Thursday, January 24, 2013

A look back at the Pathways to Employment Premiere :)

The Narrator (me) and the filmmaker  Ken :)                        
We all know the excitement that's in the air before an awards show or the premiere of the movie we have just been dying to see.  No, I haven't been to an actual awards show or movie premiere in Hollywood, but I have felt it.  I decorated my living room with pictures of Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon when I watched the movie, Walk the Line, because I wanted to feel like I was there.  I even wanted to eat Johnny Cash themed snacks during the movie! :)  I always think to myself, "If I could just be a fly on the wall!  I want to see how they made that scene look so real," or "I wonder what was happening in the background that made that actress say her line like that!"  I appreciate the time, energy and effort that goes into the movie even more when I know those details.

Brandon Boas, A photographer featured in the film!  :)
I got the same feeling when I went to the premiere of the documentary series Pathways to Employment.  I got to go to the premiere, get all dressed up, (I looked adorable, by the way) ;)  have my picture taken on the red carpet, and eat and mingle with many of the stars!!  OH OH!!!  I got to be a fly on the wall too!!  I got alot of tips and tricks on what the sought after, soon to be Oscar winning filmmaker, Ken Oguss used to get the breakout film stars to tell their stories of inspiration...he used lots of fun looking technological toys to capture them!

Aside from the technical aspect though,  Ken's heart comes straight though the screen to touch your heart! It comes from the fact that Ken isn't just a filmmaker and storyteller in title only.  He invests time, energy and interest in the subjects whom he films.   For the Pathways to Employment documentary, you become a fly on the wall, as it were, by being taken along for the ride as the viewer and given a very personal view into the lives of the six individuals featured.  What you will first notice as you watch these videos, is the amount of positivity that is in each video.  Sometimes, to an outsider, the person with a disability may seem to have a lot of roadblocks and some may wonder, how will they ever accomplish the things they want?  These videos show how each person has accomplished their goals by replacing the word "CAN'T with CAN and they see the challenge as an opportunity.  Their team of cheerleaders and supporters focus on their potential, which makes their differences fade.  Simple equation: Find a way to turn the seeming negatives into positives.  That's what is fully showcased in these six videos....and when you have a filmmaker who fully understands that and embraces that idea, in collaboration with the Arc of Indiana, the end result is a motivating beautiful piece of work!!

What made it such a happy night for me was not only seeing Ken's hard work be recognized, but I was happy for the stars themselves!  I've heard their stories, many of them being guests on my show, telling me about the pain of being told they can't, or that no one understands them.  At times they have been stared at, or laughed at.....but not on the premiere night!  That night they were applauded and their faces glowed!  I was so glad to be a part of that night...words can't even begin to say how much!

Sally,  Jill and my Mom! :)
Three of the many great supporters I have on my team! :)
Behind the title of Pathways to Employment, Ken took a picture of a road and the two yellow lines on the road look like an equal sign.  So fitting, as everyone who looks for and wants a job, the same is true for those with disabilities....employment is their goal...and there are many pathways to get there!
Jennifer Schwab, Special Events Manager
with the Arc and one of the many hard workers who brought
this event together! :)

Hear some exclusive behind the scenes extras from Ken in this interview he did with me after the premiere!!

Michelle Fischer is host of  A View from my Window, a podcast produced by The Arc of Indiana

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sisters forever bonded <3 <3

My sister Christine and I.
Summer 2010
"Christine, let your sister in your room, open your door!"- this was something my sister dreaded hearing, as my mom said this from the bottom of the stairs.  I was usually outside her door, screaming at the top of my lungs, so my mom would plead my case for me!  My sister would eventually open the door, but with an "I'm doing this because I was told to, not because I want you around" attitude.  As her younger sister, everything she did was absolutely fascinating to me!  Her world of make-up, boys, and high school were "big girl" things that I just NEEDED to be in on!

Eventually, she realized that no matter what she did, nothing would ever keep me away!  She would come home from school, drop her books and run upstairs with her friend, Kim, and slam the door.....but, it wasn't long before I was crawling up the stairs to join them!

The truth is, my sister and I will be forever bonded, even though there is a significant age difference.  We are nine years apart and going through different times in our lives.  She is the mother of 3 beautiful children.....but I have yet to be a mother or be in a serious relationship for that matter - all those things aside though, the impact she has had on me as my sister cannot be denied!

She was nine when I was born and not one speck of jealousy was seen.  She had a human doll to love and care for, and care for me, she did!  Who, at nine years old, would put the interest of her newborn sister ahead of her own?  MY sister did!

She has always been a fierce protector of me.  While always seeing my potential, she never really saw me as disabled.  Always wanting me to be just like everyone else, she encouraged me to focus and move forward, not taking the easy way out!  She wanted me to have a good year during my freshman year of high school,  so she became my aide that year.  To this day we still laugh about the time we were looking for the girl's bathroom on the first day of school and though we both thought the bathroom looked took a while to realize that we were in the boys' bathroom!  We quickly made our exit!  Or the time when we were going between classes and she started talking to a teacher and without realizing it, she had pushed me into a classroom full of students during class!  Christine said the look on my face was hilariously priceless!! :)

Having a sister who has a physical disability has to have been hard on her.  I say it that way because she has never said it's been hard, but in the same breath, it must have been!  In most ways, I have had to take little steps to reach goals and have life experiences that relate to her in some way.  Usually sisters become bonded because they have gone through similar experiences....marriage, kids, boyfriends, break-ups, heartbreak....and I haven't even had some of those experiences yet.  So when I think of her, I wonder:  Does she ever feel like she has a sister who understands her and can relate to her?  Even though she sees me as not having a disability,  does she ever feel like the disability is a burden?

I never meant to be disabled, sometimes things just happen... but one of the most valuable gifts in my life, is a sister who loves me even so.  I have grown out of the need to do "big girl" things now, because I'm doing them....and loving it!  But I'm still fascinated by the person my sister is and has become.  I love my sister and will be forever grateful for the love she's shown me!  We are SISTERS!  Forever bonded!! :)