"All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming." –Helen Keller
Overcoming her disabilities led Helen Keller to do great things with her life. Last week, in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, Red Room asked its members to blog about how being different has driven them or someone they admired to achieve great things as well. We were pleased to get more than sixty responses. In addition to the posts that came withing the time period for this topic, three were posted earlier in the year that are so extraordinary that we felt the need to include them here:
- Red Room member Evan Hayden Pullins's June 15th remembrance of an alcoholic father is, in the words of one commenter, "award-worthy." Be sure not to miss "A Moment of Clarity."
- Author Harrison Solow (whose new book Felicity & Barbara Pym is getting raves) posted two remarkable entries: "Good-Humoured Men" is about the strange feeling of not being able to bear good people; and "The Outer Limits" asks the question "All right. You've been given a psychiatric diagnosis; now what?"
A few blog posts stood out for us:
Lana Nieves has been a long-time supportive Red Room member, and it's her association with San Francisco's Independent Living Resource Center that led us to this blog topic. On top of it all, she posted a tremendously moving blog entry paying tribute to her mother, who passed away in late June. Thank you, Lana, for "It's Normal."
"Running circles around" Julie Genovese's childhood were "words like midget, shrimpy, freak. The doctors threw in a few more: deformed, abnormal, birth DEFECT." Her story of being born with spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia (dwarfism) is simply inspirational.
Lana and Julie will receive copies of inspiring books by Red Room authors. It was only when John Elder Robisonturned forty that a therapist told him that the "odd habits" that had made him a social outcast his whole life came from a form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome. He describes his life before and after this diagnosis in Look Me in the Eye. Robert Rummel Hudson's memoir of coming to terms with his daughter's rare neurological disorder is entitled Schuyler's Monster: A Father's Journey With His Wordless Daughter.
Here are some other fantastic posts on the topic of being different:
- Edmund Jenks decided to cover a NASCAR racer shakedown trial on a desert course. The amount of detail in "Being Different—Hershel McGiff" is extraordinary.
- Karina B. Harris tells what it was like to be the sole American pupil at a school in India in "Foreigner in a Foreign Land."
- Two unmarried aunts were the inspiration for Wendy Braitman's learned post, "Goodbye to the Spinster."
- Alissa M. McElreath makes parenting an autistic child come alive in "Rough Patch."
- At thebeginning Donna E. Bartley's story "Adolescent Outcast," you think you know who the different child is, but you have to read to whole thing to know for sure.
- Find out why people can't quite believe what Linda Brown Holt tells them about her childhood "Being Different."
- Madeline Sharples shares the story of a young man who was extraordinary in life and in death. Don't miss "Happily Different."
- Unraveling the secrets of her Slovenian ancestors elicited a two-part post from Blair Kilpatrick. Enjoy "Searching for Josefa" and "Searching for Josefa, continued."
You can read all the being different blog posts here. I hope you'll choose your favorite, and leave a comment letting the blogger know why you enjoyed it. See all of Red Room's past blog topics listed on here, and suggest a few more in the comments. Thanks as always for blogging!
–Huntington W. Sharp, Senior Editor, Red Room