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.

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.

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.

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

 

Is your life off course? Are you too busy for these 5 things?

numbers-time-watch-white-medium

 

I’ve been so caught up with trying to keep up and embrace all the changes taking place in my life right now – also see here: that I’ve hardly had time to think about, let alone write another post to publish here.

In my struggle to find the time to gather my thoughts logically enough to string a few sentences together I came across this article which is so well written I could not have said it better myself so I would like to share it with you here.

Read the article here:

I have not written this article but it clearly says how I feel about life in general so it’s useful to be reminded of this on this journey called life and all it entails.

 

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Excellent points being made don’t you think?

Is this a reflection of your life too?

Let me know what you think.

 

 

 

 

Embracing change

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Last week I wrote about the Winds of Change have spoken – you can read it here: Click here little did I know at the time that my security rug was going to be pulled out from under me again.

 

Towards the end of last week, I received the news that all the residents in our complex will need to relocate for approximately 8 weeks starting with the floor I’m on (ground floor). The complex management has discovered a problem with rising damp and feel that instead of waiting for the problem to get worse, they would rather deal with it now. Yes, the residents will be inconvenienced but will benefit us all in the long term.

 

I’ve just moved into this complex. I’ve only been here for two weeks. I’ve just nicely got my things in the place where I want them. Have my curtains hanging and my pictures on the walls. Now everything has to be cleared out and moved to another place only to be relocated again in about 8 weeks from now.

 

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Dealing with stress from unexpected change takes time:

Unexpected changes such as job loss or financial uncertainty, can turn life upside down and I’ve gone through both recently besides other stress relating to health (my own and my mom) and my mom’s death. Dealing with stress and a “new normal” can be slow and painful, but it is possible.

 

Stress affects our health and relationships. Even if we do not talk about it, those around us – our family, friends and co-workers – still pick up on our body language.

 

As much as I fear the unknown, the unfamiliar is not to be feared. It can be a chance to turn your life around. During the last few major changes I have learned a few things . . .

 

Don’t just do something: Sit there: When I’m facing major change in my life, my natural instinct is to go into “action” mode and DO something, but there is actually a lot of value to just sitting quietly instead. You need to allow yourself an unproductive period before you can blossom.

 

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Make yourself little: When you suddenly have to deviate from familiar routines, it can seem as if all your supports are gone. It is absolutely crucial, while absorbing the shock of the new, to make yourself feel well taken care of. Preparing nutritious meals for the week in advance is helpful. If you are able to spare the cash, have someone come in and clean the house. It is important for you to take care of yourself, but don’t let the pizza boxes pile up.

 

Ignore your inner reptile: There’s a part of the human mind that is referred to as the “Lizard Brain”, because it existed even in the earliest land animals. The Lizard Brain is concerned with survival, it likes the tried and true, so it is likely to  pop up right now, flooding you with warnings of “danger!” as you veer off course. It is like a misfiring car alarm: pointless and annoying.

 

Silence you inner know-it-all: It helps not to be too smart. Smart people don’t like having their minds changed. If you’re so smart that you can’t rethink your positions, all you IQ points won’t do you much good when your life is turned upside down.

 

 

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Look for new perspectives: Zen practitioners cultivate the “don’t know” mind: they work to assume they don’t know anything and in that way see the world afresh. This is a great way to approach change – because an opportunity to start afresh, to consider all possible. Ask naïve, wide-eyed questions of anyone who is doing anything you might be interested in trying. Listen seriously to arguments you might once have missed.

 

Try something new and slightly scary: Why? Because now is the time to explore what it is that you really like. Catch yourself off-guard, do something spontaneous that you have never done before and see what happens.

 

Be sceptical of common wisdom: It is dangerous to live in the aggregate, especially when you’re trying to figure out your next move. One year, everyone knows you need an M.B.A. to succeed at anything. The next year they will be telling you you’re wasting your time because there are no jobs anyway. Set your sights on what you want to achieve.

 

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Learn to live with uncertainty: The anxious feeling does not signal that you are doing something wrong, only that you are trying something new.

 

Say “really?” a lot: When you start to turn this sudden shift in your life to your advantage, you might shake up a lot of people, especially the ones who are not happy with the way you are living. To them, your efforts to move forward may feel like a glaring searchlight that needs to be switched off and fast. To their descriptions of the terrible fates that will surely befall you if you dive headlong into a new life, respond with “Really?”.  Alternatively, “oh yeah?”

 

Shed your old skin: Discard physical clutter, tired ideas,  old routines. Seeing things through another’s eyes can help. It is only when you have cast off what has been weighing you down that you can finally move on.

