Questionnaire for PF Wellness Retreat

*** FOLKS, FAIRIES AND OTHER ASSORTED PERSONS***

After much behind the scenes work and many a heated discussion, we have produced the promised questionnaire, which is the second in the many steps we are taking towards organising a weekend retreat for the community that is as inclusive and as accessible as we can possibly make it.

Now, this is a very wordy, very lengthy questionnaire. It may seem excessive to some of you but I imagine that to others it will be refreshing to see that we are trying to make sure we leave no person and their needs unconsidered.

Here is a link to a PDF version of the questionnaire so you can read it at your leisure and fettle yourself for how big and detailed it is and consider your answers before filling it in, if you feel that would be helpful for you.

PF Camp Questionnaire PDF File

So, please bear in mind that this questionnaire has been designed by our resident Occupational Therapist, Jean, and it has been written specifically to ensure that we choose the best possible venue, workshops, events, equipment and resources to make this retreat as inclusive and accessible as we’re humanly able.

Our hope is that no one will be made to feel like they have to miss out because of their needs being unmet.

Here is the questionnaire.

The more details you give us, the easier it will be for us to accommodate all needs.

Thank you.

30 Days Wild With a Difference!

So, this month is the Wildlife Trust’s Wild Month!

They’re asking people to sign up and do something wild every day this month! Even if it’s something as simple as sitting in the garden, watching the sun set, counting bees or something complicated like doing a mini wildlife survey, building a bug hotel or taking part in some of the many events the Wildlife Trust is holding all over the UK this month!

So, we on the Disabilities Team were wondering what we could do to make this as accessible as possible and to encourage others to think outside the box when accessing their nature. So, we’ve signed up to 30 Days Wild as a team and every day when we get the prompts, we’re going to discuss what we can do to make this prompt as Pagan and accessible as possible!

Now, this may well mean that we can’t do a thing every day but that means we can spread this over the whole summer!

Today we’re just introducing what we’re doing but keep your eyes peeled for more info, blog spots, videos, posters and other stuff to show you what we’ve been up to and the experiments we’ve been engaging in to try and find the most accessible way possible to access nature! 

xXx Debi xXx

To get involved or sign up to the 30 Days Wild, you can go to the Wildlife Trust’s website! And if you do join in, please let us know so we can share in this together! 😀

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/30DaysWild/Random-Acts-Of-Wildness

 

DPVP does NaPoWriMo – And so it begins…

Today is the first of April, the first day of National Poetry Writing Month…

All you have to do to join in is email your poetry to dpvp@paganfederation.co.uk

You know, if you’re not up to writing poetry, you could always join in by telling us why you find it hard to write poetry? Or tell us what you prefer to poetry, like short stories, blog posts, art, music… The Disabled Pagans Voices Project is your voice, your project and we love you hear from you… 🙂

You can read more about and sign up to National Poetry Writing Month at http://www.napowrimo.net/about/

Happy NaPoWriMo!

Spoons and Spanners in the Works…

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in your own reality and to forget, at least for a time, that your reality and someone else’s isn’t always the same thing. Even if you experience the same situations, in the exact same way, your perceptions of those experiences, the way your minds process them, can be worlds apart.

It’s not always as simple as saying “this happened and this is how you should all react” because one person’s offence is another person’s humour. What one individual may find traumatic, another may not even notice has happened and that’s all before you take personality and personal circumstances into account! It’s both a fascinating and excruciatingly complex part of the human condition… And when you’re in a situation where you have to navigate these experiences, both your own and others’, on a regular basis, it is quite literally impossible to get it right 100% of the time. On top of all this is the fact that even if perceptions align, support is given in the right places and personalities don’t rub the wrong way, we must also walk the tightrope of constructive communication.

Many of you may have noticed that the Disabilities Team had a bit of a breakdown of communication some weeks ago. This wasn’t the whole team; I’d like to make that very clear. This was a case of unsuccessful communication between the management and, as I’m the Disabilities Manager, the blame for that has to rest on me, at least partly.

