Why I’m Proud to be Disabled

In a (very belated) nod to Disability Pride Month, which was back in July, I thought I’d do a little piece on why I’m proud to be disabled!

Community

I think the biggest reason I’m proud to be disabled is the disabled community. We’re strong. loud and proud about being disabled, fighting for each other and for change. In finding the disabled community, in real life and in the online world through social media and blogging, I feel like I’ve found my people. The ones I can rant to about ableism or inaccessibility without feeling like I’m complaining or ungrateful (the way I’m sometimes made to seem by the rest of society). When I look at some of the work that’s happening within the disabled community to fight ableism and inaccessibility, it gives me hope for a more accessible and equal future for disabled people.

What It’s Taught Me About Me

Being disabled has also taught me a lot about myself, I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t shaped me as a person. Being disabled given me perseverance to work at overcoming barriers (the literal and structural ones which are VERY obvious when you’re disabled) and the single-minded focus to not let the way society is set up get in the way of me achieving what I want to achieve. I also believe that being disabled is the basis for pretty much all of my problem-solving skills, I’m constantly having to find ways around problems (read: inaccessibility) as a disabled person, and particularly as a disabled person. Being disabled has also given me a wider view of disability. I mean that both in terms of seeing more accessibility adaptations in the world, and more variety in adaptations, than I probably would if I wasn’t disabled. But I also mean it in terms of seeing disability positively for the strength it can be and adaptability it can bring, as opposed to seeing it as the pity party or horrible, pitiful existence that it can be viewed as by the rest of society sometimes.

What’s It’s Taught Me About People

I’ve also learned a lot about people and society in general. Particularly since being active in “advocacy” and the disabled community, you realise that some of the things people say are entirely ridiculous, some of the sentences and questions that come out of peoples’ mouths on a daily basis when they see me in my chair and my only response  has to be “excuse me?!”. It also makes you realise that a lot of the misconceptions and biases about disabled people go deeper than you’d think, a lot of the actions or words seen as “helpful” or “compliments” really aren’t and people say or do a lot of stuff without realising how unhelpful and potentially hurtful they can be. I hate to be a Debbie downer here but being disabled really can show you the darker, more upsetting side of society and the way people think.

Opportunities

Nowwwwwww back to the positives. Being disabled has given me so many opportunities that I don’t think I wouldn’t have otherwise had. I highly doubt I would have started this blog if I didn’t have my life as a disabled person as the topic to focus on. And this blog has of course led onto other opportunities including being featured in national media. The opportunity to have legs that are fully functional and allow me to walk unaided? That ship sailed long ago, but so many opportunities have come along BECAUSE that whole “walking unaided” thing didn’t happen.

Who I Am

Mostly I’m proud to be disabled because it’s who I am, and I can’t help but be proud of my own existence. I’ve been disabled since birth; I know no other life than the one I’m currently living. I think that confuses people a fair bit too, when they ask, “if you could take a pill that would make you able bodied would you?” No? I don’t know how to live that life, I know how to live this disabled life, and I feel like I’m quite good at it, so I’ll stick to this life thanks

Bonuses

Then there are of course the little bonuses. Things like queue jumping and barely having to wait in a queue ever. Or getting to ride around on a fancy set of wheels that everyone always says they want. Or having my own personal dancefloor when I’m the only one on the wheelchair accessible platform at gigs. Or the free carer tickets for gigs which essentially mean I get a  half price ticket in comparison to everyone else (we LOVE a bargain over here at InvincibleWomanOnWheels).

So, those are the reasons I am proud to be disabled. I hope my fellow disabled people had a great July (as much as can be expected in the current situation) as Disability Pride Month and continue to have a great rest of the year!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Camden Electric Ballroom Accessibility Comparisons – Collaboration with Artie Carden

The accessibility reviews are BACK! well sort of. Today I’m collaborating with Artie Carden (check out their Instagram and Youtube too!) to compare our experiences with accessibility at the Electric Ballroom in Camden at 2 different types of event, comparing my experience at a club night to their experience at a concert.

The first thing to say is that Artie and I have different disabilities which means we have different access needs. Those different access needs will of course make our experiences somewhat different, alongside attending different events.

Now, in terms of those differing disabilities, those of you who know me personally or have been following for a while will know I’m Em, I’m a wheelchair user with cerebral palsy and this means for events I usually need a wheelchair accessible venue with a wheelchair accessible spot for me alongside a carer/assistant ticket. In terms of their disability, In Artie’s own words:  

“I have Crohn’s disease, hyper mobility syndrome and Takayasu’s arteritis. I am able to walk and stand but not for long periods of time, and occasionally use a walking stick (I normally will use one for concerts). I need to know if a venue has loads of steps, as I can walk up and down them but not  many of them so lifts or ramps are better for me. I have been to a few gigs without a carer/assistant but I think I would prefer to go with someone after my few experiences. I would need a chair with a back, at least, and an easily accessible bathroom. My Takayasu’s has also led to limited mobility in my dominant arm which can make it hard to walk with a stick and carry something (drink or ticket etc). Access to water is also really important for me in case I feel like taking pain medication is necessary.”

In terms of the ticket buying and collection experience, for the club night you could either prebook a space on the guest list via social media or pay on entry on the night. There was no specific accessible ticket. In terms of the gig, it was a case of sending a form of evidence of disability (such as receipt of disability benefit ) and then the venue stated they would sort an accessible seat and Artie would not have to queue. All seems fine right? nope, there was then a problem collecting ticket from the box office as the staff were not aware that accessible tickets were for box office collection and were therefore, how to put this “less than helpful” and quite dismissive and tried to insinuate that accessible tickets couldn’t be picked up at the box office.

