Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Forget Making New Year’s Resolutions, Embrace Your Dream – The North Star for Your Life’s Journey

Filed under: Motivation — by Glenda at 11:51 pm on Friday, December 30, 2016

Forget making New Year’s resolutions that will be broken before all of the holiday bills arrive. Or, choosing the one-word or three-words for the year that will slip your mind when life gets busy or knocks you flat on your butt.

Rather, embrace your audacious, true dream that will guide your journey of Life for the next five years, the next decade or the next quarter century.

Why a Dream?

For thousands of years, humans have relied on the North Star to guide their journeys. Travelers may take side trips or detours, often experiencing unplanned adventures along the way, but that bright light shining from the heavens above always brings them back on course.

Our aspirations, our dreams, are our North Star, guiding us through our lives. Although we may waver or stray, achieve other exciting goals, trek on an adventure or two – or even a misadventure – our dream is always present and guides our life’s course, if we are willing to listen, pay attention and follow.

Without a dream, we meander and drift through life without a direction. Our dream – like the North Star to the travelers of yesteryear – is not a luxury, but rather a necessity.

What, Actually, is a Dream?

With so many aspirations, goals and even fantasies swirling around in our heads, how do we know which dream is our true North Star?

In my signature talk “Finding Your True Dream, The North Star for Your Life,” I explain in great detail the five elements that make up a dream.

Elements of a dream
(Click on image to enlarge)

Briefly, a dream:

  1. must be enormous, bold, audacious – keeping in mind that size is relative, what might be audacious for someone might not be so for someone else;
  2. contains a minuscule dose of reality – which differentiates a dream from a fantasy, however, on occasion, what is not reality or not possible today might become reality tomorrow thanks to a new technology, discovery, skill or opportunity – making a dream now possible to achieve;
  3. presses us to grow and expand way beyond our comfort zones;
  4. demands other individuals be involved – if one person can accomplish a dream alone, then it is not bold and audacious enough;
  5. ignites a spark, a passion within us – like a shining star. We smile and our eyes twinkle when we talk about our dreams.

My dream is to become a well-paid, internationally-known, motivational speaker. Although this journey has only just begun, it has already taken me to amazing places and I am looking forward to experiencing where all my North Star guides me.

What is your true dream, your North Star?

I’d love to hear all about it!


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Letter to Santa 2016

Filed under: General — by Glenda at 10:53 pm on Friday, December 23, 2016

Three candles in tjarsDear Santa,

2016 has been a very strange years; one of those “best of times, worst of times” scenarios.

I am saddened by the unrest, hate and destruction that has gripped seemingly much of the world this year. Events and actions that are beyond comprehension.

2016 was also a year of much loss, both of distant celebrities and dear loved ones. Many tears fell this year.

On the bright and personal side, I had an amazing year! Less than three short years after receiving a communication app that truly fits my needs, I won the ISAAC 2016 Consumer Lecture Award with my lecture “Finding Your True Dream, The North Star for Your Life’s Journey“. That lecture has since become my signature talk because it is so me! I am looking forward to sharing it with many people in the coming year.

Santa, I would like to ask for a magical soothing balm that will ease fears, alleviate hate and heal broken hearts. I would love to give such a gift to countless friends and loved ones; surely, your elves can figure out the recipe. And, several paying speaking gigs, too, would be awesome!

Wishing you and your reindeers safe travels.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.

With love from,
Glenda

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An Accessible Canada Means Canadians with Communication Disabilities Are Heard, Recognized and Valued

Filed under: Advocacy — by Glenda at 7:51 pm on Friday, December 2, 2016

Minister for Sports and Persons with Disabilities Carla Qualtrough

(Photo credit: @AccessibleGC)

Minister for Sports and Persons with Disabilities Carla Qualtrough and her team are holding public consultations around the country and gathering thoughts, perspectives and suggestions for the forthcoming Canadians with Disabilities Act, for an #AccessibleCanada for all.

Last Saturday, a public consultation session was held in Vancouver, British Columbia. I had the opportunity to share the assumptions, misperceptions and barriers that I face living with a speech disability. Click to listen to my words.

Glenda Watson Hyatt

(The transcript is below. Please ignore the extra commas; they help to make a synthesized voice sound a teeny more expressive.)

Good afternoon! I am Glenda Watson Hyatt, a self advocate, an author, and a motivational speaker.

I have both a physical, and a speech disability. Of the two, living with a communication disability, is the most frustrating and isolating. Simple tasks like inquiring about a government service, calling for a taxi cab, or even ordering a chai tea latte, can be an exasperating ordeal.

Like other Canadians living with speech and language disabilities, I am often assumed to be cognitively impaired, or deaf, in which case, gesturing ensues, an impromptu game of charades. Friends with communication disabilities, have been assumed drunk, and the police or paramedics needlessly called.

Our methods of communicating are often denied. For example, on one trip to the emergency room, my husband, who also uses a wheelchair for mobility, was told to wait in the waiting room, because there was not enough space for both of our chairs. We attempted to explain that, I needed him for assistance with communication, yet he was still told to leave. Imagine a person who is deaf being denied a sign language interpreter. The situation is similar, yet my need for assistance with communication, is typically not recognized. My communication access requirement is not protected.

Other medical doctors have refused to speak directly with me. They do not seem to understand that, even though they do not understand my speech, I can hear them and understand them.

When medical professionals do not understand, do not respect, that hearing and cognition, are not necessarily impacted, by communication disabilities, then there is little chance, the general public will understand, and respect this, without an ongoing, widespread, information and awareness campaign.

