meesa_claire meesa_claire

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Claire Freeman  Doctorate student at AUT, New Zealand model

New Zealand isn't a bad place to be stuck... at least when I'm stuck the views are usually pretty good😁
#newzealand #queenstown #lakewakatipu #silly #blue #alps #spinalcordinjury #wheelchair #wheelchairgirl #landofthelongwhitecloud #aotearoa

Breaking out from black with a hyper-colour scarf designed by one of my best buddies Trudy. I find it amusingly sad I spent so many years wearing black, wanting to recede into the background, but as my gorgeous friend @therealangelarockwood says, if you can't stand up, stand out. Have a great weekend😘
@trudymulliganluxuryscarves #friends #backyard #colours #porthills #sea #spinalcordinjury #wheelchair #wheelchairgirl #newzealand #orange #red #phoenix

A quick insta-tour of my home after a few of you asked to see it (I made a longer clip on YouTube, see the link at the top of my page... my first YouTube clip👍). Many may think Peter Jackson put this amazing clip together, but no, it was just me and John - if Peter Jackson, or Spielberg is reading this, John's account is @mosmodium (I just look and sound like a weird robot with too-tight undies lol😅) After my botched surgery where the surgeon placed a screw into my spinal cord (he was tired and said it was the 'wrong time of the year to be doing neck surgery', good one mate), I had to quit my job in town and find another job that I could do with even less arm movement. Luckily, I had just finished building my 'dream home' so when I got a job I could do from home, I wasn't too upset I'd be working from here - always got to look at the bright side, and there's often a silver lining, even if it's a hard life lesson learnt. I love my little slice of kiwi paradise, it was the hardest thing I've ever done, saving and then designing and building it, but I love it (don't love the mortgage but who does). I feel safe here, away from the shaky sands of my old home that was nearly destroyed in the devastating earthquakes. This place is built on rock so shouldn't be going anywhere if we have any more quakes. New Zealand may be a million miles from anywhere but with a home like this, I don't mind living at the bottom of the world. 
#home #house #architecture #modern #life #accessible #accessiblehome #dreamhome #newzealand #christchurch #dreamscometrue #hardwork #massivemortgage #wheelchair #spinalcordinjury #universaldesign

These boots were made for walking, but that's not what they'll do...😁👢🧀 My old boots. A number of friends have told me how uncool these are, but I cling to them anyway.. because they are special. They remind me of how far I've come. I bought them in Florence, Italy, on my first trip to Europe a few years ago. It was a strange trip, a 'F.U.C.* you' to the world. I'd had a breakdown at work (it's strange how 'breakdown' sounds so much more palatable than 'attempted suic... '). I was alive, pissed off, so took a month off work (I hadn't had a holiday in years). I traveled alone to the other side of the earth. I met my sister in Switzerland and we traveled around Europe together. I figured what hadn't killed me, might as well make me stronger... and it did. I struggled with going anywhere on my own, so although terrifying, it opened my eyes to my own irrational fears. It also made me see how small my world was, how other's lived, and how lucky I was, to be able to work, pay for a trip to the other side of the planet, and to grow up thinking if I wanted, I could do anything, in spite of my spinal injury. So I may not have done much walking in these boots, but they have traveled the world with me, and they remind me, on this beautiful spring day, that life can have a number of new beginnings, I just had to let go of my fear, trust myself, believe in myself, ask for help when I needed it and live. #spring #boots #believeinyourself #alive #spinalcordinjury #newzealand #christchurch #redhair #happy #travel #italy #wheelchair #fashion #kowhai #love #suicidesurvivor #survivor

Playing in my local playground - I didn't get the 'grow-up memo' 😁

In New Zealand, we have a housing crises (I know, what has a playground got to do with that ?). The government is pushing ahead with building thousands of new homes which is fantastic, except not many, if any, look to have incorporated universal design, and with an aging population and a dire shortage of accessible homes, it's a bit short sighted. The argument is that houses can be 'made accessible' but it's proven to be a lot cheaper to do that in the beginning of the building process.
So to my playground point. Most playgrounds in my city aren't accessible, in fact, even the new carpark where i walk my dog has no curb cuts. I could ask the council to put one in, but that costs a lot more than just sloping the curb down when the original concrete was poured, or placing a small ramp up into the playgrounds when they were built.
None of know if we will become disabled, or what our needs will be when we are old, but chances are, at some stage, people experience some form of limited mobility. I reckon it would make sense to think about these things a bit more, and instead of facing problems when we are incapacitated and thinking 'why me', it's really a case of 'why not me' and build environments that aren't limiting, but inclusive for all of society.
#universaldesign #accessible #play #playground #redhair #redhead #weekend #spinalcordinjury #wheelchair #wheelchairgirl #newzealand #christchurch #christchurchcitycouncil #bridge #ramp #disability

