Reaching for Inclusiveness

It could be you, it could easily be me or somebody you know. Autism, muscular dystrophy, poverty or any other similar living experience could happen to anybody. Nobody asks to be born with autism, to live with a muscle-wasting condition or live in poverty. My life in some way has been touched by the above.

My sister was born with autism, I’ve worked with those with learning difficulties and disabilities when I was a teenager at a local community college, and I grew up in poverty. Until you’ve been directly touched by one of these, it’s hard to comprehend the challenges and discrimination that someone and their families do go through, from indifference to bullying and harsh misunderstandings to the lack appropriate healthcare.

I believe education could go a long way to giving knowledge to people as to the different living, mental and physical conditions that are present within our societies. The education system and media can play a crucial part in raising awareness and inclusion.

And despite a sufferer’s different abilities and disadvantages, I’ve always been humbled and touched by those in poverty, with autism or a muscle-wasting condition… we make life complicated and they see it more simply. As a society it is our duty to uplift those in need and make everyone feel welcomed and included. We should embrace and fight for these causes as we do racism, gender equality or sexuality.

My family and I support the below causes because we believe everybody should be treated equally and societies should be designed around awareness, inclusion and needs of every citizen (both at home and abroad) regardless of a person’s condition and situation.

Care International UKhttp://www.careinternational.org.uk/
Muscular Dystrophy UKhttp://www.musculardystrophyuk.org/
National Autistic Societyhttp://www.autism.org.uk/

Nature is a fine thing and it’s worth protecting!

My family and I are completely nature nuts and nature indeed plays as a key theme in the novel that I am writing. Whilst society develops both in physical space and technology it appears that anything will be done to support the economy and its advancement. Our ancient woodlands, forests, local wildlife and environment are destroyed for money and profit, and an ever expanding population. We try our best to give nature a home in our garden, but this exercise alone is futile if wider initiatives are not supported.

It would be such a sad thing indeed if our future generations can not enjoy bug hunting, bird watching or even a walk in a woodland of silence. I don’t fear that the UK government will destroy all our wildlife conservations and woodlands, but I do fear that they will only become small pockets of spaces within growing urban landscapes and changing countrysides.

And then what… in the pursuit of profit we lose what it means to be human. For to be human is to be close to nature and the beautiful environment it provides for free. For the sustainability of humanity I believe it is imperative that people live in harmony with nature, protect (restore and create) precious ancient woods and forests, defend and create living landscapes for wildlife, and get all generations reconnected to the outdoors and less connected to the digital world.

I won’t rabbit on because these words will only being to fall on death ears and closed eyes. But I do ask every day that you do one thing with nature (go bird watching, listen to the morning bird songs, watch bees pollinate, take a walk in the park, sit underneath a tree and breathe). My family and I always have our best memories and scenery not when playing computer games or looking at man-made infrastructures, but when shelter building in the woods or walking in the forest. All these are free activities, but the experience is truly priceless with the changing seasons. We shouldn’t just aim to preserve nature, but rebuild and recreate it and live in harmony with it. Perhaps a challenge for aspiring architects, landscapers, designers, marketing and communicators, governments, educational institutions and of course parents and citizens.

The below organisations do some truly incredible work to protect nature for all our future generations. This is why my family and I are proud to support them!

RSPBhttp://www.rspb.org.uk/
Wildlife Trusts – http://www.wildlifebcn.org/
Woodland Trusthttp://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/
WWFhttp://www.wwf.org.uk

Novel Almost Complete & Writing Holidays

I took a long break from writing this year for no particular reason except for being busy with enjoying life and work. Or perhaps the writer’s fear of it not being worth revisiting. There are days I aim to write something, but after sitting at a computer all day for work my digital eyes and fingers are done for. On other days I’m out with the family having epic fun and too tired to even think about whether my character(s) needs fixing by the time evening draws near.

