It’s good to see people with disabilities doing something out of the ordinary.
Good to see children with disabilities traveling and exploring the world.
Good to see parents with disabilities being parents, good to see pictures and read stories that are about humor, power, understanding and connecting.
We need those stories, all of ’em.
In This Post You Will Find:
Our family is leaving soon
Last year we left everything and went in search of a place to start an Inn that would also be an employment training ground for people with disabilities. That dream has not been chucked, by the way. It is still there, but I think what has happened is serendipity came calling and we answered. We lost money, we had to do something and my brother bought this land and needed help. It was win-win for all of us, but for our family of 5, finding the Lost Coast was finding a part of our hearts.
We absolutely love it. Big love, huge love. I don’t know how the future is going to unfold but I know that while I yearn for warm water to swim in and coconut trees, I can’t really see us living anywhere besides the Lost Coast. But we are not in a position to think about an Inn here on the Lost Coast for a while. It’s not just about buying land; it’s about the whole ball of wax. Our place isn’t even finished. We literally just can’t stay through the winter here because it would be more discomfort than we are prepared for. Endless freezing rain with an outdoor shower, outdoor laundry system, outhouse and mud doesn’t do it for anyone except a masochist. Even the electricity isn’t set up to work in the rain.
Living on the Lost Coast year-round and the Inn are going to come in time. These things will unfold.
In the meantime, we are going to travel! And we are going to put our trip out there with an intent to promote disability acceptance – from California to Mexico for sure, hopefully beyond to Nicaragua.
We are doing things different this year since we know we are returning to the Lost Coast to farm again.
We are not aiming to drive the whole Pan American Highway. Argentina is not our goal. Rather, stopping and connecting with disability-related organizations, friends of friends, communities and so forth will be our goal. Of course roadschooling will be woven in.
We are taking a different route this time. We’ll be going through Utah and Arizona, entering Mexico via Arizona.
I don’t want to call this trip something about “disability awareness”; oh no. This goes beyond awareness, right? To acceptance. So I want this trip to be Beyond Awareness: The Disability Acceptance Tour
The naming of the trip
I struggled with naming it – does it even need a name? Yes, it needs a name, and it needs a name because I want to write about it and I want something easy to refer to.
I struggled with catchy names, fun names – shouldn’t it be something cool? Yes, it does (and it should) but I’m too much of a nerd to think of something hip. I think I just need easy and straightforward at this point in my life. Calling it exactly what it is makes sense to me.
I struggled with putting ourselves out there – who do I think I am to think that we ourselves can be inspirational, and not the smarmy, gob-smacked sort of ‘inspirational’, but the kind of ‘inspirational’ that makes you reach within yourself to change, the kind of ‘inspirational’ that makes you believe you can try, do, act or feel in a new way, that creates within you a desire for something and shows you how you can do it.
THAT kind of ‘inspirational’.
The good kind.
Well, the ‘who do you think you are?’ voices in my head are alive and well. I try not to listen to them; I try to redirect those toxic thoughts: Who am I NOT to try? How is my playing small going to help dreamers with disabilities out there who want to travel, marry, have kids, farm, write, make t-shirts and be frustrated by the 5 million things that frustrate me?!
I struggled with intent – I tend to make things harder than they need to be. My motto for the past year – the one that I want tattooed on my wrist – is ‘THINGS CAN BE EASY”. So the disability-related part of this trip is simple:
- connect with people with disabilities
- show through our travels that people with disabilities can, do and should travel
- spotlight access, showcase equal opportunity, rights and privileges
- share projects by and for disability with those we meet – the Section 504 video from DREDF is key
- share my service dog, Kianna – show what a hearing dog can do, the benefits of assistance
I need your help: your connections, your advice. I need you to introduce me to that friend of yours who works in the CIL in Arizona, or who is a native American with a disability on the Navajo reservation. I need you to send me the email address of your contact at the CRIT center in Mexico, or your best friend’s Auntie in Oaxaca who is deaf and works at a deaf school.
If you know of a good route, a great place to camp, tell me! Please! We’ll be relying on the internet, our guidebooks, friends of friends and good ole’ google. A personal connection is always the best; I’d really appreciate yours.
Back to the beginning: we are leaving soon.
It’s good to see people with disabilities doing something out of the ordinary. Good to see children with disabilities traveling and exploring the world. Good to see parents with disabilities being parents, good to see pictures and read stories that are about humor, power, understanding and connecting rather than the more-typical stories of pity, “overcoming” and so forth.
It’s good to see variety.
We’ll be putting this trip out there with an intent to promote disability acceptance – from California to Mexico for sure, hopefully beyond to Nicaragua.
Your help in introductions and connections to people you know with disabilities or who work with disability would be enormously appreciated.
The countdown for leaving is ON!
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Meriah Nichols is a career counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E). Deaf, with C-PTSD and TBI, she’s also a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.