meesa_claire meesa_claire

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Claire Freeman  PhD student at AUT, New Zealand model Social blogger / disability activist / happily different

Silly Sunday vibes. Still freezing in New Zealand but loving the sun😍. Certainly the little things can make a difference. My dad bought me some gloves and mum knitted some warm slippers to get through the cold winter down south. It's days like this that I feel incredibly grateful, for my house I built (10 years of 2 minute noodles was worth it to save for a deposit), grateful for my furry friends and just grateful to be alive. #winter #sillyface #dogsofinstagram #christchurch #porthills #griffonbruxellois #skinnypug
#beingadick #happiness #lovelife #newzealand #friends #family #blue #spinalcordinjury #wheelchair #wheelchairgirl #surfacebook

I have 2 sisters, my oldest sister was the smart one, the middle sister was sporty and then there's me.. I was told I was the creative one. With this in mind, I grew up assuming what my future would entail. It would involve art because I was good at that they said. 
What I've learnt is that if I can dream it, I can achieve it... within the realms of what's physically possible. It started with my decision to do a chemistry paper at university after my front castor wheel broke off my wheelchair and I was stuck downtown. I was momentarily motivated to 'find a cure for paralysis' so I wouldn't ever be 'stuck' again but by passing that chemistry paper, I learnt a bigger lesson. I was the girl who failed maths and all science subjects (I didn't even attempt chemistry) at school and got told by my school principal, Mr Bryant, I 'just wasn't smart enough to be put into the top class with my friends...' I realised, however, if i was determined, I could achieve anything if I put my mind to it. My desire to find a cure for my injury changed to one where I wanted to live and love life in spite of my injury and I started to question all the negative rhetoric I was told when my neck was broken. My PhD is a continuation of that exploration into how we can love our lives and be happy.
I'll continue to dream big, and if the Claire who believed she was dumb as a child can do what I've done, then I know that it doesn't matter what we are told, if we can convince ourselves we can do it, and the dream and motivation is there, it's achievable... with a bit of hard work 😊💕
#dreams #love #sisters #againsttheodds #spinalcordinjury #wheelchair #wheelchairgirl #newzealand #home #night

Disabled children are now being euthanized in Belgium. It's the sort of media heading I dread, because it's a cause so close to my heart.
My heart breaks when I hear children are now being offered assisted suicide. Children with conditions that aren't pleasant, but I know people with those very conditions, like @claire.wineland who have lived, have shared and enriched their lives and many others through their experiences.
Disabled people were initially included in the euthanasia debate due to the eugenics movement at the beginning of last century - the one that helped bring about the holocaust, the one that killed so many disabled children and adults in Europe - they were considered inferior, expendable, unworthy of life.

But we aren't. It may not always make 'economic sense' to allow us the same rights as everyone else, but is a world where money dictates morality one we want to be a part of?

Let's change the discourse. Anyone who is different, disabled, lives with a medical condition, should have the same rights as everyone. We should not be singled out because it has been decided 'suffering' qualifies us to die. We are of value, we have so much to give to this world, ironically, it's often through our suffering, we learn and grow as humans.

People often tell me assisted suicide is about choice, to end their suffering, but if it was about choice, the choice would be given to all New Zealanders, not just those of us who are vulnerable in our darker moments. This is never been about choice or dignity because these are neo-liberal terms to incite fear among those who do not understand suffering.
I don't wan't to dictate or tell people what they should or shouldn't do or believe in, and I can only speak from my personal experience, and yes, suffering sucks, but through it, I have learnt more about myself, about others and about love, because it makes you appreciate life, and the beautiful moments so much more. @dbseymour @lovinlifekyles #assistedsuicide #newzealand #suffering #nevergiveup #euthanasia #belgium #life #spinalcordinjury #wheelchair #wheelchairgirl #endoflifechoicebill #love #life #iwastoldtogiveup #neoliberalism #aut

