Walk a mile in my shoes . . .

 

 

For most of this week it has been bugging me to write something about the life of a person with a disability. The part of this that has bugged me the most is how some people with a disability struggle to find a life partner to settle down with.

 

Using myself as an example: sitting at a table in a restaurant or behind the wheel of my car, I have often had many men flirt with me but the minute I get up from the table or get out of my car, they look the other way.

 

I’ve had many flirts via text message going as far as an expression to meet up but the minute I reveal that the venue needs to be accessible (I can’t climb stairs for example), they never contact me again.

 

Yes, there are many people with disabilities who do find love with able-bodied (people who don’t have a disability) but I think there is an equal amount like me, who simply just don’t find that lifelong partner.

 

 

While all this was going through my mind and I was wondering exactly how I was going to put this post together, I came across this video which sums up a lot of what I was going to say about persons with disabilities.

 

We are people too. We also have hopes and dreams. We also want to get married, have children and live in a house with a white picket fence. We don’t want your pity, we don’t want you to do everything for us. We want the opportunity to live independently and contribute to society just like everyone else. So why not give us an opportunity to do just that?

 

Have a look at this video here – it says it a lot better than I can: 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to restore balance in your life

Franschoek, Western Cape, South Africa

Pause, Reflect, Re-evaluate, Purge,  Restore

Oh my word . . . can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve sat down to write a post. This blog is all about the “journey called life” – my journey, and yet, I’ve allowed “life” to get in the way of so many things to cause me to go totally off centre.

I think at some stage I wrote a post about how my life trying to earn a decent living was consuming me to the point that I didn’t have a life.  I reached a point where I was working three jobs causing me to work until midnight seven days per week just to put food on the table.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t about getting rich. It’s never been about getting rich. I’ve never been a money chaser. It’s been purely about earning enough money to keep a roof over my head and some decent food on my table instead of baked beans on toast three times a day.

I wasn’t happy being sucked into this big, black, dark hole but it was like I was on a hamster wheel and just couldn’t get off.  The one job I was doing at night which I thoroughly enjoyed up to a point, became what was consuming me. Instead of only working 2 hours per night three days per week, I was working 4 hours per night seven days per week (more on weekends). I was not an employee of this organisation, I was working freelance and instead of appreciating my efforts they abused and took advantage of me and my time by just expecting more and more. It was like giving my hand but they grabbed the whole arm.

This was not how I expected my life as a freelancer to turn out. This is not how I expected my life leading up to my retirement years to turn out. Something had to be done – and fast!

What was the solution? How did I get myself out of this big, black, dark hole I found myself in and back into the light?

 

 

I had to pause, reflect, re-evaluate, purge, and restore my life back to what I want it to be.

Pause: I had to physically stop! I had to physically move away from my desk and put myself into a space where I was removed from the current environment that was consuming me. The place I live in is tiny so the only way to do this was to go for a long drive somewhere where I could be removed from my “normal” surroundings.

Reflect: Being away from my “normal” environment, gave me the opportunity to reflect on what my life had become, where I was heading and what could potentially happened if I continued along this path.

Re-evaluate: I forced myself to take a good, long look at my current state of life and re-evaluate where I really want to go. Is this really the kind of life I want for myself? Is this really how I want to spend what could be my last few years on this earth? Okay, granted, I’m not in my sixties yet, but I’m not far off.

While I took care of my mother during her short illness, I realised that there is so much more to life than “things”. My sister and I stopped buying each other “things” a few years before our mom became ill and rather focussed on experiences – to focus on our bucket list instead of buying more “things” but somehow, when my work became all consuming, I seemed to have lost sight of this aspect somehow and it was time to get this back.

 

Purge: The time came to do a real purge of what was pulling me down. First step was to get rid of the job that was dragging me down but this had serious implications and consequences. I was not earning much from this job but the little I was earning was helping to pay the bills each month. How was I going to live without this money? What was I going to do to fill the gap? Where would I get another job from to close this financial hole?

