Thursday, February 28, 2019

YouTube, Please Don't Silence Us

Before January of this year, I had never seen an interabled relationship. For those of you who don't know what that is, it is a romantic relationship where one individual is able-bodied and one individual has a disability. I had never seen that type of relationship between two twenty year olds. If it wasn't for Special Books for Special Kids (SBSK), I never would have met people are in interabled relationships.

SBSK's YouTube channel is all about the world understanding differences. The channel features children and adults who are different. Chris and Alyssa are a married couple who started SBSK to change the perception of disability. Their channel is strictly humanitarian; no politics or religion. They want to make the world a better place and I find solace going to their channel and seeing people who are living with a disability.

YouTube has deemed this channel "dangerous". This is because predators could potentially effect the children. Due to this, YouTube took down the comment section. The whole point of SBSK is dialog and encouragement. YouTube has stripped us of having dialog which is the point of the channel. Chris and Alyssa wrote a letter explaining what YouTube said which you can find here: https://www.change.org/p/youtube-reinstate-sbsk-comment-sections-immediately If you agree, please sign the petition.

This is a link to their channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4E98HDsPXrf5kTKIgrSmtQ
They are phenomenal people who have given me inspiration like this blog does for so many people. This is why I used my platform to lift them up. I'm heartbroken that this channel is experiencing discrimination and I have benefited from seeing disability being embraced. I cried reading this letter on change.org.

Through SBSK, I "met" Shane and Hannah. I haven't actually met them but they do daily videos on YouTube. Shane has muscular atrophy and Hannah is able-bodied. They are hilarious and totally in love with each other. Shane is a motivational speaker and author. I love them as a couple. Here's their channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4E98HDsPXrf5kTKIgrSmtQ

My first narratives of a romantic relationship was my parents who are able-bodied, Barbie and Ken, Gilmore Girls, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, there is absolutely nothing wrong with these narratives. However, I didn't see myself in these couples. It feels amazing to see someone who has special needs in a healthy, romantic relationship. It's given me hope that I will find love.

I am so grateful for my readers! You give me hope and strength everyday.

Love,
Hannah!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

My Shoe!

Dang it! 

My shoe fell off! It's off. Worse, it's on the floor which literally feels as far away as China. I see the shoe, the shoe sees me, but I cannot touch it. My dystonia is deciding to wreak havoc throughout my body today which is tolerable at most but now it's messing with my footwear. I'm mad but that is not helping so I analyze the situation. 

I get the arm of my wheelchair up and out of the way. I reach, I can touch the shoe. That is not enough. Going down the second time, I grasp the shoe, but I couldn't sit back up because of how awkward my body is. When I sat back up, I shifted my hips so I had enough room and could rely on core strength to sit back up. Going down, I victoriously grabbed the shoe, sat up, and had the shoe on my lap. Now it was a question of who to ask to get my shoe on.

It's 20 degrees outside but the thing was I had to walk approximately eight blocks later that night to a weekly appointment, it was only going to get colder. My assistant would pick me up, but I did not have anyone to get me to my appointment. I stopped at the jewelers, they were closed. I know the staff at Cottage Hill Diamonds very well. The staff is incredibly kind and always makes sure I have my jacket on and I would have trusted them to just help. I have to think about who’s going to see me as a human versus an insurance risk. Unfortunately, it was a Monday and they were closed. I'm halfway to Starbucks and figure why not? 

I get to Starbucks and I find the fact that nobody is noticing my shoe being off comical. When I don't need help, eight people ask if I do need help, but if I do, nobody notices. It's quite comical.

I find a barista at Starbucks that I'm comfortable with and he successfully gets my shoe on. I did follow up with a thank you card because it wasn't the easiest task. 

This is my life. I wouldn't change a thing. I have pretty big news for next month. Stay tuned! 

Love,
Hannah! 

Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year!

Dear Readers, 
Happy New Year! 

As 2018 draws to a close, I find myself thankful. I'm thankful for my independence; I truly have moments that are surreal, and I have to remind myself that this life is real. I get caught up in the daily stuff like everyone else but when I pause, I am astonished at how good people are and how God put people in my life that prepared me for every struggle and triumph. 

Even though my independence is critical to the way I want to keep living, I cherish the relationships in my life more than anything. I sent out over 200 Christmas cards this year. I'm extremely blessed to have so many people in my life. Each and every person has left me with a intangible gift. Whether it's a character trait or a funny experience that we shared, I have been gifted by each of you. 

