It is our hope that the following chapters will encourage and inspire its readers to know that each of us has something special to offer which is often packaged in a way that requires us to quiet the distractions of the world and look a little deeper into ourselves. Sometimes the occasional chatter in our heads will have us believe that we are helpless and hopeless because we see things differently. Allow these chapters to guide you to that internal place in your heart where you can both accept and embrace that who you are is ENOUGH and the “gift” that you have to contribute to humanity can only be developed from your willingness to be independent of the good opinion of others. Sometimes, even if there is no one to encourage you to take higher ground, be mindful that the journey from where you are to where you want to be is often achieved from accepting yourself just the way you are…
The Association of Image Consultants International [AICI]
special book proposal scheduled to be published in concurrence with the national day honoring people with disabilities; the following narrative represents a life changing realization and contribution from one of 30 authors from all over the world who is sharing her strength to one chapter of The Image + Disabilities Book. Each author, depending on their personal life’s experience used their disAbility to over-come a specific life challenge that may otherwise have caused them to give-up.
I joined the AICI Image + Disabilities Project and Philanthropy Committee to be a role-model for women challenged as a result of being Dyslexic and learning disabled. I wanted to encourage them to look beyond the present moment constraints and trust that they can build a productive and fulfilling life in spite of their possible poor academic and/or learning limitations. Although I struggled throughout my childhood, adolescence, and 3/4’s of my adult life with reading, comprehension, word retention, and low self-esteem, my greatest success and accomplishment came from the emotional satisfaction in not-giving-up and not accepting other people’s limiting beliefs to define the boundaries of my physical, mental and emotional challenges, or what I could accomplish.
I feel that the most important thing I can share with anyone, particularly women with children struggling with having to develop a different way of learning for themselves, work with your child/children to take higher ground -- whatever that looks like. For me it was when I became willing to chart my own course, explore new paths, and redefine my own objectives based on what it was that I wanted to accomplish; and being a social outcast and not fitting in may very well have been my saving grace.
As I became more steadfast in recognizing the importance of living my life “independent of the good opinion of others”, I stopped trying to make people like me, and began attracting people who shared a common interest in the goals of my objectives. Each time I embraced a challenge, I began by visualizing what I wanted the end result to look like. I eventually discovered that being Dyslexic and learning disabled provided me with an opportunity to be creative and achieving the picture that I had of the end result, without having to do it someone else’s way. Over time I began to recognize that I was able to set goals and achieve outcomes based on my skills instead of someone else’s value system of how it should have been accomplished; or based on my perceived limitations. Eventually I learned to cultivate a natural ability to develop the skills I needed to broaden my horizons and gain the respect from people in my industry; which helped me to become genuinely comfortable in unfamiliar situation.
The most important aspect of taking responsibility for the outcome of my life, was if what I wanted to accomplish required specific skills that I did not have, i.e. a higher level of academic and/or social decorum then was defined or omitted in my formative upbringing, I merely volunteered in areas within my community where I could find someone who could “show” me how to apply the application that I was a challenge. Consequently, I learned by allowing them to lead by example, and in so doing I redefined my ability to learn by aspiration and redefined it as an art.
Consequently, in an effort to create strategies that allowed me redefine and measure my success by non-traditional and conventional standards, I began to volunteer my time in areas of civic, social and community service. I credit the success of my accomplishments to be a direct result of my being Dyslexic and learning disabled and having the willingness to challenge myself to think “outside of the box”. It motivated me to aspire beyond the boundaries defined by my struggles; disappointments; helplessness; low self-esteem; lack of family support; financial deprivation; and/or the hopelessness of whatever the circumstance inherent in what I perceived were my obstacles. Instead, I expanded my vision to create a series of alternate approaches, and always keeping my focus on the end result that I wanted to achieve.
