Where’s Your Heart?

Today is the International Day of Acceptance.
Many of you may not know what that means. Many of you have probably never heard of it.
Well, I’m sure many of have you seen the wheelchair heart symbol somewhere. That symbol says a lot more than one can think. And to each individual it can mean something different.
To me, this symbol means equality and acceptance.
3E Love symbolizes me. And everything I believe in. And everything I stand for…or sit, for those of you who can’t help but crack a cripple joke.
Having a disability affects each person differently. I have grown to project my disability with confidence.
I have grown to accept that not everyone realizes my disability does not define me. Or my intelligence. Or my personality.
One day I hope to change that stereotype.
The stereotype that people with disabilities are automatically mentally challenged. The stereotype that people with disabilities only have their family, no able-bodied friends. The stereotype that people with disabilities are not capable of speaking or thinking for themselves.
I am able.
I am intelligent.
I can speak for myself.
I can think for myself.
I am aware of my surroundings.
I do have friends outside of my own family. That are able bodied and disabled. And see me for me, not for a hunk of metal on wheels.

Having a disability has not stopped me from believing in myself. Believing that I CAN. Believing that I AM able. Believing that nothing is impossible. Believing that there is a status quo that needs to be broken.

Because in the end, if I don’t believe in myself, how can I expect others to?

I just hope that one day, everyone else can see what I see….
A human being with a beating heart and a functioning brain.

If your heart isn’t already on your sleeve everyday, as it should be, at least wear it for today.

Am I Wrong?

Do you ever just feel like there’s something on your mind you’re afraid of saying outloud? Fear of being judged. Fear of thinking that your thoughts will make you look stupid. Fear of knowing you’re the only one ever thinking whatever it is you’re thinking.

Honestly, our society is pretty fucked up. You can’t be fit without being called anorexic and if you don’t have a thigh gap you’re fat.If you say you think you look pretty in a picture, you’re conceited but if you say “ew” you’re insecure.

This society is so judgmental and damn blunt about it.
Honestly, over the years I really stopped giving fucks about what anyone thinks. It wasn’t easy, but I somehow convinced myself that my thoughts are unique, not stupid. I taught myself that changing who i am is harder than just being myself.

Sometimes I think about how different I am to other people, but it doesn’t bother me. I think everyone’s differences makes them memorable in some sort of way.
Like having a third nipple!! If I ever met someone with a third nipple, my life would be partially complete.

I like to think that people remember me for my fucking fantastic personality… And if I’m lucky, my sailor mouth… But I’m pretty sure the wheelchair wins this competition.

Can’t blame them though, after all… It is bedazzled.

Sorry Not Sorry, continued…

Not too long ago I wrote a blog stating some of the annoyances that seem to follow people with disabilities. People aren’t always aware of their actions, but we are very aware. The smallest of things you wouldn’t even think twice about doing.
So I’m here to think for you. Listen carefully.

13. I am not an inspiration just because I am a disabled girl who’s gone jet skiing, or who’s traveled to New Orleans to party with drunk people. That does not make me an inspiration. I’ve been told numerous times how much of an inspiration I am just for living my life as anyone else would. Until or unless I successfully accomplish world peace, I am not “an inspiration.”

14. There have been two occasions in my life so far where random strangers come up to me and ask if they can “pray for me.” Both times I’ve awkwardly said yes but for one, IM MUSLIM. Which they don’t know that, I get it, but I never know what to do. They grab my hands and close their eyes with their head down and pray for me… And I just sit and wait for it all to be… I’m not dying…… And I don’t need God… Sure, I can’t walk but that’s just a little physical flaw. I’m not in pain or anything. It’s a nice gesture but it’s still weird. Please, just don’t do it.

15. Why is it that every time I’m with a friend who is also in a wheelchair, there’s always that ONE guy that says “ohhhh are you guys going to race?” We’re not six… And we’re not in NASCAR… Why would we race? The next time I see two people walking next to each other in the mall as friends I’m going to ask them the same thing… See their reaction. We don’t find amusement in those comments. Please, refrain.

