Friday, 28 December 2012

Squeaks of protest

Yesterday I risked shopping in the sales.

To buy WD40.

It turns out that taking part in a nerf war with family (looks like a new tradition) in a park with a HUGE puddle across the path, and discovering that wheels are the ultimate vehicle for getting through such obstacles unscathed while sniggering at people gingerly tiptoeing their way around the edge 10 metres away is a recipe for squeaks of protest from my poor wheels.

So while I work at the unglamorous task of un-squeaking the grumpy wheelie parts, I will snigger quietly to myself at just how much fun making that discovery was.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

A beautiful Christmas Rush

Everyone knows about the terror of last minute Christmas crowds. The horror stories of self absorbed people  focused solely on what they want. Ignoring the needs of others - or frustrated to boiling point when things don't go as they planned.

For me, this was the first time in 4 or 5 years that I have been out and about to experience the Christmas Rush.

I needed a few last bits. With slight trepidation I found a parking space. But as I left my car I realised just how lucky I was.

I was on my own - independent, shopping for things for Christmas tea. Things I chose, for an evening I will host. True, the goodies gradually filling my basket were pre-prepared, but 2 years ago I was in hospital scarcely able to sit or talk. And now see how far I have come!

And suddenly I wasn't fighting crowds, trying to get my list finished, I was a little patch of contentment happy to wait while the lady in front made up her mind regarding cheese. I saw teenagers helping and being appreciated by parents, and fathers taking time to make have silly conversations with giggling toddlers, and of course, I laughed at the funny dance one does when meeting someone coming down the middle of the aisle you are heading up - while the universe decides whether you will go left or right.

As usual at several points I needed to borrow some height. I thought it would be difficult to get people's attention, that I would feel like I was in the way.

But no.

Cheerful comments, casual assistance, and an array of positive Christmas greetings.

So, for me, this year, it has genuinely been a beautiful Christmas Rush.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Excuse me, may I borrow your height?

I often need help when out and about.

Especially in supermarkets. For some reason my favourite products seem attracted to top shelves.

So I ask for help. Every supermarket-shop.

At least I thought that was the case, last night I realised....

I never say "Can you help me."

I ask instead "Excuse me, may I borrow your height?"

I don't ask the person to help me because I am incapable. I ask if I can borrow a single, usually insignificant part of their practical abilities because it is a useful tool that solves a specific, usually insignificant practical limitation, which although an issue for reaching a product right now, won't be an issue once it's in my basket and I'm off to continue my day.

I know they mean the same in a way, but I like my line. It puts me in control. In my head it doesn't have any 'helpless' connotations, just a recognition that on wheels I am short.

And it always gets a smile.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A little white lie

When people ask me about my stickmen and the work I do, I never know quite what to say.

I might talk about equality.
About making disability normal.
Creating a better world.
Or about educating through humour,
Breaking down barriers,
Using images to convey complex concepts in a simple and accessible way.

I talk about challenging peoples preconceived ideas, taking away the fear of difference. About helping people be more accepting of others.

I might even mention challenging the negative perception of disability.

And it is kind of true. That is in a way what I do. But it's a bit of a white lie.

Because really,


I draw my life. My reality, my giggles, my challenges, my perspective. And sometimes my way of dealing with seeing someone making the same mistakes as I did and wanting very much to yell at them about not being so stupid. (I might not learn from others mistakes, but they should learn from mine.....surely?)

I couldn't tell you what the latest law says, or update you on the current disability related campaigns - but I can tell you that
a) wheeling fast through puddles is really fun,
b) the fridge door is stronger than my wrists,
c) my sofa is a very dear friend and essential support in times of need.

Anything more than that is, to be perfectly honest, a happy coincidence.

Don't get me wrong, I rather like the happy coincidences which mean my stickmen help get a positive message across, and sometimes wanting to make a positive impact is hovering at the back of my mind as I create, but in all honesty: if you hear me spouting off all the snazzy sounding quasi political stuff....well....take it with a pinch of salt.

Monday, 3 December 2012

International Day for People with Disabilities

It is nice to think that around the world people will be celebrating and embracing differences, perhaps being a little more open-minded than usual.

I would write some deep, insightful blog entry in honour of the day.

I would....

Only my disability got in the way.

So instead of doing some awesome disability awareness stunt, I shall be spending my day: doing physio, having a shower and pacing* like a professional to keep my heart rate under control and my conciousness level high.

Perhaps next years event will involve slightly less sofa and a little more excitement.

Having said that, looking back, sometimes just in the process of managing our own conditions we educate others.

*pacing: the art of balancing what you need to do with body's limitations, attempting to walk the thin line between over-doing and under-doing, trying to build my strength without sapping it. Involves frequent rest breaks in even simple tasks.

(added as an after-thought: Perhaps next year I could do some 'International Day of People with Disabilities' stickman greetings cards. Would people be interested?)