The Mad and Crip Theology Podcast

Episode 14 - Chantal Huinink and Mike Walker

March 18, 2022 Amy Panton and Miriam Spies Season 1 Episode 14
The Mad and Crip Theology Podcast
Episode 14 - Chantal Huinink and Mike Walker
Show Notes Transcript

On this episode Amy and Miriam speak with two of our poets from the Fall 2021 issue of The Canadian Journal of Theology, Mental Health and Disability.

Chantal Huinink reflects on her poem: As a Canadian woman with disabilities, I am deeply encouraged by the prophet Isaiah’s theology of access and promotion of universal design. This poem is meant to alert readers to similarities and differences between hardships that people with and without disabilities experienced before, during and likely beyond the pandemic. The opportunities I have to bear witness to the ways in which God has redeemed, is redeeming and will redeem tragedy, invigorates my Christian faith. When the pain and suffering caused by the pandemic is not so raw, may we be mindful of ways to continue advancing on the Road to a barrier free society, propelled by the wisdom that we carry forward into the new “normal.”

Mike Walker reflects on his poem: I’ve often found that people stare at me on the street. That was particularly true in Toronto when I lived there between 2006 and 2018. They probably glanced – or outright stared – at me because they found my gait unconventional. Maybe it made them uncomfortable. In any case, I’ve often wondered why people stared, and whether I could ask them to stop… Thus, this free-verse poem shows me, on the street, and on the chin-up bar, communicating part of my reaction to people’s prejudice. The weight room and the chin-up bar don’t judge me, but I have often found that people do, even if they don’t mean to. I want their judgment to become acceptance, and sometimes – as this poem indicates – that acceptance is hard-won. That acceptance comes from me – from within – not from without.

 To read the poems, visit:

Welcome to the Mad and Crip Theology Podcast,
hosted by Miriam Spies and Amy Panton, which

comes out of the Canadian Journal of Theology,
Mental Health and Disability. We both live

and work lands that have been homes and remain
homes to the Mississaugas of the Credit, the

Haudenosaunee, the Huron Wendat, the Neutral;
and the Ojibway/Chippewa peoples and other

peoples who have cared for the land. We are
grateful for the opportunity to live and work

on this land and are mindful of the need to
repair broken covenants. This podcast is an

opportunity to model how faith communities
can engage in theological and spiritual conversations

around madness and cripness. If you need a
full transcript you can find videos on our

Youtube channel. We want to say before we
begin that topics and conversations we are

raising throughout our time together are often
hard! They are hard for mad and crip people

ourselves and hard for our families and loved
ones. So, do what you need to do to take care

of yourselves, your bodies, minds, and hearts.
And now, here is our episode.

Hello everyone and welcome to the Mad and
Crip Theology podcast. We are delighted to

be joined today by Chantal and Mike, two of
our fabulous poets from our fall issue of

the journal. And over to you Amy.
Thanks Miriam and Miriam just told us that

her computer's in the hospital so we hope
that the computer she's using behaves today

while we're recording and everything. Um yes
welcome everyone and we're so excited to be

here today with you on the day we're recording
it's quite snowy which makes me sad because

I thought spring was finally here but it seems
like we have to wait a bit longer. Um so I’m

hoping that we can ask both Chantal and Mike
to introduce yourselves. If you could just

let us know your name and your pronouns and
then also what's your connection to the journal

and just let us know what you look like for
those folks who are listening, we'd really

appreciate that, so Chantal I’m gonna ask
you to go first. Welcome. Hi, I’m really

excited because that's the first time anyone's
ever referred to me as a poet so that's that's

really awesome for me. And uh yeah my name
is Chantal Huinink. I identify as she/her

and I’m wearing a pink shirt with an abstract
purple and a red kind of splotchy thing on

it and uh I have a black blazer and a brown
ponytail with a black scrunchie.

