Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Personal Victories, Past, Present, and Dreams

Newport Beach, CA the water I miss
I woke up early this morning from an amazing dream. Due to disability, I have not been able to swim or surf in the ocean in many years. It has been over a decade since I have been in the ocean. I plan to join a disabled surfers group in the near future to get back out there. But in the mean time, I occasionally have amazingly detailed dreams about the ocean, and woke this morning from one. It was beautiful, and I only hope my words do it justice:

 It was sunrise and I was walking on a beach from my childhood. Above and to the right the sandy cliffs rose high above our heads, below and to the left the ocean was starting to come into view as the waves lapped at the shore, and the sun started to bring a soft twilight view of the water. Salt and cold spray clung to my skin as I walked along talking with a dear friend, Regina about growing up in close proximity to the beach. Sand softly pushed through my toes with every step as I walked on the slightly firm, slightly soft area that was damp but not under water.  A light in the distance told us another friend, Antonia was walking the long way around to this private, secluded area which required a long hike down a cliff or the luck of the tides and a long walk. Either way, this beach is frequently in my dreams even tho in real life I can not physically get there. It is beautiful.

Sunrise Yoga
Soon the rays of the sun bathed the beach and us in a radiant sunrise (despite the fact that the sun actually sets in the west not rises) and the sand looked yellowish brown like toasty polenta. I knelt where the waves were lightly lapping at me and told my friends stories about being a child and lifting hands full of wet sand to fall around me back into the ocean. Probably a memory of the first time my mother told me it's not nice to throw sand. Antonia knelt and joined me in grabbing hand fulls of sand as the light shifted colors and brightened and the sand and water colors shifted in response. I basked in the experience joyfully letting wet sand fall around us. We were filthy but filled with joy. I fell back into the water and let it push me around gently and lap over me. Being a dream it was just nicely cool, not freezing as it would be in reality this time of year. It felt like a summer day, and as the sun rose and others started arriving to enjoy the beach I was beaming with joy and woke feeling love, strength and human dignity.

 In the dream I also told Regina about something that happened in reality. I think in many ways, dreams can help us heal from and process our lives. I have been missing the beach, missing my friends who live in CA, and was emotionally really torn and exhausted from a hard day.

Rainbow YES pin and rainbow ribbon
Yesterday, February 26, 2013, I went and stood in line then went through a security area where I was made to wait for 6 journalists to enter before me while I stood in pain, then made to walk through a metal detector where I  had to take off my belt and anything metal and then be scanned by a wand because who knows what set off the detector, maybe a metal button on my jeans, and then walked around the Orpheum theatre including a long trip down the aisle to the microphone to speak, and then back up afterwards. All without my wheelchair, PHEW! I, with what I guess was hundreds of other residents of Phoenix, AZ was there to speak to our representatives about changes to the Human Relations anti-discrimination ordinance which would include people with disabilities and people from the LGBTQIA rainbow. Specifically the language included gender identity and expression, which was 22 years in coming, and I am grateful for so many people showing up to speak their minds. Personally, it was one of the most physically and emotionally draining things I have done in a while.

We had left my wheelchair at home, not realizing there would be a long line since we arrived an hour early, nor did we realize how huge an area we would need to navigate. And although I have done this sort of thing before, and had to listen to the bile and hatred expressed by some who would use their religious beliefs to try and define other people's human rights and protections and try to strip us of human dignity, it is never easy. There were so many on both sides of the issue that it was a challenge even for someone like myself who has decades of experience standing up for human rights. One friend had people clap loudly in his ears at anything against the changes to the ordinance and kick his chair.We had annoying people near us, but nothing as bad as what he dealt with, and were fortunate to sit with people who support us in being who we are.  And it's always shocking and hurtful to us how people who call themselves Christians seem to forget the whole country is NOT made up of ONLY their religion. Patch reminded me to point out that we are not nor should we be here to discuss religion, but human rights and protections under the law. Not all of us identify as religious, or Christian why should SOME people's religion dictate ALL people's lives. I did not mention that in my speech tho.

It was a huge personal victory for me simply to not use my wheelchair and only a walking stick at this event, even tho I had to stop and sit and rest several times along the way. My diabetes acted up also because it had been so long since I ate. So many people testified and they let everyone have a minute (some people went over slightly) so I'm told there were 5 hours of testimony.

I spoke several hours after arriving. And I had eaten an hour before arriving. By the time I spoke, I was shaking and had a severe headache and my face was a bit numb on the right side, which sometimes happens when I have migraines. It wasn't nerves by the way, although I was nervous and emotional, it was a blood sugar crash. Fuzzy headed and emotional from hearing hours of testimony, plus with 1/2 the time usually allotted, I only hit 2 of my 5 points, but I am told I was well spoken, and I was glad to hear it. I shared from the heart and shared 2 personal experiences of discrimination based on gender, perceived sexual orientation, and disability. I could have shared so much more, but I was tired and felt drained before even trying to walk down that aisle and stand in front of that microphone.

The walk back up felt victorious but strenuous. Like a huge hike up a mountain even tho it was just a sloped aisle. I am grateful for everyone who spoke, and that they gave us ALL the opportunity to be heard. Afterwards, Patch took me out to dinner. I downed some sugar, gave and got some hugs, and headed out to dinner where we spent a wonderful time reviving our bodies with delicious healthy foods. Then we went home and I took my medicine and lay down with the animals and Carlie in the dark for an hour to recoup. Still exhausted, I went to bed and slept from 9PM to 3AM. I'll go back to sleep in a bit for another few hours, but I wanted to write down what the dream and the real life experience were both like for me, because both were powerful.

I know this is a very different topic than I usually cover on this blog, but I felt it was important that both be shared as they are, quite simply, both personal victories that define who I am. What do you dream and what do you experience that go into the whole of your human existence and feel like core pieces that simply can't be left out of the whole? For me both the dream of the beach and the experience speaking about discrimination I have experienced represent love and human dignity.

Early Morning Joy on Hearing We Won
I am proud of who I am, and how far I have come. And I dream of a future when people do not have to fight for basic rights and protections, but simply are themselves, and free to be. No matter how you feel about such things, I have and will continue to stand (or sit as needed) for your right to free speech and equal accommodations and protections under the law. I didn't ask for any special rights tonight, just for the basic equal rights I was raised to believe all humans should already be afforded in this world. I'm glad today Phoenix took this small and much needed step. And I am grateful for the healing of my beach dream, and the knowledge that there are ways for me to experience the ocean once again through disAbled activity groups. So some day soon, I will get back into the water just as today I faced and tackled some major obstacles physically and legally. May you have love, and thrive in your life wherever and whomever you are.

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