One for All – All for One

I reviewed the book Betting on You in here before. In this book the author talks about the right way to be a “slacker” on your job.

Elsewhere I’ve read that there cannot be justice for one person without justice for everyone.

Banding together in the workplace to exercise your rights is called for.

Have any of you like I have had your physical health savaged working 5 days a week at a job during the pandemic?

Entering the 3rd year of the COVID outbreak is no joke.

In a coming blog entry I will talk about the life lessons we can learn from surviving on our jobs without getting economic reparations for risking our health.

This ties into what I’m writing in a book about money health for peers.

So much of what sparks joy in our lives doesn’t come from a Prada purse or Jimmy Choo shoes.

Working to spend money on things isn’t the way to live. Living to spend time with those we love is.

At the start of 2022 in this blog I will also talk about doing Spring Cleaning in January to clear the cobwebs of thoughts out of our heads.

As well as how editing the contents of our closets can not only spark joy.

Weeding the old and outdated the outgrown and no longer useful elements of life will pave the road forward for success in 2022.

Disability Visibility

This book I checked out of the library. The Amazon.com book description testified that the first-person accounts were told “with love and hope.”

A lot of the stories in this collection feature events that dehumanized the disabled person.

The word is Crip to talk about this movement of disability justice. Other people can use the word Crip because I won’t.

Elsewhere in an internet article a person living with a disability compared the pros and cons of viewing your first-person experience through a lens of Positivity or Negativity.

In this Forbes.com essay the author signaled that the distinction between the two views often comes down to your socioeconomic standing in society.

If you live in poverty and have a disability this could alter your frame of reference. Dealing with daily struggles you might focus on the negative parts of your life.

If you are better-off and your finances don’t limit you it might be easier to have a sunny-side up view of your disability.

What do I think? I’ve been in a frenzy of reading Disability and Social Justice first-person accounts. The next book that’s coming my way is Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice.

The drawback to the Positivity crew’s stance according to the Forbes article is that it can be seen as being critical of disabled individuals who don’t make it the way others do who have disabilities.

My own compassion is rare. My literary agent told me once: “It’s remarkable. You pulled yourself up by your own bootstraps. Yet you have compassion for people who are unable to do that.”

The bootstrap myth is just that–a myth. “It Takes a Village” to live with a disability every day. Those of us who struggle deserve to be given help and compassion. On our terms. Not the terms of the do-gooder who decides they want to help us or thinks that we need their help.

At my job whenever I see someone come in a wheelchair I don’t ever ask: “Do you need help?” The distinction is that I ask them: “Would you like help?” This signals that I understand they are not so disabled that they can’t do things on their own if that is their choice.

As regards focusing on the Positive instead of dwelling on the Negative I’m guilty of this. Not telling anyone how hard my life is. Not expecting outsiders to understand what it’s like to have a disability.

I’m an Optimist. That is my nature. I’ve had to be an optimist, or I wouldn’t have survived what I went through.

In my life I soak up like a sponge what has come to be called “inspiration porn.”

Give me joy and cheer and hope.

The reality is that not all disabilities are equal in severity. This doesn’t matter. Whatever your disability is it’s plenty hard enough for you.

So–I wouldn’t be quick to minimize or discount what a person goes through when they are in remission or have a less chronic illness.

In the coming blog entry I want to start to talk about a topic I’ve become inflamed about: worker’s rights. I’m going to use this blog to expand in detail on what I wrote about in the Working Assets book.

It’s a fine line: who to trust to tell the personal information about your disability.

A book like Disability Visibility is necessary to bring to light the distinctive perspectives personalities and experiences of those of us who have a disability.

Getting in Indie Gear

The career guide in the photo above is the best quick read on how to create an independent income for yourself.

In my view it’s the best book in this category. I plan on buying a copy to read over and over.

In tandem with this practical business book I recommend one other book wherever I go and in whatever I write:

Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions.

Ben Arment the author of Dream Year reinforced what I’ve always realized: Those of us who choose a different path in life or a unique career can become riddled with self-doubt.

