Life is complicated and life is uniquely unfolding for each individual.
I can only hope to understand the one that I have been given.
I humbly never assume that I know the life of somebody else or what they are experiencing even if their life appears to be similar to mine. I took this journey of writing my ideas and thoughts to capture mine to assist me initially to cope with how disastrous my life had become since my accident.
My mental distraction took me out from myself and my everyday physical world as I was able to empty the contents of some of my emotional frustrations and disappointments. Initially, I did not see where that would take me. I didn’t want to see that far ahead because in my mind I could only see a more shadier and bleak future ahead if I did project myself forward in time… so I chose not to look instead.
I chose to walk one foot in front of another.
For those literal individuals, I don’t mean walk literally… I mean take one step at doing anything. This could mean writing one page of my story or one activity of rehabilitation or one day of dealing with an emotion or an experience from living with a major disability. Please allow me to use pictorial imagery and the associations of metaphors to introduce some ideas and awareness’s that I have as you read on through this personal journey. I feel the pictures and association that we draw from metaphors help to bring some beauty and unique perspective into a process of personal unfolding that would be confronting and sometimes dry and bitter from the cold reality that my world had become in those early days.
So for me, my life was just like putting one foot in front of another
and just walking somewhere different for the sake of walking.
The one step technique was for the goal to distract my mind from the life it was experiencing. I continued that one foot in front of another, slowly and steadily, routinely day in and day out… not with any specific goal and not with a master plan in mind. I never set out to write a book. It feels more like the book wrote itself as it sat snugly in my pocket and witnessed the journey I was undertaking. I could not see a master plan from that far down in my sadness and despair when initially grappling with my major physical injury. I just needed mobility. I just needed distraction.
Some of you may be meeting me here as you read for different reasons.
Some of you may have been living with major disability and are looking for some support… some answers… or a sharing from someone who is also on a unique path in life.
There may also be some of you who were drawn to read my writing because you were looking for personal inspiration that you may have heard that I may be able to bring to your life. I hope I don’t disappoint you.
It is not uncommon for people to meet me or witness my story and to walk away with an immediate sense of gratitude for their own life and the small features in that life that we take for granted. I don’t mind this-even though some days I do feel it was a big price to pay for this.
Some of you may be intrigued with how a man with such a profound physical impairment could have completed this task and are intrigued how I managed to pull this off… paralysed below the eyes with really only the functioning of one finger on a mouse button and a magnetic dot on my glasses moving the mouse around the computer keyboard. My speech is very weak and can only function at a word by word level with people who are very practiced at listening to me.
For those people interested in how I achieved this,
… the task of writing this book was not completed single-handedly and without disappointing you all…
I did not physically write it all either.
I used my best skill of all… I delegated to get help.
This task required the partnership between my Speech Pathologist, Katrine Elliott, my IT Consultant – Bela Lantos, my carers, and me.
Katrine is sometimes my secret ghostwriter behind the scenes and she does deserve to be acknowledged and recognized for her efforts in this partnership. Her efforts were not just in the typing up of material as I spoke the words as that could be done by anyone. Katrine and I have shared a great deal of knowledge about my journey as we have taken this leg of life together since she began supporting me 14 years ago in 1996 after I had been moved down to the Gold Coast and been introduced to my rehabilitation team. Katrine and my weekly sessions to rehabilitate my ability to communicate verbally and to swallow and eat stacked up over the years and Katrine came to understand, support and witness the process of change and recovery I was undertaking physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. There is also hours in preparing the documents for BLOG format, collecting images, proofing, and we do slave over an excel spreadsheet to keep current of where we are at.
I am supported by Bela Lantos, my IT Consultant, who has assisted to create the BLOG format and tricks that you are looking at now. Bela makes himself available online and also works offsite from my computer when necessary. He has developed the SEO to spread the seeds further and reach more people.
My carers assisted me in writing down my thoughts when I lay in bed with an aim to practice my speech as well. My carers helped to type some of this into word documents for me to utilise in the BLOG.
