…I don’t know how many websites I went to, investigating the inter-workings of my new position and work. Financial self – sufficiency for people with disabilities is not an easy thing, but with the right supports and incentives it is possible. I read from Social Security websites, advocacy groups, the testimony of individuals with disabilities, agencies providing the services; the list goes on. So much information is available, information that can free individuals from poverty and a sense of helplessness.
Before I knew it, I was in training through classes offered through the State. It ended up that the trainer was a friend of thirty years. I knew that for this situation he was the trainer; if time came, we could talk family and friends. He is a fabulous trainer known through out the state and even nationally in the training circles of Social Security. I knew that I was going to learn from the best, that I was getting what I would need to make steps towards my new position. The trainings were full of information that painted pictures of success and pride. Work for people with disabilities was not only possible, but happening.
For months, I tried to get into the national training through Virginia Commonwealth University. One day, (the start to many a story) my supervisor met a person who knew a person who knew a person that would look into my being able to get into the next training in St. Louis. A week and a half before the week -long training, I got the word that, poof, there was a cancellation and I would be going. I felt that, “how the hell am I going to get everything in order” feeling. There was the room, the flight, transportation, packing – oh yeah – someone to watch the cats! Like a good little organized woman, I began to make lists. With a few days to spare, I had all done. I packed and was driven to the airport by a dear friend.
The flight was uneventful, even boring. I got off the plane, recovered my luggage and waited outside for my van to the hotel. From what I read, the hotel was a renovated train station, Union Station. My van was not arriving so I called; in a very abrupt tone I was told to wait by the fire hydrant and the van would be right there. There it was – I jumped in – more like awkwardly climbed into the van. I sat down next to a woman who I, during the drive, found out was going to the same training. We arrived. Later in the evening, I met the woman at the bar to have appetizers and, for me, a beer. (The picture at the top of this blog is the opening of the room where we were sitting years later.) We talked about the grueling training we feared. We met the next morning in the training room; she sat next to me. At the break for lunch, the woman in front of us introduced herself. From there we hit it off and helped each other digest the information taught to us eight and a half hours a day. A woman from Baltimore, one from Fresno and the other from Birmingham jelled. We found we would survive as long each afternoon at the break that brownies were there to greet us.
There was not question that the information was dense and hard to digest, that we had intense tests and write ups to do when we returned to our homes and that we were intimidated. Once I opened the manual, the 8 pound manual, I knew that I was going to have to push through, be confident and complete the work within the timeframes. My two friends and I were not able to discuss our assignments. Instead, we became our own supporters. We leave each other FB messages with words of encouragement. We express how tired, confused and successful we are as we forge ahead.
I may not have been excited to make this change in my work, but this training made me feel more confident, a bit more alive and looking forward to my new work. Having the two women now in my circle of friends and who experienced the training with me has been an encouragement and helped me believe I would do well with my new position. I am going to help change peoples lives and achieve financial self – sufficiency.