About Me
Written in 2011

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Who Am I

Am I the reflection in the mirror that I see looking back at me
Or am I the limitless spirit that is within screaming to break free

Am I just another poor girl in a wheelchair with a disability they see
Or am the unique soul that God put me on this earth to be

Am I paralyzed by the fear of discrimination, judgment and uncertainty
Or am I the worrier who will fight until the end to create her own destiny

Will my life be defined by the reflection I see looking back at me
Or will I allow my spirit to break free and unveil the real me for all to see

Copyright © 2010-2013 SUZANNE, All Rights Reserved
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A few years ago, I was watching a movie in which Kate Winslet uttered the words that express exactly how I feel in the depth of my soul, “It is a hunger for an alternative and the refusal to accept a life of unhappiness”. I hunger for an alternative to a life bounded by the invisible threads of regulations and ignorance because I am living on the inside of a disability looking out at a world that is still so unjust to those of us with physical challenges. The United States of America is the richest country in the world, filled with knowledge and opportunities but when it comes to physical disabilities this country is very uneducated and lacks opportunities. I can choose to sit back passively in my wheelchair and let society and the government tell me how to live my life or I can choose to be proactive and stand up for what I believe in. For the last thirteen years, I have tried sitting quietly at home like thousands of other disabled individuals because that is what our society today eventually forces most of us to do, but I know in my heart and soul that this is not who I am and not the way I want to live the rest my life. I do not want to let who I am be defined by people on the outside looking in. Since I was young, I have always believed that I was given a chance at life on this earth for a reason other than to be a daughter, a sister, an aunt or a burden on society. I am here to be true to myself and follow my heart.

My name is Suzanne and I was born with a disability called Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy is a condition that is the result of lack of oxygen to a certain part of the brain usually during birth. When I was born on January 18, 1971, something happened that caused me not to breathe for 5 minutes or more. I am still not certain of the details of what happen on that day because my mom’s doctor knocked her out completely during the delivery because he knew that I was going to be born breach. After I was born, the doctor told my dad that the umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck when I came out but he thought that I would be fine. Because the doctor said that I was fine, my parents did not think to ask any questions. For the next two years of my life, doctors told my parents month after month that I was just a late developer. When I was three years old, my parents finally found out that I was slow at developing because I had Cerebral Palsy.

There are different severities of Cerebral Palsy but fortunately the only part of my brain that was damaged was my motor skills, balance and a little of my speech. The damage to my motor skills causes me to move slowly with jerky movement instead of quick and smoothly. The damage also causes my muscles to have constant tightness and my balance to be unsteady which makes it difficult to stand up without assistance. I also have difficulty doing simple tasks with my hands, for instance gripping a zipper to zip up my pants. My speech was affected but I am blessed because I can speak clear enough that most people do not have a problem understanding me after they get familiar the way I pronounce my words. I pronounce words different and slower than other people do. It is like someone that has a strong accent and it takes a little while to get use to. Despite the obstacles in my life, I feel fortunate because I have had a good life and my condition could have been much worse.

I had a pretty normal childhood except I crawled everywhere instead of walking and had more physical difficulties than other children. My parents were great and never really treated me different. They had to fight for me to be able to attend public school because at that time the school board was not used to disabled children going to public schools. Thanks to my parents, I was able to attend public school and graduate from high school. After high school, I went on to college with the financial assistance of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. I tried to keep up in college but it was very difficult because I was required to go full time in order to keep my financial assistance. With my disability, I am unable to write so I would type all of my work for each of my classes including algebra and accounting. Because I type slowly, I would stay up until about 2:00am everyday and be up by 7:00am for class. I also had to study from other people's notes, which was a challenge because other people always take notes different than I would. After three and a half years of college, I was completely burnt out and decided to quit and go to a technical school for computer specialist. Technical school went at a slower pace and I was able to earn my computer specialist certificate in one year. When I finished my schooling is when my life no longer felt normal.

