Deja vu; Return of the Leibster Award.

Once again in just a matter of months, I am extremely flattered have been nominated for the Leibster award! This time I was nominated by Alex, author of The Life Quadriplegic (https://quadlifeblog.com/), and to him I say a very earnest thank you.

The Leibster award was created in 2011 in Germany and is given to bloggers by other bloggers online. This award focuses on small blogs, recognising their potential to grow and acknowledging those with the kindest, welcoming, most-valued musings.

To accept the award after being nominated the blogger is requested to accept the award on their blog, and thank the blogger who nominated them with a link to their blog included. On this occasion I have been asked to answer 11 questions asked by the person who nominated me, nominate some more people, and give those nominees 11 questions to answer.

11 Answers to Alex’s Questions.

Q: If you could visit any time in the past (or future) when would it be and why? A: I would love to visit Ancient Egypt, sometime after the building of the pyramids when civilisation was well established, but before Cleopatra’s reign. From what I know of that period, women were often seen as the equals of men, and were able to own land and money. Plus, cats.

Q: What is the one thing you most hope to achieve by blogging? A: I want to challenge societal perceptions of disability by reaching as wide an audience as possible, and educating them about the lives of the disabled, and how to treat disabled people.

Q: Who is your hero – the person you most respect and look up to? And why? A: It’s a cliché answer for a disabled person but I’d have to say Stephen Hawking. Not only did he challenge people’s perceptions of disability and helped to normalise disabled people but he also managed to make any invaluable contributions to scientific research.

Q: Where do you hope to be in your life 5 years from now? A: I never like to plan ahead too much as personal experience has shown me all too well that mind-blowing, life-changing events can turn your entire world upside-down in a matter of hours. However I certainly wouldn’t be disappointed if I had established myself as a writer with experience behind me and a potential career ahead.

Q:  If you could give any advice to your 10-year-old self what would it be? A: Stop trying to please the cool kids. The more you try to fit in, the more they’ll ridicule you.

Q: What is your favourite quote, and why? A: “I will never be voiceless” – from the chorus of Dangerous by Shinedown. It reminds me that being vocal about something that isn’t right is the only way to make others see that it is wrong, and helps them change it.

Q: What is your favourite thing to do in your spare time? A: I’m a big fan of video games. Recently I’ve played Doom (2016), Horizon Zero Dawn, and Assassin’s Creed: Origins, all of which I have thoroughly enjoyed.

Q: Name one thing you would change about the world, and why? A: I would want everyone to have equal access to education and healthcare, regardless of location, age, gender identity, sexuality, race, religion, wealth, disability, or any other means of discrimination. That still leaves people to make the choice as to how they want to live, but gives everyone the chance to get educated and live a healthy lifestyle if that’s what they wanted.

Q: Where is your favourite place that you have travelled to? What do you like about it? A: I’ve been all over the Lake District in the north of England, and I’ve loved every part of it. It’s a diverse collection of mountains, lakes, beaches, and towns, and there is always something new to discover every time I visit.

Q: If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning a medal for? A: Giving animals hugs. I think I would have a serious chance of winning a medal for hugging the most animals within a 10 minute time limit.

Q: When people come to you for help, what do they usually want help with? A: Most people know I’m a nutritionist so I get asked for diet advice a lot, which I don’t mind at all. I enjoy helping people understand what they’re doing right already, and what they could do to improve their diet too.

My Nominations.

Since I haven’t discovered many new blogs that I fit the criteria for the Leibster award since accepting my previous nomination, I only have two to add.

KimiBlack: https://kimiblack.wordpress.com/ 

Thinking out Loud: http://www.thinkingoutloud-sassystyle.com/

11 Questions for my Nominees.

  1. Cats or dogs?
  2. Where did you grow up?
  3. What is your favourite time of year?
  4. What is your favourite genre of music?
  5. What is your favourite film that was adapted from a book?
  6. What was your favourite childhood toy?
  7. Tea or coffee?
  8. What is your worst habit?
  9. What is the kindest thing a stranger has ever done for you?
  10. Who are your role models?
  11. What is your biggest ambition?

Thank you all for your continued support, which has enabled me to grow Diary of a Disabled Person into a triple-award-winning blog!

The Writing Days.

After completing my degree at the end of May, I’ve had more time on my hands than someone wearing 15 watches at once. Instead of being the supposedly stereotypical Millennial who doesn’t lift a finger for three whole months, I’ve put a lot of my time into watching movies, which requires lifting a finger to press buttons on the remote. I’ve also been doing some writing on the side.

Contrary to popular opinion, writers are not always lazy slobs. To prove this I decided to write about what writing for a blog, an international magazine, and also working on other (top secret) projects is actually like on a day-to-day basis.

