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Thursday, 29 September 2011

Reason To Smile- The Inspirational Helen Keller

When I find myself feeling a little below par emotionally due to my physical pain, I invariably decide to search the web for a little inspiration to perk me up.
Tonight's 'interweb' find was the incredible Helen Keller- the activist and author who lived from June 27, 1880 - June 1, 1968 in the US.
Despite finding herself deaf and blind at the mere age of only 19 months, Keller went on to live an incredible life by any one's standards.
Recorded at the time as suffering from an illness described by as "an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain"- historians now suspect that Keller was likely to have contracted scarlet fever or meningitis and it was this mystery illness that left the infant Keller deaf and blind for the rest of her life.
 Perhaps the first sign that this young girl had the tenacity of spirit to become the remarkable woman who would make our history books- came when at the age of seven Keller developed and perfected over 60 home signs with which to communicate with her family.
It was at this time in Keller's childhood that her mother sent Helen to an ear, nose and throat specialist in Baltimore, who put the Keller family in touch with Alexander Graham bell, the renowned inventor of the telephone, who was also noted at the time for his work with deaf children. 
It was Bell who advised Keller's parents to to contact The Perkins Institute For The Blind, where the school's director asked his former student Anne Sullivan, (herself visually impaired and only 20 years old), to become Keller's instructor. It was to be the beginning of a 49-year-long relationship of student and teacher and inevitable life long friends
Sullivan began to teach Helen to communicate by spelling words into her hand, beginning with "d-o-l-l" for the doll that she had brought Keller as a present. Keller was frustrated at first because she did not understand that every object had a word uniquely identifying it- subsequently Keller's  breakthrough in communication came when she realized that the motions her teacher was making on the palm of her hand, while running cool water over her other hand, symbolized the idea of "water"; she then nearly exhausted Sullivan demanding the names of all the other familiar objects in her world.

I am astounded by the amount of notable achievements in Keller's life, but some of the most impressive were in my eyes that she was one of the first deaf and blind people in history to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Keller was also a prolific author and travelled the world as a respected lecturer and political activist.
In 1915 Keller founded the Helen Keller International (HKI) organization which is still going strong today preventing blindness and reducing malnutrition  in over 22 countries around the world.
Keller was extremely outspoken in her opposition of war and was a member of The Socialist Party of America. Keller also campaigned tirelessly for women's suffrage, worker's rights and socialism, along with numerous other causes.
Closest to my heart is Helen Keller's reputation as being an advocate for people with disabilities.
Like many people with disabilities, Keller found comfort and companionship in canines, particularly in the Akita breed and was even given her dog  Kenzan-go as an official gift from the Japanese government in July 1938. Keller is credited with having introduced the Akita to the United States.
In 1961 at the grand age of 81, Keller suffered a stroke and spent the last years of her life at her home, where she died in her sleep in 1968.
In 1964 President Lyndon Johnson awarded Keller with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the United States' two highest civilian honors. In 1965 she was elected to the National Hall of Women's Wall of Fame.
Keller devoted so much of her life to raising funds for the American Foundation for the Blind and is remembered fondly for her tireless work for this and so many other worthy causes.
This woman is in my eyes hugely inspirational and her work for others despite her own physical challenges is what is making me smile and have huge admiration today.
Who do you admire? Do you have a particular person in history or in your own life who inspires you each day? Please share with us your stories of these people on our Facebook page at  http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002588247268   or on our Twitter page http://twitter.com/#!/DDisability .

Let's learn from and be inspired to live courageous and worthwhile lives by people such as the amazing Helen Keller.
Here are a few of Helen's most famous and fearless quotes- I think some of these are such gems and can tell you that I really struggled to choose these few!
For more information on the Helen Keller International Organisation and on Helen Keller herself, please click on the following links.
http://www.hki.org/about-us/
http://www.hki.org/about-helen-keller/
I'm off to Amazon to find ebooks on Helen Keller for my Kindle. Until tomorrow...



'Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.'



'Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.'



'I do not want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace.'




'Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.'




'No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit'.


 


'Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything good in the world.'









Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Reason to Smile- A Boy of Boundless Bravery

Evening everyone, I hope that you have been blessed with a happy and able day.
Tired and tetchy with pain tonight, I will keep it short and sweet, with a Reason to Smile link to inspire you and leave you in a positive frame of mind to start another day.
The link that I enclose this evening is to the Pride of Britain website, where I found the story of one wonderful little boy- Kelsey Trevett.
Kelsey is eight years old, blind in both eyes and brilliantly brave.
As the link describes so well this fantastic boy's tale, I urge you to click on the link below rather than read a rehashed report by yours truly.
 That being said, it is this brave boy's spirit that has made me smile today and will I know set me off with a positive frame of mind tomorrow morning, whatever my range of pain and movement may be when dawn comes: as such, I will just bring your attention to a few quotes that Kelsey gives in his bio on the Pride of Britain website.

Please check out a few examples of Kelsey's views on life, then follow the link to his full story on The Pride of Britain website.


"I don't think anything is off-limits," insists Kelsey. "I find someway to do it. It's as if there's a brick wall in front of me and I just have to make a hole in it."

        After receiving the devastating news that despite treatment he was going to face his life blind in both eyes, Kelsey told his mum Jo, "You can't always have what you want Mum, can you?"