This lack of understanding, of my actual disability, makes complex endeavours, like finding meaning employment, extremely difficult, if not impossible.

I am struggling to get by on social assistance, not because I lack education, skills, talents, motivation, or technology to accommodate my disability. I am struggling on social assistance, because I could not find an employer, who saw beyond the assumptions, and misperceptions, of my disability.

Even within the disability community, people with communication disabilities, are routinely overlooked and excluded. The non partisan, Barrier Free Canada, a major driving force for the Canadians with Disabilities Act, states in its principles that, “The Canadians with Disabilities Act should apply to all persons with disabilities whether they have a physical, mental, sensory, learning and, or intellectual disability, or mental health condition.” Canadians with communication disabilities, are not mentioned.

What would it take to fix these barriers?

Begin by following, Barrier Free British Columbia’s lead, which includes in its principles, “The Act will apply to all persons with disabilities whether their disability is considered physical, sensory, cognitive, communication, or mental health related.”

Canadians with speech and language disabilities, need to be recognized, to be heard, to be included. We may not be the most vocal group, but we still need to be at the table, to be involved, and to be contributing. We need to have, our communication access requirements, acknowledged, and protected.

Thank you!


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Daring to Follow a Dream Leads to Deliciously Ironic Employment

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 2:48 pm on Monday, October 31, 2016

Glenda speaking on stage, with the text "I AM a speaker, no matter what!" superimposed on photo

Back in high school, public speaking was definitely not on my list of top career choices. It ranked way down near the bottom with neurosurgery. Likewise, my top career options were also rather limited.

As you may know, I have cerebral palsy, which, for the most part, affects my balance, muscle coordination and speech. Back when I was searching for employment opportunities, entry level office positions – my only glimmer of possibility – required a minimum typing speed and the ability to answer the telephone. However, my left thumb – the only digit I can use for typing – did not meet expectations, and my unique Glenda-ish did not make the phone my best friend. I was disqualified from most positions before the conversation even got to my abilities, talents and interests.

I persevered and some time after completing my Bachelor of Arts degree from Simon Fraser University, I did land a part-time job at my alma mater, making the existing career mentor program accessible to students and alum with disabilities; a job I loved. When the project funding ended, so did my job.

After much searching, I could not find another employer willing to give me an opportunity to prove what I was capable of offering as an employee. Self-employment was my only option.

I competently completed any work opportunity that came my way: writing a literature review for a homelessness project, editing sermons for a pastor’s book, writing articles for various websites, maintaining a website for a non-profit arts organization. To me, those were survival jobs – equivalent to pumping gas and waiting tables – they put some food on the table, but not much more.

Gradually I built a solid reputation as a web accessibility consultant; making websites accessible to people with all kinds of disabilities. Web accessibility was an understandable career path for me and there is still much left to be done in the field but, after fourteen years, I felt so burnt out that if I had to explain the need for text descriptions of images one more time, I would stab my eyes out with a yellow HB pencil.

Advances in technology – namely, the iPad and the text-to-speech app Proloquo4Text – have enabled me to take my career in a bold new direction; one that was impossible, inconceivable back in high school. That of being a well-paid, internationally-known motivational speaker to inspire people who are silently screaming “There’s more to me!” and, yet, they are standing in their own way from moving forward.

In August, I traveled to Toronto for the honour and privilege of delivering the ISAAC 2016 Consumer Lecture as a plenary session at the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) Conference. I delivered Finding Your True Dream, The North Star for Your Life’s Journey – which has since become my signature talk – to approximately 600-800 people.

Here is a brief clip:

Being up there on the stage, sharing my story and the five elements of a dream, felt so right. This is what I am meant to do, where I am meant to be, at this point in my life. It is a destiny I fully accept and embrace, and an irony I savour as absolutely delicious.

Sometimes finding employment means daring to follow a dream, no matter what!


For more information about my signature talk Finding Your True Dream, The North Star for Your Life’s Journey, please download my speaker onesheet. Feel free to share with anyone you know who is looking for speakers for conferences or events. Thanks kindly.

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Move Over Scissors, The Nimble is Cutting It!

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 7:21 pm on Monday, April 18, 2016

A pair of scissors and a NimbleMore often than not, using scissors when left-handed is frustrating. The scissors tend to fold paper, rather than cut it. Add in limited hand function due to cerebral palsy and some tasks, like opening a plastic package, leaves me screwed.

Enter the Nimble – a cutting tool that slips over the fingertip.

When I was given the opportunity to try one, I said, “Yes, please!” (In the spirit of full disclosure, this is, in essence, a sponsored review, in that I did received one Nimble for free.)

Nimble on Glenda's forefinger

Right out of the envelope, I was able to use the small gadget to open the enclosed packages of the sweets.

Since then I have been using the “1 finger cutting tool” to open packets in the kitchen every day. And I am constantly finding new uses for it.

The actual cutting bit is like the very tip of a cat claw. Because it is so small, there is no (or, a minuscule) chance of cutting myself. Yet, it will cut what I need cutting: paper, plastic, cellophane, foil, tape, and such.

I am looking forward to packing the Nimble in my bag when I head off to Toronto this summer. Scissors aren’t permitted through airport security, but this small cutting tool will likely get through without a second glance. Opening the hotel’s tiny soap bars will no longer be a hassle!

The creator Simon Lyons and his company VERSION 22 are running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to get the Nimble into production. If you feel so inclined, please check out the Nimble’s Kickstarter campaign.

I am eager to having Nmbles in several places throughout my home so that one is always handy when I need it!

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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