Cathy Chester | An Empowered Spirit

How My Laptop Can Help Me Break The Glass Ceiling Despite My Disability

 

“I choose not to place “DIS”, in my ability.”~Robert M. Hensel

Last week my Wordless Wednesday photo showed a picture of a 1970’s Smith Corona electric typewriter.  Sometimes I miss using that powder blue piece of equipment.  I used to get a “tactile high” typing on each thick key in quick succession, listening to the clickety clack noises and the clanging bell sounding off at the end of every line.  I know it sounds strange, but I loved using the old girl.

Yet as much as I loved my typewriter, I love the convenience my laptop affords me even more. There’s the sleekness of the design, the innovative technology it provides and the sexy empowerment I feel when I’ve mastered a new skill.

“I do indeed write on the road.  My laptop goes with me everywhere.” ~Nora Roberts

The most important reason why I love my laptop is it opens the world to me without the need to leave the comfort of my home. When you have a disability, that’s a very important reason.

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in the dark ages before computers.  My first memory of owning a computer is when my son was seven years old, and we spent a few afternoons at Zany Brainy testing the latest and greatest computer programs for children. His favorite was Putt Putt Saves The Zoo. Whenever I was tired I’d sit next to him in front of our new Dell desktop, watching him carefully maneuver that tiny purple car that was desperately trying to save the zoo.  It was the perfect babysitter.

Jordan and me

As he got older I worried whether I’d ever be able to return to work.  I couldn’t imagine how I could hold down a full-time job, or any job at all.  How could I work when my biggest MS complaint was my constant enemy of fatigue? (I’d describe this fatigue by asking you to imagine your worst flu symptoms, then multiplying that memory by 1000%.  Your body completely shuts down, leaving you unable to walk, talk or think clearly. Your only options are to rest or nap).

Today, having a laptop at my disposal allows me the luxury of working from home.  It provides endless work-related opportunities that a few years ago I never would have had.  With my MacBook at my side, I can be creative through my writing and get paid for my work. I can work on my blog at my leisure and never worry that the boss may be watching.  I can take breaks when I need to, nap when I have to and work odd hours of the day and night.  It gives me the chance to be a part of the world again, not merely watching it from the sidelines.

It’s extremely satisfying to be able to financially contribute to my family while also being a part of the working world.  Being useful helps me feel less disabled; using my abilities enables me to regain some of the self-esteem and confidence I had lost.  (Have you ever been to a dinner party when someone asks your husband what he does for a living, then ignores you and moves on because they know you’re disabled and you don’t work? Have you ever been out with friends and they talk about their respective jobs, yet no one asks you what you’ve been doing?  As a stay-at-home mom I’ve experienced this.  As a disabled woman I’ve endured this as well.)

This past year I met an extraordinary group of women who share my love of writing and my commitment to enjoying my life after the age of 50.  We met on the Internet and have become fast friends.  They’ve unknowingly lifted me up, helping me feel more “able” to continue writing what I’m passionate about while rekindling my faith in the kindness of strangers.

Women friends

everybodylovesenglish.com

This new kinship has renewed my inner strength to finally give myself permission to imagine my fist breaking the glass ceiling, the one that accomplished women have broken time and time again with their spectacular achievements and successes.

“If Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Sisters…” –Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF

Who knew that a laptop could give back to me what my autoimmune disease took away?  It’s a whole new world out there for disabled people, and my feet are finally dancing.

