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  • Gilli

"Yes I can". Not just for the Paralympics.

I will start by being honest and saying that personally I didn't like the song chosen for the Paralympics theme, it just wasn't my taste. And on watching the adverts for the games I felt that it wasn't applicable to me in my day-to-day life living with an acquired is disability. For me the best thing about the Paralympics was the fact that The Last Leg was on every night.

However, yesterday I realised that I was looking at this slogan "yes I can" far too narrowly. Obviously for the purposes of the Paralympics it had to focus on sport and the sporting achievements as well as the day-to-day life ones of the Paralympians, but just as most able-bodied people are not Olympic athletes so it is with people living with a disability, most of us are doing our best to live as "normal" life as possible. I can only write this to myself and for my own perspective I know that I am lucky in that there are many people living with a disability who are far more severely affected by it than I am, and do not have the degree of financial security that I have. All I can do is look at this from my own viewpoint and what's "yes I can" means to me.

You may be wondering what all this has got to do with my jewellery making but please be patient and I will come to that.

Up until three years ago I was a healthy woman in my early 50s. I was working full time in a job I loved, my daughter was happily married and had given me two wonderful grandsons and in line with all I had read, and believed in I was looking ahead and planning to enjoy this new stage in my life where I could start doing more things I wanted to do for myself and in particular pursue my love of patchwork and quilting. In short life was good!

Then things started to change, pain in my neck that wouldn't go away and spread, having to work reduced hours at work due to the impact of this, being told that I needed to give up sewing and quilting due to the strain that this was putting on my neck and shoulders and finally surgery. Moving on three years and my life has changed in many ways.

Although I work at the same school, it is now part time and a new role when I enjoy but was hard to give up the area I had specialised in over 25 years. I mobilise with the aid of various differently coloured crutches, and known a rather funky folding electric scooter that lives in the boot of my motability car. I've had countless hospital appointments, soon a range of different health professionals and take a cocktail of drugs each day. As well as physical, the cost has been emotional with the loss of some of the people who had been closest to me and also some friends. I get depressed, and fed up with the pain at times. And there are many times when if I,m honest I feel jealous of people in the same age group or older than me who were living the life I had been planning for and hoping for.


Life is not all doom and gloom. I have true friends who I can rely on and who have supported me and continue to support me and I have made new friends whom I may not have made if it hadn't been for this. Although I cannot be the grandmother to my now three grandchildren that I had planned to be I am the best grandmother to them that I can be and the best tonic is their hugs and kisses and murmurs of "love you Granny", my daughter despite having her own issues is always there for me and a bonus of going part-time has been I've been able to go over and visit her and the children much more frequently.

But what triggered my "yes I can" moment yesterday?

I have found a new hobby, a new craft and now although in its very early stages, a new craft business. Yesterday I had a fantastic day with one of the local groups I am a member of, E17 Designers selling at one of their markets. What's I'm making designing and selling now is much more unique than anything I was doing before in terms of patchwork and quilting. What started as therapy for my hands and fingers has become so much more and the ironic thing is that if it wasn't for the past three years Gilli's flowers would not exist. This was my "yes I can" realisation, I can design, make and sell items that people want to buy and that they love. I have been able to use my love of design, colour creating and flowers in a whole new way. It's not always easy, I can't do as many markets as I would like to, but for me, yesterday, and now planning for my next event is a real,


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