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Happy new year everyone! I cannot believe how fast January is moving. My little sister is also 23 today – Happy Birthday Claire Bear 🙂

Following on from my last post about the drastic changes I made in 2011 and my general hopes for 2012; it is fair to say I hit a brick wall. Many people say that when you have been pushing yourself for a long time that it can be a bad idea to stop. My body certainly has told me off and I have been suffering as a result, but this was a good thing nonetheless.

I decided from Friday 23rd December to take a couple of weeks out. I realised every thought process I had was on evaluating my projects, trying to plan new ones and grafting through all of the tasks still to be completed. It was time to shut down and switch off. Of course being Christmas I was not able to just rest and sleep. As mum and dad are divorced we spent Christmas day with dad, step family and also saw my grandparents for grandpa’s 80th birthday! Boxing day me and my sister were at mums and hung out with the step family on this side of the big tree. With my 2 nieces (5 years and the other 6 months old) Christmas was extra special.

On the 27th I went with my sisters boyfriend, Justin, to watch Spurs. This was great as getting a home ticket at White Hart Lane is almost impossible. So, with Norwich nearby mums house (ish) I drove us up. Plus my step dad and brothers were in the box there too. A good lads day out. You can see some of the pitch side footage of the great view we had below. By all means get in touch if you want to know how disability tickets work at football matches.

After the football and before New Years, the exhaustion really hit me. I felt tired as soon as I was hoisted in my chair in the morning and just sat there whilst various friends popped in for tea. I hate this lack of energy but it does seem typical for me in the colder/darker winter months. By New years eve I felt a bit stronger and mum, step dad, sister, Justin and a friend called Gio came back to London with me. We headed to my favourite local part of London called Stoke Newington. We had Mexican food, cocktails and saw the New year in with random people, music and good times.

As my girlfriend Claire was coming down on the Monday and she was happy to help with my care too; the gang stayed until Claire arrived. New years day mum treated us all to theatre tickets for Shrek which was surprisingly cool. Overall it was just so nice to not think of work, to see everyone, have quality time with family and rest a bit too.

Claire arrived after her 6 hour journey and we had plans for museums, theatres, bar, restaurants, parks – the whole lot. Soon after she arrived I got a touch of flu with temperatures and all of that jazz. I think as I had my flu jab in November that kicked in and lessened the effect soon after, but man I felt rough. This again was a sign I had been overdoing it. So Claire and I stayed in, ate great food, talked loads and still managed to make the best of an unfortunate situation. She really is an amazing girl and I’m hopeful to go and see her next week in Scotland. As you read on you will see why it is in doubt.

On Friday 6th January Claire was due to go home. She hoisted me into my wheelchair with plenty of time for me to drive her in the car to Kings Cross. Here I was to also collect my PA who was starting their shift at the same time. I turned my wheelchair on and of all unfortunate incidents it would not work. Claire did her best to ‘fix’ it but it was an electronics problem beyond us. So, I said if she could push me to the car, she could make the train and my PA and I would sort the chair later. After some struggling (my chairs bloody heavy) we made it to the car. We enlisted the help of a neighbour to secure the chair into the lockdown system. As I hit the relevant buttons the car would not start either! Time was getting tight. I double checked my PA was on route and then took the decision to send Claire for a taxi. After no cabs would stop I said she should walk to the tube and do her best for the train, otherwise she wouldn’t get back home for her work. Of all crazy situations, she had to lug big bags across London whilst I sat in my car like a lemon for an hour (still bunged up) and waited for my PA to arrive.

All is well that ends well, but talk about drama and trauma. I have had to stall getting back on with work because of all the arrangements required to fix everything. My car had its battery replaced by the RAC on the day. My wheelchair is still broken now. In the end I drove to Mill Hills Independent Living company (before going to Amnesty International to chair this event) and they have sent my control box away whilst I am still being pushed in this lump of metal. It is so frustrating, especially when I cannot turn my head, to not be able to get from A to B and position myself. Charing the event was very hard as a result of this.

Nonetheless I know if I hadn’t of rested I worry how ill I might of been. Also I had the inner strength after a rest to deal with these dramas. I would say that I have learnt to be very resilient, find an inner strength when I want to give up, I worry about the things I can change and ignore the things I can’t.

Having seen the most important people in my life, got my health back up nearer 100% (for January) and slowly getting my foundations solidified; I am turning my attentions back to work. The clarity I now hold is huge. In taking a step back I can see what last year meant, can see what I want and need to do this year, and feel energised to deliver. My next post will share these plans: both the projects I will run about disability issues and the personal activities I hope to do.

