Yesterday, I received a comment on this blog that my new friend Kavita, whose blog, Talking Experience I recently started following, has nominated me as one of her 15 Very Inspiring Bloggers. I feel very honoured!
For those of you who haven’t come across this award before, there are rules attached to being nominated:
1. Display the logo of the award.
2. Link to who nominated you.
3. Say seven things about yourself.
4. Nominate a whopping fifteen other bloggers!
5. And in doing said nomination, link over to them (preferably to a specific post for a trackback).
So, 1 and 2 are covered already for me. Now to number 3 – say seven things about myself…hmm. Ok, here goes:
1. I live in the body I have – this is an important one for me, as for most of my life I fought against this disabled, overweight body of mine. I dieted to distraction, I refused to accept my disability (mild cerebral palsy leading to back problems and now chronic pain) and fought against it, I worried about how I looked, sounded, behaved…and on and on. Over the last few years, I have learned to accept this body, for all its flaws, and even love some of them. You can read more about this here.
2. I am an out and proud homosexual woman – struggling through my teens with all my body image issues made it difficult to accept this about myself too. However, when I was in my early twenties, and recovering from a heart-breaking unrequited love “affair”, I went to stay at a Bed and Breakfast, picked randomly from DIVA magazine, in a small village called Brockweir on the Gloucestershire/South Wales border. It was (and still is) run by an older lesbian couple, who had moved into this tiny village at a time when homosexuality was not considered as acceptable in UK society as it is now. However, they never even considered hiding their relationship. One of them said to me: “We will not be instruments of our own oppression”. From that day forward (I hope) I have always been open about my sexuality. My partner and I have been together 12 years now, and became Civil Partners in 2006. As soon as the Same-sex Marriage Bill is passed into law (and we strongly believe it will be), we will be “upgrading” this to a full and equal marriage. I can’t wait!
3. I sponsor a child in Niger, Africa – Seven years ago, I realised that I was never going to have children. This was around the time that D and I were considering forming a Civil Partnership, and I knew that she didn’t want any more children (she has a grown up son and daughter from a previous relationship and is almost 25 years older than me). Watching the television in the run up to Christmas, I saw an advert asking people to sponsor children through World Vision. I did a bit more research and discussed it with D, and we agreed that I would sponsor a child. I specified only that I wanted a girl – she could be from wherever the need was greatest. This is how I first “met” Habsatou. She lives in Tera, Niger. When I started sponsoring her she was 8 years old and considered too old for school. She is now 15. She still does not go to school as her parents are itinerant farmers, who go where they can find land to grow their principal crop, which is millet. She lives in mud huts with straw roofs. I write to her roughly twice a year, and I get letters back from her (which she dictates to her World Vision supervisor). I also get a yearly update on her progress, with a photograph. Her photo is over my desk and I am looking at it now. She looks tall with the gangly growth of adolescence, is wearing her best robe and head scarf and holding a wooden bowl. Behind her is dry landscape and a mud hut. She reminds me of how lucky I am to have been born in the West and also how different the lives of others can be from my own.
4. I have three grandchildren (so far) – They are J (7), A (5) and L (2). J and A belong to D’s daughter and her husband; L belongs to her son and his wife – they are hoping for another child. These children have been a wonderful, unexpected gift to me. They have opened my heart and made me realise that it is possible to love more than one person with your whole heart. All three are the loves of my life, along with D. They constantly surprise, amaze, comfort and love me in ways I never thought I would have the privilege to experience.
5. I play the recorder – and when I say this, I mean that I really play it. Many people scoff at the recorder as a “kids'” instrument and describe it as “easy” to play. I always say to these people that it is an easy instrument to play badly, but a difficult instrument to play well. I play it well. So well that I reached Grade 6 with distinction while at school. I stopped playing then for 20 years, fed up with the pressure of practice and exams. What re-awakened my interest and love of my instrument again was folk music, and in particular morris dancing. Yes, you did read that right! D and I have been members of our local ladies morris dancing side band for three years now. Folk music is a joy to play and listen to, and the feeling of playing tunes which have been handed down through the generations for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years is like nothing else. My disability has stopped me playing for the moment, I desperately hope temporarily. I don’t know what I will do if I can’t play ever again. Let’s not go there.
