Someone recently described me as "well-connected".
I did a double-take when I read it from my little office, in my tiny house, where I spend roughly 80% of my time alone (unless you count my three silent fur-baby partners). Believe it or not, I'm not an extrovert by nature and have always considered myself to be somewhat stunted socially. I suppose it's because in the past I've found it difficult to present myself in a way that "overrides" my Cerebral Palsy. It's a real challenge; to try to push past what I know to be unattractive and unappealing physical manifestations of my brain damage (yes,it's brain damage. There's no frilly, PC synonym for it). To just ignore the spasms, ticks and pain and be myself in the hope that it will be enough to engage people - because "awareness" is a platitude.
The world is well aware that people with disabilities exist and Nashville is certainly aware that I exist. The difference between just existing and really living lies in engagement. There is no reason for anyone to care about me as a person in general - and a disabled person specifically - if I don't make the effort to do the same for them. It is only in engaging others that the disability starts to disappear and the focus shifts to how we can connect as human beings. Only engagement can lead to genuine inclusion.
Does it always work? No, but it's always worth a try, because when it pays off it can change your life. I still don't know if I'm well-connected. I prefer to think of myself as being connected to some incredibly good people because I had the courage to engage them, and they had the character to reciprocate.
Here are some of these extraordinary, fashionable people hanging out with me during Nashville Fashion Week