Welcome to “Voices from the Disability Community: – the series that introduces interesting people with various disabilities by asking the same set of questions to everyone. The point of doing that is share the diversity within the disability spectrum and experience, and get to know some cool people.
So, without further ado, please meet Frank Verpaelst!
Getting to Know You
- Your name:
- What’s your connection with disability?
I was born with dwarfism.
- Star Trek or Star Wars?
Definitely BOTH! (Sorry, no way to split these two apart.)
- If you could live in any other country for 2 years, where would you go?
Definitely one of the Nordic countries, where they have some pretty humane social programs and attitudes.
- What dish would your bring to our community picnic potluck?
Tough choice: Either Shepard’s Pie, or, a nice big pot of vegetarian friendly Lentil soup.
Now That We’ve Been Introduced…
- What do you do:
I’m a semi-retired and mostly stay at home blogger, writer, public speaker, artist and folk musician. Of course, that all happens when I’m not busy being a father and husband.
- How did you come to doing what you do?
All of my recent activities are self-taught, and gained through a life of learning what I love to do most.
How has your career trajectory flowed?
As crooked as my scoliosis. I’m a recovering computer geek, who has officially given up working for business people.
- Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
Right where I am now, at the end of my keyboard, communicating with the world about how awesome many people with disabilities are. Except, with more book sales. LOTS more! (Just $40,000 per year would be perfect).
- Not to be morbid, but what do you want people to remember about you when you’ve gone?
Promote my books, so that I can keep taking care of my family after I’m long gone.
- Who or what inspires you?
Zen Buddhism, mostly the aspect that greed and human desires create most of our suffering. Success in life is not the point of it all. Taking care of each other, and the planet, is what matters most.
- If you could say something to yourself in the past – that is, the you that was really struggling with something related to disability – what would you say?
Don’t be your own worst enemy. Don’t believe the illusion society tries to impose on us. EVERY person has abilities, everyone has limits. Avoid your “impossible to change” limits. Find your talents, what makes you happy, and develop those aspects.
For example: As a dwarf with serious osteoarthritis and scoliosis, being an NBA player was not likely to happen. But as a lover of sports, I chose to coach Lacrosse instead to feed that aspect of my soul.
- What do you like about your particular disability?
Being a very short and thought of as disabled man, I get underestimated and discounted ALL the time, even to the point of ridiculousness. Then BLAMO, people wake up and realize: Hey, this guy can DO stuff!
- Any one thing that you wish people would *get* about disability?
I hinted at it earlier: Disability is an illusion. Because the majority of society is superficial and materialistic, THAT should be my measuring stick? I don’t think so!
We are biological units travelling in the universe. Beat up VW Bug, fancy sports car, family-style wagon, whatever: You will never understand the beautiful spirit of who is driving the chassis, until you talk to them, and go for a drive with them.
- What single piece of technology makes your life easier?
OH, my lovely computer. It feeds and unlocks the genie inside of me, and leverages all of my creative talents like nothing else.
Where else can we find you online?
Peace in oneself, peace in the world.(Thich Nhat Hanh)
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Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.