My take on being called ‘inspirational’

Ever since I became a Guide dog owner nearly 8 years ago now I’ve dealt with all kinds of different reactions from people good and bad and even when I spent time in a wheelchair when I was 15 and I guess it comes with being disabled or simply just different. People have different views and perceptions about people with disabilities and I find it quite interesting, sometimes frustrating and intriguing how people come to have these reactions. One of the main reactions is “you’re an inspiration”. 

A lot of disabled people find this patronising and I used to think why on earth am I an inspiration, I’m just living the life I was given but now I’ve come to the conclusion that’s it’s not a bad thing and if I inspire one person to do something or achieve something that they thought they couldn’t or even just getting them to realise that they may be struggling with the slightest thing and I walk past with my dog and they say “you’re an inspiration”, they may just need that little bit of encouragement. I believe whoever we meet on a daily basis we are meant to cross paths. I say to my friends who deal with and have overcome challenges that they are an inspiration because for instance 2 of my friends and I’m sure they both won’t mind me saying have both gone from having some sight to having nothing at all and I see them both as an inspiration for having had the strength to get through that particular challenge because to be perfectly honest I don’t know if I could. Everyone has challenges to deal with and for the public to see someone in a worse situation to themselves just walking down the street with an assistance dog or shopping but happen to be in a wheelchair or on crutches, are deaf or limited mobility will encourage some people. 

When we talk to people they are interested and just want to know more, sometimes conversations get to the point where i open up and feel able to tell them about my disabilities and that can then create this reaction. When I tell people I have CP they can’t believe it, I tell them I was in a wheelchair for a while, I tell them how I came to get a guide dog if they want to know and that inspires them. Some people can’t believe young people can be disabled, I had one lady say “your too young to be blind” I said it can happen to anyone at any point in life and that was her educated, she felt sympathy for me, I don’t want that and I don’t need it, empathy fine but I don’t need feeling sorry for but inspiring people is encouraging them. 

I don’t necessarily see myself as an inspiration but I know people do see me as an inspiration, what makes them say or think that word is not for me to judge, if I inspire them in some way then that’s absolutely fine and I certainly take it as a compliment. 

Watching the Paralympics there were ladies with CP running & cycling, VIs swimming and disabled equestrians and to me they are inspirational and they have inspired me to get into a sport I have always loved but never been able to progress (Horse riding) so they have encouraged me to do something because I thought if they can do it what’s my excuse. Yes we can’t do everything, we all have limitations which we need to realise and nobody must ever feel bad for not feeling able to do something or simply not being able to because we are all different and we all have different motivations, interests and hobbies. 

Everyone at times will feel negative, when I had to give up VI tennis because it was too much on my muscles and joints I felt angry and upset at myself and I felt like I had failed but now I think I tried it, it wasn’t for me and I then tried to find something else I could do and when adaptive skiing was opened up I took up the opportunity and with the help of my fabulous ski instructor I’ve succeeded, again it hasn’t been easy but it’s something I enjoy. I can’t do it whilst in Devon because there isn’t the opportunity here so now I really hope to succeed in horse riding. 

Now again some people think quotes like this one: “The only disability in life is a negative attitude” are aimed at them. The way I look at it is: Nobody can do anything about their personal limitations but everyone can change their attitude so for instance trying to see the positives in every situation. Of course we all have down days where we feel we’ve had enough and a negative attitude gets the better of us and that’s fine but maybe we need to especially on days like this when we feel hopeless, set ourselves a challenge to just find one positive thing about that day, it will make us feel that little bit happier. I don’t believe anything in life is possible, within reason or a person’s capabilities but I don’t believe in can’t and a “can do attitude” is very important because we will achieve what we want to if we say I CAN and do it :). 

Quote says: “I am blind and have Cerebral Palsy and I can’t do anything about either. Therefore, I always focus on my realistic capabilities, work hard, maintain a positive attitude, and never give up. 

If you’ll do the same you’ll find that anything in life is possible. I believe the only disability any of us have in life is a negative attitude”. HK DERRYBERRY 

Sorry it’s been too long!

I’m really not good at this blogging thing at the minute and every day I’ve been reading someone else’s giggling and thinking they are doing well I must do a blog but then I never get round to it! I’m either too tired, can’t be bothered or busy lol! Anyway today I thought I must because things have happened over the last few weeks which I should have blogged about but didn’t so anyway here goes:

Over the bank holiday weekend Peter and I did a first trip to Southampton/Portsmouth all on our own to meet people we’ve never met before and to see those we have met before again, to visit Peter’s puppy walkers and to support a friend abseil down the Spinnnaker Tower in Portsmouth to raise money for guide dogs. The journey down went smoothly, slight issue at Salisbury because the assistance decided to pick up an unbooked assistance rather than me who had booked but thank goodness I had a lovely couple who asked if I needed help getting off the train and helped me find my next train to then find the assistant who apologised and said he would get me on this next train which he due fully did bless him so all was forgiven and I thanked the couple for all they did to help me. I then got off at Southampton and was met by a lovely lady who took me to a taxi who had no problems taking us to the premier inn, in fact he was lovely. Got to the premier inn, checked in and the guy helped us to our room where we made ourselves at home before the others arrived at the hotel. I fed Peter, had a shower and changed clothes just in time when my phone went off and the Girls had text to say they had arrived in reception and where coming upstairs. I thought to myself what  they going to be like and then I get a knock on the door and I open it and in they come with a bit of excitement from the dogs and we say hello to each other and how nice it was to finally meet etc and we got on straight away. Once they had unpacked, fed the dogs and freshened up we went for dinner and had a good chat together about all kinds, lots of giggles about their journey and how disorganised they are etc! Then Saturday we went to Southampton common to free run the dogs and meet some of the Southampton crew for lunch which was lovely and also a lady, her husband and son came from Kent and a lady from London came too so that was lovely and we all had a good time before heading out to the common again for the dogs to have another run before heading back to the Hotel. Then Sunday we took a taxi to Portsmouth to watch our friend do her abseil and then go for lunch afterwards, my 2 friends were like no we don’t need our receipts so I decided I wanted one and they burst out laughing and I was thinking what’s so funny so after that every time we went somewhere they asked for a receipt and passed it to me calling me the book keeper and accountant lol even though I’m not good at maths! lol anyway we spent ages in Portsmouth, had dinner before heading back to Southampton as we had to be up in the morning early to take the dogs for a run before the long train journeys back home and we actually did it and in good time. Had such a lovely weekend, met some wonderful people and enjoyed every moment 🙂 heres to the next adventure whatever that will be!

Then this week Monday was the first day of term and it was manic at work so I was stressing myself out but fortunately the lady who trained me came to my rescue on Tuesday and stayed for 2 days to help out and now I feel more able to deal with things and know more what I’m meant to do, it’s all clicking into place now thank goodness! Peter’s loved it getting all the fuss and attention from students in my office but he’s been a good boy and settled down when it’s quiet it’s just all so exciting for him when people come in to see us lol!

Anyway I feel another blog coming on about hashtags because someone doesn’t understand lol! I wonder who that might be…

Work/Meet up

As most of you know I had my first day at work yesterday, it was very strange having a bit of a routine again and I was nervous but was made to feel at ease by everyone I did meet albeit it’s not many as a lot are on leave at the moment due to summer holidays starting. I have kind of learnt what I will be doing but I haven’t got my desktop magnifier yet so it is a bit difficult to read the paperwork but the computer is sorted, I have a log in and my ID card is being done tomorrow so then I won’t any longer be a visitor but a fully fledged member of staff, yay!

This afternoon I met up with Julia from Milton Keynes, Helen and Geoff who live in Dorset and for the first time and definitely won’t be the last Maria & her husband Rob and the gorgeous dogs all who had a great time running along Jacobs Ladder beach and in the sea! After talking to Maria & Rob and how they didn’t realise I had Mild Cerebral Palsy, it made me realise how far I have actually come. I Was in a wheelchair 11-12 years ago, doesn’t time go fast! I slowly regained strength in the bad leg and then once I had come out of the wheelchair about a year later, it was crutches and physio you name it I had it all and of course in the end they put it down to my Cerebral Palsy. Then it was 10 years this March just gone that I was registered blind so with all that happened back then to how I am now that nobody can tell that I have disabilities, it makes me happy because they see me for being me. It wasn’t an easy ride and I wanted to give up many times but I was determined I wanted out of that wheelchair and I was determined I wasn’t going to let my registration of being blind get to me because there’s so much more to life.

My guide dogs have helped me in more ways than one, not just the guiding side but they have helped me build up my mobility and stamina and the strength in my arm muscles lol! And the confidence they have given me is amazing and to them I will be forever grateful. I have met wonderful people through these different challenges and now my friend is going through similar but the other way around, she sees me and my determination and that I got out of my wheelchair and she wants the same. It doesn’t always happen and it may not happen to her but she’s come a long way already in the time that she was in a wheelchair for a different reason to now not relying on it so much and also with her sight loss, just being able to help and be there for her giving her encouragement she needs I hope she will battle through this. It was extra hard leaving her behind knowing I am the only friend she used to see when I was in MK and now she doesn’t leave the house, makes me sad and I just hope she won’t go backwards now that I’m not there.

Yes our disabilities will never go away and sometimes mine are worse than other times, when you have more pain or at the end of the day I feel stiff and in pain and today more than normal with the things I did but I can’t let it stop me from enjoying life and I’m not going to let it stop me from doing things I want to do. Yes there are certain things I need help with and yes we have limitations but it’s also good to push the boundaries sometimes, yes you will probably pay for it but I believe it is all worth it, everyone knows their limitations whether it be being scared of heights or scared of water, whatever it may be everyone has their reasons but pushing the comfort zone sometimes is a good thing.

I did Snowdon nearly 2 years ago now and that was an absolute killer but I’m glad I did it when I did because I don’t know if I could do it now, seeing people who are doing it or going to do it makes me kind of think should I do it again but the pain I experienced days afterwards was honestly something I would rather not experience again even though saying that I went on a bike last year in Cornwall whilst on holiday and yes it was a bit of a disaster and after 21 miles the pain was probably worse than Snowdon and I couldn’t walk for days it was horrendous and it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done and why I did I do not know but that I am never doing again lol!

Looking back over all these things makes you realise the journey you’ve taken and how far you have come, the obstacles you’ve overcome and that’s good because we do forget as time whiles away and we think we are still in the same place we were 5 years ago but actually we are not. Even if I look back over the 3 months I have been here in Devon and over the last 6 months of this year, what I’ve done is something to look back on and be proud of but that’s something for another day.

Today brought back memories when talking to Maria and Rob and that was definitely a good thing! It was lovely seeing everyone and catching up with all that is happening all whilst the dogs had an awesome time playing on the beach 🙂 Bliss