Given that I have no set time when I am required to start work it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I choose to wake up naturally, which usually occurs between 9 and 10 am depending on my alcohol consumption the evening before. Jarred usually wakes up far earlier than this and by the time I wander sleepily through from the bedroom to the lounge, he’s often been playing either Skyrim or Fallout 4 for over an hour. The kettle goes on, and while I wait for it to boil I’ll take my medicine and grab some cereal. I’m nice, so I make Jarred a coffee as well as myself.

While I eat breakfast, we’ll switch to my profile on the games console, and Jarred will control my character while I boss him around. Once we’ve completed whatever mission we were doing, I get washed and changed into something comfy, and then drift back through to the lounge and allow Facebook to bombard me with notifications. At this point, I also like to browse through the latest articles on my favourite magazines, which I prefer to call “research” rather than “procrastination”.

Lunch is usually a sandwich and some fruit, along with sparkling water and some unladylike belching. Immediately after lunch I’ll pack my laptop bag, hop into my wheelchair, and take the 5 minute journey to my favourite coffee shop that I can actually get my wheelchair into. I roll up to the counter where they see the top of my head only, and the barista greets me by name.  They then ask if I want a regular Americano with milk bringing to my table. Perhaps I ought to take this as a hint that I spend too much time in this particular café, but I’m a creature of habit.

Fuelled by the sudden caffeine rush I begin to type. Half the time I don’t think I’m even aware of the words appearing on the screen in front of me; they just materialise. An hour or so later I’ll come out of my trance, and return to the counter for re-caffeinating purposes. Then it’s back to work.

As 5 o’clock approaches I bring my writing to a close, bring my laptop to a close, and head home. I start to prepare dinner, which is usually something simple like a stir fry. Then I leave the dish washer (a.k.a. Jarred) to do my literal dirty work while I browse YouTube.

Once all the pots are clean and away, the evening relaxation after a hard afternoons’ work begins. This might entail a hot bath including bath salts and a rubber duck, watching films, or playing board games. While I nearly always lose chess and Risk, being a writer gives me a distinct advantage at Scrabble. By 10 o’clock I’m usually capable of 4-letter words only and my Scrabble prowess begins to decline. Then it’s a case of taking medicines, scrubbing my teeth, and crawling back into bed for another 11 hours. Repeat.

Words Without Meaning.

Even as a young child I found great freedom in writing. It was a way for me to escape the bullying I experienced at school and to become immersed in a world different to my own. To be able to sink into someone else’s problems helped me to avoid thinking about my own, but the countless pages I filled with half-developed characters and meagre plots are long gone. They were words without meaning; I knew in my mind where the characters would go and what they would say and do, so I never let anyone else see much of my work. The stories were already told. Besides the escapism there was no purpose to the writing, and as such the joy I found in it soon dispersed.

I find that the pleasure of writing comes not from the putting of pen to paper, but in the knowledge that others will read the words you wrote, will think about them and learn from them, and maybe even be emotionally moved by them. It is this that prompted me to create “Diary of a Disabled Person” and it is this that keeps me filling the pages of notebooks while sat in coffee shops; a perfectly typical writer with a message to send.

This blog is not aimed at those with disabilities themselves, although I am extremely pleased that many disabled people have given me positive feedback and support, which means that I am representing the community well and have avoided offending anyone. This blog is in fact targeted at those without disabilities.

Disabled people know what living with a disability is like; they do not need to be told once again by someone in a similar situation that there are issues in the way disability is incorporated into society. While I accept that disability support groups help some people, I find the culture of a large group of disabled people meeting up to sit off to one side moaning about being disabled irritating; nothing will ever change if the rest of the world doesn’t know that there are issues in need of solutions. Nothing will ever change if we don’t try to integrate with the rest of society. Martin Luther King had the support of the African-American community when he gave his infamous “I have a dream speech”, but the people he wanted to target were the white supremacists. It would be like preaching to the converted; it wouldn’t have an effect.

Those not living with a disability, or not living or working with someone who is disabled, are probably oblivious to some of the issues faced on a daily basis; how could someone be expected to know about something they have had no experience of? It is not a criticism, it is a fact, and I started this blog to address that fact. In my attempts to integrate with society and to preach my message to those who have not heard it, I have made some headway in the battle to fully incorporate disability into modern society. The more people become aware of the issues, the more they will fight back against them and support those with disabilities. Many people discriminate by accident; by not switching on an automatic door or lift, or parking over a ramp. Educating people as to why those things are significant will make an impact on society.

Perhaps, if anything, I’m trying to stir up a little trouble. The good kind of trouble, I might add. I want people to talk about disability. I want people to ask me questions. I want people to think a little more carefully about their actions towards anyone with a disability. If enough people raise their voices the authorities cannot deny hearing us.

I didn’t write this blog to generate sympathy but empathy, and it is this that gives my words meaning.