Instead I’ve taken the approach, I’ll write when I truly have time to and I’ll set time aside free from everything to write when time allows. Hence, my recent writing holidays have been born. In compliment to my usual days off from work and family time, each month I’ll take two days off from work and family to just write… either in the garage or at the library. Undisturbed writing with no internet connection, no dreary eyes or lost thoughts.

In the first two days I combed through my novel again and started reading J. R. R. Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring. A writer must always be reading (and a broad genre) and not necessarily in the same genre that he/she is writing in. My work and personal interests cover many reading genres already… so I’ve enlisted the help of Mr. Tolkien to revitalise my fantasy writing juices.

I feel that the novel (first of a trilogy) is almost in the right shape for it to be sent to a publishing agent. May the creativity continue to be unleashed without reservation and with fingers crossed.

Wish me luck!

Impact of Domestic Violence Can Last a Lifetime

Domestic violence is an issue that is close to my heart because my mother and I were victims of it for many years. I have experienced first-hand the destruction of how domestic violence can destroy relationships and families. However, it is still a pattern of behaviour that is often considered too taboo or not important within society. Its happenings would seem like a foreign world to those not exposed to this brutal act of destruction. The impact of domestic violence goes far beyond physical scars… for those abusive moments can be forgiven in false hope and love, and in order to claim respite, but the experiences never forgotten.

I remember times standing in the back garden shaking in fear. My mother and father were arguing again – being Jamaican my mother could dish out her share of words, but this could do nothing when greeted with a fist, kick or a knife – the neighbours came out and asked if I wanted to come inside their house. I knew if I did so this would give flame to the situation even more than it already was at that point. As if I would have taken some family secret and shared it with the community that didn’t already know what was happening. – Other times my mother would be sprawled across the floor… a punch, a kick, a push and when my father was drunk a scar left on my mother’s arm by a knife.

Many times I hid, other times I tried to protect my mother, which also resulted in myself being a part of the abuse. Sticking by my mother meant that I would often be the victim of domestic violence also. Once some teeth were punched out, another time ridiculed in front of guests. Yes, domestic violence is not just physical abuse, but also mental.

In time I grew immune to the arguments and fear of my father turned to hate. At times I would consider the benefits of suicide and even go so far as to try several methods. However, I loved life too much to follow through and most importantly I didn’t want to leave my mother behind. Other times I thought how I could best bring vengeance to my father. Many scenarios played out in my mind…. but alas I wasn’t about to go to some juvenile prison for him. So, we continued to stand up to him and eventually through collective effort and support we kicked him out.

Then came the after affects like some post-war syndrome. My mother’s self-esteem and love for life lost. We were all left emotionally scared (with some physical for myself), my siblings and I and my mother. We never trusted any man to be with our mother again and this resulted in us being indifferent to anybody that came into our mother’s life. My brother and I vied for male respect and authority. This caused us to clash physically and mentally too often for our mother to bear. The after affects of domestic violence lasted long after my father was gone… and only were buried when my family and I created physical space from each other and I (we) grew old enough to truly comprehend the situation and revisit old wounds.

Even now a piece of my father’s rage and my mother’s quick mouth rise up within me when disturbed and it has taken time, but I have learned to dampen and put to bed those flames through my many experiences (travel, work, friendships made, family) and habits (meditation, wing chun, walking, reading, etc.). My wife and children have been a major part of my transition into the person I am today. And my dear grandparents who showed me love in the darkest of times… I believe if it wasn’t for friends at school and my grandparents when growing up then maybe, just maybe, I might not be here today.

Of course there is more to the story, but it isn’t necessary to share it all. You can understand a lot from a little and there are many more worse cases. Domestic violence is real and its impact can last a lifetime for those directly and indirectly involved. The two charities below do amazing work and I wish I knew about them when I was younger… but then the world wasn’t so tech-savvy and such situations perhaps were thought not to be the meddling of others. Domestic violence is not just a victim’s problem, its ours as a society and something about it must be done when it is spotted. We must give a voice to those silenced!

Barnardo’shttp://www.barnardos.org.uk/
Women’s Aidhttp://www.womensaid.org.uk/

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