To you, maybe it's a ramp, to me it was Mount Everest.
All the disabled parking was taken. There were virtually no other cars in the parking lot, but the 10 disabled bays were jam packed full. So Joe let me off at the front of the building and went to park further away. I turned my chair, I was in my manual, and considered the ramp.
It was long, so long that they'd put a four foot flat space about 2/3 the way up, a place to stop and rest. It was steep, really steep, I'm sure it was legal, but I'm also sure that mountain goats would have rested comfortably on the slope. I rolled over to the bottom of it and looked up. Way up.
I knew I had time because Joe was parking, as I said, a fair distance away. I've been lifting weights, I am noticably stronger, but this was a big ramp. Suddenly I knew I had to try. I started.
Yikes. And yikes again.
Steep ramp, long ramp, fat guy in a wheelchair, those three things combined suddenly to make it really hard work. I'd gotten about half way up the first incline when I just knew I couldn't do it. But if I let go I'd go flying backwards down the ramp. Unpleasant images formed in my brain and I knew that option was out. I pressed on and made the rest spot.
This is good enough. I've proved my point. I'm much stronger than I thought I was. But the top was so close, I'd rested, I looked and still no sign of Joe. I edged to the edge and then pushed. This was the steepest part of the ramp. I'm quite high up now. the ramp makes up for about a dozen stairsteps to the ground. I pushed and was now midway up that part of the ramp.
Joe sees me and reacts with shock to where I am on the ramp, which is only a few feet from the top. He comes up behind me, he knows better than to simply grab and help. He waited. My arms were straining and I was really tired. Yep, I asked for help.
We cleared the top.
No I didn't climb Everest but I almost did.
And here's the thing.
Almost is good. Really good.
Especially when 'not possible' is the starting point. I think we forget that when we are working towards a goal. I think we consider failure as our 'go to' definition of how we are doing when we don't quite make a goal on an attempt. For me, failure would have been the lack of trying. I not only tried, I got almost to the top. Next time, the top, or if not the top, closer. I feel great.
I've learned to change the definition of success. And because of that, I'm so much happier and so much more likely to continue on. This morning I added 7 minutes extra into my exercise routine using a higher weight than I'm comfortable lifting. It's just 7 minutes, but I know I need to get even stronger and I can see the top of the ramp. I need a bit more strength. So for now 7 minutes more of a weight that I struggle with.
For you direct support professionals reading this. Remember if you are working towards a goal with an individual reward effort over accomplisment. It's a fundamental when teaching someone, it's the trying that gets to the succeeding so it's the trying that needs the reinforcment and acknowledgement. Succeeding is its own reward.
I nearly cleared the top. Months ago, I would have waited at the bottom.