Self Care Sunday

A weekly moment to stop and think about what I’ve done in the past seven days that could be considered taking care of myself.

This week I think self care has been about friends. I’ve been feeling for a while that I’m a bit lacking in friends. One or two have moved away over the last few years, others I’ve lost touch with or otherwise don’t have contact with. Drifted away, that sort of thing.  I’ve been thinking about ways I might meet some new friends but I’ve also been trying to keep in touch with those old ones too.

I finally remembered to text one of those drifted friends and see if she wants to meet up.  We used to see each other every week at a regular activity but since the summer it’s only been two minute chats in passing if we bumped into each other. I’ve been telling the others who go that I was going to text her and check in but then I’d get home and forget… So I’m pleased I finally remembered

I’ve started making arrangements to meet up with a friend for coffee later this month. She’s one of those who used to live here but moved away. I’m going to be in her part of the world with my mum for the day and I won’t have a lot of time but I’ve come to the conclusion I can leave home a little early and we can have a drink and a catch up for an hour or so before Mum and I dive off to the part of the city we’re visiting.

Ever since I’ve had this powerchair I’ve been putting off going to Birmingham because I wasn’t sure if I could get my chair on those trains (if the ramps would be too steep and cause the safety mechanism to kick in which stops me tipping the chair on steep things by killing my moment).  I’ve practically (next month) had this chair three years.  And that’s meant I’ve not seen some of my old uni friends for three years – because we all used to get the train and meet in Birmingham.  Then I was out of the habit and….

I sucked up my courage and made plans to meet one of them.  I was quite unsure if it would work with the train issue and the weather was windy and horrid and it’d been so long since we met I didn’t feel much like it early yesterday morning when I had to leave the house.  But I went and I got on the train with no problems (if you ignore the bit where I nearly injured a child when I was half way up the ramp onto the train and her dad let her run in front of him down it).  I wandered around the shops for an hour until my friend’s train got in then went back to the station (it’s only a couple of minutes away) to meet up.  We got pizza and chatted loads, wandered around the shops a bit, went to starbucks, chatted more, wandered around some more (neither of us bought anything though) and then went back to the station and went our separate ways.

She said she was just as unsure and not keen as I was. We had a brilliant time and it wasn’t awkward at all. It’s a bit cliche but it was like we’d just seen each other the day before.  And we don’t have a definite date to meet again just yet but we’ll be back in Birmingham meeting up again in a few months I think – if things work out we’ll be seeing Dirty Dancing which is the musical I tried to see for my birthday in December here in Oxford when access fail rather spectacularly put paid to that.

I feel pretty good this week.

 

Opening Lines

Up until last year I had a survey I did at the end of every year and had done so for many years. I never got round to doing it last year and I don’t think I want to do it this year. Mostly because I can’t be bothered.  And I thought about writing some sort of round up of the year.

But it would basically be “had some good times, had some bad times. No one died. Went to one wedding and one friend and a couple of my cousins had babies. Wrote a lot but not everything I wanted. Some regrets but not as many as I could have.” and being that took five sentences it doesn’t really need it’s own entry.

I did think it might be interesting to do the opening lines thing that’s been doing the rounds though. So here is a round up of my year through the first line of the first entry I wrote on my blog each month. Clicking on the month takes you to the entry.

January I’ve been thinking a lot about the start of a new year and New Years resolutions and such like.

I never finished the book blogger new year challenge I started in this entry. I didn’t do too bad with write and confidence as my not exactly focus words for the year even if I did completely forget about them until I just read this entry again.

February So I made a conscious decision that I wasn’t going to go on NetGalley for a while.

Review of The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman. TL;DR It was really good, a lot of people found it made them cry. I didn’t cry but I don’t often cry at books.

March In February 2013 a woman called Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead by Oscar Pistorius.  

Disability issues and Reeva Steenkamp’s murder prompted me to write a second piece for (sadly non defunct) Bea a year after the first. This was promoting that and being a bit angry about it.

April When you’re given a wheelchair on the NHS it’s expected that it won’t be replaced for five years. 