On arrival at the club night, I made myself known to security and was then led to a separate entrance to get in, that meant going over the famous Camden cobbles which my back did NOT appreciate. Artie’s experience at the gig was somewhat similar in terms of the risk of injury because, unlike most venues which let those in accessible seating areas in first to get situated before the rush of the general standing and seated ticket holders, Electric Ballroom just let everyone in at once which of course risks injuring people, especially disabled patrons and those with extra needs who may be more prone to injuries.

In terms of my overall experience at the club night, I had to stay on one level of the club as there was no lift to the upper level. This was kind of an issue since there were different types of music playing on each level and the kind of music I like was on the level I couldn’t reach. The night out becomes somewhat pointless if you can’t do what you want to do or listen to the songs you enjoy most.

Artie’s experience at the concert was even more inaccessible as the “accessible seating” was upstairs (bear in mind my “no lift” comment from earlier) the concept of seating upstairs is a very inaccessible version of accessible seating, at least check the access needs of your patrons so you can provide them with an actual accessible experience! The toilets were also inaccessible as they were down more stairs, which is quite the issue because those of you who’ve tried singing along to an entire concert without at least water to keep you hydrated will know it’s pretty near impossible (and also not the best idea in general). There were also no backs to the “accessible” seating which caused Artie an injury. Yet another instance of “actually ask the access needs of your patrons so you can provide an accessible experience that doesn’t, you know, actually injure them!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this collaboration and it provides some insight into how our experiences at different types of events within the same venue can present both similar and different issues.

Stay Invincible!

Emma and Artie

How To Be Empowered Whilst Disabled: Our Stories of Hope and Invincibility (A Collaboration Between InvincibleWomanOnWheels and The Hope Chronicles)

I’m delighted to have the lovely Hope of The Hope Chronicles collaborating with me on this blog. We both thought we’d give you a little insight into us and our blogs, so there’s a little Frequently Asked Questions section for both of us and a little more of what we want to achieve with our blogs. Enjoy!

Emma (InvincibleWomanOnWheels)

Name: Emma, Em, Ems, The Invincible Woman On Wheels

Age: 23

Condition: Cerebral Palsy Spastic Diplegia

Location: Chippenham/Birmingham – based in Birmingham for University

What’s the reason/message behind the blog?

To give a realistic view of life with a disability. Disability isn’t all pity and sadness, but let’s be real, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows either.

 What is the story behind the blog name and social media handles?

The idea essentially began on the Sicily trip which is the first post on here. My travelling companions and I managed to work around and overcome many challenges that we faced on this trip (both accessibility-based and otherwise). This led to us calling ourselves the Invincible Women throughout the trip and beyond. Whilst on that trip those friends encouraged me to start this blog. When thinking of a blog name, it only felt right to take inspiration from the trio on that trip as a sort of homage to where it all started. That is Invincible Woman On Wheels as you know it.

Any advice for other disabled bloggers?

I think my biggest slice of advice would be to write about what you know from the viewpoint of your condition. By that I mean write about your experiences and don’t try and write about a topic if you don’t think you have the right knowledge, if you think you should be writing about it, or if it’s the “trendy” topic. I’d rather see “I don’t know about X” in a blog post than someone who’s trying to pool research without any first-hand experience. My other advice is to be honest, particularly if you’re writing access reviews like I do. Venues may not like it too much if a review paints them in a negative light, but if you’re trying to give good access information to fellow disabled people, an honest, accurate review is better than a sweet one.

What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever been asked?
Someone I’d barely spoken to once asked me “So how do you have sex?” and I JUST DON’T ASK THAT. There are 3 questions/comments here: a. Would you ask an able-bodied person that?!; b. Why does that question even enter your head as the first one to ask me?!; and c. That’s literally not anyone’s business unless we’re dating.

What does your disability mean for your life and what is the hardest part of it?

The biggest impact of my disability is that I cannot walk and am a wheelchair user. Some of the probably less obvious issues are things like fine motor control issues which can making using scissors and other actions that need small precise motions more difficult. I think the hardest part about my disability isn’t actually the condition, but more realising that society isn’t made to accommodate me or consider the fact I exist at all. I mean that both in terms of physical inaccessibility and in terms of social protocol Every system is more difficult to navigate when you’re disabled.

What does a typical day look like for you?

This depends a fair bit on whether I’m at university or at home, so I’ll keep it vaguer instead of being too specific to either setting. I’ll start with breakfast and my all-important coffee around 8am. Then, during the daytime, I’ll deal with what I refer to as “life stuff,” i.e. the stuff to do with being an adult and not related to my blogging side hustle. As a rule, that meant preparing for and attending the lectures and seminars for my master’s  degree and planning or completing assignments. However, more recently during the pandemic, (in lockdown and with no university lectures) it’s meant working on my application for a PhD, job hunting, and house hunting. Once I’ve done some of that stuff, I’ll have some dinner before moving onto blogging tasks (i.e. planning, writing, and promoting blog posts). My evenings, if I allow myself a proper evening, consist of watching MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) or a TV series if there is an interesting one shown that evening.

What interests you when you aren’t managing your disability?

I’m the biggest lover of music and specifically live concerts. I also love watching MMA, either on the TV or live in person. I even have a section on my blog about travelling to MMA shows and another on my favourite MMA promotion Cage Warriors.

Do you have any desire to write beyond the blog? If so, what, where or how? 

I’d like to do a little more activism through my writing and be part of wider society, developing more understanding of what true life with a disability is as opposed to the depictions we see on TV and in films. I think the best way to do that kind of work is writing experiential pieces about various aspects of life with a disability for  magazines and/or news outlets, maybe like the interview I did with The Guardian on what it’s like to attend university as a disabled student. With that being said, my contact page is here if any magazines or news outlets do want to get in contact about articles or interviews from me on various aspects of life with a disability.

