Category Archives: Faith

CP: Disability and Spiritual Practice?

Can simply living with a disability be a spiritual practice? Although I have talked about having CP generally, I have yet to explain how my CP impacts my physical abilities. Due to my CP, I have always had to tap into a high level concentration to complete any task requiring muscle coordination. You may be thinking, “Doesn’t every physical task require some level of muscle coordination?” In one word… Yes. I use a motorized wheelchair, have less control of my hands and arms and work hard to speak clearly.

Like many with disabilities, I have adapted my lifestyle to fit my abilities. In the words of one of my favorite comics, “When life gives you a wheelchair, make lemonade… You know what I mean!” I love to ski, windsurf and ride horses. I have traveled internationally and have a wonderful community of family and friends. Some say I have accomplished these things despite my CP. Over time, I have become comfortable telling these people that I have accomplished these things, in part, because of the lessons and worldview my CP has given me.

However, recently, I have come to have a more expansive understanding of my CP. Yes, I have learned lessons as a result of having CP, but now I am beginning to understand my CP to be my greatest spiritual practice. When this thought first crossed my mind, I was both startled and liberated.  The disability advocate in me was confused and resistant to this concept; but, in the midst of that confusion and resistance, I was curious.

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You know it’s time for a change when…

You have 8 near death experiences in 3 days. Yes, you read that correctly. Hi, let me introduce myself. My name is Allison. I was born with athetoid cerebral palsy(CP) and have been a disability advocate from day 1. My faith and the color purple(the actual color purple that is, although the movie is  good as well-just ask my sister who can recite the entire movie by heart) are two pillars in my life. In December 2014, I had an experience, 8 to be exact, that propelled me to change my life dramatically.

In 2011, I graduated from MIT with a PhD in economics. I landed my dream job, was living independently in a beautiful, accessible apartment and had a wonderful support system. Then slowly, ever so slowly, my health began  to change. This culminated in a serious illness in December 2014 that resulted in 8 near death experiences in less than 1 week. I don’t know about you but, “near death” is about as near to death as I want to get for several decades!

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