Strive to conquer the self-doubt which is a natural feeling to have when you’re an Artist/Creative or other maker or person in business for yourself.

Use the self-doubt as the catalyst for examining how to overcome this fear. In Dream Year you will be given the confidence to “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams / live the life you imagined” as the famous quote implores.

I’m getting ready to publish Working Assets the book in print and e-book format. My goal is to have the book go on sale in the early spring.

I checked Dream Year out of the library which you can try to do if you don’t want to buy it.

Dream Year is a sharp, succinct, and cohesive collection of action steps to take.

Acting with Radiant Defiance

Today I value as I did when I was a disc jockey in the 1980s having the radiant defiance to be unusual.

I’ve read the book The Next Millionaire Next Door shown above. Those of us who are financially well-off have what’s called “social indifference.”

I’ve coined the term “radiant defiance.”

Individuals who have social indifference to the trappings of acting rich become millionaires.

“Keeping up with the Joneses” is the route to a miserable life of mounting debt.

The millionaires next door become well-off through hard work, discipline, conscientiousness, and integrity.

They don’t live in luxury homes in upscale neighborhoods. They don’t drive a Mercedes Benz.

These millionaires are frugal as a rule.

Why am I writing about this? It’s to get readers to value doing your own thing, not what others are doing.

Millionaires don’t follow the crowd. They don’t (and I don’t either) spend time on social media or watching TV. They don’t spend hours getting worked up over political issues.

In short, the millionaires next door act differently from how most people live.

The point is that I urge readers to reject having what constitutes success in America–the mindset of earning more and more money to be able to buy material goods that make you appear rich.

Real millionaires don’t succumb to “affluenza” the disease of consumerism.

Nor does where you start out in life determine how far you can go. It’s the habits you adopt along the way that determine whether you succeed or fail.

In the book shown above the authors corroborated that individuals who have disabilities often go into business for themselves and do quite well at this.

To wit: your SAT score and college GPA don’t correlate with whether you’ll be successful later in life. See under my Book Reviews category my review of Late Bloomers, which also denounced the early “conveyor belt” of SAT scores and elite colleges as being predictors of future achievement.

It’s commonly called social indifference. I call having the guts to act true to yourself radiant defiance.

Being normal isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. What makes you different gives you an advantage.

I’ll end here with one thing the millionaires next door share:

They chose a career that is the right fit with their personality. They saw a need in the market and capitalized on filling that need.

Coming up in the next blog entry I’ll talk about my own work history to give readers insight into how acting with radiant defiance can help you succeed in any goal..

Motivational Book

Former New York governor David A. Paterson published his memoir Black, Blind, and in Charge: A Story of Visionary Leadership and Overcoming Adversity. His first-person account has no trace of pity, bitterness, or regret.

On page twenty-eight Paterson asserted that the root of his adversity was not the disability itself only his reaction to it. He offered a fiery condemnation of not owning every facet of your identity. That your disability makes you who you are has been a war cry I haven’t wanted to utter.

Why do I fear telling others that I have a disability? Ironically in my first book I limned this “secret sauce” that compelled me to become an Advocate. Left of the Dial was a graphic pager-turner that detailed my early recovery.

Only Governor Paterson said it better than I could’ve when he wrote:

“This may sound strange, but whoever you are, whatever you are, you should be proud of it. If you’re proud to be black, if you’re proud to be a woman, if you’re proud to be American, if you’re proud to be a New Yorker, you should be proud to be blind.

Even though it causes you problems, it’s who you are. It’s what you are. The question is, ‘What will you be?’ And you’ll never be anything until you resolve the fact that God created you the way you are and even if there are imperfections, this is who you are.”

Always I have thought that I succeeded because of having an illness not despite living with a disorder. Shunted into the mental health system I fought to get a job and live in my own apartment. Two things people with normal lives take for granted that they can have.

