2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for sat n’ all that, with some surprising results, which you can read for yourself below:

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,800 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

One day, one post had over 300 views, and many more on other days. One of my highlights of 2013, for sure. Other highs and lows of 2013, as posted on my FB page today include:

two new hair colours, pierced my nose, turned 30, had the most amazing party with wonderful friends and family, (lots of whom made special efforts to be there) fell deeply in love for the first time but had my heart truly broken, learned all over again what it is to trust God with an unknown future, learned how fantastic some of my fabulous friends are, had an exciting Skype conversation with an establish Christian author who thinks my writing is “fantastic”, learned all sorts about myself… faults too, and made constructive goals for 2014… going forward with my hand in the hand of the One who loved me and gave his life for me…

Here’s to the hope of a new year, going forward in faith with joy and peace, showing God’s love to all who cross our path. Glory be to God’s amazing grace, of which I shall write of in this coming year, with many more topics besides! Thank you for sticking with me, and let’s raise a glass to all that’s to come in 2014!

how would you answer these?

Yesterday’s daily prompt was as follows: On the interview show Inside the Actors’ Studio, host James Lipton asks each of his guests the same ten questions. What are your responses? What is your favorite word? onomatopoeia What is your least favorite word? twerking What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? anything that inspires me to write. Could be […]

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The one about the ‘Magic Moments’

Hands up who remembers the song about ‘magic moments’, which graced a television advert or two some years ago? It might be a cultural reference which is UK specific. I have been thinking a lot about ‘moments’ recently from different things I have seen, and read. One is an e-book, another a blog post, and another, a campaign led by a daytime television programme here in the UK. Each has expressed a similar sentiment in different ways.

What is wrong with ‘take a moment’?

I think, judging by the success of the latter, this sentiment about seizing, or making the most of the moment, is having a ‘moment’ in the spotlight. I say this in part because our government has seen the bright lights of the’ popular vote’ and declared that for every ‘moment’ of their time This Morning show viewers give to someone in need (it if is then recorded on the show’s website) our government will donate £5 to ITV’s Text Santa campaign. They are asking for 50, 000 moments, which means a lot of donated money by the government, which sounds good in theory…This morning are doing this to celebrate their 25th Anniversary which asks views to select their favourite moment from their 25 years of the programme.

I am sorry that I sound such a cynic, but in my opinion the above is nothing but a gimmick. I get that the government’s donations to ITV’S Text Santa campaign will do some good, but instead of the Government donating this money to charity, I would rather they dedicate this money to supporting poor and vulnerable children and families in the long-term, and by safeguarding the services they rely on, rather than cutting or dispensing with the services they dependent on altogether. As ever, the Government is giving with one hand, and taking with the other, while those they are supposed to help suffer. So much for the ‘Big Society’ which ‘Dave’ (Cameron) was formerly so fond of.

The other major flaw I can find with This Morning’s ‘Take a Moment’ campaign is that by volunteering to help, the public is giving of their skills, time and talent temporarily rather than on a longer-term basis. This is ill-advised for a variety of reasons. If an older, ill, or disabled person needs help with a particular task, they are likely to need this more than just once. Therefore, to only help once smacks of tokenism. Additional benefits of offering help on a longer-term basis are, that vulnerable people are less isolated, vital in an age where families are fragmented from estrangement, geography or being time-poor. It also gives families surrogate grandparents, aunties, and uncles, while teaching children of the necessity of, and value in helping those in need, demonstrating kindness, compassion, and how to share what they have with others.

Why ‘moments’ matter…

Though I have expressed cynicism and found much to criticise ­­­­­­in the first part of this post I see much value in another aspect of the ‘moment’ – making the most of every single one of them. This is something I am coming to value as ever-more important, the more limited my energy seems to become. It has taken me multiple attempts to write this post as I keep falling asleep, or being unable to concentrate. In the times I can however, my Twitter friend Lou’s post on making the most of her time while she waited for her baby to be born really spoke to me.

I have a choice here. I can believe that as I am in a transition, I have nothing to offer until I become a mother or I can do all I can, as I can right now. I don’t want to miss out by rushing ahead. I don’t want to miss opportunities that I will not get to have again.

On my bad days, in pain and exhausted,  is easy for me to believe that I don’t have anything to offer, however this is not how my Heavenly Father sees me.  I too have opportunities that I should grab before they go. Other things I am reading at the moment are encouraging me to make the most of the little things, and to find adventure where I may not have seen it before. Normally, I try to do useful things in my support time, however, as a one-off, I went to see a movie with my main carer. Something I would not normally watch. We had junk food lunch, which I try not to eat normally, and popcorn, and settled down to watch the movie. ‘Rush’

Time
Time (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

directed by Ron Howard, is about the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt during the Formula 1 season in 1976. I love human interest stories, which this was, and the sense of danger in the movie just made it more exciting. I definitely recommend it, if you haven’t already seen it! By trying to find the things I can do to vary my life a bit, I am trying to make the most of my time. I’ve been inspired to do this by the sense of adventure in Wendy Van Eyck’s e-book Life, Life, and More Life, which s­­­­he wrote after she and husband Xylon found out he had cancer. They made a conscious decision to make the most of whatever time they have:

The reality is that life doesn’t wait for me to be ready before good and bad things happen. In the midst of life happening around me, in hospitals and on holiday, I’ve realized I can embrace life. I can live fully, and I can live without regrets.

