It's been said that eyes are the windows to the soul. If that's true, I think it's fair to say writing is the window to the world.
It always has been for me, and I can't remember a time when it wasn't. I started writing as a hobby when I was a kid, then it evolved into a form of communication - whether it's through my column, my poetry or the communication board I used to use in grade school.
Writing still is about communicating - just on a much larger scale now - but when I got to junior high and high school, I didn't want to be known as "that girl in the wheelchair".
So, I started to write for my school newspapers. Then, I tried my hand at writing poetry.
Reading and writing poetry has really helped me see that words can have amazing power and impact - as much as when they're spoken or sung. It was then that writing became something more than what I expected - and all the words fit into a bigger picture.
Thinking back to the communication board I had, I distinctly remember its robotic male voice. In a strange way, I felt like my words weren't coming from me - they were coming from RoboCop. I also found that as I got older, I had so much to say - about life, my wheelchair and everything else - and I decided it was time for RoboCop to retire.
The board had about 144 keys on it - each having multiple meanings. So, whomever I wanted to "talk" to had to wait until I typed out whatever I wanted to say - or guess what I was typing or look over my shoulder while I was typing.
The communication board gave me a good foundation to build upon - and became a source of inspiration for a young childhood friend.
At the time, she also had a communication board but hesitated to use it. I had mine for a good while before she got hers, so I showed her the ropes as she watched me type away. As if she was a pro, her tiny fingers pressed every key on her own board.
She had the potential to do it - she just needed someone to point her in the right direction and I'm grateful to have been that person.
Now, in writing my column, it's refreshing to meet people and know they recognize my work and get something out of it. To have someone not only walk up to me, but comment on my work - whether it's a friend, family member or perfect stranger - is the best compliment I could ever get.
It's a truly amazing feeling to be recognized as a columnist and not as "the girl in the wheelchair". Thank you, Altoona for letting me share "the view from here" with you.
Erin Kelly was born with cerebral palsy in Seoul, Korea, and lives in Altoona. She is a Penn?State?Altoona graduate. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.