A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind, from within more than the lustre of the firmament, of birds and sages. Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have been drawn lately, somewhat organically to exploring my own mind. Not in an ego driven way I hope. But this idea that my life is driven by the activity of my thinking mind, its interaction with my heart and spirit and the choices that I make and then act on. Its been strange and yes a bit spooky but most of the books/podcasts/videos etc that I have looked at especially in the last 12 or so months have in some way teased out this expansion of a sense of responsibility – the ability to choose a response to a situation. Even the choices that I haven’t made and the disciplines I haven’t exerted have also been choices and if and when I have looked carefully at them I have gleamed something out of them too. The self reflection bit has been amusing at times, but mostly, it has been sobering and at the same time when I took time to look and listen for the cues, reassuring and even enchanting.

Please don’t read this as a pseudo “Law of Attraction” mystical/ quantum physics kind of thing. I am not talking about manifesting any of my dreams through anything other than hard work, self management and choice. Some of that for me includes choosing where to focus. Positivity tends to bread positivity, but not from within a vacuum of denial. Rather perhaps from a radical awareness and a choice of the reaction, we learn and can then grow and through these growth spurts we change and then our circumstances change. Even the quick fix solutions to many problems, require both an initial choice (and faith) and some ongoing decisions to work. The meal replacement shakes do not work if the stay packaged up in your cupboard or worse yet waiting for you at the post office.

So the watching the gleam of light that flashes across my mind has been mote apparent. It doesn’t deny my reality or my body but it expands me beyond my body and has meant for me a deeper sense of personhood which is a double edged sword. I have a higher standard to hold myself to, but thankfully more self-forgiveness and internal courage to go with it.

For a long while it was very hard to find the words to explain all this. I have barely scratched the surface of whats going on in my inner being. but it feels good.

Right now I am reassured that life wandering as it feels and the reflection that comes with it. I have might have a purpose or a use in Robert Greene’s Ted talk. Nothing is wasted.

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Wheelchair ramps 101 – first steps

I get asked a lot about what are the best wheelchair ramps to buy or rent or even sometimes if we are all lucky build. This is a response to that request.

I started my working life as an access consultant; first just in lived experience advice and then more officially, but this is NOT that sort of advice. I want to stress that this post is based on lived experience and common sense with a nod to the legislation not the other way around. If you need technical or specific advise please talk to an access consultant especially for a public or commercial application. Think of this post as a guide to the users experience. I am just someone who has been using ramps including very makeshift ramps for over 30 years, and I have some ideas.

Be proactive.

If you are inviting someone who uses a wheelchair somewhere that they don’t know, but you do (or to your house/workplace), volunteer to talk about the access. Think about the venue and your guest ahead of this conversation but try not to draw too many conclusions for yourself. See yourself as the constable gathering information for the detective (your giuest in most cases). You don’t always need very precise information either, though having a *good* sense of the height/number of steps and the width of the doorways and gates (if not roughly standard is always handy. While flooding your guest with information upfront won’t necessarily help and may overwhelm, having the information handy to aid the “thinking through” is a good plan.

Things like:

  • number and rough height of stairs
  • doorways and landings (“There are two steps, then the verandah then another small one into the house itself”)
  • any slopes or uneven surfaces near where the steps are, (including trees)
  • alternative routes (“We have 2 steps out front, with an uneven footpath but around the back we have 3 straight of good paving. They are wider”)
  • your willingness (or not) to hire ramps, different wheelchairs; or your willingness to collect ramps that are obtained.

Depending how long and how permanently your guest has used their wheelchair, they will ask the questions they need answered. Most likely they will have had to think this stuff through before. More than expecting you to solve the questions by yourself, most likely they will be grateful for the data you can provide. Expertise is not required here. Willingness is appreciated. The guest may not want to talk about it. They may already have a vision of if/how getting up your steps may (not) work. Generally speaking while they might need some reassurance of your willingness to help, my advice is trust them with that decision.

