Fresh Perspectives on Disability: Stories from the Community” with Tracee Garner Author of Introducing Disability: An Anecdotal Field Guide For the Rest of Us

Tracee is an author, speaker, writing coach, and course creator.

She has written several fiction and non-fiction books, mainly aimed at showing the success of African American people in overcoming adversities.

In this episode, Tracee discusses the strategies and principles to use to overcome her disability. She will also talk about the difference between pity and empathy and encourage people who are stuck in life.

The most essential thing for Tracee is to have a strong social network. It could be anyone who will always be there for you. Therefore analyzing those around you is crucial because they may either elevate or lower you.

Also, you must understand that you have to accomplish something with whatever God has given you. So you just simply work with whatever body you have.

According to Tracee, the difference between pity and empathy is that pity has no empowerment; empathy has. A person who shows empathy not just understands the individual but also offers help to the person.

Tracee discusses her book Disability: A Field Guide for the Rest of Us. The book contains short stories about her journey and is helpful for everyone, not just people with disabilities. After reading each chapter, Tracee put a section called Take Action for you to see the actions you must take in order to mitigate the problem.

Tracee Garner’s story is transforming and inspiring. She is a person who lives without limitation, even with a disability, one who proves that a disability will not hinder a person from achieving a dream and doing all the things.

Episode 257 of The Beyond Adversity Podcast is a must-listen for anyone struggling to overcome their situation or disability—those who are down and thinking that they can’t do anything. This story will motivate you to win the battle and rise from the pressure of your challenges.

“The Beyond Adversity Podcast with Dr. Brad Miller is published weekly with the mission of helping people “Grow Through What They Go Through” as they navigate adversity and discover their promised life of peace, prosperity and purpose.






Dr. Brad Miller 0:00

And so let's talk a little bit about some of the strategies

Dr. Brad Miller 0:05

or the processes of how you live your life and how you teach

Dr. Brad Miller 0:08

others how they live their life. And let's talk about in particular,

Dr. Brad Miller 0:12

how, when you made this transition it sound like from

Dr. Brad Miller 0:16

before your writing career to during, and now a part of your

Dr. Brad Miller 0:20

writing career coaching. And so what are some ways you live life

Dr. Brad Miller 0:23

now maybe a little different? What you did before?

Dr. Brad Miller 0:25

What are some of the strategies? Or what are some of the principles

Dr. Brad Miller 0:27

or habits? Or what how do you do your life now

Dr. Brad Miller 0:30

that works for you, that may be helpful to other people?

Tracee Garner 0:33

Well, I think the most important thing for me is really having

Tracee Garner 0:35

a good network, you really need to evaluate the people that are

Tracee Garner 0:39

around you, because they can either bring you up or down.

Dr. Brad Miller 0:43

Your emotional support.

Tracee Garner 0:45

Right. And it could be people that you've adopted,

Tracee Garner 0:47

they don't have to be related to you, they don't have

Tracee Garner 0:49

to be a blood. You know, they can be friends, they can

Tracee Garner 0:52

be colleagues, but they're people who can really, you can

Tracee Garner 0:55

really count on, and who kind of pump you up, you know,

Tracee Garner 0:59

when you really are feeling down, I used to have a best friend,

Tracee Garner 1:02

that I could just call her and say, you know, I need a pep talk.

Tracee Garner 1:06

And she immediately went into this kind of cheerleader mode,

Tracee Garner 1:10

you know, just highlighting the positive attributes about

Tracee Garner 1:13

yourself that you forget. So a really good network is really important.

Tracee Garner 1:18

The next thing is just, you know, acknowledge how you feel,

Tracee Garner 1:21

you know, let's not, let's, you know, sometimes people don't

Tracee Garner 1:24

know what to say to people with disabilities, you know,

Tracee Garner 1:27

they kind of look at you, you know, people that I meet, you

Tracee Garner 1:29

tell them, you have muscular dystrophy, they just kind of look

Tracee Garner 1:31

down, shake their head, like, Oh, my God, what are the what

Tracee Garner 1:35

are all the things to have? How devastating and you know,

Tracee Garner 1:38

it's not devastating, you know, sometimes your life can be a

Tracee Garner 1:41

little bit better than someone else, because you have the right

Tracee Garner 1:44

attitude. So, you know, you have to really take people's views

Tracee Garner 1:48

about you with a grain of salt, and you often have to dismiss

Tracee Garner 1:52

them and do positive self talk. Because that's the other thing,

Tracee Garner 1:55

what are you putting in, I listen to podcasts, I listen to sermons.