Wheelchair thoughts. I actually ended up going back to wheelchair services in September for a repair that couldn’t be done by the mobile team. I thought based on what had been said in advance they were going to assess me for a new chair but they hadn’t arranged that. The hospital technician reckoned there was some more life in my chair yet but said he’d put me on the list for reassessment in six months. Which if he did will be in the next couple of months we shall see. I think it’s still probably got some life in it yet.

May There is a project called Everyday Sexism

Ranting about equality for BADD

June This evening I’ve been thinking about the fact that blogs are just a snapshot and no one ever gets the full picture.

Honestly I wish more people would remember that when it comes to any internet post.

July Typically, just after I hit publish on the post about doing the #bookaday prompts I saw on twitter than another publishing company has taken over BookADay and there is a new list of prompts for July.

The first of the June book a day prompts which I posted one per day to my blog in July. This one was favourite book from childhood. I enjoyed doing it but don’t think I’d do it again.

August Recently I was in a coffee shop waiting for a friend.

I was angry about assumptions and about private information. And reading it back now I’m angry again (also confused because I was too vague about another wheelchair user being horrible to someone I care about and I’m not sure what that was about).

September My first ever shift as a CAB volunteer was Wednesday 1st September 2004.

About the fact it was the 10th anniversary of my first ever CAB shift.

October So as I wrote when I posted my interview with Susan Fletcher earlier today I’m taking part in her blog tour for her new book.

Book review for A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher. TL;DR – it’s Les Miserables from Eponine’s point of view and probably one of my favourite books of 2014.

November It’s November

Waffle about November and NaNoWriMo and writing. I didn’t actually manage to finish my draft due to a combination of injuring my wrist and then getting some brilliant feedback on my novel and a suggestion related to that which means I need to make drastic changes.

December: A bunch of my favourite disability videos. Not all of them. And not the really cool one I just found because that’s getting it’s own entry.

I’d been been discussing videos about disability with a couple of people and wanted somewhere to put what would have been my choices had I had free choice. I never did post the “video I’d just found” that was getting it’s own entry.

Up and Down

Things have been a bit up and down lately.  I don’t think the majority of it made it here for various reasons but a lot of shit kicked off in the week or two before Christmas (a problem with my flat that took a while to resolve and still isn’t 100% there; some horrendous attempts at wheelchair access that have meant I can no longer go somewhere I used to go to several times a year and a couple of other things).

So Christmas was good but I’d been so very overwhelmed and stressed in the days before that I enjoyed it a lot but I was very aware of the fact that I really could have done with a quiet several days first to enjoy it more without feeling so tired.  I enjoyed the food and spending time with family and got gifts that I’d wanted so it was really good. Plus I think most people liked the gifts I got them (slight mishap where my sister’s partner and I both bought her the same book) Since then things have felt like they are improving as I’ve caught up on rest and stresses have decreased.

But now there’s the threat of snow.

And that stresses me out. Because it means I have to go out and do all the things the minute they need doing. Replace the food I’ve eaten straight away and go to the pharmacy or the post office the very minute I become aware I need to. Can’t take the risk of not. Can’t take the risk that today’s the day I decide to stay at home and watch crap telly and knit all day. Because what if tomorrow’s the day I wake up to a world turned white overnight? Lovely to look at but no good for wheelchair wheels.

So, yeah. Things are a little up and down right now.

Book of the Year

I’ve seen a lot of people discussing on their blogs or social media what their “book of the year 2014” is.  So I started thinking about what mine is.  And let me tell you it’s a tough pick.

In 2013 I read 140 books or (according to Goodreads) 38,021 pages. That’s not strictly true because some of the books I listed were audiobooks but I count them as having been read so add them to Goodreads.  My goal for this year was to read 100 books.  I read a lot of short books last year and knew that I planned to read longer books this year.  I haven’t actually finished many longer books but that was the plan. So far I’ve read 95 books this year or 22,940 pages. And I can easily without really thinking about it come up with way more than 5 books I started but didn’t finish.  I’ve also gone through several dry ish spells when it comes to reading books (I have been reading fanfic obssesively however but that’s not unusual).

Last year picking my favourite books of the year was easy.  I’m not sure if I actually blogged and said “this is my favourite book of 2013” but I read several that totally blew me away and I still rave about now.  Fever by Mary Beth Keane is one of them and if you search on my blog you’ll find several mentions of it.

