Ability

Today is the International Day of People with Disability. Listening to a story on the radio about Nas Campanella who usually reads the news for Triple J, a national radio station in Australia. She spoke of her experience as the first news cadet who is blind to be hired as a newsreader for the ABC, as part of a piece on International Day of People with Disability. She talks about being blind and using a cane to walk instead of a guide dog and that she also has another condition that affects the use of her hands, which means she can’t read braille.

The interviewer plays a section of audio that reflects what she hears when she’s reading the news (that she also compiles). It’s a speech program with a robotic voice reading the words of a document for the newsreel, as well as her own voice and beeps that indicate timing. It would take a lot to be able to manage all of those sound streams going on at once. Pretty impressive ability! She takes the words from a document that she hears through an automated reader that is virtually lifeless, into a human form. She brings life to it making it interesting to our ears.

It gave me a whole new appreciation for her work and made me wonder about what it might be like if we have robot or automated news reading. But she helps illuminate the distinction, the human element. I became curious about how much we really acknowledge this and about how many other listeners on this Sunday arvo radio show are making this connection.

Triple J is not a commercial radio station and is government funded through the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, it’s one that survived massive cuts to public broadcasting decades ago. Its audience is generally people under 40, so it may be an audience that does think about automation and humanity, or not, I really have no idea. I don’t know anyone else who listens to Triple J and I don’t really talk about the fact that I listen to it. I mostly listen to it for the news so hearing a story behind the newsreader is a bit of a treat for me. 

And to hear what this woman has overcome to get to where she is. It’s quite remarkable that she has used the skill of listening for a role that has thousands of people listening to her nearly every day of the week. She’s 26 so she was born at a time when using technology to help her through school was possible. Audiobooks and automated speech to text made it possible for her to have documents translated into a form that she could consume. Nas Campanella has a university degree and is also a motivational speaker.

On this International Day of People with a Disability, what can we do to be more inclusive and mindful? Does this challenge the way you see people with disabilities? They are much more capable than we expect, have more ability than we give them credit for. For me this challenges my own notion of what ability is about, valuing the contribution their abilities afford and what they can teach us about our own perceived limitations.

This is post 31 of 45 posts for 45 years.

Unnamed Emotions

Yesterday I was driving along Bell St to Fairfield. I saw a group of people with a banner and a painted wheely bin, a few people were holding signs and wearing t-shirts with the cause or statement written on them. I strained to see what it was about. I saw the words Manus and Mining. I think they were making a link between concessions made to get Adani mining in Australia, while we treat detainees in Manus in a subhuman way.

Image taken from media: Protesters from the Refugee Action Coalition hold placards during a demonstration outside the offices of the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection in Sydney, Australia, April 29, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray

I tooted my horn in support. I waved and did the ‘thumbs up’. A couple of them waved back. One person looked at me in disgust, anticipating that I wasn’t in support of their actions. Once he realised, I could see his face change, I was relieved to see he understood I was with him.

The interaction left me emotional. A sudden rush of emotion filled my body. I wanted to weep, instead of trying to understand it, and figure out if I was just proud or maybe feeling guilty for not joining them, I let my emotion be. As the second wave came a few moments later, I struggled to stay in what felt like a weird combination of pride and pain. I got curious about the wisdom it had to offer.

They were expressing their dissatisfaction about government actions by literally taking to the streets. Good on them! In response I felt the pain, I also felt proud of them. I felt the pain of all the people who are pissed off that our government is putting peoples lives in danger and letting dubious companies come extract minerals from our land. It’s infuriating. And as I gave myself permission yesterday, I felt the feeling. I felt the pride and pain in the same emotion.

Our language for emotions is pretty limited, and to describe the feeling isn’t an easy one. But it feels important to try. It feels important to name it however awkwardly, and imperfectly. Have you ever experienced that? Where you struggle to name what you felt? I’m curious if it’s similar or different to my experience.

 

This post is 24 in 45 posts for 45 years.

Trello

I have recently changed banks and I let my previous bank’s card lapse, a lot of my business payments are on it and I’ve had a few emails letting me know the card needs to be updated.

This is the best one yet. Makes me glad I have a paid account with Trello.

Hi Tathra Street,
We know that, sometimes, stuff just doesn’t go right.

We hope that’s not the case for you, and if it is, please come chat with us about what we can do to help. Unfortunately, your Trello account has been in arrears in the amount of $49.50 for the past month and is now disabled in accordance with our terms of service.

When you signed up for Trello, you provided us with a credit card ending in XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-3175. We have been unable to charge that card for the past 30 days.