Tracee Garner 2:00

One of my favorite scriptures is the parable of the talents.

Tracee Garner 2:03

And in a nutshell, you know, that's about doing something

Tracee Garner 2:07

whatever God gave you. Right? That's what the whole gist

Tracee Garner 2:11

of that is, is that whatever little you have, are big, you have

Tracee Garner 2:17

work with that. So whatever body that I have, that I feel that's

Tracee Garner 2:21

limited or lacking, or you know, half going and half Dragon,

Tracee Garner 2:27

you know, I just work with it, I like come on arm, you know,

Tracee Garner 2:30

we're going this way. Let's, let's all get together and go in

Tracee Garner 2:34

the right direction. So you have to talk to yourself too,

Tracee Garner 2:37

and you have to really consider.

Dr. Brad Miller 2:38

so I'm hearing several things I'm hearing, you know, friendship,

Dr. Brad Miller 2:42

relationships, spiritual event, I'm hurting, I'm hearing you know,

Dr. Brad Miller 2:46

taking action, you know, that type of I mean, just getting

Dr. Brad Miller 2:48

involved with other groups writing, you know, the act of

Dr. Brad Miller 2:51

writing are all important disciplines that you have here.

Dr. Brad Miller 2:55

Now, and, and those are all important things for people to

Dr. Brad Miller 2:58

learn whatever their situation is. But Tracee, I want to throw

Dr. Brad Miller 3:03

a word out to you here. And now see what you think about

Dr. Brad Miller 3:06

this word. That just is coming to my mind as we chat here a

Dr. Brad Miller 3:09

little bit today. And that is a very, very charged word. And

Dr. Brad Miller 3:14

I think it may apply in our conversation here today. And that

Dr. Brad Miller 3:17

word is pity. Pity, and what I want you to reflect with me

Dr. Brad Miller 3:20

a little bit about that word about how that may kind

Dr. Brad Miller 3:23

of be a part of your world, maybe it's not, but how some

Dr. Brad Miller 3:25

people look upon people with disability as I pity them. Or

Dr. Brad Miller 3:29

it is a pitiful situation. How do you deal appropriately with

Dr. Brad Miller 3:35

this word of pity? Either receiving it or kind of feeling it for someone else?

Dr. Brad Miller 3:40

Is this a question you could speak to?

Tracee Garner 3:43

Definitely. And one thing I like to always clarify is, I really

Tracee Garner 3:47

need people to understand the difference between pity

Tracee Garner 3:49

and empathy. You know

Dr. Brad Miller 3:52

Very good point.

Tracee Garner 3:53

Yeah, it's just so important. I wish that we would teach, you know,

Tracee Garner 3:58

younger people to really understand the differences. Pity says,

Tracee Garner 4:03

you know, I feel so sorry for you. This is terrible. What of what,

Tracee Garner 4:08

uh, you know, just ended this is an awful situation to be in empathy

Tracee Garner 4:13

says that, I know that, you know, what you have is not easy.

Tracee Garner 4:17

How can I understand more about it? And how can I help you,

Tracee Garner 4:22

to live with it pity is almost very charitable. You know, like, you

Tracee Garner 4:26

should be given things for free or you don't need to work for them,

Tracee Garner 4:29

or just stay home and collect your Social Security benefits.

Tracee Garner 4:33

First of all, Social Security is not enough to live on. You know,

Tracee Garner 4:36

if you haven't put any time in and done any work. Like that is not

Tracee Garner 4:39

even a viable solution for so many people. And people assume

Tracee Garner 4:44

that that's all you should be doing. And so I think that, you know,

Tracee Garner 4:48

just make and where's it coming from? The other thing I always

Tracee Garner 4:51

ask is, where does your pity for something or someone

Tracee Garner 4:56

come from, you know, do you think I have less than?

Dr. Brad Miller 4:59

Yeah, you know, it's I was going to say oftentimes the word pity,

Dr. Brad Miller 5:02

from my perspective, comes from kind of a one up position,

Dr. Brad Miller 5:05

you know, I'm one up above you. Empathy means we're in this together.

