Monday, 22 May 2017

Journey to NOAH CON 2016 :: Writing About Albinism

That's right, there was session on this too! At the NOAH CONFERENCE 2016 we had the privilege of attending a panel with two published authors who have written books where albinism is at the fore front of the plot. One of them was Canadian, the other American.

I was able to score a short interview with the kind author who has had pieces published in the New York Times (also known as every writers dream aside from a multi-book deal!) and how inspiring was the experience.

I have shied away from writing about albinism for most of my life, I know right; stop stating the obvious  Liz! Seeing these women who both have children with albinism, who have had to be their own advocate, research and struggle to find the best situation for success while their children cannot had me thinking...I listened to excerpts from their books, watched as they let readers into a very personal experience for which few have any scope of reference.

So much of my NOAH CON experience was spent coming up close and personal with an understanding of representation's importance. It was time to put my own experiences to work helping others. If we who live rare lives do not make it our mission to share the way we see the world we are left with a world that continues to birth a populous that feels very much alone in a crowded room. We must challenge this complaint with change in whatever way at our disposal.

So, dear readers, here we are at the end of my NOAH CON recap series.  Full circle, a writer went of to a conference sponsored by locals who saw the power and importance of education to be gained from going. Her life was changed with every conversation and realisation she had there. She came home to her small island and wrote about it in hopes to pass on the experience, the change it made within her and without to someone out there, in some way or another, small or large.

Maybe I spent months documenting this entire experience and have not made an impact in anyway on anyone who has come across it. If I did, be sure to leave me a little comment below, share these posts with people you know who need to understand that different is not shame, it is rare and valuable and you are worth being here, just do something with that privilege, small or large. Even if all you do is share the truth of a value in your rare life.

Thank you for reading my words. Let's go on to even greater things in the future.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Journey to NOAH Con 2016 :: Meeting Seniors with Albinism & What Honey Taught Me.

I am an educator by profession and as an educator I have learned to love learning on many levels. When I first saw Honey, she was in a bright red t-shirt and a beautiful bright lipstick. Her eyes were lined perfectly (i saw em when she got closer be quiet and pay attention to the story) and she had a sweet engaging smile. 

I found myself in another situation where I was staring without realising it. I watched her approach and though ah look at this beautiful brave woman in a fabulous red lip. Then she said hello. Obviously, I had to complement her lipstick. She said 'thank you, I did it myself and I did my lashes and my brows' 

Now Honey has a pretty southern accent ( my favourite ) a gorgeous face and a pleasant engaging demeanour. So talking to her was just as immediately captivating to me as seeing her. Her captivation does not lay simply in the superficial, in fact, as soon as she began talking I was drawn in by much much more intangible awesomeness.

Honey oozes capable and resilient.

She was at the conference with her daughter. They were dressed in red to easily identify each other in a crowd. Given what I mentioned about loosing children with albinism here I'm sure you can appreciate the foresight. Honey's daughter came up and it became immediately clear to me that I was dealing with a multi generational string of strength and fortitude. While I was busy being impressed with their compliments and achievements, they kept pulling more and more out of their sleeve! Don't think that stopped me from being even more impressed either.

I don't know how we managed it but I learned so very much of their life story in that short conversation in a conference auditorium. I learned not just about what she had done but that she could do it and I was hooked. Confidence and capability so rarely come as a pair I knew it was a blessing to be fortunate to be able to meet and talk with them, sharing in their experience even if it seemed so much by silliness and chance that we met.

When I speak of Honey I speak of my gorgeous, capable, luxury car drag racing, business co-founding, dog training, horse riding, make up mastering, loving mother and motiving friend.  

Honey is amazing!  Not just because of what she has done, not just because of what she can do but also because she has raised a family of strong independent individuals with the same attitude of getting it done. Ladies and gentlemen that is what successful parenting resembles. My friend Honey reminded me that the world is not just big, it is waiting to be seized by anyone willing to adventure. Regardless of our hardships, life is ripe for us all. Just ripe in different ways. Success and fear look different on everyone.

