I had trouble posting my annual holiday update e-mail on this Gimpy Law blog in December. I thought it was a sign that I should wait until my post about my friend, Amber, who passed. But here’s my holiday update in case you missed it. If you want to be on my e-mail list, leave me your e-mail address below.
Happy Holidays 2016!
I hope this finds you well and enjoying the holiday season.
I love how the Cubs won the World Series after my family and I moved back to Illinois. Pure coincidence??
Able Community is well on its way to becoming a reality.
This photo is from Able Community’s 2015 Korean BBQ. A young man is sitting in a lawn chair in the front, four people with electric wheelchairs are behind him, and six personal care assistants are standing behind them. Two assistants are giving another assistant bunny ears. They all look content and full from the BBQ.
I just sent our non-profit attorneys the signed 501(c)3 application for the accessible housing cooperative that my friends and I have been working on. We will be able to provide tax deductions for your donations once we are approved.
Thanks for everyone who continues supporting Able Community through donations, attending our meet-up events, and keeping us in your thoughts. Stay tuned for Able Community’s big and exciting upcoming plans.
It’s been a tough year for me personally. Although I had chronic pain for a while now, I am losing some function—my ability to walk with assistance. It’s been especially hard on my family, who never fully accepted the fact that I had a disability in the first place. It’s funny how amazed people are when they discover I am able to walk at all; one law professor looked so stunned by me walking with my assistant down to the then inaccessible law school courtyard that I doubt I could have done anything academically to get a similar reaction.
I usually refrain from discussing my health to avoid seeming less capable (is it strange I think this?) and because I don’t want my friends to worry (I supposedly have a “normal” life expectancy, whatever that means). Don’t worry, I found some amazing doctors here, which is saying a lot because doctors and I usually do not mix well. As my PM&R Doctor said, the years of using my body in ways most people do not caught up to me. So, I guess it’s a part of aging with a disability. If anyone also has experienced increased tone with cerebral palsy, I’d love corresponding.
Also, in addition to missing friends who have passed away previously (I was waiting to update my newsletter with a post about Amber, my friend who passed away last year, but it’s been hard for me to do), I recently lost a dear former college professor, who was also my favorite poet. She put up with my endless e-mails although she was not fond of that form of communication and she helped me survive law school, even though she previously tried talking me into pursuing creative writing instead. Having said that, I encourage you to tell your loved ones that you love them while you can. I heard the act of saying something makes it more real.
My professor’s name was Brigit P. Kelly, if you want to read her books. I’m always surprised at how many people have never heard of her. Here’s her Amazon Author Page.
In exciting news, I am working on a legal guidebook regarding reasonable housing accommodations and modifications with Access Living and the Illinois Department of Human Rights. We hope it will enlighten housing providers in working with people with disabilities in Illinois.
I am hopeful that I can still squeeze some adaptive alpine skiing in this winter. Stay warm and drop me a line when you get a chance. I love hearing from you.
The following is from my annual holiday update to my friends.
A blue postcard says “Happy Holidays” in the center with white snowflake stars. This image is from this e-card link.
I dreaded writing this year’s update. Although I was appointed as co-chair for the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois’ Attorneys with Disabilities Committee and a member of the Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois (SILC), I haven’t been as productive as I would like to have been this year. I’m so used to doing everything at 90 mph that my slower pace is hard for me to get used to.
Another SILC member I just met worked at the University of Illinois when I was a freshman. When I asked her why we never met before this year, she replied that she saw me but she could never catch me because I was too fast. So perhaps there are benefits to living a slower pace. Please forgive me if I was going too fast to be there for you. I’m definitely here now if you need me.
Last December, I was just ending my pro bono work with the Legal Council for Health Justice, or the organization formerly known as Aids Legal Council of Chicago, which was a fantastic six months of hands on experience with Social Security matters directly from the Executive Director. I was enthusiastic to launch my own law practice, the Disability Law Collective, with the assistance from my legal incubator program. I soon realized that successful self-employment requires more than shared office space, particularly as a person with a disability. I did get my first case through Access Living and am eager to grow my practice.
I see improving independence and employment for myself and others with disabilities as the reoccurring theme of my work and my ultimate life goal. Able Community is the non-profit housing cooperative for people with and without disabilities that I have been working on with a fantastic group of people, who all happen to have disabilities and are all graduates from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Our Able Community members are working towards improving independence for people with disabilities, personal assistants, and their families.
A photo posted by Able Community (@ablecommunity) on
Able Community is not having a fundraiser this year because we are working on our 501(c)3 incorporation; we are extremely close to filing the application. I realize that I’ve been saying this for a while, but we have just submitted our materials to our non-profit pro bono attorneys and our next step is filing the application. We will have more fundraisers once we file for our 501(c)3 status, so we can provide tax deductions. If you still want to donate to Able Community anyway, we would of course gratefully accept your generosity; here is a link to our PayPal info on the bottom of this hyperlinked page. We are incredibly grateful for everything our supporters have done for us already.
(In case you missed it, above is our fundraiser video from last year. It explains what Able Community is and who the members are better.)
I consider myself so blessed to be back home in Illinois, near the city I love and to be closer to the other Able Community members. As someone who pursued a legal career to practice civil rights and fight racial injustices, I am appalled by the recent police brutality incidents. I am conscious that the systematic violence and racial inequalities deeply rooted in our nation’s history call for even greater collective systematic change at the city and national level. I have also come to realize that the everyday injustices are just as important to advocate for as the systematic ones and I hope that my law practice, the Disability Law Collective, will meet the everyday legal needs of the disability community.
(A sneak preview of Disability Law Collective’s animated promotional video.)