Dr. Brad Miller 5:10

And I love how you your phrase that you because I could be

Dr. Brad Miller 5:15

wrong here but I think sometimes folks with disability situations,

Dr. Brad Miller 5:19

experience kind of that negative connotation of pity, maybe

Dr. Brad Miller 5:24

a little more than they experienced the empathy that we're

Dr. Brad Miller 5:27

kind of in this together. Is that a fair criticism that I'm coming?

Unknown Speaker 5:32

Yes. The one thing about empathy that I think should happen

Tracee Garner 5:37

is how to help part you know, pity to me doesn't offer any help.

Tracee Garner 5:43

It's just let's get in the barrel and cry together. You know,

Tracee Garner 5:47

if there is no empowerment in pity, it's the empowerment is

Tracee Garner 5:51

in the empathy I see that you're struggling and that you have

Tracee Garner 5:55

these you know, issues I want to support you how can we you

Tracee Garner 6:00

know, how can we make disability less injurious to you? Okay,

Tracee Garner 6:05

I want somebody to help me have you know, some a caregiver

Tracee Garner 6:08

comes helps me you know, get ready get dressed, sits up, you

Tracee Garner 6:12

know, make breakfast, get my get myself together, so that

Tracee Garner 6:16

I can do my work. Sure. You know, pity, also says maybe you

Tracee Garner 6:21

shouldn't work. You know, why are you doing that? Why are

Tracee Garner 6:23

you exhausting yourself? This is not at work. It's not exhausting

Tracee Garner 6:26

to me. It's dignifying it just like you do you find dignity in

Tracee Garner 6:30

working and being contributing. And being a taxpayer, we all

Tracee Garner 6:34

hate paying taxes. But it's still a it's an it's a thing that we

Tracee Garner 6:38

do we are we have gotten income, I look at it as a blessing.

Tracee Garner 6:42

I had some income in order to pay the tax absolutely like

Tracee Garner 6:46

that is a frame that we should try to turn around.

Dr. Brad Miller 6:51

Yeah, a framework of dignity over pity and empathy over sympathy

Dr. Brad Miller 6:59

or even that some sometimes, maybe where we need to be

Dr. Brad Miller 7:02

looking at and one of the things you are doing in your life

Dr. Brad Miller 7:06

is offering dignity and empathy and encouragement to

Dr. Brad Miller 7:12

other folks through your writing and through your coaching.

Dr. Brad Miller 7:16

Garner solutions as your coaching company. And so let's talk

Dr. Brad Miller 7:21

for a minute here, Tracee about what you do offer to other

Dr. Brad Miller 7:25

people and the emotional connection that comes out of that.

Dr. Brad Miller 7:29

And maybe let's even talk about not only what you offer

Dr. Brad Miller 7:32

to people through your writing and through your coaching.

Dr. Brad Miller 7:34

But I'd love to hear a story. Maybe somebody who you've

Dr. Brad Miller 7:37

impacted maybe some sort of a oh, you know, a story of

Dr. Brad Miller 7:42

a good news story about someone who has come

Dr. Brad Miller 7:44

into your orbit that you can share with us about

Unknown Speaker 7:48

Yeah, sure. I have stories for days. One such story is I do

Tracee Garner 7:54

coach people through the writing process. And woman came

Tracee Garner 7:57

to me she came to one of my conferences about three years ago

Tracee Garner 8:00

now, maybe four. And she attended and she didn't have a book

Tracee Garner 8:04

that she was thinking of doing or anything like that. In the next

Tracee Garner 8:07

three years, she would have a book that she was working on as

Tracee Garner 8:12

a favor to another gentleman, this lady, Miss Alice, I call her she is

Tracee Garner 8:18

81 years old. And it's just never too late to realize your dream.

Tracee Garner 8:24

And me. I thought the subject matter for the book was about

Tracee Garner 8:29

crew, racing, boats, you know, all kinds of the sport and I

Tracee Garner 8:34

was thinking, I've never done any sports in my life. I've been

Tracee Garner 8:37

diagnosed with disability since two years old, and never bring in.

Tracee Garner 8:41

I never, you know, didn't even marathons but I was helping a

Tracee Garner 8:44

woman put together a book about a sport. And so you know,

Tracee Garner 8:48

just shows you that there is no topic that you can't be a part of.

Tracee Garner 8:53

And that, you know, for her, she realized we got this book, it's

Tracee Garner 8:56

a beautiful book, it has a beautiful clear day picture on it.

