My name is Alma Johnson, like most people from Sarasota I am not from Fl. I hear people in town call me "Bee Lady" and "Honey Lady". I don't mind it, but "honey lady" at times just sounds wrong sometimes. LOL. This is my first blog/entry...I don't particularly care for computers. However, I keep being told I really need to write a blog. So here we go. I am often asked how did you become a beekeeper? How did you become involved with special needs? Well it a long story on how I got here..
I grew up in east Texas. My favorite toy and cartoon was Winnie the Pooh. How prophetic is that! My mother was a polio survivor and a single mom for most of my up bringing. She and my Grandmother raised my sisters and myself. To escape an abusive relationship my mother worked many jobs. Grandmother stayed home and it is through her that I learned most of my homesteading skills.
At an early age I was diagnosed with a disability. The label that I was given was "MR" it was later changed to "learning disabled". Through out my youth I was bullied and sat in meetings discussing my educational challenges. I sat there listening to the professionals telling us all the things that I "couldn't do" and how my life as an adult would most likely look like due to my disability. I was given tough love.
I was blessed to have strong mentors. I was told not to listen to the labels but take advantage of the services offered due to the labels. Later in life I used the tools I learned to overcome my disability and prove anyone wrong. I went to community college and then to the University of Houston maintaining a 3.8 GPA. I did this with no accommodations. I am a shamed to admit it, but at the time I felt, "I made it, I did it...I was able to "hide" my disability and be normal." In my time, we were taught to hide the disability if you could; because if you make a mistake people would this it was because of the disability not just because your human.
In my twenties I traveled with Cirque du Soleil. Life was literally a circus and I loved it! When my team came to St. Pete, FL I fell in love with the Suncoast. My traveling companion and best friend threw ourselves a retirement party because our show would be leaving oversees. We both had commitments in the US and went back to TX. We found work with a horse circus called Cavalia. We took what we learned from Cirque to help their staff stream line. As fate would have it, we later parted ways due to family obligations. After being away from "Home" for so long it no longer felt like home. The city had changed so much. It felt like any another city and I couldn't wait to be blown like a leaf in the wind to my next adventure... a new city.
Not very long the wind did blow. I became a flight attendant and was stationed at Chicago OHare. I experienced my first winter with snow. The first snow I had to dig my car out with a dust pan! When an opportunity was presented to move to St. Pete, I jumped on it. I discovered an organization that offers assistance to people with specials needs. I offered to volunteer to learn what services were available in our area for a close friend that had had acquired disability in a freak accident. They offered me a job. I started as an office worker and quickly moved up as an advocate for transitioning young adults.
Unfortunately, I lost my friend to depression and other health issues. I went to therapy to cope with the loss. After awhile my therapist said, "Enough, you are young, get out already!" Part of my therapy was to get out and discover new places, learn to be on my own, discover myself. No mate, no circus family, no blood family. My mother wanted me to come home. I told her that after another year I would come home, but for now I needed to live for me. How dare that therapist give me the RX: Do something fun! I was also forced to pull three cards out of a deck which would be my therapy homework for the coming months. They were: Learn a new language, folk dancing, and belly dancing. I studied Italian at the Gulfport Senior Center, traveled with their Italian folk dancing team, and did ONE belly dancing class. I'm a southern lady...all my life I was told to suck my belly in, now they want me to push it out! I also threw myself to work and discovering FL. More to come next week...
Quote for this blog: Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.- Helen Keller