Reeve Foundation Robin Wilson Beattie reflects on some recent changes in her life
"So much has happened to me in the past 3-4 months, and it has taken me awhile to process it all. Recently, there have been some significant changes have been made in my life, as a result of learning from failure.
As I last wrote several months ago, I took a job at The Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD), as the community advocacy specialist. It was a full-time position, with a lot of time spent in a cubicle. I had not worked 8+ hours a day in over a decade, and certainly not with a physical disability. The accommodations that I needed to keep the pain at bay, such as working from home, were unfortunately not a possibility with this job. I also was prescribed by my doctor to go to physical therapy 2 days a week, a couple of months after starting work. I never realized how much impact a chronic physical health condition could have on one’s job performance. I tried to make it work, upped my pain medications, and tried my hardest to do a good job. However, the increased pain, the anxiety and depression I was experiencing over this and how it affected my work, and the amount of time I was spending at the office was having a very negative effect on my personal life. I ended up scrapping therapy, because it didn’t work with the time I was expected to be in the office. I was depressed because I felt that I was not making a difference in the disability community, no matter how hard I worked. In June, my supervisor told me that she thought it was best if I explored other career options. She genuinely was concerned for my health and well-being and felt that my talents and skills could be more useful elsewhere.
At the time, I was extremely angry. I was infuriated with my body and pissed that my physical condition prevented me from having the stamina needed to do the job. I also felt that I was not given the proper support at work that would have enabled me to have been successful in that position. However, I had an entire summer to reflect and do some serious soul searching. I decided to turn what was initially a devastating event into a valuable lesson for my life. What I learned is that sometimes, failure is a wonderful teaching tool. If you learn from your mistakes, you will not repeat them. You can never be afraid to make an attempt because you are terrified of not being successful. One should not shy away from trying. By discovering what you cannot do, you learn to focus on what you CAN do.
I am extremely blessed, because a day after I learned I was losing my job, another wonderful opportunity literally landed in my lap. Telmeko Smith, the host and executive producer of the radio program, Handle With Care, called me. She was interested in having me appear as a guest on the pilot of her new television show. I informed her that I would love to but I no longer held the position at CLD. Telmeko then surprised me by offering me a position as an intern/producer for her television show. She knew what my talents and skills were, and she was aware of my various disabilities. I informed her straight up that I needed to be able to do whatever I could from home and needed flexibility to go to my doctor’s appointments, etc. As she is the mother of 4 children, she understood the desire I had to be able to have time for my daughter. Abigael started elementary school, and is involved in swimming and piano. She is the love of my life and I do not want to miss out on being there for her special moments due to having to work late, etc. Telmeko felt the same way- and we have made it work. I am now the producer for the television portion of her show. I’m in an exciting industry I have always wanted to work in, but did not know how to get there.
I now feel that failing to be successful at CLD was one of the best things that could have happened to me. I am cognizant and fully aware of my limitations and what sort of working conditions I would need to remain in optimal physical and mental health. I had to redefine what success meant for me, personally- for it is not the same for everyone. You cannot measure your personal sense of accomplishment against that of someone else. I learned the importance of speaking up for my needs, in order to keep myself healthy. Sometimes, failure is an option- because it will steer you towards your true path. I feel as though I am starting a new chapter in my life, and I am excited about my future possibilities!
Robin Wilson Beattie
Reeve Foundation Ambassador"
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