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I’m Not Trying To Be Hollywood

We Are Who We Are

The Hollywood SignTomorrow I will be 56 years old! The next thing I should probably say is something like “it seems like only yesterday…” but as I’ve advanced in age and experiences 56 seems about right.

During the first decade of my life I felt helpless, hopeless and voiceless. In my teenage years with the exception of school days, coping with depression meant I spent a lot of my time sleeping.

Despite my share of mistakes and bad decisions, big changes were on the horizon in my mid to late 20s when I had my three boys. Could it have been the need to be needed that allowed me to find my voice?

For better or worse, once we become parents, children undoubtedly change us and even as a single parent were it not for my sons I would have self-destructed. Chaos ruled in my 30s; my grandmother had a stroke then was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, my middle son had ADHD to the nth degree (here is his story), then there was my marriage to a sociopath (part of that story is here), oh, and my disabled mother had issues which required an intense battle for disability benefits (we won).

My 40’s began on a very high note which included a fabulous job, my first home purchase, marriage to a great guy and then I began having issues with my eyesight. After my legal blindness diagnosis, I had to develop a long-term plan on how to live independently with sight loss.

All of this reflection came about from a comment my mother made the other day when I visited her in the nursing home. She said “I’m not trying to be hollywood” in response to people who question her on why she wears sunglasses indoors (her eyes are light-sensitive). After she said it though I thought about how we judge people without knowing who they are or their story.

My mother has Alzheimer’s but deep down inside, at least for a time, she is still the same person. Even in the nursing home she’s started wearing her red lipstick again and wants more makeup. Like with other situations in life sometimes we are quick to write off people with Alzheimer’s as not being with it but the thing is it begins somewhere. The disease starts before an individual begins showing symptoms.

Many times we have thoughts and ideas on how we ‘think’ specific groups, like the elderly or people with disabilities should look or behave only to find out our thinking was wrong.

Looking back at my life some would say I shouldn’t be here. Heaven knows I’ve thought it many times but here I am still standing and I have a voice. There have been significant struggles but there’s also been significant high notes and through it all I am still all about using my voice to change perceptions, break down barriers and continue growing from my life’s experiences.

Have a great weekend!! ~Steph


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