Thanks so much Chantal and I’m wondering
if you could give us a little bit of info

about what's your connection to disability
activism and disability work as well so our

our listeners will know. Sure yeah, I was
born with Cerebral Palsy so I use a power

wheelchair and and so that gives me a personal
connection to um theology and disability and

I work for uh Christian Horizons as the Coordinator
of Organizational and Spiritual Life there

so I do a lot of writing um and teaching at
the intersection of faith and disability.

And I was very excited when this journal became
instigated so thanks Miriam and Amy for that.

Oh we're so happy that you're excited. We
wonder if anybody ever reads it so thank you

so much Chantal. Um and Mike uh would you
mind introducing yourself? I would not. Uh

my name is Mike Walker. Uh my pronouns are
he, his, and him. Um connection to journal

slash theology of disability super diffused.
I was trained by Tom Reynolds known to everyone

in the zoom room uh The United Church of Canada’s
premier theologian of disability I wrote his

I wrote my dissertation under Dr. Reynolds
and I have worked in accessibility and inclusion

broadly within the church in Toronto, Chicago,
and now in Ottawa. Currently I am the LEAD

facilitator, LEAD is an acronym too long to
go into uh for the Ability Center Durham which

is a non-profit based in Whitby that is doing
research on inclusion and a lot of sports

related things with people with and without
disabilities. It's a really cool place. I

look forward to actually going there to do
some work someday soon. Um and description

of self, I am relatively bald, I just shaved
the other day, uh I wear glasses and currently

I’m not sure if you can see I’m wearing
kind of a plaid checkered shirt red and black

and white and I have a low voice so if you
can't hear me let me know and I’ll repeat


Thank you so much Mike so glad you're here
and your work at the is it the ability center?

The lead center? Ability center. The ability
center, it sounds very interesting so we look

forward to hearing more about that in the
future. Yeah. Amy, you're surrounded by CP

people today. Yes I like it.

My people. Um let's begin so the first question
is for both of you

and I will ask Chantal to lead us off, so
both of your poems are about how you interact

with society and church and dream of a better
one so we wondered if you could wave a magic

wand and have one thing change about your

in church and society, what would it be? Thanks
Miriam, I’m glad you mentioned this this

question was for both of us because I really
struggled with it and I’m more interested

in Mike's answer than mine. Um I I’ve been
thinking about it since the moment that uh

you you shared it with me and kind of stressing
about it uh what's the one thing right we

can't change the world overnight and so what's
one thing that we can uh pray for and hope

for and and work toward and do? Um honestly
I don't know the answer to that question if

you ask me tomorrow I’ll probably say something
different but I’ve noticed of late like

in the last six months to a year or so I spend
about half of my professional time and personal

efforts convincing people that I am the same
regardless of disability and I spent the other

50 percent I in contrast convinced our sharing
with people how I’m different than others

and how I wish they understood that more and
so I feel um like that split is a bit uh like

erroneous and not very productive and kind
of like changes from moment to moment and

um so I really just wish that um disability
wasn't regarded as a better experience or

a worse experience, it was regarded as something
that just kind of is um yeah, I think there's

people who think that my life is harder than
theirs and I think they're people who think

my life is easier than theirs and the truth
is that I don't really know because I don't

have anything to compare my existence to and
neither does anyone else for that matter,

um so I just kind of I wish that we practiced
more empathy for folks rather than comparison

of life experiences. No thank you social media

Yeah that makes a lot of sense and sounds
very familiar. I'm doing work around that

idea that I'm different but I'm not different
but I'm different and this is why that matters

and it's it's a fine line to walk. I I like
that you said I’m different and this is

why that matters I mean sometimes I forget
the other half of that piece um yeah thanks

from anyone's perspective. Thanks Chantal
and Mike how about your magic wand? So if

I were given a magic wand directly hopefully
by Mr. Ollivander and I didn't know how to

respond to this until just a few minutes ago
um I would probably go with Nancy Eiesland’s

solution in the first chapter of her book
"The Disabled God," a book I know Chantal

loves, and opt for a complete transformation
of the symbols and structures of church and

society right? Chantal talked about um and
you affirmed Miriam uh constantly telling

people I’m the same as you are and no here
I’m different right? If the structures and

the symbols change we don't have to have the
involved version of that conversation all

the time because to go back to Isaiah 40 the
way is clear right, the highway that God is

creating is much straighter if people already
have an idea of what access and inclusion

look like and plan for it. Yeah.


Well thanks both that was so interesting,
oh sorry Miriam were are you gonna you have

something to say there? Oh okay I just want
to say thank you so much both of you and I

think um your insights are really valuable
there so thank you. Um Mike we wanted to ask

you about your poem and for our listeners
who haven't had a chance to read it yet Mike

will be reading it for us today um and just
before you read it we wanted to ask you so

your poem talks about the way that people
sometimes stare at you for what you call your

unconventional gait when you walk and we wanted
to ask you if you have any wisdom for our

listeners on how to take care of yourself
when people stare? Uh so I have a lot of range

of experience of people people staring at
me because I don't walk normally right. And

it ranges from the very positive like the
teachable moment where the little child holding

their mother's hand walks by and says "Why
is that man walking funny?" and I turn around

and I say, "Because my legs don't work the
same way yours do," and I’ve also been called

out by idiots who wear gold chains and black
hoodies at Harbord and Spadina in Toronto

yelling at me from across the street, "Hey
buddy, what happened to your leg?" Um the

most important thing or things to remember
when one is being objectified, particularly

in the latter more negative way, is exactly
as Chantal alluded to earlier right, other

people's life experiences are still valid
but they they can't compare them to ours right,

they don't matter as much as my own experience
of body matters and I mean I do weight training

and I work out every day previously it was
several times a week now for the sake of mental

health is pretty much every day um, and I
think one of the reasons I do that is so that

I feel more at home in my body and another
good reason that I do that is so all of my

muscles talk to each other and I can build
up whatever neural connections I need so that

sometimes my right hand will do what I ask
it to do even if it's really tired right?

Um and I think also taking space for stillness
and silence is really important for me because

I spend about 10 percent of my energy every
moment that I’m awake trying to orient myself

in three-dimensional space, I don't always
know where I am in space, it's really easy

for me to lose things if I put them down too
quickly, and if I’m just rushing through

different parts of my life I’m going to
make mistakes because I’ll be skipping steps.

If I take space for stillness and silence
I don't skip as many steps, and my life is

easier and more intelligible. Is that a clear
answer? Yeah you know honestly it's kind of

a profound answer I think because I feel sometimes
like I’m on a what's that hamster wheel

sometimes the way that my life can be and
um trying to find times for stillness is really

hard so thanks for talking about that. Um
and we we wanted to ask you too the question

do you ever stare back at people? Always it's
only fair. Yes and and um what's the stare

like--is it like I’m I’m a human I’m
staring back hello I’m a human or is it

like please don't stare like what is the what
is the like what is the root of the stare?

Uh does it depend? This the it it does depend
a little bit, you mean the stare from me back

to the other person. Yeah. It's more of a
rye dry as dust "Hi there I know you're seeing

me do you like what you see?" more often than
not sometimes it's the really pissed off "Stop

staring at me," not very often um usually
it's "Hi how's it going?" Um but it does vary

a little bit but there's always at least a
drop of irony in it because I know when people

look at me for longer than a couple seconds
I have a rough idea of what it is that they're

seeing and I’m like sure now you have to
deal with it for a very short period of time

as we dance around each other and try to get
through this snow bank without running each

other over. Yeah very Canadian.

Well thanks so much Mike, uh we're wondering
if you could read your poem for our listeners.

I can. I hope I have the right version I downloaded
it again just this morning. I went through

that issue too yeah,

all right uh the whole thing right Amy? Yes
please. Okay cool here is what I have.

Sympathy and Steal
The silence follows me through dearth and

And mocks my fervent, vain attempts to kill

it with my prayer;
No, I can never let this lie. I can’t just

let it be,
Because I feel their prejudicial stares,

Because they choke the fragrant evening air.
I’ve lived more than thirteen thousand days

of loneliness,
Though I’ve not been alone for every one.

The depths of stark bipedal agony
Have left their ancient, torrid scars on me.

I’ve felt the solitude of close proximity.
The alienation of my skewed integrity

Forever shapes my individuality.
Some staring passersby still mark my loping

gait –
Though I can put my heels down, and walk straight

And I can feel the world bent, reflectively.

Slow, baleful eyes still follow me through
the halls,

And I will still walk headlong into walls,
No matter how I run upon my metal wheel;

The calculating gaze creates a cage,
A prison made of sympathy and steel;

Its limpid bars absorb my glowing rage
Until I ache for nothing but to feel.

I long to leave the cage, and feel the friendly

I feel like I’m measured by a deceitful

Because the yardstick’s bent. I know that
I’m not straight;

Sweet scoliosis takes my time and space away.
I am an S-shape, sibylline and serpentine.

But I would be an I, a doughty Doric column
of identity.

I’m made of flesh, but on my dour and darkened

I feel I would be better made of steel;
Tonight, I yearn for nothing but to feel,

Because emotions make my suffering real.
Outside the metro’s squalid, brute intensity,

I feel the grace of hanging by my hands.
I know my friends’ caring, and feel the

Of standing outside the fragile shell of Me.

Away from stares, and rationality,
I feel my broken body returned to me.

The iron cage that mourns materiality
Then rusts away. It leaves me face to face

With seraphim that sing a soaring song.
The chin-up bar becomes a gentle Tree

That whispers of a god’s nativity.
Now I can face each fearful, wordless stare,

Because I know my limits, and can prepare
A soft rejoinder to the concern that I meet

I trust my body, although someday I may fall.

Stark steel and sympathy release their grace;
My spine’s a long-bow, but I still stand

And walk on silently. I know my place.

Thanks so much for that Mike, um I agree with
Miriam when she called you at the beginning

you are definitely a poet so thank you so
much for sharing those beautiful words with


Thanks. Yeah thanks Mike, beautiful and heartbreaking.
Um moving to Chantal, we love your poems as

well and we wondered if you could talk about

how your life has changed because of the pandemic
we're living in and what you hope will remain

in the quote new normal unquote? Yeah well
I I actually don't feel as though my life

has changed all that much I mean I don't mean
to be naive but that our all of our lives

have changed as a result of the pandemic right,
you know fear this really small virus, and

our social circles are smaller, and so on
and so forth, but the things that have always

been difficult for me things like like booking
accessible transit going to and from work,

being at work and stuff have become less hard
because of the pandemic because now uh working

virtually is socially acceptable and and sanctioned
as actually a health measure which which has

been really cool, so it's it's a little bit
less about proving my worth um to the people

around me and more like I’m part of the
general society more now except I’m I’m

more experienced at doing this because I’ve
been doing it for longer right, social isolation

is not not a new thing for me necessarily,
whereas it has been for some people. And I

think one of the things um that has stuck
out to me is that both Mike and I's poem poems

deal with some aspect of isolation and so
maybe this is something that we talk about

in a little bit but I don't know if that's
specifically like isolationism specifically

related to mental health and disability or
if there's other factors at play but I do

know that's something that we hold in common
and so I wonder if that was it. Um so my poem

talks about things like you know um people
calling me to make sure I’m okay so I hope

that continues, it talks about people um coming
to my door with like food and things that

I would need um that didn't happen as much
before and so I hope it continues, but um

I think all of that speaks to the grander
narrative that I tried to kind of bring up

in the beginning which is that it seems like
to me um uh the world locally and internationally

like we've reached some new level of common
understanding which feels good to me.

