I'm not sure if it's 24 or 25 years that I've been speaking at the K-W Habilitation's annual retreat, but either way, it's been a very,very, long time. As a speaker it's odd to have that kind of 'run' but, also as a speaker, it's kind of fun. Once a year I go to the retreat and, after so long, I recognize most of the people who are sitting in front of me. We've all gotten older and we've all spent a lifetime in service to people with disabilities. Just from the casual chats I have as people arrive or as they stop by the desk where I have my papers, I get reminded - that done well, living a life in service provision can be a really rewarding way to spend one's time.
Two years ago, when they called me to come again, I spoke to them and said, "You've all heard every story I have to tell, every lecture I've ever done, I have a proposition for you. Why don't we have a question and answer session, no holes barred, anyone can ask anything?" We all agreed to give it a try. It went better than well. Some really good discussion happened.
This year we did the same. Again, the time went by quickly and the questions came without too much prompting. We covered a wide range of material in a relaxed chit chat format. It was fun for me because I had no idea what the questions would be about, we talked bullying, we talked self esteem, we talked disability pride, we talked about what was on the minds of the people in the room with me.
I remember when I started out as a presenter, I NEVER left room for questions because I was terrified that I'd get asked something that I didn't know, or get challenged about something I said. I was way too young and way too inexperienced to be welcoming to a raised hand. That changed a long while back, I like questions, I like being taken a bit off track. So this was just FUN for me, I hope it was fun for the folks at K W too.
After 24 or 25 years, it's like going to visit family, family that you like, and chatting for a few hours. It was a great way to spend a morning. But, on the way back in the car, I began my nap about ten minutes into the ride, because, while it's fun, it's also tiring - it's like a really good mental work out. I think Joe was glad to hear me snoring after having listened to me opine for two and a half hours.