Doing Our Part And Being Inspired

July 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

On Saturday, July 10th, I participated in a discussion at the Academy of Arts & Science sponsored by the department of labor, on how to increase opportunities for people with disabilities in the entertainment business.  Others there were union leaders (Screen Actors Guild, Writers Guild), television producers, advocates, and people with disabilities (PWD) who run prominent organizations that focus on supporting PWD, the secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, and assistant secretary of Labor, Kathleen Martinez, who herself is blind.

It was a very inspiring day.  I shared thoughts with able bodied individuals that recognize the need for us as a society to improve the rights and opportunities for PWD as well as from people with disabilities who in spite of their difficulties have the fire in them to have the same rights just like the rest of us.

As I sat there I wondered when was it that I had become so interested in giving my time and energy to contribute to this issue.  I thought back to the last couple of months of my husband’s life, when he no longer weighed 200 lbs. and could carry me around the house and instead weighed 137 lbs., walked with a limp, was bold and severely gaunt.  I thought of a particular event, the opening night of Gordon Ramsey’s (Hell’s Kitchen) new Los Angeles restaurant.  It was three months before Chris’ passing and he was still fighting with everything he had.   We went to the opening, even though it was extremely hard for him to walk and stand, because he wanted to participate in an event with his fellow food and wine writers.  An editor, who Chris worked for, from time to time, came through the front door and when Chris saw her, he raised his glass to salute her.  The woman, who was extremely well dressed and gave off an air of I’m better than you, looked back at him in complete disgust and went the other way.  I saw the hurt in my husband’s face and I wanted to kill the woman but Chris stopped me saying: “No, please, I need the work.”  I think that was the day I felt in my heart how sometimes we hurt others by looking at them as if they are less than us.

I have since become really close to a number of people with disabilities; some from cancer others from accidents.  I have been awed by their strength and fighting spirit.  My dear friend Julie who at the height of a very successful career lost her leg and hip to cancer but who now travels the world more than anyone I know and who is always ready to have a good time.  Or Teal who had a car accident at age fourteen and now is wheelchair bound, but lives alone, has a hot boyfriend, and works hard at her acting career.

What I take from my friendship with these women is that we can overcome difficulties whenever and wherever they present themselves, that we can look at life – as the old saying goes – either the glass is half full or half empty, and that a sense of well-being is possible for all of us.

How we experience our lives is our own decision but as anyone else who has experienced great loss I must shout as loud as I can that there is no tomorrow, life is to be fully lived today.

PS – The picture is of Chris climbing a mountain six months after his liver transplant.

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