(Feel free to picture me saying this with 1 finger up, your choice which finger)
In my life I have had the privilege of rubbing shoulders with world leaders in the areas of Religion, Politics, Business, and Music. I have met some of the best “Motivational” speakers around, whilst they have had some impact on my life, I want to take a moment to introduce you to one of the most inspirational people I have ever met. Some of you will not have heard of her YET nor had the privilege of meeting her but I can with all honesty and sincerity say YOU ARE MISSING OUT!
Picture taken in Hawaii, 2014.
They say that a picture paints 1000 words and many of you reading this either consciously or sub- consciously has already made 1000 assessments from what you have seen. I don’t want to be too presumptuous because I would like you to continue reading so let’s just say, it’s Alright!, you aren’t the first to think those things and unfortunately, you won’t be the last.
As you may have deduced with your Sherlock Holmes sharpened senses, Marlena has had to face a number of challenges in her life. She has been, by many well-meaning people, “LABELLED” with a myriad of “dis”abilities, medical conditions and societal beliefs and “LABELLED” by an even larger number of not so well meaning people as worse.
In spite of all this, Marlena has had and will continue to have,a far better life than many if not all of us.
This life filled, amazing lady, whilst wheelchair bound and being completely non-verbal
- Graduated in 2014 from Griffith University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts.
- She is a successful entrepreneur and business woman, owning and operating ‘Burleigh Bouncers Jumping Castle Hire’ & ‘Specialty Castles’ (https://www.facebook.com/pages/owner-of-speciality-castles-burleigh-Bouncers-jumping-castle-hire/581832345198332),
- The AAC Journalist (https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-AAC-Journalist/508226429255708?fref=ts) where she has interviewed some of the largest names, and I mean largest names, you have heard of in the Music & Entertainment Industry.
- She was a former backing dancer for Pharrell Williams in Antwerp, Belgium, 2014.
She is a freelance reporter for Link Disability Magazine and Disability Australia Media.
- She is a motivational/inspirational speaker.
- And an International selling author, recently publishing her first book “Dare To Be You”, filled with pictures of her global adventures, inspirational sayings and quotes from some of the interesting people she has met along the way. She is also currently well on the way to publishing 2 more books in the next few months, a children’s book “When I grow Up” and the second is yet to be determined a compilation of her Entertainment Industry interviews or a second children’s book called “My Chair”.
If that doesn’t blow your mind, she recently co-hosted with Gretel Killen (keep in mind she is completely non-verbal) a radio interview with John Legend, Sam Moran, Sheppard and a few others on “What Christmas Means to You.”
She is one of the most loving, humble, determined, funny, joyful, friendly, compassionate, loyal, fierce, strong, generous and biggest dreamers (in a positive way) I have ever met. She has one of the richest souls you can imagine; she has a zest for life and a hunger to achieve more in a lifetime than is humanly possible! But she will do it!
MARLENA YOU ARE TRULY AWESOME!!!
We live in a world that has an obsessive need to define things, to label things. I understand the need, I truly do, it helps us to categorise, ‘understand’, justify, order and control our worlds. It helps us “Shape the Life” we want/deserve. It helps protect our relationships, define spending habits, and determine who/what we let in. The benefits seem to be amazing.
Labels around, religion, ethnicity, race, social status, disability, age, size, sexuality and more help us maintain the order that we so long for and strive to have in our lives, it gives us a sense of control, even if it is a false economy, you see these “LABELS”, unfortunately, create prejudices, biases, segregation, distance, intolerances and an unwillingness to learn, love and truly understand each other.
In the last few years my world has been confronted with a barrage of situations and circumstances that have caused dramatic change to occur in my life, externally we moved states, changed jobs, new friends, new church, new gym, Israel started school, my baby girl, Eden Rose arrived.
Internally, questions around my faith and beliefs, what it means to live with, raise, encourage and grow a family that now has the new opportunities of a child with “special needs” I hate using that term but disabled is a whole lot worse.
Contemplating whether or not I am willing to do “hard time” for someone else’s prejudices, intolerance, arrogance or stupidity towards my daughter. Presently, Richard Dawkins is the front runner for finding out!
In all that, I have had the exciting opportunity to confront a number of my prejudices and biases, attending cultural awareness seminars and being thrust unexpectedly into the disability sector, to say the least, and it has been amazing!
The truth is, Marlena, has not achieved all this on her own, she has spent a few decades surrounding herself with people that don’t see “LABELS” that don’t identify her through disabilities but who believe she should have and deserves the very best life possible, people who believe that she too is “Perfect by Design”. She is a living example, one of many, that are helping me shape a new world, an exciting world and a far more desirous and beautiful world.
So here is my challenge, what could your world look like if you weren’t so “LABEL” conscious? What if we all did our best to live a life without LABELS? Yes it is confronting, it is messy, it is radical, it is dangerous, it is uncontrollable, it is adventurous, it is vast and only the strong and determined of heart can survive in it, but trust me, I have lived life the “Normal” way and while it may seem neat, ordered, controlled, balanced, in truth however, it is dull, bland, beige, lifeless, shallow and small.
This is what I have discovered, life beyond LABELS, creates a rich tapestry that weaves colour, adventure and life into your world. It is a world that allows everyone the space and opportunity to achieve at their utmost capacity and potential, a world that encourages us to learn all that we can from the people in the world around us and a world that is filled daily with amazing surprises and miracles.
If we look at each individual as a person first, someone just trying their hardest to figure out how to live in this messed up world, maybe, just maybe we open ourselves up to a whole new level of culture, understanding, value, worth, learning, wisdom, richness of life and a greater, deeper sense of LOVE for your fellow man than we ever thought possible.
People say “I can’t imagine living/going through what you guys have had to go through!”
Seriously, I can’t imagine how I did it without her!!
Please feel free to folllow Marlena on Twitter – @accjournalist