16. Apparently, people with disabilities are not allowed to have friends.
Every time I’m with another person going anywhere, the other person is either my sister/brother or my mother. Never a friend. WHY?! First of all, why ask the relationship in the first place? Second of all, we don’t look alike. Third of all, what would a young 20 looking year old person be doing with a daughter who looks nothing like a toddler. Even if they thought i was 13… My “friends” look nothing close to moms. Also, on that note. I’m allowed to have friends who actually enjoy doing normal friend activities with me like shopping and eating. Believe it or not, disabled people actually interact with able bodied people.

17. A couple of occurrences that has happened to me is when people ask my friends questions ABOUT ME. For instance, one time I was making a friendship bracelet and this lady sitting right next to me asked my friend sitting across from us what I was making… I took the liberty of answering a question intended for me. Does a wheelchair also signify deafness? Or maybe they just think I’m not mentally capable of talking or understanding the world around me. Well world, I’ll let you know that I am aware. And I can understand what people say. And I can wittily respond if I must. I enjoy being as obnoxious as possible in public because people probably already have their own preconceived notions about me anyways. We all know they’re staring at the wheelchair. Might as well give them a reason to stare.

18. This ones kind of funny. I think it’s funny when I’m trying to fit through tight spaces and the world just thinks I’m some sort of wide load that needs to be escorted down sidewalks or something. Every time people notice me behind them about to pass them up they literally grab their children super quick, as if I had a gun, and squeeze up right across the store windows. Lol.. People, my chair needs a few extra inches than the normal width of a person to fit through places. The biggest difference is that I can’t tuck in my steel wheelchair stomach to make myself thinner and fit through tiny spaces. I’ve also been driving since I was 3, so stop making your children scared of wheelchairs by prying them out of my way.

19. I got asked this a couple times. “Do you sleep in a bed?” *FACE PALM*
Does it look like my ass is glued to my seat? Do I look like a vampire? Do you really think that I sleep in a sitting position every day of my life? I just don’t understand where this question seemed to be going. Or what answer they actually expected from me. Yes. I sleep in a bed and if the mattress is uncomfortable, it sucks for me too.

20. When people play with my controller unexpectedly and say “hey how do you work this thing” is probably my biggest pet peeve at all. DO NOT TOUCH A WHEELCHAIR PERSONS CONTROLLER. You do not know how to work it and if you dare try, you might just roll them into a wall and sprain their ankle. Or run over the person in front of them. Or push some tables. It’s not a toy, and it’s not something you need to know how to do. Seriously, I don’t grab your legs and ask them how you work those things. The way my wheelchair works is no ones business but my own. And even if you do know how to work it, the last thing I want is for someone literally controlling my life and moving me places I didn’t move myself.

For now, that is all. I will keep updating this list as the world continues to blossom with ignoramuses.

Have a fabulous day.                           

I Use A String To Shut Doors

A person with a disability has the keenest of minds and are very good at observing the world.
Because in the eyes of a disabled person, every

move a person makes intrigues us.
The way people get dressed, cook, put things together, even something as simple as taking a glass out of a cabinet. And I honestly believe part of it has to do with the ability to fit in. The ability to do things the same way everyone else is doing it. Also, it’s interesting to see how people do things we are not able to do.
After years of trying to do things the “normal” way, I found many other disability friendlier way of doing things. Like using a broom to reach high things or a backscratcher to pick something off the ground.
As ridiculous as these things sound, they are the way that people with disabilities gain independence.

It’s interesting when you realize that able-bodied people don’t think twice when they do simple things such as getting out of bed in the morning.
They just do it.
To a disabled person it’s more:
“oh it’s 10:30am and I’m wide awake but my PA doesn’t come in until 11am, looks like I have to wait.”
“I wonder if my PA will be here on time.”
“What if my PA can’t show up?”
“Aw man I wish I could sleep longer but my PA has an early class and it’s the only time she could help me.”

