Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Lisa is living her best life





 Lisa is living her best life. .



I hope everyone is enjoying spring! This is a wonderful time of year.

I just finished my first semester in college at UIC. Now I am planning for next school year.  I have an internship at the UIC nursing simulation lab that starts in the fall.  I will be a patient actor in the lab and I am very excited about this opportunity.


I just went out to lunch with a friend of mine named Lisa.  She is a very courageous woman and I thought it would be great to interview her and share her story with you.

She lives a fabulous life and uses some of the person-centered planning tools I talked about to design her life.



Lisa was born with Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around. She never let the fact that she had CP limit her ability to dream of an inclusive and full life.
Lisa describes herself in her book like this “ I have never walked a step in my entire life. I can’t move my legs, my hands have limited usage and my speech is impacted as well.”  


As a child, she was an ambassador for Easter Seals.  She even knows the Precious Moment’speople really well because they were very involved in Easter Seals.  They designed a Precious Moment’s figurine who used a wheelchair and that made her very proud.

She went on a wilderness canoe trip with her dad and went to many fabulous camps. 


Lisa was included in school until the district took her out of her school in 6th grade and sent her to a functional life skills class at  another school far away & completely segregated from her peers and neighbors. She became sick and hated school.  She was completely isolated and her class was in a separate wing closed off from the rest of the students.  Educators forgot to teach her academics and they even forgot to teach her how to read. They prepared her for a life at  a sheltered workshop.


She was in a segregated setting through high school. She and her mom advocated fiercely for many years to get her into general education. . Finally, she was mainstreamed into a  woodworking class.   She has limited use of her hands so woodworking was a cruel joke of some kind. Lisa finally got into some inclusive classes in transition.


During all the segregated years, Lisa never let go of her dream to be included!! She said her dream never faded.


Then Lisa hired someone to teach her how to read. In a very short time, her reading ability sky rocketed.  She went up about 5 levels in reading in one year.  People just forgot to teacher her to read in school because she said they were babysitting her.


Her courage and commitment to make her dreams come true took off.

She went to College of DuPage and then on to Whitewater University. Whitewater has excellent supports for people with disabilities. She was there for 5 years and got a degree in Womans studies and Family Health. She made great friends who did not see her disability. She went to concerts and out for pizza and had study aids and note-takers. Her RA was right near her room so she could get help when needed.  Her PAs, aids, & caregivers were some of her peers and the program was through Lutheran Social Services. 
She had a fabulous time at WW.

However, in the beginning, it was hard to transition. She was afraid no one would come and get her.  On the first night, she was so nervous and she ended up in the hospital.  Her mom and Lisa decided that the worst is over and they survived so why not stay and see how it goes.

Talk about COURAGE!
I went to visit her at Whitewater and I could she how she fell in love with the place!


Now Lisa is on Two statewide boards, she is a Partners in Policymaking graduate, a LEND graduate and an author. She wrote two books: Take a Ride with Me and They Said We Couldn’t.  She is finishing up  a cookbook called HOT AND TASTY cooking with a partner.  She has recipes and will have videos showing how a person with CP can cook with a friend or companion.  I think this is just amazing!


So I asked her how she did it all and what advice can she give us on our journey.

Below are some of her thoughts.


·         When she was 12 she had a dream that God told her to help other people with DD by using her voice to make a difference.  She followed that as her North star her whole life even in the darkest times.

·         She had perseverance and kept fighting for her life.

·         She had a fabulous support system and found people who understood her vision and did not stop her from Dreaming.

·         Communication is first and foremost for a successful life.

·         Don’t let people put boundaries in front of you and tell you what you can and can’t do.

·         She thanks GOD every morning for her life and lives with gratitude

·         In Lisa’s book, TAKE A RIDE WITH ME, she describes how she turns her dreams into reality by visualization and manifestation. She creates a strong emotion, and attaches it to a clear and focused vision or dream.



Lisa is such an amazing person. She has a lot of courage and determination. She uses so many of the tools I have shared with you so she can live her incredible life.

There is so much more to learn from Lisa.  You can find out more about her by at LISA.CECAL.COM.


As I continue my Blog I would like to interview many people who have disabilities so I can share their stories with you. I think we all can find hope from each other. If you would like me to tell your story,  or if you know anyone who you think would be a great person for me to interview,  let me know. Send me a note on my website. www.butterfliesforchange.org   


Looking forward to checking in with you next month!

Bridget Brown 

Nancy Brown 

Inclusion Consultant 

Norman B Barr Camp 



"May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder". J. O'Donohue
"Math may not teach me how to add love or subtract hate , but it gives me HOPE that every problem has a solution "


Monday, May 2, 2022



Hello again from Bridget

Happy April!!

I hope that your spring is giving you a positive outlook. We are already into our spring season and that makes me very happy. I can’t believe how fast spring moves along and summer is not far ahead of us.


I spent a lot of time with family this past week to celebrate my tradition of Easter.  My nieces and nephews were very excited about looking for eggs and eating candy.  I love enjoying the moment with family members and seeing the smiles on the children’s faces.


We have been talking about Person Centered life Designs for the last few months. It is a powerful and positive planning process.  I will take a moment to review the information. 

First, we start off thinking about our celebrations and what we are proud of at this moment. We then identify our BIG dreams and hopes in our life. We brainstorm and think about all our gifts & strengths – Like our super powers-  and the things we love to do that make us smile.

The next part is writing down and sharing the things we are afraid of and the things that make us worry. We call them the nightmares.


When we do a FUTURE SEARCH we have to pretend that it is a year from now and we are telling someone that it was the best year ever in our life.  Everything we describe is a way to visualize a great future but it has to be POSITIVE AND POSSIBLE.  Clear attainable goals is the most import thing to remember when we are doing the future search.

Today we are ending with the final step in our Person-Centered Life Design. It is the Action plan.  Take each item in the Future Search and decide how we are going to make that happen.  Decide as a group what the action is and who is going to do it and when will that happen. Think of this step as a way to make a “TO DO” list but you have to be very specific about what needs to be done to make things happen.  Who do you need to help you? It is important to include people like your family, a personal assistant, friends, job coaches and others who can help you.  You can get started by putting down the people in your life that you want involved your process.


Think of the people in your life that can help you out.  Think of this Action plan like a map that helps you get where you want to go.


 For example:

My future search is to get a paid internship starting in September.



·         Get in touch with a person who runs the place where I want an internship at

·         Set up a JOB TASTING with her where we just talk about what they do and discuss if it might be something that I would be good at doing.

·         SET up a time to do a job shadowing this coming Friday. I will go there for about 4 hours to see what it is all about. 

·         Decide the next step.

·         WHO? I had to involve my parents, the head of the department, my support person and a few other people in my action plan to get this done.

·         WHEN? Friday

So that is the last step in the Person-Centered Life Design!  It really comes together at the end if you keep it positive and possible!  I hope this makes sense when you see how it all works together to help you make dreams come true.

Next month I am going to start interviewing some people who are doing some fun and amazing things in their life.  I think we can all learn from them!

Sending good thoughts your way! Bridget Brown

Monday, April 4, 2022



NEEDS.  What do you need to be successful?


Did you have fun with Valentine’s Day in February? I had a great time with my family.

Happy Spring!! Welcome back to a nice spring day with sunshine and wind - so windy. After the snow is gone and it gets a bit warmer you might feel like it’s springtime. And I am so excited for that season. Are you excited because you might get out for a walk? It is a good time to take your niece or nephew out to play.


I just celebrated my birthday in Philadelphia.  I went there to do a lot of presentations and visit my cousins.  I love birthdays!  My sister-in-law Abby and I celebrate our birthdays together every year and that makes it extra special.


In the last blog we talked about how to do a Future Search. It is always good to imagine what

things might look like for you in the future so you can make positive and possible plans that will help you get there. I am so excited to walk you through this process to design your life.


Today we are going to talk about another important step in your planning and that is thinking about what you need to be successful.  It is important to write down your needs in this person-centered planning process.  Once you know what you need to be successful you can write an action plan.  A need is something that you want in life.


When you think about needs, what comes to your mind?  Write them down.  When I think of my needs in my life, for example, I think of one of my dreams to become an author.  I need to find people to help me.  I need to get support from my parents to achieve that goal. I have already started to work on publishing my book called “LEARNING TO FLY WITH FULL WINGS”. I need my mother and sister to edit it for me.  I need to find out about how to publish it and that process.  First, I need to finish the book and add more to it before I move forward.


I think it is best to pick out a few of your dreams first.  Think about what you need to make that dream happen.  Think about who you need to connect with to make that happen. What are some real barriers that you are going to need help figuring out?  Transportation is a barrier for me and it might be the same for you.  I always have to think about how I am going to get where I am going and who do I need to find to help me with that.   The people who help us are our advocates.  Sometimes we have to ask them to help us and let them know what we plan to do.

Be creative and have courage when you are asking people to be your advocate. Advocates can help you find creative solutions and help you make plans.


Don’t let barriers discourage you.  Find people to help you brainstorm creative ideas and solutions.  Sometimes the barriers seem bigger than your dreams so don’t let that happen to you.  As I always say ~ Dwell in the Possibilities!!  Make plans based on YOUR dreams and not on fears.


Have a great month! Bridget

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Future Search Planning



Feb. 2022.

Bridget Brown

Future Search Planning

Greetings to all!  I hope you have all been staying warm during these winter months. February is can be a difficult month because it is cold and the days are still short.  We can be hopeful because each day gets a little bit longer and we see more daylight. Soon we will see the flowers blooming and spring will be here.


As you might remember from my last note, I started a new inclusive college program at University of Illinois Chicago (UIC).   I am in the second month of the program.  I am very excited about it and happy that I have this opportunity.   I am learning about radical inclusion, ableism, the history of people with disabilities, and advocacy.  I am also taking a class called Career builder. It is very fun because we are doing our resume and cover page. I look forward to getting a paid internship. It is all very exciting.

Now is the time to talk about another person-centered planning tool, called The Future Search. The future search is a way to identify your goals and plan for a positive and possible future.  The best way to do this is to step into the future, about one year from today, and think about what might be the best year you can imagine.  It is helpful to pretend that it is June 2023, and I am telling someone that it was the best year ever for me.  Everything I describe has to be POSITIVE and POSSIBLE!  These are two important words because if things are positive and possible, they actually might come true.   This part is very fun because you are going to decide a few really important things that you can do on your path and then you can plan what you need to do to make these things happen.


For example: I am going to pretend that it is June 2023 and  I am talking to a friend and I say, “this was the best year ever”.  I will tell them 3 positive and possible things that I want to happen in the next year. 

I will say ,

“ I finished my first year of the Co-op college program at UIC and I love it”

“ I also made friends in the co-op program and did fun activities on campus.”

“And I have a paid internship at a really fun and exciting place.”


Helpful hints about doing a future search.

·         Talk about things like they already happened. Try to image them in your head and describe as much as possible what that might look like. 

·         Step into your future and talk about things that are positive and possible for the next year of your life.  

·         Three or less things are a good place to start so you don’t get overwhelmed.

·         This is a little different then the dream part.  You want to think of things that can actually happen in one year.

·         Be bold, hopeful and realistic!

·         Don’t worry about how you are going to do these things for now, just think about them with a clear mind. 

·         Have fun with this process!

Have a great end of winter and I will check in next month.


Bridget Brown 2/22/22

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Success Strategies

Success Strategies Blog January 2022

By Bridget Brown


I hope you had tons of fun over the holidays.  Maybe you enjoyed a little snow and hopefully, you safely had some time with family and friends.


I just started an inclusive college program at UIC and I am very excited and a little nervous.  I am in the first group of students with disabilities in this program.  It is a dream come true for me.


One thing that I have found helpful in my life, and as using as I prepare for college, is to identify all the things that help me be successful.  We call them “Success strategies”.


I use success strategies in my education, in college, and at my work. Some of my success strategies are: previewing materials, good notes taking, having a schedule, knowing what people expect of me, being organized, and asking for help when I need it. All these things help me be successful.


First, I write things that help me be successful down and then share them with the people I will be working with at school or work.  As you plan your life you might want to think of your own success strategies. Write them down and share them with others who you work with or educators if you are still in school.

