A long while ago I wrote about the only exercise I do with audience about how it feels to live with a disability, is the "My Dog Hamish" one. I don't like the 'ride around in a wheelchair one' or 'blindfold yourself one' or any of the others that have people attempting to take on the physicality of disability. I think those send entirely the wrong messages and further contribute to the 'better dead than disabled' attitude that many have. But I've written about all that. I'm bringing this up because a few days ago, My Dog Hamish was a huge service to me. Helped by something I created for others to understand a bit about disability.
Some of you may be scratching your head about exactly what "My Dog Hamish" is ... so let me fill you in if you don't remember. I use it in one particular workshop I do. I draw a picture of a dog, under the dog I write the sentence, "My Dog Hamish Has Blue Eyes." The job of those in the workshop is to write a couple of sentences about Hamish and his Blue Eyes but without using the letter 'e'. Drawings and graphics and gestures are not allowed. The point to the exercise is that having a disability means living a life where you ... adapt adapt adapt adapt adapt adapt adapt adapt adapt adapt adapt and adapt. You constantly have to adapt to the environments, social and structural, where you are. I was on the phone with my mother last night, also a wheelchair user, and she was talking about the differing carpets in the differing casinos on the Island and which are rollable and which are not. This is a conversation that people who walk may never even realize happens. So, the message is that it's tiring and sometimes frustrating but eventually you find a way to do it.
So, back to what happened.
I've been losing a skill, forgive me for deciding not to share the exact nature of this skill, over the last few months. I've had to ask Joe for help more and more often. He's really, really good about it. I'm not though. I don't want to lose this skill, I don't want to need help with it. In fact, while Joe is being nice, I'm often not so nice and not so easy to help. Joe, I know, understands that my mood isn't about him it's about the changing circumstances.
I was about to try again, was prepared to fail again, when I thought of Hamish. I pictured him clearly as if he were a real dog, not an awful drawing of one, sitting looking at me. In my mind he looked and me and said, "Adapt!"
So, I thought for a second. I had to throw away the way I had been doing this particular thing. It wasn't working well for me any more. Then I had to look at what the end result was and decide to change up how I was getting there, develop a new pathway. I tried something, quite simple, but also quite different, and ... it worked. I wanted to wait to see if that was a 'one off' ... and it isn't. It works every time.
I've got the skill back.
Thanks to a dog called Hamish, with blue eyes, and who's bark sounds an awful lot like, "Adapt!"