Now I love where I live ...

I was born in Guysborough County. I remember my mom used to twirl my hair around her finger into ringlets. When I was about five my mom died. I was brought up in a foster house in Antigonish. It was on a rural route, we had party lines on our phone and a farm horse.

After that, it wasn’t a good life. For a long time, I lived around people who did not treat me good. People would not let me decide what I wanted to do for myself. I moved around a lot and I was hard to track down. I would sleep outdoors because I was scared. I developed a high tolerance for pain.

Later on I was in hospital and I met a social worker who became my best friend. She would speak up for me and help me to speak up for myself. She told me about the Disability Support Program program. Then at a transition house, I met with Metro Community Living to talk about a small options home. At first I was nervous because I did not know anybody and I do not like change. Now I love where I live. I have made a lot of friends. I’m a social butterfly.

At the small options home we are all like family. We all get along. I couldn’t live with my family – I don’t want to feel like a burden. Now I don’t have that feeling because I am independent. We come and go as we please. There is lots of flexibility. The staff helped me learn to take the bus, shop for groceries and cook. I live in a good part of the community. If I want to go to the North End Clinic, the staff help me arrange that. I’ve had very good social workers. Donna Rennie always takes the time to talk to me and to listen to what I have to say.

I have always loved animals. My parrot Rascal is 14 years old and sleeps on my shoulder. I might have a seizure and if so Rascal will let the staff know – she screams and hollers. I’ve had her almost her whole life.

For over five years, I’ve been working at Stonehearth Bakery. I work from 8 am to 1:30 pm Monday to Thursday. I like to make different kinds of bagels. It is a kosher bakery and I know how to properly clean the machines. I train other people to make bagels, clean the machines and safety. I will be graduating from the Stonehearth Bakery program in December.

This Christmas I will be with my best friend and her family. For my Christmas list, I would like a full-time job and the collection of Madea movies.

We are lucky to have small options homes. I have lived here for 12 years. This is the longest I have ever stayed in one place. It has kept me alive and opened up a whole new world for me.

For Dec. 3, 2014, the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, Linda MacLellan decided to share her experiences as a Nova Scotian with an intellectual disability.