In the meantime I urge you to always rest when your body is struggling, allow your brain time away from problems to find the solutions easier, and never ever ever let the bastards get you down.

You can and will get where you want to go to, just believe!

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I have been doing that ‘feeling bad’ thing when I realise I haven’t written a more thought provoking piece for my blog. Sometimes I think running a website on any particular subject matter can make you feel a pressure to be profound and revolutionary. Then, in the cold light of day, I realise how ridiculously busy I have been and that actually my blog is all about living everyday life anyway. Sure, if I am swept away with an amazing idea I will share, but I sometimes overlook the value in just talking about ‘living’.

I then realised I hadn’t written a post on where my life actually is right now. So, true to form, I want to share my progress, fears and dreams with you.

You all know I have my independent living elements cracked. As per the Disability Diamond Theory; I drive my car, know how to utilise public transport with a wheelchair, have my care budget and team setup, love my London flat, I work (now for myself), have good friends, family and a lovely girlfriend (yep, a new update for ya there!) and manage leisure and travel when budgets allow.

The past months I have, for one reason and another, shaken my world upside down. In leaving my safe employed job, I have taken a huge risk in my pursuit of a vision I am passionate about. You may remember my last blog similar to this one here? Essentially this was all about my working through business plans and getting used to self employment.

Well, since then I have run 15 webinars through my blog, Scope and Hackney council and worked for the BBC as a tv presenter. My blog is also reaching more people than ever. Disability Horizons has grown, with scores of amazing contributors, insightful articles, increase of our readership and whispers of future world domination 🙂 This is so cool coming from the concept Srin and I developed this time last year in California and launched only a few months back. I think you’ll agree the redesign kicks ass too!

Despite all of my thoughts and energies going into getting my social enterprise off the ground, my world has been tipped upside down in other ways more recently. I have been making changes and improvements to all of my ‘foundations’ and some unexpected things have happened too. Nearly all of this is through my own choice and for positive action, but is all very scary and sometimes stressful.

Transport – my adapted car has been faulty of late and so I have at last arranged for it to be taken today and be checked over. I really hate not having the car as it’s my embodiment of true independence.

My flat – All is well flat wise, but as I plan to travel a lot more next year I am looking into letting it out if I am away. A letting agency are coming to value it any minute now. I am also helping them to provide accessible accommodation for disabled people at the Olympics and Paralympics next year.

My care team – I realised since going self employed that my care rota doesn’t work for me anymore. My guys change over every Monday and Friday. This means a constant feeling of checking where I am location wise, and chopping and changing. With my plans to travel more while I work remotely, it clearly would be better with a rota of 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off. This unfortunately means 2 of my 3 PA’s will be leaving in January. I pondered this decision for ages as they are amazing carers and people. However my care has to support my life in the best way, and therefore the changes are necessary.

So I am now recruiting for a new PA. The advert is up on gumtree. If you or anyone you know is interested please use the link. This means I will need to read the 50 or so applicants, short list those I think (according to my criteria) are suitable and then interview them. Following my decision on who is best for my needs, I will need to do criminal checks, reference checks and then train them up. Once someone knows my needs its cool, but it takes a while to get used to someone seeing you naked and doing everything for you.

Work – Things are still going according to plan. The webinars kept me in my flat, rather than blogging outside, lol. I am planning to apply the learnings of the webinars and roll out more in 2012. I am now busy doing financial planning, looking into social enterprise support schemes (such as the nexters, which I am now officially part of) and creating my e-learning courses.

My first e-course will be on employment and disability. I have the technology partner in AJ and Melissa Leon at Misfit-Inc, the personal experience and the networks to create a course that will inspire and inform many disabled people on the tricks of getting into work. It clearly cannot support those unable to work, or the general economic problems, but it can have a bloody good attempt. I am ever the optimist.

My nearest and dearest – even when I’m busy I always ensure I keep a close contact with my girlfriend, family and friends. I have decided to not say loads about the change in relationship status. However, her name is Claire, I knew her at uni years ago, she lives near Edinburgh and it was during my visit there that sparks flew 🙂 I can’t wait to see her next weekend when she visits. Skype is cool, but you can’t beat face to face interaction. I do my best to see everyone face to face, but if not I use skype, phone calls or at the very least a text. I remain in contact with friends back to childhood, and all the way up to my London crew today. I would never let work, stress or life stop this!