 

Now over to Hope to tell you a little bit about herself!

 

Hope (The Hope Chronicles)

Name: Hope, Hope Osborn, Y. Hope Osborn

Age: 43

Condition:  Combo–Severe, Recurrent, Major Depressive Disorder, Complex-PTSD, general anxiety, Osteoporosis that has caused me to break or fracture bones for 6 years in a row now, with my 5th surgery  June of this year, Endometriosis, Hypothyroidism, Fibromyalgia, Mild Carpal Tunnel, herniated disc C6C7

Location: Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

What’s the reason/message behind the blog?

To raise awareness of child abuse, trauma, mental illness, social justice. Also, though I am aware of these things, I hope to remind people that there is beauty, victory, and freedom amid hardship, such as in my photography art.

What is the story behind the blog name and social media handles?

I started the blog back in 2012 before I had to stop working a regular job, before now earning my MA in Professional and Technical Writing in December, before building a photography and writing freelance business was in mind, and before I was as open as I am now about my trauma, so it started out on a variety of different topics than I now cover. It still stands that The Hope Chronicles is predominantly about just living life in general and the various encounters of my life that I want people to find hope in.

My social media handle of YHopeOsborn is about creating space in the world for my writing and photography and building a freelance business in those realms in order to be productive while working around health appointments, surgeries, treatments, etc.

https://twitter.com/YHopeOsborn

https://www.facebook.com/YHopeOsbornMedia

http://LinkedIn.com/in/yhopeosborn

https://medium.com/@YHopeOsborn

https://www.artworkarchive.com/profile/yhopeosborn

https://www.saatchiart.com/yhopeosborn

Any advice for other disabled bloggers?

I have to agree with The Invincible Woman on Wheels or Em in writing about what you know and reviewing for generative feedback, meaning that which enables the writer to be a better writer.

As she said, just because you have a disability, it doesn’t mean it has to enter into the picture of your blog. One thing I try to do in my life is give myself avenues for getting away from my disability as much as possible, such as my photography art, gardening, and pets, Isobel, the kitten, and pair a parakeets, Widget and Whimsy. I just  work at making each easier in some way so that I don’t feel confined by disability. I enjoy the bounty of color and creation my garden provides year around, the purr and cuddle of my kitten, the happy chirping and talking with my parakeets, and finding great photo Captures.

Also, don’t ever be ashamed of being disabled. I must remind myself of this, particularly during the frequent times in surgery and in boots and crutches or walker (even wheelchair for 6 weeks a couple years back). I don’t appear to others as if I am disabled enough to not work a regular job. I feel like I need to explain myself, and I don’t. You don’t, whatever your situation in life. It is your own experience. You know the truth of it for yourself.

What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever been asked?

When I was at my last job and I started sleeping in the morning without waking to multiple alarms and calls by friends and anything else I could think of, I was sincerely apologetic and ashamed of being late for work, though I always made up the time some way. In those few months of that I worked with doctors, including a sleep study, trying to figure out what was going on.

As I was trying to explain to my employers all this with regular updates, they totally ignored any reference to it being a health problem, and one of the times I was late, I was called into the office manager’s office where she proceeded to say, “You know if you would just call and tell us you were going to be late, we’d understand.” Maybe not the oddest. Maybe unanswerable as a stupid statement, but I still responded, “If I could call you to tell you I’d be late, I would be awake and wouldn’t have to call to tell you I was going to be late, because I’d be here.” I was fired for those ongoing offenses caused by my health and a month later the problem cleared up without explanation or any more treatment than I already received.

However, I think it was God’s way of getting me out of what turned out to be a bad work environment and out of general work, because I would have been too afraid to let go of even a crappy job to spend my time focusing more on my degree, writing, photography, and health.

Which of your conditions do you consider the most impactful on your day?

The most obvious that comes to mind is the yearly broken bones with surgeries along with surgeries outside of the osteoporosis, but the answer is much more subtle even to me. The Depression and Complex-PTSD or just the traumatic childhood explains not only my constant stress and self- and relationship- destructive behavioral actions and mental thinking, but, according to studies, child abuse survivors suffer more physical ailments. A lot of my health problems are genetic, but I don’t see these in the family, or they are just odd for my age or situation, such as the osteoporosis without cause, and probably are a result of childhood trauma, and adult trauma for that matter. If you count all that together that covers most of my problems and I would say the Complex-PTSD is the condition. I battle the flashbacks, dreams, disassociation of it and trying to tame it through counselling, treatments, and psychiatric drugs, alongside all my health-related meds every day.

The fact is that all through my developmental stages of life I was traumatized in multiple ways, so bad neural pathways were laid down and good ones were short-circuited. I’ll be years in therapy working on cleaning up that mess, particularly since I have only in the last few years had a really good counsellor and psychiatrist.

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day is that it isn’t ever typical. My alarm is set to wake me at 5:30, so I can get up long enough to care for my cat and take my morning pills. Then, if all goes well, I lie back down and sleep for another hour or hour and a half, waking naturally and not feeling the yuck of what sits with me from night. I spend an hour or so “catching up on the phone,” I call it, because I am on my phone, responding to or sending emails or texts, working on social media, seeing how much REM or deep sleep I managed that night to explain whatever state I am in and watching for problems that tell me how well the ketamine treatments for my depression are going and to explain whatever state I wake in, updating all the apps that need attention, and calling doctors’ offices when necessary.

