DANA Center

Dana’s Place: An Update in the Here and Now

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I had a dream last night.

In it, my brother Dana was doing something in the kitchen of a restaurant and was busy banging around some some big pots and pans. I was in the kitchen as well, working and happy to be working around him. After a while, he just left without saying anything and I was left with the work. I didn’t mean doing the work – I wasn’t mad at him or anything for leaving me with the work to do – but I remember in the dream, wondering how I was going to explain that to my mom, the fact that I was doing the work and not Dana. And that it was important, that finishing the work was important.

When I woke up, it was clear of course that it all most likely referred to my vision of Dana’s Place, the employment and training center that I would like to build for people across the disability spectrum, and a place in which we can hold space for retreats, healing, and wellness.

Life Here

I feel like so much right here, right now, happens in tesseracts, loops and lengths.

At one moment, things change instantly; in another, it’s a seemingly-endless process of crawling forward by the inch, on repeat.

Breakfasts happen, then in what feels to be the next blink of my eye, I call the kids to get ready for bed.

Days zoom by and yet each moment can feel like a lifetime.

I’m creating a new life and figuring out this new path while reminding three small people to brush their teeth and helping them do their homework..

Because Dana’s Place (that I would like to create – the post about that is linked here) – is intrinsically connected to disability, I need to figure out those exact pieces here, meaning disability, employment and inclusion services in Hawaii – everything here is completely different than how it was in California.

That involves combing through websites, asking people questions. It’s figuring out what the Hawaii Council on Developmental Disabilities does exactly – and the Division of Developmental Disabilities (and will Moxie ever receive services?!), (and what about the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation on the Big Island?) while asking my 3 Biggest Priorities to PLEEEEEEEEEEASE get these legos off the floor!

Because I’m essentially working toward social change, I can’t help but wonder how many other people involved in social change are or were actively raising kids… like, what Gandhi’s kids? Was he asking them to brush their teeth and go to bed in between non-violent protests against British rule in India??

How come we never talk about those things anyway, like did Martin Luther King, Jr ever babysit? Or was it all Coretta? What about Ed Roberts? Was he telling his kid to quit leaving the legos around (so they wouldn’t get stuck in his wheelchair wheels), in between changing out the DOR system?

I want more stories like this! I want the books like, “how I created a revolution in India and got my kids to bed on time.”

Inspiration.

My Three Biggest Priorities

One Thing I Know

One thing I know is that the smaller things will fall in place so long as the big ones are. The rocks in the jar thing, right? So I pay attention to my kids, and I make their well-being the biggest priority in life. I spend the time that they are in school blogging, researching, figuring out what direction is best to take us and go in.

While I’ve known for a long time that my passion and heart lie in setting up Dana’s Place, the center that will be by and for people with disabilities – an employment training center that has connected farms and more – I also know that there are many ways to that goal.

  • I could work as a career counselor again, become connected to the university and university systems through the inside route, and create a funnel that would create Dana’s Place.
  • I could start a non-profit or a sponsored project under an existing non-profit and apply for funding to create Dana’s Place.
  • I could start workshops and/or trainings both here on the blog (virtually) as well as in my town and let that organically grow and let it expand naturally to Dana’s Place.
  • I could buy a house and start the essential functions of Dana’s Place through an Air B n’ B (- hire and train people with disabilities to run it), and let it grow organically.
  • I could start it as a for-profit and seek investors.

The options are many.

 

Because Dana’s Place is of spiritual significance to me, I want to lean in to spiritual guidance about the best course of action.

That being the case, I’ve basically been trying to get ready to BE READY so that when opportunity comes, I can leap.

This means, making sure that my credit is in shape (- no small feat after a divorce), making sure that I am able to articulate my vision by means of a business plan. It means understanding what might work here in Hawaii, culturally speaking, what is working here, with regard to other organizations, and what’s not working, and why: learn from their mistakes.

And it still involves picking up legos in between, stopping the fights, doing a round of lice (“uku”) prevention and getting the kid’s uniforms washed, dried, hung up. Getting snacks ready, oranges sliced, water bottles filled, backpacks mended, kids picked up, pencils sharpened.

Oh, and I need to work and make money!

While I’m happy I have some child support at all, it does not go far.

Work, it is, and it’s all good, it’s all okay. I’m lucky that I can write and that there is flexibility in that. I’m infinitely grateful that I don’t need to put my 3 Priorities into extensive after care or leave them for too long. I’m so grateful that I am able to wake up at 4 in the morning to work and then I can still BE WITH my kids, be present and be there for them when they are not at school.

All of this I am saying more to remind myself (and not you, since this is a stream-of-consciousness blog post) that change is incremental. I can accomplish something in consistent half-steps, even if they are treading on legos.

I can do it; it just takes time, it takes breathing through discomfort, it takes focus.

I miss Dana

i work through a few planners everyday. There’s my blogging planner, my Law of Attraction Planner and my Phoenix 12-week Journal (more on all of that stuff is linked here). In my Phoenix Planner, they ask me questions like, “what motivates you?” and, “how can you face your fears today?”

I know my 3 Priorities motivate me the most.

They are the big rocks in the jar for me, when they are in place and happy, healthy, thriving, there is room in the rest of the jar to fill up with the smaller things.

And I know that the memory of my brother also motivates me. I miss his light, brightness, his childlike cheekiness and wild love for life. I know that his death must mean that God thought that Dana would grow better in another area of the garden: that in Dana’s earthly life, he was not in soil that was allowing him to thrive.

So, Dana can grow now, and I’m happy for him, happy for that, but I miss him so much.

That, too, is motivation for me. I want something created that honors his huge heart and spirit and capacity for work and play.

I want Dana’s Place to embody the joy that my brother expressed in his life through work, and to share through the spirit of Aloha, the love that Dana demonstrated for others with such abundance.

Half Steps Forward

I am learning that consistency in life is far more powerful than anything else.

Consistent saving, compounded makes for richness.

Consistent love, consistent appreciation, makes for good relationships.

Consistent exercise and clean eating makes for strong bodies, consistent focus and work makes for progress.

This is not about the leaps or flying jumps for me; it’s about the half-steps forward (over legos), it’s about the breathing through discomfort, the consistent care and attention to my 3 Priorities, and it’s about holding a vision in my heart as I do the laundry before I wash the dishes then sit down to figure out the words to write my business plan.

Read More

About Dana’s Place, linked here

Memories and stories of Dana, by people who love him (- add yours if you haven’t yet): Dana in Our Hearts

All of my posts about Dana are linked here

Be a part of the vision with Patreon, linked here

See the Rewards I Offer on Patreon, But Most of All, Be a Part of Supporting Innovative Disability Work

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Meriah
Meriah Nichols is a career counselor, teacher and blogger. Single mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E), she is also a cat-loving Trekkie who likes her coffee hot and black.
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