Leisure  – I am looking forward to the meetup this weekend for Disability Horizons. My great mate Rich from uni is visiting the weekend after Claire does. So the next 3 weekends are chocca. Then I’m afraid Christmas is fast approaching. I need to get the present list sorted soon really.

Travel – I have been eying up my winter sunshine break in Tenerife in January, but am going to see how my health goes (we all know how difficult winters usually are for me) and how work goes the next month or so. However, I can say there is something hotting up around next spring which will be amazing. More to come as the plans firm up! 🙂

I have to say I haven’t felt so happy and healthy in years. I feel so much more confident in maintaining my basic foundations (work, car, house and care), in my future plans. I am working more than ever, feel mentally tired each night, but I know it is all so worthwhile, even despite the challenging months ahead.

If you haven’t read the Diamond Theory, I would recommend it as a framework to life, what you want from it and how to progress without going too quick!

I am still brewing a more philosophical post, but it needs a little longer to cook 😉

Until next time, I hope you are all well and make sure you get in touch with any thoughts or questions you may have.

Cheers,
Martyn

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Well I think today is the first day I can breathe air on my left lung – sensational! I clearly need to consolidate getting rid of the infection but really hoping to be back to normal soon.

The car was collected at the local garage who have done a great job. Not being responsible for the software on the car, they have done more in 2 weeks than the other did in 10!!! The Hemel guys still need to correct one of the problems via Germany who deal with the software programming. No date for arrival yet but its progress in curing the problem not dealing in symptoms. Car adaptations have been globalised it seems.

I have kept clear from using the Hemel garage name due to the negative experience Im having but respecting their privacy. The local garage being so good deserves a massive shout out – Andy at Andys Kars (http://www.andys-kars.co.uk) is the nicest and most competent person I have met full stop. I am meeting him to talk about his work with disabled mechanics and inspiring talks he gives at seminars.

Plan is the cars away for longer so its the train back to London probably Wednesday followed by bus from kings x to my flat. hassles but a must do. my problem is I have been at mums for over a week without my wheelchair charger and the chairs almost of juice! its a bit like feinting in public if you’re a walky 😉 need to source a spare charger asap before the return. the trials and tribulations get wider hey. Lena my ex girlfriend is coming later in the week with her sister so need recharged batteries in chair and body to enjoy catching up with them.

Im saving the deep and meaningful blog I’ve been thinking through while ill for later in the week when it can make perfect sense in my articulation. bye for now…

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Since filming the video I grabbed a shower, had some food and gained some perspective.

No doubt the car breaking for the 5th time in 2 months i.e. when I received it new – is ridiculous. However I was so frustrated to have it break 24 hours after it was “fixed” I just cant dwell. Im very tired tonight after dealing with the car stresses, the buses and work generally. My view now is need sleep, tomorrow is a new day and I know I can make it home for the family meal.

This does however mean a bus, a train and a lift from the station in my old van (but that I cant drive anymore with a different clamping system to the wheelchair). The hassles of travel by wheelchair hey.

I will then having chilled and enjoyed my weekend return to the car Monday morning. I sincerely hope they are sympathetic and forthcoming on this because it really is beyond a joke. Sundays blog should nonetheless be after a pleasant catch up with family and friends back in cambs. night for now 🙂

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The “positive, cup half-full” me is on the brink today. Last night I went for a really nice meal on the southbank at Strada, which gave the car a run out and charged the batteries more since they had depleted last week. Woke up this morning feeling good, got in the car and BOOM! Cars broken again…

No matter how much I love life and have this get up and go attitude, a new car breaking 4 times in 2 months, one time for 3 weeks long and today with the same problem as twice before is testing. The knock-on of this is I couldn’t get to work, had to speak to Motability and the garage throughout the day. They originally asked me to get in the car to talk me through fixing it. Check this out – “locate bracket x and then using 2 10mm spanners loosen them slightly. Excuse me! Why would I own 1 let alone 2 bloody 10mm spanners?

The MD really doesn’t seem to want to talk to me since they invoiced for the big handover. Will be 5-6 years before I’d be due a new one so I’m low down on any priority lists despite the fact I’ve paid for a new car and it is under warranty. I need Motability to enforce the contract as they in theory are the customer of the garage.

So we’ll see if/when it arrives back and how long it works for. Till then its back to bus roulette and limited excursions away from my hood. At least the weathers good, oh hang on that’s about as cheery as the car situation… well one positive is curry for dinner and beyonce & shakira on music tv – no garage can take that from me right 😉 working out logistics to get home for the weekend now as its my step dads birthday and a family meal. Answers on a postcard…