A good way to discover what your success strategies are is to start your sentences with:
I AM SUCCESSFUL WHEN…. And then fill in the blank!  You can brainstorm ideas with family and friends to see what ideas they have as well.


This is a great way to get started!  I recommend you try it out and make sure you share them with others so they can help you along the way! 
Success strategies are part of the Person-Centered Plan that we have been talking about in the last few blogs.

I hope your February is lovely.

Bridget Brown

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Gifts and Strengths

 Blog 5

In my last blog, I talked about the power of Dreams!

It is always important to keep dreaming about possibilities even if they seem hard to make them come true.

The next step in designing your life is to think about (and write down) all your gifts, talents, and strengths.


What are some things you are good at doing?  What makes you happy and smile?  What are things you enjoy?

You might have a great memory or love movies. You could love swimming and sport as well as acting.  Some people are really good at Math! 

Each person has lots of gifts and strengths. Come up with your own list and then ask people you know and family members to identify what they think your gifts and strengths are and then write them down. You will be surprised at how many gifts and strengths you have.


Often our gifts help others find their gifts. 


For example, one of my gifts is speaking up for myself and for others.  I think I have been given a clear voice so I can speak for people who don’t have a voice. It is a huge gift.  I can also teach others how to find their own voice.  This is called self-determination.   People with disabilities all have something to say and my gift helps others share their hopes and dreams with the world. I encourage people to share their gifts and strengths with their educational team if they are in school. If a person is out of school it is good to share this information when applying for a job or an internship. 



So, I suggest that you think of your gifts, strengths, and talents and write your ideas down. Then ask others what they think and write those ideas down.  Take a look at your list and think of how you can use these gifts to make some of your dreams come true.


May you all enjoy your New Year celebration and I hope you are looking forward to a great 2022!!!

Bridget Brown

Dec. 28, 2021

Wednesday, December 1, 2021



Blog 4 

Nov. 30 2021



I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration! This time of year, I always think about the things I am grateful for in my life.  I am thankful for my life, my family and friends and the people I work with in my jobs.  I am also thankful for all of you who are reading this blog and interested in finding your own voice and gifts.  

I am grateful that I learned to dream big early in my life and that  I found people who have helped me make some of my dreams come true.

In my presentations I always share this quote:

 If the only prayer I say in my life is “THANK YOU” that would be enough.  Meister Eckhart


In October I shared some information about Person Centered Planning.  I encouraged each person to think about celebrations in their life.  Maybe you made a Celebration poster of all your big and small accomplishments!  I hope it made you happy to think of all the amazing things you have done.


Another important step in your person-centered plan is to think about your DREAMS!  This is the fun part!    Think about all the dreams you have for your life.

Dreams force you to stretch yourself beyond your limits. Sometimes we forget to dream because we just go from day to day in our lives.  But dreams are very important!

 Pretend you have a magic wand and anything can happen.  It is so much fun. What do you want to do in your life, what kind of person do you want to be, where do you want to live, what does your future look like and what do you dream about for today and next year?  Write your thoughts down on a big piece of paper.  Share your thoughts with your family and/or friends and ask them to join you in brainstorming ideas about their dreams for you.

Dream BIG!  Dream BOLD!

Be optimistic and don’t set limits.   


 One person said:  to deny dreams, is to disable the human spirit.”


For example: one person dreamed of being a doctor. When we asked him what he would like about being a doctor, he said that he wants to work with people and help them.  He wants to take care of people and help them get better.  Once he talked about all the thing that were connected to being a doctor, he discovered a lot of possibilities in his future.



Dreaming is an important part of a person-centered plan. You can share your dreams and ask others to help you make some of your dreams come true.  Others can help you create a plan to help you achieve your goals.


You can share your dreams with your team in your IEP meeting presentations, share it with family and friends, and at job interviews.  Our dreams are golden.  And this is an opportunity to write all your dreams down so you won’t forget.


I hope this is helpful for you and dream big and bold! 

Dwell in the possibilities!!



Lisa is living her best life

    BRIDGET Brown BLOG MAY 2022    Lisa is living her best life. .     I hope everyone is enjoying spring! This is a wonderful t...