Then if I am not crippled with a fracture like now or down with and quarantined in flu-like illness (such as twice in a row during the pandemic) or something else doesn’t absolutely preclude it, I try to either spend 30 minutes doing a part of cleaning the place, exercising at the gym, or tending my year around patio garden. In and out of all this time I try to keep up a schedule well in advance of my current day because it helps motivate me to do the next thing, particularly on difficult health days.

If there is anything that is work intensive, like photo shoots (not often), writing, studying (such as for my MA, watching or doing workshops, or taking a library course), figuring out business or other writing or art possibilities,  working on finances, or Wednesday’s order of Kroger click list, for example, it has to be done in the morning or early afternoon during my peak energy and focus time.

The first half of my afternoon, I try to plan socializing, often with food, drink, or house prep and any kind of appointment or treatment, run errands, do chores. If I have a heavy day, I take about a 45-minute lunch break to heat up something quick from my once a week cooking or from the store and debrief by watching good clean comedians, because laughing is part of the ton of medications taken with lunch. Sundays also at that time I divide out all my pills to take 5:30am, noon, 5pm, 8pm, and 9:30 and set aside pill bottles I need to get refills by the end of the week for the following week.

By noon even now at a slower paced morning, I am already getting very tired. I need to lie down and not push myself because when I inevitably do, I create pain and sickness and exhaustion that affects the already difficult time of going to sleep by 10 even without going anywhere or communicating by any means after 6 though that is often when other people do things. I miss gatherings and special events all the time because I can’t push it or mess up my whole going to sleep process, which then dominoes into diminishing productivity or well-being the next day.

So by 2pm or 3pm, I recline on the sofa and work on photo processing; which I found I can do in my off time, though it is tiring and too easily captivating; and/or spending time with my cat and talking some more with my social parakeets. I also spend time arranging things or catching up via text or email or working on schedule-based events and communications of the day.

5pm I shut all the blinds and curtains, turn off most of the lights, take a shower, get in my pyjamas, unless I needed to in the morning, take medicine, care for the cat, and spend the rest of the evening until about 10pm bedtime. I sleep on the sofa using a quilt I made when I was a teenager to cocoon in because, since the bedroom was a problem with my father growing up, my bedroom is where I struggle most to sleep, have my “grey dreams,” have PTSD experiences and feelings, which in turn allows my head to go all sorts of negative ways just perpetuating the insomnia. Because I am so hard to sedate and because of medications I wake up at least once around midnight, needing a carb snack to fall back asleep. I hate that and other awakenings because it makes me feel yucky then and sometimes into the next day when ability is determined according to whim and how the previous day or that night went. Sometimes I must make myself take a sick day if I have had a really bad night or previous day.

There are always the limitations and intrusive problems and endless medical appointments, treatments, and surgeries and a good but hard counselling session once a week. I disassociate a lot. A lot of my disassociations I didn’t realize until thinking through issues or events with my therapist. Any getting up and down from the ground is painful enough to make it difficult to get up at all with right now yet another stress fracture in my left leg because I have osteoporosis for no medical reason that has caused me to have broken bones and surgeries for the 6th year running. Then every day there is pushing against the crowding health issues, trying to ignore them to have a life apart from health.

What interests you when you aren’t managing your disability?

I do enjoy listening to my playlists, Cur. Favs, Easy Groovin’, Jammin’ and Exercise Jam in the mornings to help push me along. The Cur Favs are anytime, and Easy Groovin’ is for company or afternoons. I love my year around garden, with the spring and fall planting allowing me my Disneyland experience of going to the garden center to partly fill an order I planned and partly figure out the palette from what is available that year. I used to read the last two hours of every day (I mean I read at least that much every day since I was a kid), but now not so much because for some reason I got bored of it, I think at least in part because I read through all the good mystery genre at least once. After all these years, I just lost interest, which is bad for me as a writer for by reading we grow our vocabulary, perspective, concepts, etc. I need to read the long list of nonfiction I gathered from my professors.

Additionally, I am a photographer artist. At least once a month except when I am laid up with surgery as just now, I go out on photo shoots looking for great Captures. I may go downtown and photograph historic buildings from all sorts of perspectives or go to a park with a view and photograph the landscape or take photographs from the flowers in my own garden. I process them like a painter adding depth to bring out a cornice or color to bring forward a whole building or a bump to add dimension to a flat floral photograph. I win awards in competitions and have shown in galleries here in Little Rock, Arkansas, in Portland, OR; and online at Fusion Art in an artist solo spotlight.

I work on getting my photographs and written works published with some small success so far. You can find my work here at artworkarchive.com/profile/yhopeosborn and can contact me directly yhosborn@gmail.com for any prints or canvases you may want. I have just set up sales on Saatchi Art.

Do you have any desire to write beyond the blog? If so what, where, or how?

I have considered writing my memoir, but I only have some stories and a partial manuscript. I write creative nonfiction and for school write rhetorical analyses among other things, such as writing code for websites in an upcoming class that is one of two classes that will finish out my MA in Professional and Technical Writing with a Creative Nonfiction emphasis, preparing me for grant writing, legal writing, whitepapers, research, and a variety of other areas and software to work alongside my photography as a freelance writer, editor, artist, and designer.

***

I hope you learned a little about us both

Stay Invincible! And live a life of Hope!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Hope (The Hope Chronicles)

Original Outstanding Blogger Award

Another blogger award! This time I’m nominated for the Original Outstanding Blogger Award in this post by Laura from Voyage of the Mind. The award was originally created by Colton Beckwith. First I’ll set out the rules, then I’ll answer the questions I’ve been asked, nominate 10 more bloggers for this award and give them 7 questions of my own to answer.

