Saturday, 29 October 2011

"Have a seat"

At the Dr's surgery the other day, I entered the sub-waiting room. It is very narrow, with two rows of chairs facing each other. The first chair each side was occupied which would make it awkward for someone to walk up the middle. The chap in one chair glanced up and saw me "here, have a seat" he said, shifting quickly along a few seats...

"...Oh. You already have one". Embarrassed, noticing my wheels.

I grinned. "You've made my day"

He looked confused.

"You saw me, acknowledged me as a person and then you saw my wheels. I like that. I like it when I'm a person first, and my disability is registered later."

And we chatted on about random things until appointment time.

What he saw as a mistake, a failure to take in the whole situation at a glance, made my day.

And it still keeps making me smile.

Because I like being 'just another person'.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Sign of Approval

On Saturday I launched Biscuit Baking and Welly Walks.

The books I'd worked on for months, fallen in love with, and which make me grin every time I pick them up. But now: the moment of truth. Letting the public judge their worth.

A hall full of children and parents - the atmosphere much like a child's party with face-painting, balloons, kids chasing bubbles on the patio or sitting quietly with colouring sheets and pencils. Children shyly telling me their names to write in the front of their shiny new books.

And not only that, ex-paralympic swimmer, Fran Williamson had also come to show her support and appeared delighted with her signed copies.

But my favorite part was reading them out loud to the children and their parents. The smiles, the pointing, the giggles and occasional 'look Mummy!' made my day.

My books were approved by those who matter most. The children.

Thank you to all who came - I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

A brief stroll....

It might be immature, but Saturday's stroll made me laugh.
(Best viewed if you click on the first picture - it brings up a slide show)

Well, I thought it was funny.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Launch of Welly Walks and Biscuit Baking

Photo by Nicole French, 2011

Launch Date: 22nd October 2011
Time: 2:00-3:30pm
Venue: Willowcroft Community School, Mereland Road, Didcot, OXON, OX11 8BA
Books: Welly Walks and Biscuit Baking by Hannah Ensor
With balloons, book sales (my other books will be on sale too) facepainting, bubbles, book signing and more.
Also attended by Fran Williamson: Five-time World Champion Swimmer and six time Paralympic medallist.

2 children’s books. So what? What makes these so special?

1.    The illustrations are unique. Clear, joyful, simple and alive. And so are the stories.
Who’d have thought stick people could be so expressive? The biggest challenge is not grinning whenever you see them.

2.    They include disabled children without being about disabled children.
Plenty of books about disability for 2-5 year olds, but how many can you find about fun which just happen to feature a disabled child? The balance is being addressed.

3.    They raise £1 per book for Whizz-kidz (charity no 802872)
Who help children enjoy fun and full childhoods, get the right wheelchairs for them at the right time, and learn the skills they need – all without pity or patronisation. With loads of input from the kidz themselves, it is run with humour, respect, positivity, professionalism and cheek. A charity after my own heart.

4.    And each book has a special feature ....................
It is the same feature in every book, but also different! My nieces and nephew who pre-viewed my books wanted to see this charming and unexpected facet of my books over and over again.

That’ll keep you guessing!

I still can’t quite believe the responses I’ve had from the adults who have seen them. They pick it up and within seconds they smile, often progressing to 'laugh out loud'. What greater compliment could they give? If the fun these stickmen children have is so contagious, maybe the message that disabled people are just people will catch on with equal ease.

Photo by Nicole French, 2011

So here’s to helping change the world, a little at a time. Starting next Saturday.

(Pre-ordering available from the publisher 2QTWHSmiths,and other similar places. I have been told that Amazon is taking a long time to process orders.)

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Disability Pride?

There are many opinions on 'Disability Pride', many different approaches. From people who think it is the only way to be, to people who think it is all a lie and emotional denial. Today I had a think. Where do I stand? (This is simply my current thoughts. I have no problem with people disagreeing.)

If, 8 years ago and before I became disabled, someone had asked me whether I was proud of being able to walk I would have looked at them like they were from another planet. How can you be proud of something that you were born able to do, something which is easy, straightforward and every-day boring? It was simply a small part of who I was and held no evidence of anything praiseworthy. Why the big deal?

And I think this attitude still works for me today. Proud of being disabled? Why should I be proud of something which life dealt me? I did nothing praiseworthy to become disabled, it just happened. It is my normal. Simply a small part of who I am. Why the big deal?

I am, however, proud of my achievements, proud of my approach to life, proud of who I am. And that encompasses my disability as well as my abilities - because it is only when I include the disability that I am completely me and completely grounded in reality. If I try to hide it or pretend it is not there I cheat myself - I try to achieve things I don't need to and miss perfect opportunities. It is only when I accept who I am as a whole that I can use my strengths, improve on my weaknesses, grow as a person and have a full-filling and bright future.

Proud of my disability? No. A concept I don't really understand.

Proud of me, disability and all? YES!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

You're Inspirational!

Something I hear so often that it grates.

Like so many wheelchair users when I go out for coffee, pop to the shop, go to the post office, I run the gauntlet of 'how inspirational' 'how brave' 'how amazing'.

Why? Tesco holds no fear and Starbucks no hidden terrors. I may go in my wheelchair, but seriously: it is no big deal. Well, it is in that when on wheels I am so much more part of the community and able to interact and enjoy things (see 'statement of disability'). And clearly there is nothing remotely special in doing everyday things that are within my capabilities, in an everyday way.

It irks me. It's depressing that people have such low expectations of me that my posting a letter can inspire them.

And this has coloured my reaction to compliments about my attitude or achievements - my automatic inner response of 'I'm just getting on with life, just let me be myself and stop setting your expectations so low that they imprison me.'

Recently I was in hospital. A nurse asked me about my conditions then read my books for more information. We chatted more. I told him about my up-coming book releases.

He said I was inspirational.

I paused, looked at my inner reaction and compared it to reality.

The comment had context. It was backed by thinking my books were really fun and educational. He'd never read anything like them and found them really useful. He saw being a published author as something special - and to have achieved it on the basis of a talent found during bouts of intermittent speech problems was, for him, inspirational.

And thinking about it, I'm OK with that. I am proud of the talent I discovered, and that I have found ways to use it that help others and earn money. 

Over the course of their life, the average human will do things that inspire, things that scare, things that are despised, things that are respected. Being told you are inspirational isn't always patronising. Sometimes it is just recognising you as another human being and appreciating your achievements.

Sometimes the inner reaction should be looked at before spat out.