Come drift with me tonight
As your drowsy eyes close
We will meet on serenity’s shore
where divine possibilities flow.
We will sail through the Milky Way
in our vessel of stardust and gold
then circle the moon
watching mysteries unfold.
When dawn rises with its
vision of new hope
we will remember the journey
is the reason we woke.
Why is self-advocacy so under used in our society? I think because it gets confused between aggressiveness and assertiveness. This confusion is just as misunderstood by the business you are dealing with (usually more so) than the individual trying to assert their rights. In the process citizens get pushed down, intimidated and managed into silence.
Not all is lost however because there is a weapon you can use and it is the absolute key to your success. That weapon is knowledge of the guidelines, goals and mission of the business or organization that you feel is treating you unfairly and denying you services, programs and respect. You will almost always find the employee who denies you and disrespect you does not represent the business or organization you are trying to access. Government and state programs have employees who are overwhelmed and burn out runs rampant. If you do not learn to advocate you will most likely be shoved to the side and forgotten. Businesses like wise expect employees to do twice the job for the money with no incentive to build the business through customer relations.
However, there are people who care and they are the business owners and the directors of federal and state programs and non-profits. The first group is invested in profits and the rest are vested in the goals through mission statements they agreed to uphold when they took their positions. The “key” to advocacy success is understanding what is important to them. For business it’s pretty easy because customer satisfaction and word of mouth marketing equals profits. You already have power here and employees who drive away customer will not last long.
Non-profits, federal and state programs are a little more difficult and intimating because you don’t have a choice weather you do business with them or not. But, it is worth the fight and you can win. First research the organization and find out exactly what they are supposed to be providing and how. If you do not have a computer to research then go to the public library. They will assist you in your research. Letter writing is always the first step to good advocacy but know not only who to send it to but include what happened, how you felt you were treated and where they had not complied with their goals, mission statement or program guidelines. Think of it as verbal litigation. Keep it factual. Emotional letters smack of victimization. Ask them to respond within a certain date. End with thanking them for their consideration and place the ball firmly in their court by stating what outcome you expect in clear and factual words otherwise it is just a complaint letter.
For federal and state funded programs that you get no or unsatisfactory responses do not hesitate to talk to your congressman and ask for their help in intervention. Above all keep your focus on the facts and avoid emotional drama at all costs. State what you want and what you know, based on the guidelines, you qualify for.
In 1989 I fell sick from a bacteria found in shell fish. I lay in a coma for over three months & when I woke I wrote this poem from my experience on the other side. it was pretty telling of my future. After not expected to live or ever have a normal life because of nerve damage & muscle loss fate had other ideas. Today I have been employed for a disability advocacy organization for 22yrs. Ive had a very successful life after the coma. I guess my Soul already knew that.
My breath swayed then hovered above
my helpless slumbered face
I knew not where it was going nor
could I summon it home as I looked upon
The body my breath had left behind
It was the winter of that year when
things die only to be reborn
And, it was lonely as the silver dust
of moonlight settled coldly on the night
I traveled with my dreamer through starlit galaxies,
gliding soft on silver lavender touching blue and golden wands
Spiraling homeward to discover who I was
And who I am and who I will become
The “I” who was me desired no return
for the land was sweet with nature
and warm from Angels love
as Oracles told of journeys rewarding end.
Then a thousand golden stars began to float
my Spirit back into the light
And I know now what awaits is
destiny’s courage to fight
I felt stronger than when I left
coming back to complete the calling
Still many roads I must restore
One finished and one has just begun
Knowledge brought from deep beyond
fills my waiting senses
And cell-by-cell repair begins
in this mystical mortal dwelling
Moments come when I lose my way
Like groping in the night
But soon a beam bursts forth through ancient mists
And I draw my earthly breath
I wake when spring brings birth anew
as this instrument continues a journey long
I’ve come to keep a long ago promise
as fates now cross the Souls with mine.
I reach for them now as they touch the hand of
The body my breath has left behind.
The old man walked slowly and softly. Limp hands hung motionless beside the large pockets of his coat. They had no intention now. No need to clutch them in response to stress, no need to jingle keys from anxiety, no need to swing them to a fast paced rhythm. There was a leisurely pulse to his song, interrupted often by an attempt to balance. No urgency now. Stress lines in his crinkled face have been replaced by deep lines of consignment.
He has finally lived long enough to know his wisdom, only no one can see it beyond the wrinkle of his skin, no one hears it between the spaces of his memory, no one feels it beyond the shaking of his hands.
I see him and I know.
But for the grace of God, go we all.