Directing your show: Where fashion and disability meet

Originally published on Bold Blind Beauty.  I attempted to share the blog by the same title and failed miserably. It was after 9 PM, and I should have known better. The layout here will vary slightly from the original, but the content is the same. Reproduced with permission. I apologize for any notifications you might have received with links that didn’t work.

George is sitting on a wooden bench with his left leg propped atop his wheelchair which is next to the bench. He is wearing a green tee paired with khaki shorts and flip-flops. A camera is around his neck and he’s sporting sunglasses. In the background are lush green tropical plants.
“How we are perceived is determined by how we present ourselves. We direct our own show.”

Disability, Style, Fashion & Confidence

The elephants in my room are paraplegia and the ever-present wheelchair. The disability in my life is Multiple Sclerosis. The important things in my life are my family and friends.George is sitting on a wooden bench at Flagler Beach. He is smiling for the camera wearing a yellow tee, dark sunglasses, and minimal jewelry. In the background, waves are washing up against the beach and a pier is jutting out into the ocean.

When I first had to use a wheelchair, a nurse told me that she was confident I’d quickly learn how to make it enhance my life. As a Peer Counselor/Peer Support Volunteer, I have talked about embracing whatever piece of technology works for us. “If it makes your life better, don’t be afraid to use it.”

How we are perceived is determined by how we present ourselves. We direct our own show. What are we going to show to the public? Of course, they are going to look at our white canes, our wheelchairs, our crutches, but then they are going to look at us.

This is where disability meets fashion. Where disability meets style. Fashion makes the first impression; style makes the lasting one. It is style that determines how we perceive ourselves, and it determines how we are received in public. They are vital to the person who has a disability.

Your life, your production

I am interested in both men’s and women’s fashion. And style. Lots of designers are men. My personal style is simple, basic design with classic colors. If we pick a style that fits our personality and then stick to it, things get easier to manage. What works with your skin and hair color? What works with your daily activities? I am learning to stick with combinations of blue, green, and white. They fit my personality and with my light skin, blue eyes, and blond hair.

George is wearing a short-sleeved black dress shirt and black pants. He is sitting on the arm of a sofa and his gold necklace and bracelet are accents.
My advice is to think about our interests, think about ourselves, and stick with it. I’m getting better at it. I gave away half of the things in my closet and still have twice what I need.

And if you are wondering where I fit into the Bold Blind Beauty Community, I am a “retired” eye doc due to MS. Vision is my training and experience, but I am also a patient. Vision and MS are closely related. I am extremely light sensitive and have a tint for every need. I select a tint based on what I am doing and not by what I am wearing. While my distance vision is good, I have difficulty reading. For that, I have specific reading glasses, enlarge the print on my Kindle, and change its illumination.

Fashion, style, confidence. You can direct your show about how you feel and how others feel about you. And remember that the best fashion accessory is a genuine smile.

Thank you for stopping by. Thanks again to Stephanae over at Bold Blind Beauty for her kindness and for the topic. It has been an honor and a pleasure.

Picture descriptions:   Featured image; George is sitting on a wooden bench with his left leg propped atop his wheelchair which is next to the bench. He is wearing a green tee paired with khaki shorts and flip-flops. A camera is around his neck and he’s sporting sunglasses. In the background are lush green tropical plants.   Second image; George is sitting on a wooden bench with his left leg propped atop his wheelchair which is next to the bench. He is wearing a green tee paired with khaki shorts and flip-flops. A camera is around his neck and he’s sporting sunglasses. In the background are lush green tropical plants.   Third image; George is wearing a short-sleeved black dress shirt and black pants. He is sitting on the arm of a sofa and his gold necklace and bracelet are accents.

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Sitting cleanly

Selfie of George sitting in his wheelchair. Blond hair, tinted glasses, teal shirt, and tan pants. The chair is partly visible with a titanium frame and blue tires.Please forgive the selfie. I hope that what is most noticeable when I go out might happen to be me. I do know that the ever-present wheelchair is quite noticeable, though. It’s rather hard to miss, actually. People look, sometimes stare. I don’t really care anymore. If we make eye contact I’ll smile or say “Hi.” I’ve met, and even helped, some nice people that way.