One consolation was that I had reached the point that my credit card which was maxed out at one stage was now at a point where I was able to manage my monthly repayments and it was no longer maxed out. I continued to cut my expenses to the bare minimum. I don’t spend any money unless I can pay cash. My credit card (yes, I only have one) is for emergencies only. I do not have store clothing accounts ANYWHERE!!

So, I resigned from the job that was dragging me down with immediate effect. This was such a shock to my system, that it took me about a month to get used to the idea of no longer having this job and once my mind and body made peace with the fact that this particular job was no longer there to drag me down, it felt like a huge boulder was lifted off my shoulders.

 

Guess what? I now have more time to devote to my third job (which has now become my second job), I no longer work till midnight every night, I have my weekends back to do whatever I like (I can choose to work if I want to but not obligated to) and this job, now covers the hole I thought my second job was going to leave.

I survived!!

 Last night I purged again . . . a committee I was an Executive member of, also draining me of time and energy without adding any value to my life, I resigned from.

The message I would like to leave with you today is don’t be afraid to take that leap into the unknown. Get rid of whatever it is that is holding you back. Yes there will be consequences for your actions but you are stronger than you think. Somehow you will manage to absorb the shock and you will cope.

I hope this post has left you encouraged and motivated.

Let me know if it has motivated you in some way. I’d love to hear from you.

5 Reasons why freelancers should attend WordCamp

Looking forward to seeing you at WordCamp2018

WordCamp Cape Town

If you’ve never attended a WordCamp before, but you’ve heard about it, you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about. I did too when I first learned about WordCamp. It was 2014 and I saw something about it online somewhere. The concept looked interesting but I really didn’t think that there would be any benefit for me to attend.  If I look back over the last 2 years of my WordCamp attendance I can truthfully say that WordCamp has become the ‘work’ related highlight of my year.

1. You get to meet some amazing people.

The thing about WordPress people is that they are generally the friendliest and most helpful individuals you’ll ever meet. I can recall endless conversations with people at WordCamp, over a variety of topics. As a freelancer you are often stuck inside your own sphere of influence and the ability to get out, meet other…

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What’s with the Silence?

 

To all my loyal followers and to all the new ones who have come on board wondering what in the world is happening here? Why no blog posts?

 

I’m really sorry for neglecting all of you but if you read what my life has been like lately, you will understand, I’m sure.

 

During the day (full day) I work as a Virtual Assistant for the Western Cape Network on Disability Find us on Facebook as Provincial Co-ordinator, including attending meetings and all related Secretarial duties.

 

In the evenings I’m a Virtual Assistant for Retina SA Western Cape Find us on Facebook as temporary Branch Administrator and Events Co-ordinator. We have three big events coming up: AGM on 4 August 2018, High Tea 2018 fundraiser on 9 August 2018 and Ripped Genes 2018 Music Concert fundraiser on 28 November 2018. More information on our Facebook page.

 

https://www.facebook.com/retinawc

Fundraiser

 

Evenings are broken down even further working as Project Manager on special projects for a private company broken down into a certain amount of hours per week.

 

I’m also an Executive Board member (not paid) for a non-profit organisation called Institute for the Promotion of Disabled Manpower (IPDM) which requires me to do loads of reading amongst other things.  More info here

 

Last year (2017) I was approached by WordPress South Africa to assist them with their annual WordCamp Cape Town event as an Accessibility Wrangler (help them ensure that the venue for WordCamp Cape Town 2018 is accessible to persons with disabilities (not paid).

 

WordCamp is a conference that focuses on everything WordPress.

WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other.

 

With an estimated 250+ attendees, this 2-day conference will have 2 tracks, 20 speakers and more than 20 volunteers making it the ultimate event for WordPress users, developers and enthusiasts in Cape Town. More details regarding this event will follow as soon as we’ve finalised the details.

Pencil 1 and 2 November 2018 (Save the Date) into your diaries in the meantime.

Comes the Dawn

 

I cannot believe it’s been so long since I’ve written a post. Where has the time gone?