To reactivate your account, use this link to add a new credit card to your account and we’ll automatically try to charge it:

Review Account

We want to keep your Trello account awesome: For more help, please reply to this email.

Thanks a bundle!

Trello Customer Team
support@trello.com

How good is that? I appreciate it when companies treat their customers as human beings.

 

This post is 20 in 45 posts for 45 years.

Review

I’ve been working on the Enterprising Wyndham Project for over a year and had my first performance review today. It was a relatively straightforward process. I was to fill in the sections and my manager adds their comments in discussion, she writes up the outcomes of the discussion and it goes on my file.

I have been working as a consultant and contractor most of the last decade, so it was the first time I’ve experienced a performance review in about as long. Even after working on the performance review cycle of a professional development program as a consultant, I could only speculate about what it was like.

I doubt I have a typical experience but I was glad to go through it. I was able to see the limitations of my thinking and the impact of the lens through which I look at work. Even though the organisation I work for is very progressive and has a strong desire to provide a good experience to their employees, I struggled to think of the professional development opportunity as a loyalty ploy. My manager helped me think about it in a different way.

Tho the work is year to year, and my contract started with a 5-month term, on some level, there’s a recognition that the organisation doesn’t offer a lot of career options. So they can offer development opportunities that will leave them better off than when they started.

She asked me “When we get to the end of year three, and you look back, what will you wish you had learned?” What came to mind was a conference I’ve attended for the last three years and it’s looking unlikely this year. She could see the link to my work in a way that I couldn’t. For me, it was an interest in the Future of Work, and yes, it’s the thing that had me see entrepreneurialism as a key skill in the workforce of the future, but it seemed a stretch to help me develop as a program coordinator of an entrepreneur education program.

The upshot is, she approved it. CMY is paying for me to attend the Future of Work conference! Needless to say, I’m pretty stoked! Not the outcome of the review I expected!

 

 

This post is day 18 of 45 posts for 45 years.

Catching up

The other day I had the opportunity to catch up with two people I haven’t caught up with for a while. It reminded me of the joy that comes from a 1:1 interaction. A proper catch-up, unlike a social gathering which has its own joy but not always possible to connect with people fully or to the level I’d like.
It also reminds me that I’ve spent about half the year focused on things like house, mortgages etc that made it difficult for me to engage socially. It felt great to have a sense of having moved through that time period to one where being able to do more than one catch up in a day is possible. That is all. Yay.

 

This is post 17 of 45 posts for 45 years.

Derby

Today I watched the Rebellion 2017 Roller Derby Tournament, a friend was playing for the winning team. We watched a game yesterday as well. Being in that environment felt different. I felt more at home among women with coloured hair and tattoos.

Mothers with families, fathers taking care of children while moms play derby. It was a great community feel, lots of people cheering for their friends and getting in on the excitement of the game.

This is not your average ‘women in sport’ experience. If you’re not familiar with Roller Derby it’s worth checking out. This isn’t a women’s league of a primarily men’s game. There are a few mixed teams but the vast majority of derby is women playing their hearts out. This is a full-contact sport. It’s one where having thunderous thighs and hefty hips is an advantage to block the jammer. And if you’re small and speedy, you’re likely to be a sought after jammer.

It’s also a reasonably complex game with lots going on, numerous officials to track various positions. As a spectator, there is a lot to pay attention to. I’m not going to go into detail here, I recommend watching Whip It or this video to learn about the game.

My point is that it’s a very different experience from most of the sport out there, that I find generally unappealing. I’ve watched womens’ Australian rules football, especially last year when the historic AFLW league was formed, and a little bit of netball and gridiron or what is called football in North America. I don’t mind it but it doesn’t excite me the way derby does.

It’s a place for rebels and misfits where I feel right at home. It’s appropriate to be as feminine or fat, sporty or freaky as you are or want to be. Fishnets, helmets and knee pads, heavy eye makeup, face paint or simple sporty gear, all common sights at a derby bout.

The other thing that struck me was that the post-game ritual is that everyone from both teams comes together as a single group for photos. The camaraderie and common achievement celebrated is really something. This is the kind of thing that gives me hope.

 

This post is day 14 of 45 posts for 45 years.

Neighbours

We’ve lived in our new place for almost 4 months. Today I met our next door neighbours. It’s the last unit in the row to be occupied. Even though our settlement was delayed by 3 weeks, we were still the first to move in. It was easily another few weeks before anyone else moved in, a few sightings of new owners, but few resident owners.