My guess is the one thing they don’t notice is the cushion. The cushion is responsible for protecting the skin upon which my body sits for hours.

Any wheelie should be doing weight shifts, and I do them faithfully. After the shift, though, it’s back onto the cushion. Sooner or later that thing is going to get dirty.

What happens now? Into the washer it goes! Yes, in the washer! And then it goes in the dryer! The cushion goes back in its cover, and in 2 hours I’m sitting cleanly again. Cushion is being slipped into a black cover. The cushion is a honeycomb material with blue and yellow stripes.

Ultra light weight wheelchair. Titanium frame, blue tires and front casters, and black seating.

 

 

So there you have it, my friends. The not so thrilling part of life on wheels. The part you don’t see when I’m popping a wheelie or showing off my spins and downhill speeds.

Laundry, it never ends!

(At this point I need to add a disclaimer: A wheelchair cushion should be prescribed for each individual by someone certified to do this. What works for one might not work for someone else. Thanks.)

Thank you for stopping by. I know it was an off the wall topic, but I had the odd notion that it might interest someone once they thought about it. If you have questions please let me know. I always appreciate comments, as well. Yes, those are blue tires and wheels. Just because I wanted some bling.

Picture descriptions: At the top is a large selfie of George. He is in his wheelchair. Blond hair, tinted glasses, blue shirt, and khaki pants. The chair is titanium with blue wheels. Second is the blue and yellow striped cushion with a black cover. Third picture is the wheelchair with the cushion back in it. 

Stinky and Dirty

A swamp in shades of greed with long afternoon shadows. There is a central area of moss covered water with trees on both sides.

Stinky and Dirty… Am I describing this beautiful Florida swamp? I’m talking about the cartoon that is currently playing on our seldom used TV. Stinky is a brown garbage truck, whilst Dirty is a yellow backhoe loader. They are best friends and the heroes of the series. It’s one of my grandson’s favorite shows. Our family is visiting from Taiwan. It is an exciting and blessed time and one of the reasons I’ve been a bit absent.

A couple of weeks ago we met up in Asheville, North Carolina and spent five days with our little guy while Mom and Dad attended a class. Wow! Five year olds have more energy than I remembered from being a parent. Or is it that I’m considerably older? Can’t be that, can it?

The summer has been another hot one here in Florida. It seems like there is an appointment or something every morning, and then it storms in the afternoon. Pool time has been non-existent. I love the pool because I can move freely when gravity is removed. It’s liberating.

It is a gray, gloomy afternoon. Thunder is crashing around us as we speak. Matches my mood. It just hasn’t been a great day. Sometimes I think I paint a rosy picture when in fact there are not-so-good days, as well. Such is the nature of life and especially of life with Multiple Sclerosis. My lesions are almost entirely spinal cord, but I am still blessed with the usual myriad of symptoms.

So while stinky and dirty is how my day feels, Stinky and Dirty are a bright spot reminding me of the love and joy inside that little guy and the hope of all our futures. Wishing you a Stinky and Dirty kind of day!

Thank you for stopping by. As I warned in the Popping Wheelies premise, “…you are about to find out.” Life is good, the future is fine, and there will be some clouds and thunder.

Picture: Large picture of a Florida swamp. It is shades of green with long, late afternoon shadows. In the center is an area of moss-covered water. Trees are on both sides. 

 

it’s the humidity

The classic American summer begins on Memorial Day (May 30) and ends on Labor Day (early September), which puts the Fourth of July pretty much in the middle. Close up of a huge, yellow sunflower. Yellow petals with an amber center.
Mix Florida with July 4th, and the result is a hot day. The forecast for Florida every day, every summer is the same: 90’s and thunderstorms.

One summer we went to Las Vegas. “It won’t be hot here because the humidity is low.” It was hot.

There is a point to all this. For many of us who are heat sensitive, whether it be due to multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, paralysis, or any number of chronic diseases, summer can be a difficult time. “Do you want to meet on the patio at the Crooked Can about 5:30?” In hopes of a miracle, I check the forecast. “I’d love to if we could make it later. Say October?”