Source:

 

 

The winds of change have spoken . . .

change-your-destiny

 

I can’t believe we are heading for the middle of February already. It feels like an eternity since the last time I posted anything here. So much has happened over the last few months that it will be virtually impossible to try to fill you in on the details.

The short version is that in September 2017 I decided to sell my house and move to a smaller living space. Between all the negotiations, the packing and the moving life was one big mixture of feelings and emotions, sometimes tears, sometimes sadness for the loss of the life I was leaving behind but nervousness and excitement for the new chapter in life I was starting.

As much as we are not in charge of our destiny we can change our circumstances to live a life that is more in line with what will bring us joy and happiness. Sometimes this means that we have to leave others (and things) behind in the process.

“When the way you think, speak and behave resonate with your own deepest nature, life feels very good — you feel whole, content, in your power. But when these don’t align with your deepest nature, then things feel… wrong. Life feels uneasy. You feel out of touch, discontented, restless, unhappy.” – Melli O’Brien

In spite of the sadness and tears over the last few months, I do not regret the decisions I have made. I was forced into a position of having to get rid of most of the physical clutter that was actually weighing me down without me realizing it. In the process of physically letting go of all the clutter of the material possessions, I freed my heart (or at least tried to) of holding on to too much emotional clutter that was weighing me down too.

I feel so much better now. I sleep so much better now. I am at peace knowing that the decisions I made were the right ones for me. I can let go and let others take the responsibility now. I am free to live the life I am meant to live purely because I’ve been forced to let go emotionally and physically.

I have learned that we go through bad experiences to teach us wisdom and to give us the strength we need to continue on this journey called life. I have learned that the more you put yourself into a state of gratitude, the more you will attract things to be grateful for.

Be grateful for what you have, and you’ll end up having more.
Focus on what you don’t have, and you’ll never have enough.

I have learned that being happy won’t always make you grateful, but being grateful will always make you happy. It is almost impossible to sincerely appreciate a moment and frown at the same time. To be happy right now, does not mean you don’t desire more, it means you are grateful for what you have and you are patient for what is yet to come.

Gratitude enables true forgiveness, which is when you can sincerely say, “Thank you for that experience.” It makes absolutely no sense to condemn or regret an important life lesson. Gratitude makes sense of yesterday, brings peace to the present, and creates a positive vision for tomorrow.

We never need more than we have at any given moment. It has been said that the highest form of prayer is giving thanks. Instead of praying “for” things, give thanks for what you already have. When life gives you every reason to be negative, think of one good reason to be positive. There is always something to be grateful for. Good days give you happiness and bad days give you wisdom. Both are essential, because all things have contributed to your advancement, you must include all things in your gratitude. This is especially true of your relationships. We meet no ordinary people in our lives; if you give them a chance, everyone has something important to teach you.

 

cant-compare-a-tree-to-a-forest

 

We need to be grateful for the present changes in our lives. We need to be grateful for all we have now, because we honestly never know what will happen next. What we have now will eventually be what we had. Life changes every single day, and our blessings will gradually change along with it.

A grateful mind never takes things for granted. What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude. The circumstance (or person) you take for granted today may turn out to be the only one you need tomorrow. As we express our gratitude, we must not forget that the highest appreciation is not to simply utter words, but to live by them daily. What matters most is not what we say, but how we live. Don’t just say it, show it. Don’t just promise it, prove it.

Gratitude includes giving back. In the hustle of everyday life we hardly realize how much more we receive than give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the aid of others.

The highest tribute to the people and circumstances you’ve lost is not grief but gratitude. Just because something didn’t last forever, doesn’t mean it wasn’t the greatest gift imaginable. Be thankful that your paths crossed and that you got the chance to experience something wonderful.

To be truly grateful, you must be truly present. Count the blessings in your life, and start with the breath you are taking right now. We often forget that the greatest miracle is not to walk on water; the greatest miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment, appreciating it and feeling completely alive.

Letting go of control multiplies the potential for gratitude. Sometimes we put too much weight into trying to control every tiny aspect of our lives that we completely miss the forest for the trees. We need to learn to let go, relax a little and ride the path that life takes us sometimes. We need to try something new, be fearless, but above all else, do our best and be OK with it. Clearing ourselves of needless expectations allows us to truly experience the unexpected and the greatest joys in life are often the unexpected surprises and opportunities we never expected.

“Life should be lived with a little more GRATITUDE

and a little less ATTITUDE.”

Let us consider how fortunate we are – let us consider it every day. The more we count our blessings, the more blessings there will be to count.

What are you grateful for today?

How has gratitude affected your life?

 

You may also enjoy the following posts written by me: