As I mixed the hot water and the chocolate powder, I smelled the chocolatey scent and smiled in anticipation. Then, I asked one of my new apartment mates to help me with pouring the Baileys. See, I don't want to pour too much, but I haven't been drinking long enough, or enough times to know where to stop. That will come with time, but given that I just wanted a decent amount, I thought asking for help would be best. The pouring went well, and I tasted a bit. "Perfect!" I exclaimed.
Next, I did my favorite part, putting on the whipped cream. I like to put a lot of whipped cream on my hot chocolate. I put enough on that I have to rush to eat some before it topples. Then I let some melt into the chocolate and add more. One can spend a lot of time on the whipped cream part of hot chocolate. But this time, something didn't sound right. The spraying noise wasn't right, but I couldn't figure out what was wrong. But then, I heard a snap, and my hand went flying (with some force), toward the 16-ounce travel-mug of hot chocolate liquid. I was left with chocolate and Baileys in a pool on the counter and on the floor, as well as soaking my clothing.
I have to admit that there were several emotions crowding my head, all wanting the focus of my thoughts. Oh, no! Oh, *&^%^&*! Why now? I thought I wanted Baileys before, I sure want it now. How will I clean this up? I'm so embarrassed! What happened? Did the nozzle break? Am I a cluts? What do I do?
Thankfully, my room mate helped me clean up. She recognized that I can't see where everything is, and was really kind about the whole thing. The nozzle had snapped, and the rest was a chain reaction of physics. Yes, it was incredibly embarrassing, but it helped that it happened in front ofsomeone who handled it well.
I'm now sitting here, drinking a cup of mint tea. Yes, you could say I'm a tea totaler tonight. As I think about what can be salvaged from the situation, a few principles come to mind. Specifically, I'm thinking about advocacy for blindness issues, accessibility and chronic pain management advocacy. Here are some of the ideas:
- Things can go majorly wrong, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Yes, things can go terribly wrong when you make hot chocolate with whipped cream. But if I just decided that I was never going to make it, I would miss out on a great treat. I'd miss out on the fun that comes from sprayable whipped cream. And I wouldn't be able to enjoy the joy that comes from knowing that I made my own drink when I am successful.
Similarly, if we never tried to advocate for ourrselves and others with similar challenges, we'd never enjoy the feeling of success when things go well. We'd never meet the great people we meet when we advocate. Dialogues would never start. And we'd never feel the success of knowing that we made a difference in attitude, barriers, resources and hope which are available for ourselves and others.
- Failures aren't always complete failures. Even though I had a pretty big failure in actually creating the full hot chocolate, I still did succeed in several steps of the process. I have a somewhat better idea of how to add Baileys. And most importantly, there are two more people in this world who know that whipped cream cans aren't always structurally sound. Finally, I can still try again.
In advocacy, we aren't always going to be successful, but that doesn't always mean that we've failed. If I send a letter out to my congress person, but the bill fails, I have still given the congressperson something to think about. And if that starts a good relationship and she/he is more receptive to future ideas on the subject, it's not a complete failure.
- Sometimes, the best idea is to switch what you're doing. Today, I found that I really didn't want to make another hot chocolate. So, instead, I made tea. I enjoyed the cup of tea a lot, and it helped with the nausea, something the hot chocolate can't do.
With advocacy, the best thing to do sometimes is to switch it up. If asking for one accommodation isn't working, maybe a different type will get you where you want to go. I still got warm from the tea. And if I can't get a document in Braille, sometimes an electronic version is sufficient and has other benefits.