1. I can shuffle a deck of cards with one hand (my left one!).
This talent came from a project when I was in OT (occupational therapy) school, but this was a new trick I was excited to learn. It wasn’t essential for my life, but I thought it would be a great way for someone who only had use of one hand to continue to play cards and shuffle like the best of them! I looked online and found this tutorial with pictures. I practiced for weeks and wanted to do it with my left hand because it was my non-dominant hand. It became an easy skill to practice while I was watching TV or trying to study. Hard hard work, but I can still shuffle this way today – well maybe not on the first try, but my muscles still remember how to generally perform the task. (I randomly carry a deck of cards in my purse so ask me to demonstrate if you see me!)
2. I struggle with over-thinking, rehashing situations in by brain, and worry.
I don’t know if this is just a woman thing, but I often find myself in bed at night with my brain in overdrive thinking about the past, present, and future! I’ve dealt with this for years and have talked to many friends and family who struggle with this as well.
I’ll ask Scott – what are you thinking about? His reply… “nothing.” And the funny thing is… he really means nothing!
Sometimes (and thankfully not too often) for me this leads to anxiety and fear and that’s a place I don’t like to be in. However, I’m thankful for a husband who can help me talk things over and hash out the details to let me realize it really isn’t a big of a deal as I was making it out to be.
Yet – sometimes this fear stops me from doing something I may enjoy because I’m afraid of failure or rejection. It’s a process I’m working on.
So what does all this have to do with universal design? Well a lot really. By just looking at me you may not realize that I can shuffle a deck of cards with my left hand or know that I struggle with fear. Same with people that have disabilities. Some things are visible and some things aren’t. You might not know the lengths that someone has gone through just to get ready for the morning, and they had to work and work and work at it to do it successfully by overcoming something physical or emotional. They also overcame that fear of actually getting out of their home and into the community to perform a job and live life. Working through that fear and trying something new is the hardest part.
I’ve been reading a book called “Life Without Limits: Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life” by Nick Vujicic. Nick was born without arms or legs. He has one small leg that he has learned to use in many ways as he goes about his day. In his book he talks about his struggles and how he’s overcome them, even struggles within himself that he needed to conquer to live life without limits. I’m already promoting this book and haven’t even finished it, so… it’s definitely great!
Go on youtube and look at some of his videos or check out his website. He’s definitely an inspiration and as an OT I was interested at how he goes about doing his daily tasks and leisure activities.
Last night I was reading a section in his book on fear. He felt that fear allowed him to conquer more in his life. The fear of being dependent on his family allowed him to think of ways to take care of his daily needs. The fear of speaking in front of an audience and imagining all that could go wrong was changed by preparation, practice, and thinking of all the things that could go right. It’s a change in mindset and it’s realizing your potential is greater than you can even imagine.
Nick writes in his book on page 117:
“So many fearful people focus on the What if when they should be saying Why not?
- What if I fail?
- What if I’m not good enough?
- What if they laugh at me?
- What if I’m turned down?
- What if I can’t keep up with my successes?
I understand that sort of thinking. Growing up I had to deal with major fears-the fear of rejection, the fear of inadequacy, the fear of being dependent. It wasn’t just my imagination: my body lacked the standard equipment. But my parents told me that I should always focus not on what was missing but on what I had and what I could create if I only dared to follow my imagination. “Dream Big, Nicky, and never let fear keep you from working toward your dreams,” they said. “You can’t let fear dictate your future. Choose the life you want and go for it.”
Universal design can make lives easier for a wide variety of people no matter their strengths or weaknesses. We’ve taken on the task of helping others understand this. I like the title of Chapter 7 in Nick’s book “Don’t Let Your Face Plant Grow Roots.” Even though it may seem like a daunting task to help others understand the importance of our services – we realize that the process is trial and error and may take awhile to catch on. (Just like card shuffling with one hand). We believe universal design is a life changing concept and our desire is to help make our society more welcoming for lots of people in many ways.
(image credit: ralphunden)