Every year, JARC hosts one major stage performance in downtown Detroit, as its major fundraiser. The organization has, for 40 years, helped people with special needs and the work they do is beautiful, necessary, inspiring.
I’ve been noticing that the universe keeps sending me messages over the past week, plunking down right in front of me stories of inspiration revolving around individuals with special needs. So it’s time to pay attention, figure out what my mission is supposed to be.
How can I best help? How can I make someone’s life better? For I always tell my kids, we are put on this Earth to make a difference, and we ought to spend our lives trying to do so.
In the film put together by Evolution Media (way to go Fran and Bill!), I was blown away by a woman who has spent more than a decade being friends with a JARC client. Some people volunteer to stuff envelopes or man phones, but this woman’s volunteer work is to build a one-on-one lifelong relationship with a person with special needs.
Twice in the past week, I’ve heard stories of doctors telling parents at the birth of a challenged baby to put him in an institution, he’ll never walk, he’ll never talk. And each time, the parents scoffed at the doc and said, “We’ll see.”
Their children walked, talked, and did so much more. One, at the UCP dinner last week, is a professor, advocate and lawyer.
These are stories truly of your life is what you make it. When you believe you are limited, you live a life of limitations. When you believe anything is possible with hard work, you live a life of achievements.
Is the universe trying to tell me that I need to volunteer, donate, somehow advocate for individuals with special needs? I’m not sure what the exact message is yet, but it’s there. When you pay attention, you see your path laid out before you, and hear the mission on the wind.
Or maybe it’s not a message of volunteerism but of universal empowerment, of everyone being able to do their very best, exceed their potential. Yesterday’s blog about deciding not to get another mammogram was actually about taking my health into my own hands, not always blindly following the medical establishment but rather, doing extensive research and deciding on my own what is best for me and my family.
Isn’t that what these parents of special needs babies did? Buck medical opinion and thank God they did – they ended up with children reaching milestones the health professionals forecast they never would.
I’m realizing the message as I type.
There may be a separate dictate for me to contribute in this realm and I will. But the bigger message I now see is one of infinite possibility, of not accepting the status quo or buckling to peer pressure, even – especially – on issues as important as personal health.
Imagine how gratifying, how proud, how full of love the parents of these individuals must have been every step of the way. Your newborn baby is your precious new life – if you can’t believe in his or her possibility, if you accept limitations on any child – any person – you live a life severely cut off.
I spent from 8th grade until adulthood believing I had no artistic ability because a teacher told me so after I did a sloppy job of tracing the Sunday comics. Got my lowest grade ever – a C+. I was devastated.
And then, at an art class with one of my toddlers, the teacher looked me in the eye and said, “That’s ridiculous.” She put a paintbrush in my hand and a canvas on an easel and lo and behold, I painted. I loved the feeling of swiping the brush in the oils and then in swaths across the blank canvas. I could take that blank and make it beautiful.
So this becomes a story of anything-is-possible. Because it is.