From the desk of Rebecca Fortelka, Guest Editor and AXIS Board Member.
Eliza Riley is an activist and ambassador for Abilities Expo. She has such a great outlook. We at AXIS are inspired to be connected to so many people who are dedicated to making the lives of others better!
AXIS: Would you mind introducing yourself and explaining a little more about your disability and what it entails?
Eliza: Hello, my name is Eliza Riley and I have Cerebral Palsy. In entails a lot of things, LOL. It is like the undiscovered disability. I felt growing up, and to this day, that the doctors did not know what to label me as. I was just thrown under the term cerebral palsy. It is a brain disorder caused by lack of oxygen, and I just found out that there was indeed a lack of oxygen. The brain disorder that I experienced only affected my lower half, thereby being called Spastic Diplegia (Paraplegia) Cerebral Palsy. It is a disability that was supposed to remain stagnant and only require proper maintenance of the body. I say supposed to because every case of Cerebral Palsy seems to differ, sometimes dramatically.
I know you do a lot of activism for the disabled community. What is one piece of advice you would give to a disabled person wanting to make a difference?
The one piece of advice I have, is to keep your head on straight. People are going to be people, and there is really not much you can do about it. Know that you have something to share and just do it. Shake off all the naysayers and stupidity. If you just concentrate on your message, you will find a way to get it through. Be cognizant of your choices and actions; realize that what you do does not only reflect on you but all others. There are people depending on you to be a leader and so lead on, child, lead on!
What is your creative outlet?
I just started my brand new garden that I love to death. I painted the boxes, chose the flowers and a beautiful tree, and every day I go out a check on them. Sometimes I talk to my tree, and that is okay. It is space where I can let everything go and out of my system. There is such a sense of peace when you find yourself looking at a flower and getting lost in its growth. Most of all, I cannot stress enough how bad it is to carry around negative feelings and you need to do whatever you can to get rid of them.
If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?
The one thing I would change about the world would be this drought here in California. I would want to change men and have them stop thinking of women as property and something they control. There are a lot of things I would want to change but I know I cannot at this point in my life. I must think that everything that happened to me happened for a distinct reason, I could handle it. I handle it and live through it and hope that it will make a difference in someone’s life.
What is your life motto?
People tend to get mad or upset with me when I say this, “Life is sh*t, you get over it, then you die.” No one promised me waking up to daisies and living an easy life. I was dealt a sh*tty hand but I need to get over it. It is not going to be easy, but no one said differently. Everyone’s life is hard and if you take a close look at it you’ll find someone who is living a harsher life then you and you just need to remember that.