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Something to aspire to, or perhaps explain me

I like this explanation of self-sufficiency . It’s interesting too that Taylor talks about the differences between self-esteem and self-sufficiency. Also the different scales, as well as the positive and negative sides to these traits, like all traits.

My highlights though…

‘Self-sufficient’ people are authentic. They tend not to play roles, or to be dishonest or misleading just to please. Their inner stability and wholeness means that it’s not so important for them to gain affirmation or respect from others, so they may be prepared to risk being disliked by speaking truthfully. If you show them a poem or a painting and ask them, ‘What do you think?’ be prepared for them to give an honest assessment. Fundamentally, they’re not so interested in trying to impress other people, and so it’s possible for them to be more authentic.

I don’t think I can personally say that I am one size fits all on this. But I do tend to give my opinion with varying degrees of candour depending on my courage, energy, audience as well as occasion. Some people though I do have disease to please though. I do like the aspiration of authenticity.

And this makes sense….

And in terms of their lifestyles, self-sufficient’ people are happy with their own company. They may be social and sociable to a normal degree, but they also enjoy solitude. Whereas some people find solitude and quietness difficult to endure, and use diversions and distractions (like the Internet or television) to avoid them, self-sufficient people are perfectly happy to be alone with themselves.

This aspect is stronger now than it used to be. Mostly deliberately.

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Wisdom from my past

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

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Plato on the knowledge of death

Reading some Plato: as ya do:

Not commenting on this, just putting it out there, from the Apology: defence of Socrates

After all, gentlemen, the fear of death amounts simply to thinking one is wise when one is not: it is thinking one knows something  one does not know. No one knows, you see whether death may not in fact prove the greatest of all blessings for mankind; but people fear it as if they know it for certain to be the greatest of all evils



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Alone together

Apologises. It seems the  only time I seem to do a real posts on here these days when I need to vent.

I went on a long journey yesterday to meet an associate in the Western suburbs and then travel with them to the airport. It was a 4 hour round trip. With a change on each leg.

I — The Eyes

As I got further out from the change at Strathfield I noticed people staring more. People stare at me all the time and everywhere. It was more noticeable because they were fewer words. I used to try to make-believe that it’s because I’m some stunning beautiful mystical creature here to bring peace or just a really hot woman (this particular imagining will become relevant later).

I am used to children staring especially those in prams stuck looking at me in lifts, but even others, and the pointing. And the adults; particularly those who 20 seconds earlier weren’t looking where they were going, and seemed shocked that “it” actually moves. Its odd when kids are dragged in one direction while staring back at me: parents disengaged.

Each time anyone stares it does tug at me. It wears me down. It accumulates. I’m not a circus animal.This is not the zoo. I don’t come with a label stuck to my cage (wheelchair) explaining my feeding schedule and breeding. I didn’t charge admission. I’m just trying to get through Life unscathed. By the 5th stare or glare (about 10 am most days) I want the ground to swallow me up and leave it to the Real Humans.

I know in the case of a child its curiosity. I get that. I try to be gentle. Really I do. I try to smile back. I used to try to say hello but these days that doesn’t seem to be well received especially with those of different cultures. I smile at the parents and get a stare back or a sheepish look or a glare for daring to speak to their child. So, in the case of the lift, after receiving whatever look I’m going to get I retreat. I crawl backwards, missing the days before the baby boom meaning that everywhere that works for me there go many prams/families which for me is super tough as I would love to be a Mum of some sort but it isn’t going to happen.

It used to be parents told their kids not to stare.
Now no one says anything.
Embarrassed giggles,
Language barriers

It used to be parents told their kids it was rude
So I could hear
Now they join in
Awkward glances.

It used to be kids were told to ask questions of me
when tugging and whispering on Mum’s arm
Now silence or adults ask their own

CG chose to use the stairs. Lucky him. To not get squashed or make more room for more of the same or not be seen with me. I’m not sure which. I wished I could join him. It’s why I use ramps. I control the pace.

So I went it alone.