Yeah thanks Chantal and I wonder that common
understanding of -- is it of vulnerability

or humanness or needs?

Ah yes and. Like so vulnerability, humanness,
needs, limits

I. Yeah yeah should we keep going? It's every
aspect of daily life I think. Yeah yeah and

so I pray that continues too. Yeah and also
just like for someone who relies on on on

public transit and public accessible transit
which can can be shoddy at best like the fact

that I can I can do everything virtually and
I don't have to wait and wonder if the bus

is going to show up like I hope I don't become
a permanent recluse but like it feels good

to save some of my energy for the things that
matter. Exactly and not spend it out on arguing

with transit and hoping that they show up
and calling them when they don't.

I'm just going to interrupt for just one second.
I haven't lived in Toronto for almost four

years now I still have times when I’m raging
at the TTC. Yeah and and I think like somebody

who is somebody said to me well if you had
an accessible van you know that would solve

your problems and true that would give like
some kind of a freedom but also that means

that instead of like like booking things and
doing things independently I’m like reliant

on a chauffeur so I don't think that's yeah
I don't think that's the answer either I think

the answer is that public transit needs to
be reliable whether you have a disability

or not. Exactly yeah, exactly Chantal, thank
you. I feel like that's less less artistic

of me to say and more like systemic and social
worky but it's it is a part of my experience

so. It's important it's a huge part of mine
and not having to leave my house to do work

has saved me hours and hours and hours of
time and frustration. Like to the point where

I went to uh orthopedic doctor for the first
time in two years and I said so I think I’m

less spastic in the pandemic I think I have
less spasticity and he goes no that can't

be especially considering that you know like
now you have to worry about disease and all

these and I said yeah but like in my daily
life I’m worrying far less about moment

by moment things and so then I can't just
speak anecdotally right so so he tests it

and he's like actually you're right you are
less spastic like and like that yes like he

should have validated my experience first
off, yeah, but secondly the research shows

that like less social and emotional stress
also causes less physical stress on the body

yeah which shows up far more if you're affected
by CP but yeah probably shows up for everyone.

Yeah exactly thank you Chantal. Yeah thanks
for all your affirmations it's nice to be

understood by people on on the other side

And we wondered that Amy could read your poem?
Yeah so if I can just speak a little bit to

that is... so as as a new and kind of uh burgeoning
poet and writer it's funny to me that like

I’m doing all of these writing things and
then I get so stressed stressed out about

like public appearances because I’m like
but I can't read it and that's primarily the

thing that's that's expected of authors and
writers and things right and so and so the

way that I I do creative work like this is
I’ll dictate it to my computer and so yes

I’m I’m writing it but I’m not actually
reading it off the page ever and so this whole

experience of being on um the Theology, Mental
Health and Disability podcast has really helped

me to like go a little bit further in the
journey of not only like giving thanks to

God for the skills and abilities that he's
given me but also accepting the limits of

those and saying you know what this presentation
of this poem I can do it and it can be rather

like um choppy which is not necessarily a
bad thing or someone who can read off the

page can do it for me and so I’m really
happy to partner with Amy and all of you in

that way yeah intensely

which which is something that I talk about
and I preach regularly but it's it's one thing

to talk about it and it's another thing to
accept it embrace it integrate it and then

so on and so forth.

Good okay so yeah I would love that Amy thanks
so much okay. Thanks Chantal and for people

who are watching this on YouTube there is
a cat on my head so uh hopefully she will

behave while she's up on my head so okay all
right here we go. So this poem is called Advancing

on the Road to a Barrier-Free Society through
Lessons Learned from COVID 19.

Thousands of years ago a Hebrew prophet wrote
these words as a message from God to His people.

“Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove
the obstacles out of the way of my people.”

Isaiah 57:14 NIV

Thousands of years later this message reminds
me that we still need to work towards barrier-free

society. Isaiah’s reference to “the road”
rather than a particular place, suggests that

working toward a barrier free society is not
represented in an event so much as a journey.