Mind you, these are all the possible thoughts going through a disabled persons mind, and this is just for ONE simple task in the day. Getting from the bed to the wheelchair.

Independence is something disabled people have to strive for and build for themselves.
And we see everything. We see your abilities. And compare it to our own. Trying to find and think of a way we could possibly do these things ourselves.

Some obstacles are easy to overcome… Others, not so much.

King Of Me

There’s been a lot of backlash about Kanye’s recent incident at one of his concerts.
One thing I find great is that when the media shows some sort of degrade to people with disabilities, my entire Facebook feed is filled with people talking about it. And I honestly don’t think that’s how everybody’s Facebook looks.
The people I’ve met in my life have seen and helped and placed themselves in the shoes of those with disabilities.
I can honestly say that unless a person actually has the disability, there’s no way to actually know how it feels. To think how we think. To see what we see. My friends though, have a pretty damn good idea.
It’s hard to convey what we feel when someone like Kanye makes a person with a disability feel so outcasted. As if they don’t already feel that way.
I can honestly say that after watching the video of the concert I don’t agree with all the bad things people are saying about him. Don’t get me wrong it was a dick move and completely unnecessary. But I don’t think anyone paid close to attention to the ending. He found out the guy was in a wheelchair and immediately continued his concert….
my point: HE DIDNT PITY THE GUY

He probably didn’t pity the guy because he’s a vain asshole, but I could care less about him.
Disabled people don’t look for pity. It kind of follows them, and quite frankly, it’s r

eally fucking annoying.

Everyone around me is always staring and judging and thinking about who am I and what I’m doing in the world. But I wonder if they look at the able-bodied person behind me and think the same thing.

I don’t agree with what Kanye did… But for once it ALMOST felt as though he treated the guy equally even after he found out he was disabled.

Just an opposing thought…

CAMP.

This post is probably long overdue but oh well.

Ever since I was six years old I’ve been going to summer camp. From the age of six to 17 I went to MDA Summer camp which is only for children that have Muscular Dystrophy. Since I turned 18, I attend Association of Horizon Summer Camp which is a camp for adults that have any type of physical disability. It is a non-profit organization so throughout the year we are constantly fundraising to make sure camp continues each year.

Camp is and has always been my number one priority. I know for a fact I would not be the person I am today if had never gone.

Camp has taught me that I am not alone.

That I am not limited.

That I am not different.

That making a fool of yourself can be socially acceptable… For the most part.

Because of camp I’ve met the most amazing people to ever walk (or roll) this earth.

I wish I was able to describe the week I have but words are just not enough. There are no words to describe such a week. When I’m at camp it’s almost as if I’m on a different planet. Nothing else in the world matters for about 168 hours… It also helps that no one has service to make contact with the outside world with their phones.

Camp is a time to learn and grow. To open your eyes to new experiences. To make people see that adults with disabilities are just as normal as anyone else. To learn that a physical disability does not make or define a person. Because, mentally, that person is still human. And can understand 100% what is going on around them.

Horizon is my life. They are my family.

Even though volunteering could involve wiping some butts or showering someone, I can guarantee you the best week of your life.

Camp gave me confidence. I am so confident in what I CAN do. I focus on the cans rather than the cants. Otherwise, how would my life move forward?
There are obstacles to make something happen, even with something as simple as swimming, but those obstacles are just a different way of doing something aside from the “normal” way. Finding your own special way to do something. If you’re determined to do something yourself. You’ll find a way to do it.

Camp has become a permanent part of my life. A permanent part of me. A tradition. At this point in my life, taking away camp is like taking away Christmas.

I could never imagine my life without camp. There’s no non-cheesy way to put it.

