I hope this post finds you well.
I must apologize for having a blog and not blogging, I must admit, I have found it difficult to keep up with everything this year.
I am hoping that next year will be a little easier health, situation and organisation wise and that I will be able to post more on the website, blog and Facebook pages.
I just wanted to pop in quickly, say hi to you all and also to say thank you to a fabulous group of people that I worked with recently.
Friday 6th December 2019 was going to be great; it was the day that the Wyndham City Council was holding their International Day Of People With Disability market/fun day and I had been invited to showcase my work as a stall holder with disability/chronic illness.
So, I happily accepted (of course).
The day came, and sitting in the garage in the black plastic crates I use for markets etc, were copies of my three children’s books, some anthologies, matching greeting cards and audio books. There was another box of painted canvases and place-mats and of course, there was a box with my hand painted pendants and such.
It was a lot of stuff and I knew that I would feel it later, after packing and unpacking the car, set up/pack down and the like. I could only get on with it and hope that my body would be kind to me.
Watching the sky throughout the day, I wondered how this was going to go. The market was outdoors and for me, with multiple chronic illness, weather can make or break my month (I wish that was a joke but alas...)
If I go out and the sun is bright/hot, it causes me to break out in something called a Butterfly rash and is likely to cause a flare of my symptoms. If it is cold and/or windy, my hands a feet turn blue (Raynauds) and I may end up with an asthma flare. It really is a roll of the dice on any given day, so doing anything outdoors for a length of time, can cause some anxiety. The life of a person with Chronic Illness really is a juggling act between want and need in most situations. You must decide, is it worth it?
Is sitting at the beach with a coffee worth the after-sun symptoms? Is it too dusty today to leave the house? How long can I be out there today?
Some days, it is just best to stay indoors but I was looking forward to this market and the networking that might happen during the event.
So, Friday afternoon, I loaded up the car, and covered myself in sunscreen. Making sure I had my medication and any emergency supplies I might need; I made my way to the Civic Centre in Werribee.
With traffic in this area getting worse and it is taking so long to get even 1k from the house, I made sure to set off early and got lucky with the traffic, it was moving!
Making it with half an hour to spare, I had time to sit and rest before going in search of someone who could help me to find my table.
It was not hard to find someone to direct me. The event staff had fluro vests and large signs around their necks ‘Need Help?’. I loved that the staff were so visible and that there were so many of them. This made everything so much easier.
There are markets where I could really do with someone to help me unload/set up, pack up and reload the car but this day, I felt okay and could do it on my own (yay). The event staff were ready, waiting and willing to give me (and other people) a hand if needed.
Reaching my stall spot, I was surprised and very grateful to see that the lovely organiser Paula, had put a marquee over my table.
After me explaining to her that I could not be in the sun for any length of time and that I was worried about it, she had kindly gone out of her way and set up this proper cover for me.
Paula, if you read this, thank you so much! It made me feel good to be looked after so well and I appreciate it.
Surprisingly (I was very surprised) the sun kept itself hidden while I set up my table, and instead, it’s cousin.. the wind decided that it was time to paaaartay.
I must say, that after only doing indoor markets, it was difficult to set up a table of books and light canvas paintings, while the wind was doing a boogie around the site. After excluding some items and weighing things down, I managed to get myself set up and ready to go.
Multiple times during set-up, I had an event staff member come over and check that I was alright and ask if I needed help or anything to make things easier.
How awesome is that?!
From being given a different chair when I needed it to be given some things to weight my books and prevent them from flying off like Mary Poppins, everyone was so sweet and so accommodating.
Set up and ready when the 4pm start time came around, I sat behind my table and took in the sights of the celebration. The effort that the organisers had made to truly make it accessible and a celebration of people with disability was awesome.
The large stage had a ramp, the event staff walked around checking on participants and visitors and my favorite part? Two women stood on the stage (and sometimes in front) and interpreted everything on the stage; In AUSLAN, for those who needed it.
I watched as the two women took turns signing the announcements, the speakers and all the songs (so clever). It was great to see and made it a lot easier for people like me with hearing difficulties.
Though I am not fluent in sign and am still learning, I was able to get the general idea of what was happening, by watching these women. Otherwise, I would not have had a clue as I could not hear what was happening.
There was also a quiet room inside and away from the action, should anybody with sensory challenges, need a place to chill out for a while.
The performers on stage, were people with some type of disability, which was awesome. It is great that they were able to bless us all with their talent and passion.
The other stalls were awesome, and I enjoyed chatting to participants and visitors.
I realise this post is getting long and will wrap up shortly, but I just wanted to share how amazing this event was.
I sold some books (yay), I sold some pendants and made some great connections and I hope I am given the chance to participate again next time.
It was great to see a disability service provider (GenU) bring some clients to enjoy the event and there was a stallholder from The Men’s shed names Collin, who was a joy to be sitting next to. He sold and showcased his pottery creations with pride and and so he should, they were gorgeous.
I was just a fabulous event. The day was so well organised and run and I really wish more people had known about it.
I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to Paula from Wyndham City Council for looking after me so well, making sure that I had a great afternoon/evening and for putting on such a inclusive, accessible, fun event in honor of those with disability.
Also, a huge THANK YOU to everybody else who helped to set up, run and pack up the event, you all made it an awesome day.
It was amazing and I love every second (even the wind).
I hope to see you all at future events.
I will sign off now, but will post again soon. I am working on a series of blog posts on the topic of writers/artists with disability and hope to have that up soon (ish).
Keep checking back and see you soon!