Monday, August 27, 2007

Glenda Watson Hyatt Roars In


After sending my daughter off to her first day in middle school and my son to his elementary school, I sat down to wait for Glenda Watson Hyatt to head over from Washington D.C. where she visited Susan from Case Notes on her virtual book tour.

In case you've never met Glenda via her blog, she's a fiery redhead who has cerebral palsy and has published a book, I'll Do It Myself.

Glenda roars up in a red Ferrari and I hop in. We head over to my friend Beth's house, which was built with visitability standards for people with disabilities. We settle down with some Krispy Kreme doughnuts and proceed to chat. I have a unique knack for lipreading Glenda-ese, thanks to my first job with a boss and a co-worker with cerebral palsy. When we get stuck-- we use the laptop sitting in front of us. Of course, Glenda uses her left thumb to type!

We chat about her book, which Glenda wrote to inspire others and share her "can do" attitude. We discovered that we read the same books in our childhood days: Ice Castles, The Other Side of the Mountain and Joni. All three books have a character with a disability as the main character.

I ask Glenda about the toughest chapter in her book. It turns out to be "Country Life," a period when cracks began to show in her parent's marriage and home life was tense. "At that time," says Glenda "We were living in the country. I was stuck at home and was quiet isolated. Deciding what to write and what to exclude was tough. It meant revisiting that period in my life, which was not pleasant."

Glenda is currently writing full-time from home. "Typically, I spend too much of my day at my computer: writing, emailing, blogging and networking," says Glenda. When she takes a break, she tackles household chores. Of course, she chuckles, "more breaks are obviously needed! I am trying to exercise more now that I have my brace."

Glenda is married to Darrell, whom she met at a pre-employment program. "At the end of the program," Glenda shares, "I wasn't ready to leave; I sensed I was in the midst of a personal growth spurt, which would be stunted if I left. Hence, I volunteered to be the teaching assistant for the next group."

"The first day of class," she continues, "in wheels a guy in a power chair and wearing a suit. Several weeks later the room was spinning while I was talking with him. Darrell and I have been together ever since. We celebrated our ninth anniversary earlier this month."

Glenda and Darrell find that challenges crop up daily. "Because many things take us longer to do, trying to fit all the must-do's, should-do's and wanna-do's into a day is challenging. Looking around, many things, like housework, don't get done! It comes down to juggling priorities and doing what is most important or urgent in the moment."

Through our conversation, Glenda and I discover that we encounter similar feelings when we're with groups of people. Glenda's speech can be difficult for some people to understand. "I can feel so alone in a roomful of people," Glenda shares. "That is probably when I feel the loneliest. Its not the not walking or limited that gets me down, it's the communication barrier that is a pain." We both find the internet to be a wonderful place where the playing field is level and we can express ourselves and communicate with others on equal ground. I do find that barriers exist in the cyberworld in the form of podcasts and non-captioned videos and Glenda finds that it takes her longer than others to type out responses on interactive forums.

We've finally reached the point where we can't handle another Krispy Kreme and Glenda drops me off at home. Before she takes off, she leaves me with her favorite quote from Walt Disney:

"If you can dream it, you can do it!"

Vote for Glenda in the "Blog for a Year" Contest here.

7 comments:

Glenda Watson Hyatt said...

Karen,

Thanks for an awesome time! I enjoyed chatting with you. And those doughnuts...mmm! I definitely need to squeeze in a workout today.

Marti said...

What a wonderful post! I'm following Glenda around on her journey. How nice of you to host her visit, Karen!

Wishing both of you a wonderful day!

Tom Willard said...

Thank you for alerting us to Glenda and her book .. she sounds like a very interesting person.

Nita said...

Hi Karen,

Was that book, "Joni" about a girl who became a quadrepelic (sp?) in a drowning accident at the beach in mid-1970's? I remember reading about her. She developed a career in painting with her mouth. Is that right?

Nita

Nita said...

Hi Karen,

Was that book, "Joni", about a girl who became a quadreplegic from a diving accident at the beach in the mid-1970's? She became a painter by using her mouth to paint, right? I read that book in middle school. What happened to her now? Is she still alive? She must be quite old!

Nita

Glenda Watson Hyatt said...

Nita,

Here is Joni's latest project http://www.joniandfriends.org/. I'd love to send my book to her!

Karen said...

Glenda, that's a good idea-- send her a copy!