Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

2012: Time with Family and Friends, Memorable

Filed under: Motivation — by Glenda at 6:51 pm on Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Reflecting upon the last year, 2012 was a good one. Amazing, in fact! Adopting the 4-Hour Workday (although not always perfectly implemented) and letting go of one career choice in favour of a new adventure have positively changed my energy and my outlook for the upcoming year.

Before diving into 2013, I’d like to share highlights from 2012, many of which are represented in photos.

On beautiful days Darrell and I grabbed our respective cameras and headed out somewhere we could easily get to. These photo wheels became an outside activity we enjoyed together.

One of my favourite photos from the year remains:

Glenda peering through her camera mounted to her scooter with Gorilla tripod

What makes me grateful is that, because of the technology – in my case, my scooter, my Gorilla tripod and my point-n-click camera, Darrell and I now have a hobby we share.

Meike and I have been friends since senior high school. Although we don’t see each other that often, we always have fun, have a few laughs and find trouble! (Not necessarily in that order…) This time around it was the Cloverdale Parade and Rodeo (read the full account of our escapade):

Glenda and Meike

Hands down, my favourite place any Saturday afternoon…!

Glenda standing up to receive kisses and a nuzzle from a horse

And…there is nothing like saying "Hell, ya!" when an opportunity presents itself…

new-ride1

Thanks to friend and mentor John Foliot, early July Found me in San Francisco and then in San Jose to give two presentations. The first presentation was for a corporate client, where one individual in attendance was the son of the founders of a well-known American coffeehouse chain. Had I known that beforehand, I might have rethought using this photo in my PowerPoint:

Several Starbucks and Tim Horton's coffee cups on my desk

In between events, John and I had a bit time to kill and he asked if there was anything I would like to see. I did! I didn’t need to think about the question and let an opportunity go wasted.

His top-drawer service included a car tour of Stanford, Cupertino, and the Apple campus (not necessarily in that order) and then…the Golden Gate Bridge! The weather wasn’t the best for taking in the entire view of the bridge, but that didn’t matter. What did matter is that two friends shared the moment together. (John had yet to see the bridge despite living in the Bay Area for six years.) Sometimes it isn’t the photo that is great, but rather the memory that it represents:

Foggy Golden Gate Bridge viewed from inside car

Without any question, Saturday, July 28th, 2012, will be remembered by many for years to come! Thanks to the kind folks at Wish Upon a Hero and many others, I conquered the Rocky Steps in Philadelphia in a mere 7 minutes.

Here’s a brief recap of the day…

Standing between Rocky impersonator Mike Kunda and the inspiration for the Rocky movies Chuck Wepner – an-art-imitating-life kind of moments – was one of my most humbling and awe-inspiring moments…

Mike Kunda, Glenda Watson Hyatt and Chuck Wepner standing at the top of the Rocky steps

From Philadelphia I went on to Pittsburgh for ISAAC (International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication). That conference was tough because I went alone and none of my peeps were there, and because I was thrown a few curve balls as a presenter. But I did meet a few new friends:

  • Lisa, an Australian Sex Party member, is demolishing the myth “No sex, please. We’re disabled.” Need I say more? Smile We had a great conversation the last night with Proloquo2Go on our respective iDevices until, after one margarita, the text on her iPhone became way too small for me to read. There is nothing like two new friends bonding by sharing one iPad (with large text) to communicate. It’s likely a good thing the conference ended when it did, otherwise we might have found trouble together – or trouble might have found us.
  • Marlena Katena epitomizes “Grab life by its balls and live it." Watch her theaacjournalist channel on YouTube and be inspired.
  • 4-year-old Leo stole my heart. (Sorry dear, but he did!) Having a conversation with our two iPads was definitely THE special moment of the conference. I struggled hard to swallow the tears. He is light years ahead by beginning his communication journey with an iPad. I love this news story his mom sent to me: horseback riding with his iPad mounted to the horse. Light years ahead! (In the video, he is the boy in the blue jacket.)

    You go, Leo! You are amazing. Dream big and you will go onto achieve many great things.

In September, as a delayed celebration of our 14th anniversary (I was in Pittsburgh for our actual anniversary. Oops!), Darrell and I joined Mom and Auntie Fern for one of their “ferry cruises”. With miles of water between them, the two sisters have found a way to connect by visiting on the BC Ferries, while enjoying the buffet. Ingenious!

On our return trip, we were lucky to pass a pod of orca whales. The captain slowed the ferry so that we all had an opportunity to marvel at the sight of whales breaching. Imagine whale watching for the price of a BC Ferries’ passenger fare! This is one of amazing photos Darrell shot:

Three orca whales

Mother and daughter enjoying time together on the water: priceless!

