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  • Jacqueline Le Sueur

Just 6 Weeks Less Abled : S29, S30 + S31 | On the subjects of mindfulness & awareness

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

It is Monday. The day has dawned bitterly cold, wonderfully sunny and with a white frost casting its icy fingers across the lawn, the fallen leaves and on the panes of the greenhouse. I love mornings like this. They are filled with hope.

Saturday was a day I was so looking forward to. I woke early, excited, because in less than 2 hours I was being picked up by another accomplice to be sprung from the house for a trip out into The Big Wide World. 30 minutes later I got a text message from my friend, cancelling because she wasn't well. I burst into tears. And I mean 'burst'. Tears falling, each one representing the crushing disappointment I felt, even though I knew my friend could not help being ill. Momentarily I didn't know what to do with myself. Sounds crazy I know but this outing was so much more than spending much-valued time with a dear friend. But, what is, is. Sit at my kitchen table and feel sorry for myself, getting crosser and crosser by the second at the plaster cast encasing my still very painful, healing toe joint that is rendering me immobile or do something to change my world?

I messaged another treasured friend ... one who I was going to ask if she wanted to go out on Sunday as she usually cycles on a Saturday. I'd've liked to have gone out both days but almost all of my friends are with partners and family at the weekend so it was a choice...stick with asking my friend out on Sunday as I had planned or ask her to jump in at the last moment on Saturday. This latter was a risk, you see, as this friend cycles every Saturday. However, as I have coached numerous people over the years, if you ask and someone says no you are no worse off than before you asked, so you may as well ask anyway. I did and by great good fortune she had decided not to cycle.

Jailbreak #2 happened at just before 10am on Saturday under a grey and gloomy sky that occasionally spat out raindrops. Matter not! I was out thanks to my accomplice and what an eye-opening adventure it turned out to be.

First off, where to go where I didn't have to walk too far and where I could sit without risk of my foot being banged and bumped? A local tourist attraction and honey farm was the answer. We neither of us had been there for brekkie before and its restaurant is cavernous. The road in was diabolical - more potholes than a chunk of Gouda cheese, service questionable but the brekkie was tasty, there was plenty of room, few people and it was very toasty warm & bright inside. We enjoyed it, me especially. Under normal circumstances the lackadaisical service and incorrect orders would have bugged me however I surprised myself when this time they were but passing niggles. Being out & in company was all this was about!

I needed suet blocks for the birdies and a pair of No6 bamboo knitting needles so after we had finished brekkie my accomplice dropped me at the bottom end of our covered pannier market and went off to wash her car whilst I waddled through the market to acquire my purchases. Now, this distance is about that I cover when I go for my daily constitutionals up the street I live in. However this time my path was littered with people most of whom seem to have left their eyes and their proprioception at home. There am I in odd-shaped open shoes, foot in a cast, bent over, waddling from side to side supported by my crutch. If I'd've had a quid for each time I had to ask or cry out for people to watch out where they were going both our breakfasts and my market purchases would've been paid for.

I am always watchful when I am amongst people as a stray elbow or hand inadvertently flung into my tummy by mistake doubles me over & causes a deal of pain. What I had not realised is just how much I 'dance' to avoid people. At the moment I cannot and it was very scary. Again, it is that lack of awareness for the less-abled that this series of writings is all about that was to the fore again.

It was lovely, all that said, to see another part of my world that I see almost every day and haven't for a month and I am so grateful that my accomplice stepped in last minute and assisted in Jailbreak #2. You know who you are ... thank you!

The rest of Saturday was spent napping and knitting, so exhausting was my adventure. As tired as I was I felt happy. It was a nice feeling.

Yesterday should've been Jailbreak #3 and one I was really, really looking forward to as I was being sprung out and taken to see my gorgeous god daughter to share a slice of birthday cake. I was looking forward to it all day but in mid-afternoon I received a text saying time had run out and it would happen instead on Monday, today. I hope it does. I rarely see my god daughter. She is a sweetheart. But more of her tomorrow after I have seen her later this afternoon!

It was a weekend of a rollercoaster of emotions, of highs and lows. Even after 31 days I am still not coping well mentally with this lack of independence that this less-abledness brings. When I let it frustrate me it really gets me down. I try not to wallow in it and do all I can to change things, however it really is a challenge. It is hard to explain how much it means when you have something scheduled in the diary to look forward to when you cannot get out to create differences in your world. I know no-one cancels without good reason and I completely understand when they do. I know that the people in the market were not deliberately looking to knock me over, walk into me or tread on my foot however their unconscious lack of awareness did take away the pleasure from an ordinary task usually so easily achieved and much enjoyed.

Mindfulness, awareness. Words that are splattered across the press and social media so much these days. Words usually written in relation to personal spiritual awareness and mindfulness. However I would argue that awareness of the mental health and emotions of others is also of utmost importance in this age of social isolation caused through physical less-abledness or living life through a screen, and is an awareness we should be cultivating and making time for too ... for our family and friends and colleagues and neighbours and strangers. I am not being critical or judgmental of anyone here, simply sharing my experience and perspective.

So easy to write; so hard to practise in a world where 'busyness' is everything, money is getting tighter and where it is so much easier and quicker to connect through a device. It is a very real conundrum and one that is a hard nut to crack, that's for sure.

Rescheduled Jailbreak #3 to see my god daughter has just been cancelled. My friend & accomplice is unwell. Onset of flu. I hope she feels better soon as flu is not fun.

Now ... what can I conjure up to make a difference to my world today instead?

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