Sue Maloney is a Native American who has been learning about her heritage and doing crafts for 18 years. She owns the Lit’lbear’s Den in Greenfield, Massachusetts, a consignment gallery for Native American crafts. Sue also has a hidden disability called Fibromyalgia. This makes it hard for her to work a forty-hour week. At times her pain and muscle weakness makes even walking a problem, and she can’t stand or sit for any length of time.
“I think I’m healthier and happier because I’m working.”
People have a hard time understanding her physical disability because they can’t see what’s causing her pain. They often ask her how come she looks so normal? She says, “Define normal.”
What confuses people is that some days she’s running all over the place and other days it can be difficult to just stand to ring the register. Sue’s lucky to have co-workers like Dee and Sherry who step up for her on difficult days. But Sue doesn’t let her physical situation get her down for long.
“I refuse to let my disability get me down.”
Each day she gets up ready to contribute to the running of the shop. Sue focuses on what she can do like filling orders, keeping track of her artists and lots of paperwork. To renew her spirit Sue often attends Pow Wows to celebrate with other Native Americans and sell her crafts. For her, the drumming and dancing are uplifting and healing. These spiritual ceremonies are important because they give Sue the strength to do the job she loves. She believes that her work matters and makes her healthier and happier because she is putting her abilities to work everyday.