*NOTE:”Multiple sclerosis (or MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. Today, new treatments and advances in research are giving new hope to people affected by the disease.”  Please contact The National Multiple Sclerosis Society for further information. (Resource: The National Multiple Sclerosis Society)

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DISCLAIMERComments from An Empowered Spirit are brought to your attention on topics that could benefit you and should be discussed with your doctor or other medical professional. I am not medically trained and my posts are of a journalistic nature and not in lieu of medical advice. An Empowered Spirit and its author will not be held liable for any damages incurred from the use of this blog or any data or links provided

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60 thoughts on “How My Laptop Can Help Me Break The Glass Ceiling Despite My Disability

  1. Susan Bonifant

    Like you, I work from home, and like you I never knew how I’d appreciate the internet writing community the way I do. You’ve put into words very nicely, the connection you can experience even when you’re by yourself. And while many of us prefer to work alone, we don’t want it to a point of isolation. Checking in, offering input, sometimes just reading what others are thinking about is like popping into a friendly gathering spot at the end of the day. Most of all, I like that your resolve to brighten your working life carried over into the rest.
    Susan Bonifant recently posted…Gun in the houseMy Profile

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Thank you, Susan.

      Writing can be such a lonely experience, and working from home can be even more so. But I consider myself blessed to have the ability to work at all, and even more blessed to have found new friends like you to share this incredible journey with. (Like you I prefer to work alone, but we do need, as you said, the camaraderie of other women)

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving me your kind words.

      Have a great day~
      Cathy

  2. Helene Bludman

    Cathy, you truly have an empowered spirit. You have not let obstacles prevent you from living life to the fullest and I so admire that. Isn’t it wonderful to have a community of like-minded women to share with, learn from and lean on? I count myself so lucky to be part of this group and to have met amazing new friends like you!

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Helene,

      What a wonderful start to my day to read your kind words. Yes, we are lucky (someone once told me we’re blessed not lucky..) to have found such a special group of like-minded women to grow, learn and laugh with. I, too, count myself lucky to have found such fabulous new friends such as you. It’s an extraordinary gift we’ve received.

      Thanks so much for your comment!
      Cathy

  3. grownandflown

    Cathy, at midlife, we are incredibly fortunate to have a chance to broaden our circle of friends through the internet, in a way that wasn’t available to previous generations of women who might have wanted to, especially as their nests were emptying. Reading about the challenges you face with MS is eye-opening to me and I see how beneficial technology can be to you. Meeting you has been icing on the cake of our on-line friendship.
    grownandflown recently posted…Great ParentsMy Profile

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Thank you and oh, boy – you “got” me on that last line. Sniff, sniff.

      The internet has helped us all, as women, do the multitasking we’re required to do as moms. I remember years ago when my son would nap, sometimes I’d check whether there were websites hosted by stay-at-home moms. There were a few. They were mostly about working from home and staying connected to other moms. It felt nice and less isolating to see those sites. Today, BAM! It’s all grown and blossomed, and we are the lucky recipients of that growth.

      I value our new on-line friendship, and look forward to sharing the journey we are on together.

      Have a wonderful day~
      Cathy

  4. Lee

    YAY! This was an inspiring, empowering and fabulous post! I hope that it sends a message to those that don’t think they can understand that they can and should! You are amazing!
    Lee recently posted…The Eyelash ProjectMy Profile

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Hey, Diamond Girl (couldn’t resist) you are pretty shiny with your lovely comments!

      Thank you for your wonderful comments. I feel your energy through your words. I needed that!

      Have a marvelous day~
      Cathy

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Ginger,

      Exactly! The internet provides a way for us to engage when we’re sick, lonely, disabled, lazy or even happy and joyful. Reaching out and touching someone has a whole new meaning these days, eh?

      Great to hear from you. Thanks so much for reaching out.

      Best~
      Cathy

  5. Sharon Greenthal

    Cathy, what you didn’t mention in your beautiful post is how much YOU have given to the community that you have become a part of recently. GenFab has benefitted in so many ways from your insights, kind words, shares, comments, and more. Having never met you in person (yet!) it would never have crossed my mind that you are challenged with something as difficult as MS – your spirit and generosity suggest a woman who is healthy, strong, and self-sufficient in every way. I’m so glad we met virtually, and look forward to meeting you IRL.
    Sharon Greenthal recently posted…Sometimes I Wish I Had a BabyMy Profile

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Thank you, Sharon, for everything. You are the reason I am a part of GenFab, so your comments are deeply meaningful to me.