This year I’ve read some books that I’ve loved.  But thinking about it and looking back through the list of what I’ve read (on Goodreads) there doesn’t seem to be any absolutely stand out books that I’ve raved about incessantly.

My favourite book of the year is probably going to be The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman.  I’m loving the book I’m reading now though (The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown) and it does occur to me I should wait till this year is over to declare a winner.  Don’t Call Me Inspirational by Harilyn Rousso is another contender as is An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield.

I think in 2015 I want to devote more time to reading – I might not have felt like reading much over the last month or two but I have missed it.  And it’s definitely time to tackle those longer books I missed this year.

 

You Know You’re A Knitter When…

… you end up sat next to a couple of people (a family) at an event. And you can tell straight away that one of them is wearing a (pretty fun) hand knit jumper.  Not only that but I was pretty sure I could tell from the look of it what yarn had been used. Because it was done in one of those varying self striping yarns in a very distinct colour way (It’s been discontinued although a quick google tells me some places still have some colours of it).

I had two balls of that exact colourway and knitted myself a scarf with it years ago.  I can see the remnant in one of my yarn boxes now and I don’t think there’s enough to do anything with.  I’m hankering to get it out though,

I checked and the mum of the family told me she had knit it for her son.  I didn’t ask her if I was right about the yarn she used.  I didn’t want her to think I was weird.

But now I’ve come home and blogged about it probably everyone reading it will think I’m weird. So perhaps I should have asked her after all.

Random Bullet Points of Life

Haven’t blogged in ages – these are the points I can get down in the time before my dinner is ready.

  • I may be going to make big changes to my blog next year. But I’m still not 100% decided on exactly what these will involve.  I am almost there though.
  • My twenty things project is going well
  • Swimming is my next big goal to work on for that I think (not counting the goal I’ve already arranged – Cirque du Soleil)
  • I received mostly books for my birthday and am absolutely drowning in them at the moment. Despite this I still hope to get mostly books for Christmas.
  • We attempted to go to the theatre on Saturday for my birthday but didn’t manage it because the lift was broken. I’m told it’s fixed and our tickets have been exchanged for another showing on Thursday. But I’ll only believe I’m really going to get to see the show when I’m sat in the theatre.
  • A few weeks ago we tried out a folk show for the first time.  The jury is out on that because she mostly did Christmas songs and didn’t feel like a comfortable performer. Plus, I went with my mum and she hates Christmas music.
  • I seem to have been doing a lot of research into disability history lately and it’s very interesting. But the problem is I find it so interesting that I need to look up a particular point for my writing (novel) and then I go off on a massive research tangent once I have the answer I need and don’t actually write.
  • There is potentially something exciting but very secret going to happen at some point next year. It’s so secret that literally all I’ve been told is something exciting might happen but not exactly what and that it’s confidential. I’m quite bemused by this.

Merry and Bright edited by Lucie Simone

I received a free review copy of Merry and Bright, an anthology of six Christmas themed short stories by six different authors and edited by Lucie Simone.

Sip your eggnog, linger under the mistletoe, and make a Christmas wish. Merry & Bright brings you six tales of Christmas cheer, featuring stories of budding romances, Southern charm, lost loves, heaps of humor, and lots of pie by authors Isabella Louise Anderson, Cindy Arora, Laura Chapman, Lauren Clark, Libby Mercer, and Nancy Scrofano. From sunny Los Angeles to the Rocky Mountains to the Deep South, Merry & Bright will take you on a heartwarming adventure you’ll love to visit again and again. Wrap yourself in holiday mirth and prepare to be swept off your feet.

I don’t read short stories often because I tend to like longer stories (novel length or at least novella) that I can get my teeth into and really enjoy the characters. Short stories often feel rushed to me or at least tend to really leave me wanting more – and not in a good way. But I didn’t find that with Merry and Bright. I enjoyed the stories and having something to read in short bursts. Like read a story for half an hour or so and then go and maybe do the laundry or other boring stuff and then read another one for a bit. I’ve been busy lately and putting off reading until I have time to read for a long time (meaning I’ve not been reading much). I didn’t feel like I needed to do that with Merry and Bright I just read a small chunk (pretty much 1 story at a time) and then got on with my day. So I’ve been reconsidering my opinion of short stories and I may well read more anthologies of them in the future. Once I do something about the ridiculous to be read mountain in my flat.