Mom and daughter enjoying time on the water

The special commonality amongst these highlights is they are all memories created by taking time to spend time with friends and family, away from online. And that is so valuable these days.

Who is up for creating memories together in 2013?

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Communication Equality in Social Interactions: What Does that Really Look Like?

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 11:22 pm on Saturday, November 17, 2012

Reflecting on yesterday’s post Communication Devices: An Communication Equivalent, But An Equal?, I realized how it doesn’t portray my complete SOBCon experience.

Despite a moment or two of conversation ineptness, the last SOBCon was actually the best one for me, personally; largely because of my communication equivalent: my iPad.

Because of my iPad and because of some confidence accumulated over previous experiences, I participated in the Mastermind sessions – in both contributing and receiving – like never before.

Because of my communication equivalent, I was able to carry on several conversations during the informal times of the weekend.

Because of my chosen communication device, I was able to share my one main takeaway with the entire group – something that was not quite as possible merely two and a half years ago. Before my iPad, I likely would have passed on that opportunity and the pass would likely have been accepted by the group. This time around, my participation was expected and my method of contribution was accepted because I was surrounded by people who would not let me fail. The significance of that milestone was not lost as I held back a high-water moment.

Perhaps it isn’t a matter of whether or not communication equality exists, but rather what does equality look like in a particular social interaction, in a particular moment.

If equality existed, perhaps we would not experience the diverse richness in social interactions.

What are your thoughts? Share in the comment section below.


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Communication Devices: An Communication Equivalent, But An Equal?

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 6:33 pm on Friday, November 16, 2012

Digital Outcasdts book coverEarlier this week I had the privilege of previewing one chapter from Kel Smith’s upcoming book Digital Outcasts: Moving Technology Forward Without Leaving People Behind, which addresses key trends in technology and their relevance to forgotten populations.

The entire chapter is refreshingly insightful, but one sentence in particular jumped out at me:

Achieving equivalency with technology is not necessarily the same as achieving equality, when interacting with others in social situations.

Thank you, Kel! You obviously get it.

Many people don’t. They seem to think: here’s the device, you can communicate and everything is all fixed now.

It’s not that simple; using a communication device during face-to-face communication, especially in a group situation, adds another layer of complexity. When an individual needs to tap out a response on a device while the conversation continues around her means the time-delayed response appears disjointed, even inappropriate, in the flow of the conversation. Her contribution might not have the same impact, value or meaning as it would have had she been able to interject verbally.

One-on-one can be a little more equal because, with the back and forth nature of the conversation, it is easier for one person to wait for response than for a group to pause the conversation while a response is prepared.

But, there are times when even one-on-one interactions are difficult. Take this one example: while attending SOBCon in Portland a couple of months ago, one fellow kindly came over to introduce himself. We knew each other from online and I had seen him at other events, but we hadn’t yet introduced ourselves, until now. As he stood there in front of me, my iPad at the ready, I knew I should say something intelligent, to ask him something, to hold up my side of the conversation. I mentally ran through a list of possible questions I could ask him: No, he is probably tired of talking about that. No, that is lame. No, that probably isn’t any of my business. Nope, I’ve got nothing. After a few awkward moments, he made his leave. I felt like a total dolt.

My iPad was on and ready, like it had been all morning. I had the ability to communicate. I had enough communication skills to know I had to take a role, a responsibility, in keeping the  conversation going. I even had a few possible questions in mind. But I lacked the confidence to ask one of them. I lacked the confidence because, really, I haven’t had that much experience carrying on a two-way conversation with someone not well-versed in Glenda-ish. I have had my iPad for only 2.5 years now; having the ability to converse with those beyond who understand my unique dialect is still new to me and I am still learning. And, that is hard to admit at the age of 46; an age when carrying on an intelligent conversation shouldn’t require so much conscious effort.

The iPad affords me a communication equivalent, but, because of the nuances of verbal communication (and the temporary lack of experience), I don’t feel my tapped responses are as equal as verbal ones – in some situations.

I look forward to reading Kel’s entire book. Digital Outcasts can be pre-ordered from the Elsevier Store.

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

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Optometrist Fails Eye Exam, Patient Enlightens

Filed under: Advocacy — by Glenda at 9:15 pm on Friday, October 19, 2012

Glenda wearing her new purple reading glassesMonday was exam day for my eyes. It didn’t go as well as it could have. Not because my eyes did poorly, but because of the body they inhabit. The jerky, constantly moving, speech impaired body that the optometrist was not enlightened to deal with.