A good friend once said to me 'I often forget you use a wheelchair, I don't even see it on you...'. I took this as a massive compliment at the time, it was like hiding the bogey monster that perched himself on my shoulder, naked, screaming 'look at me' all the time.
This photo reminds me of that comment, I look much bigger than my wheelchair, it's more of a shadow. Two years ago, this would have delighted me, now, it's not such a big deal. It's like a scar on my body (of which I have a few), it's a battle-wound, and it's a battle I won so I'm actually quite proud of it.
I see people add colour to their chairs, personalise them, and the old me would have cringed - why make something embarrassing more obvious? But I love that people feel confident enough to do that. I watched a talk by a guy called John Hokenberry, a paraplegic journalist who got flashing lights on his front casters at the request (and begging) of his kids. He noticed afterwards, from an intimidating, journalist 'suit', he was transformed into something kids pointed at in wonder, often saying 'i want some!!' as he nipped through airports onto his next journalist mission.
I see people with amputated limbs glitzing up their prosthetics and I love it, it's like we are finally owning ourselves, even the parts of us we might have hated, the metal bits that help us move and give us freedom.
What started out as a fun day with the sheep in my paddock, turned into a day of remembering how far I've come in accepting my own impairment, although I do worry my dog thinks it's a sheep as he started chowing down on sheep pellets with his posse of mates, Floyd and Beatrice - the sheep. #newzealand #mybackyard #sheep #scottish
#friends #love #grass #winter #tartan #home #spinalcordinjury #wheelchair #wheelchairgirl #christchurch #porthills

So I made this makeup video (in part because I'm not this Instagram perfect, unblemished face because as you can see I'm real, I have freckles and blotches and I'm ok with the before and after because they're both me)... I know I'm not an expert BY ANY MEANS (I'm also a bit lazy with contouring etc😏) but I remember when I tried to put make-up on for the first time after my accident with my paralysed and misbehaving arms and hands, I've certainly come a long way in terms of what I can do now, even liquid eyeliner is ok although I haven't quite mastered false eyelashes. Certainly part of my motivation was an occupational therapist telling me I'd need somebody like my mum to put make-up on me... I didn't like being told I wouldn't be able to do something although in hindsight they told me I wouldn't be able to do anything😟😳... Anyway, it's kind of fun and artistic putting on makeup, I liken it to painting a canvas, except this canvas is getting a little bit crinkly!! Heck even the dog gets up in the morning and asks where Claire is because I guess I may look a little different without makeup😋😁🐶💕 #makeup #timelapse #therealme #fun #dressingup #spinalcordinjury #wheelchair #wheelchairgirl #newzealand #home #bathroom #smile

Someone once said to me if you have a problem, find a bigger one... which lead me to volunteering while I was applying for jobs (slightly demoralizing time but I'm an optimist so kept applying, and it only took 5 years before I was employed). I thought by helping others, my problems would seem less significant.. which is true. This is an Orchid given to me by the New Zealand Spinal Trust, an amazing organisation I spent 10 years volunteering for. I also volunteered as a counsellor and trainer for a telephone counselling service 'Youthline'. Volunteering while working full time was difficult and (in hindsight) possibly stupid, I'm not wonder-woman and had a breakdown from overworking - I'm certainly not perfect but I guess life is about finding your own boundaries and giving what you can without giving all of yourself.

I do believe one of the best feelings is helping others and often by helping others, you inadvertently help yourself... on so many levels. I believe happiness doesn't always come from obvious means, such as wealth and prestige. I think true happiness comes from giving back when possible, especially when I am so often the recipient of others kindness. Volunteering isn't totally altruistic because I've found I've often got so much more out of helping others.. for me, that's been my definition of happiness and true life satisfaction.... and the love of a dog😋🐶💕 @nzspinaltrust @youthlinenz #volunteer #helping #altruism #love #counsellor #happiness #orchid #spinalcordinjury #help #newzealand #wheelchair #job

