Justin Herbst

@justin-herbst | contributor
Justin Herbst is a rerceptionist at Beds Plus and has cerebral palsy. And is Crippled,Cocky, Confident and Cute
Community Voices

The Showman

I’m a movie star. Ok let’s not go that far, but I am the focus of an independent film called “The Showman.” It all started about a year and a half ago when a family friend Armin wanted me to be the focus of a short movie he wanted to direct. We started discussing the idea on the fifth floor of my beloved apartment and then it grew from there.

The film started as a gift to wrestling for all the beauty it has provided over the years. I explained the basics of a promo, why it was necessary for me to play a bad guy and why wrestling has provided me such a beautiful outlet to express myself. However, it also led to this being the first time Armin experienced the close-knit and passionate environment that is “independent professional wrestling.”

He took tons of action shots that were dispersed throughout the film. He also wanted me to cheer and get excited, but I can’t get excited on cue, it has to happen more naturally. Additionally, throughout the film, the editor William was able to insert promos from Roddy Piper, Ric Flair and the Ultimate Warrior, based on what I was saying I thought was awesome. I’m so grateful and humbled Armin gave me this avenue to show how much I love wrestling and I’ll always hold him in high regard for that.

Although the film doesn’t just address wrestling, while I was on the train filming, a guy touched me on the shoulder. I said, “Excuse me brother, why did you just touch me?” Apparently, he thought he was being very gallant and knightly. I then proceeded to tell him off. This then led to a five-minute diatribe on how I hate it when people touch me for no reason and I did this right into the camera. I thought this will look interesting because most people “touching praying and calling disabled inspirational is ok, well it’s not IT’s DISGUSTING. Besides this, the film also addresses my desire to start a film and be a dad and also addresses the fact that I don’t really go on dates a lot, because of liking the wrong girl, stereotypes and where I live. Hopefully, this film helps increases my dating stock or maybe I find a girl when the warmer because online dating is so gross…. The film is also a three time award winning the Beyond the Curve Festival in France and winning two awards at the IndieFest in California for Best Short Documentary and Best Disabled Documentary. I’m very proud and humbled that I won I think it was a combination of positivity, flair and great images that got the job done. Regardless, I’m flattered and humbled and we are premiering the documentary in March. I’m thinking on Instagram live. The website can be found here www.showmanfilm.com and the www.showmanfilm.com/festivals awards can be found here. Either way, check out the Showman film in 2021. Much thanks and gratitude go to my director Armin Korsas and my editor William Pritts I love you guys. Cheers to the Showman!!!!

Community Voices

How I am handling Covid-19

The last

couple of months have been challenging for sure. I lost my job and my

apartment. I’m currently writing to give myself freedom and creativity in these

trying times. I still have video games, books, Marvin Gaye and my mom’s Peas

Soup though. Anyway here is my journey of how I struggled and how I’m trying to

overcome.

In October,

I lost my job. I couldn’t believe it. Honestly it was becoming a grind anyway,

but I appreciated the experience and professionalism it gave me. I don’t want

to give any names, but my supervisor told me I had to work the late shift from 10PM-03AM.

I thought this was unreasonable so I declined albeit as best as I could. That

would not end there though, I had to file a complaint with the higher ups that

stated all the reasons why I couldn’t work and it was denied. I was

heartbroken, but given that our department was downsizing it kind of made

sense. I just felt for all the employees, higher ups and interns that were

losing their jobs, I thought I was going to keep mine because I was rehired and

went through training, alas it wasn’t to be. I started reapplying for jobs

right away, mainly in customer service, mentorship and even as a host in

restaurants (I really want free breadsticks). However, I have worked for eight

years straight and I consider that an accomplishment, so I know this is going

to take some time.

