Differently Abled?…….NO!

“People who are differently abled….” This is something that I have heard more and more. All I have to say is NO! How is this something that is ok to call people who have disabilities. Some might be comfortable with this label but please never call me differently abled.

The only reason I would be differently abled from you is if it is not accessible and then that is not my fault. i am more than able to do what you do. I work full time, I have three children, I snowboard, I golf, I hike, I cry, I laugh, I live my life, I have opinions that are unpopular, I get sad, I get angry. Tell me how that is any different than anyone else.

Ashley and her 1st guide dog yellow lab Rick standing at the lodge at a ski hill while Ashley holds her snowboard.

I may be blind but that is like you having brown hair and me having blond. It is a trait but it certainly does not affect my ability to do things. I am capable and do live a very full life. When the world around me is set up so that it is not EQUAL TO ALL that creates barriers but my abilities DO NOT create barriers.

Ashley with the contestants of the Miss Canada Pagent.

When society thinks that I am not as capable that creates barriers but my actual skills and abilities far outstretch what society says I am capable of. I am not one to stand and shout out my accomplishments but if we look at the last 5 years I have done some pretty amazing things.

I have been named one of the future 40 under 40 in Saskatchewan, I have completed my Certified Management Degree, I have reached more than 1 million people through this blog, I have had hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, I have spoken at many different events, I was named as a Women of Change in Saskatchewan on International Women’s Day. I was a judge in a beauty pagent, I ran in a provincial election, I was nominated as a YWCA Woman of Distinction. I am raising three amazing children!

Ashley and her current guide dog black lab golden cross Danson sitting looking at each other during training.

These are just a few of the things I have accomplished because I am a smart, strong, independent woman. I have the ability to achieve whatever I set out to achieve, without the limits of what a label like “Differently Abled” place on those with disabilities. A barrier that society has placed on me not a barrier that is actually there.

When I advocate I am not advocating for special treatment or for more than what others get, I am advocating and demanding EQUAL ACCESS to the world we live in.

Ashley and Danson lay on the grass in the park smiling at the camera. Danson is wearing his guide dog harness. Ashley is wearing a blue blouse with a black blazer and sunglasses.

Never underestimate my abilities and call me differently abled!

Until Next Time,

Ashley and Danson

Fear in Disability is Powerful

Being a part of the blind community and even the disability community as a whole I hear people say all the time how they are scared, or they are anxious about so many aspects of life as a disabled person.

One of the things that I have learnt in my journey to loving my life as a blind woman is that that fear you feel can be one of the most powerful feelings you have ever had. It can really change the way you live your life and can be the driving force in you living the life that you want to live.

Doing what makes uncomfortable creates comfort in new situations. Here I am navigating a space that created panic but now makes me feel strong and empowered. Photo description Ashley walking with her black lab guide dog on a path with her phone in her hand for navigation wearing sunglasses, cropped ripped jeans and a navy blue t-shirt.

So many times we see fear as a bad thing, something that holds us back, prevents us from doing the things that we want to do. In many cases that is the truth, but what if we looked at it from a different angle. What if instead of fearing what we cannot control we embraced it and used it as the driving force in our life to expend our world and our capabilities.

I feel fear almost daily, going somewhere new, putting myself out there, parenting as a disabled woman, etc. There are so many times when I feel fear and rather than letting that fear control me, I sit with it and analyze what I am scared of and I make the conscious decision to move forward, face that fear and show myself and the fear that it will only be motivation for me to go outside of my comfort zone.

One step at a time can create the life you want to live! Photo description black lab’s feet with boots on in between Ashleys feet with wedged sandals that have two beige straps across the top. All you see in the photo is the guide dogs feet and Ashleys feet.

When we face our fears and succeed what that does for your confidence and life is something that no one else can provide for you. It is empowering beyond belief to know that in spite of your fear you did it anyway and succeeded.

Will there always be success in facing your fears? No you will fail but you will be failing forward when you are failing facing the things that you fear most. There is no failure only growth. I get it wrong all the tine but I also learn from that failure and when I face that fear again I do it with a new outlook.

What are the things that are holding you back? What are those fears that you feel? Do you wish you could learn to face your fears and take control of your life?

Until Next Time

Ashley and Danson