Nobody is perfect, but I am not nobody and neither are you — thank you for your support, and your continued support.
Sometimes life doesn’t work out according to plan. We all get sidetracked and sideswiped at times. When Jodi James was killed in a car accident I felt sideswiped. For a while I was lost and confused. I couldn’t understand how such a horrible thing could happen to such a wonderful person. It was shocking to be reminded how fragile life was and how quickly things can change sometimes without any warning at all.
Fast forward to 2011. Two years later, I would lose another important person in my life – my mother. My mother had been battling cancer for some time. In fact, one of the reasons I published Unclipped Wings when I did was to be sure she saw it. I couldn’t stop or fix my mother’s cancer, but I did publish Unclipped Wings in time for her to see it while she could still enjoy it.
A small thing I know, but sometimes the most important things we can ever do are the small things, like connection and love. My mother did not make it to Thanksgiving or Christmas and Unclipped Wings did not cure here cancer, but she was never alone and she knew that;
Many of you have read Unclipped Wings and you have shared Unclipped Wings with others. I am constantly hearing from people who say they normally don’t like poetry, but can really relate and see themselves in Unclipped Wings. What a compliment.
It is nice to be reminded that the little things we do make a difference, especially when sometimes the big things are out of our control.
I am glad you have enjoyed Unclipped Wings, and I appreciate your support.
Unclipped Wings isn’t about always being perfect. It is about being able to be who we are despite the challenges we all face. It is my sincerest hope that you will join me and soar on Unclipped Wings.
Please share with all the wonderful mothers out there.
May you soar on unclipped wings,
~ Ramona Harvey
Today is Blog Against Disablism Day 2011. All across the web bloggers are dedicating their blogs today to the topic of Disablism to help raise awareness. I am no exception.
What is Disabilism?
Simply put it is discrimination against people with disabilities.
I would like to say that this is something that rarely happens, but unfortunately it happens all the time. Yesterday a friend of mine was denied access to a restaurant because she had a service animal and many of you have heard about the boy in Texas who was not allowed to participate in communion because he has cerebral palsy…
But it has happened to me also a store owner refused to sell me and a friend of mine a soda. We had money but the store owner would not take our money…. a stranger behind us line was nice enough to take our money and buy the drink on our behalf.
But those are just a few examples, stuff like that doesn’t happen always and not everyone is like that, right? The quality of life for people with disabilities is better now. Thankfully we have laws like the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) that protects people with disabilities…
I agree. We have come a long way and people with disabilities have had better access to education and other resources they didn’t have access to in the past. We are a lot more unlikely as a whole to accept the blatant discrimination of not selling a soda to someone with a disability as okay.
But we have a long way to go. Not just in terms of physical access barriers, but systemic biases which are harder to see and combat It is because of the systemic biases that grass roots organizations like ADAPT, which is in Washington today, exists. ADAPT is advocating for the people with disabilities to have the choice to live in the community instead of being forced unnecessarily into often more costly nursing homes.
Disablism does exist, but the problem we have now is that people have seen how far we have come and they think the problem is fixed. We do have laws like the ADA designed to protect the rights of people with disabilities – but that is just a first step. It is Because disablism still exist that we need to work to make sure that these laws are not only enforced but protected. We have come a long way but we still have a long way to go.
People have been asking me: who is Jodi James? And why did you dedicate your book to her? Next week April 20th, 2011 there is a book signing at Purdue North Central in her honor from 11am – 2pm. I thought it would be appropriate to take a moment to answer that question. The picture below is of Jodi and I at the beach on my birthday. It was one of the best days of my life. Below this intro is something I wrote on the day Jodi died. This blog post is going tobe a bit long but I am not apologizing. Jodi would not.
Long Live Jodi James the woman who always had my back, and still does. A woman I trusted completely. I have been forever changed by both her life and her death.
She was only 38 when she was killed in a car accident. She died the day after we last talked, and a week before we were going to get together to celebrate our birthdays and the fact that we had both survived another year. We were supposed to go to the aquarium in Chicago, but instead I went to her funeral wearing an ADAPT shirt, just like I promised her I would – the day I promised her I would not let her die in a nursing home. I kept that promise. I just wish she had made me work harder to keep it. We both thought we had more time.
She did not die in a nursing home, but instead while doing the thing she loved most – driving. I understand her love for driving because it is something we both shared. She loved the freedom of it, and she loved the fact that when she was behind the wheel nobody saw her chair or her disability. She was just like everyone else on the road.
Poetry is a very misunderstood genre. It seems many people see poetry as some sort of shapeless blob of abstract thought that they know must have some deep profound meaning – because if it didn’t it wouldn’t be poetry. Poetry is often seen as secret code, which can only be broken by an elite group of intellectuals, or eccentric poets. These stereotypes can be intimidating. But you shouldn’t allow yourself to be intimidated by poetry. The truth is there is no secret code. Poetry is something anyone can enjoy.
But what is poetry? Some types of poems, like Haiku, are rigidly structured, other types appear to have no structure or form at all. Unlike other forms of writing, even basic grammar rules may or may not apply. Poetry can rhyme, but it doesn’t have too. A poem can be very short consisting of only a few words, like my poem “Please” (which is made up of only seven different words – including the title), or it can be long – even epic. A poem can be used to express an emotion, tell a story, describe a moment, or be simply a learning tool and pneumatic device to help us remember. Poetry isn’t like any other written art form, but considering the oral tradition from which it originated, this is not surprising.
Some people say they don’t like poetry, because they only like stories. This is ironic, because poetry was designed for story-telling. Before books were common, poetry was used to pass on stories and information from one generation to the next. Poetry originates from a great oral tradition which is why it is often meant to be heard, not just read.
Not everyone will like, understand, or relate to every poem. It is okay to have your own unique tastes and interpretations. April is National Poetry Month: If you learn nothing else about poetry, I would like you to remember this. Poetry is an art form that anyone can enjoy. You don’t have to be a scholar, intellectual, or poet to understand or appreciate poetry. Poetry isn’t something to be intimidated by.
I know I am not telling you anything you don’t already know (as you listen to your favorite songs), but everyday all of our lives are touched, enriched, and influenced by poetry. This is a good thing, because poetry helps us to connect to and understand others as well as ourselves. I for one think that is a good thing. I hope you do too.