On top of

that, I’m back living with my parents temporarily. We are working on other

living arrangements and it’s probably more feasible then living my apartment,

but it was first time living in an apartment on my own, so I really didn’t want

to leave. The rent was too expensive and being that my parents were helping me

financially, I knew I had to leave eventually, I mean I’m not Jay-Z and I don’t

have big yachts. I left about two weeks ago and it still feels weird, but I’m

still adjusting, at least my amazing speakers and XBOX One are with me, plus I

don’t have to pay for dinner. Thank You Uptown Lagrange for your three years of

service to me. Additionally, thank you all the realtors for their warmth, free

coffee and work out room that Uptown provided.

As the New

Year approaches I just want #COVID19 to be over and find a job. I’m stressed a little

bit and mopey at times I don’t see my friends as much as I want, but I have my

parents Hulu and Netflix to keep me company. As 2021 approaches I would advise

you all to wear your mask and keep your distance, until we are all rolling

vaccinated. Until then I’m going to keep looking for a job and spreading the

message of the disabled population. I want to wish all my readers a Merry

Christmas and a New Year and let me all readers know to keep rolling.

 

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Community Voices

Skydiving

It’s Coviod-19 and I just jumped out an airplane. I know I’m

crazy but I needed the adrenaline rush. I’m not usually a person that likes to

let time pass without doing something. Covid has hit me pretty hard lately. But

somehow I still find time for adventure. In this article I will attempt to

explain how ths all come to fruition. It was pretty basic for something so

crazy, near the end but when I jumped or rolled out the airplane at the

beginning I did fear for my life for a second. If only for a second.

Middletown Ohio is exactly right in the Middle. I never

really thought anything was in Ohio exactly except for Independent Wrestling

and the Cleveland Browns who are doing surprisingly well by the way. But we

drove four hours and everything seemed to just speed by “really quickly”. I

kept thinking about “my first time” and how it was going to be. Was it going to

be dangerous was it going to be smooth? Would my body be able to adjust?  We would soon find out.

I was pacing for what seemed like 40 minutes. I had gotten

to “Start Skydiving” about two hours earlier and was anxious with anticipation.

The fact that I had to wait some long drove made me crazy. It’s as if people didn’t

want me to experience it or wanted me to wait because they knew this was an

important milestone in my life. It was me graduating college, then me getting a

job, then me jumping out of an airplane.

Then the moment happened whoosh… I was out of the airplane.

I was instructed to keep my hands close to my chest and my head to my

instructor’s shoulders. And I was Falling and Falling and Falling. Then all of

sudden the danger was gone and everything was peaceful and serene. After the

parachute opened everything moved in slow motion and I never had experienced

anything so calm and peaceful as being 6,000 feet in the air it was beautiful.

Everything was once so big , got a lot smaller and beautiful.. It was an

overwhelming and powerful moment filled with serenity and gratitude. That I experienced

something for the first time and that I was ALIVE

I don’t know when I will jump out of an airplane again. For

real I get crazy certain days of but not every day. It’s not sane to do that,

but I enjoyed the adventure. Everyone called me brave, but for me I seek out adventures

and challenges. I was built that way.   From training to be a professional wrestler to

acting to jumping out of an airplane, I thank God that I’ve had a life that

allows for change and constant motion.. But I’m going to start to calm down

before I get crazy again… #Keeprolling and #keepflying.

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Community Voices

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is a part of my childhood as much as anybody.

I wasn’t able to comprehend my disability as I believed I was just a regular

child like anybody else, but what I was able to understand was greatness and

work ethic, through watching Jordan something I would apply in my later years

towards my disability.

Michael Jordan isn’t

even my favorite basketball player, that honor belongs to Shaquille O’Neal, but

since The Last Dance is seemingly the greatest sports documentary in a long

time, I’d thought I would offer my perspective on the G.O.A.T.