Tracee Garner 8:59

I helped her, you know, secure someone to do the cover design,

Tracee Garner 9:03

help her get her ISBN, and really put the book together

Tracee Garner 9:07

doing the technology part. And you know, she being an older

Tracee Garner 9:11

woman and having that retirement pension, it was like,

Tracee Garner 9:14

Yay, you know, I get to add to my own, you know, income and

Tracee Garner 9:19

my bottom line by working with her by her, you know, hiring

Tracee Garner 9:23

me so I really just guided her through the process. She was so happy.

Tracee Garner 9:27

I presented the book to her and the friend, you know, one day

Tracee Garner 9:31

at the Cracker Barrel and we're all there and she's crying and

Tracee Garner 9:33

you know, looking at the book and holding it in her hand.

Dr. Brad Miller 9:39

Those are special moments.

Unknown Speaker 9:40

Yeah. And what if I had been intimidated by writing a book

Tracee Garner 9:43

about sports? Just because I've never done them. I was like,

Tracee Garner 9:46

I can tackle this. I know everything about books. She's not

Tracee Garner 9:49

asking me to do a regatta. She's asking me to you know, help her put this.

Dr. Brad Miller 9:54

It's interesting. Just an 82-year-old woman who's writing

Dr. Brad Miller 9:56

a book about rowing is that right?

Tracee Garner 9:58


Dr. Brad Miller 9:59

And yourself, the person who's not an athlete at all, at all.

Dr. Brad Miller:

In that certain in that cool house, some things worked out

Dr. Brad Miller:

to offer a gift to the world out of some unlikely places. And that's

Tracee Garner:

Definitely, and maybe we write another book together too.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Oh, good. But sounds like that's an ongoing opportunity that

Dr. Brad Miller:

you have there. So what kind of word of encouragement would

Dr. Brad Miller:

you give to a person who is discouraged right now, one of the

Dr. Brad Miller:

things we'd like to speak to on our podcast is those people

Dr. Brad Miller:

who feel stuck in their adversity, you know, they're kind of I

Dr. Brad Miller:

call it the malaise of mediocrity, you just kind of keep going

Dr. Brad Miller:

around and you're stuck, you're like in molasses or something,

Dr. Brad Miller:

and you feel stuck, and they need some encouragement.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And you've had your challenges, like, we haven't really talked

Dr. Brad Miller:

at all about the racial aspect. And that's a piece of what you

Dr. Brad Miller:

teach us, as well, is African American folks triumph over adversity.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And the combination of being physically disabled, and

Dr. Brad Miller:

African Americans of peace

Tracee Garner:

And gender

Dr. Brad Miller:

Gender, yeah, so what kind of encouragement would you

Dr. Brad Miller:

want to give today to our listening audience? I know

Dr. Brad Miller:

there's some, you know, we got a lot of folks out there

Dr. Brad Miller:

who are looking for process and, and how to get through

Dr. Brad Miller:

stuff. But what kind of words of encouragement give to someone

Dr. Brad Miller:

who feeling stuck right now? Maybe it's a physical disability?

Dr. Brad Miller:

Maybe it's something else, they're depressed about something?

Dr. Brad Miller:

Maybe it's racial? What kind of words would you give to someone

Dr. Brad Miller:

out there who may be encouraged by your words here today? Tracee.

Unknown Speaker:

Right? Well, the first thing to do is to try to stop focusing on

Tracee Garner:

that one thing, or the couple of things that are going wrong,

Tracee Garner:

I think you need it really needs to step outside yourself and get

Tracee Garner:

around other people. It's something about you know, looking

Tracee Garner:

in the mirror, crying at yourself, you know, and playing, you know,

Tracee Garner:

sad love songs, that just kind of perpetuates more angst and

Tracee Garner:

more anger and frustration about your situation. So when you

Tracee Garner:

choose to focus on something else, to do something nice for

Tracee Garner:

someone, maybe to volunteer, you know, even in the, in the

Tracee Garner:

pandemic, there are people wanting people to just make phone

Tracee Garner:

calls, you know, to volunteer virtually from your home. So

Tracee Garner:

taking yourself off of others yourself, the focus off of

Tracee Garner:

yourself and focusing on others will also help pick you up to

Tracee Garner:

write down, you know, writing, I honestly love writing. I don't

Tracee Garner:

journal this much, because I feel like I write such volume this

Tracee Garner:

books that's my journaling for the character, but write

Tracee Garner:

about how you feel sometimes it's Better out than in, you know,

Tracee Garner:

write about the fears write about worst-case scenario.

Tracee Garner:

Sometimes I like to think in worst-case scenario, you know, why?

Tracee Garner:

It helps me planned? In worst case scenario, thoughts helped

Tracee Garner:

me plan for best-case scenario plants, you know, so I, I will

Tracee Garner:

go there, I will go to what if my primary caregiver passes away?

Tracee Garner:

What if I run out of money? Who's going to help me get up?

Tracee Garner:

Who's going to look out for me? And take me somewhere?

Tracee Garner:

What if the van explodes, and I can't really drive any other

Tracee Garner:

vehicle, it doesn't have modifications, all of those things will

Tracee Garner:

help you say, you know, and here's what the solutions are.

Tracee Garner:

So I have the solutions already written down. Because in a time

Tracee Garner:

of stress, you can't really think clearly. So when you are at kind

Tracee Garner:

of a low, that is the best time to plan for if this, then that.

Tracee Garner:

And that and that is really arming yourself with resources and

Tracee Garner:

information. So it doesn't seem so weighty anymore on your shoulders.

Dr. Brad Miller:

kind of take control your life instead of life just happening to you.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And, you know, plan for the worst, as you've mentioned, but

Dr. Brad Miller:

hope not only hope for the best, hopefully plan for the best,

Dr. Brad Miller:

you know, and plan for progress. You know, that's one things

Dr. Brad Miller:

I like to teach and what we're about here love to talk to our

Dr. Brad Miller:

guests to have a plan. Yeah, I call it the promise life of peace,

Dr. Brad Miller:

prosperity and purpose. You don't have a goal to go towards.

Dr. Brad Miller:

You're kind of the biblical metaphor, the promised land, but

Dr. Brad Miller:

you you've got to plan for it, and you got to keep moving forward.

Dr. Brad Miller:

You can't just stay stuck and get through that wilderness period.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And that in tough time and good things can happen. So I

Dr. Brad Miller:

want to kind of bring our discussion around for the resource

Dr. Brad Miller:

that you've made available. You mentioned you've author of

Dr. Brad Miller:

something like 18 books and a coaching program and

Dr. Brad Miller: is your website, but you also have a gift or a

Dr. Brad Miller:

book that's out there called Disability: A field Guide for the Rest

Dr. Brad Miller:

of Us. Yes, it's your making available. And tell us a little bit

Dr. Brad Miller:

about that. How can people get that and tell us a bit about

Dr. Brad Miller:

people we're going to find when they get the field guide?

Unknown Speaker:

Sure that field guide is really around disability topics. But they

Tracee Garner:

are universal to what humans experience not just people with

Tracee Garner:

disabilities. So I took nine topics of things that I've been through t

Tracee Garner:

heir employment chapter, I talked about, you know, the pitfalls

Tracee Garner:

that I went through of trying to get getting full employment

Tracee Garner:

showing up as myself, you know, kind of the programs that work

Tracee Garner:

for me to be I've still been working as a case manager now

Tracee Garner:

for almost 14 years. And I love it. I help people find resources.

Tracee Garner:

But getting to that point was no easy feat. I've been working

Tracee Garner:

since I was 16. So I talked about that. So everything in the book

Tracee Garner:

is kind of a story of what I went through a very short story.

Tracee Garner:

It's not long, the book is not even probably 200 And something

Tracee Garner:

pages but um, nine chapters employment, there's a chapter

Tracee Garner:

on emergency preparedness, emergency is not just about

Tracee Garner:

coming to get you, you know, in destroying your house emergency

Tracee Garner:

is also about you know what other contingency plans. Disability

Tracee Garner:

is a complicating matter all in of itself. We don't need any

Tracee Garner:

natural disasters, we can have a disaster, just trying to live and

Tracee Garner:

things happen. caregiving. There's a chapter on caregiving.

Tracee Garner:

There's a chapter on housing and community, and also just,

Tracee Garner:

you know, all kinds of things that I've been through, and it's only

Tracee Garner:

the first volume. So what I want people to do is, you know, they

Tracee Garner:

read the book, and then after every chapter, there's a section

Tracee Garner:

called take action. So I give you a list of things that you can

Tracee Garner:

do to mitigate foul while around that topic. So it's not just

Tracee Garner:

retrace his story, it's retraced the story, see what she's done.

Tracee Garner:

And then these are the steps you can take to move forward.