When I began to lose my eyesight, it was natural to fear losing so many other aspects of my life that I treasured. Becoming an artist and failing to see colour was one of them. But the hardest hurdle to overcome was knowing how to weave positive threads into the garment with the label of disabled.
Did you know that the dictionary defines disabled as: to make unable, weaken, destroy the capability of, to cripple, to have a lack of competent power or strength in either physical or mental abilities, to be disqualified and to make legally incapable: to be deprived of the right to engage and, lucky last, to be rendered unfit.
Hmm, a pretty disturbing label to be given to anyone. No wonder, as an adolescent, it didn’t appeal as an image I wanted to aquire: but it seemed that Miss Puberty had other plans…
No one had warned me about the sneaky tactics of Miss Puberty, the way she could change the life of a perfectly normal teenager when she brought an exclusive offer to our household.
There she stood on the doorstep, bearing the garment of change, insisting I wear the new label of disabled.
‘Sign on the dotted line,’ she said, holding out an invisible pen. Miss Puberty worked with such authority, there was no option but to agree to the hidden terms and conditions of a membership I didn’t want but had to accept.
‘Welcome and congratulations,’ she said. ‘As you now have Retinitis Pigmentosa, whether you like it or not, you can spend the rest of your life freely indulging in any of the labels we proudly stock in our Blind-Bat Boutique. Please take your time to browse and choose carefully from our huge range of richly textured stigmas.’
I didn’t want a new image, or one of their ugly designer garments exclusive to Mademoiselle Black: Itza Shame: X-clude: Inferior Design: Kybosh: De Prive De Paris. I wanted to yell at Miss Puberty, “Take your unfashionable garment elsewhere and drape your labels over someone else’s life. I think you have the wrong house.”
She thrust the package into my hands. “Too late. Like it or not, it’s your designer image now, you have to wear it.”
Fashion the garment
Over many years of trying to cut the cloth to suit my image, with the label of disabled firmly secured to the fabric of my life, it has taken 8 qualities to thread the garment I can now wear with pride.
If you find yourself having to wear a particular label you consider quite unfashionable, let me introduce you to 8 colourful qualities essential to transform your dreary cloak of despair with chic threads of elegance.
1. Attitude is the key to accepting change in your life.
Cultivate a positive attitude and be aware of the choices you are making. Often it is fear and self-pride holding back your progress. When you take control of your attitude in a positive way, you begin to infuse your life with possibility.
Thread the colour RED into your new garment: it is the shade of glowing embers that will keep your fire alight.
2. Gather your support team
Don’t be afraid to gather around you a support team of loved ones, friends and colleagues and let them know how best they can assist you. In all truth, they really want to know how to co-operate in creating a balance in letting you take charge of your own life.
Asking for help when you could honestly benefit from their genuine support is not a sign of personal weakness but can boost the morale of the entire team. With balance and flexibility, you reach your goals with team work.
Thread the colour ORANGE into your new garment: it is the shade of joyful co-operation.
3. Courage to commit and courage to be creative
Once you have accepted a different way of doing things, and have a circle of supportive friends who understand your unique needs, you can begin to commit to certain tasks you want to achieve. You can set creative patterns into the fabric of your life.
You have renewed confidence, you muster a sense of inner strength that enables you to find creative solutions to the task at hand. With courage, you dare to persist when things go wrong. With a bold heart, you insist on finding solutions.
Thread the colour YELLOW into your new garment: it is the shade of radiant sunlight, teaming with confidence, hope and good cheer.
4. Tenacity, persistence and effort
With any outcome you want to achieve, it requires a certain amount of focused effort. You may want to train to learn new skills, or adapt to a new way of doing familiar tasks. Effort, persistence, and tenacity can work together in shaping your reality by not giving up.
Thread the colour GREEN into your new garment: be as tenacious as Mother Nature in her attention to detail, in her cycles of consistent renewal.
5. Independence and freedom
Having woven the thread of acceptance, co-operation, commitment. courage and tenacity of spirit into the fabric of your life, you also can take brave steps toward reclaiming your independence.
Maybe it is time to gain skills in new technologies that can enhance your independence – it is totally your choice. This is an empowering place to be. It is a time to express your talents, and appreciate just how far you have come. Enjoy the sense of freedom as you stride out to conquer those daily challenges.
Oh, and if by chance you find yourself falling into an embarrassing moment, as you will surely do, take along your sense of humour – it will get you out of any sticky situation!
Thread the colour BLUE into your new garment: it is the colour of sky that will keep you boldly stepping onward over the horizon to meet your victories.
6. Organise the chaos
Thread the colour PURPLE into your new garment: it is the shade where two textures (of red and blue) combine to form one predictable strand.
In order to live confidently in a visual world when you are not equipped with sight, you will need a high
level of organisation. Not only do you need to be more mindful of just about everything you do and where you last put things, your support team needs a friendly pep-talk to understand how important it is for you to move through their sighted world. It is full of unpredictable obstacles. Much mental effort is required in remembering every inch of your dwelling place – bringing order into the world of chaos is a matter of your survival and happiness.
7. Trusting your intuition
Intuition is your inner voice, a direct perception of truth independent of any reasoning. Most people find trusting intuition extremely difficult, especially when eyes and brain dominate our sense of reason. As a person with very little sight however, I have learned to reflect and listen to the wise internal voice. It requires patience, stillness and letting go of reason and rationality. Sometimes it is a call to rest and place our own judgements to one side.
Thread the colour WHITE into your new garment: clarity of thought will become clear as you trust the pure guidance of your inner vision.
8. It’s a multi-sensory garment
You can touch your new garment of change, smell it, feel it, it has been skilfully woven by your life’s experiences thus far. It is your own designer garment fashioned from the threads of experience and skilled craftsmanship. Many threads are sewn into the fabric of your being, acceptance, co-operation, courage, tenacity, freedom, humour, patience, intuition,and trust.
How about you? What essential qualities have you woven into the fabric of your personal garment of change? Please share your comments, it would be great to know!
All images © Harry Williamson 2014
Thanks to Lincraft, Malvern for allowing us to revel in their colours
© 2014 Maribel Steel