7 ways to be a productive member of our society

Challenges, obstacles, adversities, limitations, and setbacks can make you feel that you are being left out of the success that others around you are experiencing in life.  You may feel isolated and you want to do something about it.  If this sounds like you, I can assure you I have been there.  I wanted to get my piece of the pie of success, and the only way I knew to do that was to be a productive member of our society.

For guys (I do not know about women) our jobs, our careers are often our identity.  We judge (and we know we shouldn’t) other men’s worth by what type of work they do.  We may look up to those who are in more prestigious careers than our own, and look down on others who have careers that are beneath our own – or even worse we look down on people who do not work (and are too young to retire or have no work history to speak of).

Because of these facts, as a disabled male, I felt inadequate and I didn’t like that feeling.  I wanted to contribute to society – even if a traditional job was unlikely due to the impact the ischemic stroke to my spinal cord had on my mind and body,

Since the early days of my stroke, I have found seven ways that I was able to feel as if I was still a productive member of society and that I still have something to contribute to my community and our world.

Sell on eBay:

The first thing I did was to return to what I was doing before my stroke, I continued running my eBay business from my one-bedroom apartment.  With my mobility being very limited when I first returned home from hospital, and my business taking a hit on its reputation from my inability to fulfill orders that came in during my hospital stay, I doubled-down my efforts to rebuilt my business and make it a success.

My plan did work.  I was featured in a special edition of entrepreneur magazine about eBay selling in August of 2005.  I was also a guest on eBay radio (podcast) from eBay Live in 2005, and my story was shared in a textbook in the spring of 2009.

Teaching a community education course

I took what I had learned from buying and selling on eBay and created an eBay course for our local community college.  The course was so successful I was asked to teach it several additional times.

Ticket taker for a minor league baseball team,

For a brief period, I worked as a ticket taker for the local minor league team. It was a good job as I could sit on my scooter and take the tickets from the fans attending the games or hand out programs as they entered the park.

Volunteer as a lunch buddy

For more than eight years I volunteered as a lunch buddy in our local area school district.  A lunch buddy (also called a lunch pal) is an adult who comes to school at least once a week and has lunch with a school aged student.  During lunch the adult acts as a friend and a mentor to a kid, screened by the school who needs a positive role model in his or her life during a difficult time.

Contact your local school districts, your local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter or local Bright futures chapter to inquire about becoming a lunch buddy or lunch pal.

Volunteer in a local hospital

My experience of being a patient in hospitals throughout my life since birth along with sitting with my in-laws while my grandmother in law and mother in law passed away in hospital gave me the compassion and experience I needed to be both sympathetic and empathetic for the families who nervously waited in the waiting room of the ICU in our local hospital.

I worked in our local ICU for more than five years.  During that time, I was recognized for my work by the Missouri Association of Hospital Auxiliaries as their volunteer of the year in 2015 and the Joplin Regional Business Journals salute to health care volunteer of the year in 2016.

Volunteer at a medical school

I briefly volunteered at a local medical university as a standardized patient.  A standardized patient (also called a SP) is someone who pretends to be a patient while medical students practice their diagnostic skills.  The best part of this volunteer work is that they paid me for it.

Start a writing career

While volunteering as lunch buddy, at the local ICU and as a SP, I have written 2 books that are on sale on Amazon.  The first is the Cheeseball Clann: Who’s Your Bully? (a book written for middle grade students about dealing with bullying – fiction) and “It Doesn’t Define me: How I Rebuilt my life after surviving an ischemic stroke to my spinal cord. (memoir). 

I am currently writing this weekly blog, entering writing contests, submitting short stories for consideration for possible publication to books like Chicken Soup for the Soul and I will soon be submitting articles for possible publication in magazines.

These seven ways, along with supporting my wife in her career, has allowed me to feel as if I am a productive member of our society, despite my physical limitations.