Rules

  1. Provide the link to the creator’s original award post.
  2. Answer the questions provided.
  3. Create 7 unique questions.
  4. Nominate 10 bloggers. Ensure that they are aware of their nomination. Neither the award’s creator, nor the blogger that nominated you, can be nominated.
  5. At the end of 2020, every blog that ping-backs the creator’s original post will be entered to win the 2020 Outstanding Blogger Award!

 My Answers to the Questions

  1. If you could have a conversation with any historical figure, who would you choose and why? 

I’m assuming this means any person from history? As a psychology nerd and psychology graduate, I’d have to say Sigmund Freud. I’d just want to understand more about his theories and where they came from, because does Freudian psychology really make sense to anyone?

  1. What’s your favourite book of all time and why is it your favourite?  

The third Harry Potter book,  Prisoner Of Azkaban. I just love the Marauders and this is the book where they’re properly discussed. I really love that group dynamic of “friends through thick and thin” and hope I can develop a  friendship group like that.

  1. What’s the next perfect number after 6? 

If you’re asking for the actual mathematical answer (since a perfect number is one of those “maths things”) a quick search tells me the answer is 28. If we’re talking about perfect numbers in terms of my favourite, that would be 7. It was the number worn by most of my favourite football players growing up so I always associate it with happy times watching the football.

  1. What’s your Myers-Briggs personality type? 

As a psychology student who’s actually studied the Myers Briggs test, I should probably know my type off by heart, but I don’t. A quick go on one of the many online versions of the test tells me I am an INTJ-T, which makes sense to me based on how I think I am as a person.

  1. What’s your all-time favourite blog post of your own? Link it

That would have to be my How To Lose Friends and Alienate People post! It’s my top 5 things people do, and 5 things they say, that annoy me as a disabled person. I feel like it’s written in a way that’s both informative and engaging and I’d class it as my most “teachable” or reusable post, the kind of post I could throw into a Twitter debate in a “read this if you want to educate yourself” sort of way.

  1. What’s the strangest dream you’ve ever had? (And if you don’t dream, make up a dream you could have had or relate a strange one someone else told you about!)

I once dreamed that I was in a game of Tetris. As in I was literally one of the Tetris pieces, and my family members were the other pieces, all in one giant ongoing game of Tetris. Yeaaaaaaaahhhhh, I don’t understand it either,

  1. Do you have any pets?

I don’t have any pets of my own, no but I do refer to my parents’ dog as my dog most of the time. I should probably stop doing that now I don’t live with them anymore!

Nominations

Madison & Rebecca from Foster Family Travels

Joey from Concealed Voices

Artie from Artie Carden

Hope from The Hope Chronicles

Emma from Little Harto

Claire from Short Girl Walking

Emily from Love, Em

Eleanor from Not So Modern Girl

Ciara from Learning to Love What’s On The Inside

Alyvia from Life With Lyv

My 7 Questions

Since this is the Original Outstanding Blogger Award, what’s the original reason you started your blog?

What’s your favourite song?

What is one music artist that you’d recommend for me to listen to?

What was your favourite subject in school?

What is one piece of advice you would give to new bloggers?

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever gotten?

What’s your next big goal with your blog and how can we as the blogging community help you achieve it?

I hope everyone enjoys learning a little more about me and my nominees enjoy answering the questions

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Getting Started as a Disability Blogger

I’m on my way to 3 years as a disability blogger now, so I felt like it might useful to give some tips to those who may be thinking about starting out as a disability blogger. So, here’s my top 5 tips for getting started as a disability blogger!

  1. Know Your Collaborators

I think the key word here is collaborators, not competitors. Know the other disability bloggers that are around and making content, for me that’s people like Carrie Ann Lightley and Shona Cobb. These bloggers can give you other views on disability, particularly key since disability is an identity that everyone can experience, even if someone may have the same diagnosis as you. Other bloggers may also lead you to explore different angles on content that you didn’t see before, you might see something they post and think “I could expand on this point from my point of view” and then you have new content!

  1. Write About What You Know

Write about things from your viewpoint of your disability and experience.  Don’t write about the issues you don’t live with, for example, I only talk about accessibility from the viewpoint of a wheelchair user, and I wouldn’t talk about accessibility for a blind or visually impaired person because I don’t KNOW about that experience or what would be considered good accessibility. However, that’s where you can collaborate and reach out to other bloggers to get their viewpoint like I mentioned in point 1, or link to a specific blog post if you know they’ve already written on that topic.

  1. Find Your Niche

Find your niche that you think will make you unique, this might be looking at your hobbies in terms of how they interact with your disability  and how you experience that hobby. For me, I do that through my accessibility reviews of concert and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) venues. I mostly see my niche in the MMA venue accessibility reviews because I don’t see that content elsewhere (drop links in the comments if you do that content around though), but MMA is also something I love very VERY deeply. I think that’s also key, find your niche but make sure it’s something you love, that love will show in the posts.

  1. Not Everything Has To Be About Disability

Going back to talking about hobbies, talk about how much you love the hobby alongside the accessibility of it and how it interacts with your disability. OBVIOUSLY, my disability will come into everything I do because it’s a constant part of my life, but that doesn’t mean I have to mention it in every post. Another note is, if there’s no accessibility issues to talk about in a specific post,  that’s a good thing! It means that the world is becoming more accessible, and that’s worth noting too.

  1. Show the Good and the Bad

You need to be realistic and show both the good and the bad sides of disability. I see this most obviously in my accessibility reviews. The response to reviews for poor accessibility can lead to connecting with the venue and working with the them to increase accessibility and create change for the disabled community. However, by the same token, a review for a good accessible venue or company can provide a shout out for that venue or company, which can drive more business their way as disabled people will be more likely to go somewhere if it’s accessible, and the Purple Pound (the money from disabled people’s buying) is worth a fair bit. This extra business is particularly welcome if it’s a small business or venue you’re reviewing, such as this Bed and Breakfast in Liverpool that I reviewed and encouraged everyone to go for their “work with the customer to make things accessible” attitude.