The process we undertook, that has resulted in this book involved applying for financial support through the Defense Department to develop my BLOGGING, website and internet business skills which partly involved the writing of an e-book. At the time we didn’t really understand the caliber of this material. The original goal was to develop skills for me in life to offer me an opportunity to have psycho-social benefits from the intervention. This was something to make my life worth waking up to each day. The idea was for me to develop skills and to learn about developing an internet business and writing on the computer that could possibly one day give me a chance to find a place in this world…
… at it’s best to draw in some income…
… earning money again being a goal
that would be seen as impossible
for someone in my circumstance.
Katrine and I were both elated to be given approval for this project which involved training in internet business strategies and the development of skills via an online membership program through Daryl and Andrew Grant-Our Internet Secrets, IT support, and weekly sessions with Katrine for a 2 hour period for therapy and to develop the material. This year was grueling as I developed severe bed sores that took 3 months to heal and kept me bedridden for so long and frustrated about the little benefit I got from “Our Internet Secret”. To move forward in the program-I had to have an e-book completed… when I was hard pressed to write a BLOG. The online membership entitlement expired after 12 months-and sadly-even after I wrote to mention my condition, I was not given a chance to do it again without paying for another year.
The mechanics of what unfolded would involve a week of me typing one letter at a time to draw together an issue, an idea or concept I wanted to discuss on the BLOG or e-book. I also had manuscript of my memoirs that I had written over the past decade which we were able to draw from. Katrine would then visit and we would discuss these issues and together which sometimes felt more like me listening as she unfolded ideas that flowed into a concept and then into something to capture in the writing. This was also my process work-my psychological therapy– which I was given very little of in my rehabilitation process like so many individuals.
She would then sit next to me using a faulty keyboard that would often miss the letter “d” and “s” and type almost fluently as she unfolded these ideas onto the page.
I would watch as this process happened and acknowledge and add information as necessary. The process itself was somewhat amazing to be involved with as it felt somewhat like our two minds where joined together. We also had many instances where Katrine would come into the session with a concept or theme to capture and would proceed to talk and talk as she does about that concept and being myself, I was often unable to interrupt and had to wait patiently until she finished. lol.
I would then open the document I had prepared for the day
and we would both sit in shock and wonder
that we were bringing in the same theme or topic.
We would ponder the concept of coincidence for a moment. This happened so many times that we just accepted it as part of our uniqueness and a gift to enable this project to come to manifest itself to be what it is today. After a while we just started believing and got on with the job. Katrine would also complete chapters at home independently based on some of these universal themes that people with major disabilities are experiencing. Her writing was based on her 18 years of experience as a Speech Pathologist working with many people’s lives and seeing their stories unfold but also in knowing personal details of my life. I would open these emails and read then with my jaw in a full open position in shock as it felt like she was inside my brain pulling my own words through. Now days, I am doing so much writing and we are challenged some days to remember who it is as our styles have merged.
This was an unbelievable experience for me to go through as some of this information was so secret to me that I had not shared with a soul because of the depth and the gravity of the information… but she had the courage to go there knowing that if it wasn’t correct or accurate or comfortable for me that I had the final call on what remained on the cutting room floor. We often described our writing as me providing the structure and Katrine providing the artistry over the top.
She also developed the “Ideas with Altitude – Nature Mysticism Passages that were then able to accompany the themes in this book (Ideas with Altitude).
Katrine usually was the one who unveiled the mystery and deeper insights as written into “21 Reasons Why You Want To Be Me. It was the process in our communication style and even my impairment that enabled this to happen. She describes it like it felt like a blank canvas for her to paint on by speaking and by writing. The silence and the uninterrupted flow of ideas enabled her thoughts to cascade down and down until that precious diamond was discovered under the layers of thought. Neither of us would have that morsel of information when we set out to write that session up. It would usually occur in the last few minutes leaving us hanging in a place like watching a TV series and the theme music comes up leaving you frustrated that you have to wait until next week to find out what happens next. We would often finish the session wondering if we didn’t write it up that we may not remember the details to capture it again. This happened so many times. It was often something fleeting that was difficult to grasp in the activity of the everyday happenings.