Photo-bombed. From about 6 months old, I knew I was never destined to be a supermodel (self-depreciating kiwi humor), so instead I focused on pulling funny faces - people who know me in real life know I can pull the best ugly faces in the world. Looks like my toddler nephew inherited the same cheeky gene😝❤️
p.s check out the next photo, I was in Switzerland in these shots and that was the view we were looking at (accessible cable car to the top of the alps)... this place is like New Zealand on steroids😍 #tryingtolookcool #switzerland #photobomb #nephew #family #missyou #newzealand #funny #blue #love #alps #spinalcordinjury #wheelchair #wheelchairgirl #sillyface

A pink, fluffy shot of super happy me... well, doughnuts do make me happy, they are a fairly inexpensive treat that brings me moments of delicious joy. I have a super strong sense of taste, it seems what I lost in senses from my injury, I gained in other areas such as taste and sensation above my spinal injury level - the body is interesting in that respect (and when I burnt my hip recently, I think it was more painful for the nurse to dress my wound, although she didn't laugh at my joke about how lucky I am to have no sensation of pain, well, I'll take any chance to crack a joke, even if it's inappropriate). To be honest though, it's been an 'up and down' kind of week as I wade through some emotional medical issues. I'm ok with feeling down, it's part of being a human. However, I sometimes need a 'pick-me-up' to jolt me out of that down period, so I splashed out, bought some yummy food - doughnuts, walnuts and tamarillos, not together, I'm not that weird 😜... and yes, some foods in New Zealand are expensive! - watched a great movie and reminded myself of all I do have - I live in a safe country, I have a home, supportive friends, a sense of purpose and can afford the occasional treat, so I'm grateful, and in a funny way, reminding me of what I have does lift my spirits.
#grateful #littlethings #food #doughnuts #treats #smile #redhair #lucky #pink #spinalcordinjury #wheelchair #wheelchairgirl #newzealand

It was spinal injury awareness week last week and ironically I was in hospital for a 'check-up'. I'll be honest, I had mixed feelings about awareness week. I wonder what the awareness is for ... I guess it means different things for different people and a lot of it I totally agree with. Awareness around access, health issues we face, misconceptions people have - all of these are positives and help. Perhaps I struggled with some of the 'suffering' we endure, but then I also see suffering differently, because through great suffering comes great insights.

A spinal cord injury isn't an easy injury, it is hard, it can be brutal, painful, it can evoke feelings of anger, grief, frustration, disbelief and heartache... but it can also provide us with a new love and understanding for humanity, adaptability like we have never known, compassion and gratefulness for a life we might have lost had we not survived. I know it has turned me into a fighter, for what I believe, for what I'm worth, for my human rights which are challenged sometimes.

So perhaps my message for spinal injury awareness is that yes it's hard sometimes, but it can be rewarding - if you let it. It's easy to give in to the darkness of this injury, to dream of our lives before it happened and covet our old selves, picking at a wound while wishing for a band-aid. We may not heal in our bodies the way we want, but if we can find peace in ourselves and love our new insights, then we have something totally unique to offer humanity. And that's something special, something we need to share with people, and with ourselves. #spinalcordinjury #awareness #hospital #wheelchair #life #nevergiveup #love #redhead #redhair #thoughts #newzealand #christchurch #burwoodspinalunit #itgetsbetter

Photo 1 - me dressed up, out and about with make-up and sunscreen on - took a few shots to get this one