I also feel blessed to be back, closer to my friends in Illinois, to celebrate life’s happy and sad moments together. I lost 3 friends this year. While this comes with being a part of the disability community and I have lost schoolmates from an early age, I don’t think I will ever get used to it. I’m sure that my losses do not remotely measure up to what the families who lost their loved ones with disabilities or the teachers and professionals who continuously loose people with disabilities they work with must go through.
Having said that, I believe it is wise to make legal preparations so your loved ones and family know what your final wishes are. This can be done through estate planning, including wills, and medical and financial powers of attorneys. I’d be happy to help you figure out what legal options meet your needs and if for some reason I cannot (I’m only licensed to practice law in Illinois and California), I’ll be happy to help find someone else who can. And please let me know if there is anything else I could help you with, legally or otherwise.
I have been enjoying Chicago. One of the Able Community members would marry football if he could, whereas I would definitely marry Chicago. My sister and I have been doing the touristy things that we never did before, like architecture tours. We’ve also been going to Broadway musicals. I’m really glad that my love of musical started in an early age (thanks to my elementary school music and art teachers). I did subject to my whole law school to this love by making many of the professors and students participate in my law school musical production during my last year.
I’ve also taken up some inherently dangerous adaptive activities, including water skiing and alpine skiing (I’m sure some of you would love to throw me off a mountain). It feeds my rebellious-defying-what-people-say-I-cannot-do-because-of-my-disability spirit. Similar to the teams of people assisting people with disabilities find independence through sports traditionally meant for able-bodied people, I am excited to be a part of teams advocating for the independence for people with disabilities through the Disability Law Collective and Able Community.
A photo posted by Able Community (@ablecommunity) on
(Photo with the crew of volunteers who made sure that I didn’t kill myself my first time skiing.)
I am taking better care of my health with adaptive yoga and horseback riding. I look forward to adding adaptive scuba diving to the list of my inherently dangerous adaptive adventures. Perhaps I am training to be the next James Bond… I know that I am not an attractive British able-bodied man. But how cool would it be if there was a movie with a female spy with a disability who is a person of color?!?
Happy Holidays, but especially a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah (showing my Judeo-Christian biases)!
You continue to amaze me. Gimpy Law is having a real global impact:
November 6, 2014 Gimpy Law Views by Country: United States 816, Canada 36, United Kingdom 24, Panama 9, Australia 7, Republic of Korea 5, Ireland 4, India 3, Spain 2, Malaysia 2, Greece 2, Philippines 1, Morocco 1, Croatia 1, Puerto Rico 1, Indonesia 1, New Zealand 1, Northern Mariana Islands 1, Russian Federation 1, Nigeria 1, Saudi Arabia 1, Hungary 1.
I am honored at how well Gimpy Law has been received and that it has a global presence. Look at how gorgeous you all look on this map!
I don’t believe that this Gimpy Law blogger deserves the credit. I believe that it is a testament to the relevance of disability and prevalence of people with disabilities around the world. Let’s keep on keeping on!
WordPress is pissing me off. I find WordPress themes limiting and frustrating, both the paid wordpress.org option that I use for my non-profit, Able Community, and this free wordpress.com Gimpy Law blog. While there are a plethora of themes, many of which are free, these themes are still restrictive in terms of having to pay to change color schemes divergent from the limited color options provided and being restricted to the theme’s layout, features, and fonts. Of course, if I had mad HTML skills, perhaps I could change these restrictions.
Here are the two themes Gimpy Law has tried:
Current Truly Minimal theme on a laptop.
I’ve been advised to use “responsive” themes that are mobile friendly, easily readable on cell phones and mobile devices. I do like how the Truly Minimal theme looks on my phone, better than on my computer. I have tried to change the header picture to one with better resolution, but am still working on this. I wish the laptop version of the Truly Minimal theme had brief thumbnail summaries and images of each post, so readers could easily find certain posts without scrolling down entire posts.
The Fontfolio theme with featured pictures and shortened titles that I tried before briefly.
I like the idea of the Fontfolio theme, displaying a featured picture and title of each blog on the main page, so that newcomers to Gimpy Law can easily visualize and scan the different posts without having to scroll down each post in reverse chronological order. But unfortunately, some of the pictures get cut off, like Barbie’s friend, Becky’s head; and longer post titles are shortened and you cannot see them till you mouse over them.
I miss my Xanga blogging days, where everyone’s blog had the same exact layout, but at least we could change colors and fonts as we pleased and even mess around with the template a little. Xanga was popular, apparently among Asian Americans, although my white friends introduced me to it in college.
In addition to my personal Xanga blog, I made an anonymous Shakespeare Xanga, complete with the “What Is a Youth” song on repeat from Romeo and Juliet (the 1968 film soundtrack) and scarlet red background. I wrote in iambic pentameter/Elizabethan diction on my posts and comments to my unsuspecting friends’ blogs, most of whom were fellow English majors. My friends and I had a good laugh when they uncovered my ghost writing, Shakespeare guised identity. My friends’ Xanga blogs are all dead and gone, eliminating my readership. My Xanga is private and haven’t used it in years.
Here are some paid WordPress.org themes I would consider using for Gimpy Law:
The benefits of WordPress are that it is the new Xanga, Myspace, whatever blog; it’s trending and there is a huge base of potential readers. What I especially like about Wordpress is that any reader can leave comments, without having to have a Wordpress account. So always feel free to leave comments. Long story short, Gimpy Law will stay on Wordpress and just be annoyed by the inflexibility in its themes… that is unless Wordpress retaliates against this post.
Any thoughts on Gimpy Law’s layout or theme selection? Feel free to share them below in the comment section.