I won’t go into too many details because, frankly, this was a private matter that should have remained private, but I made a choice to support my community in a certain way and part of the way I do that is by being as honest and frank as I feel is appropriate… And what I feel is appropriate is often too honest and frank for some people! So, with respect to the others involved, I’d like to give you the explanation I feel you deserve but I ask that in return, you, as the community I serve, remember that one side of a story, or even two or three sides, even combined together, don’t always reflect the truth because perceptions differ, so the best policy is to remember that if you weren’t there, it probably isn’t any of your business… This is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way and the long road to the discovery has caused me many a headache, including the one that led to this particular miscommunication.

Long story short, I said some rather inadvisable things during what I thought was just a usual bought of low mood in a private capacity. As it turns out, this was more than a case of simple low mood and more of one of those times that I probably should have been shut in my bedroom and had cookies thrown at me through a cat flap until I was safe to come out again. Instead, I refused to accept that I was feeling quite as bad as I really did and when it was pointed out to me by someone I cared about, I did what we typically do and I lashed out. What can I say; I’m only human!

However, instead of this episode of private health issues and personality clashes being kept private, it was taken further and I asked for help. It seems that I asked for help in the wrong place as when I expected the support system I had helped to create to support me, it collapsed. This is partly my fault and partly the fault of others but I want to make it perfectly clear that no malicious intent was intended by anyone. This was a series of misunderstandings, bad communication and general human error on the part of a few people who are all trying to do the work of ten people each… That drastic workload being undertaken by a brave few could not keep on going without something unfortunate happening… And, as usual, my impatience and inability to just let things go brought it all to a head.

I want to apologise for the confusion, the upset and the distress that this situation has brought about to my friends, my colleagues, their families and the community. I couldn’t keep going forever and I’m now, in hindsight, rather shocked at just how long I managed without having a total meltdown (I have the support of my team and you people in the community to thank for lasting so long!)…

Procedures were in place to stop this sort of thing from happening but since the team has gone through some pretty drastic changes over the last year, those procedures needed updating and communicating to people and it is directly my fault that this wasn’t done and I really can’t apologise enough for that.

After discussions with the PF Committee and the Disabilities Team, I’ve decided that, if you’ll all still have me, I would like to remain in my post as Disabilities Manager, after a break and some readjusting of roles and support procedures to reflect what this unfortunate episode has highlighted…

I hope that you will join me in applauding the team and how they have dealt with this issue with dignity and integrity and I hope you all had a Happy Yule and a blessed new year.

xXx Debi xXx

A single word…

A single word…

A single word is all it takes…
Words are funny things. A single word, placed just so, has the power to make or break a relationship, to empower or destroy, to encourage or obliterate.
A single word is enough to say “no”, it’s enough to say “yes.”
A single word is enough to say “I just can’t”, “no more” and “I don’t have anything left in me.”
It’s enough to say “I understand”, “I’m here” and “I won’t let you fall.”
A single word is enough to fill the breach and enough to cause a chasm.

A single word is all it takes…
But sometimes saying that single word is too much to bear and hearing it is grim.
A single word but which to choose? Which to use? Which is best?
The wrong word could cause catastrophe but using no word would be worse.

A single word is all it takes…
Sometimes we use a word and think it’s right but the ears hear another meaning than the one we intend…
Sometimes it’s the right word for us, the only word we can manage and the ears refuse to hear it, caught up in their own hurricane of loquacity.
A single word but one word from many voices, many faces, for only two ears and one mind, is sometimes too much.

A single word but which to choose? Which to listen to? Which to act upon?
A single word but which is right? Which is true? Which is the one?

A single word is all it takes… But which to hear? Which to say?

A single word was all it took… That word was “help”…

World Mental Health Day and further musings.

So, today is World Mental Health Day and we were going to make a HUGE deal out of it but, as is typical, we all seem to be in low function mode right now. It’s a bit of a daft time of year for this sort of thing really… Most people who suffer with mental health conditions in this country notice a marked difference in their mood when the days start to darken… So the chances of us being productive at this time of year are much slimmer than in, say, May or June…

You may have noticed that we’ve been a bit quieter and if you were with us last year, you’ll probably have noticed it then too… The team is made up of disabled people and so, we made the decision very early on that we would not try to fight this and would, instead, go with the flow. Therefore, we’re going into hibernation mode!