Photo 2 - me normal. No make-up, comfortable clothes I can happily sleep in. Hair wanting to belong to an 80's rock group. No bra. Dog being his normal weird self - he jumps on my lap, flips over for tummy rubs and stays that way until I slide him off if I need to go to the toilet.
My point is, I spend most of my time in the land of the comfortable, in fact, if you came to my door, you might ask where Claire is, as you'd be met by a scruffy, wild looking red-head with a dog attached to her lap. I probably post too many 'nice' photos of me all dressed up, but my reality is fairly simple. I work/study from home, I sing, dance, cry, laugh, pull faces and love being silly, i talk to my dog most of the time and will try to get away with wearing scrunchy, comfy clothes unless i'm out. I'd hate for people to think my life is glamorous because it's not. I'm a designer/artist so have been taught about photography etc and composition, but the reality is that it takes a few shots to get a good one and although I love dressing up and going out, most of the time I'm a little kiwi home-body, trying to change the world in a positive way with my studies and blog. Have a happy weekend and thank you so much for being a part of my journey.💖
#weekend #keepingitreal #rose #redhair #dog #griffon #reality #comfortable #truthbomb #spinalcordinjury #wheelchair #wheelchairgirl #newzealand #red #happy #sillyface #selfie

- totally shouldn't though 😮😋
A couple of friends have recently had weird experiences with their caring/nursing agency (these are the people that help some of us with daily life tasks, like showering, shopping etc). It seems talking to carers about anything of a sexual nature is a no no, even if the carer is helpful and interested in what you're saying. One friend was initially told to leave the agency and both were made to feel like naughty school girls (and not in a good way lol). I want to reiterate, this isn't sexual harassment, these are conversations between 2 adults about sex, except anything of a sexual nature needs to be reported to management, the carers themselves had no problems with the conversations, but protocol suggests talking about sex is off the cards.
Hospital staff have a model they use to educate and talk with people with impairments about sexuality (I did my Masters thesis on this very issue) and recognize it is a healthy and normal part of being human, yet caring agencies seem to be stuck in the dark ages.
So here's the thing, I think it shouldn't matter what ethnicity you are, what gender you are, how able-bodied you are or whether you prefer curry or sushi, we all deserve to be valued and treated with respect and dignity, no matter what our sexual orientation is, whether we identify as sexual or assexual beings. So here I am, sitting in this crazy costume to make a point about attitudes towards sex and disability - shock horror to all those prudish, caring agency managers and policy makers who don't want to acknowledge that we are sexual beings... well guess what, we are, deal with it and drag yourselves out of the dark ages and join the rest of us... please! There seems to be enough misconceptions regarding us with sex and intimacy, ignoring or pretending we aren't sexual beings shows ignorance and is weird... & as iconic 90s hip hop band Salt n Pepa said 'let's talk about sex!'🧢💋💥
#sex #theshitidotomakeapoint #caring #disability #darkages #wearesexualtoo #nursing #management #crazy #saltnpepa #whatamiwearing #spinalcordinjury #wheelchair #wheelchairgirl #newzealand #pink #funny #sexuality

There is a thin line between feeling 'ungrateful' and 'empowered to achieve autonomy' when dealing with medical/welfare providers. I'm not one who likes 'rocking the boat' but I seem to be spending a lot of time very frustrated dealing with people who are supposed to make my life easier with this disability. Instead, I feel a mixture of frustration, anger, resentment and despair. I realised as I lay in bed at 2 am, brooding about decisions being made about my life that will have negative consequences, that the sense of a loss of autonomy can have a profound effect on my state of health. I haven't been sleeping well, but more than that, is the feeling that there's nothing I can do. People who make decisions about my life, about equipment I might need due to my impairment, about housing modifications, medical supplies, rehabilitation, essentially anything to do with my disability, seem to make seemingly illogical decisions, and as the 'client' I have to either accept or fight and risk retribution, like a naughty child asking for 'more'. Except all I'm asking for is autonomy, is some independence, or help with interdependence. I've had this injury for over 20 years, I've got a Masters in health science, heck, soon I'll even be a Doctor specializing in clinical health science, yet still, I have no authority with decisions made about my life, and yes, it makes me want to scream... but instead, I simmer away, accepting the decisions made from people with little to no experience (or empathy) of disability... but very good with money it seems! Healthcare should be called healtheconomics😷 for more see my blog #autonomy #olivertwist #frustrated #money #neoliberalism #insurance #nosleep #help #spinalcordinjury #newzealand #wheelchairgirl #wheelchair #acc #christchurch

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

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