      I appreciate all that you said and all that you are. Whew! As I said before, this IS a Kleenex moment.

      I look forward to sharing this wonderful journey together. I’ll see you in April at BA50!!!

      Best~
      Cathy

  6. Zarine Arya

    Cathy, I am so touched by what you have shared today. Truly, you are not only an empowered spirit, but an empowering one as well. Thank you for showing me how to keep a cheerful heart despite all that life may throw at me.
    Truly, the internet is the only thing that has enabled my second career – I do online editing now, working from home, as I am ‘age-challenged’ to put it euphemistically.

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Zarine,

      Age challenged? Oh boy, I hope not! You are online and reading and engaging and commenting. I don’t see any challenges here!!!

      Thank you for your lovely comments. They mean a lot and I sincerely appreciate them.

      Best~
      Cathy

  7. audrey van petegem

    Cathy, my father had MS. He was diagnosed the year I was born. At that time very little was known about the disease and there is still so much to learn about it. Both of my father’s brothers also had MS. We were part of a Canadian study to see if it was, in fact, a genetic disorder. As a young child I was very familiar with giving blood. I have no idea what happen to the study.

    I grew up fearful that I carried the gene for MS. I am not sure if it is still the same as back than, but at the time more women were diagnosed and more in their 30s. When I gave birth to my first child at age 30 my father was so fearful that it would trigger it.

    As it turns out neither my sister or I have MS, but I do wonder about my children….
    audrey van petegem recently posted…Gaia Herbs – “Meet Your Calm” GiveawayMy Profile

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Audrey,

      I am sorry there is so much MS in your family. How are your father and brothers doing? When I was first diagnosed in 1987 I never heard of siblings or family members each having MS. Today I hear it all of the time.

      Before I had my son I met with reputable specialists to learn what chance there was that I may pass my MS onto him. They said it was less than 1%. Today they say it’s a little higher than that.

      I know there are ongoing studies for familial incidences, and I’m sure you could find out more about it from The National MS Society at http://www.nmss.org.

      As far as giving blood I never heard of that before. I am sorry you had to endure it. I am sure you loved your dad and wanted to help however you could.

      If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me. I am a health advocate as well as a writer and I write for 3 MS health websites. I am all about paying it forward.

      Thanks, Audrey. Best to you always~
      Cathy

  8. Barbara

    Hi Cathy,
    I have become such a fan of your blog! You hit on subjects that always interest me and I really love what you have to say. I’m home for a few weeks with a torn ACL & MCL. The computer is my link to the working world. In some ways it’s great! I can feel connected without having to be there. The down side is, I’m always on duty. Reports, lesson plans and many day to day things continue to be my responsibility. I’m supposed to be resting! Ha Ha…who would have thought that I’m a full time teacher…while still being home.
    Love,
    Barbara

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Barbara,

      What a lovely thing to say. I am so glad what I write about is of great interest to you. Makes my heart feel lighter.

      I hope you are up and around and feeling better soon – ouch! The silver lining is this gave you a chance to spend more time reading online, something I’m sure as a busy teacher is difficult thing to do. (My mom taught for 20 years and I remember how busy it was)

      Thanks for reading my blog. I look forward to hearing more from you. Keep me posted on how you are feeling.

      Best~
      Cathy

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Ellen,

      What a fabulous comment from a fabulous woman! Thank you so much.

      I look forward to sharing this journey with you via GenFab. I hope we get to meet in person someday.

      Cheers~
      Cathy

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Lois,

      I feel the same way about you being a big part of why I look forward to going online. In the short time I met you I feel we are fast friends. How great is that?

      Now about San Diego……boy, oh boy would I love to live there. I’d even pitch a tent in Torrey Pines. Love it there. Actually I love everything I saw, and adored our two-nighter in Encinitas as well. More for another time.

      Cheers~
      Cathy

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Beverly,

      Thank you for leaving your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to let me know your thoughts.

      It’s wonderful being a part of the GenFab family and meeting wonderful people like you.