Therefore, the AICI Image + Disabilities Book Project/Philanthropy has given me an opportunity to share with other women who may be struggling with embracing the set backs of their journey, to believe that part of the hope for their future and well-being is to accept that when they are willing to take responsibility for their own destinies they can reinvent the outcome of their successes to accomplish the goals that they want to achieve; which are often far greater than the ones defined by either society or others who would describe “our” challenges by the limitations of their own short sighted beliefs.
When asked why I am so passionate about wanting to help women with learning disabilities, my reply was ...
Having been told by a teacher in the first or second grade of elementary school that I was an underachiever and that I would never amount to anything, her perception of me became the hallmark that echoed throughout my childhood. The insensitivity of that assessment as a child growing-up in a dysfunctional home without a support system became my reality. It reinforced my belief that I was an outcast and a misfit who did not fit in and would never amount to anything. Subsequently, it set the criteria for my having low self-esteem, an inferiority complex, limited academic intelligence, and extreme undeveloped interpersonal communications skills.
When asked if there was anything in my life or history that I would like to share, I could not resist the opportunity to share my journey ...
For the first 40-45 years of my life I struggled to fit in. My lack of self-worth and self-esteem was apparent to everyone, and believed that society was intolerant and unwilling to embrace people who were different. That perception became the contention of my personal point-of-reference that kept me stuck in a self-imposed isolation of depression, failure, and not wanting to live.
It was a sign of the times in the New York City public school system 65 -70 years ago, and educators did not know nor where they trained to recognize the characteristics of the symptoms of Dyslexia as a biological condition; because Dyslexia as an academic enigma had not been discovered back then. Consequently, teachers would isolate children who had the inability to learn didactically,and separated us from the mainstream students. Our malady continued to go undiagnosed and remedial services were never an option, particularly in rural, inner-cities, or any of the less affluent communities. Children in those days were labeled underachievers and often punished and disciplined. I was made to stand in the corner and wear a pointed dunce hat and was ridiculed, taunted and made fun of by my classmates. I was made the brunt of painful jokes by the other children. I was humiliated by my classmates and made aware that I was not being extended the same respect or considerations that were afforded students who were academically inapt and able to function didactically. Therefore, I became a loner in a society that praised and rewarded achieved accomplishments, and discounted the valor of the efforts that it took students like me to perform at all.
Therefore, at 16 years of age under the strain of academia I quit school, and spent the next 30 years trying to perfect the superficial appearance that I thought would make me accepted by others. I tried to emulate the personification that I saw looking from the outside at what I thought and perceived was normalcy. Even trying to dress the part with make-up, stylish clothes, and a phony exterior image, with all that I did to look the part I still was not accepted, and did not fit in. I had no way of knowing that wearing make-up, smoking, drinking alcohol and dressing-up in what what was the fad of the day. I thought I was in vogue didn't know that that I needed a paradigm shift in order to interact with people on social levels where I had no former experience; and it would have to begin with self-honesty and self-acceptance. Therefore, in addition to suffering severe chronic depression, I had no self-confidence, and extreme low self-esteem. Over time I learned to mask my pain and imitate what I thought other people wanted me to be. But because my inability to conceptualize written text was so limited, I became defensive when I could not fake knowing how to make small talk or engage in normal social situations that involved interpersonal communications and/or other personal development skills that the average person learned in their childhoods that they took for granted in their adult lives; so I became a recluse and social outcast at a time when most young women my age were dating, getting married, or going off to college.
What I love most about my understanding of The AICI Image + disAbilities Book Project is its attempt to create an awareness that will more accurately creat, describe, and present a human tapestry of the people who are defined by the texture of the fabric that cloaks “the” images of people with disabilities, and exhibit us as an artist’s rendition of a portrait of humanity. For me, the publication is so much more meaningful because its focus has been expanded to include experiences from those of us whose voices have hitherto been over powered by a consensus that traditionally portrays being learning disabled in a sterile environment defined mostly by academic ideology.
Why should the world read this book?