When I heard the Bulls theme it felt like an experience. I

got goosebumps, even if I wasn’t a fan of the team. It was electric, the

atmosphere was full of frenzy, because we knew we were witnessing greatness and

the greatness came in  the form of one

man Michael Jordan. Sure there was Scottie and Horace and John and Steve, but

Michael inspired everyone from Chicago- including those with disabilities  by giving us the chance to experience being

elite and giving an aurora of invincibility. My first memory Michael is of

course “The Shrug” the game where he hit six three pointers against the

Portland Trail Blazers and me making me the three pointer sign after Jordan hit

each and every one. Then there was the year after that when the Bulls beat the Phoenix

Suns and then he retired and I Cried. After Jordan retired the first time  I felt betrayed, I believed he had so much

more to give and so I felt like it was time to move on so I became a Magic fan.

The first memory I have as a Magic fan is of us beating

Michael in 1994-95. I thought that since this happened we couldn’t lose and I

forgot about two things for brief moments, those two things being my disability

and failure. Alas we lost to The Rockets in the Finals and I cried again. Then

Michael swept us the next year and I went from being a huge Jordan fan to

resenting him for destroying my favorite team. I think I felt like a lot of fellow

NBA Players thanks a lot Michael.

The last memory of Michael Jordan is the shot he hit against

the Utah in 1998 in Game six of the NBA Years. I was in the fourth grade and I

was in the hospital for appendicitis. And of course Michael Jordan won again.

Does that sound familiar? Michael Jordan was my childhood I grew up with just

like a grew up with my disability. Mainly because I loved basketball, for more on

that please read my article.  But I can

still feel his greatness every time I play NBA2K or watch Jordan highlights. It

feels like just I can still feel his presence, his greatness that’s not going

away. In some ways the passion he put towards basketball is the passion I want

to apply towards my disability. I call myself the Crippled Michael Jordan as a

homage to the work he put in. He may not be my favorite, but he is the G.OA. T.

Community Voices

New Year Goals

It’s 2020 wowwwwwwwwwwww. I started writing for the Mighty

about three or four years ago. It’s given me a sense of relief and thankfulness

that I can spread the message of being a positive person with a disability,

while at the same time bringing up the word cripple to make people feel

uncomfortable. Over this past decade I graduated college, trained to be a

wrestler and actor and got a job at United Parcel Services in the Human

Services Department. However, this story is about what I’m hoping or going to

the next decade. Let’s Get into it!

I hope to find a girlfriend or a wife in the next decade. It’s

been a little harder then I wanted it or thought it was going to be. As I

stressed before  I have a tendency to go

after taken women too much and this is a little detrimental, however sometimes

my heart beats more than my brain. Although, I think this is a still realistic

given the number of online dating sights and my extroverted nature. I’ve always

wanted to find a woman who understands my passion for my disability and that

this is a strong part of my life, I also hope that she can provide me emotional

support and be my tag team partner in my life, I guess you can say I want her

to be my best friend.  I would also like

to have a couple children as I always envisioned a bunch of little ME’s running

around.  But as this saying goes “Time

Will Tell” So We Will Have to See What Happens.

I also hope to maybe create a wrestling charity event  for my Mom’s

organization The Center For Independence. If I not able to wrestle in 2020

which is still a goal I still believe, I have any connections to give back to

the business and create an event that only excites the regular wrestling fan,

but my handicapped brothers and sisters,. To give back to my love professional

wrestling is a dream I’ve always had and I want to carry into the next decade

where I will turn 40 in 2027 that’s kind of scary btw.