She spoke loudly, simply and repetitively as if me being speech impaired also meant I was impaired cognitively. She admonished me for not keeping my head in the correct position and for not opening my eyes for the drops.

It took all I had within me to a) not yell something back at her, and/or b) not burst into tears. I left the office feeling devalued, depreciated, and downright pissed off.

After spending some time ranting with my friends on Facebook and sleeping on it for a few nights, I decided enlightening this otherwise well-educated woman was my role, my duty. Today I picked up my new purple reading glasses and hand delivered the following letter.


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October 19, 2012

Dear Optometrist:

After my eye exam on Monday, October 15th, I left the office feeling devalued and depleted. I am hoping by sharing the following information, the next exam will go smoother for both of us.

As you might know, I have athetoid cerebral palsy. For me, this means I lack muscle control and coordination. My physical movements are jerky and involuntary; one body part or another is in constant motion. My speech is also significantly impaired, yet can be understood by individuals who take the time to listen.

However, my hearing, understanding and cognition are not affected. There is no need to speak loudly, to repeat yourself or to use simple vocabulary for me to comprehend.

Next time I will grab my iPad from my scooter basket before my scooter is moved out of the way so that I have a more effective means of communication at hand.

My head control is tenuous at times. When conducting the eye pressure test and other such tests during which my head must remain still in a certain position, it might be helpful to have someone hold my head steady.

My eyes closing when something is approaching is a strong, uncontrollable reflex. Repeatedly stating that I need to open my eyes for the eye drops is not productive. Perhaps another method can be found to achieve the same result.

Please keep this letter in my file so that it will be handy for my next appointment in three years, which is what the Ministry will pay for; not the recommended two years. Perhaps in that time you could consult with colleagues and other optometrists for further suggestions on how to best serve patients with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders.

Working together will ensure successful care for my vision.

Respectfully,

Glenda Watson Hyatt

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What Impossible Idea Would You Attempt If Surrounded by People Who Won’t Let You Fail?

Filed under: Motivation — by Glenda at 2:18 pm on Thursday, October 4, 2012

You must do the one thing you think you cannot.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

For those of you who I have yet had the pleasure of meeting face-to-face, I speak Glenda-ish – English with a unique accent due to my significant speech impairment, a result of my cerebral palsy.

Over the last forty-some years, my inability to easily communicate verbally with anyone anywhere has been more of a barrier, more of a disability than my inability to walk independently, and has resulted in frustration, isolation and missed interactions.

Glenda Watson Hyatt presenting on stage at SXSW 2011
(Photo credit: Paul Merrill)

In recent years, with the advances in technology – text-to-speech software, iPads and such – verbal communication has become possible. Because of these technologies and opportunities that have presented themselves to me, I have had the pleasure of giving numerous presentations – something I never imagined possible in my wildest dreams.

Now, I feel myself being magnetically drawn to My Second Most Unlikely Career Choice: a public speaker. (My first most unlikely career choice is a neurosurgeon.) The irony of this direction: terrifying yet exciting.

This past weekend, my husband Darrell and I attended SOBCon (a think tank for solopreneurs and small businesses) in Portland, Oregon. Founder Liz Strauss kicked off the conference by pointing out we were surrounded by people who won’t let us fail.

I definitely felt that. No matter who I shared my crazy idea with, they were all supportive of my intention to become a motivational speaker; they asked questions and offered insights, ideas and contacts.

Charlie Gilkey from Productive Flourishing did say that there would be challenges along the way. Yes, there will be. A few that quickly come to mind include: explaining to event organizers how someone with a significant speech impairment can deliver a presentation of high value, getting to the venues and up on stage (been there, done that!), and having the right words to deliver the best message that I can. However, those challenges (and countless others that will no doubt pop up along the way) are not insurmountable.

All weekend, not one person looked at my shaky jerkiness and my indecipherable speech and said, “Are you kidding me? There’s no way you can do that.” Not one person.

Can you appreciate the mind bend I have been struggling with since getting home on Sunday night. I am putting plans in place to become the one thing that, until recently, I thought I could not. This is possible because of advances in technology and because I am surrounded by people – both from SOBCon and elsewhere – who won’t let me fail.

What is the one thing you think you cannot do but are being urged to try? Can you identify people within your circle who will not let you fail? Or, who do you need to connect with to surround yourself with positive, supportive, creative-thinking people who want to see you succeed? What would that mean to you to accomplish the one thing you think you cannot?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.


To keep up with my adventures, musings and insights, be sure to subscribe to DoItMyselfBlog.com.

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

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