I’ve been so wrapped up in trying to survive financially that before I know it, not one week, but a whole month has gone by and I’ve not written anything to post.

It’s rather strange, really, because when I started out with my blog, I religiously wrote every single week, I put so much pressure on myself to make sure I posted at least once per week, and yet my blog never really attracted any followers. Yet now, in the past six months when I’ve not written at all, I’ve had so many new people sign up to my blog.

 

Welcome to all my new readers who have joined in the last few weeks and months. Thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings. I hope some of them at least make sense and resonate with you on some level. Do leave some comments sometimes so I know what you enjoy reading and what I need to focus on more.

One of the reasons why I’ve not really written these last few months is because of the lack of readership, I thought that I may have to change direction and re-look at the focus of my blog and try something new. At the same time though, I wasn’t sure exactly how I wanted to refocus and re-brand my blog.

During these last six months, I’ve written many posts (some complete) but just never got around to posting and when I had the time to post they were no longer relevant. Then there were posts that just never got finished and are no longer relevant anymore.

Now, with so many new people joining, maybe I should keep my blog as it is right now and see where it takes me. Please help by sharing your thoughts on my ramblings and let me know if I should continue writing or just totally throw in the towel.

I will now make a more concerted effort to write more often so I don’t lose all you lovely new readers so, watch this space!

It’s my turn . . .

 

 

This year has been absolutely crazy – the start of my year was the worst I’ve ever experienced. Mom taking ill and dying so suddenly three years ago was nothing in comparison to the way last year ended and this year started.  The rest of the year, having to focus on staying afloat financially was equally stressful. Not knowing if you’re going to have enough money to get you through the month and not sleeping much because you’re working long hours and stressed has not helped either.

 

This has been the year I’ve chosen to rebel against the “system” to rebel against the societal “norm”. After 50 years of doing as I was told and doing what was expected of me, it’s been “my turn to see what I can see. I hope you’ll understand, this time’s been just for me because it’s my turn, with no apologies, I’ve given up the truth to those I’ve tried to please”.

 

I’ve rebelled against the system of being the “good girl” always doing what’s expected of me by my family, friends and society as a whole. “Now it’s my turn . . . I don’t have all the answers but at least I know, I’ve taken my share of chances. What’s the use of holding on, when nothing stays the same?”

 

 

“So I’ve let it rain, knowing it would’nt hurt me, and I’ve let you go” (mom) “though I know it won’t be easy. It’s my turn, for years I’d seen my life, through someone else’s eyes. Now it’s my turn, to try and find my way and if I should get lost, at least I’ll own today”.

 

“It’s my turn to start from number one, trying to undo, some damage that’s been done. It’s my turn to reach and touch the sky and no one’s going to say, at least I didn’t try.”

 

So to those who have understood my journey this past year and who have stood by me and supported me through it all, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without your love and support, I would not still be standing.

 

 

To those who have not understood my journey this past year and who have decided not to support me through my journey, I’m sorry that you chose to leave me at a time when I needed you most. Like I said earlier in this post – “I hope you understand, this time’s been just for me because it’s my turn, with no apologies, I’ve given up the truth to those I’ve tried to please . . .”

 

My journey to start from number one, trying to undo, some damage that’s been done has not ended yet. I am a “work in progress” and still have far to go. Those who have supported me up to now, I hope I can continue to count on your love and support through this journey.

 

To those who have chosen to abandon me in my darkest hours, thank you for your support over the years. I do wish you well in the future.

May the New Year bring you love, joy and happiness. May the good times and treasures of the present become the golden memories of tomorrow.

 

Who will cry for the Disabled?

Another International Day for People with Disabilities has come and gone (3 December 2017). The President and relevant Ministers and Deputy Ministers did their duty to preach equal rights for people with disabilities and how people with disabilities should be integrated into society blah, blah.

 

An organisation fighting for the rights of people with disabilities arranged an event where people with disabilities could travel from our very modern, recently renovated main railway station by train to a predetermined destination and back to prove that rail travel is accessible for people with disabilities.