But most importantly I want to carry my legacy as I advocate

for people with disabilities. I never want to stop acknowledging the fact that

I have Level Four Spastic Cerebral Palsy Quadriplegia even if people get

confused as to why I’m being so free and open about it. I know there are

challenges in life I embrace them and hopefully the world will too. Hopefully

there will be technology that is advanced it allows my wheelchair to fly either

that or I get a robotic device that gives me a little more mobility. I’m very

proud to be disabled and different I think my life is beautiful because it’s so

unique. However, at the time if I had just a little walking ability I could do

more things by myself. I don’t think this is a dream that will drive me crazy, but

rather a candle of hope that will always be lit inside my heart

And these are the dreams I hold onto in 2020 I hope your

new year is prosperous and all  your dreams

will come true…Happy NEW

YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Community Voices

Personal Care Aids

I have to be honest with you. In life I need help to

be independent and strong and do the things I want to do. Yet it has been quite

the challenge to find a person to assist me in doing so. In High School and

College it was easier, aids were always provided for me and I felt like I never

had to worry about it because they would always be there. However, as I’ve

gotten older the I’ve realized that the amount of hours I require for someone

to work for me six at most, isn’t enough for some people to think about working

for me. Luckily, I have three solid individuals whom I respect and I’m pretty

sure they respect me, however my concern is I have an individual who works

morning hours sometimes four or five days a week and sometimes I wonder if she

gets worn out where is my back up? It’s been my parents mostly who have always

taken care of me and blessed me with the comfort and love of cleaning my

apartment and cooking my groceries. Yet I understand there’s always a need for

one more person. So Here is my story of struggles with aids and how I’ve

learned to adjust when they leave.

When I first moved out in 2018 I hired someone whom I

thought was going to be respectful and caring. It turned out to be a ruse. He

was very demanding and I felt like he didn” take the job seriously. He would

always sleep on my couch and tell me to be more independent and have myself,

even though it was his job to do it. I felt like he wanted me to be stronger

and more resourceful, but he was pushing me to hard, to the point where we didn’t

like each other. I wanted to simply reduce his hours, I even thought about

firing a couple of times and apparently he saw the writing on the wall, because

the next thing I know he was gone.The one main lesson I learned from this

experience was not to trust people’s facial expressions and words and instead

learn about people as time goes by.

Then the sail started to get smoother and everything

was falling into place. I replaced the guy who left with another guy who is

still with me to this day and even though I lost a few people, I was able to

replace them pretty easily. Sometimes, I wonder how was it so easy. Then two of

my aids that were constants in my life moved back to the Philippians. It was

tough for me because one of those two was constantly on time and cleaned my

apartment thoroughly and took this job very seriously. Every time he migrates

back to his homeland I feel like there is this void there that I cannot

replace. It’s been a challenge to find someone who cares that much and is

devoted to doing his job well. So to that gentleman I am speaking of pleaseeeee

come back soon!!!!

The other lesson I learned well working with my other

aids is to try not to be so strict. I got into an argument with an individual

who use to work for me over coming in on particular days and she was drained

from her other job so she asked if one of my other aids could cover for her. I

then asked why she didn’t tell me this earlier and we got into a fight. I don’t

think I was doing a good job of listening to her concerns and recognizing how

she felt. Part of the reason was because I depend on her to cook for me and put

me to bed and the other  part of me was

just didn’t want to ask my parents, because I moved out of there house and even

though they provide me with awesome help I don’t want to be over-reliant on

them. So needless to say because of scheduling conflicts she left. However, as

time has proven when one of my new aids leaves an old one always comes back.

So right now I have three aids, but I want one

more. I’ve emailed PT and OT students so I am absolutely sure I will find that

fourth one…. BUT if you have anybody in the Chicagoland area that you know

needs a job please e-mail me at

or send me a private DM on social media

Thank You and Keep Rolling

Justin Herbst

Community Voices

Poetry

I first started writing poetry as a hobby an execute to exercise creative pose and rhyme since I liked rapping. Although poetry for me became a symbol of romance, something I used to impress women. It also allowed me to express another side of myself. Something deeper, honest and thoughtful.

Here is my world of poetry, something I don’t do that often anymore, but can still execute when I am able.

When I first started writing all of my poems rhymed. I thought to myself subconsciously that all poems had to rhyme they had to have those couplets of lines that sequenced together in order for it to make sense.

