Saturday, March 15, 2014

New Bloggitude and True Confessions:

I started this blog in 2005.  I can't believe it turns 9 in a few months! 

Needless to say, I was a completely different person back then. I feel like I'm a completely different person every time I take a long hiatus from writing.  After my last entry my mom asked me, "Aren't you going to do a catch up post?"

Well. The truth is... It has almost been A YEAR. I can't effectively "catch up" on everything that has happened.  But what I can do, is write about what I (and we) have learned and what I want to do with this blog moving forward!

What I will say, is, it has been an AMAZING year. We have come SO far, learned so much, and I really feel like we are living life here- not just figured out how to safely exist and how to not fail school. 

Over the last year, and specifically since the fall, I have had some serious realizations.  Safe to say some huge, possibly terrifying realizations that feel almost like confessions. Some of which may change people's perspectives of me. If that's the case, I probably have already unfriended you anyway.  I also believe the key to anything- policy change, program success, any healthy relationship, is honesty and transparency.  I can no longer maintain this blog if I don't acknowledge my whole self and how I feel about things

In September I began what's called a LEND fellowship.  It stands for Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities.  It is an intense 9 month program in which we learn about policy, leadership, genetics, law, etc all having to do with disabilities. It is Super intense but also wonderful, and it has brought me some incredible friends, colleagues and opportunities to make these self discoveries.  

So let's just get to the nitty gritty.

True Confessions of 2014:

1. I had no idea what "public health" was when I applied, got accepted, or began attending school. 
I suppose I should have taken a hint from myself when my grad school essay was about how I am not entirely sure how I ended up here and I was never one of those people who grew up with the goal of wanting to "help people."

Beyond children with special health needs, I had no idea what public health was. I truly wonder at this point if I were not at BUSPH with some amazing mentors, if I would still be in the program.  I have no interest in babies, and I often struggle with the idea that it somehow became my job to "change the world". Simply because of the path I followed to get where I am.

I have had conversations with some of my peers who have disabilities who have asked the same thing. How did we get in roles working with other people with severe disabilities (with little to NO training) simply because of what we have accomplished in our own life?  Does it make us bad people to say "um, white flag! This is not what I want to do!"  How is it different from a non-disabled person saying "I want to go into finance, not be a doctor?"

I think there is a certain snowball effect of advocacy in which people speak at one conference or show competence in one area (even just advocating for themselves) and others rely on them to be the voice of a generation.  No pressure or anything.

Are there different expectations for people with disabilities to "change the world?"

Recently I have been asked in a lot of my classes "what are your values?  What do you stand for?"  

And yet there is also an unspoken expectation that these values must be similar to everyone else who is here to "change the world"....

2.  Sometimes it is just too much. 
This is MY LIFE.  To quote someone I learned a whole lot from this past winter when we were discussing advocacy and looking for accessible housing, she had told her real estate broker, "this isn't fun for me.  I just want to be able to get in the door"

And I realized that sort of summed up my career. I am not in health care/ advocacy because I think it's fun or interesting. I am here because I have HAD TO BE. I am coming at this from a whole different perspective than my classmates. I didn't pick up a grad school brochure and decided I wanted to go to food banks or join the peace corps. I am here because of the work I have had to do FOR ME.  And when I am done my jobs of changing the system and my classes of learning about health disparities, I can't PUT IT AWAY. I then have to manage my own health care.

Recently we were told an assignment was supposed to be "fun."  It was something I already do for a career and often get compensated for.  Pretending to help an agency is not fun for me. It's a way of life. 
And it gets exhausting. And it's consuming. And it's depressing.

It makes you forget who you are. I know many people in the disability community who cannot answer "well, what do you LIKE to do?"  Because we are not asked that anymore. 

I also know people who cannot have a conversation or a Facebook post that is not about civil rights, access or how everyone is ignorant about disabilities.  And frankly, I'm just over it. 

3.  Now that this blog has begun to resemble a total off the hook rant, I want to tell you my purpose moving forward. 

And so everyone doesn't now think I'm a heartless bitch, ice queen (if you do... Again, I respect your opinion) 

What do I believe in?
  • I believe that all young people should be able to do whatever they want for their future.
  • I believe in self care for all the people changing the world, not just the execs who can afford "work retreats"
  • I want all young divas and gentlemen to feel loved and attractive no matter if they are in a wheelchair or not.
  • I believe people should have access adequate healthcare and insurance without being completely broken by the process of trying to obtain it.
  • I want to be able to pick up an issue of Glamour or The New Yorker without being judged for my decision. 

I want to recreate this blog. I want to tell you what I believe in, and I want you to know ME.  I want to celebrate and enjoy how far I have come instead of burning myself out on far we have to go. (Because trust me... I know)

Owen and I have made a goal that this summer will be about pursuing our interests, discovering what we "like to do" and who we are outside the "advocacy world."  And I want to take all of you along for the ride.

Hi. My name is Mallory.  I am getting my masters in Public Health at Boston University.  

I live with my amazing boyfriend of almost 3 years.  I love shopping, fashion, sushi, traveling or having a good staycation in our incredible city.  My family lives in Maine, and I now am in a long distance relationship with my diva cat Muffy. 

Summer is my favorite season, and I have been told I seem happier when I'm blonde.

We like going to movies, drinking beer, and making the most of every moment. 

Oh.... And sometimes we need to find an elevator.

.... I present to you.

Curb Cuts & Cocktails.


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