Today I want to more clearly define the work I do by beginning to talk about one of the key concepts of my book, Firewalk: Embracing Different Abilities. In this current career transition of becoming more known as a writer and public speaker, I am going through a wonderful process of “re-branding” my professional self and my business, Abilities Consulting & Counseling. When my fabulous marketing director and equally brilliant webmaster began talking to me about “re-branding,” I nodded many times with a glazed look on my face. Re-branding? I’m a counselor, writer, and public speaker. I’m not Coca-Cola. Why do I need to brand?
Well, it turns out Kathy O’Connell and Abilities Consulting & Counseling is a brand after all. I provide a service and I do have an audience. My dynamic duo began to ask me more and more specific questions about what my vision is of my work and what I brought to the table that was “different, new, fresh.” I realized all I have desired to do over the past 20 years (I cannot believe I have been a responsible grown up for that long!) of working in the field of disabilities has evolved into this brand….your disability is the launching pad to living a full and radiant life.
My core message, both in my personal and professional life, has been that my disability only ADDS to who I am. Having CP have given me a life perspective I would had never known otherwise. The struggles I have endured due to my physical difference have been frustrating, maddening and heartbreaking. They have also given me insight of the depths of compassion which I would have never learned without the gift of imperfect muscle coordination and speech. Now I want to clarify that I believe people without disabilities certainly have deep compassion. After all, my life is filled with these people! However, I, Kathy O’Connell, needed the lesson of CP to help me get there. I’ll explain that belief in a future post, along with the conditions of the contract I made with God….seriously.
Back to the launching pad….one of the main philosophies I introduce in Firewalk: Embracing Different Abilities is a person has two choices of how she responds to their disability – you can love it or hate (fear) it. Now loving it can take quite a while, if not a whole lifetime. Most of the book is devoted to this process. I will talk about the “hate” part next time as that’s not cut and dry either.
When we can love, when we can appreciate the triumphs as well as the sorrows, when we can look at our disability as a transformational tool for who we are to become, we step on the launching pad. We enter into the realm of possibilities of ALL our life can become and the unique experiences our disability gives us. The launching pad represents the springboard that pops up when a person begins to embrace the presence of a disability into their life. Once on the launching pad, Life says, “Okay you got this disability and it’s definitely going to need attention from time to time, but take a look at all I have to offer to you….so what do you want to do from here?”
Kathy O’Connell, the brand, wants to get people to the launching pad and answering what do I really want to do in this life.