Disabled Gay Man Seeks Government Grant For Storefront Spiritual Help Business
by Michael Anderson
(Isle, MN, USA)
I've learned so much since I retired up here on my 40 acres. It was a spiritual transformation, which brought me through the silence of winter. I found the enlightenment that few others have found.
I'm a 51 year old who, due to a car wreck in 1999, retired on Long Term Disability at 47, an age way too young to retire at.
I still get Social Security Disability ($1,900 a month) but my Long Term Disability insurance company, CIGNA, dropped me last December 1st, 2009 (36 months after getting me on SSD). Their disbursement to me was $1,100 a month.
As it turns out, I'm not the only one CIGNA has turned the screws on. The Internet is full of stories about the underhanded dealings of this "reputable" company.
It uses outdated research as their grounds for dropping coverage and telling disabled Americans that they are able to return to work when clearly they are not.
Apparently pleasing Wall Street investors is a higher priority for CIGNA than to fulfill their commitments to people like me. Regardless of which, I am now left to explore other possibilities.
It was a 28-year-old preacher who caused the wreck. He died at the scene leaving behind a wife and 3 children.
I was in a coma for 3 weeks, had 7 surgeries, died twice while on the operating tables and was given only a 5% chance to live.
While learning to walk again in rehab, the tricuspid valve in my heart ruptured and I needed another surgery. They installed a mechanical valve and two years later replaced it with a pig's valve.
It's been a long road of recovery for me but a road I would be willing to travel again because of the acceptance, enthusiasm for life and the joy I find in the simpler things now.
I attribute this to a power much greater than ourselves, a power many of us call God. It's true that sometimes you have to lose what you have to understand who you truly are. Much like what America is going through now with the current economy.
My recovery was 2 weeks short of a year and I was able to return to work for a short time much to everyone's surprise.
I was well known throughout the large company because of my role on the court appointed diversity panel (1993 -1995) on which I represented gays and lesbians. The working environment had been quite hostile towards us.
I was a key player in effecting change and even convinced my company to be the first major domestic air carrier to join the International Gay Travel Association, IGTA which led to other airlines joining making it friendlier for gays to travel.
My return to work was a goal I set for myself; no one forced me to do it. I wasn't ready to give up on life, not yet, let alone have this disability now define who I was.
But gradually I had to cut myself down to half days. The head injury had made life more difficult and I became too fatigued to maintain full time employment.
My union and company had set up an LTD plan that would pay until I could retire. Without an actual disability retirement plan I thought this made good sense.
Now from my experience dealing with CIGNA and being dropped after 36 months, I can't help but feel a sense of betrayal. I'm now left to explore other opportunities.
I have submitted a story earlier for a grant concerning a nursing home, which I would like to transform into a hostel on a popular Wisconsin bike trail.
I would like to also ask for support to take advantage of another opportunity from the same seller. He bought an 1890 Mason's Masonic Temple.
The courts didn't rule in our favor for child custody of my partner's four children all under the age of 11. So my partner and I are forced to sell our 40 acres and move closer to the children to be part of their lives.
The Custody Assessment Team had sent a homophobic review and felt the children were still better left with mom because the kids were being raised in grandma's one-bedroom apartment.
They felt this situation was better than allowing the children to be raised by a loving gay father and his partner.
To stay involved in the children's lives we now needed to sell our 40 acres and move to help mom out since they told mom the kids could no longer be raised by grandma.
Some mothers think that giving mom groceries and rolls of quarters to do laundry is providing for the children.
When mom can't take care of the children then it should be up to the father, not the 72-year-old grandmother.
The review was homophobic and discriminated against us after we made a clear case of providing better for the children, rather than wanting what's just adequate for the children.
I'm not sure if my being physically changed to walk from the car wreck played into the decision role.
We now would like to ask for a grant to build a storefront into this Masonic Temple front space and to also remodel the Temple to make the 1-bedroom apartment upstairs into a livable 4-bedroom home to be used as both office space and life coaching.
The storefront would sell CDs and other spiritual teachings from Neale Donald Walsch. "Conversations with God" has brought about new thoughts and awareness. It defines God and the love of God much more fully then anything I ever heard.
Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now" and "A New Earth" have also brought awareness, as have "The Secret" "by Rhonda Byrne, "Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East" by Baird T. Spalding and works by Louise Hay, Dr Wayne Dryer etc.
I would also sell Tibetan musical bowls over 300 years old to help in healing and Oneness, a communication used by Buddha Monks. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singing_bowl.
The store would be what some in organized religion view as “New Age” thinking. The artsy/antique community draw would complement the small town of Hokah 614 just fine.
Please consider our request for grant money for the business and home. Being disabled from that car wreck has brought much insight for me to share. To learn more of my beliefs that I share with the others, Check me out at: http://www.equaltogod.com/.
The teachings of those I listed would bring about an awareness of self-realization from a place of inner peace and harmony with one's self, thanks to a richer understanding of God's process and purpose as described by these modern day spiritual teachers promoting a unconditional love of God.
Thank You Sincerely,
Michael D. Anderson