Wow, it's quite a while since I last blogged! 2018 has certainly sent a few lemons so far. But, as they say, "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade" ... well, if only I could, hand coordination isn't on my side for that one, haha!
So, as it is April 1st (also April Fools Day!), the first quarter of 2018 is now done and dusted and positive things are to come! New and exciting things are coming to CP Teens UK, including a brand new campaign I am working on after a 'CP Teen', Hope, contacted the Facebook page and suggested the idea. So, as CP Teens exists to provide a voice to young people with Cerebral Palsy/physical disabilities, we are delivering Hope's fantastic idea and putting on a really exciting campaign ... watch this space!
Of course, we are now entering the time of the year for the famous CP Teens UK Wobble. Lots of 'wobblers' and their families & friends, including the 4-legged kind, descend on Chatsworth Park every year for a 5k accessible challenge.
You can visit the Wobble's event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/203134523579036/
The Wobble is the perfect accessible walk for everyone whether you're 1 or 101! You can walk, wheel or 'wobble' 5k - or, even 2.5k (there is a stop half way at Chatsworth House where you can purchase refreshments and swap to your wheelchair/chosen mobility aid if required - or you can swap on route!). All mobility aids are welcome, including RaceRunners. Got another charity you wish to support? All sponsors can be split. No minimum sponsor money required, it doesn't matter if you raise £1 or £100!
You can still register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Hopefully it won't rain ... as my hair turns into a frizz ball if it gets wet, which is particularly annoying when you cannot straighten your own hair! I definitely resemble Mia from the Princess Diaries...
Away from CP Teens, life is also pretty busy! On Friday, I head down to London. I am going to the Harry Potter Studios, which is really exciting! And, it's even better that I could bag a free ticket - CP Perks, haha! Although, sometimes I do think that perhaps the system needs rethinking. I know from organising CP Teens events, there are a lot of people (and I largely fit into this, most of the time) where it is essential for them to attend somewhere/something with a +1. But, there are some people who are able to attend things independently, and they do so on a daily basis. Yet, if they can blag a free entry on the basis of their disability for their mate, they will. I sometimes find it frustrating for the people who genuinely need that free +1 ticket. But, I suppose it would prove a very tricky, grey area that would most probably be very time consuming process for everyone involved to get to the bottom of who genuinely needs a free 'carer/PA' ticket and who doesn't.
On Saturday, I am in my first competition of 2018, which I am really quite nervous about for various reasons. I am very much aiming for my first GB selection in Berlin this summer. It has been my dream since I first saw the London 2012 Paralympics. I am now up against some tough competition, especially as now RaceRunning is officially a World Para Athletics event. I take some comfort from Andy always telling me that he totally believed in me. I sound like I'm blowing my own trumpet now haha, but I will take with me on Saturday the fact that I know he was so proud of me on the track, but even more so off the track ... whatever the time on the finish line, I know he would be chuffed and would be proud of me going down there and doing it ... but, maybe not so proud of my diet recently, oops!
So, the blog title 'Is it okay?...". Going back to the Wobble, the name always attracts a mixture of responses - mainly laughs! But, some people you can tell want to laugh, yet they're unsure as to whether or not it is appropriate to. My response? Yes, it's okay to laugh, and more to the point, please do laugh!
I take the mick out of myself all of the time. To me, what's the alternative - cry? And, what is life without a good laugh anyway? People who stand there awkwardly when I make a joke related to my Cerebral Palsy do my heading - I have cracked the joke, it's okay, you can laugh! I then get the occasional person trying to tell me that it's not funny as they're trying to be incredibly politically correct - it is funny, I have Cerebral Palsy, I cracked the joke about Cerebral Palsy, I am laughing!
To me it is totally okay to have a good laugh at the life situations we find ourselves in as a result of having Cerebral Palsy - and let's face it, there are occasions where things are pretty hilarious. Only the other day, I found myself having a go at Ping Pong (yes, you did just read that correctly!) and to be honest, I just looked like a bit of a mad woman trying to swat a fly, haha!
It was so funny! I just don't really see the point of being serious and straight faced in situations like this? There are so many times where I do get frustrated, but laughing can take the edge off of the situation. The other day, I successfully screwed off the lid of my water bottle. I knew I probably would not manage to then balance it on the side after I had took a drink from it, and surprise surprise, I knocked it flying. Initially, I gave a frustrated grunt, but then I shrugged, looked right at the water bottle lied across the floor in a pool of water and went "Ah well, didn't want water anyway, I wanted gin, so cheers!" and was sat there giggling to myself!
Regular readers of this blog will know the tone of humour it takes on throughout, which seems to be a hit with many. Whenever this blog is reviewed, the humour is always highlighted! To me, it's so important to be able to laugh at yourself. This is why I love programmes such as The Last Leg - they're definitely my kind of people and I would LOVE to go on the show to share a bit of 'disability banter'! I think laughing about disability (of course in the right context) somehow 'normalises' it and makes it more relatable to your average Joe.
I have many friends who have varying levels of Cerebral Palsy and when I receive texts from them highlighting situations that have been effected by having Cerebral Palsy, it actually makes my day! My most recent text was from Laura who had to prepare her own dinner one night as everyone else was out - I got a photo of a upside down plate on the floor with spaghetti and tomato sauce everywhere and the message "Laura - 0, CP - 1!", haha!
It is definitely okay to laugh.
But, is there ever a time when it's not okay to laugh? Yes, I would say so. My family and friends can laugh with me all they want, I fully encourage this. However, I do feel that the wrong 'kind' of laughing from people who don't even know you is wrong. What do I mean by the 'wrong kind' of laughing? So, for example, if I walked into say a bar or a restaurant and a person, or a group of people, who didn't even know me started laughing amongst themselves because they found it funny the way I had walked in or something. It probably sounds very hypocritical, but if my friends were laughing at me as I walked into a restaurant, I would genuinely be like "I've bought them up well!", haha - and most of them have Cerebral Palsy anyway, so my response would be "I'd like to see you walk in better!". I would know they are laughing with affection and love. But a group of strangers would obviously be laughing through spite and because they don't know the situation.
I would say ALWAYS encourage people that actually, it is okay to laugh. But, remind people not to laugh at situations from the outside!