Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The value of Friendship: A treasure!!

I've always made friends easily, and I've been very blessed to have relationships that have remained strong for many years.  I'm grateful for friends in my life who are like family, and I'm in constant amazement that all of these friends saw something in me that they loved and connected with.  The blessing of friendship is one SWEET reward!   Friendship has always been a stabilizing force... I feel useful and valuable and it has been a source of strength.  Everything seems right with the world when I can give of myself to a close friend, whether in a time of unimaginable happiness or heartbreaking sadness.  I try to give back to people I care deeply about, who've made a place in their hearts for me...they deserve that.  I'm always quick to give a smile, a warm hello, a kiss on the cheek, an arm around the shoulder, a pat on the back.  A kind, loving gesture to let them know I'm happy to see them and that I care.  As I reflected on my friendships, I would often fight with a nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach that was almost impossible to suppress - I'm not good enough for my friends.  Was I even doing a good job being a friend?   Whenever a friend would talk to me about what they were feeling, a recent trip, getting married, being pregnant, buying their first home - I wanted to excitedly shout at the top of my lungs, I REALLY know how you feel!!  But, I really didn't know how they felt.  The pain of wanting to really connect to them was deep and intense.  With that desire being so deep, I realized that it was overtaking my thinking so much that it was squeezing every ounce of self esteem out of me.  The question was, would I let that happen?  For what seemed like an eternity, I sat stagnant, hating my situation.  The ultimate question for me was, how was this helping me be a good friend?  Of course, it wasn't helping at all.  My bad attitude was creating a wide gap that was taking me away from the thing I wanted...friendship!   The next question that came to mind was, how do I move forward and fix my bad self!?  When I quit focusing on my situation, I had time to love others.  It changed my life.  Take this, for example, my friend Michelle, whom you see in the photo with me...(our friends call us Michelle squared) ... is married, has two older kids and just had her third baby, Ava!  We have become so close, that Michelle and her family are like our family!  I've always dreamed of having a family, but being pregnant would be a big job for me physically and caring for children would take its toll, as well.  I still have the job of being "aunt" to my friends' babies though!  If I would have been so consumed with what I didn't have, I wouldn't have been able to soak up every moment of being able to be with Michelle at the hospital and holding Ava after she was born, and be a part of her life!! <3
My girlfriend Monique and I- on her wedding day 2008 :)
My girlfriend Michelle Serna and I :)

My girlfriend Angela and I on her wedding day:)
 My friend Monique met her husband Eric and fell head-over-heels in love!  Their first date was dinner at our house, because we had to see if he would really be her knight in shining armor. :)  It didn't take long for us to understand why Monique was falling in love with him. In 2008, they were married at our house!  Yes, that's right...we had their wedding in our home!!  Its been 5 years since that day, and it is still one of the happiest times of my life!!

My girlfriend Angela fell in love with her husband Matt within 3 months of meeting him.  When they got married in 2007..I was so excited for her...yet weddings can be hard for me.  But, I told my emotions: "NO, I'm not going to let you get me down"!  Seconds later Angela's dad, Bruce, put his arm around me, and said some of the most precious words, "Angela is getting ready, and she wants you to see her in her dress".   I went into the room where she was and everything stopped...I remember crying and saying "oh my" more then 1,000 times. :) It was a wonderful moment!

International Friendship Day is what inspired this blog. Even though it's past, friendship lives on!  I have many friends that I cherish, and I love each and every one of you!  I celebrate you and the bonds that we've made!!  Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives!!  Friendship is such a precious treasure!! <3

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

Thursday, August 15, 2013

People with disabilities want to say: "I have a Job!"

"This business is an Equal Opportunity Employer".  That very statement is music to the ears of someone who is looking for a job.  Looking to spread their wings by being responsible for themselves as they make the transition from a being a child to an adult.  People with disabilities want to be seen as everyone else and having a job is just as much a desire for them as someone without a disability.

Employment equals Empowerment for people with disabilities, and many people have hopped on that train (for which we are ever grateful!!) to see that it continues to happen.  Gone are the days when people with disabilities are not employed, or working in a sheltered workshop was the only option. They are being integrated, accepted and embraced more and more, as people who can offer a great deal to their employers and co-workers!

Why should I hire people with disabilities?...you may ask.  There is a warm fuzzy side to the story that can be told.  You, as the employer, are contributing to their emotional well-being, their self-confidence, and breaking the barriers of what people with disabilities are perceived to be able to do.  Fantastic, really!  What's more fun?  Let's take the warm fuzzy feeling side of the story out of the equation for just a minute and look at the facts.  Whether you are a self-employed business owner or are managing a business for someone else, you, as the boss, need and want employees that will uphold your standards, provide good customer service, good work ethic, etc.... You may chime in: They can be hard to find!  Yes, they can be hard to find, but, people with disabilities quite often meet all those qualifications!  No kidding!  They are individuals who are committed and dedicated to their jobs, love to be part of the team and actively giving back to their communities...... What's better than that?  I'll tell ya: NOTHING!!