Might a barrier free society be constructed
with ramps and elevators?

Somewhat, though not entirely.

Might a barrier free society be represented
in materials that can be accessed through

braille, large print or by electronic means,

for people who cannot see?

Somewhat, though not entirely.

Might a barrier free society be represented
through sign language interpretation, a hearing

loop and good lighting for those who are deaf
or hard of hearing, and might lip read?

Somewhat, though not entirely.

Might a barrier free society be represented
in reduced sensory information for those who

are overstimulated?

Somewhat, though not entirely.

Might a barrier free society be represented
in support for psychiatric survivors who experience

a different reality?

Somewhat, though not entirely.

Might a barrier free society be represented
in more employment opportunities for people

with disabilities, and the ability to work

Somewhat, though not entirely.

If all these advancements are combined, a
barrier free society might be a possibility.

As a person with a disability and an employee,

I don’t want anyone’s pity,

Nor do I want employers or members of the
community to “accommodate me.”

To build a truly barrier free society we need
to have empathy for one another and mutual


Thankfully, God commonly turns mourning into

and brings joy out of tragedy:

Pre-pandemic few knew,

what I had to do,

to do the things that I wanted to.

Whether I was going to the office, the church,
a restaurant, or a movie,

I would speak to a parallel transit employee,

for half an hour or more daily.

I would call parallel transit at least a week
in advance,

hoping for the chance

to book my trip.

Sometimes, I would lose my grip:

my ride was often more than half an hour late,

and I had few options except to wait,

all the while praying because drivers were
not necessarily delayed.

Sometimes, they would completely forget to
pick me up on their way.

In the midst of the pandemic, I have often
been home on my own.

Yet, throughout this time I have felt far
less alone.

Thanks be to God for the ability to connect
with my community virtually or by phone.

One might think the practice of self-isolation

physical distancing might pose more,

barriers to connecting with community,

but in many ways the world seems more accessible
to me.

Now I can work, worship and volunteer virtually

I can stress far less about how I will get

Everybody is now aware of what it means to
have a lack of spontaneity:

What it means to stay home or travel sparingly.

For this reason, others no longer need to
accommodate me.

I am grateful that friends and neighbours
now text me regularly,

to see if there is anything I might need.

Friends and neighbours are now willing to
bring things to my door.

That kind of care didn’t happen as much

God, there is more to this pandemic than pain
and suffering.

On the glorious day,

that we can look back and say,

“hooray, the coronavirus pandemic is behind

Remind us,

that we need to continue to practice empathy
and care.

Even if they remain at home on their own,

help us to make sure that none of your people
feel alone.

Long after the pandemic is through,

help us to remove obstacles for one another
as a reflection of you.

Please show us everything we need to do,

to advance on the road toward accessibility

until we know we have built our society

to be entirely barrier free.


Amen and amen to that, thank you Chantal.
I appreciated various nods and heads up knowing

that each of you could relate to different
parts in different ways and it's good not

not just my singular experience right like
that it feels good to not be alone in that

way too.

Thanks Miriam so now is our kind of our favourite
part of the podcast where we get to listen

to you both talk to each other about each
other's work and we're just wondering what

questions you might have for one another um
or if there's something particular that struck

you about the other person's piece so maybe
Mike I'll ask you to begin. Sure um I really

I really like the straightforwardness of your
poem Chantal and I noticed as I was listening

just now both you and I use a lot of uh polysyllabic
words that all end with the e sound like you

know employee, integrity, all those sorts
of things and they kind of they kind of bounce

off each other and that's I think that's a
really good device for you and for me and

I really appreciated the uh the turn back
to God in the last stanza when the coronavirus

is behind us, remind us to act with empathy
right, to have empathy for other people that's

super important because you just spent like
a page and a half describing your experience

partly of being frustrated with transit and
I I I really appreciate how how direct that

is and yeah I think

there are other metaphorical ways of dressing
it up but I appreciate how straightforward

you've made it because I felt when I first
read it that it would be a really effective

sermon and I assume you've already used that
sort of thing as fodder for sermons and other

other talks that you've given as a disability
advocate. That's funny. And I expect that

you could expand that. Yeah thanks thanks
Mike uh well I don't preach much but maybe