      I am unsure whether you have a disability, but if you do please let me know. There are many programs that are subsidized to help those with a disability get a computer. Who knows?

      Best to you always~
      Cathy

  9. Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs

    You are such a huge inspiration to me, Cathy. As someone with MS (20+ years now), this resonates on many levels. I work from home, make friends from home, am thankful for the opportunity thanks to our brilliantly high-tech world. I *could* work outside the home and did for many years, but why should I now? 😀
    I’m so thankful to have met you and all the other #GenFab ladies. You truly inspire me, my friend.
    Lisa @ Grandma’s Briefs recently posted…Reheated comfort foodMy Profile

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Lisa,

      You and I share a lot in common. Most of all we share a growing on-line friendship that I deeply appreciate. I must add that you inspire me as well!

      Thanks for leaving your lovely comments.

      Best~
      Cathy

  10. Emily

    What a wonderful post, both as a tribute to the GenFab group, as well as to your laptop. Oddly enough, I feel the same way about my laptop, as it has given me the freedom to write where and when I want to write. I used to have to station myself at our desktop, but now if I want to leave the house and write somewhere else, I can, or conversely, if I want to stay in bed and write, I can do that too. I hope you know that you too are one of the members of the online group that lift others up as well, both with your blog, as well as with your warm spirit.
    Emily recently posted…How To Convince 3 Boys To Watch The Red CarpetMy Profile

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Thank you for your warm and gracious comments, Emily. I am happy you are a part of the GenFab family I am getting to know, and look forward to sharing this journey together.

      Have you gone Hollywood yet? Just joshing!

      Cheers~
      Cathy

  11. Barb Best

    Empowering and uplifting insights, Cathy! Many families (like mine) constantly search for new ways to support loved ones with MS and other autoimmune diseases. Technology is a blessing that improves lives every day. Also, GenFab!
    Barb Best recently posted…Dumb or Just Numb?My Profile

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Exactly, Barb. Technology helps people with all kinds of disabilities. It’s a powerful tool that brings the world into our living rooms.

      I am so glad you enjoyed my blog post. Thanks so much for leaving your comments.

      Best always~
      Cathy

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Cynthia,

      Yes! Wouldn’t it be great for us all to meet for one glorious weekend? Who knows? Perhaps it WILL happen. Boy, oh boy – will THAT roof cave in…

      Thanks for your comments~
      Cathy

  12. mindy

    Cathy, Your positive outlook and sunny disposition are to be commended…and emulated. It is so obvious that you are a true, genuine soul, and that’s not easy to find these days. (Except in this group, of course!)

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Mindy,

      Thanks! Coming from you it is greatly appreciated. You are a sweet soul, so it takes one to know one, friend.

      Best always~
      Cathy

  13. Connie McLeod

    Cathy, It is indeed a strange and wonderful new world out there. Like you, I feel empowered by this tribe of GenFab women, women I’ve never met, but feel that I know. We really do care and support each other. Your written words are strong and powerful and I would never guess that illness has had such an impact on your life. I appreciate that you’ve shared your story with the world. One never knows how sharing vulnerability can impact someone else’s life.

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Indeed, Connie. I write for several MS websites hoping that by opening up my life and experience with MS it can impact others for the better. You hit it right on the nose (as usual!).

      Thank you for your lovely comments.

      Cheers~
      Cathy

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Patricia,

      Thank you for your lovely comments, and your thoughtfulness about reaching out to others. It IS a difficult thing to do, but as I age I’ve learned it’s sometimes a necessity. I’ve learned people who care about you don’t know how to help, and are more than happy to do what they can for you. Thank you for the reminder!