II — The Mouth

Somewhere close to Blacktown a gentleman got on, elderly but not super old. English was not his first language. He sat on the opposite side of the carriage, in a pink polo shirt and pants. Looking at me, staring at me. I tried to ignore him, but could feel his eyes on me so that the hairs on my arm stuck up. I tried to ignore it as usual, but it felt strange.

My bag was next to CG and I sat next to the door with the glass between us having allowed for prams to pass me. I only put my face mask on sporadically. (can’t get an infection at the moment so should have been wearing it but people seem to lipread me more than hear me so I’d taken it off). I coughed so retrieved mask and put it on. Pink Shirt looked relieved. Oh dear.

It was obvious CG and I knew each other as I sometimes sat side on to face him. Approaching Lidcome or so CG was asked “how old is he”?, and stared back at me. I pulled down my mask so he could see my face which despite my Sinead O’Conner look still I hoped looked feminine complete with the floral dress I was wearing the wedge heals and the eye make up. I said softly but firmly I’m a woman. I said it twice. I didn’t yell it because I didn’t want to make a scene.

But that was not the point. He wasn’t looking to me for answer. CG eventually said “It’s not polite to ask a woman her age”. I stared away, into space and willed my eyes to stay dry. I wanted to get off the train, change carriage (not allowed given the need for the ramp to get off), anything but stay there.

In fact my world got hypersensitive and claustrophobic and I felt alone. Pink Shirt told me at one point to be happy. I think I grimaced and sent CG a text he didn’t comment on. As Pink was disembarking at Redfern he held his hands up in my direction, arms length. Was it prayer or a remote laying on of hands (which I love — not), or an act of warding off evil spirits. No idea.

CG seemed to distance himself even further from me. I noticed that. Can’t say I blame him. Later I had to remind him he’d said he wanted a hug goodbye and he seemed to want that to be over as soon as humanly possible as soon as someone else rang, only really interacting with me when no one else could see. Can’t blame him.

It wasn’t just the gender issues. Maybe he meant she but didn’t have the language. I get that. It was the fact that I have to be ready to hear questions like that whenever I leave the house. I’m public property. Even if I choose not to answer them. Even if I say they are rude. I may not get them, but I must be ready. The vigilance is exhausting but the minute I try and sit in a pleasant corner of my brain I get caught with defences down and it hurts more. It is the fact that he felt ok about staring at me and asking a 3rd person about me. If I’d been an upright I doubt he would’ve, of if he did, more than CG would have noticed and objected.

III — Fallout

I hear this happens to pregnant women too. Touching bellies, asking due dates etc. I get that. There are differences. Pregnancy is a time limited state undertaken usually by choice and with a reward at the end. I’ve been pregnant for long enough now. I want out. Its also publicly discouraged to touch bellies.

I know that in most cases it’s no individual or child’s intention to insult. That most people are just trying to be nice or are curious but it does accumulate.I try and be gracious. I want to go back to hibernation.

It was a long day and I’m not sure of the value.

I don’t know why, but this feels like an important post. If you like this or know me can you please send it on to someone else? J

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retro active

I’ve been quiet lately introverted. Reverting to some old favourites. Old based not just on the regularity with which I return to the faithfuls but also in terms of the setting.

I’ve listened to Pride and Prejudice as an audiobook which I do annually when I need a bit of TLC and gain watched the BBC version (I mean Colin Firth isn’t bad to behold), and revisiting the “Pride and Prejudice from Mr Darcy’s point of view” options that I’ve collected over the years. I have my favourite which is the 3 part series; Pamela Aiden’s Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman.

As appears to happen to me I then start googling and YouTubeing around the topics I’ve read, and in this case dreaming that a little bit more of the Regency lifestyle was present in the modern world.

I’m thinking more of the senses of etiquette and occasion, letter writing and calling cards and yes perhaps a slightly slower pace to some things like making plans to socialise by letter well in advance and thereby harder to just flick off a sms to change.

“I propose myself the satisfaction of waiting on you and your family on Monday the 18th ……You may expect me by 4 in the afternoon”

(Mr Collins taken from the mini series).

