Confidence is something we acquire through life experience, and from the opportunity to assert ourselves learning that we have the power and the right to make choices about our lives.  But this is easier said than done for many of us with disabilities when the obstacles we face will often hold us back and prevent us from being able to have access to the freedoms of the able-bodied world.    Confidence is one of those things directly connected to self-love.  It is also something we can practice, and like a muscle, it will get stronger.

So, how do we do this? How do we practice being confident when we have to keep fighting for the same basic access to equality? We do it exactly by doing that: fighting the battle and awakening our inner advocate to create positive change out of the struggles we face.   Part of the process to building confidence involves  embracing the very things the world sees in us as broken, or damaged, or inferior.  We build confidence by speaking out and speaking up,  by practicing self-love and giving the best of ourselves at all times.  We strengthen our confidence by reminding ourselves that there is no shame attached to who we are in our existance as disabled people.   We must learn to  be upfront and outspoken about our needs, our desires and our dreams.  Having a disability does not turn us into a burden to others, but into an opportunity for open-mindedness and acceptance of each other’s diversity. 

When it comes to love and relationships, I believe that those of us who are confident in our own skin and are busy embracing life, are the ones people will find most attractive.  Still…I understand.  I really do.   It can be so scary, and we can feel so vulnerable with certain aspects of ourselves.  Many of us have been hurt by the ignorance that wounds our psyche and scars our self-identity.  Yet, we must be willing to give ourselves permission to recognize and touch the lessons steming from painful experiences for only then will we be able to move past them and grow.

Below is one of my poems which addresses some of the issues we are discussing in this blog.   This particular piece was written for Sins Invalid* and was performed live in the 2013 Crip Soiree & Speakeasy show in Oakland, CA.


Flirting Lessons

by Maria R. Palacios


Flirt with me.

I know you can.

You don’t have to say a thing

to say it all…

to give it all,

feeding your soul to somebody

before sharing the body

if you share it

at all.

Flirting is the bait we use

when fishing for sex

when fishing

for love.


We all have a natural ability

to flirt,

but crip flirting…well….

crip flirting is an art-

art of ultimate seduction

and ultimate conquest,

flaunting our imperfections

and our cripplesque, sexy ways

of claiming our bodies

and sharing ourselves.


With crip flirting

we have to be bold.

Even if dying inside,

we have to be strong

and not fall apart,

and not blame our bodies

for the rejection we may face

when flirting with the world,

when flirting with ourselves

because successful flirting

has everything to do

with some form of self-love.

Confidence is sexier than the body!


Flirting is about projecting

what the soul wants to say,

what the heart wants to speak.

It’s about taking risks

defying expectations.

It’s about giving what we have to give

and living daring to believe

we belong and we deserve

to be heard,

to be felt,

to be



And I have been

to a place in my life

where I would not dare defy

the norms that had been imposed

upon my body.

.Yes.  I have been there

and every so often I still am.

Some ghosts are hard to kill.

Some wounds never fully heal

although they might stop bleeding.


But such are part of the lessons…

the flirting lessons of life.

And I say again,

crip flirting is an art-

an art we have to be taught

because we’ve been forced to forget

or never own

the right to bodies,

the right to our sexuality

and the expression of it.


Our flirting abilities

have often been castrated,


and even euthanized

by those who misunderstood

the language of our flirting.


That’s why our flirting goes beyond

batting our eyelashes and puckering up

into an imitation of Marilyn More.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that;

but when we do it,

it has to fit the moment.

It has to fit the space,

the opportunity to throw the net

into the ocean of desire.

Sometimes we catch something

or somebody.

Sometimes we don’t.

Sometimes we just catch ourselves before we fall

and that’s how we learn.


In my flirting

I have simply become

Pretty Woman rolling down the street…

Pretty Woman, the kind you’d like to meet…

And as I roll, I know

my hips don’t move side to side

when I pass by.

There are no foot steps

to call a lover’s name

when I feel hot

when I feel


but when I flirt….

baby, when I flirt,

I stalk and pause like a lioness

and words smell like sex

between my metaphors.

I exude lust

through every part of my being.


And even if some say no

when I offer that side of me,

I’ve learned to not lose myself

and still believe

there are a lot of fish out there.


Learning to let go

is how I hold on

to my sense

of pride.


Shoulders back.

Chest out.

Chin up

and roll.


*Sins Invalid is a performance project that incubates and celebrates artists with dsiabilities and focuses on communities that have been historically marginalized.   Maria R. Palacios has been a Sins Invalid performer since 2007 and regularly contributes to their shows, workshops and other advocacy efforts related to Sins’ mission and purpose    For more information, please visit Sins invalid at