Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Focus on the Things You CAN Do

"Focus on the things you CAN do, not the things you can't."

It sounds like some trite phrase trotted out by folks who have nothing better to do with their time than to tell others they should be happy with their lot, doesn't it?

While it's worked for me, I know all too well that I've had things pretty easy throughout much of my life. Such a philosophy might be too simplistic for someone facing real difficulties. At least that's what I always thought until I had a chance recently to hear a woman speak by the name of Kathy Buckley.

Her family and her teachers just thought she was 'retarded' and put her in a school for the developmentally disabled until she was in the second grade when all along, her real problem was a hearing loss ("And they call me slow!" she says...). Then after just two years at a deaf school, she was yanked out of an environment where she felt safe and was dumped into the mainstream without any real support. She was in her thirties before anyone helped her understand that she wasn't stupid, she was just hearing impaired.

And that was AFTER she was run over by a jeep and told she wouldn't be able to walk... and later diagnosed with cervical cancer and told she might not live. Not only is she still alive and walking (and dancing too), she's smart as a whip and fall-on-your-butt funny as a comedienne. Sure, you have to get used to how she talks but it's such a small thing to do when the message she has to share is so powerful.

Really, if Kathy can do all that she's done, shouldn't the rest of us be able to overcome just about any obstacle standing in our way if we only focus on what is possible instead of what seems impossible? What would you do if you had someone around who believed in you enough to make you feel it could be done? What if that person was yourself?

"Impossible" is usually just a thing we say to ourselves when we're really just afraid to live up to our true potential. It might be easy for me to say... and now I know from having heard Kathy's story (from Kathy herself) that it's actually true.