Since this post is largely about something that happened at work, I'm cannibalizing a blog I wrote for the Inclusion & Diversity blog at work, with some modifications for this forum:

There are moments.

Since having a brain hemorrhage and stroke in 2010 and becoming the poster boy for disability insurance (May being Disability Insurance Awareness Month), I keep an eye out for moments that make the whole thing, "worth it." And while I've long subscribed to the Groucho Marx witticism, "I'd never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member," the sense of inclusion and belonging I've gained from my disability makes it all worthwhile.

Last Thursday, watching the Ability Employee Resource Group's [which I lead] first ever Unum's Got Ability talent show, I had a host of those moments, watching and listening not only to company employees strut their stuff, but also seeing them do so in the context of personal experiences with disability. May also happens to be Mental Health Awareness Month, so it was appropriate that many of the conditions discussed could be categorized in that ethereal and invisible realm. While the symbols of disability (e.g. wheelchairs, crutches, hearing aids, white canes, prosthetic limbs, service animals, etc.) tend to be assistive devices you'd notice at a glance, the truth is that most disabilities are hidden. I've also come to understand that all disabilities are, in fact, invisible, in that there is an unseen, unique story behind every single one -- whether lifelong, acquired, or temporary.

I was so pleased to see our performers' willingness to show vulnerability in sharing their personal experiences with disability and with our audience's ability to create a safe space in which to do so. I'm not one to lightly throw around words like, "inspiring" and "brave"" but it was gratifying to listen to and appreciate what those stories represent in our mission to create a more accepting and inclusive work environment (if not a broader society), free of bias and stigma. My hope is that we are making a place where everyone feels heard, empowered by, and invested in the knowledge that openness makes it easier for others to reach out and give and receive the support they need as well.

Totally worth it.

Without further ado, here is the video from my performance. It's about 15 minutes long: