KEEPING IT REAL: Elizabeth’s Story, Part I

KEEPING IT REAL: Elizabeth's Story, Part I
Posted on Fri 22 Jul 2022

KEEPING IT REAL: Elizabeth's Story*

By Elizabeth Pode

Tell us a little bit about yourself — what you do professionally, what you enjoy doing, how your CP affects you. Anything you feel like sharing is fine.

So much to say! I am currently a Career Coach for Pepperdine Graziadio Business School in Malibu, CA, and have been with the university for six years this month, serving in various institutional roles.

In my free time, I love going to concerts, the beach, flea markets, gardening, cooking, flipping furniture, listening to true-crime podcasts, and hanging with my friends and family. I have a black cat named Binx and I’ll be receiving my second service dog next month — my first from Canine Companions — who will be trained to help me with various day-to-day tasks. I have spastic diplegia, and my left side is more impacted than my right. Since my last surgery in 2015, I’ve had extremely limited balance, so I use a walker 100% of the time.

What is your current relationship with your CP and how has it changed over your lifetime?

Great question! I feel like my relationship to my disability fluctuates, but has been on an overall upward trajectory in my 30 years of life. I was lucky that as I grew up, I had an extremely supportive family and friend group who totally accepted my disability. That meant I avoided any sort of bullying, which allowed my self-confidence to blossom over time. I was my only critic.

College was really my first exposure to ableism. While that has steadily increased over time, my foundation of self-confidence and freedom to explore my own abilities as I got older allowed me to not internalize the ableism I was encountering. There are still days where I may be knocked down a few pegs by fatigue or someone else’s judgment of me, but I know myself well enough to get up off the ground and give it another go.

You recently bought a home. Congratulations! Why did you choose to buy a home versus continuing to rent?

Thank you! I really began seriously thinking about home ownership as I transitioned out of college and into the working world after graduation. Like most college grads, I decided to move back in with my parents, as my first full-time job was not enough of a paycheck to live off of independently, especially in southern California.

When looking into what it would take to move out, I weighed the pros and cons and realized while renting was not impossible, it posed unique challenges due to my disability. When renting, you are dependent upon what your landlord or management company deems a reasonable accommodation, which can vary because the ADA is not specific enough to cover all areas. So, unless you find a unicorn of an apartment that is already completely accessible to your specific needs, you have a long road ahead of you to have all of your accommodations approved. When you own a home, you can make the accommodations yourself. 

In addition, monthly rent in my area was astronomically more expensive than a mortgage at my approved rate. The choice for me was easy, and luckily my parents graciously allowed me to rent from them for four years while I saved up for a down payment.

Stay tuned for part two next week and give Elizabeth a follow on Instagram @dontmindthedust.

*Elizabeth's story is part of KEEPING IT REAL — a series of personal stories that will take you deeper into the lives of people with CP. Each person makes different choices based on what works for them, and we’ll showcase that — highlighting what life is like for them on a daily basis, what they care about, and the ways CP impacts them. 

The KEEPING IT REAL blog is intended solely to raise awareness about the varied human experience with cerebral palsy and shouldn't be read or construed to contain any medical advice or medical endorsement by Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation. Only you and your doctor know what's best for you. Please consult your doctor for medical advice.

Fri 19 Aug 2022
Meet The HMS Team: Tom

Learn a bit about Tom, the President of HMS School and what this place represents for him, his staff, and their students. 

Check out this Q&A from Adrien, a father with cerebral palsy.