As a parent of a young adult with physical and developmental disability and multiple chronic conditions and as a healthcare change agent, I’ve been thinking about how paradigms in healthcare influence how I see and experience my life and my work. In particular, I’m noticing how a new paradigm in particular is giving me a greater sense of ease and effectiveness.
Increasingly, activists and change agents are using their own personal stories as a way to awaken leadership in others. Stories speak the language of emotion, the language of the heart. They not only teach us how to act, but also inspire us with the courage to act. Our stories help us translate our values into action by accessing our emotions.
Through their design, objects subtly communicate instructions on how they should be used. Certain handles just feel like they should be pushed, and others pulled. Bad design sends us signals that are confusing.
If you listen to or read pop culture reviews, you’ve probably stumbled upon a conversation about tropes, which are basically plot devices, themes or recurring character types. When disability gets represented in life and culture, plenty of tired tropes surface.
I opened a book last week and a bookmark slipped out onto the floor. It was a freebie from a favorite bookstore from my old life, back when I lived on the other side of the ocean. I loved that bookstore, with its coffee counter and author events and the way it always had exactly the book I needed even when it didn't have the book I wanted.
I thought even more about the fact that he said hello at all, and how that made me feel. Saying hello can seem like a token transaction, but really it's a way to let others know that we see them. My shoulders loosened. I was reminded of the importance of kindness.
There’s another aspect of cultural identity I’ve been thinking about lately: its purpose of providing contours to my otherwise diffuse psyche, like personality eyeliner. A lifetime of fourth of July sparklers, yellow school busses and two-for-Tuesday rock blocks has resulted in a very particular person who is me. If I let this container go, will I still be me? Of course I will, but will I really?