Again and Again I have found nuggets within Wendy’s writing which not only encourage and inspire me to live a Godly life in the midst of my own messy life, but also teach me about the faithfulness of the God I serve and his unfailing love for me. I urge you to check out Wendy’s blog, if you have not already done so (http://www.ilovedevotionals.com). I am trying to find other ways to make my restricted life an adventure. The next of those was hydrotherapy with Community Physio, tattooed and pink haired carer, risk assessor … basically a hoot from start to finish. The next several hours of ‘moments’ will be spent comatose continuing to recover from hydrotherapy yesterday! Night night!

coffee, stink bombs and aftershave…

Today’s prompt reminds me of situations I have sometimes been in. (Girls, I am sure some of you can identify with this!!) You are so completely focused on the other person that some of your senses are heightened and others dulled… how the person smells, how it feels when they hug you or you hug them… If the other person suddenly speaks it’s a jolt back to reality and I may not realise what they said or even that they spoke!!

English: Uploaded by Moon Costumes, http://www...
English: Uploaded by Moon Costumes, http://www.mooncostumes.com/zoom/8092, Photograph of a widely distributed gag stink bomb, package and example of breakable enclosure. The picture is of a brandless generic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve always found smell particularly evocative. Aftershave, deodorant  perfume, baking, coffee, the smell of a meal being prepared, or conversely  the smell of stink bomb in a lift recently transported me back to my school days in an instant!

All of that said, I don’t think I smelled anything in particular this morning when I first woke up. First sound I heard was the shrill monotone of the intercom indicating my carer was outside needing  let into my flat. This was what I first touched as well, this morning, First sight would have been either the picture on the far wall of my room, or the photograph on the same wall as the intercom. First taste was the yogurt my carer brought me when I stirred my tablets into to make them much easier to take.

I don’t know that I would want to have one of these senses dulled temporarily or permanently. The very idea of  taking a potion stirs up memories of Disney films, though annoying, I am unsure which I am thinking of in particular  I have met enough people who have to permanently live with much less than full sight, or none in some cases, not to want my sight to be dulled. Being a wheelchair user, especially if I am sitting in my ‘little’ chair, I often cannot hear what others are saying, and they cannot usually hear me, despite how much of an attempt I make at projecting my voice, or the other person has to stoop in order to hear me. Alternatively  my hearing is often heightened if there is a sudden loud noise such as two plates banging together or a balloon pops it can make me jump clean into the air. This is often highly embarrassing  Touch too, can either make me jump or spasm, or I may do this without even being touched!

Perhaps if i could not taste properly though, there would not be the same temptation to comfort eat!! Imagine if this could be manufactured and marketed; I might make my fortune! It is an interesting question. Over to you: if you were offered a potion which would dull one of your senses to heighten others, which would you chose?

Lent 2013: day 2

I have never really bothered about lent before. I did give up chocolate for lent about 6 or 7 years ago, because a friend dared me to. I did actually manage it much to my friend’s amazement.

I suppose by now you might be wondering why I am bothering about Lent now. It is partially because I am a #digidisciple for bigbible. I happen to see some of the promotional press release for bigread13. The more I read, the more I wanted to be a part of it. I read a post by my friend Bryony explaining that she would be blogging for #Bigread13.

Bryony also talked about something she had found on the web called #notbusy. This is where you spend between 10-30 minutes quiet contemplation and solitude, and then tweet about it afterwards using the hashtag ‘notbusy’. I decided I would love to do that too. It’s something I can do quite easily even from my wheelchair. My only qualm was whether I would fall asleep during the stillness. However, I am wide awake today, which almost never happens so I stayed awake throught the 15 minutes. Things started to come to mind that I need to do today so I quickly found a notebook, jotted things down and left it at my side in case anything else came to mind. The rest of the time, I half prayed, half thought. Sometimes people came to mind. The rest of the time I thought about a devotional piece I have just read about the excesses of Christ’s love for me. Very appropriate for valentines day. I am off to read today’s # bigread13 devotional and download Rowan Williams book.

BBC News – Paralympics 2012: How do people view the wheelchair?

BBC News – Paralympics 2012: How do people view the wheelchair?.

I have been meaning to comment on this excellent video for some time now. In the audio John Hockenberry asks a couple of pertinent questions which, while he provides sparking answers, also provide room for debate. The first is this:

Those exact same elements that might put you off are transformed in the Paralympics. Why? 

It is question of identity,  centered around how we see the “other”, those who are different from our perceptions of normal. Also, where we see the person may alter the image, so not just the body, but also the environment. As he says, it is a case of allowing one image, that which our subconscious has been trained by the media, our nurture, and stereotypes to be seen as tragic, we allow to become triumph. This also explains our potential reaction to any of the pictures in the photographic article The 33 most inspiring photos of the Paralympics. (I have also offered my own comment on the images in my previous blog post.)