Be Positive Or Die

You know what really irks me? Those grouchy disabled people that get angry when strangers try and help them? Am I the only one who knows these people exist?
I love when strangers open doors for me! I appreciate every single person, friend or complete stranger, that tries to help me if it looks like I need a hand. It just means they’re a good person trying to help someone in need. Seriously, I know one of my friends told me that when she tried opening a door for this disabled man he gave her attitude and said “I got it!”
How rude!
Now I get it, some people can open doors themself and underestimating blahblahblah but if it’s a stranger… They clearly don’t know what you’re capable of doing on your own and let’s be real… Opening doors is ten times easier if someone else does it for you.
My friends know what I’m capable of doing myself. Strangers do not. Strangers assume that people in wheelchairs are pretty much helpless (unless they personally know someone else who’s disabled) so we have to just let them do their good deed of the day with a smile on our face and say thank you. It’s only for half a second anyways.
Now I’m not saying it’s a good thing that strangers think we’re helpless but… We only have about 2 seconds of meeting that person which isn’t quite enough time to explain to every stranger of all your capabilities.
All I’m sayin.

Smile, bitches.

Sincerely, Wheelchair People

My biggest pet peeves when it comes to being in a wheelchair.
The shit people say and do….
1. Telling me to turn off my wheelchair.
I’ve been in a wheelchair since I was like 3 years old… And for SOME reason people feel the need to tell me when to turn my chair off… I think I know how to control my own chair. Personally, I hate turning my chair off so that’s probably why it bothers me so much.

2. Telling me HOW to drive.
Back to being in a wheelchair since I was 3… Some people try and tell me which way I should be turning and places I can and can’t fit. I don’t tell you guys how to walk. Just like you guys stub your toes, I run into things here and there. Same concept.

3. When people pet me.
I’ve come across a few incidents where people like to pet and stroke my head when they first meet me… I feel like a freakin dog. I think it’s the equivalent to shaking peoples hands or giving them a pat on the back. I haven’t quite figured out why but it’s quite annoying. Also, you’re messing up my hair! C’mon people.

4. When people apologize for disability.
Now it hasn’t happened to me personally but I feel like people have apologized to my mom before after she tells them I have a disability. WHY?! I’m not dying people. Apologizing for something I was born with is like giving condolences after someone’s death. So… Watch how you reply to news like this.

5. When people assume I’m paralyzed.
I CAN FEEL EVERY BODY PART. Some people feel the need to answer other peoples questions about my disability by telling others I’m paralyzed. False. Paralyzed means you have no feeling or control in a certain part of your body. I have feeling, I just don’t have the muscle to move it.

6. When cops tell me to slow down.
This happened a lot in high school. The security guards would tell me to “slow down or they’ll give me a ticket” and I just ignore or give them a quick fake chuckle. I don’t know why, but it’s very annoying when cops do this. I feel like an 8-year-old on one of those electric cars that go like 3 miles an hour with my dad screaming behind me “slow down I can’t catch up you’re too fast for me” to make the experience funner and more exciting….

7. “Going for a walk”
If I say this, please do not correct me. Clearly I cannot walk but saying “I’m going for a roll” just sounds weird.. Plain and simple.

8. Being stuck behind people.
This is the worst. People generally walk at a pace of about 3 miles an hour. My chair can go twice that fast. So when a group of people decide to walk right next to each other and there’s no way for me to go around, my god it’s annoying. Imagine if you were on your longboard or bike and this happened. Yeah, I feel the same way.

9. “You’re so lucky you don’t have to walk”
…..believe it or not I’ve been told this a hand full of times. Not being able to walk is not something to be lucky about. I’ve gotten this mostly when I’m out with people and there’s a lot of walking involved. Like at a mall or amusement park. I’m not “lucky” I can’t walk, you’re just lazy and out of shape. When you get tired of walking you have the ability to sit down and relax. I do not have that option. Just a little thought.

10. Random wheelchair people say hi
So at school there aren’t that many wheelchair people maybe like seven. I know two of them… Yet when I pass one I don’t know, they feel the need to say hi to me. Okay, I don’t wanna sound like an asshole or anything but it’s obvious the only reason they’re waving is because we’re both in wheelchairs.. For some reason, this is a pet peeve of mine. I say hi to lots of random people but not specifically because of a certain feature. I may be over exaggerating this one but it’s something I’ve noticed.