I’m not decrying modern technology. I’m blogging about this after all. But maybe the pace means things are taken for granted, and the healthy sense of marking occasion is missing. I also acknowledge that the Regency period was not all rosy, or romantic (which is covered more in the Aiden books and part of their appeal to me). Yes, I also know that a single woman at my age who used a wheelchair would not be welcome in society if I was even alive. But I’m after relief and the lessons that I like.

I’ve bene drawn over the last few years to wanting to write letters again and mark things with gratitude. So on the back of my annual Bennet/Darcy/Bingly fest, I ordered personalised thank you cards and return address labels from Vistaprint and while waiting have sent off 2.

I also found this, which includes this list as the Maxims and Rules for the conduct of women, published in 1806.

1. In the exterior, decency and cleanliness.
2. In demeanor, reason and simplicity.
3. In actions, justice and generosity.
4. In language, truth and perspicuity.
5. In adversity, fortitude and pride.
6. In prosperity, moderation and modesty.
7. In company, affability and ease.
8. In domestic life, rectitude and kindness, without familiarity.
9. Fulfil duties according to their order and importance.
10. Never allow yourself any thing but what a third enlightened and impartial person would allow you.
11. Avoid giving advice.
12. When you have a duty to fulfil, consider dangers only as inconveniences, and not as obstacles.
13. Sacrifice every thing to peace of mind.
14. Combat adversity, as disease, with temperance.
15. Be anxious only to do what is right, paying as much respect as possible to the world and to the law of decorum; but, having observed this rule, be indifferent to public opinion.
16. Never indulge in any but innocent raillery, which is not injurious to principles, nor painful to persons.
17. Despise interest, and employ it nobly.
18. Deserve respect.

Quite apart from wishing to say that I think these same rules could apply to the Gentlemen too, I think we could all do worse.

But then there I go breaching Rule No 11.


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Preparing for the new year

So, fairly regularly, I get a bit fed up with myself and get inspired to revamp/ renew my life. Organisation is always one of those things. At least feeling this way at this time of year puts me in line with most of the rest of the world!

Evernote has been one of “those” systems. I felt like as a writer, a thinker and more than a little tech savvy it was the cool system and app that everyone like me should love. And many do. With good cause. If for no other reason than it is a good catch all.

But maybe that was exactly my problem. At this stage at least I don’t need another collection bucket to try and compete to be my go to. Maybe that might change. But for right now as I really am rebuilding across a few different areas of life ( and no this is not just another revamp but a few different areas of life do need to change dramatically and simultaniously), I need fewer collection buckets, and fewer places a thing could be hiding once I’ve got it out of my head. I find more specific buckets work for me. If it’s a note about a book I read — It’ll be in one of those notebooks. It’s a reminder about a direct debit – it’ll be on my calendar etc. I still struggle with to-do lists/next action lists as I am such a hybrid type, I seem to want everything to be both available and up to date as bothe low tech (i love my fountain pen and start thinking well on paper) but want to transition to iPhone or ipad fairly quickly. Crazy I know. Delayed reminders that couldn’t be looked at were a real issue.

So Evernote much to my shagrin was an app which sat in my applications folder languishing. The cute black elephant icon taunting me occasionally, but unlike many others I wasnt prepared to cut it out of my life. There would come a point when I was better organised that we would need each other.

And I’ve found its calling…. It is my tickler file. For the reminders I can’t do anything about now, but need to be tickled about later and also need to see and feel they are stored without being reminded daily at a point when they can’t be actioned, which seems to then difuse  the action-ness of a list of to do’s. 

So I searched for “online tickler filing system” and found this from SohoTech 

I’ve set my system up fairly similar, except I went ahead and started the numbering 01 January, 02 February etc. I have created numbered files for each day yet but only for the numbers I need so far. They will evolve no doubt. I think I will also add things like “end of the month” and “second pay cycle of the month” as caterories.

No this is not an advertisement for Evernote or GTD or anything. No spin off for me. No arrangements have been made. Just something new I’m playing with

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