My heart is full of love and gratitude. Let the adventures of 2019 begin!

Love, 
Hannah!

Friday, November 30, 2018

How Much You Care


How Much You Care
 
A community has eyes 
Connect with those eyes 
See their souls not skin color 
Tell them how much you care

A family has love 
Connect with similarities 
See personal growth not mistakes 
Tell them how much you care

A friend has support to give
Connect over the gifts you can share 
See them for who they are 
Tell them how much you care

A school has futures to brighten 
Connect with everyone because all of us are teachers 
See every soul for how bright they are 
Tell them how much you care

Tell community how much you care
Tell family how much you care
Tell a friend how much you care
Tell a school how much you care

Readers, I do care about you. Thank you for the encouragement all year long!

Love,
Hannah! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Cherish the Ordinary


We take "our normal" for granted. Here are some moments that happened that were simple gifts. 

One of the professors that's in the Student Engagement Committee asked me if the Starbucks cup worked in the Keurig machine. I said, "I don't know". "Hannah, I'm going to try; I'm sure it will be fine". When the meeting started, it started raining coffee on the counter. After some heckling from fellow professors, he cleaned up the counter and successfully made a cup of coffee. It's an ordinary and funny moment but why not bask in the ordinary? 

When I have down time at Loyola or online classes, a fellow grad student helps set up my computer, so I can use my adaptive keyboard. At first, it was awkward but now she and I chat for a good twenty minutes while she helps me. She's so sweet and graduated from University of Kentucky like my brother will. Small world. 

My charm bracelet got caught in my sweater and three people ended up helping me be able to get unstuck. My peers feed me like it's no big deal (which it isn't) but I appreciate the humanity shown.

I've been thinking, and I believe I have the privilege of seeing the very best of humanity. I think we crave community and connection. We are made to be interdependent. Cherish relationships. We don't know what tomorrow holds. 

Love,
Hannah! 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Orientation: The Second Time Around

Last year I was an incoming student at Loyola. A year later, I am exercising my leadership skills by speaking at orientation. Take a look at what I said to the incoming students. 


You are about to embark on an amazing journey! You should be so excited. I am a part-time social justice student. I commute from Elmhurst every week. For undergraduate, I got my degree in communications. When I graduated from Elmhurst College, I interned at different nonprofits, I did some advocacy work with the Federal Communications Commission, and the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation for five years, then I came back to school.

In this department, I have had Dr. Mike Canaris and Dr. Peter Jones as professors. They were tremendous. Everyone here wants you to succeed. I feel like they know you will the work. As a student who takes twice the time it takes you to do a paper, I can attest that the workload is reasonable. This is graduate school. Feel welcome to communicate with professors but you cannot afford to not put in the effort. As long as they know you’re trying, they will help you. For example, in Mike’s class, I was doing well on the assignments, but I wanted to throw the textbook out the window. I expressed my sentiment to him, and he understood I did not have a theology background. We worked through it. Every single professor wants you to succeed, they truly do.

OK, now I get to talk about the fun stuff! I am the Student Engagement Committee student chair. Last year, I was sitting where you are. I decided to go to the first meeting, it’s really fun. Now, I’m in a leadership position. With my disability, I could have easily been the online student that no one really knew. That identify did not sit with me very well. Getting involved really and truly is rewarding. For one, I can walk into a classroom and have an idea of who that professor is and vice versa.  Your experience is so much richer if you get involved. We also need members to make the Student Engagement Committee work. Most of the Committee graduated last spring, so I hope you at least come to the first meeting. The first meeting is September 5th at 3 o’clock. We won’t have it the first week because that would be crazy but the second week on September 5th at 3 o’clock, please come. Getting involved only leads to good things. 
 
To sum up, everyone in the room is now your cheerleader. We need to be present. Get to know people. These professors have touched my life. This is a very devoted group of faculty that will challenge you while respecting your beliefs. As for me, I’m the woman using a wheelchair, who uses a communication device to speak, usually in pink, I’m real easy to recognize. I want to get to know you. I hope to see you around and chat.

Loyola University's Institute of Pastoral Studies is amazing and my home away from home. They did publish it in their blog which is so cool! Here is the link to their blog: http://blogs.luc.edu/ips/sec-chair-hannah-thompson/

Happy Fall,
Hannah!  

YouTube, Please Don't Silence Us

Before January of this year, I had never seen an interabled relationship. For those of you who don't know what that is, it is a romantic...