Beautiful Things to Do, Because…. is my way to catalogue all the lovely things happening in the world and to share ideas for having a delightful week. Enjoy and hop on Twitterto share your beautiful things with me.
We all have an opportunity to make our world a better place. No matter our situation we can have a great impact on “our world” and the “whole world”.
As someone recovering from illness I’ve been lucky that my health has improved enough that I can shape my plans around working with street children in the future. I am determined that this world will be better because I have been part of it. There are so many more issues though and ways we can change our world.
Here is a tiny snap shot of just a few things you could do… But with a little creativity your influence can extend far even from your own bed.
Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of chocolate? Make it your thing that every bar of chocolate you eat is fair trade.
This means the farmer has been given a fair price for their produce as well as no child labour has been used. Also look out for fair trade coffee, tea and bananas to go the extra mile. Read about fair trade products and stockists here.
Attitude of gratitude
Encourage someone for being themselves.
Today make the time to stop and think about what you love about the people around you. Then make a point to tell them.
Sign a petition.
Together our voices have power, if we stand together we can bring about change on issues.
There are hundreds of petitions out there which can have a positive effect on people so think about the issues your passionate about and I’m sure there will be petitions worth signing. If you want to go that bit further there is an app called nudge that will point out petitions worth signing as they come up.
Don’t forget the day job.
There are many people we take for granted… Nurses, shop assistants and waitresses to name just a few… How about you make it a habit thanking them and wishing them a good day.
Letters are a beautiful way to tell people you care, how about you write a letter to an old friend, a struggling friend or a sick friend telling them they aren’t forgotten. Nothing brightens up a day quite like a letter (or a Healing Box).
Invest some food.
Food banks are becoming increasingly common and sadly increasingly necessary. How about each week you buy a tin of food to donate to help a family when they really need it.
So the question is what are you going to do first to change the world?
If you’d like more information about the amazing street child project I am lucky enough to be part of then go to www.streetchildworldcup.org.
Laura Westby Healing Boxes Co-Founder, Support worker and general awesome person.
Laura is a support worker, working with people with disabilities. She’s also involved in supporting Home of Faith orphanage in Andhara Pradesh. She’s currently working with street children in Rio and on her way to setting up an orphanage.
This post may seem insulting, the information shared so obvious, it doesn’t bear repeating, even. But what’s truly insulting, to me, are the comments people with disabilities receive.
Lots of people don’t know how to speak to people with disabilities; this is evidenced by the fact that every person you meet with disabilities has a stock of conversational faux pas stories they’ve experienced.
From being told “Oh, yes, my aunt died of that” upon sharing the news of a new diagnosis…
To the classic ‘speaking to someone’s carer over their head’ moment.
I know it’s normally eyes up, but sweetheart I’m down here, so eyes down please. There’s no point addressing my assistant/carers, they will blank you until you speak to me as you should.
There are so brilliant examples of what NOT to say here and here. However, I strongly believe we can’t complain without suggesting a solution.
(Also, I wanted a blog post we can send people to when they say things that are inappropriate.)
:: What did you do to yourself then? (Would you believe me if I told you it involved a tiger, a tightrope and a freak accident in a trapeze-outfit with spangles?)
It’s important to share our experiences, but no one often says what others can say. Let’s change that.What would you like to hear?
What can be said will vary from person to person, and situation to situation. There is a difference between what you say to a friend and what you say to a stranger.
Being ill is no guarantee of saying the right things to someone with a different impairment to ourselves.
Most importantly – talk to the person not the impairment. If you couldn’t see a limp, or an amputation, what would you naturally say? Say that.
What people can say:
:: Whatever you would say if the person you are talking to were not ill.
:: Don’t panic or worry if you say “I’ll be seeing you” to a blind person or “well, must run along” to a wheelchair user, they are standard forms of speech, your panic is more of a problem than what you said.
:: How are things with you? Rather than “how are you?”
Ask about the person rather than going straight to health. Talking to a person, not a prognosis.
:: Being specific when offering help can sometimes help. Open questions can sometimes seem like too much to answer. Asking ‘What do you need?’ might be too overwhelming, but a better option could be ‘Would it be helpful if I did _____.’ e.g “I’d be happy to walk the dog, pick what you need up from the supermarket, collect any prescriptions or grab some books/ DVDs from the library for you. Or let me know what you need.”
:: Be realistic in what you can offer rather than simply saying “let me know if you need any help/ if there’s anything I can do let me know.”