Don’t worry! We’re not completely gone, we’re just not going to be working much until the Spring comes. We’re still here if you need us and we hope that you can join in our conversations in the support group and will still feel confident in coming to us if you need our support but there will be slow progress in our usual work for the next few months.

We hope to see you at our festival in a few weeks though, as that is definitely still going on!

On a more personal note, you may have noticed that i’m being quieter than usual… Some of you may have even noticed why! This time of year always has a bizarre effect on me… I tend to be a little more… Difficult, let’s say difficult, for the sake of being polite… I’m a little more difficult at this time of year and so i try to take myself out of situations where i may cause offence or upset… Well… That is… I do when i start noticing that i’m doing it… Which is usually after i’ve caused a bit of trouble… And it seems i’ve come to this point now! So, with this in mind, i’ll see you on the other side of this… Whatever it is… And i sincerely hope i see none of you during it! 😉

Stay safe, be blessed and much love!

xXx Debi xXx

Future plans from the Disabilities Team!

The festivals began as a way to reach out to the disabled within the community but it went so much further than that by reaching out to not only the disabled but carers, families, people with strict working hours so that anyone, even those who find it easy to attend regular festivals, wanted to be a part of what we created. This far exceeded our expectations.

We wanted to bring a small part of the community to those who felt like they were on the inside looking out at the world and what happened was, rather than bringing you outside or bringing the outside in, we just broke down those walls and now everyone is together and a part of it… Whatever it is! Even we still don’t know!

We can’t tell you all of our plans for the future as we don’t want to get your hopes up for things that may not be possible BUT we can confirm that a retreat is in the discussion stages, as are plans to fill the spaces between our quarterly festivals.

We’re looking into opening our own team shop to bring you some amazing work from our resident artist, Carl, and Batty Nan and there are big plans for other resources that we hope will engage you, inspire you and energise you all!

Part of this, is to move the Online Festivals on to the main Pagan Federation page and to expand them so we hope you will join us there and continue to support us in our work! 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/paganfederation/

Regards and Blessings

The PF Disabilities Team

 

Flare-up Ramblings From the Disabilities Manager

So, one of the few perks of being me, if you can call it that, (the ADD helps with this) is that when my brain is braining, I can do everything… All the things… All the stuffs! I can run the Disabilities Team, put together the Online Festivals, run the moot, cook elaborate meals for my family, go to my burlesque classes, go to the gym, write my novels, edit other’s novels, help with Pagan Dawn, support the community, raise money for charity, be peer support for an organisation I support for women with serious pregnancy complications and everything else you all see me doing (let’s face it, I’m not quiet about it; am i? I’m not all that quiet about much!)… But then, the time inevitably comes when I can’t do any of it… I can’t cook, I can’t walk, I can barely talk or type… I started writing this on the 28th of June (It’s currently 4am and I can’t sleep due to a persistent pain in my lower back, my hips and now my right leg… Which is bizarre and it’s usually my left leg…), I’m not sure when I’ll be able to finish it… Perhaps I should but dates throughout to show when I’ve written which bits…

I constantly have people suggesting that I slow down, not take on as much, only focus on one thing so I don’t overload myself… But my brain doesn’t work that way. The flare ups, the emotional and physical crashes that I get every few months, I get them whether I’m busy or not! So… While I’m able, I like to be busy and my brain works best when it has a lot to do. I can never concentrate on one thing for very long so it’s best if I do twenty minutes on one thing then switch to another then onto another until it’s all done. Took me years to figure out that was how my brain worked best and I’m very grateful for the knowledge, for see how well I work now I have this gift?