I hope these tips help a new disabled blogger get started in their new venture.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

5 Things I Learned En Route to 5000 Views

Recently I hit 5000 views on the blog! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay. That milestone led me to thinking about what I’ve learned about blogging in those 5000 views, so I thought I’d note my top 5 things learned over the course of 5000 views, and maybe you can make use of what I’ve learned BEFORE you hit 5000 views, or even if you already have.

  1. Promote, Promote, Promote

Now this is a new one for me with the extra time I have in lockdown, but promote, promote promote your content on social media! Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest, promote your content everywhere you can and everywhere you feel comfortable. You have to sell your posts and make people want to read them and no one can read them if no one can see them!

  1. Put Yourself Forward for Opportunities

Don’t be scared to put yourself for opportunities, collaborations or to work with brands.  You might not think you’re good enough, but an opportunity works within your niche and it interests you, go for it! The only caveat to this is don’t apply to an opportunity if you don’t fit the criteria (such as Domain Authority or niche), make sure you read opportunities before blindly applying.

  1. Don’t Force Content

This is a biggie! Don’t write a post just because you feel the need to stick to a schedule, write when you’re inspired to. In the same vein, don’t write to trends because it’s what everyone’s writing about and will get a lot of views, write about what inspires you. This may make blog growth a little slower but I genuinely believe the content will be better if it’s naturally and organically written from inspiration.

  1. Realise Your Key Cornerstone

Realise the one aspect or value related to your blog that you can’t avoid or wouldn’t give up on to gain more views. For me, that’s realism and making sure  my blog remains realistic. If I feel an opportunity or post is unrealistic or inauthentic, I won’t undertake the opportunity or write that particular post. That kind of leads back to point 3 and not forcing content, I feel like forcing content and writing to trends is inauthentic for me so I don’t do it.

  1. Connect With Other Bloggers

Another relatively new one for me but connect with other bloggers and link up for collaborations or contribute to their blog posts. You can gain traction and have opportunities brought to you through being involved with other bloggers who have a larger reach than your blog, particularly when you’re starting out as a small blogger. But I would say make sure the opportunity is actually something you want to collaborate on. Contributing to others blog posts and connecting with them just to piggyback off their larger reach won’t earn you friends in the blogging community.

I hope these tips help someone and show what I’ve learned so far in my blogging journey, and thankyou for 5000 views, here’s to the next 5000.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Ideal Inspiration Blogger Award

Another blogger award! This time I’m nominated for the Ideal Inspiration Blogger Award in this post by Smelly Socks and Garden Peas. First I’ll set out the rules, then I’ll answer the questions I’ve been asked, nominate some more bloggers for this award and give them 5 questions of my own to answer.

Rules

Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.

Answer your nominator’s questions.

Nominate up to 9 other bloggers.

Notify your nominees.

Ask 5 questions.

List the rules and display the “Ideal Inspiration Blogger Award ” logo.

My Answers to the Questions

  1. What one thing would you stop your significant other from doing if you could just switch it off with no argument or consequences?

I’m afraid I can’t really properly answer this as I don’t currently have a significant other and it’s probably unfair to discuss my ex and would probably take me a while.

  1. What’s your favourite sport to watch or participate in?

I only watch sport and haven’t really participated in any for a while. My favourite sport to watch, both live and on the tv, would definitely be Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). I even have a full section on my MMA Travels on my blog, alongside a section for my favourite MMA promotion, Cage Warriors.

  1. What’s your favourite movie of the 1990s?

As I was born in 1996 (yeah I realise I’ve probably made some people feel quite old there) I didn’t really have many films to choose from that I already knew were DEFINITELY 90’s films. But after a bit of research, I’ll have to go with the original Lion King. Probably quite a standard answer I know, but It’s just great. If you don’t dramatically sing along to “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” every single time, I’m going to need to understand why not (did I play that song whilst writing this? Yup).

  1. Whose blog would you love to do a guest post for?

I would have to say Shona from Shona Louise, she’s one of my inspirations and I always find her posts eye-opening, even to me as a fellow wheelchair user who also experiences some of the issues she discusses sometime. I’ve already contributed to her post on being an ambulatory wheelchair user, and I would consider doing a full guest post on Shona’s blog an honour if the opportunity ever arose.

  1. If you could be any Pokémon, which would it be?

I would have to say Pikachu, he’s my favourite (I’m not ashamed to admit I bought a mini Pikachu teddy at a convention literally a couple of years ago). I also feel like being an electric type Pokémon would be quite apt, what with me being an electric wheelchair user.

 

Nominations

Carrie Ann from CarrieAnnLightley.com – This post references inspirations in blogging and Carrie Ann is one of mine, particularly with her accessible travel content giving me lots of ideas for where and how I can travel as a wheelchair user.

Shona from Shona Louise– Again, this post references inspirations and I’ve already told you, in the guest post question, how Shona is one of mine. So of course, she’s in the nominations here.

Madison & Rebecca from Foster Family Travels – These two are quite likely my best friends and some of my biggest supporters from the blogging community

Brendan from Blind Injustice – one of my earliest supporters with my blog, but someone I feel I’ve not had a lot of contact with recently, maybe this tag will get us back in touch

Keith from On My Mind Today – another, albeit more recent, supporter of my blog and someone with whom I feel like I have, and could have,  a lot of interesting conversations

 

My 5 Questions

  1. Where would you be right now if you could be anywhere?
  2. What is the best concert you’ve ever been to, or if you’ve not been to a concert, which is the concert you’d most like to go to?
  3. What would your perfect day consist of if you could do anything?
  4. What would be your dream 3 course meal?
  5. Let’s spread a little more blog love, who are 5 bloggers you would recommend for me to check out?

