Growing into activism in my 20's I realized activism is every day, every step. As a person who gets a disability check, I hear harsh reactions from myriad people. I must be lazy because I am not working. I got a degree, clearly I am capable of work, but cheating the system instead. I could go on and on with these comments I have heard, but I have learned to turn the other cheek, focus on something else, and move on.

I spoke with someone who professionally works with developmentally disabled students, and he said ALL of the kids he works with misuse some or all of their disability checks, or rather their parents do or the guardian who manages it. I manage my own money. My disability is mental illness, a whole other can of worms.

The lawyer who helped me get disability told me I am very different from all of her other clients. Her views on most things reflect mine, we both are Quakers, and I wondered why she was so cynical about how so many use their checks.

I am not a perfect person. I have had a bankruptcy. It took me 12 years to complete college, and my supportive family and friends had to endure that. But I don't think it is healthy to presume misuse, when referring to disabled people and our benefits. It is a tangled issue.

I have been using my disability to enjoy peace of mind and to feel the liberty of time, as something I am in charge of, that doesn't own me. I have friends who work all the time and take care of piles of children (all the time) and barely have a second to care for themselves.

My disability is a mental illness called schizoaffective disorder type bipolar. I withdraw when I get over stimulated, which can be from just meeting a new person or doing something new. Or I get really high energy, and my thoughts go wild. Sometimes I am aware of being socially different, other times, I let it go.

Lately, not working, just pursing my life as I do, I have felt more and more well, more and more able to work. But it is the shifts towards new activities, such as working a new job, that throws me off course.

Earlier in my illness I had to be hospitalized for treatment. That was 14 years ago. Now I take medicine and therapy, and am fine. Medical examiners routinely check up on me to make certain I am not cheating the system. They always say I am still disabled.

I do so many things with my life. I feel I am letting my life speak, as Parker Palmer says. I am proud of the works and writing and art and swimming and discussions I have had. I work part time sometimes. I am trying to quit aspiring to work on over-drive and instead enjoy life.

Sometimes I, while keeping busy, just self care for months at a time, like a retired senior citizen would do. There is not a big stigma on grandparents, but so many people seem critical of my kind.

I am one wholesome girl saying not everybody misuses disability income. Also, if you are disabled, I challenge you to let yourself not listen to the critics you will hear. Find happiness in the flow of life and be your own guide!