Friday, May 25, 2012

A Blog With A Preface

A Preface to Today's Blog: I almost didn't write this. I forget sometimes that this blog serves two purposes. One, it's meant to be read by others, and hopefully what they read will be memorable, or interesting, or helpful, or even simply amusing. Two, it's meant to be read by me - as a journal or diary of my life and my thoughts. This blog is the only really record of my life, we don't take photographs, we don't use our phone to make videos, I blog - that's it. However recently when something happens that I want to record, I haven't done it here. I've had some pretty nasty emails about my blog being 'egocentric' (which is odd because I thought all blogs kind of were) and 'full of boasting'. I am always stung by these emails. So I've been actively thinking about everything I write to be careful to avoid the 'boasting' ... I can't do anything about the egocentricity, after all it is a blog about my life. Then something happened a couple days ago that was highly meaningful to me, I knew it might not be meaningful for others, but I wanted to preserve it. I don't want to forget it. That's why I created the blog in the first place. So, even though accusations can be made about my motive, I've checked, and checked thoroughly, I simply want to remember this moment. So this blog is mostly for me, the me in the future who will be reading this. You may read too, if you want to share the moment with me.

The blog:

A few days ago I was doing training for staff on 'The Ring of Safety' ... which is a lecture that looks at the various skills that people with disabilities need to learn in order to be safe. I created this concept years and years ago and the lecture has been part of my repertoire for a long time. I've had to change the whole afternoon when doing the presentation in Ontario because the new legislation makes what I was doing redundant. So, I'd added in different material and was working through it with the audience, who were for the most part, really attentive.

Up near the front was a young fellow with a disability who in the morning asked a few questions. He was a very well spoken and thoughtful man. I remember thinking what an asset he'd make to the self advocate movement and really hoped he was involved. His questions were incisive, carefully asked, and focused on the issue at hand. He kept himself out of the questions - which is a skill that some self advocates have difficulty with - so the questions were content related. I enjoyed hearing his questions and following the thinking behind the questions.

In the afternoon, at one point, the presentation became really a conversation between him and me. He had questions and concerns about the legislation, police involvement and the cleverness of abusers. They were awesome questions and I worked as hard as I could to explain, as I understood the process we as service providers were supposed to follow.For maybe five or ten minutes it seemed like everyone else disappeared and he questioned while I listened, then he listened while I answered. It felt quite dynamic and I found myself truly and completely engaged. When done, he nodded that he understood and the workshop went on. I hoped that those attending found his questions interesting and the answers informative.

The workshop wound down and I told my last story and then pause, and thanked everyone for coming. The audience applauded warmly. He, however, stood up. It was maybe the smallest standing ovation I ever got, and yet is was one of the most meaningful. He noticed that no one else was standing and quickly sat down again. But it didn't matter. I had already by then been really affected by what he had done.

This will probably come out wrong, because I like applause as much as the next guy and when I get a standing ovation at the end of a lecture I'm always thrilled. But there is something a little different when someone with a disability stands, or when someone with a disability tells me I  got it 'right'. It's a different kind of affirmation. It means that those who really know, through the lives that they live, if the material 'fits' or 'is real' have given a stamp of approval.

I have many awards hanging on my office wall. One of my favourites is a very plain plaque, given to me by self advocates, at a CLO conference, thanking me for helping to keep them safe. I was moved to get it. I am moved when I see it and read the words on it.

The moment he stood up, I felt affirmed, I felt like my teaching and training had received the highest rating it could ever get. It mattered.

And I want to remember the moment that I got the smallest, yet largest, standing ovation of my career.


Anonymous said...

What an awesome moment, and indeed one to remember. Blogged or not - it is one your heart will not forget I'm sure.

You are not bragging - you are sharing a moment. A fact wrapped in a feeling. And as you have shared recently - not all feelings are positive in this sometimes cruel world. So - we must note and revel in such beautiful moments.

Well done Dave - well done. May there be many more.

Roia said...

Good grief, Dave- if people don't like your approach to blogging, then why aren't they simply not reading it instead of sending unkind emails?

As to your lovely story- I have had the same experience. When someone whose life is affected by the things I talk about expresses satisfaction with what I've written or done (or sung) it feels particularly meaningful to me as well. Since most of the folks I work with don't use speech, it feels like a validation that tells me I'm on the right track and I'm listening properly. Well done to you (and, for the record, I've thought you're on the right track for years now).

John R. said...

As for your blogging, if some people find it full of bragadocia or egocentric, then they do not understand the blogosphere and nature of the process. They need to get over it, move on and take a poop. Your blog is NOT that. It is as educational and inspiring as it is a journal for you.

I get it Dave...totally....As a presenter I appreciate a great ovation...who the heck doesn't??....
You are so right on however when what it is you deeply believe in is "received" and celebrated....As para-quoted from your blog, "if the material 'fits' or 'is real'(to those in audience) and they have given a stamp of approval."....that is the most meaningful thing to hear and feel as a presenter.

My audiences are primarily Direct Support Professionals and the one thing that certainly keeps me alive and committed to doing the lecture circut is the usually resounding response I get with the message I am giving. I hope you experience it in June. Your experience with this single person standing-O is poignant and beautiful. Bravo, Dave.

Betty said...

Roia is right, don't worry about some sorry person who wants to project their feelings about themselves at you.