When asked what would he say to others in his situation, he said...
"Don't be angry. Don't be sad. Just get on with it. There's nothing you can't do."

It's important that kids with disabilities don't feel left out," he says. "You want to be able to do the things that your friends are doing."

I think that we should all listen to this brave boy's frank insight into life as a child who is blind. This boy's spirit is inspirational to me and I will hold the thought of his positive mindset close to me when I wake in the morning.

Goodnight everyone.
Start your day tomorrow with the thought of the spirit of a the sensation soul of Kelsey Trevett.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

I Made It!

Well, I made it- tonight is my last night alone before my husband's return from his work trip tomorrow evening.
As expected, despite illness and a general relapse of my ongoing condition- I have really enjoyed the independence of living alone for the first time since I became disabled five years ago.
That being said, after eleven nights away from my rock, best friend and general right hand man- I simply can not wait to have the support and companionship of my husband back once more and to feel the embrace of that wonderful man who in two weeks time, I will have been proudly married to for two years exactly!
I am so immensely proud to call this selfless, passionate and compassionate man my companion with whom I take on all of the challenges that life throws at me each day- be them good or bad.
Together for only six months when one small car accident ripped me of the ambitious and athletic life that I loved so dearly= our lives since that fateful day have not been without there difficult and testing times: however on the 10th of this month, Garry and I will celebrate the fact that we have been married for two years and have known each other for six.
Life is invariably difficult and demanding, but in my opinion, it is those relationships that withstand those times that make our lives worth living.
I am so blessed to have a wonderful family; I am blessed to have fabulous friends and on a day to day, 24 hour, 365 day a year basis, I am so blessed to have a husband that has exceeded any childish fairytale expectation  that I may have had, of a prince whisking me away into the sunset- I got more than that, I got a best friend and a husband all rolled into one!
I have been blessed with my Garry who in his professional life as an RAF pilot is brave and loyal; in his life as a friend, a son and a brother is also ferociously loyal and generous and in his role as my husband and best friend is a wonderfully dedicated and devoted man.
I am so proud to call Garry my husband in all his capacities.
Life is nothing when you live it alone without acknowledging and admiring those who help you through your difficult days on this earth.

Today, my Reason to Smile is the thought of once more being in the arms of the man that I love, by this time tomorrow evening!
 Treasure those who love you and who reach out to you with their love ans support.





Monday, 26 September 2011

Absent Without Leave


Hey everyone.

I must apologise most profusely for not being in contact at all over the weekend. I'd love to say that this Absence Without Leave was because I was out 'living it up' around our capitol, drinking bubbles with friends in lovely bars and eating scrummy food in fancy restaurants as planned. To be frank with you, I'd even settle with reporting back to you that I had spent my weekend merely sipping 'White Lightening' in a dodgy pub with a sticky floor, questionable decor and an even more questionable odor- however alas, both of these stories would be quite untrue and the genuine tale is unfortunately considerably less memorable or indeed exciting!

Sadly my weekend was quite a lonely one, as after catching what I beieve to be a bug/virus, I was too poorly to look after my Barley dog, so he consequently had a break from his smothering mummy to instead enjoy a wonderful weekend being spoilt rotten by my amazing friend and her lovely labrador!

The few words that I did manage to muster before succumbing to yet another migraine and crippling neurological pain amalgamation, were as follows...

Saturday 24th September-

Disappointment, pain, confusion and frustration- these are the feelings that have consumed me today.

As such, today's post consists solely of this frank, if a little negative sentiment.

This blog is here to spread the message of positivity through examples of bravery over adversity with my Reason to Smile stories, however it is also here to give a frank insight into what living a life with chronic pain, or a disability in general, is really like.

Today I have had to miss my dear friend's Hen Do and I want to punch a wall, smash a window and scream my apartment block to the ground all at once- but thankfully for my walls, windows and neighbours, (and perhaps even my fists!), I don't have the strength to do any of the above and am therefore instead settling for just plain old tears and sniffles.

One of the changes in my life that has occured as a result of my disability and subsequently saddened me more than many things in my life, is the fact that I am now unable to commit to events such as my friend's Hen Do without the knowledge that there is an all too high probability that I will be unable to attend due to my disability preventing me from doing so.

Well true to the very words that I was writing- that was all that I managed to write before yet another migraine ensued once more.

Although I always try my best to keep my spirits high, I can not help but sometimes become consumed by my own self pity and sadness.
Despite me desire to write a blog which is enjoyable to read for those who chose to take the time to do so- I never the less feel a duty to take this opportunity to also enlighten people of the negative feelings that so often take hold of me when I have to let down those so dear to me- so at the risk of writing that which may be a little uncomfortable to read, I nevertheless chose to share these frank emotions with you today.

With or without me, I know that my friend would have had a wonderful night on Saturday and I can count myself extremely lucky to have been blessed with a couple of hours with her 'cosy stylie' on my sofa with take away, PJs and even a sip or two of 'bubbles' on Friday night.

My friend is VERY dear to me indeed and she is someone who has always been there for me throughout my happy and challenging times- in my eyes the mark of an incredible person.

I love this friend so much and it is the thought of her about to marry the person she loves so much that is making me smile today.

Enjoy the happiness of others, even when your own may presently have been compromised.
Until tomorrow...