I spent a lot of time with Honey and her daughter Dona who reminds me merciless of the same thing. Dona and I sat at the front of the trolley car together and watched it go down a steep incline. Now I do not like heights, with my depth perception remember everything seems higher than it actually is that's why I stay getting my holes and my shadows mixed up. Dona sat with me in a moment of both fear and awe and reminded me of the lesson that had gotten me to the conference in the first place.  

Staring down that incline, as we descended at an angle? Dona reminded me that awe and fear co-existence and that's perfectly okay. I mean, it's scary and all you can imagine in the moment but after you live through a thing, you realise that it's only big before you do it.

I can still see the scene so clearly now, looking down that incline from the front of the trolley, my heart is my throat for so many reason. One because what the heck was I thinking by doing this?! Two, I'm so glad I'm alive right now. 

It had been said that it is only with the reality of dying do we appreciate life itself. Honey is not at the end of her life but she sure has lived a lot of it fully, actively with value, planning and precision. Honey reminds me that it is living life that makes it sweet.
me with Honey, yes I know it's blurry but i love this photo because it is truth!

Four days later I went back to New York and bought myself my signature red lipstick. 

Mine is Mac's Lady Danger, not Ruby Woo like every other woman I know seems to love and swear by. My Mac signature red is Lady Danger. Red is a bold unapologetic lip and on these lips of mine built from black heritage against porcelain skin?! They're more than conspicuous. Sometimes I still get it all smudgy round the edges but you know what? Life is smudge round the edges!

After Honey, I've never worn my red in remorse a day since and I don't intend to so do. Think it's too bold, too alive? Tough, look away because life is worth living and red lipstick is worth wearing, give me full lips and a full life any day of the week, red lipstick and all!

Peace. Love. Your very own Signature Red.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Journey to NOAH CON 2016 : Taking a self defense class with albinism.

Taking a self defense class as a person with a visual impairment is one of the most empowering thing I have done in a long time.

I have been harassed on many levels in my life, I have been accosted in the street where everyone can see, I have been followed and grabbed and laughed at while it all happened. Yes, right here, in my beautiful country, I have had many female friends who have been accosted likewise and many male friends who have shrugged and suggested that we just don't go to those places.

Except sometimes those places are in the middle of the capital where you take the bus home.

Unfortunately, usually when I speak of this what I'm told is that this is normal. Even if I accept that it is normal to be publicly violated in my country I will never accept that it is right. Now by now you must know that I am a Christian and for me part of that Christianity means standing up and saying NO to something when I am presented with the notion that normality equates right.

I woke up very early to take that self defense class and one of the things I learned from itouch self defence is that those things, being harassed, leaves physical residual affects as well as the type you cannot see.

I had to be told so many times by my instructor to calm down, to go slowly, that this was practice so I need to be careful or I would mistakenly hurt someone. My reactions were involuntarily serious every time I had to conduct a mock exercise due to being involved in the real thing far too often.

I think every person should learn to defend themselves from assailants who society empowers through acceptance of their actions into thinking that they have a right to take security from others.

Taking a self defense class was one of the best things I did at the conference and I would do it again and again if given the opportunity. Then, I would teach it to my daughters because if I live in a world that tells me I should expect a man to hurt me, I will make it a world where I will know the quickest and most effective way to make him fail at it. Then, I will teach it to my daughters. Oh, and for the sake of equality let me say, that goes for if the world tells me that i should expect a woman to hurt me too. Unfortunately statistics are still in the majority of a male assailant and so are my experiences and the experiences of my loved ones.

Also, shout out to my male friends who have not averted their eyes when I have been accosted. Shout out to the ones who have said no when the notion has been suggested.Thank you for being part of the solution.

 My trip to the NOAH Conference 2016 was made possible by sponsorship from: The Writers Association of Grenada, Kallalou Designs, The Office of the Prime Minister and various good Samaritans who insist upon not being named;their kindness clearly knows no bounds!
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