December Reflections

It’s been a bit quiet around here but that doesn’t mean I’ve not been getting on with things… I’ve been working with the wonderful Meg from That Hummingbird Life on branding for my blogs and my shop (eek!), I’ve also been taking part in Creative Courage and art journalling etc.

I’m also participating in Susannah Conway’s December Reflections.  Admittedly, not quite in the intended way.  Instead of taking a photo a day, I am looking back at my photos from 2015 and choosing one from there instead.  I’m posting these over on unlockingimages if you want to follow along.

I think so far, the biggest thing I’ve realised is that 2015 has gone by incredibly fast but also so many things have changed for me.  Back at the end of February I was embarking on a trip to Cambodia, sitting at the train station with hot chocolate on my own.  Now, I can’t leave the house without someone with me to get the wheelchair out and lock up.  I’ve gone from desperately not wanting to move out of my flat to wishing for any goddamn accessible place to live.  I’ve gone from working full time to struggling to work three days a week.  It’s been a year of change, that’s for sure.

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Not all my carers are bad!

I just wanted to balance out my recent carer related posts.  They aren’t all bad.  Within my care team at present I have one crap carer, one ok carer and one really good carer.  I also have a really wonderful ex-carer who unfortunately had to leave because the hours she was getting were completely incompatible with her life.

But I still see her.  She popped round for coffee this week, bringing with her flowers and thoughts about going Christmas shopping and to a spa together.  And the really good carer is amazing.  We’re really in tune, we’ve talked a lot about my mental and physical health stuff and having her with me, regardless of what we’re doing, is really comfortable.

Getting the right carers can make a huge difference to your life and I know that without any care, even bad care, I would have no quality of life any more.

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Unlocking images hits the marketplace!

So the time has come to unveil the unlocking images shop…!  At the moment, I’m focusing on Christmas cards but in the new year I’ll be opening it up to include more general photographic and art cards as well as prints and other surprises!

In the run up to Christmas, 50% of the profit from any purchase will go to the Violet Chambers fund.  This amazing fund lets children and young people who are looked after in York apply for funding for a meaningful and memorable experience. Previous applications have included spa days, a trip to a show in London etc.

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Everyday Feminism

We can all take action, however small.  Small actions add up.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

― Margaret Mead

A tiny change today brings a dramatically different tomorrow.

– Richard Bach, One

There are many many excuses for not doing things, but there’s one huge overriding reason why we should.  The world is unfair and unequal and without action it will not change.  It is not in the interest of half the world’s population for things to change.  And when you include the women employed in industries which oppress women, the number who have financial interest in maintaining gender inequality increases.

Think of the people involved in fashion, beauty, magazines who spend so much time telling us and showing us that we are lesser citizens.  That we have to work harder, show up painted and adorned before we can take part in society.  It is a tool of oppressors.  And the more they think we are at risk of fighting back, the louder their message will be. If we start to question, they will amp up the volume.  Send out more and more messages which crush self worth.  Instead of rising together as a movement, we are beaten into our own, individual battles with ourselves.

Think of the power we have that we use to oppress ourselves and others, what if we used that differently?  If instead of repeating my own messages of self hate, what if I turned that out and used that voice to bring down the patriarchy?

Everyday Feminism: A small, everyday act which contributes to the aims of feminism and/or supports women.

I ran a workshop about this at a conference yesterday and some of the ideas we discussed were:

  • Replace gossip magazines in waiting rooms with magazines about something be it science, wildlife, cooking, writing, photography, anything with substance
  • Sticker over sexist graffiti, adverts etc
  • Use twitter and facebook to complain to companies but also to congratulate companies who are carrying out good practice
  • Boycott products with sexist advertising or packaging
  • Turn magazines with offensive covers round in shops
  • Mix up magazines, books and clothes in shops where they are labelled as “mens” and “womens”
  • Compliment someone on something other than their appearance or compliment them about about something different to the norm – great haircut in a fab shade of grey etc
  • Reframe problematic language
  • Tell people you are a feminist
  • Leave leaflets in books, public places, blu-taked on toilet doors
  • Be mindful of our own negative thoughts and behaviours
  • Don’t belittle yourself – “I’m just a…” “Can I just add something small to this debate…” etc
  • Do not apologise for yourself

If you have any other ideas, let me know.

Women, violence and HIV

This is very much off-topic but is an area I feel quite strongly about.

Today I read the UN AIDS report Unite with women, unite against violence and HIV and wanted to share the highlights because I imagine that most people won’t be reading the report.  That said, I think you should read the report – it’s not very long and it’s well written.  If not, the following will take maybe a minute or two of your time.  Read it and become aware that there is an issue even if you don’t do anything else.

The five key points from the report are:

1. Violence against women is a human rights violation. So you’re thinking, well yes, of course it is but did you know that the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that one in three women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. This figure ranges from 27% in the WHO European Region to 46% in the African Region.  Just because we live in a world of number numbness, that’s one in three women.
2. Women who experience violence are more likely to acquire HIV.  For example, women who are in an abusive relationship are less likely to negotiate condom use.  Transmission as a result of rape is a very direct way in which violence can lead to acquiring HIV.  Because experiencing violence isn’t enough… So those one in three women who experience violence are more likely to acquire HIV.  This isn’t just people in far off countries that we think of but don’t relate to.  This happens all over the world.
3. Women living with HIV are more likely to be subjected to violence.  This includes forced sterilizations and abortions.  So one in three women experience violence, they are then more at risk of getting HIV, then if they get HIV, they are more likely to experience violence.
4. Women most vulnerable to HIV are also most vulnerable to violence.  For example, people working in sex industries or experiencing substance misuse are more at risk of violence and also more at risk of HIV.
5. Violence undermines the HIV response by creating a barrier to accessing services. I came across a story of a woman who wasn’t always able to take her medication at the required time because her partner frequently locked her in a room.   Controlling behaviour from those around women can prevent them from accessing services.  Another example is fear of violence as a result of disclosing their status.  Going back to that one woman out of three – she may have experienced violence which lead to HIV which lead to more violence and now she’s struggling to access services to help her.

(Stats etc also came from ‘16 Ideas for addressing violence against women in the context of the HIV epidemic‘.)

Moments

Inspired by @iamkateevens, I am trying to recognise moments as they happen.  Whether that’s moments where something has gone well, feels good, I notice something beautiful etc.  The focus is about keeping myself in the now.  Paying attention to the positive things, the glimmers of light in the midst of depression.

So on Wednesday, I had a work meeting which require me to take control of a situation and use persuasion, build relationships and employ communication skills to get someone on board with our approach.  I managed this and in doing so felt like I was taking on the team leader role (new job which started officially at the beginning of the month).

This morning I was laying in bed with my kindle noticing the birds tweeting outside and the hum of their wings as they flew past the window.