Oprahâ€™s final show is fast approaching. One of my dreams, at one point in my life as an ultimate Oprah fan, was to be interviewed by this self-made woman. While I was once pretty close to achieving this milestone, realizing this dream looks less likely as the hours tick by…so I have decided, instead, to imagine what might have been:
Oprah: Today I have the pleasure of interviewing a remarkable woman who, in spite of her parents being told to institutionalize her when she was a small child because she was too disabled to amount to anything, has proven all of the naysayers wrong. She has lived her life to the fullest and with meaning, which she shares in her autobiography Iâ€™ll Do It Myself â€“ a humorous and inspiring read. Please welcome author, blogger and speaker Glenda Watson Hyatt.
Glenda: Thank you for this opportunity and for making my dream come true today.
O: The back cover on your autobiography Iâ€™ll Do It Myself reads, in part, â€œGlenda intimately shares her story to show others cerebral palsy is not a death sentence, but rather a life sentence.â€ Cerebral palsy is a life sentence, not a death sentence â€“ can you explain what you mean by that?
G: When most people first see me, they see my chair, my jerky movements, they may hear my apparently unintelligible speech – and they tend to assume that I canâ€™t do much, that my life isnâ€™t meaningful or fulfilling. That, in a sense, I have been handed a death sentence, trapped inside a body that doesnâ€™t work. When, in reality, nothing is further from the truth. Yes, cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition, but it hasnâ€™t stopped me from living my life to its fullest, whether that was horseback riding and camping as a child, spending seven years at university getting my Bachelor degree, or more recently, ziplining across Robson Square in downtown Vancouver during the 2010 Olympic Games and traveling solo across the continent to give presentations, recently in Chicago, Alexandria (West Virginia), Austin and San Diego.
O: When one finishes reading Iâ€™ll Do It Myself, you want them to come away with what?
G: I am not looking for them to compare their situation with mine â€“ that really bugs me when people measure their struggles against mine or someone elseâ€™s. Iâ€™d rather they put things into perspective within their own lives, within their own world. I want them to come away with hope, that amazing things are entirely possible and within their reach.
O: As you may know, I had a book deal to write my autobiography when I was about 40. But I decided against it because I felt I hadn’t lived enough yet to warrant an autobiography. Instead I ended up doing a cook book or something like that. Why did you write the book when you did?
G: I was 10 years old when the dream struck to write a book about my life to help others. For the next 30 years, I daydreamed, learned, took publishing courses, wrote, edited, asked a ton of questions and procrastinated a whole lot. Finally, in October 2005, after listening to messages from both you and Reverend Robert Schuller â€“ at that time you both were saying things like â€œLive your best lifeâ€, â€œFollow your dreamâ€, and â€œLive your passionâ€ – I publicly announced that I would launch my book on my 40th birthday, a little more than a year away. That definitely kicked my butt in gear! I actually launched in early December 2006, only a few weeks after my birthday.
I felt that point in my life was the right time to put out a book; that kids and young adults with disabilities could benefit from my experiences to date, rather than waiting until I was a more â€œappropriateâ€ age for writing an autobiography (whatever age that is). I didnâ€™t want to miss the opportunity to reach those people now. And, I figured it would leave room for writing a sequelâ€”
O: Will there be another book?
G: Quite possibly. One idea has been niggling me for a while; a more focused look at one aspect of my life. The challenge is finding even more time to write, on top of writing for my two blogs. But, yes, Iâ€™m getting closer to giving the idea more attention, somehow.
O: You are such an inspiration to others. What inspires you?
G: Thank you. I am inspired when I witness others living their passion. When they so love what they are doing, when they are so driven and focused on what they are doing that their passion is oozing from them. That’s what inspires me.
O: What do you know for sure?
G: So much human potential is wasted because people fail to look beyond the disability to see the ability, the drive, and the insights. This is inherent in the education system, the social services system and the corporate world. Rather than discounting and devaluing based on disability, if every individual was encouraged to rise up to meet expectations, imagine all that may be accomplished, the ideas conceived, the secrets of life revealed.
If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.