I love reading your stories and hearing about your life. You are a kind, interesting, and thoughtful person.

I am grateful for your blog just as it is. Please don't take "hate mail" to heart. (It is just another form of abuse that needs to be fought)

Belly (Liz McLennan) said...

This is the perfect way to end the week. What a moment. Thank you for sharing it, Dave.

Carry on!

wheeliecrone said...


Perhaps it would be useful to reply to those people who criticise you and your blog for "egocentricity" - that if your blog offends them, they have every right to stop reading it. Or, they can write a blog of their own, which will suit them right down to the ground.

On the other hand, congratulations on your one-person standing ovation. Well done, you!

And please keep on writing your blog the way you feel you want to write it. I read your blog because I believe that it is written by someone who is passionate about the rights and safety of people with disability; someone who really does "get it" about disability, for a number of reasons.

Tamara said...

Personally, I appreciate your sharing moments like these - and the perspectives and lessons that come through your telling of your personal stories.

Your pre-post message makes me wonder what we're missing because of some who seem to want to control what you write on your blog.

I don't always comment, but I always read, and I always take something away from it. I can't say I always totally understand where you're coming from or feel like I would respond in the same way you do, but that's kind of the point in reading about someone else It opens our eyes to how others may perceive things, makes us think about things we've been taught or have come to accept.

I don't know why people criticize what you choose to write about. I suspect they have some need to control others that I just don't understand - and try to ignore, but for me those kinds of experiences always seem to create self-doubt ... as hard as I try to fight it.

Maybe a pretend automated reply would be in order that would give them instructions on how to set up their own blog ... or one with a picture of a middle finger raised ... of just a big "EFF OFF" might be a good response??? :-)

Kristin said...

Please don't ever let petty, nasty emails keep you from blogging. There are many of us out here who not only enjoy your writing but are inspired to learn by your writing. I, for one, would feel the loss keenly if you stopped writing. I love your Ruby stories or tales about the simple minutiae of your day as much as I like your stories about your career and the interactions you have with the people you teach.

Thank you for sharing this special moment with us.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your perspective. Thru your experiences and writing I can explore other ideas and thoughts in a safe, considerate way.

Andrea Bastien said...

Dave :) Your blog is wonderful. I attended your seminar yesterday in Waterdown and was sitting right near the front, you probably don't remember me but I helped clean up spilt tea! You are an ABSOLUTELY incredible speaker and I CANNOT wait to see you again for our 4 day June Behaviour Self seminar! Keep blogging the way you blog and presenting the way you speak! You are fantastic!!!!

liz said...

Yay, Dave!!!

CL said...

I loved reading this story. I always enjoy hearing stories of your training sessions, especially the stories about someone being affected in a positive way. It just makes me feel good to know that you're out there doing what you do, and that it's helping people.

The people who don't like the content on your blog can suck it. You can write whatever you want here, and people can choose to read it or not. I have never felt like you were boasting. Sometimes you write about things that you are proud of, but that makes me feel good, not resentful. Please don't deprive your loyal readership of wonderful stories like this one just because of a few nasty e-mails.

The internet is a place where angry, resentful, nasty things get said everywhere, on every website that is popular enough to get comments. A lot of people have bottled up rage at less powerful people that they vent by writing vile things to strangers.

For example, I once wrote a post about street harassment that got some attention, and people left horrible comments saying I was a stuck-up bitch who couldn't take compliments. I know it's because for whatever reason, those commenters deeply resent women, and my post made them irrationally angry. When people accuse you of boasting or being stuck-up, a lot of the time it's because they have rage or resentment toward people like you, and they can't stand that you're asserting yourself.

Myrrien said...

A few weeks ago I started getting comments on my blog pretty much saying the same that it was egocentric and my wee blog isnt really important, it's just for me and about my family or the things I see as important. If I get a comment it is a nice surprise but don't expect one.

It's stopped me going back as each negative comment just pulled me down. It is a form of bullying as far as I am concerned. I've even given some thought to just deleting it.

What I don't get is why people feel they have the right to do this.

I just wanted to say I appreciate your blog and your insights, most of the time it makes me think. Thank you

Belinda said...

Wow. As someone who is prone to standing up and giving those ovations, being moved to action when I feel, I love what the man's momentary standing indicated. It meant that his heart and spirit flowed into his legs and forced him up by an impulse too strong to resist. Magic happened, an electricity crackled through the air between the two of you, and I am sure that everyone in the room was with you both in the conversation.

Kathleen Wildman said...

Remember Dave, that when people have a strong reaction to something you write, then that is about them, not you. I have a loved one in recovery and she teaches me something new every day. This one stood out as important and your haters are a perfect example of it.I love your blog so much. It is written in an honest voice...(the one rolling around in your head) and that is what makes it special. If you start to censor yourself then it will lose it's magic. Of course what you write about is about you. It is YOUR blog. Keep em coming. My morning coffee wouldn't taste as sweet without them.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Someone in another organization for a type of disability referred to this as the 'getting it' - This person gets it, that person doesn't. It sounds like for this individual, you, the person from a place of authority, were 'getting it', and that is highly empowering.

As clarified to me recently, the advantage of dealing with individual people, as individual people than units, or standards, which none of us are. For a disenfranchised voice, it mattered, it seemed, thank you for acknowledging the importance of it.