I should maybe I could and and so I will keep
that in mind but the next time that that gets

asked of me. I have used it in a couple of
different speaking engagements and stuff,

but um so this poem I wrote it maybe back
in like August or September and submitted

it to the journal in October and then November
December we were kind of talking about doing

the podcast together and I was kind of scared
because at that point you know like the pandemic

looked so good and and and we weren't worried
about omicron yet and I was like oh no this

is going to be totally irrelevant not that
I’m glad it's the pandemic has come back

that's not what I’m saying at all but like
the the when the pandemic is behind us like

it's not behind us yet but it's going, and
so like for me a big part of of living um

life as a as a Christian, as a faithful person
is to is to think okay so like of the hard

experiences I’ve been through what's left
right what can I use what what is gonna what

are the diamonds in the dust here and so those
were them for me um the fact that like now

um volunteering is possible working virtually
as possible like connecting with humans as

possible in different ways.

and Chantal did you have anything for Mike
that you wanted to share with him about his

poem. Yeah yeah I do um I really appreciated
um the vividness with which you um described

the impact of people staring at you in a you
say um it chokes the evening air and um I

I think in your poem I saw at least two things,
I saw you calling people to account and then

um like people the people who stare at you
to account and then I also saw you calling

yourself to account in a way of saying like
um it begins with me right? And so I’m wondering

um if you can share with me and maybe other
listeners I don't think I’m as far along

the journey of self-acceptance as you might
be and so kind of where that where that comes

from or like how what what you would recommend
to someone that needs to be more accepting

of their bodies and their selves syballine
and serpentine and all of that. Yes um thanks

I really appreciate that I I had not noticed
that oh that that sense of my own personal

responsibility that you just pointed out in
the poem but I think you're right, um self

acceptance where does it come from?

Uh the really truthful answer is that it comes
from uh 12 how many most of 10, most of the

decade of cognitive behavioural therapy my
second therapist in Toronto noticing that

I still had some of a number of boundary issues
and was still really anxious about things

that are actually fairly normal to use a bad
word in our community um for most people he

one day put a mirror in front of my face and
said you're gonna say you see this white board

that I just had you write 10 nice things about
yourself on now you get to say them to yourself

so I did and it hurt because I had never really
said them out loud before and then he said

okay cool you're going to take on this exercise
and do it three times a day every time you're

in front of the mirror so every morning even
on a morning like today where I’ve been

up since 4:30 for no particular reason I go
into the bathroom after I work out and I say

I am strong, I am smart, I am brave, I am
funny, when I remember who I am it's a lot

easier to accept myself and again going back
to Eiesland and because I know how much we

love the book, part of the self-acceptance
comes from knowing that Jesus underwent the

same experience not just the experience of
physical disability but practically the exact

same physical experience you and I both have
right because he has nails put through his

hands and his feet so he can't walk normally
or properly and he would probably struggle

to eat a piece of broiled fish right but he
does both of those things he walks through

walls in the latter half of the of John right
so yeah he has not only undergone an experience

of disability he's gone through the exact
same experience with which you and I are most

familiar so since he's borne that burden for
me and for us there is no reason that I should

not accept myself because I don't have holes
in my hands even though one of them doesn't

work properly and I don't have holes in my
feet even though neither of them have the

same kind of sensation my left hand does it's
a lot easier to accept myself when I know

that Jesus accepts me and understands my experience.
Yeah even though I’ve read Eiesland and

I’ve thought about you know Jesus and disability
I’ve never thought about how he might walk

improperly yet still um and so that I yeah
that's really cool thank you for that.