(Currently 8:50 1 July… The children are still asleep and I’m not in all that much extra pain today but my mind is more erratic than usual and I’ve been awake since about six with the same infernal song stuck in my damned head! Don’t even know what it’s called or the lyrics… Just a tune that I partially heard on the radio… The same few bars of the intro before it was turned off in time to listen to Paul O’Grady last week…)

I’m given a choice… Do nothing ever… Or do the things I can, when I can and then when I crash… Hope that those around me care and understand enough to allow me that time to recover from being all the crap that is me… I went through a phase… A few years, in fact… Of doing nothing. From 2013 to 2016, I sunk into a pit of self pity and didn’t engage at all with anything or anyone outside of the small bubble of my direct acquaintance… Was I happy that way? It was less complicated, that’s for damned sure… But I don’t think I could ever be happy unless I was serving my community, my country, my family and my friends…

So, I made the choice and I’m very lucky to be surrounded by the very people I’d always dreamed of working with. People who understand and tell me it’s alright to crash and take time for me and that my work will be right there for me when I get back.

(Currently the 4th of July – 3pm, just before the kids come home from school)

Just had a letter from PIP, I have an assessment a week on Thursday… Which is just what I needed when I’m in the midst of a rather scary flare up. Part of me is grateful because I always seem to be at my best for these assessments and find myself having to explain why I’m so coherent and able and trying to demonstrate how I am at my worst… They’ll likely see it for themselves this time… But the other part of me is very scared right now. I’m likely going to lose the tiny bit of PIP they “awarded” me last time, which was less than half what I was rightly entitled to but I was too weak to fight them… And this time I have no option, I’ll have to fight!

But also… This flare up isn’t like the ones I’m used to… Always before they centred around a particular side of my illnesses; the pain or the mental sluggishness or the forgetfulness and all the other stuff… This time… I’m getting it all at once and I feel myself truly drowning in a sea of pain, confusion, fear and depression… Always before I could focus on something to keep my mind steady until I could come out the other side and say “I’m alright, I’m back. I’m ok.” This time, I can’t hold onto anything… No lifeboat, no lifejacket… Not even a polo!

I’m sorry if these ramblings make no sense. Each sentence is struggling to get out amidst the sludge that is my brain… I keep saying sludge and I usually hate to repeat myself, which should give some indication of the lack of brain I have right now…

So, while I tread water in this sea of sludgy panic, I hope that you can forgive me when I’m not around and hope that you won’t think less of me for my weakness… And I hope you can trust me when I say that I’m fighting like hell to get back to you all…

Are You Having Any Fun?

Morning folks.

 
I was just going through my memories here on Facebook and came across something that was said by Carl Johnson, Disabilities Liaison for the Mid-West & Wales. I thought I’d share it…
 
“I think people make this awful mistake of thinking they have to grow up and be adult. I know how crushing depression and illness can be. Which is why I think we all need to grab the fun silly bits whenever we can.”
 
I couldn’t agree more with this. Many years ago I worked with various military charities, raising money, awareness and morale within the veteran and military community and I became good friends with a man named William. He gave me some advice that has stuck with me for many, many years and I’d like to share it with you now.
Basically; have a little wiggle! Now, I know many of us have physical issues that may prevent a decent jiggle but even if only a mental wiggle is had, I feel this counts. Stick on a song, any song! A song that makes it impossible for you to sit still! A song that makes you want to dance and shake that bootay! Set it as your alarm in the morning and wake up to a wiggle! Even if you just wiggle a finger! Find something you can wiggle or belt out to and start the morning on a high of giggles!
Carl is right; people take life far too seriously and who does that more than us? The ones whose lives are serious by necessity, the ones who are too busy counting our pain medication, concentrating on physio, ignoring the puddles instead of jumping in them because putting one foot in front of the other without crying out in pain is far more important. But we need fun too! We need to stop and smell the roses, jump in the puddles, smile at the rainbows. We need that more than most because if we don’t take that time, the weight of reality can crush us.So, even if you’re like me and no good at self care… Even if you’re riddled with anxiety or crippled by pain… Do yourself this favour, this kindness; have a little wiggle!If you do decide that you can do this, I’d love to hear the songs you find irresistible! Please share them with me so I can giggle along with you!

Here are some of my favourites…


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UB_RFcpRXoE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUqo31PUpgohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOou5i3IVsU

 

Debi Gregory: meet the Disabilities Manager

Hi folks! My name is Debi Gregory and I’m the National Disabilities Manager for the Pagan Federation (England & Wales). I’ve been Pagan for almost fifteen years and follow a solitary ancestral path.

Family plays an important part in my life. I have a huge family with three brothers, six sisters, five nieces and four nephews, not to mention my huge extended family, which I’m very close to. My sisters and I get up to a lot of mischief. My children are my world. They’re noisy, mischievous and full of an energy that they certainly didn’t inherit from me! We go all over the place, they love exploring woodland, they adore history. Elaina is artistic, Julia is a daredevil, Stevie is an adventurer.

My husband is my all and my everything. My rock, my solace, my sweet nights sleep. He’s also the prat, the thorn in my side and my early morning wake up! Forget the kids, it’s him that interrupts my peaceful dawns!

 

I wasn’t born disabled, although I was born with slight learning difficulties. It wasn’t until having my children that my health started to seriously affect my life. Now, three babies, three nervous breakdowns, almost dying twice and almost being crippled twice later, I think it’s safe to say I’m about done and have kindly petitioned the Gods to leave me the hell alone!

Just when I had given up on my hopes and my dreams, the Gods sent me a message. They sent me Mike Stygal and the Pagan Federation. An opportunity more than fell into my lap, it was a huge cat, sitting on my chest and glaring at me to pet it. I obviously decided to pet said God cat and took up the role of Disabilities Manager. Mike encouraged me to try my hand when no one else was willing, obviously there was slim pickings or he’d have asked someone else. I’m not entirely sure he didn’t beg on his knees for others to do it but he’s stuck with me now!

My disabilities are varied and much too much to write down all in one place but they range from severe depression to using crutches due to pregnancy complications aggravated by Hypermobility. I try to use my crutches as little as possible but during the winter they tend to come out about 80% of the time. I may never be rid of them but I’m not giving up!

Since becoming Disabilities Manager I’ve met, online and in person, so many inspirational people. They’ve given me the strength and determination to keep my head above water even if only to be there for them. The first person to inspire me, many years ago, to take a bigger step into my faith, was the woman who would eventually become my Disabilities Deputy, the fabulous Ms Beth Murray, who lit a fire in me that I was afraid would never spark again. She’s now dating my best friend too so it means I get to see her even more than before, which I’m very happy about!

My best friends and I are a good sort. We’re always the height of maturity. A shining example to all on the finer things in life.

I’m also a writer. I recently published my first novella and I edit my mum’s books, which are set in a fantasy world ruled by women. These books are so inclusive of all faiths that it wasn’t until I started editing them that I realised just how intelligent, compassionate and fair my mum really was and it gave me a deeper respect and love for her. I may be biased but I highly recommend her books, the second of which is due out soon, to anyone wanting a good adventure! You may even notice that one of the characters is based on yours truly but I won’t say which one.

My own book is of the erotic variety. In what seems like another lifetime, I did a lot of work with forces charities. I performed for veterans, helped to raise money and generally just tried to do right by those I consider to be most deserving of our respect and reverence. I particularly enjoyed singing for the golden veterans. I sang songs from the war to take them back and when I was with them, they shared with me the stories of their amazing lives. I also wrote short scenes for some military wives in a group I’m in, to distract them while their husbands were away and they encouraged me to get it published, so I did. Unfortunately it reflects a side of me that some wouldn’t approve of because the book is basically twenty odd thousand words of sarcasm and sex. If that sounds like something you’d be up for, feel free to download and leave me a review! 😉

That’s a lot of information about me so I’m not going to bore you further. What I would like to end with is by saying that, while I didn’t want this job to begin with, that was more about my self doubt and my lack of confidence than anything else. With the help of this awe inspiring team I hope that I can do what I feel in my bones is my calling in this life and that’s to help others. It’s what I’ve always felt I was meant to do.

I struggled to fit in so much when I was growing up. At school, with my peers, in my own family and even in my own skin but I finally feel that I’m right where I belong. Right where I’m needed. With you, helping you. I hope that this insight into me and my life has helped you to feel that you know me well enough to trust that I will do whatever I can to help you all. I may not be perfect, who is? But I will always do my utmost to be open, honest and realistic about what we can do and I promise that, while ever you still want me, I’ll be here for you all.

Be kind to yourselves and to each other.

Remember, without trust, we have nothing!

Be blessed, folks!

xXx Debi xXx