11. Accessible. One step.
If a building has ONE step, it’s not accessible. A number of times I’ve had people say “yeah it’s accessible, there’s just one step.” That “one step” is usually a huge step that my wheelchair cannot go up without assistance. Therefore, it is not accessible.

12. When people call me speedracer.
I feel like an 8-year-old when people say this. Just don’t do it.

These are just some things I’ve thought about. I know there’s more so I will be adding to the list as life goes on. (:
I still love you all, just some things on my mind. (:

& I’ll Take It With Me To My Grave

So I’m a girl. Muslim. And disabled. Meaning there’s lots of double standards, religious expectation, and underestimation in my life.
Triple-suicide-bomb is what it actually sounds like.
I absolutely hate when my parents try and say my brothers can do something because “they’re boys and I’m a girl”
Drives me nuts. I’m sure my parents know by now that using that excuse will only make me want to do it more. Going to college is one example. Involves all three of these actually!
Before going to college it was a huge debate about me going away to Illinois state for college.
1. Because I’m a girl.
2. Muslim girls don’t go away for college. They pretty much must live under their parents wing until marriage.
3. I’m disabled, how will I fend for myself.
I fought and won all three arguments. And I am really glad I did.
I was born and raised in Chicago. Though I truly respect my religion and the beliefs, some rules are just meant to be broken. I’m completely Americanized. And my mom gets that. My stepdad on the other hand, does not. I can go for hours on end about him and how much I disagree with every little thing that comes out of his mouth, including the way he raises his kids, but I won’t. Because hes not worth the precious words I use in my blog.
Anyways– I digress.
So I am Americanized and just think that some American customs make a lot more sense than Muslim ones. I mean it’s what I grew up learning naturally in this society. I like to have my own beliefs. Makes me know I have control over my life and where I’m headed.
And I want my kids to grow up knowing that too.
I don’t want people to get the wrong idea about Muslim religion. Everyone that knows me, knows I’m Muslim yet still am Americanized as can be.
I honestly hate when parents bring their family here to America trying to shelter and protect them from the society they live in. IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE.
I get it, better opportunities here, but you can’t expect your kids not to catch customs from the place they reside. Its so irrational to think they have the capability of hiding the real world.

Okay… I could go on for hours about how I disagree with how some people raise their children. I’ll just agree to disagree for now.
I just know, in my case… My parents finally see that my disability has never stopped me from doing anything, me being a girl will never stop me from doing any “boy” things, and I am an Arab-American with mixed beliefs.

Sue me.

MyBae.

I recently saw a post that someone asked “what is the relationship you have with your wheelchair?” Which I thought was a very interesting question. So I got to thinkin, and this is what I’ve come up with.
My wheelchair isn’t something I really think about all day. To some, that may sound weird, to others you might relate. So just hear me out.
I’ve somehow wired my brain to make it feel as though I’m “walking” in my wheelchair. Which clearly isn’t the case. I’m not delusional you guys, I promise.
I do have days that I realize how fucked I would be if I forgot to charge my chair for a night and then my chair dies. Or the possibility of it stop working. Cuz these are possible scenarios that able-bodied people never have to worry about.
I think I have a mutual understanding with my wheelchair that it’s meant to be my “legs.” I understand some people name their chairs and such but… I’m not that much of a fruit. No offense. (:
I love my wheelchair. Sometimes. And other times it just gets in the way or it’s really loud. Like right now for instance, my wheel is deciding to do this thing where it squeaks every time I drive. It’s pretty embarrassing.
Whatever. I also beat the hell out of my chair… I have 2 broken headlights, squeaky wheels, bent anti tip… I pretty much put this chair through hell just to get things done.
If you want to name my chair for me, be my guest. (: