The ‘D’ Word

This beautiful girl and her message triggered my feelings on the use of the word Dwarf.  I actually cringe at the sound of the word leaving my mouth.  In fact my family and friends will be in a state of shock that I have mentioned the word.  The word has always left me cold.  I am aware that there are many ‘little people’ (my preferred term) that are comfortable with it but I’m not.  I also understand that people might use it for want of a better word which is completely understandable, but ill politely correct them.

I feel it is all about education, opportunities to educate and a personal desire to make the effort not to offend.  Some find the desire to not offend an important and essential quality to posses and some not so much, and for them its likely they have other important matters on their priority list when it comes to social and emotional intelligence. 

For me the dislike of the term Dwarf comes from a variety of things, one being my disdain for labels.  I am not just one thing, I am made up of many things and the danger of being labelled as a dwarf is that all my other qualities, strengths, skills, attributes that I pride myself in are somehow overshadowed by this one word.

Another reason for my discomfort of the word is that it has so much negative stigma attached to it, from an age where little people where used and abused for the entertainment of others.  Going back in history Dwarves where often seen as freaks and unwanted unfortunates who resigned themselves to a life of humiliation and ill treatment.  It still goes on today.

Now Im not talking about the larger than life ‘little people’ who have chosen to put themselves out in the public arena and shake what their mamas gave them.  I say power to them.  Those choices were made on their own terms.  Like any person putting themselves out there they will find themselves subjected to judgement, and that is part of the deal.  They are carving their own paths in the world and I’m all for that.

But I am not any of them.  I am a mother.  I am a partner.  I am a daughter, sister, aunty, niece, cousin and friend.  I am a strong independent intelligent capable woman.  I love hard and feel deeply.  I am Jacqui.

So when someone comes up to me and says “are you a dwarf”, I take a deep breathe and say “No, I am Jacqui and I am a little person”.  I have absolutely no control of how they will respond to that but I do my best to educate them gracefully and carry on.  That is all I have to do.

Some people say the world is getting too PC (politically correct) and in some cases they may have a point, but I choose to say that the world is trying to be kinder, and that is a world I would like to live in. 

Written by Jacqui Barrett creator of Special Me

 

 

Inside Voices

I open my eyes with the thrill of the day

You cant mess with me

I bathe myself and cleanse my soul

You cant mess with me

I nourish my body with food that fuels

You cant mess with me

I charge onto the pavement to lift my high

You cant mess with me

I walk past people who smile and wave

You cant mess with me

I grin and pierce with the depth of my smile

You cant mess with me

I set about feeling hopeful and alive

You cant mess with me

Until I see them coming in the corner of my eye

You cant mess with me

I hold my breathe and wait and see

You cant mess with me

I cringe as they whisper and laugh out loud

You cant mess with me

My heart rips open and my cheeks burn red

You cant mess with me

I wish for this pain to be fleeting and swift

You cant mess with me

I almost lose balance when they call out those words

You cant mess with me

I gasp for air and stumble home

You cant mess with me

I breathe in deeply with conviction in my heart

You cant mess with me

Pulling on my armour and chanting the words

You cant mess with me

I remind myself how high I fly

You cant mess with me

High above the power of words

You cant mess with me

I surround myself with good and love

You cant mess with me

Until my heart is full and me wings unfold

You cant mess with me

I wink into the mirror at the warrior I see

You cant mess with me

Living to face another day

They couldn’t mess with me

 

Poem written by Jacqui Barrett creator of Special Me

Photo courtesy of Tracey Stevens Photography

 

Hanging up the Mask

 

Many wear masks, some of deception, some for entertainment and some of protection. It is a way to transform our audience’s perception of what lies behind it. Masks can be temporary and amusing and they can also be necessary and deliberate. There is a danger of masking ourselves from our true selves, in that the people around us never get to experience the true you and with that never get to taste what is your rawness or delight, or your complexities and pureness. It is our commonalities that draw one human being to another, that bring about a connection of the minds, and when masked the opportunity of possible links are lost in the way we have translated ourselves. However when a brave unmasked connection is attempted the potential is that of two alike souls colliding.  I feel my life is often enriched by many of these miraculous connections, but that has not always been so.

 

We all wear masks, some more than others. Behind my mask lies mostly fear. Fear that I am not good enough, self-worth. Fear that people will expose my vulnerabilities and not like what they find, abandonment. Fear that someone will see my inner most thoughts and realise that I am weak and easy for the taking, shame.

 

At the age of 14 my mask of choice was that of deterrence. Hiding behind a mask of anger and fire, in order to deter any unwanted attention. Since I could remember people had watched me, pointed, stared, laughed and shouted out unkind words that would draw me out in any crowd and shine a thick flood light of embarrassment upon me. All I ever wanted was to blend in but after many attempts of unsuccessful normalcy I felt like all I wanted to do was shrink into the darkness and fade away. So I moulded and created a mask. I would scowl and wince my eyes at everyone who looked like they would challenge me. I would steal a dark stare to ward off any attempts to expose me to others who had not yet discovered me. If I couldn’t pull off a performance in my mask I would not go out. Id shy away from crowded places and miss out on experiences just to save face. My life was an exhausting play, scene after scene of avoidance and scorn. The more I wore the mask the less people had the chance to connect with me and the more I avoided life the more life avoided me, until at 22 I had almost lost myself completely in a dark character that I had created out of fear.

 

Some say that to combat fear you must stare it directly in the face in order to render it powerless. So somewhere inside my beaten down soul I drew upon my last glimmer of light and decided I would do just that. Removing your mask is not for the faint hearted nor is it a matter for impatience. It is a journey of determination and small goals, small victories.

 

No one truly knew that I was buried so deeply into this crippling darkness because I had become an actress of sorts. Hidden almost completely behind the mask and fallen so deeply into character. I needed support. So I started talking. Telling those whom loved me and that I could trust what I needed and why. Pretty soon I noticed that when I went out into crowds or even small places where people gathered I was almost enclosed in a circle of protection. The people that loved and encouraged me would speak for me, when I was brought face to face by what then I described as the enemy. They did this for me until I was strong enough to find my own voice and speak for myself. Although it took many years of trial and attempts gone wrong , I made it my life’s goal to find a formula that worked, all the while keeping the comfort of my mask in my back pocket just in case. When I was faced with anxious encounters I would slip my hand into my pocket and grip my mask for comfort. The day eventually came where I was able to step out into the crowd and speak for myself. I was kind yet firm, assertive yet diplomatic and direct yet charming.

 

These days my mask hangs on a wall as reminder of how far I have come. My mask will always be there if I should need it. Now I see her as a dear friend that helped me through one of the toughest challenges in my life. I will always admire my mask fondly and am comforted in the fact that my mask is not alone, as she is lined up along a wall of all the other masks that have protected me over the years and that every time I hang one up it symbolises yet another victory in my crazy accomplished happy volatile journey of life.

Written by Jacqui Barrett Creator of Special Me

Photos courtesy of Tracey Stevens Photography

 

 

 

Mummy, why do they stare?

I was 4 years old when I asked my mother why people stared at me. She told me it was because I was beautiful. 

Not convinced, I questioned ‘but some of them are laughing’, to which she replied ‘that is because you have a beauty they have not yet learned to appreciate’.

I have been walking as if I was on the catwalks of Milan everyday since.

What we tell our babies has the power to change their world and make it a better place x

Written by Jacquibatspecialme

Creator of Special Me Group

Photo courtesy of Tracey Steven Photography

My Perfectly Imperfect Toes

 

There was a time when my feet and ankles were to me, one of the most undesirable parts of my body. I would always hide them away, wearing long skirts or trousers to cover them up. My toes were chubby and toe nails grew in funny shapes. My ankles sunk to the floor and I walked on the side of my feet. They hurt when I walked too far and they were so wide, I had to buy shoes a size too big to make them fit.

My first school ball I spent in black lace slippers while all the other girls wore high heels. How I longed to slip into a beautiful pair of heels and feel a million dollars while spinning gracefully around the dance floor on the tips of my toes.

 

Last year I lost the use of my feet. For 7 weeks I was bed ridden. I remember one night looking down at my feet, wishing I could stand up and walk out of the hospital and all the way home to my boy. I realised that I didn’t care what they looked like or how other people saw them, I just wanted my little feet back. These were the feet that learned how to walk when I was 2 years old, the feet that carried me down the aisle as a flower girl when I was 4, the feet that kicked like crazy learning to swim when I was 5, the feet that sped me across the backyard playing tag when I was 8, the feet that ran away from danger and into mischief, the toes that my little brother used to play with like a piano, the feet that danced on more than my fair share of dance floors, the feet that carried me and my baby safely for 9 months of pregnancy and the feet that have bought me here today. Without losing the use of these funny little toes and baby like feet I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to appreciate those moments, challenges and events in my life they way I do now.

 

For most our feet are a means of transportation. They carry us from A to B. Some people don’t have feet that work like that. Some use wheels for this purpose. But regardless of whether we have use of our feet or not, we are all on a journey and again, regardless of whether this journey is by the use of our feet or wheels, our feet have their own unique and intriguing story to tell.

 

These days, when I go to the beach and bury my feet in the sand, it is no longer to hide them but to feel the grains of sand rubbing between my perfect little toes.

Love x

Written by Jacqui Barrett

Creator of the Special Me Group

Photo courtesy of Tracey Stevens Photography –

 

 

Surviving the Douche Zone!! (Pronounced Doosh)

Do you have a uniqueness that leaves you vulnerable to thoughtless people?

When people react to our uniqueness insensitively or thoughtlessly it can feel like someone has ripped out your heart and stomped on it. For years, especially teenage years, we can shy away from opportunities in life just to avoid embarrassing and painful situations. Unfortunately, we will always encounter people that test our character. The good news is that we can learn the power of reaction which can take the spotlight off us and put it back on them and their behaviour.

