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What I Am Thankful For: A Holiday Reflection

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This month has been an emotional rollercoaster for many, especially with the results of the Presidential election that has caused a real sense of fear and uncertainty to surface, particularly for those who are marginalized in our community.  I know personally that I have been doing a lot of self-care these past couple of weeks, and have been very mindful of my emotional, mental, and physical health.  

I decided to take a more light-hearted and reflective tone this week by listing what I am thankful for that has transpired this year.  This year has been strangely wonderful in the midst of juggling grief and major life transitions.  2016 will go down as probably the best “adulting” year of my life; a time where everything looked as if they would fall apart, yet somehow pieced together perfectly.  

The following are just a few things that I am thankful for in 2016:

  • Meeting incredible disabled advocates who have become more like family than friends.
  • Having the disabled Sistagirl support system that I have always wanted.  My Black disabled sisterhood bonds are dear to me, and the women I know are truly phenomenal, loving, full of personality, and I am grateful for them. 
  • Finding a job that I like that fits into the advocacy framework I have.
  • Making plans to move out of South Carolina in the next year.  I am receiving assistance from a realtor in finding housing options – I get to escape SC’s fangs.  I am looking forward to moving to D.C. in continuing my work and be with the friends I have made this year (and make new ones).
  • Being approached to do more writing opportunities within and outside of my scope.  Words matter, and I enjoy sharing my writing gift as much as possible.
  • Finally being able to be specific with my advocacy voice.  When I started RYV!, I made my space broad so that I would not get pigeon-holed; now I can write/discuss/present on topics I have always wanted to, and be seen as a well-rounded advocate.
  • Finding a space where I can be a macro social worker and be among other like-minded colleagues.  I haven’t used this (expensive) degree in the traditional sense, and I do not get to wear my “social worker” hat as much as I would like.  Being in this environment (a partner for #MacroSW) allows me to do that more, and to educate my colleagues about disability in a way that is empowering and much needed in our profession.  
  • Realizing how strong I am through indescribable pain.  I always thought that when I experienced the moment of losing my Grandmother, I would spiral in this state of depression.  Somehow, almost a year later, I have not.  I truly do not know how, but I am thankful that I have survived the biggest loss in my life and am still in one piece.  
  • Being more comfortable in owning that I do good work.  I become easily embarrassed when I receive attention that boasts on me; this is something not well-known.  I just like doing good work; I do not need the accolades that goes with that.  I am just the vessel; doing the Lord’s work while I am here.  The credit goes to Him, always – I am just answering the charge He has for me.  I am always humbled at the responses I receive, but it does make me squirm a bit.  🙂  I take that uneasiness as a reminder that the work is bigger than myself (literally and figuratively), and to keep at it.  I must be doing something right, huh?  🙂  
  • Ruffling feathers, bathing in white tears, and making good trouble are all important to me.  For someone who has shy/quiet moments and is soft spoken, I have raised a whole lot of rightful hell this year, and I have no regrets about any of it.  I am thankful that I do not allow my voice, life, presence, and work to be silenced by naysayers.  Speaking out and loud are acts of defiance and survival.   
  • Embracing my essence more.  My confidence level with my body, my femininity, and my existence has grown tremendously.  Maybe this is due to the friendships I have made with other disabled women or the articles I have written about my journey of self-acceptance; regardless of the catalyst, I am truly comfortable with the life I live, and that is a remarkable truth to share.  
  • Lastly, relying on my faith more is perhaps the most important thing I am thankful for.  Spirituality is important to me, and it has been my cornerstone this year.  My intuition and ability to gauge energies/feelings/emotions of myself and others have been heightened, and during moments of uncertainty, I have leaned on my faith to guide and comfort me.  My faith has strengthened, protected, and given me direction so many times than I can count, and I am truly grateful.

For me, this season is about reflection as to how much life has changed, and what is yet to transpire.  My life, in comparison to last year, is a complete 180 – I could not have fathom the dynamic places, people, events, and work I have experienced.  I am forever happy about all of these good things and am open to receiving more.  

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  May you take a moment to reflect on what matters to you this season, and prepare for goodness and good things to find you.  

(Featured headlining image:  Courtesy of Pixabay.)

About Vilissa Thompson, LMSW

Vilissa is the Founder & CEO of Ramp Your Voice!, an organization she created to establish herself as a Disability Rights Consultant & Advocate. Ramp Your Voice! is a prime example of how macro-minded Vilissa truly is, and her determination to leave a giant "tire track mark" on the world.

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