Thursday, March 31, 2016

Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month Interview #7

It's the last day of March - which means there is still time to squeeze in one more CP Awareness Month interview - mine!  Feel free to leave comments or questions, or find me on Facebook (linked at the bottom) to keep the conversation going.  I would love to hear from you!


What is the most important thing you have learned about yourself?

The most important thing I have learned about myself is that it is okay to have Cerebral Palsy and it is okay to be disabled.  I grew up with a lot of internalized ableism, and it honestly took me until my 30's to realize that there is nothing inherently bad about being disabled.  It's a part of my identity that I can take pride in.

What is your favorite thing about the month of March?

My favorite thing about the month of March is all the green!  Green is my favorite color.

What is your favorite thing about yourself relating to your disability?

My favorite thing about myself relating to my CP is honestly that it gives me the opportunity to connect with younger people who have CP.  It is so awesome to be able to have that connection with another person and tell them, "Yes, I've been through this, too.  You're not alone."

How do you deal with people's invasive questions, comments, or stares?

It really does depend on who is doing it and where I am when it happens.  To be honest, most of the time I find I can't say anything in the moment, so I save it up until later and vent to my sis or another friend with Cerebral Palsy who understands.

What is your favorite song?

My favorite song right now is Flares by The Script.  I love the piano, the lyrics and the message in the song: that there is always hope and we are never alone.

What is one thing you want people to realize once they meet you?

One thing I want people to realize once they meet me is, honestly, just that I am normal.  Not in the way where I'm asking people to see past my CP.  I want people to realize that having CP IS normal for me.  There is no need to separate my disability from me, no need to look upon me with pity or sadness.  There is no need to praise me for doing things you would never praise the average person for doing.  Yes, some things are more difficult for me, but adapting how I do them is also very normal for me and does not require a round of applause.

Do you have a role model or a favorite celebrity in the disability community?  If so, who are they, and share a little about them.

Ali Stroker is my favorite celebrity in the disability community.  I have followed her career for the past four years, watching her as she started out on The Glee Project in 2012 and then starred on an episode of Glee in 2013.  Most recently, she was the first woman in a wheelchair ever to be on Broadway.  (She and the cast of Deaf West's Spring Awakening were on Broadway from September, 2015 through January, 2016.)  

Have you ever watched TV, movies or a music video and thought, "That person's just like me!"?  What was the show/movie/video?  Describe the moment that made you feel the most seen, heard or validated as a disabled person/person with a disability?

The moment that made me feel the most seen, heard and validated as a disabled person was seeing Ali Stroker in the music video for the song "One."  This was late 2012, which meant I was in my 30's before I ever saw a woman in a wheelchair depicted as anyone's love interest anywhere in the media.  Seeing Ali portrayed as desirable and in a healthy relationship was huge for me.  Often, disabled people are desexualized by the media.  I recently reviewed a book, where the character with CP sleeps with a boy for the first time, and the whole thing is completely off-page.  So, seeing Ali in this video, knowing she was happy, knowing they were making it work, and it was never about pity or any of the other gross stuff we see regarding our community and romantic relationships was a very big deal, and rare, indeed.

What is your favorite piece of adaptive equipment and why is it your favorite?  (Wheelchair, walker, crutches, etc.)  (Can be yours or someone else's.)

My favorite piece of adaptive equipment is Greenie, my wheelchair.  I really love him and all the freedom he affords me.  I love that he rolls really easily and can turn really tight corners.  I love that he is sleek and does not take up a lot of room.  I love how green and beautiful he is.  I think he is my favorite because he is the first wheelchair I was most involved with getting.  So I feel a particular pride in using him and like keeping him clean and shiny.

What is your favorite scent?

My favorite scent is the combination of fresh air on a spring day, and fresh coffee brewing.  It is the most magical smell.


{Image is me smiling in my wheelchair.
Photo credit: me.  March, 2016}

I'm Tonia, and Tonia Says is my blog!  You can learn more about me on my About Me page.  Don't forget to connect with me on Facebook!

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