus on their attributes and what they offer to relationships.
3. Know you’re not for everyone This is a very freeing thought! Not everyone is drawn to us and that’s just fine. It does not mean that you’re unattractive. It just means a particular person is not attracted to you. Boy, this was a hard one for me to get in my personal life, but once I did, it turned up my Power to Attract a few notches.
4. Flip the switch An easy way to help people think of your Power to Attract is like a light switch. You walk into a dark room and can’t do much or get very far without flipping the light switch on. The Power to Attract is turning the light on, radiating it to others, and finding the way. Remember, your Power to Attract may be dimmed but can never be extinguished.

Try these steps and I assure you, you’re going to feel the Power to Attract emerging in you. Let it roar!

Hey, check the comments for one of my most powerful affirmations when dealing with someone who’s having a hard time with your disability.

Posted in Believe in Yourself, Confidence Builders, Strategies/Techniques | 1 Comment

How to Radiate the Power to Attract

It does not matter if you use a wheelchair, drool, or have muscles spasms.

You have the Power to Attract.

The most influential factor that can either promote or hinder one’s healthy sexuality (reading last week’s post on sexuality may help define this for you) is people’s ability to own their Power to Attract. This power relates directly to your recognition and ability to bring forth your strengths and most endearing qualities.

For example, if you are a good listener, make thoughtful decisions, have a great sense of humor, and soulful eyes, that’s what will draw people to you. The Power to Attract feeds your sense of sexuality and ultimately gives you your power to shine because you are focusing on your strengths and abilities.

Your body, how it functions, looks, what it does and doesn’t do, holds nothing on your Power to Attract because this power comes from within you. There’s very little we can do about the body, except take good care of them and love them as they are.

Sad, but true, there are far too many people in the world who focus on the negative aspects of their bodies and theirselves. When you focus on what you don’t have, on what you are not, and what you think you need to be better, you’re putting all your energy into what is missing.

It’s when you focus on the positive attributes of yourself, that you naturally draw people to you. This is because people see the value you place on yourself and want to be around that energy.

The Power to Attract has never ending potential to grow stronger and stronger, if you allow it to.

With love and positive attitudes, healthy sexuality and relationship blossomed. When you nourish your positive qualities, this is key to accessing a healthy sense of sexuality and the power to attract.

It can be daunting to pull away your focus from the strong pull of negative self-talk and self-defeating beliefs, but it can always be done. Next week I’ll discuss some steps for countering the negative pull.

Remember, your Power to Attract may be dimmed but can never be extinguished.

So, go ahead, take a risk and pick one positive attribute that helps radiate your Power to Attract and share it. Draw more people to you. You’ll see mine down below. To see the comments, just click the comment link below after the tag links.

Posted in Believe in Yourself, Confidence Builders, Dating Resources, Healthy Sexuality | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Most Important Action to Unleash Your Healthy Sexuality

So what exactly does that mean – to unleash your healthy sexuality??

As I have said before, we still don’t talk enough about sexuality and disability. The reasons for this deserve a blog post of its own – perpetuated false belief that sexuality does not apply to most people with disabilities, society’s own sexuality issues projected on people with disabilities, lack of dating opportunities, and on and on.

With Valentine’s Day this weekend and so many people focusing on love and relationships, I’d figure we could spend a bit of time on this. Let’s begin with talking though about how to enhance one’s healthy sexuality.

Healthy sexuality encompasses these components:

Our ability to open our hearts to people and consciously be intimate with them, emotionally and physically.
Understanding that sexual intercourse is just a small piece of being intimate and allowing people inside our emotional selves is the more meaningful part of sexuality.
Honoring that as human beings, it’s our basic need to be close to others. Our lives are enriched by sharing ourselves with others. That’s how we grow.

Because of this, we are all sexual beings, no matter what our life circumstances may be and no matter what form our abilities take on.

Like nearly every other issue I teach about, the most influential factor in your healthy sexuality is YOU. It took me years and a lot of frustration before I got this for myself.

I was always looking for other people to find me attractive and see my sense of sexuality within me.

This only diminished its power. I don’t think this issue is exclusive to people with disabilities. I believe our society and in particular, the media, has a way of subtly and overtly teaching us to look outside ourselves for someone or something to determine us attractive. After all, businesses and advertisers have got to make their money.

I really found a healthy sense of sexuality when I stopped looking for others to see it in me and recognized it within for myself.

The ability to recognize your own sexuality and acknowledge it within yourself is the single most important action you can take in unleashing it because it frees up your focus from trying to get something from others to becoming more aware of what you have to offer.

From this, you then enter into much more empowered relationships and foster you Power to Attract, which I’ll get into next week.

In the meantime, share with me just one attribute you have within you that fosters your healthy sexuality, using the definition above. You’ll see my answer down there as well.

Like this post? Know someone who could benefit from it? Please share it on your social media sites.

Posted in Believe in Yourself, Dating Resources, Healthy Sexuality, Transforming Your Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
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