Peering out of our descending aircraft this past Wednesday, my eyes gazed a scene unfamiliar to me…snow, ice and bitter cold.
Landing in Chicago for the 2013 TASH Conference, ready to meet up with old friends and colleagues, as well as meet new friends, I was unaware of the physical reminder I’d walk in and out of all week…reminding me of why we named this blog Come In From The Cold. Being from San Diego, the streets don’t look like, and certainly don’t feel like this.
Upon sitting down for a brief moment on Thursday morning, warming my bones from the cold outside, the warmth went beyond physical, infiltrating my thoughts and soul with a feeling of peace and gratitude. TASH represents “Equity, Opportunity and Inclusion for People with Disabilities”, yet it also represented a connected community of people for the week. Reunions of friends littered lobbies, hallways and elevators with hugs and smiles that filled the space with love and hope.
In the midst of break out sessions, learning conversations, planning and dreaming, people who have known each other for years, and those newly connected, held each other closely, listened to each other’s struggles, triumphs and valued every moment of it. For me, the lessons were many, bouncing off the walls of the downtown Chicago Hilton and dancing around my brain. The selfless brilliance of Aaron Johannes-Rosenburg, perhaps one of the busiest people in attendance, yet finding the time to give his gift of graphic facilitation, along with the amazing Beth Gallagher co-facilitating, to my dear friend April Doner and her desire to have her PATH done. Surrounded by some old friends, and some new, April sat in sacred space and danced through a process which laid out the future of her burgeoning career and amazing life. Aaron’s gift a reminder of what it truly means to put others first…the lesson of service.
The gift of facilitating reading of Waddie Welcome and the Beloved Community. Blessed with hearing this wonderful story, written by Tom Kohler and Susan Earl, back in 2010, I’ve carried the reading of it forward ever since, never ceasing to be amazed with the learning and power each time I hear it…always amazed with the resounding similarity of positive response amongst people hearing it for the first time. This story’s gift is the reminder of what it means to share a common humanity…the lesson of being open at all times.
The gift of teaching, an opportunity to present with my dear friend and mentor, Beth Gallagher. Blessed with the ability to do what we love, share our stories and hopefully inspire positive action moving forward. Ours is also an opportunity to evolve, shift and take action in the right direction in our own lives.
Isn’t this the opportunity laid out in front of us all? I think so. It is what I strive to embrace on a daily basis. Always looking forward, and never forgetting what we presently have…honoring and valuing those who surround us, who we interact with, dance with and live with. Most importantly to me, were those not in the cold this past week with me in Chicago, rather, my family…warm, back home in San Diego. Supportive beyond measure, my wife and best friend Jody along with my children. What I do, I do not only for me, but for and with them at all times. My hope is that the life we live together, will hopefully pave the way for a better world, and stronger communities for my children. Idealistic? You bet it is!!