Undifference


Today’s post, as part of ‘The Beauty Of Difference’ series, comes to you courtesy of fellow blogger, friend and an all-round amazing person Thom Brown.  To quote the directly from the profile on Thom’s blog ‘To Gyre and Gambol: Reflections of Life, Limpidity, and Perches for Happiness‘, Thom Brown is ‘originally from Virginia Beach and has been a Professor of Psychology since 1975. JT told him the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time, and it made sense. That and a good book. And good friends. Music. Family. Oh … wine, cheese, olives, bread’. 

My journey with disability has probably not been typical, but at the same time, it’s probably just like everyone else’s. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, … it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, … .” It’s whatever you want it to be.

I’m musing again, of course, about my Neglected Left. Twenty-five years ago I could still hold a nail with my left hand as I hit it with the hammer in my right. That is how most of the home in which I am presently sitting came to be. Even then, though, there was motor and sensory weakness, but the atrophy was not yet significant. It wasn’t really noticeable to those who were not already aware of it.

The vicious circle was whirling though. Because my left was weaker, I used it less and less, and because I used it less and less, it further weakened. As the atrophy advanced, it became increasingly obvious to others, and I was becoming increasingly different. Special. A close colleague who is legally blind knows me from afar by the way my left arm is different.

My disability developed so gradually that I don’t think I was ever really aware that I was losing something. That’s not to say I wasn’t disappointed that there were things I could no longer do that I once enjoyed, but I was already successful in life. If this were to become a stigma of some kind, it wasn’t going to be an obstacle in my life. I was unlikely to experience the discrimination or challenges that so many others have confronted.

Then a couple of weeks ago, a colleague told a joke that had a one arm aspect to it. It didn’t bother me a bit, but he was worried that he had insulted me. In fact, the one arm aspect of the joke had not even registered with me. Subsequent to that, I began to wonder how I would, in fact, feel if I learned that someone, students for example, were making fun of me and my Neglected Left.

Although I hope individuals with disabilities are always treated with respect, I have concluded that this wouldn’t bother me. I know who I am. I know what I have achieved. I know what I else I shall have accomplished before I retire in a few years. What these ignoramuses think or say or do is irrelevant to my quality of life. All that will result is that they will have embarrassed themselves, and I shall think less of them.

Yet … there is something in me wanting to know that I am still all that I once was. A close friend wondered if the more important question is why I might think that I am not, and I have no answer for that. I suppose I am not even certain that I do think that way, but if I do, I’m not sure I want to know. It would suggest that I have somehow let “them” get to me.

Most of those with whom I interact did not know me before I became different – a period to which I sometimes refer as the BeforeTime. They know me only as I am today. Whatever the case may be, if those who are close tell me I am whole (and they do), I shall know it is so, and other than my own, theirs is the only opinion that really matters to me.

Although still a work-in-progress, I’m almost there. I like me. I’m quite content with being different. It’s certainly much more interesting than not being different, and I feel for those folks who aren’t.

In fact, it seems to me that individuals without difference are the ones who are missing something. They’re difference challenged. They’re so … well … undifferent. Nevertheless, I’ll try not to patronize them, nor do I want to be indifferent to their undifference. Count on me to do all that I can to be supportive. – TGB

You can find more though-provoking and inspiring posts from Thom Brown at his blog ‘To Gyre and Gambol: Reflections of Life, Limpidity, and Perches for Happiness’.

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Hello Voluntary Unemployment


Sleep On Computer

Image via Wikipedia

So many of you who have either followed my journey, or whom I have met along the way, would know that I’ve been grappling with a decision I should have made a while ago.

Well, good news! The decision has been made…I actually went through with it and handed in my resignation yesterday. This was after the weekend where I had some rather vicious nightmares about some people from work, of which as a culmination of episodes, I took as a sign (this was accompanied by me sleeping in both Saturday and Sunday until 11am due to exhaustion). As it would have it, I do believe that I was meant to wait until now for this to happen. I was meant to meet some of my fantastic colleagues, I was meant to learn what I have, I was meant to experience what I have – all for reasons that are clear to me now.

So, what now?

I actually have no idea. All I do know is that I’m really looking forward to a few weeks off, to cleaning the neglected house, to finding the watch I misplaced somewhere in the house 4 months ago, to cleaning the car, to walking the dog, to exercising, to reading, to babysitting my nieces, to meditating, to taking up yoga again, to sleeping, to writing more, to taking more photos, to chatting to everyone that has reached out to me over the last year, to whatever life has in store for me in my next chapter…I’m scared, but also excited at the same time. I just need my body to last through the next 3 weeks…hang in there!

Looking back through my blog: My 7 Links


Recently, an fellow Aussie blogger, travel enthusiast and red head – Vicki Potts @redheadedtravel (http://redheadedtravels.com) – nominated me to join in the #My7links project. My first thought was that I must have been living under a rock – as this was the first time I had heard of this project. The second thought was that I was impressed – Vicki had been paying attention and knew I was a sucker for these ‘challenges’.

