Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The only disability in life is a bad attitude

Several years ago I read this Scott Hamilton quote and thought it was perfect. At the time, Scott had a brain tumor and cancer. He did not let that hold him back, however. He eventually beat the cancer and today continues to write books and inspire others through his speaking engagements and philanthropy.

The dictionary defines "Disability" as a condition that makes it difficult to engage in the activities of daily life. If someone has a bad attitude, they are definitely 'no longer able' to engage in normal daily activities.

Attitude plays such an important part in our lives. John, a friend and member of the KDA board of directors is another one of us living with Kennedy's Disease. He is also a man that always seems to have a positive perspective on life. He just never seems to get down. I am often amazed at how he has the ability to handle adversity and, more often than not, put a humorous spin on the situation. John also has this attribute that he does not take himself too seriously. He is fun to be around and someone who always seems to be there for you if you need him. He is definitely not disabled.

In our family, when someone comes down with a "case of attitude" we say he/she "got ugly." I never really thought too much about that saying, but it is rather descriptive. If someone "gets ugly", they shut down and refuse to communicate. They often make everyone else around them gun-shy ... not wanting to be on the receiving end of the negativity.

I have been known to "get ugly" once or twice in my life. When that happens, I am not a happy camper. It is a shame that when I do "get ugly" that I am blinded from seeing what my attitude does to others. If I wallow in self-defeat and continually feel sorry for myself, what have I accomplished? Have I proven anything other than finding out that I am a person no one wants to spend time with? Am I any better off by continually venting and showing others what a butthead I am? And, most importantly, does my poor attitude change anything?

What is also interesting is that when I see someone else that I care for with a bad attitude, I want to find out what is wrong and help them through it. I want them to open up and tell me what is bothering them; hoping that we can talk it out. At the time, unfortunately, the person is usually not very receptive because he/she finds it easier to just shut down and wallow in the mire.

The other day I came across something that I wrote twenty-five years ago. Those were the early days when I had something to say, but was not sure how to say it. I have no idea what was going on in my life at the time, but this piece seems to fit perfectly with the topic.

It's been a long time since we walked together
Is it because I lost my way
I keep asking why you deserted me
when I need you the most these days

We were inseparable friends once
and then you went away
Am I so different now than I was then
or are you just waiting for me at the next river bend
Is this daily hell I go through
the penitence I must pay
I know this pain would all be forgotten
if you would just visit me again today

If you were at peace with yourself, it would be difficult to have a bad attitude.


  1. Love your poem, Bruce! I never miss your blog. You always seem to find something interesting, inspirational or humourous to share with us. Thanks so much : )

  2. Robbie, I appreciate your readership and comments. It helps keep me going.

    After reading some of my other early works I figured out what was happening when I wrote that poem. I was struggling with the whole Vietnam experience. It was the beginning of the inspiration for my short story, "Will I Finally Find Some Peace."

  3. Hey Bruce!

    I really appreciate your article, especially the poem. Has helped me a lot in a speech I had to deliver. Thanks a million

  4. Thanks for reading my blog. I am happy to hear it was helpful.

  5. If only my son would read your story , he had a horrific accident racing motorbike , now in a wheelchair , takes drugs for pain ,trying to get off them ,goes to physio , very determin to walk again , oh but his atitude is something else , he owed us thousands of dollars,we sold one of his properties ,the bank was going to forclose on it , he got a very good insurance payout, the property had a lot of expense on it, so only got a small portion of money for it so we kept that , now he does not speak to his father , calls him for everything , if something does not go right , he has bad atitude towards me , prob will end up not talking to me either, in a way it is our own fault , as from an early age he always got everything that he ever wanted, when he got in dept we bailed him out, tells his friends everything , tells us nothing, thinks more of them than us ,today he had a hissy fit ,said he will end up talking to none of us , so I said you do not have a nice atitude and left it at that.so I really do not know how things will end up, he used to be able to have a joke, but every is taken the wrong way, but he can say stuff , you are supposed to think it is cool.and he thinks every thing that comes out of his mouth is correct , he is right others are wrong , even though we know he is wrong sometimes , anyway ,I feel if his atitude does not change there is a long road ahead , he often says he will end it all , so I worry about that.

    You sound terrific , if only a magic wand was available . I am sure that God is watching everything , and must be very sad because of the way he goes on ,as I am , not sure if this email will reach you ,God bless , joey5_@hotmail.com

  6. Thank you for sharing your personal story. I can empathize with your concerns for your son. Many of us have to deal with attitude issues and improvement opportunities.

    There is an old saying, "you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink." All you can do is be there for your son. Some times you also have to show your love in ways that your son will not currently understand. It is called "tough love." For example, at some point, no matter how difficult it is, you might have to say "no" to his request for additional financial help.

    As the saying goes, you can only do so much, but at some point your son has to take responsibility for his own life. Part of that responsibility is a willingness to accept the situation and begin to make changes that will eventually allow him to be self-supporting again as well as to recognize how important family and friends are in his life.

    I wish you the best.

  7. Your poem hit home. My high school sweetheart and I have recently gotten reconnected. After all these years those old feelings are still there and I believed stronger than ever. Just in the past few weeks he has been having symptoms of KD. He has an older brother that has been told he has KD. Since he is being tested, he has been pushing me away. Hardly talks to me and says he has a lot to deal with and can't talk to anyone yet. He says he will see what he is told and then put his life in order. He says I need to find someone that can be there for me the I want. That he won't hold me back. I am at a loss. I do not know what to do or what to say to him. I love him and want to support him, if he would only let me. Your poem just fit us perfectly and I know I can't give up on him.

  8. Yes, it is not uncommon for loved ones to experience the separation as a person comes to grip (accepts) with Kennedy's Disease.

    He needs you, whether he knows it or not. Many of us feel that we will or are destroying the life of someone we love so pushing them away is our way of trying to help. We eventually realize how wrong we were ... but it takes time.

    Continue to let him know you are there for him, no matter what. Tell him you want to be part of his life ... to live and love and grow old together. He'll appreciate it at some time.

    I continue to say that I am the luckiest man in the world because my wife chose me and has put up with me.

    I wish you both health and happiness together.


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