By dressing in my “Greenwich Village” garb I sent a clear message to anyone who saw me: I’m not giving up until I get what I want. My clothes were as radical as I was–free-form like my thinking. A Visionary, I thought recovery was possible even in 1987 when I was told it wasn’t.

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go” was T.S. Eliot’s famous quote. Often, I credit my sartorial risk-taking as being the genesis of my take-no-prisoners approach to achieving my goals.

According to Black, Blind, and in Charge, there’s a sixty-eight percent unemployment rate for blind people in this country. That David A. Paterson obtained a J.D. and rose to become a governor says it all–the fight is worth taking on.

Though this 55th governor of New York didn’t have a mental illness I recommend everyone read his book. In July I cohosted with Max Guttman L.C.S.W the Zoom workshop Editorializing Lived Experiences: Creating an Authentic Voice and Impactful Message in Professional Writing. At this event I told the attendees: “Don’t give up the fight.”

The reality is that fighting for our rights as individuals with disabilities has always been necessary. Stereotypes abound when you have schizophrenia or another mental illness. All too often mental health staff themselves persist in thinking that recovery isn’t possible.

Who are you going to believe–a person who tells you there’s no hope or someone like me that understands that recovery comes to each of us in different guises? Everyone’s recovery is as individual as our thumbprint. Bake a cake. Sing in a choir. Ride a skateboard. It’s all great whatever you choose to do.

If you ask me the bar has been set too high by outsiders as to what constitutes the definition of “recovery.” The average Joe or Josephine on the street doesn’t get half as much scrutiny as mental health peers do in terms of what we’re able to do.

For over five years in my blogs I’ve sung the praises of Rite Aid cashiers.. A lot of them have been ringing up customers’ orders for five six or seven years. Doing it with a smile every day. No one gives them grief for holding a minimum wage job.

Yet when a person with schizophrenia works behind a Rite Aid counter, suddenly they’re viewed with pity if not outright contempt. While a person like me endures an obstructive chorus telling me that I’m “the exception to the rule” because I was diagnosed with schizophrenia and have a Masters’ degree and work as a professional librarian.

You got a problem with a person with a disability who demands equity in society in whatever form their participation takes? That’s what I want to ask outsiders who don’t have lived experience with an illness who dare claim to predict our destiny in life.

David A. Paterson beat the odds that were against him. His book should be required reading. Whatever kind of disability you have, I recommend you think for yourself about what’s possible for you to achieve.

Self-Disclosure on a Job

In reading the book Dress Your Best Life author Dawnn Karen gives the best strategy for self-disclosure on the job. She is a therapist with a focus on fashion psychology. Karen also teaches at FIT.

Though she is a therapist I think her professional ethic as regards disclosure should hold true in every workplace.

Disclosing personal information depends on “the content of the disclosure…the rationale for the disclosure…the personality traits of the client…and the specific circumstances surrounding the disclosure” according to Zoe D. Peterson writing in Psychotherapy: Theory Research Practice Training.

Credentialing lived experience is predicated on the peer specialist acting with the utmost professionalism.

A paid peer specialist doesn’t have a license to practice medicine so cannot advise a person to stop medication or tell them how to wean themselves off medication.

A paid peer specialist can “hold up a mirror” to their client by disclosing. Yet the act of disclosing should not take the focus away from the client’s feelings and needs.

What you disclose should be directly related to the issue the client is expressing.

Disclosing your mental health issue on a job is a matter of personal preference when you’re not a paid peer specialist.

I recommend reading Dress Your Best Life because it is a one-of-its-kind deep dive into how you dress affects your mood presentation and success.

Making a You Turn

The book in the photo above is the number-one career book I’ve checked out of the library so far. I recommend you buy the book instead. Read it from the start to end straight through.

You Turn: Get Unstuck, Discover Your Direction, and Design Your Dream Career is great for all job-seekers. Not just those of us who are changing careers after being stuck in a dismal career we hate.

Author Ashley Stahl’s uncommon advice in reality is common sense wisdom for everyone. Even individuals happily ensconced in a job or career would benefit from her stories and approaches on financing, networking, and hitting rock bottom and coming up again.

The book sells for $17 on Amazon.com. You can special order it at your local independent bookseller too. Or go to Barnes & Noble.

The Power of Identity

The Queer Advantage: Conversations with LGBTQ+ Leaders on the Power of Identity by Andrew Gelwicks is a book that was published in 2020.

Quoting esteemed individuals in different fields the author makes the case that acting true to yourself and being authentic is the only way to succeed on the job and in your life.

No one should feel guilty and ashamed for being who they are. In reality other people should not hate and judge you because of your identity.

From the book:

“Everyone should be able to bring all of themselves to the workplace and feel like they don’t have to hide or cover. You can only be your best when you embrace your authentic self… [It] is my lifelong commitment to achieving equality for all that has always been the driving force in everything I do.” 

     – Billie Jean King, Professional Tennis Player 

The question is: how do your bring all of you into your job when you have a mental health issue?

The choice is yours what to reveal and what to conceal. It’s still dice-y to disclose on a random workday as a matter of course.

The way I see it: the illness does not define me. I choose not to talk about it randomly or indiscriminately with the people I interact with on an ordinary day.

I would like that everyone walking down the street and in the corridors of a corporate office embraces and accepts individuals with mental illnesses.

Only I know we still have a way to go in terms of civil rights for those of us with a diagnosis.

Perhaps the way to chip away at other people’s fear of us is indeed to be open and honest about this facet of who we are.

We can take a tip from the leaders in The Queer Advantage.

It’s your right and preference to decide how open and honest you want to be.

In a future blog entry I will go into detail about the ins and outs of self-disclosure.

The Compass and the Radar

In the above book Paolo Gallo gives up-to-date tactics for finding a job on your terms.

He is Italian–which is inspiring to me as my heritage is Italian too.

The prime benefit of reading this book is knowing what questions to ask on a job interview. Gallo like Laurie Ruettiman in her book I reviewed too thinks you don’t have to wind up in a truly atrocious work environment.

By grilling the interviewer with poise you’ll be better able to uncover the true relationship dynamics on a future job.

I’ll end here with this quick and easy tip: Google “interview questions to ask employer.” You’ll find loads of probing questions to ask so that you can arm yourself with vital information.

The 1990s are gone. Heck we won’t see the early 2000s again either.

Today searching for a job and going on interviews is a different game. To level the playing field so you can achieve a “work-life balance” I’ll offer ideas in the coming blog entries.

Betting on Ourselves

Read the book above. You can check it out of the library should you not be able to buy it.

I recommend the book because long before I read it last week I’d been doing the things the author told readers to do.

One controversial thing that Ruettimann tells workers to do is to be Slackers on the job. How so? Not to break your back at work where you’ll wind up stressed.

Does any of us really want to be popping pills and slurping Frappuccinos to get by every day?

This is where it pays to research yourself and explore careers that are in sync with your personality.

My goal is to publish the book Working Assets: A Career Guide for Peers this summer 2021. It has competitive information for finding and succeeding at a job when you live in recovery.

The trick to being happy and healthy is to have a balanced life. I call this living “a full and robust life.” In your after-hours and on the weekend that’s when it’s imperative that you do what you love.

If you ask me no one should be doing more than a half hour of overtime every day at our jobs. Finding the job that doesn’t require overtime is the golden key to unlocking the ideal balance.

Most workers in corporate offices won’t get more than a 3 percent raise every year. Or 2 percent like milk. While the CEOs earn millions.

How to fight this injustice? Show up to your job on your own terms. Live that full and robust life outside of your day job.

Read Betting on You to find out how you can win the battle of the bulge–of your overstuffed briefcase and ballooning midsection.

There’s a better way than passively accepting the status quo on a job.

Long before I read this Laurie Ruettimann book I too had become a Slacker to preserve my sanity.

In the coming blog entry I’ll talk about my own strategies for achieving peace and harmony.