Ridiculous Fun

Heather Brooks earned both her undergraduate

and graduate degrees from Portland State

University. She lives and writes in the Rose City, 

while completing an internship at Incight.



At an African airport, a little guy gets bored waiting for his luggage at baggage claim. So he convinces his travelling companion to lift him onto the luggage carousel. Off he goes! By this time, a lot of other passengers are watching the tiny figure in the sunglasses, wondering if he is a statue, a real person, or “the world’s most handsome duffel.”
He reaches the door to the baggage room at the end of the terminal without incident, but with the smiles, laughter, and shouts of “God bless you!” of the baggage handlers.
No, he is not a child.
Nor does he have dwarfism.
He is Nick Vujicic—pronounced Voy-a-chich– a 29-year-old Australian gentleman who stands three feet, three inches tall, and weighs 74 pounds, because he was born without arms or legs.
And if anyone knows how to have fun, it’s Nick.
He surfs. He swims. He fishes. He golfs. He plays soccer, the drums, and keyboard. He rides horses. Most recently, he’s taken up skydiving. He’s figured out how to do these things independently,
He discusses this concept of ridiculous fun in his book Life Without Limits: Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life. Nick bases this concept his belief that “every living, breathing person on the planet should be committed to doing something ridiculous at least once a day.” With that in mind he’s created what he calls “the Ridiculous Rules.” There are five of these rules, and they are guidelines for having, as Nick says, “ridiculous fun.” To paraphrase, the rules are as follows:
1. Allow a trial period. If it’s a long-term situation or commitment, such as a relationship, or a new color of paint for the living room, try a little bit temporarily, to see if your new venture is a good fit for you.
2. Do your homework. Gather as much information as you can about what you want to do. Of course you can take risks, but it’s always wise to know what you don’t know about your new endeavor. See item five for more details.
3. Consider the timing. Sometimes it simply is not the right time to take a risk. When N ick was 12, his family moved to California from Australia, to take advantage of the medical treatments available there for his condition. Four months later, they moved back. His parents hadn’t been able to find jobs or affordable housing. It wasn’t the right time. Nick loved California, though, and after he graduated college, he moved back there, and there he lives to this day. When he moved the second time, he had made all necessary arrangements, and the transition was successful.
4. Accept feedback. Ask for advice about your undertaking from those you trust.
5. Be prepared for anything. Every action has consequences, many of which are unforeseen. Always have an alternate plan should your primary vision fail.
Nick suggests that play and fun are necessary to good mental health. He cites a study of several hundred serial killers. Almost none of the subjects had regular play periods as children. Play is vital to guard against depression. The author of the study advises that work and play should be combined; we shouldn’t just set aside time for leisure.
Do you ever do this? If you’ve ever attended a business meeting over lunch, dinner, or coffee, you have.
I do too, although until I read about it in Nick’s book, I wasn’t aware of doing it. I volunteer for our local classical radio station. I hold a Masters in writing with an emphasis in editing. I edited the content of their entire website. One year, for my birthday, I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do than volunteer at the station for an afternoon.
The staff thought I was crazy to work for free on my birthday, but I did just that. I provided them a service they needed while listening for four hours to music I loved. I still count that among the most wonderfully, ridiculously fun afternoons of my life!
Combining work and play is a regular habit with Nick. He travels the world as a motivational speaker, and his ride on the luggage carousel occurred on a speaking trip.
Even during his presentations, Nick has fun. He demonstrates how he answers a landline telephone. Though legless, he has a partly formed left foot. With the two toes on it, he lifts the receiver. Then he kicks upward, tossing the receiver onto his shoulder and securing it between his ear and shoulder.
The phone isn’t the only thing he kicks around on stage. A keen soccer player, Nick will select a member of the audience and ask him or her to stand halfway across the room, and catch a soccer ball that he kicks to them. For each presentation, he has his caregiver or caregivers place him on a table so that he is readily visible. He walks to the table’s edge, and balances there, very much to the worry of his listeners, who are usually afraid he’ll topple off!
He never does.
No matter how he demonstrates it, Nick is a living example of our belief here at Incight, that having fun is a form of the independence we seek to foster among members of the disabled community. For more about Nick, his story, or his speaking engagements, read his book, or visit his Web site at www.lifewithoutlimbs.org.

Penmanship Award by Heather Brooks

Heather Brooks earned both her undergraduate

and graduate degrees from Portland State

University. She lives and writes in the Rose City, 

while completing an internship at Incight.




They say good penmanship is a dying art. Not surprising, given that many schools no longer teach it, in this computerized age. But Wilson Christian Academy, in West Mifflin, PA, still emphasizes this skill.  The school offers an annual award to the student in each of its eight grades who has the best handwriting.


That is unusual in itself, but the story becomes truly remarkable when one considers that this year’s first-grade honoree, Annie Clark, was born without hands.


Annie’s determination to live a normal life inspires everyone around her, including her parents, who have seven other children, five of them disabled in various ways. For more about this little girl, her upbeat outlook, and her achievements, click on the link below.


You Can Judge a Tattoo by the Sound of the Voice

Heather Brooks earned both her undergraduate

and graduate degrees from Portland State

University. She lives and writes in the Rose City, 

while completing an internship at Incight.




                  Ridiculous assertion, right? The two are completely unrelated; everybody knows that. And yet, people judge each other by superficial means like this every day.

                  Author Jason F. Wright is no exception to this tendency, as a trip to the grocery store sharply reminded him. He saw the limits his stereotypical views of acceptable father figures placed, not on others, but on himself, limits we here at Incight call hand•i•crap.

                  Can a man with a classically fatherly voice be a heavily pierced and tattooed punk rocker? Can a heavily pierced and tattooed punk rocker be a sensitive, capable father? Do his children dare dream like other kids? Discover at the link below what Wright learned from what he saw.



What’s Your “Normal?” by Heather Brooks

Heather Brooks earned both her undergraduate

and graduate degrees from Portland State

University. She lives and writes in the Rose City, 

while completing an internship at Incight.





That word is not only highly subjective; it can also be highly offensive to those it is used to exclude.

So how does a typical day shape up for you? What do you do? What can you do? How do you do whatever it is? Which challenges do you face? What comes easily? In short, what’s your “normal?”

For me, it’s a temp of 97, a weight around 100, and a pulse of 72.

It’s the slight asthmatic hitch to my breathing and the hint of a slur in my speech.

It’s a lisp when I get tired, a dull headache when I get cold, and dizzying hypoglycemia when I get hungry.

It’s when my muscles relax after my morning coffee kicks in, or when my legs tremble with spasms that sting like electric shocks.

It’s supporting all my weight on one arm to change position in my wheelchair, with the realization that I’m not getting any younger, and yeah, someday my right rotator cuff will probably hate me. It’s the twinge of arthritis in my back, from a fall I took, chair and all, at 17, and the swelling of the same in my right ankle from sprain upon sprain.

But it’s also washing my hair, one-handed, in my bathroom sink, all on my own.

It’s applying my makeup the same way.

It’s trips downtown to the symphony on the bus in the dark, and knowing the difference between the high Baroque and the high Romantic periods in orchestral music.

It’s navigating the city of Portland more by senses of hearing and smell than by sight.

It’s when I feel the approach of a heavy vehicle far away through my entire body.

It’s inventing my own recipes just because I can.

It’s a bachelor’s degree in a sleeve on my bookshelf, and a master’s in a frame on my wall.

It’s thinking (not fluently, mind you) in three languages at once.

It’s inhaling the scent of a new book, caressing the pages with my fingers, and hearing them rustle when I turn them, because although I can see well enough to read the book, my nose, fingers, and ears will tell me more about it than my nearsighted eyes ever could.

So which is abnormal, the fact that the disabled person washes her hair with one hand, that the disabled person washes her hair with one hand, or that the disabled person washes her hair with one hand?

Note the differences in emphasis, and consider: Is it odd that the disabled person washes her own hair?

Well, apart from those who frequent salons to take care of this, millions of people each day wash their own hair.

Is it strange that the disabled individual should desire to maintain personal cleanliness?

It’s my understanding that that’s the socially acceptable practice, but who knows? I’ve been wrong before.

Is it peculiar that the disabled person performs all the steps of washing her hair using only one hand?

Countless people do countless things with one hand, and simultaneously do countless entirely different things with the other.

It’s called multitasking.




Incight: 2011 Spirit of Portland Award Winner

Incight is thrilled to have been selected as a recipient of the 2011 “Spirit of Portland” award from the City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement, in the Non-Profit category. This award represents the first major recognition Incight has received from the City of Portland.

The City of Portland’s annual “Spirit of Portland” awards – selected by representatives from the Mayor’s and City Commissioners’ offices, the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, the Neighborhood District Coalition offices, Business Associations, diverse non-profit community organizations and past award winners– recognizes community leaders who contribute to civic life in the City of Portland.

Past nonprofit winners of the award include: Portland Youthbuilders, Loaves and Fishes, and Street Roots. For more details, visit this link: http://www.portlandonline.com/oni/index.cfm?c=29024.

Incight will accept the 2011 “Spirit of Portland Award” in the nonprofit category Thursday, October 27, 2011 from 7pm to 9 pm at the East Portland Community Center, 740 SE 106th Ave, near Mall 205.

2011 Incight Masquerade Gala

We are pleased to announce that Incight will be presenting the 5th Annual Fall Gala dinner and auction on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at the Leftbank Annex.  This year’s event theme is Masquerade as “Things are not always as they APPEAR”. Why do we host this event every year? Only 16% of disabled Americans possess college degrees and 1 in 5 have a full time job. Since its inception, Incight has provided more than $3,000,000 in support of education, employment, networking and independence toward empowering people with disabilities to contribute to society.

2011 Incight Masquerade Gala
Wednesday, October 26TH, 2011 – 6:15PM
The Leftbank Annex
101 N Weidler, Portland, OR 97227
Tickets – $50

We are pleased to announce that the Safeway Foundation, The Standard, and DeStefano Family Foundation will be the event’s major sponsors. We are excited to also have Pacific Power, High Temp, UPS, Schnitzer Care Foundation, Dynamic Connections, Life Care Centers of America, Benedictine Health System, OSU Foundation, PSU, Keen Healthcare, Aequitas Capital Management, and Immix Law Group as important sponsors for the evening.

The 2011 Masquerade Gala, where guests will be adorned with a mask, begins with cocktails, themed  entertainers providing enjoyment for the guests, an elegant  dinner and an oral auction to close the  evening.  As part of the event, Incight will debut an intriguing, inspiring video highlighting the organization mission as well as successes of self-sufficiency of individuals supported by Incight in their pursuit for independence. Your support will play an essential role in our mission-driven efforts to empower people with disabilities.

Please join us on the evening of October 26th and don’t forget to buy your tickets! To RSVP please contact Lauren Mannix before October 24th.

Lauren Mannix
(971) 244-0305


Career Exploration Day and First Annual Walk-A-Thon!

Friday, August 20, 2010
Oaks Park Amusement Park, South Grove
7805 SE Oaks Park Way, Portland OR 97202

Join us for a day of Career Exploration and Family Fun for
people with disabilities!

Employers will be available to discuss what they do and
what skills you need to work for them!

Learn more about these businesses and what it takes to be
one of their employees:
Painter, Carpenter, Chef, Computer Technician,
Florist, Entrepreneur, Electrician, Plumber, Teacher,
Baker, Event Planner, Dry Cleaner, Clothing Designer, Banker,
Mentor, plus many more career opportunities!!
Oregon PTI & Incight are equal opportunity organizations in all services and employment.

9:00—1:00 PM
Career Exploration
12:00—1:00 PM
Lunch provided
RSVP to Danielle Bethell

This Way
That Way
Or how about Your Way?
Stand out from the Crowd!
This event is for people of all ages in all stages of career exploration. Families are welcome.

Are you an employer interested in

Keith Ozols at: 1.971.244.0305
or by email at: keith@incight.org

Would you like to sponsor this event?
Or do you have additional questions?

Danielle Bethell at: 1.888.505.2673, Ext.105
or by email at: dbethell@orpti.org

Incight 2010 Scholarship Available

The Incight Scholarship is for students with ANY disability, attending ANY post-secondary school, ANYWHERE in the U.S.

The requirements are:
• You must plan to attend school full time
• You must provide documentation of your disability
• You must provide a letter of recommendation
• You must complete the entire application


Incight’s Joy in Mobility: We Ride for Those Who Can’t.

Ride with us and for us to help make a dream come true.

Who do I ride for, by Jim Rothblatt, Director Incight, Palm Desert, California

I ride because I love to ride. There are moments, sometimes much longer lasting than moments, when I feel as though I am flying. Slightly downhill, smooth road , maybe a tail wind, just enough resistance in the pedals to keep my quad and hamstring muscles working, pushing forward, reduced to a consciousness flying through the world around me, sights, smells, air brushing me as I pass through…. But most of the time I think as I ride. The thoughts come and go as I pedal through my inner world.

I’m a Vietnam veteran. I served as a Platoon Medic with an Army Infantry Brigade in 1967. I ride for the men I served with, especially those who did not return and for those who are too maimed to ride alone.

As Director of the Palm Desert Incight office I ride with purpose. I ride for those who can’t. Truth be told, there are very few who can’t ride if they have support. With the use of pedicabs, even the severely physically disabled can experience the ride. Those with a visual impairment or a profound hearing impairment can fly through space as a stoker on a tandem. Just about the only people who might not be able to ride are those who are confined to bed or will suffer from the road vibration.

Palm Desert is in the Coachella Valley in southern California. The climate and topography are beautiful for cyclists from the middle of October through May.
There are flat rides, hilly rides, mountain rides, and usually the weather is comfortable. The weather and the beauty are what draws the “snow birds.”

I can’t believe the Coachella Valley has not yet turned into a world famous cycling destination. Incight is putting Transitional Age Youth to work and offering community service to make it happen. Incight especially wants the Coachella Valley to be a handcycling destination.

Ride with us and for us to help make this dream come true.