I hope everyone enjoys learning a little more about me and my nominees enjoy answering the questions

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Grief & Loss: The Opposite Side of Father’s Day

A heavily personal post from me today. To mark UK Father’s Day 2020, I thought I’d discuss my dad, my grief and how losing him has changed how I see Father’s day now.

Firstly, a content warning, I’ll be discussing grief, bereavement and bits and pieces of medical stuff here, so I’d suggest skipping this post if any of those are likely to significantly upset you or bring up any of your own experiences.

I guess if I was to explain this post in a sentence it’s exploring the opposite side of father’s day. As I said in the mini introduction, the publication of this post coincides with UK father’s day 2020 and is also a couple of days short of the 2-year anniversary of my own dad’s passing. Since he passed away, I’ve begun to see Father’s day in a different light. Of course, there are those who have been father figures to me that I can still celebrate. Men like my own stepdad, who has been there for me for years whilst my dad was still here and has continued to be there for me since my dad passed away. But father’s day is still different. All the emails from brands and venues about father’s day gifts and reminders, and every blogger “father’s day gift guide” that I see is a stinging reminder every single time that my dad is no longer with us. Now, I’m not saying don’t write that content or for brands not to send those emails, I just don’t think we see this side of the situation as often (how people approach certain days and occasions after a bereavement). So, I thought I’d explain my side of it and how fathers’ days is different now.

I didn’t see my dad often, we lived at pretty much opposite ends of the country for a good portion of my life, so I never made a very big deal of father’s day. I’d just send him a “happy father’s day”  message, and a present if I could find a particularly good one that I thought he’d enjoy. Oh, how I  regret that now he’s no longer here, I so wish I’d made a bigger deal of Father’s day when he was here.

Father’s day was different once I’d received a phone call that turned my world upside down, telling me that my dad was ill and that we’d have to rush up to the hospital (hundreds of miles away). I didn’t fully know what was going on, but I knew I had to organise and sort everything to be ready to drive up to the hospital in the morning. It’s pretty difficult to organise your life when it feels like the world’s spun on its axis and the ground’s dropped out from beneath you all at once.

Father’s day becomes different because all I can remember is my dad’s last father’s day  with  him in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit).  All of us (I have siblings) bringing cards and wishing him a happy father’s day. I can’t tell you how heart-breaking that was being unable to know what he thought of his cards or if he could actually hear us.

Father’s day is different when I realise that I spent the whole lead up to that day 2 years ago (basically the whole of June) discovering that the man I thought was invincible and immortal (because everyone thinks their parents are immortal right) actually wasn’t.

Father’s day becomes different when I remember the days and nights I spent trying to sleep in an ICU waiting room or relatives room wondering if dad was ok whilst the rest of us slept. Terrified to go to sleep in case he wasn’t with us when I woke up. Begging for someone to sit with him whilst I slept so that he wasn’t alone if something did happen.

Father’s day is different when I remember that,  instead of spending those June days chatting to dad and planning our trip to Madrid, I was cancelling the trip and wondering if I’d be helping to plan a funeral instead.

Father’s day will be different when I go to text him that same “ happy father’s day” message and realise I can’t because he won’t respond anymore.

Father’s day will always be different when every sentence talking about that wonderful man has to start with “dad was …” and not “dad is …”.

I’m not sure where I was going with this blog post. I this is what I’m saying is: Beyond the brands “father’s day” emails and adverts and the bloggers “ father’s day gift guides”, there’s a different side,  a different feeling to father’s day for me and those like me who no longer have the man we call dad with us. And I think that should be talked about more.

Happy father’s day, dad. I love you and I’ll miss you forever

All my love

Ems

The Awesome Blogger Award

Another blogging award! This time I’d like to thank Emmagayle from Empowered for the nomination; you can read her post on the award here. First, I’ll outline the rules, then answer the questions I was asked before nominating 5 other bloggers for the award and asking 10 of my own questions!

Rules

Thank the person who nominated you

Tag the post with #AwesomeBloggerAward

Answer the questions you were asked

Nominate at least 5 bloggers and inform them of their nomination

Give them 10 new questions to answer

My Answers

  1. What is your favourite post on your blog and why?

My favourite post would be my How to Lose Friends and Alienate People: Disability Edition post on the 5 things people say, and 5 they do, that get on my nerves as a disabled person. I feel like it put across my frustrations with those sayings/behaviours well enough without seeming like I was shaming people, and hopefully had an impact on how people interact with disabled people from now on.

  1. What is your writing process and do you have any rituals for getting ready to write?

I have no rituals as such but I do have a writing process. Firstly, I’ll plan out the blog post by hand in the specific notebook I use. Then I’ll transfer that plan into a word document on one of the templates I’ve made  (either the general template, the access review template or the train travel template, depending on the blog post) then I’ll just fill in the words around my planning notes until I have a blog post.

  1. What is one of your musical guilty pleasures?

That would probably be Taylor Swift. I have no explanation for why I listen to her music but she’s definitely the kind of artist I usually listen to, which I’m pretty certain means I can call her songs a guilty pleasure.

  1. Who was your first celebrity crush?

Ah, that was either Justin Timberlake or Simon Webbe from the UK boyband Blue. I had a crush on both at around the same time I think.

  1. What animal do you prefer – cats or dogs?

Dogs 100%, they’ve been part of my life my entire life as they were always our family pets.