So for those of you that think that this book was scripted and planned at the beginning like a project…
… no chance…
… it wrote itself…
… as we took one step in front of the other just trusting it was taking us somewhere on a unique path that may not have been taken by many if ever.
In the opportunities we had in our sessions we had a chance to explore so much rugged territory which has been then woven together to make the tapestry that is this book today. The information and the ideas that we have brought forward for discussion and provided are our spin on trying to interpret the information before us for the sake of growth and awareness and recovery with the ultimate goal to find peace and contentment in a life that seemed to be such an injustice from the outside.
“Reasons why you want to be me” was our treasure chest of discovery after macheteing through lantana without a map for years. For us, it is intensely personal and sometimes has been exquisitely challenging to be this vulnerable to enter into places within the self that expose part of my personal journey and bring them to the stage for others to witness. It has been a book that required us to push through emotional boundaries of comfort to search for something deeper amongst feeling that others wouldn’t dare to experience on their worst day.
What happened for us on this journey together was often so intriguing and often even felt magical or mystical.
As we did take these risks and we harnessed courage we didn’t know we had, we observed that we too were changing along the way.
The book was changing us.
We were starting to see the world through a different perspective for those periods we were under its spell. It felt like being uplifted to a summit after writing a chapter and holding a presence of wonder for mere minutes before our time was up and Katrine had to rush off to her next appointment and we both resumed to our everyday life. Sustaining this state of wonderment and grace would be the ongoing challenge.
It was a slow moving process. It was not a quick fix and I believe now that I had to allow this process to be a slow cooker left on low for a long time for the tenderness of that meat to be the result of that process. This is what we now understand as the integration process of the changing that was occurring in both of us. To be clear, what I mean is that in evaluating my journey as you read it, I don’t think there was any escape hatches to speed up the process or magic port holes to remove me from the pain and suffering that I was to go through over the years of dealing with the circumstances of my disability. This may not be the same for everyone…but it was this way for me.
That may be difficult to hear for some of you
that are just starting on the journey of living with major physical injury or life struggles.
I suppose the blessing I have to offer is that if someone spoke to me or gave me these words when I was there in the beginning I may have rejected the information. I may not have been able to see that this could be possible from the viewpoint of where I was at the beginning. It may however have left me with some direction and some hope in the future and an ability to witness my journey with less suffering along the way as I acknowledge these parts inside me changing and developing as a result of that suffering. Don’t misunderstand me…if you can avoid suffering in your life-then great… but when you are in a place where you are unable to have that choice to avoid it – then it does assist to reinterpret it as something useful or better than just what it is – pain… if something can grow from that experience – why not water it?
In providing this introduction to you about the development and mystery behind our book, I hope you enjoy and gain from following my footsteps for just a little while. I am comfortable in that this may not be everyone’s cup of tea and that there may be many individuals that may just not be able to grasp or digest some of this information. Some may find it hideous and uncomfortable to read. That was not my intention in writing this book. My intention was to be true and authentic to my journey. To be honest in my truth no matter how painful or vulnerable a position that placed me in. I have learned that
truth changes depending on the perspective you are at.
My intention was also to lead people through the journey of the darkness to find that glistening diamond and that treasure that may not be readily seen from the surface as the most rarest stones are deep within the earth… we know that. Thank you from the depth of my heart for reading my story because that means so much to me. To have brought this book through so others could experience and/or benefit.
It makes my entire life journey shine with value and worth.
It places me in a state of contentment that maybe we are all given our lives of perfection if we could only just find what that is and what it should be for. Sometimes it is in a later chapter of our book and we just haven’t got that far yet.
I am truly finding mine.
Written by Katrine Elliott – for Peter Blundy