Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Doctor is in: Dr. Will Miller discusses the need to be connected and Refrigerator Rights

The 2013 Arc of Indiana Annual Conference was a great success again this year!  As the opening speaker, Dr. Will Miller got the conference off and running on a high note.  Dr. Miller touched on many subjects that the audience could relate to, which at times stirred our emotions.  However, the majority of the time, he had us laughing until our stomachs hurt.  He really stressed the importance of closely connected relationships, which he affectionately called "Refrigerator Rights".  These are friends who don't have to ask permission to be in your life...they can walk into your house, open your fridge, grab something to eat, sit down, throw their shoes off and feel right at home!  They are not mere acquaintances...they are friends who truly become family!  I am very fortunate to have these types of relationships in my life and I'm grateful for them.  I related deeply to this concept of "Refrigerator Rights", mostly because I had to develop these types of connections to cope with the growing pains of cerebral palsy.  As I came into adulthood, the reality of my disability came into focus and the negativity along with it.  I would beat myself up for countless things - mercilessly!  I was a train wreck, that is, until I started to listen to what others felt about me.  Unwavering support, love and strength were then in place.  When I took advantage of this support - I was rebuilt, refreshed and encouraged with things during that rocky stressful time - things I still draw on to this day!

Refrigerator Rights relationships help the human spirit be resilient!  In the disability community, helping those who have special needs be resilient is critical to their well-being and how they view themselves.   We all deal with difficult circumstances, but when you have a disability, sometimes, no matter how many steps you take forward, there is always a feeling (at least in my experience of dealing with my situation) that you take twice as many steps backward and are always in catch up mode. Those whom you choose to be in your intimate circle of support will always be there when you fall..never forget that and don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help.  People with disabilities deserve to find happiness and joy in life, and reach for goals and dreams that they love,  While not being defined by their disability everywhere they turn, they deserve to be who they are best at being: themselves!  I ask you, please, make an effort to be the kind of friend that brings resilience back into another persons' life... Feel what they feel, step into their shoes or roll in their wheels!  The more you understand what others are going through, the stronger the connection becomes...and then you will witness something extraordinary...  They will begin to come alive again, believe in themselves and start to see themselves in a bright shiny positive light!! 

Refrigerator Rights...pass them on!  Develop these types of relationships!  You never know who needs them and how a life can be forever enriched because of them! 

Thanks for the reminder Dr. Will :)

Listen into my interview with Dr. Will after his speech here! We had a great time talking! :)

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

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