One of the philosophical truths of the Universe is that “everybody has something, and nobody has everything” and if we were living in a perfect world where everyone instinctively interacted with each other and shared their talents so each person could accomplish whatever their individual task at hand was, which for clarity let's entitle that distinction a “calling”, and accept that each person is distinguished by their “calling”.
Therefore, in the context of the AICI Image + Disabilities Book Project, I believe that is publication can become a living document to the testament of the synergy that is released through the power of the heart, and will reinforce what can happen when the strength of each person’s conviction to fulfill the task that “they” were called to earth to do. This book will highlight some of the amazing ways that people with every imagined mental, physical and emotional challenge can come together and recognize -- and be recognized for their strengths of their “calling” as a gift to humanity.
The AICI Image + Disabilities Book Project appears to have been written so those of us who have been set apart by our “callings” can exhibit our special needs, human frailties, and challenges to support others among us, who appear to have fewer or less of a obvious resource network. I believe that we may very well have all been called to help each other to achieve each of our unique tasks at hand. It has been my experience that whenever I have embraced my disability with sensitivity, I develop a deeper and richer insight into the simple beauties that enhance my life.
The AICI Image + Disabilities Book Project is also intended to become a Resource Manual for people who may be struggling in different areas of their lives with a disability that may require them to redefine their boundaries to accommodate an obstacle that may be limiting their ability to achieve their life’s “calling”. They can derive comfort in knowing that no matter wherever they are on their journey, they can make this their point-of-reference and continue to move on.
Looking back, I now recognize in retrospect that there were many signs in my life that I missed, and merely accepted as a by-product of the dysfunction of my background and its cultural mores. I also see a correlation between my being Dyslexic and learning disabled and the many underlying factors in both my academic and social life that manifested in the domestic violent marriage that I and many women enter into who suffer from low self-esteem, poor interpersonal communications and personal developmental skills.
Unfortunately, the cyclical effects and repercussions of my undiagnosed Dyslexia; chronic depression; low self-esteem and alcohol did not fill the void or allow me to escape from indescribable emptiness and loneliness that I suffered. My desperate state of being was an open invitation that made me vulnerable and an easy target for anyone who had an ulterior motive or hidden agenda. As hard as I tried, I was unable to protect my children from becoming statistics of my emotional despair. I see the legacy being perpetuated in now a 4th generation; it just wears a different mask. My turning point came in my 40’s when I discovered that my learning disability, anxiety, depression, etc. was related to a condition characteristic of a condition called Dyslexia.
Subsequently, when I was in my 60’s I was tested at the New York City University Optical Learning Disabilities Center and they discovered that my inability to read as a child was caused by a weak muscle that prevented my eyes from tracking letters on a page in groupings to form words. Unfortunately it caused my brain to only recognize one letter at a time and prevented me from comprehending most things that I read. Although I do not transpose letters I am challenged when forced to perform in formal didactic environments, and ultimately discovered pictures, music, and the tones of voices as my chosen language of communication.
Therefore, once I learned and accepted my academic limitations, I was able to embrace being Dyslexic and learning disabled as a “GIFT”, and began to move beyond the didactic definitions imposed on me by the standard concepts associated with being an under achiever; and I began to design strategies to survive in a “word” based society. Within the scope of being Dyslexic and/or considered learning disabled I finally discovered my own voice. I came to accept that my brain waves function parallel to each other rather than the cross alternate waves between my left and right brain hemispheres, as well as having a weak muscle in my eyes that do not group letters. Therefore, instead of my brain recognizing letters and words my brain is stimulated by soft music, colors, pictures, tones of voices, and organizational structure all of which have become my brain’s preferred learning method and tools of my unique intelligence.