As soon as I graduated from technical school, I started going out into the real world in search of employment. I signed up for assistance with finding employment with my technical school, Goodwill's employment program, the career center at the college that I had attended and with an agency in my home town that is suppose to help disabled people find employment. None of these agencies tried to help me very much. The only person that ever really encouraged me and advised me on searching for employment was my computer teacher at technical school. I will never forget him because he believed in me because he knew what I could do. He helped me compose a resume and a letter to send to about fifty government agencies around the country but they all replied that they did not have any computer positions that I qualified for at the time. I then applied for a state government computer position that was in the local paper and I thought I would be qualified for. Part of the application for the position involved taking a test on my computer knowledge. I was one of the three applicants that scored the highest on the test and was called back for an interview. My interview went well but they said that one of the duties of the position was answering the phone and because of my speech problem that would be difficult. I went on a few more interviews but never received a call back. Then I went to an interview at a small computer business that four men had just started. One of the owners of the computer business was a man that I attended technical school with. He had witnessed the quality of work that I did in class and wanted to give me a chance at employment. After the interview, I was told that I could begin in about two weeks and they would allow me to do my work at home most of the time. I was so excited because it seemed like the perfect job for me. Then I received a message that the other three owners changed their minds and no longer wanted to hire me for the position. I think that they were just uneasy about employing a disabled person and worried about the security of the confidential database programs that I would have been working on at home. This was my breaking point after two year of giving it my all searching for employment in the real world.

After I did not get the position at the computer business, I lost my confidence and determination. Over the two-year period of trying one avenue after another and being turned away time after time, I eventually gave up and I let rejection get the best of me. Since 1998, I have not looked for employment. I am now 40 and stuck at home often wondering what would have happened if I had kept fighting for a chance at employment.

Since I made the choice not to continue pursuing a chance at employment, I have slowly gotten myself caught up in the web of government assistance that I am now struggling to find a way out of. After completing my schooling, I no longer had the financial support of Vocational Rehabilitation Services to pay for my rent and attendant care. This meant that I would either have to return to my parent’s home and give up on my dream of being independent or find some kind of financial assistance with rent and attendant care. I spent months desperately searching for assistance before I found out about the Office Of Developmental Disorders and housing assistance. The Office Of Developmental Disorders assisted me with 2 hours per day of attendant care and placed my name on the waiting list for the government waiver program for disabled individuals and the elderly. The housing assistance program stated that they could not be of help to me. It was not until I wrote a letter to my congressman that they soon changed their minds and decided that they would be able to assist me with part of my rent after all. After years of being on government assistance I am still fighting to find a way out of this web because one of my dreams has always been to become self-sufficient and be financially able to help other individuals that are in need.

Even though I do not enjoy being on government assistance, I love my life today. I am living as independently as possible, I am in a wonderful relationship with a very loving and understanding fiancé and I have the greatest family in the whole world. Presently, my goal is to strive toward financial independence by doing what I love to do. This is my reason behind creating Pixel Designs By Destiny. I love both helping people and working with graphics.

Update: Written in 2013
A few months after I started my graphics designing business and launched my website in 2011, my fiancé and best friend, Peter, suddenly passed away from an aortic aneurism. As you can imagine, this unbelievable event in my life set my business back for over a year. Though it is still hard sometimes, I now realize that I cannot give up on my dreams and I must push on for my own sanity. Peter has forever changed my life in so many ways within just a few years. He taught me that dreams do come true and to live life for today. Although he is physically gone, I know he is still around. My promise to him is that as long as I am alive on this earth his loving spirit and passion for life will always live on in my heart. Like myself, Peter always possessed a passion for helping individuals and animals in need. Peter’s heart gave out much to soon but I will always keep his kind, loving, spirit alive through my work. In the loving memory of Peter, I am setting up my own program called PETER’S HEART LIVES ON. With this program I am going to use 100% of all donations given to Pixel Designs By Destiny and 50% of all profits from items purchased in the FAIRYLAND section of my website (coming soon) to help the physically disabled, individuals and animals that are in need. This program is included with the 10% of my profits from all other products and services that I have been using to assist the physically disabled, individuals and animals that are in need since I first started my graphics designing business. Thank you all so much for your support in helping me to keep Pete’s heart living on.

Copyright © 2011-2013 Pixel Designs By Destiny, All Rights Reserved