Disclaimer: It is not my intention to upset or anger anyone from this post.
- My old thought processes: ‘I would totally pull this roller..if only I could walk’ (violins, sad music playing).
- Reality: Me before my injury: 'There is no way I would be able to pull this pitch roller..actually why would I want to?
After my spinal injury, my first words were 'I WILL walk again'. This was met with pity from many people. Despite outwardly 'moving on' by studying, getting a job etc, for 8 years I was totally focused on walking again. I lobbied for stem cell research, I helped raise money for 'a cure'. I lived and breathed the rhetoric that I was not 'normal', would never be 'normal'. To me, my life wasn't worth living if I would have to use a wheelchair for the rest of my life.
Then I met some people who challenged me to think that perhaps walking again wasn’t my end goal, perhaps living was - not constantly dreaming about ‘the cure’ and how much better it would make my life. I admit though, letting go of that thought process was hard, but focussing on what I did have was a relief – could I be ok AND be paralysed?
I see so many people with this injury who have put their lives on hold for 'the cure' and that saddens me, because I spent so much time doing that, time I could have been enjoying my life, being grateful for what I have, and for being alive, instead of hating my body and hating my wheelchair.
Don’t get me wrong, I'm certainly not against a 'cure for paralysis', I support anyone actively trying to help and it would be an amazing day if that were to happen, but I'm also ok if it doesn't happen because I've chosen to accept myself as I am, and by doing so, I feel more at peace with my body.
I may not be ‘normal’, but that’s ok, the world has plenty of ‘normal’ people… being ‘normal’ is not my goal anymore. Now extraordinary, there’s an interesting goal, people who have been through trauma have a message to tell, our message of hope, endurance, grief, loss, rage, adaptability and compassion on a scale not often seen… now that’s something to focus on, that’s something we need to share with the world. for more.
#hope #movingon #love #sci

A question was asked in a group I belong to 'Who has more problems dating, men or women who use a wheelchair?' I gave my answer, which essentially said neither along with some 'love yourself' stuff.. and someone said 'yeah, but you're pretty so it doesn't count' - which was sweet and annoying at the same time. Here's the thing, like anyone, if I wan't to feel 'pretty', I'll play dress-up, straighten my annoyingly undecided 'I-want-to-climb-up-your-nostrils-belongs-in-the-80s hair and splash on some make-up. But I'm just as happy looking like the little freckled monster I am, and despite being told i look like two different people' glammed' up and natural, I'm ok with both, and both have been lucky and unlucky, like anyone in the dating game. I used to think it was all about looks however, but the older I get, the more I realise that the way we look is transient and if we are kind, humble, show gratitude and listen to others, that will make a much longer lasting impression than whether our eyelashes are thick, or our hair is perfectly coiffed. #beforeandafter #casualstyle #hair #hairstyles #smile #reality #instareality
#redhair #redhead #spinalcordinjury #wheelchair #wheelchairgirl #newzealand #home

I love being a twit, like pretending to be a rockstar using a manky dish-brush microphone. I often crack stupid jokes and laugh or sing like I'm crazy, even when there's no one around to hear... except the dog who gives me this 'wtf are you doing look'. Initially hearing people cracking jokes in the spinal unit would annoy me... all i wanted to do was cry and scream... but I totally get it now. Making jokes during what can be a surreal and traumatic time is sometimes a great way to cope, and when we are constantly confronted with people pouring their sympathy and pity onto us, I certainly love being a little cheeky and playing up to it... like being in a waiting room and asking if i can take a seat (you should see the looks of confusion..)😂 One girl I adore who has a natural talent for cracking hilarious jokes is fellow kiwi @sophia_malthus, she had her accident only a few years ago and I've been brought to tears over her satirical, awesomely inappropriate humor. I love how she doesn't take herself so seriously. Because we deal with the crazy enormity of this situation on a daily basis, we need to balance that with some kind of outlet, and one of hers is humor. She jokes she should do stand up comedy... I love this girl!

So my advice is if you're throwing a pity party (and heck, we are entitled to a few!) try to see the funny side, read some stupid jokes online or bust out some retro dance moves... I guarantee it will lift your spirits, afterall, laughter really is the best medicine.
@sophia_malthus 💖😂😜
#funny #laughter #coping #comedy
#laughterisgoodforthesoul #cheeky #cheesy #friends #newzealand #spinalcordinjury #wheelchair #wheelchairgirl #strong