As then the ill person has to work out a) if you mean it and b) how much you are willing to do – it’s no good asking you to drive them to hospital in 9am traffic if you were thinking of bringing them a pint of milk. Give some suggestions, it gives the ill person an idea, something to say yes to now and they don’t have to desperately rack their brains thinking of what they need doing.
:: Take cue from the person you are talking to. If they don’t talk much about their health, don’t push it. If they want to confide about their struggles, listen. Active listening – reflection and paraphrasing. If they are being upbeat and active, go with it. Close friends can enquire to the underneath, strangers – don’t assume. Take your cues from them. If they talk a lot about their health, you can probably join in.
:: Don’t assume, around visible or invisible disabilities. Looking well doesn’t mean feeling well and looking ill doesn’t mean they aren’t super happy they got out of the house and even dressed.
:: Checking in – “How are you doing? Do you need to rest now? I’ll come back again.” Acknowledgement is different to assumption.
:: Toni Bernhard suggested “If you need to cancel at the last minute don’t worry. I’ll understand.” No need to reply, is another wonderful thing to read on a cheery card/letter/email. It lets the ill person enjoy the communication without guilt or pressure.
:: “Would you like to hear about what happened to me?”
Sometimes people want to hear of your adventures sometimes not. I wanted to hear about everything except education, rock climbing and baths, all of which I missed too desperately and painfully. But hearing adventures and news meant I could tell my husband stories too. I had conversation and was included and connected. People brought back maps and photographs, taking me around their holiday by description. It was inclusion and I needed it.
:: “Have you got a policy on research/treatment plans? I’ve come across something which might interest you.”
This is controversial. I contend that to give out random advice – seeing a person with a cold in the street and suggesting echinacea is irresponsible – they could have an allergy to ragweed, marigold or daisy and echinacea would be contra-indicated. A person cannot prescribe without information and qualifications.
Do you want to be offered information? Where do you stand?
:: If they achieve something, don’t automatically put it in context with their health overall. If they manage to walk further than usual, celebrate it for what it is now, as they may not want to focus on the overall trajectory of their illness and think about the big picture.
Check out the wonderful Esme Wang’s guide to talking to people about mental health here and Toni Bernhardt’s fantastic article on what people with chronic illness want to hear.
How many times have you been asked these questions and fumbled for an answer? Maybe yourresponse revealed more than you wanted to. Or maybe you just opened your mouth and nothing came out as you looked on, stunned that someone could be so rude.
I know these questions all to well. As someone living with a health challenge (as I do), it’sinevitable that you will be asked about your health from strangers, acquaintances, and lovedones.
It doesn’t have to be this way
What if I told you that you could craft a response to their probing questions that would freeyou from being defined by your illness or disability? What if your answer could be a micro-revolution, an education, and an elevation all in one? Download your free sample here.
“The options when one is unwell and it seems like all of the options have dried up.” – Esmé Wang
You know those days when you just feel awful? Maybe you are in a pain flare, perhaps your joints are swollen and painful because of the rain (me, today), or you have a migraine or anxiety is tearing you up right now. Bad day – it hurts.
I believe in our power to affect change by our actions.
But some days you just aren’t feeling good. The type of not-good that rest/yoga/meditation/medication/your healing modality of choice isn’t making any better.
You work really hard on your health, you know that when you do the right things for your body, you feel better – mostly.
But it’s the ‘mostly’ that’s the issue. And on days when your cherished methods aren’t shifting the struggle then it’s time to re-group.
On days like this, I just keep saying to myself, ‘you don’t have to want to do it (eat/yoga/get dressed/wash/work) you just have to do it’. I realise that if I will be feeling yucky whether I’m slumped in bed or on the computer/showering/gardening, then I may as well be somewhere other than bed, while I can be.
To clarify: I’m not talking about pushing through the pain. I’m not talking about productivity, pressure and ignoring your body. I’m not talking about an acute illness, or even a minor flare up, where rest and care will ameliorate the systems, when stopping is allowing our body to repair and heal.
For some of us, the ‘bad days’ seem to last forever, and no matter how much we rest, juice, stretch, it’s not getting better, or at least not fixing us. Adjusting to life after a health change, trauma or accident is a huge challenge. We can’t do things the way we used to. But we still want to do things – months in bed is boring – and we can.
We can, in fact, work well. It’s a matter of learning to to work with our body where we are at the moment.
Maybe you need more breaks, to work lying down, help to marshal your scattered thoughts into an actionable plan, support to work even with the anxiety.
By doing the work in front of us, as best we can, in this moment. By listening to our bodies, we can discover what we need.