As with any anticipation of reaching a long awaited goal, there are always hurdles to get around!  One of the biggest hurdles for those with disabilities is transportation.  Transportation?  That's the easy part, you may laughingly say to yourself.  What if, though, their car breaks down or they don't have the money at the moment to buy a car... Take the bus! you say without hesitation... What if the bus doesn't run their route until after they have to be at work?  Several situations can rear their ugly heads making it a struggle to think about doing it one day, let alone several days in a row!  But, with determination, the individual can find a way to work if they continue to look.  Maybe a friend or relative can take them to work.  Many times people are willing to help, if asked.  As the employer, you may be able to suggest viable options, as well.  Taking a genuine interest in this regard goes a long way!

Would you like to know of some businesses who are shining because they made the decision to hire people with disabilities?  The Arc of Indiana had the privilege of recognizing people who were described as the "top of the building block" in hiring people with disabilities.  They were presented with the Keystone Award!  Congratulations to Walgreens of Kokomo, Turkey Run Inn, Bits and Bites of Evansville,  Community Access Television Service out of Bloomington and Nathaniel Butell, a photographer out of Columbia City!!  My warmest congratulations go out to all of you!!!

What's your definition of success?  Hiring people with disabilities who will work hard and bring their attitude of striving for their best, is one of the stepping stones needed.  Won't you please consider hiring them?  I promise, adding them as part of your team will be the greatest success you will ever experience!!

Being part of a team.....having a job = SUCCESS!! :)

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

Bloggers Note: This blog was written from notes taken after the interview on Employment. :)

Listen to the my full interview will Jill Ginn,  Rebecca Scherpelz and Melody Cooper from the Arc of Indiana at this link: www.arcind.org/upload/media/A%20View%20into%20The%20Arc%20&%20SAI%20Employment%20Campaign.mp3

If you are interested in working and interning in a government position you will want to check out this podcast show on the INTERN program Listen here to Emily's experience with the program and what she's doing now!  http://www.arcind.org/upload/media/A%20View%20into%20the%20Intern%20Program_Show%20One.mp3

Friday, August 9, 2013

Autism Awareness Profile: HANDS in Autism

                                                                                                                                    When a child is diagnosed with a spectrum disorder such as autism, it can be an emotional roller coaster like no other. The sad part is watching your child have to struggle with having to "learn" the very things that give us closeness as human beings... a touch, a hug, holding hands, a kiss and countless other social interactions that are so vital to our emotional and physical well-being.
     What is incredibly comforting to most of us, can be awkward and uncomfortable to someone on the spectrum.  In going through this puzzling process, there are many uncertain times.  Times where you may ask yourself - Where do we go from here?  On my podcast, I have had the privilege of interviewing some outstanding people who help those with autism.  One of these, Hands in Autism, is an organization that seeks to help families in making their way through what seems to be the never ending dark tunnel of the diagnosis. They provide a listening ear while being proactive in starting the process of seeing light at the end of the tunnel - with hope and help.  One of the keys to providing help for families and those who have ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), is being able to provide resources that answer questions for families and caregivers.  They need answers as they cope with different stressful and challenging circumstances that they and their loved one may go through.  All of these topics are covered, and more, on the Hands in Autism website.  I was blown away and delighted to see that Hands in Autism goes far beyond the call of duty when it comes to resources. They are rockstars in the resources department!  Once you see this website, you'll see what I mean!!   Just as the name of the organization suggests, you are not ever alone...they are with you every step of the way!

Here are just some samples of the treasures you will discover on this site: 

This section deals with Visual Supports and Practical tools: http://www.handsinautism.org/tools.html

Here's a handout that talks about 10 things you can do to support those living with ASD: 

Hands in Autism has wonderful information Cards to help people understand more about ASD and it helps promote Disability Awareness These are Fantastic!  www.handsinautism.org/pdf/AutismInfoCards.pdf

There is life after the diagnosis of autism, and Hands in Autism wants to show you how to achieve that life...  Autism is not the end, in fact, it can be just the beginning of finding out that you can reach your dreams and goals and let your disability know that you are in control of YOUR life!

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

For more information on Hands In Autism, Follow them on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/HANDSinAutism.

Listen into my interview with Assistant Director  Tiffany Neal talking about the great things Hands in Autism does!  http://www.arcind.org/upload/media/A%20View%20into%20Hands%20in%20Autism.mp3