Although reading, reading comprehending, and retention had been a challenge, I have read the following books that helped me to focus on developing new beginnings? (Also available on on DVD or audio CD’s)
- Siddhartha By: Hermann Hessen
- The Best of Everything By: Rhonda Jaffee
- Jonathan Livingston Seagull By: Richard Bach
- Touched by an Angel By: Martha Williamson
- When Lovers are Friends By: Merle Shain
- Chocolate for a Woman’s Soul By: Kay Allenbaugh
- How to be Your Own Best Friend By: Mildred Newman & Berkowitz
- How to Make A Man Fall in Love With You By: Tracy Cabot, Ph.D
- The Secret By: Rhonda Byrnes
- Notes to Myself By: Hugh Prather
- I Dream a World By: Brian Lanker
- How to Romance the Woman You Love By : Lucy Sanna with Kathy Miller
- A Return to Love By: Marianne Williamson
- Take Time for Your Life By: Cheryl Richardson
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People By: Stephen R. Covey
- The Wayne Dyer CD audio Book Series By: Dr. Wayne Dyer
The benefit(s) of this submission for women with Dyslexia, and to the world is in developing seminars, motivational speaking events, and cost effective online personal development workshops that focus on women in transition and women with Dyslexia who may want to reinvent their lives.
As the online personal development curricular develops, it is my hope that it will help women with disAbilities to aspire to live a more fulfilling emotional life. The curricular will focus on helping women to develop a positive self-image and a greater awareness of their inner strengths.
The FREE online workshops will offer basic interpersonal communication skills to help women develop a more positive relationship with themselves and their physical surroundings. Hopefully, women who may have otherwise fallen between the cracks will hopefully learn how to identify their unique “GIFTS”, and how their particular disAbility can benefit themselves and humanity. I believe with a clearer awareness, understanding, and acceptance of themselves, many more women can begin to recognize that they don't have to continue to force themselves to try and fit into environments that are outside of their ability to fill. They can and will learn to identify people, places, and careers that need the skills and "GIFTS" that they have to offer.
It is my contention that “we” don’t become what we want “we” become what we believe. And, if this model is made available to community service programs that endeavor to serve the needs of women in our communities, the outcome could become a standard tool to help women to break the cycles of despair and support them to save their children from the perils that they have unwittingly passed down from generation to generation. We all have a stake in this phenomena, otherwise the mores will continue to taunt the personal and professional progress that prevents many women from taking higher ground. Ultimately as a standard course at its most fundamental level of influence – the family, I believe that these efforts will contribute to re-building our communities one-woman-at-a-time.
The benefit of this project to the world will establish an
ISO 9001 2000 international standard as a model of personal excellence that would offer FREE computer based interpersonal communications, personal development, and image enhancement workshops that could effectively be duplicated, in communities, cities, states, providences, and countries all over the world. By merely installing a geographic pull down menu and a language translation tool on a host website, it would permit participants to select programs in multiple languages. The cost effectiveness to participate in AWC online workshops in the convenience and ease of their own homes will save government(s) billions of dollars in grants, and allow women an opportunity all over the world to bond with each other using the same standard of values for everyone. One standard. One voice. One people ...
Consider consciously embracing the following 15 statements as a guide, one per day, and recognize how you might use them to bring a new awareness of how you see your life, and your relationship to the world, and your immediate environment.
"Women Change the World Everyday ..."
"A Woman's Corner"
- We don’t become what we want, we become what we believe
- If you don’t stand for something, you will settle for anything
- You grow like who you’re with. If you are an Apple, be an APPLE, don’t try to be a grape
- The end result will always reflect the quality of effort that goes in
- Every obstacle is an opportunity, and every hardship is a blessing
- The reward is and has to be in the deed. Otherwise you will become tired, angry, or bitter, and feel unappreciated without ever experiencing the joy of the task
- Non-forgiveness is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die
- If you can’t commit to something big, commit to something small
- You never get a second chance to make a first impression
- God gave everybody something, and nobody everything
- You can tell what a person wants, by what they have
- If you want to know someone intimately, listen to how they speak about others
- We learn what we teach
- Everything we do is a practice shot, and every time we practice we get better
- If you do what you love, and love what you do – you will never work a day in your life.
The Law of Attraction is a universal standard that responds to everyone the same way, and without discernment …
"Women Change the World Everyday ..."
"A Woman's Corner"