  1. Where do you like to write your blog posts?

In terms of blog planning, I prefer to out blog posts in coffee shops with my notebook and a coffee or two, although obviously not at the moment with the lockdown and pandemic situation. For actual writing, I prefer to write in my  bedroom at my desk, whether that’s in my university room or my bedroom at home

  1. What is your favourite social media for blogging?

Definitely Twitter, I like the amount of interaction I can have with my audience and feel like I can show them more of me and my hobbies beyond blogging.

  1. Do you have any hidden talents?

I don’t think so. I can do that thing where you roll your tongue up into a full circle from the sides if that counts?

  1. When and where was your first holiday?

If we’re talking holiday abroad, the first one I remember was to Alcudia in Spain. I think I was 6 or 7 but I may have been older, I can’t really remember exactly. There may also have been an earlier holiday that I don’t remember.

  1. What is your favourite hobby?

Those of you who have read my blog for a while or follow me on Twitter (particularly on Saturday nights) will probably know the answer to this. I love to watch Mixed Martial Arts, either on tv or live  in person at venues. I prefer watching in person as the live atmosphere is almost always incredible, but when I’ll get to experience that again, with the impact of the pandemic, I don’t know.

Nominations

Glen from glenparmenter.com

Alyvia from LifewithLyv

Madison & Rebecca from FosterFamTravels

Thomas from The Doubting Thomas Blog

Joey from Concealed Voices

My Questions

  1. What is the explanation behind your blog name?
  2. What is your main goal with blogging?
  3. What skill would you like to learn?
  4. What is your favourite film?
  5. What city/country is top of your list to travel?
  6. Who is/are your inspiration(s) when it comes to blogging?
  7. What would you do if you could have your perfect day off?
  8. Do you have a favourite sport? If yes, which one?
  9. What is one inspirational quote or thing someone’s said to you that’s stuck with you?
  10. If you could invite 5 celebrities or inspirational people to dinner, who would you pick?

Thanks to Emmagayle for nominating me, I hope this gives a little more insight into the Invincible Woman behind the blog and that those I’ve nominated enjoy answering my questions.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Vincent Ehindero Blogger Award

Soooooooo I’ve been nominated for a Vincent Ehindero Blogger Award by the lovely Ashley from Blabbing Ash, you can read her post on the award here. First, I’ll set out the rules for the award, then I’ll answer Ashley’s questions, ask some questions of my own, and reveal my nominations for the award!

Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you with a link to their blog.
  2. Make a post of the award. (Using a photo with the logo.)
  3. Post the rules.
  4. Ask 5-10 questions of your choice.
  5. Nominate 10-30 other bloggers (or more) and notify them.

Questions set by Ashley

  1. What is the first thing you notice in a person?

The first thing I notice would be someone’s demeanour, whether they’re generally a happy person, someone who’s often sad, or someone who’s generally relaxed and laid back about everything. I usually  pick up on that pretty quickly and can get a general vibe from people.

  1. What are some challenges you think the next generation will face because of our generation’s now actions?

I think the biggest struggle will be money. I don’t want to get political on this, and I know it’s not the entire generation’s fault that there are money struggles. However, it’s well noted that there are various places in the world in bad financial situations at the moment, with a lot of people struggling. I don’t want to come across as a “social justice warrior” type , but I really hope the situation changes and there are fewer people struggling for money in the world sooner rather than later.

  1. What is something you could teach me that comes easiest to you?

I could teach you how to successfully drive an electric wheelchair. People that occasionally have to park my wheelchair for me usually find it quite difficult, but driving it has become second nature to me after all these years.

  1. Coffee or Tea? Why?

I prefer coffee, mostly because I like the process and routine of making my morning coffee and the head space I think it gives me to think through what I have to complete in a day. It’s the whole romantic thought of drinking coffee in your kitchen in the morning while the world wakes up.

  1. What is your favourite quote and why?

My favourite quote is “Those who love us never really leave us” from the third Harry Potter book The Prisoner of Azkaban.  I’m a big Harry Potter/ Sirius Black (the character who says that quote) fan and feel like that quote really encapsulates and helps me through my own experience with bereavement, which is something I’ve gone through a lot in recent years.

  1. What is the most useful thing you own?

I would say my electric wheelchair as that’s my main mobility aid and the reason I can go on all these adventures I write about on the blog. However, I technically don’t own that, I just loan it. So if we’re going on something I actually OWN, I would say my rollator/walker thing as it’s  my second most used mobility aid and I actually OWN it.

  1. Do you have a favourite comfort food? What is the recipe?

My favourite comfort food would be Mum’s homemade chicken pasta. I admit I don’t know the recipe to be able to recite it and I’ll have to ask her for it.

  1. If you could have lunch with one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

It would be Corey Taylor, the singer from my favourite bands Stone Sour & Slipknot. He’s one of my idols in general and pretty much musical idol and I’d love to be able to explain to him the impact he and his music have had.

My Questions

  1. What/where/who do you think of when I say the word “home”?
  2. Who is your favourite music artist or band?
  3. What is your proudest achievement in your blogging journey?
  4. What is your proudest achievement in life in general?
  5. Do you believe in regrets? If no, why not? And if yes, what’s your biggest regret
  6. What is your favourite travel memory?
  7. What is your main hobby?

Nominations

Shona from Shona Louise Blog

Carrie Ann from Carrie Ann Lightley Blog

Pippa from Life of Pippa

Alex from The VI Critic

Emma from Little Harto

Hope from The Hope Chronicles

Nikki from SpokenByHer

Claire from Short Girl Walking

Madison & Rebecca from Foster Fam Travels

Megan from Life in Postcards

I hope that this has given you some more insight into me and that the people I nominated enjoy answering my questions.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)