Monday, July 17, 2017

My disability isn't only a social construct

I keep on coming across comments like the following:
Disability is a social construct. It exists due to the society in which the person lives and not because of the impairment someone might have.
Such statements are kindly meant and are true to a point; but they greatly overstate their case and, in doing so, make me feel like a freak.  Yes, society can be structured in such a way that certain impairments cease to matter.  But in my case, no matter how the society around me was structured, my disabilities would exclude me from most of it.  By denying that reality, this statement about inclusion leaves me feeling seriously excluded.  If someone asserts my disability only exists because society hasn't accommodated it, yet I can think of no accommodations that could overcome my disability, what does that say?  That my disability is just in my own head and I need to get over myself?  Or that, even in the world of disability rights, no one has realised that people like me even exist?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Have I accumulated too many 'have tos'?

Recently I've been finding it really hard to fit everything I want to do into my schedule, and doing anything spontaneous has become well-nigh impossible.  Grump!  I think I know what the problem is and I'm one week into a trial to test my theory and see if I can improve things.

I think the heart of the issue is that I've accumulated too many 'have tos'.  I have too many regular activities, meaning that there's no space for anything else.  An easy mistake to make when you only have four hours a day to get everything done, but a highly problematic one!

What should I do about this?

In the first instance, I've come up with a fairly simple plan.  I've listed out all the things I do regularly and had a think about what I can stop doing.  My idea at this stage is to cut out as much as I can, with the expectation that I'll later add back in anything I'm really missing.   I've come up with an 'a list' of things that will be fairly easy to cut out and a 'b list' of things I could probably cut out if I had to.  The 'a list' basically consists of things that don't really need to be done, whereas the 'b list' has on it things that do need doing but could be done by someone else.  My hope is that I can fix my problem without increasing anyone else's workload, so for the moment I'm simply stopping my 'a list' things.  That should save me just over 15 minutes per day.

I started trialling this a week ago, with the expectation that I'll try it for 6 weeks and see how it goes.  One week in I'm hopeful :-)  It's hard to tell as it was a week in which I was uncommonly ill, but I really appreciated being free of the mental work of trying to fit everything in.  That was probably worth at least as much as the actual time saving.

In case you're interested, I've listed below my A and B lists of activities I could give up, as well as the full activity list.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Papier mache bathroom bin

A bit over a year ago I realised I found our bathroom rubbish bin rather ugly.  I decided to replace it with a colourful home-made papier mache one and started collecting supplies.  A few months ago I made a cardboard form and then started the actual papier mache maybe a month ago.  Yesterday it received its final coat of varnish and this morning I installed it in the bathroom.  That's a crazy amount of time to wait for an new rubbish bin, but I'm really pleased with the result :-)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Bicycle rain poncho for Project Glow Wear

I've just finished a huge project: a rain poncho for Martin to wear whilst cycling :-)

It was prompted by Project Glow Wear: a competition put on by the Greater Wellington Regional Council to encourage people to make clothing and accessories that include reflective elements.  They provided reflective fabric to all entrants (something I'd never even thought to investigate how to buy) which was definitely what tipped me over into deciding to enter.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The bears are back :-)

Last year I wrote about the many hours I spent engrossed by the activities of the bears at Brooks Falls in Alaska.  I've been keenly watching the feed in recent days and weeks, waiting for them to reappear.  Today, there they were!  There don't seem to be any salmon yet, but I have seen a mum with three cubs checking out the possibilities :-)

Click on the image below to join me in watching (if you don't see an image, try here instead).


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Separating thoughts from feelings

A while back my dad introduced me to the blog of Lynne Baab: a Presbyterian minister who, until recently, has been lecturing in pastoral theology at the University of Otago.  She's recently been running a series that I've found really, really helpful.

In it she shares how she's come to realise that negative thoughts she struggles with are often presentations of strong emotions she wasn't really aware she was feeling.  In the first post she describes what a difference learning to recognise and more appropriately respond to those emotions has made in her life.  She argues that doing so is
a Christian spiritual practice because it helps me bring my feelings into God’s presence, as modeled in the Psalms. It helps me love and serve God more fully because I am less distracted by negative thoughts and feelings.
I realised that I, too, often struggle with negative and disturbing thoughts (most commonly in the form of an emphatic conviction that I'm a bad person who deserves to have bad things happen to me), and that these, too, often arise out of feelings of fear, pain, resentment etc.  Would her discoveries help me, too, to love and serve God more fully?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

We could all sleep in one bathroom

I've recently read Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo.  It's a true story following the lives of a number of people in Mumbai, India, who live in a slum near the international airport.  The title comes from the billboard at one edge of their slum, which promises 'Beautiful Forevers' to those passing through the airport.  There was much that was challenging in the book, but the thing that really got me was the size of the dwellings.

The main family we follow in the book live in a hut so small that several family members sleep outside every night.  There is simply not enough space on the floor for the whole family to lie down flat.

If you removed the bath from just one of our bathrooms, there would be plenty of space for all three people who live in my house to lie flat.  And that's just considering one of our bathrooms - we have a separate toilet, another bathroom, three double bedrooms, a separate kitchen and a large lounge/dining area as well!  No one in our house is going to be sleeping on the bathroom floor any time soon; let alone under the stars.

When brought up short by realities like this, I sometimes wonder if we should just give everything away.