 

train, Metrorail

The event was advertised via social media, invites were sent to journalists to join the event and let the world know how people with disabilities are now able to travel via train. No response. Not even one journalist was interested in providing media coverage for the event. Not even a “thank you for the invitation but I will not be able to make it”. Dead silence from the media.

The day arrived. A group of people with various forms of disability gathered at the agreed meeting point on the main station. A portable ramp was rolled out to enable those in wheelchairs to be wheeled onto the train. Will this ramp be rolled out every time a train arrives or departs during peak hour when people need to get to work or come home from work? I doubt that, but we claim our rail system is ready to accommodate people with disabilities.

 

The train arrives at it’s destination where one person (with a physical disability who is unable to climb stairs/steps) is waiting to meet this train because all her friends are on this train. She eagerly and excitedly awaits this train after forcing herself to climb three steps at the entrance of the train station to get to her friends. From the entrance of the station she gets to what she thinks is the correct platform for the train to arrive. She waits.

Finally the train arrives, but her excitement quickly turns to disappointment when she is told “you are on platform 1 and the train you are waiting for is on platform 3”.

 

 

Determined not to have her spirit crushed, she eagerly asks “so how do I get to platform 3?” and is told “via the subway” and is pointed in the right direction. Knowing that going through subways usually involves stairs she asks “so how does a person with a disability get to the other side?”  She is told “sorry ma’am, that’s the only way”. This now means that anybody on that train or who needs to get to that train in a wheelchair, cannot get there. There was no alternative plan. What would have happened if people needed to be evacuated from the station in an emergency?

Still, we are assured that our rail service is accessible to ALL people with disabilities.

This is a true story . . . I was there on 3 December 2017.

Where in the world am I?

My sincere apologies to all my loyal followers for being absent for so long.

I know I’ve not posted for a while –  I have so many posts I’ve started and either not finished or finished but not posted and would prefer to give you fresh stories to read.

I will get myself back on track as soon as I can.

For now, please be patient. I’m also thinking of chancing the look  of this blog – I’m just not quite sure what I want to do and how I want to go about doing it yet.

I will be back soon.

Your patience is appreciated.

A tribute to the resident I never got the chance to know

 

Today I’m struck by how fleeting life can be – we are here today and gone tomorrow.

Yesterday (18.03.2017) around mid-day after returning from a business meeting, I was greeted by a resident of the complex to let me know one of the residents was found dead in her flat. At the complex where I live, we receive a call from the Security Desk at 9:00 every morning just to make sure we are okay. When the Security person called her room yesterday, there was no answer and upon investigation found her dead in her room.

Watching her body being taken away by the Funeral Undertakers yesterday was really sad – a stark reminder of how I watched my own mom’s body being taken away.

What was even more sad and thought provoking was watching her family come in this morning to clear out her place – removing all trace of her ever even being here. The family sent two male members with a kombi and one of the two drove her car away.

I was struck by how wise it was to send someone with a kombi to take everything away in one foul swoop rather than have four or six motor vehicles each carrying a load which I think would have been more traumatic for the family.

Is that what life is? You’re here today and gone tomorrow?

so easy to remove all trace that you’ve ever existed?

Sitting at my window there is a glaring empty space where her car used to park – a glaring reminder of someone who once was and who is no more.

I will miss the nameless resident who I never even got a chance to know (I’ve only been living here for almost two months now and don’t even know how long she has was here). I think she only moved in about a month before I did.

I will miss seeing her go out every day and come back home to where home was for the last period of her life.

 

Oh death where is your victory? Oh death where is your sting?

 

 

 You may also enjoy reading these posts:

 The winds of change

The Ultimate Gift

Grief, Mourning and Bereavement – what is the difference?

Woman heal thyself

The pain of watching a parent age

Stop the bus I want to get off

In memory of mom – Flowers for my mother

Who moved my cheese again?

Reflections on a year that’s passed

6 Things you should love about your life

The winds of change and 6 lessons to learn about embracing change