      Best to you always~
      Cathy

  14. Walker Thornton

    Thank you for sharing about your MS. So many people know little about the disease and in my experience they don’t know what to say or how to talk normally about the person. My husband struggled to not be defined by his MS. And, what I’ve noticed is that his strength and determination have served him well over the years. Now approaching age 60, in a nursing home, after about 18 years with the chronic progressive form of the disease.
    We all need to pay more attention to adaptability and flexibility in our thinking about the role of work and play in our lives.
    Walker Thornton recently posted…Sexuality: Do We Really Need a Reason To Talk About Sex?My Profile

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      You are so right, Walker. We all need to have adaptability and flexibility in everything we do. Because in the end we all will face some kind of disability, whether it’s emotional or physical. So we have two choices, and the better choice (in my opinion) is to not let our illnesses define who we are.

      Thanks for your comments. Your ex is in my prayers.

      Best~
      Cathy

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Thank you for your lovely comments, Caryn. I take them to heart and greatly appreciate them.

      Cheers~
      Cathy

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Thanks so much, Cyndi. People like you empower me, and I am happy to have you as part of my FB friendship circle!

      Have a terrific day, and thanks so much for your lovely comments~
      Cathy

  15. Barbara

    You impress me so much. I find myself coming up with the flimsiest excuses for not doing what I need to do. I’m grateful to this group of women who are so supportive and inspiring, who motivate me to find a way around the obstacles. Thank you for sharing this with us.
    Barbara recently posted…Monday, Wind-dayMy Profile

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Barbara,

      Thank you for your lovely comments. We all do what we have to do. I’ve learned we can’t be too hard on ourselves when we aren’t as productive as we’d like to be. As you said, we are grateful for this marvelous group of women who surround us, lift us up, and empower us. You are one of those women!

      Have a great day~
      Cathy

  16. Abigail

    Oh my goodness I used to love playing Putt Putt games on the computer as a kid! I’d completely forgotten about them.

    Thank you for sharing this post. It was really inspiring.
    Abigail recently posted…37 WeeksMy Profile

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Abigail,

      Yes, wasn’t Putt Putt fun? I loved that game!

      I am glad you found my post inspiring. Thanks so much for leaving your lovely comments.

      Cheers~
      Cathy

  17. Cj

    Cathy, I stumbled upon your blog and found it very interesting. I too have MS, diagnosed 4 years ago. Unfortunately I am still trying to find my new “normal”, which is kinda hard when “normal” changes from day to day. For close to 30 years my work life has been active and energetic (military/International contract security/law enforcement) Now I find myself with wheels. I never knew just how limiting wheels are. Daily I find myself frustrated with not just going and doing something that was once so easy.
    I need to reinvent myself as you have (disability payments are seriously demeaning). But what? Where do I start? How can I make the internet work for me? Techno literate I am not.
    I have dabbled with writing over the years, really nothing more than moments of inspiration (http://www.scribd.com/Mivoyses) but certainly not something I can sit down and do on demand.
    I would love to be able to “be productive” again, my only questions are what and how?
    Do you have any suggestions for where I should look?

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Thank you so much for your comments, and for sharing a bit of your story.

      Remember, it’s all baby steps forward. One thing leads to another. Yes, it’s true when a window closes another one opens (or something like that)….

      I used to check out tutorials on YouTube to figure out blogging. I networked. You can do both of those things. Decide what you want to do. Then go after it! Remember you CAN do anything your set your mind to.

      Being in the military must be a great training ground for dedication, commitment and a strong will. Use those inner skills you already have to get you where you want to go!

      Good luck to you, and best of health as well.

      Cheers~
      Cathy

  18. Jackie DeMuro

    I have to tell you that, upon meeting you, I had no idea you had any disability at all. You are vivacious and a “go-getter”! You have made the best of things, that’s for sure. I, too, am glad that I found our little group. It empowers me in so many ways!
    Jackie DeMuro recently posted…The Laundry Edict of 2013My Profile

    1. Cathy Chester Post author

      Thank you, Jackie, for your kind words!

      The MS Society publishes a book entitled, “But Oh, You Look So Good!” which applies to people who have my “type” of MS. You can’t tell from the outside, but…

      I am thankful for your lovely comments, and also for our new friendship.

      Best~
      Cathy

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