Thank you Mike and Chantal, that was great
for new insights and new new things to consider

our relationship with the crucified Christ
and what that means for us and that leads

into our final question which is around

how do we care for ourselves, for our souls
while we do this intensely personal work,

right, it's not distant from our bodies?

So talking into a mirror and naming other
things you love and God loves about you is

one way we do that. Yeah I’m going to adopt
that so

But are there other ways you take care of
yourself and your spirit in this work? Uh

listening to intense amounts of Sound Garden,
Jane's Addiction, U2, Stone Temple Pilots,

I could go on for an hour lots and lots of
really good music, most of it with loud guitars,

watching a lot of really creepy shows like
Criminal Minds and uh Homeland and things

that get the rage out in other ways and making
sure that I have actual social support that's

not just on Facebook like like Chantal says
it's useful but it's a lot like looking in

an inverted uh mirror in that same way that
we were just talking about because it only

reflects the parts of yourself or other people
that they want you to see whereas if you're

talking to someone on the phone or face to
face with them it's a lot easier to be real

and or vulnerable imagined. So I never would
have thought of Sound Garden and Criminal

Minds as self-care but I I will now because
I I like all of those music that you mentioned

and all of the shows that you mentioned and
I watch them and I listen to them all so I’m

with you there and I think one of the things
that attracts me to the art form of poetry

is I think in social conversations and in
public speaking or like any kind of dialogue

with humans as a as a motivational quote-unquote
speaker I’m trained to be uplifting and

encouraging and and you know and this is what's
good about it and yeah you know like the big

finish so to speak the grand finale and I
think poetry allows me to be a bit more honest

with myself and and so I’ve written a total
of three poems in my life here two of them

so far and like what's I think um I I know
I never start writing a poem with the intention

of like I’m gonna share this with someone
um but then when I do so far like two out

of three hopefully three for three at some
point um they've been really well received

and so and so maybe like poetry is in some
way teaching me to be honest with myself and

then sharing it with other people is the building
the bridge to be honest with other people

so like honesty and vulnerability is self-care
provided that others receive it in a in a

compassionate loving way yeah.

Definitely. Thank you Mike and Chantal

My pleasure, hopefully Mike's too. Yeah this
was very helpful thank you.

So we wanted to ask if there's any other things
you want to just tell our listeners as we're

wrapping up today are there any last thoughts
you might want to share with us, is there

anything Mike?

People who are listening to this podcast should
go out and donate to any Ukrainian organization

they can because Russia's invasion of Ukraine
is an act of war and war creates disability

and I don't really want more people to have
acquired disabilities than absolutely necessary.

Yeah and I was watching the news the other
night and there was a volunteer psychologist

he was working with some refugees and he said
so many people literally just can't even talk

right now they're so traumatized so our prayers
definitely are for Ukraine right now.

Chantal, is there anything? Yeah I I so I
will I will second the the global perspective

and the recognition that um you know we are
we are not in war, we are in a position of

privilege and we need to do everything that
we can do to share that and to love people

across the world and that's more possible
now than it's been ever before um but for

individual people who you know are themselves
struggling with self-acceptance or God's purpose

for their disability or god's purpose for
the work that they can do I hope that this

this podcast has been encouraging and supportive
to you and I hope that it draws you a little

bit further on the journey towards self-acceptance
and and uh building a barrier-free society

as it were so thanks. Yeah I would love to
uh do I hope Miriam agrees with me I would

love for us to do come back at some point
and do a whole podcast on the journey of self-acceptance

that would be so interesting and I think uh
I hope our listeners would agree that that

would be such a good topic for us to circle
back to so maybe we could do that sometime

in the summer together. I would love that
sign me up. Yeah cool okay well thank you

both so much for taking your time today to
be with us and for sharing your stories with

our listeners and your beautiful poems and
we look forward to having you back hopefully

in the summer to talk about this journey of
self acceptance thing so thank you so much.

Thank you very much for having me. Take care.
See you later. Bye.