This would be the case not only for the person or people looking on, but also for the disabled person themselves. How does their disability alter their view of themselves. I can only speak for myself in this. For me, this such a huge question.; From tragedy to triumph. I have partly answered the question before, in explaining how difficult it ws to come to terms with the consequences of major surgery, but this question also applies to how I view myself as a person with cerebral palsy and as an electric wheelchair user. As I explained in the same article, being told I use a wheelchair full-time, for me, really was a tragedy and one I am coming to terms with. In terms of how it affect my self-image, I feel it makes me look somehow vulnerable, in some ways more disabled than I am, as I am able to mobilise a bit.  Both how I view myself, and how others view me depends on which aid I am using, amongst other things. If I use my electric wheelchair, and my environment allows me to use that chair unaided, I have a sense of freedom I do not have at any other time, as I can decide where I want to go, when, and for how long. Put me in my self-propelled wheelchair however, and it’s a different story. Then, I do not have the same freedom. Recently, mu manual chair was being fixed, and I’d gone to a local gym in a taxi with my Zimmer frame, and a carer. After the usual pleasantries, somehow I blurted out how I wouldn’t be so fine after my swim, having had the exertion of walking from the house to the taxi, the taxi into the gym etc. Her response was incredibly thought provoking. She exclaimed in surprise, “Of course, where’s your wheelchair? You looked so natural walking out of the lift that I hadn’t given it a second thought!” This is party about one way of mobilising being normal, and the other, abnormal, natural vs unnatural. Also, somehow on my feet with the Zimmer at least, I feel taller, and don’t look “disabled” as such. That is, until I wobble backwards, or tire, which happens after a few steps. This particular incident has really got me thinking though. With the Zimmer, however I may look more ‘normal’ but I do not have any of the same freedom as I do the majority of the time in my electric wheelchair. I have to be having a ‘good’ day, both in terms of pain and energy levels, and be somewhere “barrier-free”. A different environment, and it’s a different story.

The tragedy… gets trumped by the intent. When you see the athletes using their bodies and equipment, not being used by it, it changes everything.

My electric wheelchair is definitely the mobility aid which allows me to use the most ‘intent’; the wheelchair has a purpose. Like I say, I dictate where I go, without depending on another. I might not have as much leg function as I used to, but it hardly matters in my ‘go faster stripes’ wheelchair! (mine is similar to the one below, although the frame is black rather than this fetching lime green model, and I have extra cushions!)

So, what else does John Hockenberry have to say about the ‘wheeliechair’? He goes on to describe is as “an alternative to walking, not some shameful and inadequate substitute”. WOW. i guess I would find that easier to identify with if I saw a Paralympian such as Hannah Cockroft propelling her chair in the street, than I can use this phrase for myself. It’s  different too, having walked  for the majority of the previous 28 years. However, I have to learn to see myself as the “agent, not the victim”. I’m sorry if this sounds like I’m labouring the same point. I find this video, and the words Hockenberry uses so powerful and transformative, we are participating and whatever caused my disability, or that of anyone I see in the street is “way back there, way back at the starting line!” 

This view of the wheelchair, and other ‘aids’ has the power to turn stereotypes upside down. however, some of this depends on the look of a product, and the design of it, as well as it’s function. An organisation called Enabled by Design, for example, feature reviews of products, ‘specialist’, or not. I have read several articles on the importance of the design of aids and adaptations. These of course cost money, which is what Disability Living Allowance helps to compensate for. They should be just that, something which assists us, and more readily available, as opposed to often prohibitive costs, which would enable more people to be agents, and not victims. It is about more than identity, and the way others view us, but also whether aids are ‘sparkly’ enough! I’m all for sparkly chairs!

I’d love to know what you think of the video, how you view disabled people when you see them in the street, or the design of aids in general.

The 33 Most Inspiring Photos Of The Paralympics

The 33 Most Inspiring Photos Of The Paralympics.

Apologies for the lateness of this post! However, I felt it was still worth commenting on these pictures. There’s so many “where were you when…?” moments that there’s something for everyone. It’s also I think, the trumphant smile, or act of celebration you see first, before you see the person’s disability. However, some people find that kind of rhetoric harmful, as it somehow normalises the person…. and who, or what is “normal”. It does however subvert the stereotype of disability as something to be feared, to be ignored, or always seeen negatively.

Also there has been so much focus on the triumph, and not just a lot of focus on the legacy. I have seen various paralympians on variuos TV chat-shows and daytime shows. It has also been interesting watching the althletes watching their momewnts of triumph and seeing how they react!

Here’s hoping that in the next few years, there are more of these photos shown. Not just as one of inspiring moments, but as a regular part of sporting coverage, so that triumphs in disability sport are taken seriously,  seen as paralleled to the achievements of those in the equivalent “able-bodied sport.