So when those of us in your group of summer loving, heat wilting friends seem to be in hibernation, we actually are. Unlike Las Vegas, however, it is not hot in Florida. “It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity.”

On this auspicious American holiday I thank you for stopping by. The air conditioner is humming along nicely, and the thunderstorm missed us, so all is well. I love your comments. What are your thoughts on summer?

Picture: Close up of a huge sunflower. It has yellow petals and an amber center.

 

A safe port if you need it

Close up of Leprechaun on the sidewalk. He is wearing a blue hat with black band and large buckle, has huge, green eyes, a big smile, red beard, and green suit.

We all like to travel. Be if halfway around the world or to the next town, there is a bit of wanderlust in all of us. Most of us, anyway. Explore places we’ve not been, encounter new things, make friends. It’s all so grand.

And it can also be tiring. A few years ago Sandy and I took a cruise from Harwich to Boston. One of the stops was Cork, where our accessible tour drove us around a bit, twice past what they called the “insane asylum,” and dropped us at a woolen mill store. It was nice but not for 3 hours. It was a tiring day.

The next day we were in Dublin. Determined not to let this day slip away, we explored beautiful Trinity College and then boarded a hop on, hop off tour. Things went well until we finished the Guinness tour and had to push up a long hill of bricks and cobbles. Once at the top we waited for the tour trolley. And we waited. Finally a full trolly came along and said the one for us had broken down and they would be along in about 30 minutes. So we stood, I sat, on the corner with some other people in the windy cold.

Having finished the tour, we wanted to explore Grafton Street with its shops and flower markets and then finish in St. Steven’s Green. Problem… By now we are tired and hungry and in need of a rest stop. Where do we go? It’s all so pretty but nowhere to stop. Flower market with cut flowers. They are on rustic, wooden crates and look artful and creative. Small sign reads Celtic Cart.

Ah ha! Behold, McDonald’s! A small burger, some fries, a Diet Coke, and a restroom. We have visited McDonald’s around the world. We’ve had McLobster, McPizza, and Taiwan’s best seller, the QPC. The point is, it is great to explore. But fatigue, especially for someone with a chronic disease like MS or fibromyalgia, can intrude on the day. It is okay to stop, rest, and take advantage of a familiar, friendly port. Not everything has to be new and exciting for the day to be a success.

Thanks for stopping by. I always appreciate your comments. Which brings up another topic. I perceive we are having some mechanical issues with Popping Wheelies and your ability to Like or Comment. I hope these appear for you in both your subscription email and on the blog. If they don’t, please click the title of the particular blog post, a new one will appear, and you can Like or Comment. We are working on the problem, and two kind people from WordPress are helping. I apologize if things aren’t as we want, but we are working on it. Thank you for your patience.

Pictures: Top photo is large and features a leprechaun wearing a blue hat with a black band and large, silver buckle. He has large, green eyes and a red beard, and he is smiling brightly. Second photo is a small flower stand with cut flowers nicely displayed on rustic, wooden crates. There is a small sign reading Celtic Cart.

 

Sun, rain, and bargains

George is in his wheelchair. Blond hair is a bit messed. He is holding a large shopping bag, 2 large black plastic bags, and a large green bag. He is wearing glasses, a blue shirt with white stripes, white shorts, and flip flops.Everyone loves a bargain, and everyone needs things. Thus arose the outlet mall. In Orlando there is a boulevard call International Drive. It runs from Universal Studios on the north to Sea World on the south.  But there is a spur going east from the north terminus, and that, my friends, is where you’ll find the largest outlet mall in the Southeast.

Sandy and I each needed some shoes. More correctly, she needed shoes and I needed flip flops (plus, of course, an article or two of clothing). The 6 o’clock alarm is silenced at 5:45 and we don’t get an early start. It’s 10:30 when we arrive. Big mistake. We got the last wheelchair accessible space, and it was in a lot at the far end from the shoes.

By 11:30 we had “bought 6 and got 3 free,” but not shoes, and we were at the food court. Breakfast had been skimpy, and there were seats. We opted for Panera. Sandy had salad. I had half a sandwich, a small salad, and a gallon of the ginger, hibiscus, whatever iced tea. Shoes? Well, there’s this shirt in a window and a clattery cart going by. “Go in there,” I called to Sandy over the noise.  Somehow  I managed to emerge with just the shirt. On to shoes.

