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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Monday Photo-day: Featured Photographer Julissa Shrewsbury


From this week on I’m opening up Monday’s Photo-day feature on Reflections from a Red Head to other lovers of the art-form, and other budding / up-and-coming uber-talented photographers (Please contact me if you are interested in being featured).

This week it is my pleasure to welcome the first photographer to be featured – Julissa Shrewsbury, the Director of New Work Photography.

About Julissa Shrewsbury

I had the pleasure of meeting Julissa in person a few weeks ago when I was the ‘victim’ of a photo-shoot. Well – that was a lie as I actually signed up for the photo shoot in order to get some ‘professional’ shots taken, and even though the nerves were incredible, Julissa made me feel so relaxed, and really helped to guide me through the entire process.

Julissa received her first camera as a primary school graduation present and immediately forced her little sisters to model for her so she could practise. She has always loved words and pictures, and grew up snapping photos and churning out fairy stories on an old green typewriter.

Julissa worked as a primary school and performing arts teacher for several years, sharing her love of words, pictures and also dance with children. One day she made the decision that she wanted more time to herself and went back to University to study what she loved – words and pictures. Julissa now runs her own photography business, and is fulfilling her passion for creating beautiful images that make women feel good….she also still writes stories now and then.

About New Work Photography:

New Work Photography specialises in fashion, commercial and fashion/art-inspired photography for women through personal shoots and events.

‘Your red carpet experience is their priority and pleasure’.

For More Information

More information regarding Julissa and New Work Photography can be found at the following:

www.newworkphotography.com

NW Blog

New Work on Facebook

newworkphoto on Twitter

Or join their mailing list and receive their newsletter [redcarpetcool] to hear about fashion, photography, events and special offers.


Desensitisation


I sit here, partially watching the news whilst I check my email accounts and do some general administrative stuff. I swore to myself I would not blog this week. I’m exhausted, and I was taking the week off. Even WordPress didn’t want me to post a blog tonight, as it bombed out on this post once already – I lost 3/4 of this post that I had finished fine-tuning with such gusto. 

Not even technical issues will stop me, as I cannot hold back.  I’m incredibly troubled by the messages and pictures the media portray to us in this day and age. The war, the bloodshed, the hysteria. Perpetuating a need for us to see pictures of a dead body. I believe that the mass media are one of the main contributors to the increasing desensitisation of people within our society, the prevalence of violence and the proliferation of the virus that is hatred. But we are also at fault, as most of us sit there not questioning what we are seeing – lapping it up.

I know some of you may not understand where I am coming from, therefore I leave you these words from Martin Luther King Jr:

‎”I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.” 

Emergen IWD Ebook now online!


Emergen IWD Ebook

After a lot of blood, sweat and tears…actually there were no tears from me…the Ebook as a result of the first Emergen Blogging for a Cause event – an International Women’s Day tribute – has been published online.

In case you missed it, March 8 2011 was International Women’s Day, and Emergen – the site I’m the Blogging Coordinator for – hosted its first Blogging for a Cause event with the aim of using the power of blogging to make a difference. As a result of the 30+ posts from young leaders from all over Australia, the idea of an e-book full of the collection began to take shape.

This was my first effort at putting something like this together, and – when combined with starting a new job, maintaining my personal blog, house and relationship – it created many challenges…mostly how much I could possibly fit into one day!

But here we have the finished product, and I’d like to thank the awesomeness that is Alicia Curtis for her guidance, ideas, patience, eye for detail, tweaking, finishing touches and publishing! I swear, this woman has changed my life since I met her mid last year.

So, for a collection of inspiring articles from some amazing young Leaders and up-and-coming Aussie bloggers, check out the ‘Emergen IWD Ebook‘, and feel free to share to your heart’s content with your networks.

This is only the beginning.

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