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"Useless" body?

A disabled woman with a degenerative disease has become the first female quadriplegic to sail solo around Britain.

Especially in the wake of Gatefail and its associated assumptions and attitudes about and towards disability, I find this news story - on my front page when I logged in tonight - truly inspirational and hopeful.

To me it proves that as long as a body houses a brain and a will, you cannot discount it as "useless".

This second story descibes how limited Hilary Lister is and how she used her mouth and adapted controls to steer her boat.

It's an awe-inspiring achievement.

Again and again I find stories of what disabled people can and do achieve shaming me when I let my own disability and health problems be any kind of excuse. When things take extra effort, it's all too easy not to bother, not to fight or persevere. Then I read something like this and realise that I cannot let myself be deterred because things get hard.

Go Hilary! :D


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 1st, 2009 12:22 am (UTC)
Ha! I just posted about this and then checked flist and saw your post. Shared yacht brains :D

I very much believe in fighting and persevering - but I would hate to see shame attached to anyone's experience of life. There's nothing shameful, for example, about knowing yourself and honoring what's achievable one day to the next - and that's a truism no matter what the visible or invisible disabilities we each have (or don't). Not sure if I'm making sense - but I think in some of the coverage of Hilary's achievement I see a creeping sense (from the less reputable journalists, like those in the Daily Fail) that she's whole because she's a super-achiever, rather than just because she's Hilary. So a pox on shame :D And a big fat celebration of everyone's achievements, for sure!
Sep. 1st, 2009 05:08 am (UTC)
I know from other comments you've made that you are very big on us being kind to ourselves - and I'm all for that - but sometimes I don't need kindness. I need a good, hard, well-aimed kick up the arse. (Not physically. That would hurt. A lot, given my injuries. Heh.)

I'm not ashamed because I'm not sailing round the world single-handed, or being bigger and better and *more* than other people (even though, as you suggest, there is an implication out there that disabled people - and women for that matter - DO have to be bigger and better etc in order to be of value).

I feel shamed because in eight months of unemployment I haven't achieved *anything*. I've set no goals for futher than tomorrow, I've made no plans... I've made no real attempt to redirect my life and my ambitions now that I've had it drummed into me that my body just can't take my old job and old ambitions. I'm floating. Aimless.

And that does shame me. It doesn't match my self-image.

To see a woman who has had her ambitions thwarted by her disability and has successfully redirected herself? That brings it home.

It doesn't help that I've been going through a period of self examination what with my birthday and the realisation that 2009 is two-thirds gone. It's all tied in with the ramblings in my last two posts.

As long as I can use my shame to motivate me, rather than to be a stick to beat myself up with, I don't think it's entirely negative. And right now I need motivation. I need a kick up the backside to get me started on doing - and completing - something. Anything. I need to redirect and find a way out of this rut. This funk.

And sorry... that's probebly more than you wanted to know. tl;dr - I see your point, but shame has a value.
Sep. 2nd, 2009 10:16 am (UTC)
Wow, that really is amazing. More power to her! (and to us ;) )
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


Dee Natsuko

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