When I think about the things that make me happy, sometimes things like 'walks in the bush' and 'going to the beach' come to mind, and for a moment, I feel pissed off, because I can't do that stuff currently (although technology is certainly helping that become a reality soon). And then I think about the stuff I can do, and the stuff I love doing; listening to music and getting lost in it, watching something beautiful, mind epiphanies like realising I could wear skirts and people wouldn't care or call me a freak, helping others including animals, eating delicious food, laughing with friends, falling in love and planning impossible goals. Then there's this little monkey, with his lap-addiction and never ending supply of hugs. He teaches me to be real (he can't fake happiness, say the word 'walkies' and he nearly wets himself with pure excitement). I CAN'T feel sorry for myself with him around, because it's impossible. I might have to pick up his poo, clean the odd pee accident and when I take him places, explaining to people he's a necessary requirement due to his ability to help me - he doesn't, but people see me, a chair and a dog and assume that anyway - can be tricky but I wouldn't trade him for the world.💖
#bestfriend #love #loveofmylife
#puppy #griffon #griffonbruxellois #pug #dog #cuddling #sleeping #monkey #family #spinalcordinjury #wheelchair #wheelchairgirl #newzealand #home #kitchen

I've always loved painting, even before my accident. I'm no Frida Kahlo, my paintings are steeped in hidden meanings personal to me, like a diary, but it's a great way to get my feelings out and it's my 'de-stress' time (cheap form of therapy!) The botched neck surgery a few years ago meant I'm no longer able to design and paint like I used to, but I'm actually pretty happy with this painting. Even though it was really difficult to paint physically, it was satisfying. Perhaps because I have to try new methods of painting, with my arms, mouth etc, it just highlights to me how once again, we are adaptable. It's not perfect, but it felt good to get out a few feelings and splash them onto the canvas. Because of the barriers I face, I often feel angry, frustrated or depressed, which is normal after going through trauma, so having the ability to release those frustrations is essential I think. Not everyone will feel like painting, but talking, writing, singing, yelling, swearing, dancing, or just having some quiet time can be healing in itself. I know I'm focusing on the more negative types of feelings, but i do find after painting, it's like I've offloaded some of my darker feelings and I am happier. I do feel like I often have to present the 'happy, coping Claire', but life is about ups and downs, and acknowledging the downs, doing something about those feelings is just as important. I tell myself, I'm only human, I've been through a lot, so it's ok to not be ok... and it gives me a reason and desire to paint, which isn't bad either because it's something I enjoy. Even if it is different now, I still feel like I'm creating something and my adaptability is part of that creative process. #art #painting #pinksocks #canvaspainting #therapy #nude #secrets #dreams #spinalcordinjury #wheelchair #wheelchairgirl #newzealand #blue #resistance #coping #depression #artwork

One of the hardest things to deal with after an injury is feeling alone and it felt like the minute I broke my neck many years ago, my body no longer belonged to me, it became property of the health system and insurance. The de-humanizing process of being poked, prodded and abused made me hate myself and my body. I was a number, a patient, a piece of meat wrapped in gauze, stuck together with metal. I was sexless. Initially, I couldn't move and was told I'd never move from my neck down. I was told what baggy, muted clothes to wear and not to expect too much, or attempt too much. Luckily they told the wrong teenager and I did the opposite. I went to Design School despite having no hand function (partly after being told it was impossible by the doctors) and tried to fix myself, all while feeling like I was the only girl in the world with this injury. But still, with no role models, it was a lonely, empty time for me.
BeBoundless is about challenging those dominant ideas of what we get told and think we can't do. It's a brilliant idea started by Chelsea Hill and the Rollettes, girls with spinal impairments and injuries who are out there letting the world know nothing stops us doing what we love. This injury can feel lonely, we need role models, we need to know things are possible, because I spent too long hating myself. I've accepted myself, my body, my flaws and I'm owning them. I'm not scared to go out anymore, I don't wear clothes that I thought would hide me from stares. I love what these amazing women are doing, life shouldn't be about hiding, or giving in, it's about having fun, dancing, connecting with others like us so we don't feel alone, it's about loving and owning our bodies. My photo might be revealing, but it's mine to do what I like with. It's challenging putting myself out there but it's also liberating. They tried to wrap me in cotton wool and place limits on what I'd achieve but even doctors can be wrong. We aren't bound to our chairs, or our minds, we are boundless. @chelsiehill @rollettes_la @slickchicksonline #beboundless18 #rollettes #selflove
#notalone #love #friends #inspiration #strong #challenge #life #spinalcordinjury #wheelchair

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