It was only when I got into college that this stopped. My creative writing teacher used to delete the rhymes that I put together in red ink. At first I thought why he is doing this? Then I realized he was doing this to improve me and make me a better writer. I learned that all poetry doesn’t have to rhyme in order to make sense, but rather is about a spirit of emotion that is given when pen is put to paper or when you’re writing on a blank computer screen. However, this usually wasn’t the reason I wrote poetry.

Since the days of my youth, the main reason I write poetry is because I usually like/love somebody. I’m a romantic and poetry allows me to express my feminine side. Women are usually to ability to create prose. However, just like my flirting sometimes I have a tendency to overdo it. I once wrote a girl like 12 poems and gave them to her all within a full year. Although in life if I learned anything it’s that I regret nothing.

I haven’t written in a long time. It’s not lack passion or desire in my life. I have plenty of that in my life, I just need a muse to get me going. Sure I could write poetry about my disability, but

I feel it’s easier and more therapeutic to write about it on The Mighty and express my feelings on social media platforms. Maybe someday I will write again, probably if my kid is born or I’m staring at the ocean under a brightly pink sky. If you’re writing poetry I suggest you do so with a purpose or a passion in mind and don’t let it dim but let it SHINE and Keep Rolling!!!!!

Cerebral Palsy

Community Voices

Awkward Moments with a Disability

I have had some time to reflect on situations that have happened to me recently. They have made for a lot of awkward and angry moments for me as it relates to my disability. I’m trying my best and have been trying to reflect on what I need to do to portray my disability in the best possible light. However, I have to be honest with you, sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.

There have been a number of awkward moments related to my disability and transportation. I ride the Pace Bus every day to get to work and at the beginning the journey was difficult. It would take me about an hour to an hour and a half to get to work each day because they had to make pit stops. So I had to complain to them, and when that didn’t work I had to call my parents and ask for help. Eventually I was finally able to procure the necessary

adjustments to get to work on time. Needless to say it was a bother, but it was a lesson that I needed as many hands on deck as possible to make something happen.

Other times I would be waiting for the Pace Bus and someone would wait with me to make sure I was safe. I felt like this was unnecessary because I’m an adult, but I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to offend them.

Then there was the time someone close to me called my disability an “unfortunate circumstance.” I was trying to do something I love, and the person assisting me called my disability that and said I needed to be 99 percent right in order to get where I needed to go. It hurt me a little on the inside to hear that, but I said nothing. Maybe it was

my reverence for him as a person or maybe it was just me not wanting to be angry at that particular moment in time, but I regret not showing my emotions and educating him that my disability is not an unfortunate circumstance, but a life well lived.

And then we get to the crux of this article. I recently lost my temper with a lady in my apartment building because she called me a rock star and told me she admired the way I live my life. I should have been kinder and gentler, and looking back on it I regret not brushing off her comments. While my life may seem admirable to others, it feels mundane and routine to me. Although many people with disabilities don’t have jobs, I’ve had one for the last seven years and it feels regular. Plus I feel

that the majority of disabled people should be employed, but WE ARE NOT BECAUSE

OF OUR DISABILITY, so why should we rock stars then just regular people with

jobs. I also probably should have used a lighter tone and been nicer, because

in the past I have had a hard time dealing with people who are ignorant of my

situation and if I get the opportunity to see her I shall surely apologize.

So there are my awkward and angry moment with a disability.

I guess the best way to handle the situation would be to be kinder of people

who don’t know and just not allow myself to be emotionally wrapped up in anger

over well-intentioned people. It’s something I’m trying to learn each and every

day.