When I was coming home today, there was someone in the garage next to ours, this was a first. I took the opportunity to say hello, I discovered that he and his wife are moving in over the long weekend from just up the road. They lived in another townhouse in the same development but found it was too small. He seemed nice enough and already familiar with the area.

It’s a whole new chapter for us, living in the newest neighbourhood in our suburb. After a very old crumbling house with a lot of land that needed lots of maintenance. We’re loving having very little lawn and not being responsible for mowing it. Having a large park right next to us to walk the dogs in every day. Ducks and frogs in the rain garden out front. Birds, trees, creek, a wonderful natural landscape, next to a group of boxy houses that all look the same. 

It’s an interesting juxtaposition. I usually advocate for everything human-made being regarded as natural, but in many ways, the development, with its rows of same shaped and coloured houses, across from a creek surrounded by native trees, shrubs, rocky outcroppings, grassy hillsides, they’re pretty far apart on the spectrum of ‘naturalness’. I’m not sure it’s useful to try and romanticise the park or demonise our new home, they are two things I appreciate a lot.

The point is that we share a wall and there will be people living on the other side of that wall after the weekend. I’m glad I met him and introduced myself. I’m looking forward to creating community in this new neighbourhood. It will take time but it starts by getting to know the people who live in our little row of boxy houses.

 

This is day 12 of 45 posts for 45 years.

Your Birthday

Today marks the 32nd year from the day you came into this world. My calendar reminded me and brought up the pain of your absence. You didn’t see your 30th year before you took your own life. You have no idea the impact you had. You probably thought we wouldn’t notice, but we did.

Looking at your Facebook page today I see how much you were loved. My heart hurts though there is so much beauty in the memories people have of you. I want to post something but I don’t know what to say without sounding trite and feeling like it’s not my place.

I hardly knew you, in fact, we probably never even had a conversation, yet you made an impression on me. We were probably in the same room a handful of times and you were part of at least two of my communities. We’ll never truly know why you decided to leave us.  But the light that went out when you did cast a dark shadow on all our hearts. 

What dark thoughts possessed you to make the choice to end your life remind us of our own demons. It reminds us that we are vulnerable to the dark shadowy depths which we avoid. And of our avoidance of the things we don’t want to think about, the parts of ourselves we reject. It reminds me to be gentle with myself and love all the parts of myself that I struggle to give love to. Thank you for the gift of your life and the gift of the darkness when your light went out.

 

 

This is day 11 of 45 posts for 45 years.

Entrepreneur’s brain

Tonight I met with the people who just finished the entrepreneurs’ program I’ve been running. Hearing about how much they valued it and the impact it had on them was incredibly heartwarming. Reliving the graduation night and listening to their experiences, the observations of a previous program participant quickly reconnected me to my own joy from the night. Less than an hour earlier I’d started to feel tired, but talking about the energy in the room and feeling the love from all of them at the graduation brought my energy right back.

I love that our brains don’t know the difference between thinking of something and experiencing it. In this case, it was a really good thing! 

One of the participants referred to our group as like ‘family’. That meant a lot to me. A whole new take on ‘chosen’ family. Many of them talked about how their friends and family just don’t get what they’re on about. Many entrepreneurs experience this. You have to be a bit crazy and super driven to pursue a business idea. Most people don’t understand this, what keeps people following their dreams. Other entrepreneurs do. It’s nice to be with them.

 

This is day 10 in 45 posts for 45 years.

One Week Ponderings

One week into this 45 for 45 challenge I set for myself. It’s been interesting this daily blogging thing. I’ve been learning about myself in the process. I’ve been sharing more than I expected. Through the writing, elements of myself emerge in unexpected ways. I start to write about something that seems fairly basic and then it goes deeper or reveals a new view of the topic. It makes for a more rewarding experience than I anticipated.

But it also feels a bit vulnerable.  I often question what’s appropriate to share, and often err on the side of being open. Sometimes I’m not sure what’s good to say that’s not normally said and what to keep private. 

I decided to do the 45 blog posts for 45 years on my personal website rather than my business site. And I have an IFTTT recipe from ages ago that automatically shares each new blog post on my business facebook page and twitter. Where is the line between personal and professional? Who is the person behind the persona and what is being real and oversharing?

Ultimately, the answers lie in the eye of the beholder. I can only ever guess and see what feels comfortable, appropriate, and a balance of courageous and safe.  I’m always interested in feedback and if you feel I’m sharing too much, I want to know. In the end, I will make my own choice AND I would rather have your honest perspective than not. That’s enough for today. Thanks for being here.

 

Day 8 of 45 posts for 45 years.