So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu

Dear reader,

When I first began writing this blog, more than five years ago, I did so in a dare with myself. I challenged myself to write about my experiences of growing up with a facial disfigurement, and to share my writing freely with the world. Why?

To begin with, I felt a deep-seated need to express my authentic self, having spent half a lifetime hidden beneath a veneer of intellectual acumen, academic success, and a wardrobe filled with unused designer bags. I also hoped that by sharing my experiences, I might provide some comfort to others living with a facial disfigurement, or parents of children born with cleft lip and palate.

Ultimately, I wanted to use my writing as a vehicle for expressing the most fundamental truth I’d discovered about myself and everyone else; that we are all born whole regardless of what we look like, our intellectual capacity, our accomplishments and abilities.

Over time, other topics inevitably made their way into my blog; my thoughts on politics, disability, climate change, etc., but at heart, my writing was always guided by that fundamental principle of being born whole.

Five and a half years after I posted my first blog post, it’s time for me to bid farewell – for now at least. Over the last few months, the urge to write and to express myself in the world, has gradually been replaced by a deeply felt need to go within; to sit in silence with myself, and to release myself from any expectations of accomplishment. I will no longer write a weekly blog, but if and when I feel the urge to write and share something I think matters, then I will do so.

The events of 2020 have most certainly influenced this development of mine. The stress of living through a pandemic has compelled me to take a fresh look at myself and my way of life. One thing I know for sure is that I don’t want to go back to ‘life as normal’ when the pandemic finally comes to an end.

The toxicity of social media, the dehumanising othering that is being driven by politicians, media pundits and citizens alike, is slowly but surely tearing the fabric of society apart. And it breaks my heart. All the while, consumerism, the sine qua non of economic growth, is not only destroying the planet, but it’s corrupting the human psyche as well.

Rather than preaching to others, however, I know I need to focus my attention on cleaning up my own house, addressing my own consumerist compulsions and judgemental attitudes. Be the change, Mahatma Gandhi said; well, in my case, it took a deadly pandemic to take that on board.

So be well, everyone; be kind to yourselves and each other, and, in the words of my favourite Swedish pop band Roxette, ‘listen to your heart.’

We’re not your entertainment

The British TV soap Emmerdale recently announced plans to broadcast a storyline about a couple terminating a pregnancy after being told their unborn baby has Down’s syndrome.

It soon became apparent that the show’s producers had failed to consult with Britain’s Down’s syndrome community before writing their story, which has since been strongly criticised for perpetuating societal prejudice towards people with Down’s syndrome.

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The Death of Halloween

Last week, while shopping for food with my ten-year-old, we bought a few bags of sweets and chocolate for Halloween. No one was allowed to taste any before the 31st, so I stored them away in my study.

Only, I couldn’t resist temptation one evening and stole a few pieces of individually wrapped chocolate. There was plenty to go round so no one would notice that I’d taken some. Except, my ten-year-old daughter did because she found the empty wraps in my wastepaper basket and suspected foul play. On discovering that a bag of chocolates had been tampered with, she immediately confronted me.

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The Hunger Games

I know I said I wouldn’t blog about politics, but I have to backtrack because it seems everything is political these days.

Yesterday 322 British MPs voted down a motion to provide 1.4 disadvantaged children in England with £15-a-week food vouchers during school holidays until Easter 2021. In other words, elected members of parliament voted against measures that would help alleviate food poverty among children in their own constituencies.

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Are you listening?

As a child, I used to love listening to stories about my parents’ youthful adventures, misbehaviours and the like, but my own children act as if my husband and I didn’t have a life before we became parents.

At the beginning of the summer, the 14-year-old exclaimed that when she grows up, she shan’t live a boring life like her parents.

“Sweetheart,” I replied, “our lives weren’t boring until we had children.”

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Sweat the Small Stuff

We’re in the middle of a deadly pandemic and my adopted home country is heading towards a disastrous no-deal Brexit, yet I am walking around the house with a smile on my lips and a spring in my step. Have I gone mad?

No, but I’ve discovered that whoever coined the phrase “don’t sweat the small stuff” got it completely backwards. What better way to deal with a big crisis than focusing on the small stuff?

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