Happy Monday, my wonderful friends!! How are YOU and how are you enjoying the summer months so far? Well, it’s technically not the first day of summer until this Friday’s Summer Solstice!! And I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait!! I mean, it’s the longest day of the year and who doesn’t love some summer sunshine?? I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this millions and millions and millions of times, but summer is my absolute favorite season!! When compared to the marvelousness of this time of year, winter, spring and fall just don’t cut it, you know? So with that in mind, here are five quotes to celebrate the beauty and glory of the grand and magnificent Summer Solstice…
I can’t believe I got to write this as my first piece for Rooted In Rights, an amazing disability rights site! When I heard that actress Ali Stroker recently became the first performer in a wheelchair to be nominated for a Tony award, I was excited (note: I wrote a follow-up piece after her big win last week and will post that next week!). When I heard that they didn’t tone down her character (amorous Ado Annie in Oklahoma!), I was ecstatic.
To see an overtly sexual character with a disability is huge, especially in a society that typically sends the message that women with disabilities are asexual beings. Honestly, that’s something I’ve never understood and it’s actually incredibly frustrating. Why does our disability suddenly take away our sexuality as women? Is it because there’s this societal perception that disability is ugly, grotesque and shameful? I’m definitely not here for any of that!
Thanks to Ali Stroker, though, disability representation is taking center stage. Literally!! To see disabilities represented on the stage has been a long time coming, and it means that yet another barrier has been shattered in the fight for inclusion — a fight in which we still have so far to go!
To pair disability with sexuality is nothing short of revolutionary. It’s not something we’ve necessarily seen so overtly on Broadway or quite so mainstream, and it’s sending the very-important message that, yes, women with disabilities can be sexy and can lean into their own sexuality just like nondisabled women. So often, disabilities are thought of as negative – sometimes even repulsive – and they’re virtually never included in mainstream conversations about sexuality. Or even in conversations about relationships in general, for that matter.
The assumption that women with disabilities are asexual beings is all at once hurtful, misguided and damaging. It’s an assumption that further puts us in the “other” category and fails to see us as whole people and all our identities instead of just part of us. And, it’s an assumption that should have been debunked decades ago.
Maybe that’s why I’m so thankful to see Stroker in the spotlight in Oklahoma! as a character who is a woman who embraces her sexuality and just happens to be in a wheelchair.
You can read the full piece here and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat! And of course, feel free to share my essay on Facebook, Twitter or even your local refrigerator. If you share on Twitter, be sure to tag me @melissablake so we can connect! I can’t wait to hear from you! Love you all… xoxo
“And I think it’s gonna be a long long time…’Til touchdown brings me ’round again to find…I’m not the man they think I am at home…Oh, no, no, no…I’m a rocket man…Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone…” –Elton John
[Photos via hello ancolie]
June 10th. I remember Brian and I smiling ear to ear after we picked the date for our wedding. You know, the giddiness of the newly engaged and all. Just thinking about that makes me smile. As I enjoyed this memory, it got me thinking about the long and winding trajectory that lets me sit here, by my open kitchen window, right around the time Brian and I were married and actually smiling. You see, after someone you love dies, a funny thing happens. For me, I can’t pinpoint when the healing started, but I can see the results of it as I sit here, wrapped in my happy memories of my wedding day.
Year one was what I call the “Ugly Year.” Lots of crying, some yelling, a few objects being thrown…well, you get the idea. Suicide leaves behind an anger that I hope I never have to experience again. Then, year two turned into something I call the “Lonely Year.” There were lots and lots of tears, lots of listening to Norah Jones as I drove to Panera for soup just to get some time alone in the car to cry and cry (and still yell a bit too, if I am being honest!). There was the time I hit my head on an end table and had to drive myself to the ER as I held a towel to my bleeding head, screaming at Brian the whole time about why he ever thought it was OK to leave me behind with our two beautiful daughters, who were suffering as much, or even more, than I was. I always said it was like we were underwater in the first few years, but only one of us was able to get to land at a time. We honestly couldn’t help each other very much, as we were lost in the sea of suicide survivor grief. We were helpless in the depths of a hurricane.
But, then something happened. Each year that has passed has brought more peace and healing to our lives. The violent dreams have turned to dreams of Brian how he used to be, not how I found him or how he was when he had cancer. He laughs in the dreams now, and I laugh along with him. He looks healthy and strong and it is a gift to finally remember him that way.
Now, on my anniversary or his birthday or March 10th, the day he died, I remember him with happiness. I don’t need to stay in bed all day the way I did the first couple of years. Oh, sure, we still get sad, but to be honest, I welcome the sadness; it is a testament to what I have lost. But, in getting lost for all those years during the healing, I have also found myself again, and for that I am thankful. I have healed, and I hope that wherever Brian is, he is healed too.
Happy anniversary, Brian. I’ll see you in my dreams…
Good afternoon, friends!! How is your Monday going?? Are you ready for a new week? I’m so proud of myself that I managed to take the whole weekend off from working! I’m so tempted to just keep working through the weekend far too often, so a little respite was really rejuvenating and refreshing!! Do you know what else is refreshing? The huge push toward disability representation that we’re seeing in 2019. I got to thinking about that last night when actress Ali Stroker became the first wheelchair user to win a Tony award!! It was a win for people with disabilities everywhere — it told the world that people with disabilities are here, we’re visible and we’re not going anywhere. That sort of representation is so important, especially in dispelling outdated, toxic myths about people with disabilities. With that in mind, here are five quotes all about the power of disability representation…