“Does the buy on, get 60% off the second apply if we buy 4?” A bit later we emerged with the large green bag filled with plastic shoes and flip flops. Then it was on to real shoes for Sandy. One style she liked fit well, the other didn’t. Calling the trip a success, we began the trek back toward the car in the 94 degree (34 Celsius) summer sun.Light green background with large, red print reads, Outlet mall. Got 2 things I needed and 5 things I didn't. Think of the money I saved.

Behold, Nautica. “Can I look in there? We can cool down.” So cooled down and 6 more articles of clothing in the bag, we plunged into the rising heat. Why are outlet malls so hot or so cold? Halfway to the car we encountered Starbucks and a grande, iced green tea.

As we are clearing the heaviest of the metro traffic, there is lightning up ahead. By Lake County, we met the rain. Wow! A good thing happened, though. The rain removed the bugs the $13 car wash had fail to cut.

Before I put any of it away, several things are going to leave my closet. We spent the better part of today in there. At least it was air conditioned and dry.

Thank you for stopping by and joining us in the sun and rain. I love to read your comments.

Pictures: Main picture: George is in his wheelchair looking into a shopping bag. He is holding that bag, 2 large black, plastic bags, and a large green bag. His blond hair is messed. He is wearing glasses, a blue shirt with white stripes, white shorts, and flip flops. Smaller photo: Light green background with large, red print reading, “Outlet mall. Got 2 things I needed and 5 things I didn’t. Think of the money I saved.

 

Roaming around Animal Kingdom

A green sign reading Disney's Animal Kingdom with a large number 20 to the left.

It is hard to imagine that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is 20 years old. Today Sandy and I went to what is becoming our favorite amongst the Florida theme parks. A few months ago I wrote about our visit to Beautiful Pandora. (Click or tap the link to read that entry.)

This time we visited Asia and Africa. Let’s digress… Animal Kingdom is huge. Most Disney parks take more than 1 day to truly experience. Today was the most people we have seen since Christmas Day a few years ago, so we chose quality over quantity and made no effort to explore the whole park.

The side of a building with a sign reading Brass Pots, an old light fixture, and 3 well worn brass pots.Lunch is not for the person with a thin wallet. My $15 Kobe burger with fries was actually quite good with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and an authentic asian pickle. Sandy’s $11 honey chicken was excellent with tender white meat, nicely seasoned. No one ever said a good lunch in a theme park is cheap. We got a nice, outdoor table nestled between some lovely plants and the “market” that touts brass pots. We took our time and enjoyed watching people.

Selfie with George and Sandy. George is wearing a large, straw hat, sunglasses, and green V-neck tee. Sandy has her long hair down and is wearing sunglasses and a striped top.After a bit of shopping came a difficult decision. Left past the soft serve ice cream truck toward Expedition Everest or right past the Dole Whip stand at the edge of Harambe in Africa. We have good soft serve near home, so Africa it was. After a stop for more hydration, we decided to work our way toward the exit. I’d pushed myself much of the time, and there is only so much energy for my MS and me to share.

An area of greenery featuring orchids with yellow flowers.
The vegetation was beautiful, of course, but the spring greens were at peak today. Orchids, as well. Next time we might be well rested and go in the evening. And where will be eat dinner? Starbucks for a turkey sandwich? Maybe. You never know.

Thank you for stopping by. I am so thankful when you do. It was a fun day, and I’m glad Sandy and I got to share it with you. By the way, the temperature reached 88 degrees (31 degrees Celsius). It was definitely warm.

 

 

Photos: Top photo is a green sign reading Disney’s Animal Kingdom with a large number 20 to the left. Second photo is the side of a building with a sign reading Brass Pots, an old light fixture, and 3 well worn brass pots. Third photo is the required selfie with George and Sandy. George is wearing a large, straw hat, sunglasses, and green V-neck tee. Sandy has her long hair down and is wearing sunglasses and a striped top. Fourth picture is an area of greenery featuring orchids with yellow flowers.