Not one to rush into things, I had to mull this over for a couple of days, but I think I’ve finally managed to come up with my list. So here they are – my 7 links. What do you think?

My most beautiful post: It’s hard to think of my posts as ‘beautiful’, but on browsing through them, I will put this one forward to you: ‘Moments in Time.’ I published this not long ago, but I actually wrote it years ago. I found it when I was reading an old journal a few weeks back, and was a wee bit impressed at how I wrote back then. After some tweaking, I decided to share it on my blog. It’s about those beautiful moments in everyday life, that we often miss unless we are watching for them.

My most popular post of all time: (well – within the 11 months this blog has been in existence) is What do you do to maintain your mental health? There is no competition. With over 370 hits in the first week, I was blown away by its success – and it was all thanks to some kind soul profiling it on Fiveminute55 cool things for your 5-minute break! I actually have no idea who, how, why…you get the picture. But I am very thankful – especially because it was a post on depression and stress, a subject close to my heart.

My most controversial post: I don’t think I’m a controversial blogger. I tend to focus on things that will either lift people up, or make them think…along with the other quirky, artsy, daggy, self-deprecating stuff I may blog about. But there is one post that jumps to mind because it stimulated a lot of discussion – some of the best I have seen as a result of something I have written. ‘New Experiences at work – Drug and Alcohol test anyone?‘ was a post where I shared my encounter of being random drug tested at work. The discussions that followed were around the infringement of rights, workplace bullying tactics, and the change in company policies throughout the years.

My most helpful post: apart from What do you do to maintain your mental health? would possibly be the post I wrote on my experiences in dealing with Bullying in the Workplace.

A post whose success surprises me: ‘I’d rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not done. Lucille Ball‘ A simple post, referring to an awesome quote I had never heard before. It seemed to strike a chord with lots of people. I’m glad I could share it with you all, and that you liked it as much as I did.

A post I feel didn’t get the attention it deserves: I think it was ‘In the grip of fear‘.  I can understand though, as the subject (domestic violence) is something most people still struggle to talk about in this day and age.

The post I am most proud of: This is REALLY hard! I’m going to go for this one: ‘The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion – Dalai Lama XIV‘. I chose this one because it’s one of the first times I really let loose and shared my own views on an issue I am passionate about – immigration, multiculturalism and compassion.

So that’s it. What do you think?

Oh, before I forget – I better nominate some ‘victims’ huah huah huah…so over to you (if you choose to accept your challenge:

@StuStoryteller,

@hajraks (you wanted something to write about!),

@AckermanRoy and

@LaliaVoce

 

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun


As a kid I loved Cyndi Lauper…’Girls Just Wanna Have Fun‘, ‘She Bops’,  and the classic ‘Time After Time‘.

I woke up yesterday, after having a weird sleep. I’d been stressing over work in my sleep, had woken to stressing over work, and had fallen back to sleep to only have nightmares about…you guessed it! Work. Anyhow, I woke up in a state of weirdness, and grabbed for the dog for my morning cuddle. I then stumbled out into the lounge room to find Denis with his headphones on, playing soccer on the x-box, and a clock displaying 11.30am. Sheesh! I must have needed a lie in! And do you know what was really weird? Denis had let me have a lie-in! Bless his cotton socks 🙂

Anyway, after the trauma of the night and morning I had experienced, I decided to throw routine to the wind…Well, actually – I had already told Denis before I’d trundled off to bed the night before that I just wanted to have some fun. So – that is what we set out to do on Saturday. Forget the house cleaning. Forget the grocery shopping. Forget normality…we set out to have some fun (and since I obviously needed some therapy, the ocean was the direction we headed in).

My driver - thy name is Denis

My ‘driver’ – as he calls himself (he has watched too much of Jason Statham in ‘The Transporter‘) – hit the coast road…one of the many in Western Australia…and it was just what the doctor ordered.

After a minor hiccup, which saw my right leg forgetting how to walk in the middle of a car park, resulting in a twisted ankle, grazed knee and cut hand – and possibly lost humility – we found a place to settle down in the sun (The Monk, Fremantle), to wine and dine (the fall was BEFORE the wine).

Janine plus Vitamin D and a glass of wine

It was a lovely afternoon out. We took the SLR camera and had a play around. We had some lovely food and beverages in one of my favourite towns in the world – Fremantle. We explored the markets and picked up some incense from one of my favourite shops in the world – The Blue Buddha (as well as freaking out as I was drawn to a stone called Kyanite which – as the story goes – ends up being JUST WHAT I NEED now!).

I'm feeling happy

And we ended the day at the South Mole, Fremantle, walking, exploring, laughing (with Denis teasing me about spraining my ankle again on everything, including the rocks I was insisting on crawling over), and taking pics. Oh, and Denis picked up some fresh prawns and cooked him dinner. Bless him again.