Friday, January 31, 2014

A fellow Journalist's humble request.


Dear Anderson,

Today,  I am writing to fulfill a dream.  I've been keeping this dream private for several years now, and I finally have the confidence and professional skills to give it light.  I am writing to request an interview with you!!  I've watched your show since 2004, and it would be an incredible experience to be in the studio...interviewing you!  On the flip side, you may be able to gain some unique insight into a part of society that you may not often encounter - the disability community.

My name is Michelle Fischer.  I live in Lafayette, Indiana and my childhood dream is to be a journalist like you.  I was born with cerebral palsy and had a very normal childhood.  My parents never treated me differently - neither did friends or schoolmates.  My life was cruising along and I had the same plans as most people my age.  I thought I'd get married, have kids, and maybe live in a foreign city in Europe somewhere.

My dreams of a normal life ended one day so quickly.  Out of the blue, I woke up HATING my disability.  I was angry and lost.  I felt as if I was given the wrong person's body somehow!  I beat myself up over not being normal and I was angry at how long it took me to do simple tasks such as getting myself ready in the morning or cooking a meal for myself.  My struggles all came into perspective when I read your book, "Dispatches from the Edge."  I related to everything you felt while going through the devastating loss of your father and brother,  as I was dealing with a profound loss I felt inside of myself.  Since third grade,  I had a dream of pursuing a broadcast journalism career, and through watching and modeling myself after you, I am beginning to realize my goals.  Journalism allows me to cope with my pain and push my worries and anxieties into the background.  Instead, I focus on the art of storytelling and shining a big light on my subject.

At the State House in Indianapolis IN with Arc of Indiana  Executive Director ,  John Dickerson at a Developmental Disabilities Commission meeting
At the 2012 Special Olympics Indiana State Games in Terre Haute  IN.
Interviewing a star athlete,  Andrew Peterson and his Dad Craig
He doesn't let his disability of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome stop him
from being a top notch runner and public speaker!!
I have started what I consider phase one of fulfilling my dream of becoming a journalist.  In November 2009, I became the podcast show host for the Arc of Indiana, a non-profit organization that helps people with disabilities be all they can be, through many supports.  Since this time,  I have conducted 55 interviews with a variety of people, including parents and volunteers,  Executive Directors, CEO's, authors and bloggers.  Spanning topics from Autism and  Self-Advocacy to Employment and Epilepsy. There are no words to describe how much I love my job and I honestly think of you every time I do a show.  I believe I am a voice for people with disabilities and I am the one, through my interviews, that let's them see that although they may feel forgotten, they are not.

On Location at the Special Olympics with Laura, whose son Tom is in
Special Olympics. That's my producer Sally filling in for my sound engineer Bryce!
I have a great team behind me!

Please don't hesitate contacting me.  I know that this request is one you probably haven't seen before. It's taken me a while to build the confidence to reach out to you.  While you're considering this, I have a question for you to think about:  Have you ever met a journalist who has cerebral palsy?  My response to you, if your answer is what I think it will be, is simple: Don't you think its time?

Your fellow Journalist,

Michelle Fischer

I'm ready to work with you! <iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Check out my podcast episodes, I think you will like what you hear!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Love and Marriage: A dream that can become a reality for everyone!

I often dream of my wedding day.  I want a vintage wedding... Ah, yes!  I love all things vintage!  A vintage dress with a touch of whimsy and a touch of elegance.  Roses and daisies will adorn my bouquet.. in bright reds, pastel pinks and burnt oranges.  Four of my closest friends who have laughed, cried, and supported me through the ups and downs of life, the bonds of friendship deepening each year, standing beside me on this most sacred day.  The bond between mom and daughter is unflinching as you see the bond strengthen, yet now your relationship becomes deeper.  Her advice becomes even more the essence of you.  The advice that you scoffed at as a kid, viewing it as “uncool” or “cramping your style”, becomes so precious that you wondered why you turned a deaf ear to it to begin with.  Realizing that as the years of your marriage progress, you will most likely do things like your mom, your grandma, your aunts and your friends- giving the indication that you may not have turned a deaf ear to everything they lovingly taught you, after all.  I continue to be so grateful for the women in my life.  They are examples of strength, compassion and love.  I learn so much about what marriage means from examples of women in my life.  Whether its a look, a touch, or a kiss... They show respect for their husbands for taking the lead in their family incredible gift that we have been given in marriage!  I’ve seen evidence so many times that this gift is not taken for granted, but highly valued.  Think about it:  Because you have listened and learned, observed and perhaps questioned... these are the things that shape you as a person to be ready to be a wife and a partner.  Then a potential husband catches your eye and has qualities that match your personality well, but also most important, he fits in with your goals, values and dreams.  Your dedication to each other becomes more solid through times spent together with conversations, laughter, tears, time with friends and families.  All of these building blocks become the stepping stones to a strong foundation of a firm, rich mutual love and respect....that can last the test of time. The handling of this gift takes much effort, but when that effort is are rewarded endlessly!

People with disabilities feel the same about marriage.  They want to be able to tell people how the girl met the boy, how they cooked together for the first time, had their first kiss...the first moment they realized they are crazy about each other and you can’t imagine life without them there. The butterflies in your stomach when you know you have found the perfect dress. I’ve been told by many of my friends that we are all “disabled” in some way, its just that some disabilities are more visible then others.  That’s what makes the accomplishment of a goal like finding that special someone so sweet!  Marriage is not a fairytale, its a building project...building a team, a foundation of trust and support.....a unified and fortified wall against anything that is a threat to undermining this gift.  A challenging, yet rewarding journey.  Everyone, disabled or not, should have a chance to have this gift.  The gift of love and marriage doesn’t just have to be a can be your reality!

*Picture Courtesy of Angela and Matt Sharp :)
**Article Originally appeared in Unique Me Magazine

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