Each of the stories was very different and made me think and feel different things about the characters. Without wanting to give spoilers, I think the very first story in Merry and Bright was my favourite. It certainly had the perfect ending and although I really wanted to know what happened next for the characters I didn’t feel short changed or as though I’d been rushed through a story and had missed anything.

This was a fun read and it got me in the mood for Christmas. I’m glad I put my assumptions about short stories aside and read it.

But as an aside I must say – everytime I see that synopsis with it’s mention of eggnog I can’t help but shudder at the very idea of it. I just don’t get the appeal of that at all. I don’t even know if you can get it here but I wouldn’t want to try it if you could. It sounds grim.

Disability videos

A bunch of my favourite disability videos. Not all of them. And not the really cool one I just found because that’s getting it’s own entry. But I thought this might be a useful resource so here’s a few favourites.

Talk by the Disability Rights Commission

part one:
part two:

French EDF Advert (translated into English)

Adam Hills on his missing leg. And disability language.

Mayson Zayid has 99 Problems… Palsy is Just One

Stella Young is not your inspiration

All About The Chair

Unsettling

One of my friends is supporting some of her loved ones through a tough time. I think it’s fair to say (I don’t know the others involved) it’s overwhelming and difficult. And I when I sent her an email to let her know I was thinking of them and hoping things were improving she asked me to write a blog to make her laugh.

This is probably not the blog to make her laugh. It’s something I’d seen and vaguely wondered about posting about. It’s probably not interesting to anyone but me.  I hope however it gives her a distraction for a few minutes if not the laugh she wanted.

When I went to London for the Creative Writing Masterclass I went for the whole weekend. I spent the day before with a friend (not the one referenced above) who moved there a few years ago. And after going to see the Poppies at the Tower of London we went to the Tower Bridge exhibition.

Now, I’ll be completely honest. We basically just went there because it was right by where we were and we’d heard that although they charge to go in both disabled and carers go in free. Can’t turn down a freebie.

I had it in my head from the access information available on Disabled Go that it wasn’t overly accessible which was why it was free.  It was accessible though and although in at least one place I had to use a lift where the route went down steps I don’t think I really missed anything bar the odd view

A couple of weeks ago part of the walkway above the bridge was replaced by a glass floor.  You could, if you didn’t like the idea of walking over it, just about squeeze either side.  But with them having put it right in the middle there was no way but over the glass floor for me. Not great from an inclusion point of view as I should have a choice same as everyone else but it wasn’t a problem once I was told it would be fine for my chair.

So I went over it.  It was, as I said to the staff member at the beginning of the glass bit, a good job I wasn’t worried about that. And going over it was fine. It made for a very interesting view of the bridge and the Thames and was something different.  They had signs suggesting people find out when the next bridge lift was and go up then for an even better experience. Must admit I’ll be happy to give that a miss.

I was glad we went and the engine rooms were the most interesting part. I’m not sure the glass walkway was really necessary for my enjoyment.

And then we fast forward to today.

I’m on facebook and I see off on the right hand side in the trending bit that a beer bottle got dropped on the glass walkway and smashed part of the walkway

Now I know there’s probably some physics type explanation that has to do with force and I’ve only got a vague idea what it is but don’t need to know more.  But I must admit to being a little unsettled that something I took a risk on being strong enough to take 30+ stone of me and my powerchair was later smashed… by a bottle.

Monday Music: All About That Chair

It’s ages since I did a Monday Music post.

I quite like Megan Trainor’s All About That Bass.  But if I am going to share a version of that song it’s not going to be that one.  Because you know I’m all about that disability bout that disability bout that disability (sorry I couldn’t resist).

A you tuber called Heather Schouten who uses a wheelchair has done a version called All About That Chair. And it’s incredible.

I can’t find a copy of the lyrics but this article in The Independent includes some of them. The article in my opinion borders on inspiration porn and probably sees things in the lyrics that aren’t there. But the song is awesome.