 

Justin Herbst

Acting With a Disability

I find excitement in acting. It’s a different way for me to show off my emotions and express myself. I’ve always thought I was meant to be a be a performer and be on stage. It might go back to when I was a little boy and used to act out wrestling matches. When I was a teenager I pretended to be in dramatic plays where I was a torn up lover or a superhero. I’m very dramatic and impulsive and I just want to find an outlet for these emotions. In my teenage years I watched “Boy Meets World” and “Wonder Years.” I valued the childhood lessons, raw honesty and realism of these shows and resonated with their depictions of heartbreak, growing up and moving forward. I never auditioned for any type of theatrical performances or school plays as they all seemed too corny and didn’t speak to me the way these shows did. I felt Corey and Kevin laid down the proper playbook for finding a storybook romance, and they did it with such truth, it felt real at the time, even though it wasn’t. I guess that’s what good acting is all about! When I was cutting wrestling promos, I was cultivating my acting skills. I learned the art of dramatic pauses. I also learned how to shift my emotions from happy to sad to angry to excited with a simple voice inflection. At first I was doing it for the love of wrestling, but at the same time I was learning how to become an actor. As I was training to become a wrestling manager, I auditioned for the TV show “Shameless.” My role was supposed to be a disabled person who is trying his best to get Viagra. I didn’t get the role, but they said I had a great take and I knocked it out of the park. I can attribute that to the numerous hours I put in practicing, but I also think wrestling played a big part in helping me cultivate my skills. And now my journey to acting class begins. It’s going to be an interesting ride, to say the least. Apparently we will all be trained on how to do various scenes, and then we are supposed to act those scenes out. The classes are five days a week three hours a day, so my life may be a little more chaotic than usual, but I like chaos and I like having something to do. I hope to use acting as a skill to help me get better at wrestling promos. I might even cultivate a new career — we will have to see where it goes. One thing’s for sure, I will give it my best because I always bring 100 percent effort to anything I do. I’m an actor and I will present myself with the charisma and attitude worthy of being one.

Community Voices

Activities as a person with a disability

I have many activities as a person with a disability. These things keep me entertained and satisfied emotionally. Some of them provide an emotional release, others allow me to keep calm and lastly others allow me to compete. These three things that provide me with the utmost joy both in unique and different ways.

Dancing … I love Dancing. It provides me with such energy and creativity and spontaneity. I remember one moment in my friend Bob’s wedding where I rushed to the dance floor and yelled where is the party at? It allows me to silly, be the center of the attention and be free and happy. I don’t care about embarrassed and as a person with a disability, you just need to let go and constant judgment and do your own thing sometimes. There is no better feeling in the world then putting on your favorite song and shaking your body to sleep, the adrenaline rush the loud noises  and the ability to be creative by yourself  so you can come up with ideas for later. This is what makes me joyous and energetic. Lastly I just dance because it helps me move as a person with spastic cerebral palsy this is absolutely necessary.

Reading is there any better way to elevate your mind? I read about a book a month to remain intellectually astute. Since I don’t go to school any more after I got my bachelor’s degree I need to keep my mind fresh. Another thing I like about books is that they clear my mind of any stress I have and allow me to get caught up in the story at the time. When a good author is able to tell a message it really helps you get lost in something and understand it better. I like reading historical biographies and sports books, because I’m passionate about both of those things. I read on the bus, I read before bed, I read before a wrestling show I read everywhere! Read a book #Knowledgeispower

I have been playing video games since I was five years old. The first game my parents was Super Mario Brothers. Needless to say I was confused why would anyone want to jump on a mushroom. I tended to gravitate to sports games like NBA 2K and Madden. Video games allow me to compete and have fun, when I’m not athletic enough to complete wheelchair type of sports. They also allow me to get lost in a story completing a season as a sports team, being a general manager where I trade for somebody or just kicking my friend’s butts. The only bad thing about video games is sometimes you can play them for three hours and  it seems like it’s thirty minutes you can’t let them take over your life.

These are the activities that bring me joy. I get energy, creative growth and clarity from them and they take away from the tough times of having a disability. I will read, dance and play video games for a long time and hopefully my children will with me too. Find the joy in your life and let yourself be happy.