6. I should have been a gay man – by which I mean I am a “friend of Dorothy”. I love Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn and musicals. My sister once described me as a “camp gay man trapped in a butch lesbian’s body”. Make of this one what you will!
7. I should have been a stage manager – the most difficult thing I have had to give up because of my illness (not including the recorder, as I haven’t officially had to give that up yet) was my dream of working as a theatre stage manager. Ever since I was a small child I have loved everything about the theatre. I never wanted to be on stage (well, ok, maybe for about 5 seconds, but it didn’t last!) but I desperately wanted to be part of the magic. I trained for two years at a theatre training college in Worthing in my early twenties, and was considered a star pupil. I had found my vocation. Then I herniated a disc in my back. I was told in no uncertain terms to give up my chosen career or face a wheelchair. It was, so far, the hardest decision I have ever had to make.
So, there you are, seven things you probably didn’t know about me. I hope you found them interesting.
Now for numbers 4 and 5 – those 15 other blogs. In no particular order:
1. Leaf and Twig – a lovely photography and related poetry blog
2. The War In My Brain – Megan writes about her life and her struggles with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
3. Rosie Says – this is a highly acclaimed blog by a well-known American feminist journalist. Her posts are inspiring and educational.
4. After The Final Curtain – a fascinating blog with photos of old theatres which have fallen into disrepair and a bit of information about each of them.
5. Help Me – Help Holly – A lovely little blog I discovered very recently, written by a young mum with a new baby in New Zealand (correction from original post when I mistakenly moved her family to the USA! Oops!). She is trying to persuade people to buy her self-published e-book in order to help her and her husband support themselves and her daughter. She also writes movingly and well about her life. I have bought her book but not read it yet. As an author who is painstakingly re-editing a self-published book at the moment in order to turn it into an e-book, I feel an affinity with her too!
6. Homesick and Heatstruck – this is a bit of a cheat, as I happen to know that this blogger has been nominated for this particular award before. However, reading about her life as a British ex-pat in Dubai is both moving and hilarious. As a former ex-pat myself, I can relate too.
7. Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane – another US gem I discovered by chance. The title says it all, really, except to say that this woman is remarkable and writes about her children beautifully.
8. Bottledworder – I have no doubt that this blogger has been nominated for this award before, too, as she seems to have picked up quite a few for her blog and deservedly so. She writes more beautifully than I can ever hope to do about her life, her loves, her past and the joy/pain of writing and blogging. She is an ex-pat Indian living in the USA. If you follow no other blogs on this list, follow this one.
9. If You Tolerate This, Then Your Daughters Will Be Next – This blogger, in many ways, is me. She lives in the UK and writes frustrated and often angry articles about feminism, politics and the way girls and women are made to feel about themselves in modern British and worldwide society. I love her.
10. Chronic Cycling – this British blogger suffers, like me, from chronic pain. However, she discovered some years ago that cycling helped her pain. This is her blog about it and her life. She doesn’t post often, but when she does, it’s well worth reading.
11. An Afternoon With -An interesting blog featuring interviews with interesting people.
12. Kristen Hansen Brakeman – a US mother who writes about motherhood, body image and many other things in an engaging and readable way. I don’t always agree with her views, but I enjoy reading them!
13. A Solo Singer In America – A young opera student blogs about her life, college, singing etc. Extremely interesting view into the sort of life I know nothing about.
14. Naomi Young – Naomi is a friend of mine who used to run the now defunct UK lesbian magazine, Velvet, and gave me writing work. This blog is about her recent trip to Sri Lanka with her partner as well as anything else she fancies blogging about.
15. Sarah Tanburn – Sarah is a close friend and an exceptionally talented writer. This blog is about her life, what makes her angry/sad etc, books she’s read – you name it, she writes about it.
Phew, I made it!! Thanks again, Kavita, for the nomination, and I hope my readers enjoy reading the result.