I remember an incident in the Douche Zone when my boy was a little baby. We were resting at a park bench outside a shop when a lady approached me. My son was in his stroller all tucked up in a blanket. The lady walked directly up to me and asked if she could look at my baby and before I could answer she had taken off his blanket and was examining him to see if he was a little person too. When she discovered he wasn’t she patted me on the head and told me how clever I was for making such a big baby. Needless to say I was horrified but because I didn’t have the skills to protect myself in this situation, I was exposed to an experience that left me feeling powerless, violated and later furious.

It took weeks to get over that incident. After many tears and discussions with close friends and family I vowed that I would never allow a person to have that much power over my being again. So after many years of trialling and testing defence techniques, I managed to adjust my default reaction from shock to self-assuredness and control. I thought it may be helpful to share them.

Firstly I use the term Douche not to insult or label people who I find a challenge but to put a light hearted spin on an otherwise embarrassing and hurtful situation.

As children with uniqueness we develop radars. It goes off when we sense a possible uncomfortable situation or difficult person. Mostly that triggers a sense of anxiety and nervousness. When our characters are so directly and abruptly challenged we can often find ourselves responding harshly and or running for cover. This is so very normal and until we develop skills to deal with these situations better, we should not beat ourselves up for it. However long-term, and for our own quality of life we deserve better than that.

If I had read this when I was younger I may have found some of the harshest lessons a little less difficult but instead, in this instance like many others I have been chosen to share and perhaps teach instead. At 37 years old my radar is very well tuned in the Douche Zone. So much so that I know who I will or will not engage with almost immediately by the way people react to my uniqueness and or their body language. It took me years to perfect this radar but ultimately it is about using our intuition. This is good news to everyone because we all have a sense of intuition inbuilt from a very young age and with experience and training enables us to better react to challenging situations and people.

For example the incident with the woman in the mall where I pretty much sat there with my chin on the floor and then crawled into a cave and cried for several days. You wouldn’t catch me doing that know, in fact she was very fortunate that day. I find myself in similar situations from time to time but they never affect me or render me helpless as they used to.

Evaluating people in the Douche Zone

This is really important because the way you react to a child that has challenged your character is quite different to the way you’d react to an adult. Also, it is the nature of the challenge that determines your response too.

The following examples show how I evaluate my reactions to deal with different people at different ages:

Toddlers I don’t react! I smile warmly and get on with my day. They are toddlers. A bonus would be that mum or dad used that as a learning opportunity for their little one.

Children If they are asking questions I put my teaching hat on and with a voice that commands respect I answer their questions the best I can. If they are rude, I put my authoritive voice on and tell them to ‘Stop being so rude’. Usually works. If they start getting nasty I look to the adult they are with suggestively for intervention which usually works (99% of the parents are horrified if their children are nasty) and many apologise. If their adult isn’t around I usually tell the child ‘I am not interested in talking to them because they are rude’ which ruins their fun and then I turn to one of their friends who is often just on looking and start a nice conversation with them. The first child soon feels left out at which time I remind them if they want to join in there are rules, which again usually works.

Teenagers I’m pretty stern when they are rude. They will either, get the picture quick and snap out of it or the will feel they have to challenge you to be cool and carry on. That doesn’t happen too often because teenagers are more about having fun than causing trouble in my experience. But in the odd occasion where a teenager has challenged me, I have made my point very clearly and disengaged like they don’t exist. I don’t have an ego or a need to win a battle. That just makes you fall to their level. Usually I say my peace, maybe get a point or two in and then brush them off. If this is their general behaviour to people with people of difference their problems are of many and none of mine.

Adults I am pretty blunt with adults as they should know better. I cut them off pretty fast. The challenge with them is it is sometimes hard to gauge their intention. Sometimes they are just being genuinely curious and sometimes they are just being intrusive. Bottom line is it is not about their intention it is about how their questions make me feel. If I’m unsure or feeling challenged, I have learned to tell them that they are asking personal questions that I don’t feel like discussing it with them. However, if they make the effort to come up to me quietly and respectfully and ask if they can ask a few questions then I am all in, because respect has been initiated. Some adults think they are funny by making remarks like “did you get in the hobbit movie” which for some reason they think is marvellously hilarious. I openly roll my eyes at them like their jokes are silly and rarely give away much more than that. I just don’t completely engage but nor do I make them feel bad, they are not trying to be nasty. I think the most shocking example of adult idiotism is when parents point people out with difference to their children like you would at a zoo! I know! But it has happened more than once. A look from me of disbelief and disgust is the only energy I choose to put into that kind of situation, if any. I only hope that the children will grow up with a little more common sense.

Last but not least! The Drunken Douche Zone. The challenges are rampant in this environment. I have spent my life in the social scene and for me it is a simple formula. Pick my fights wisely. Have some good, fun, trustworthy friends around you, have a thick skin and don’t sweat the silly stuff. Focus on the amazing people the world has to offer you and the amazing experiences that are there to help you grow into a strong, confident and powerful contributing member of society. Walk away from negative and expose yourself to all things positive. Confidence is knowledge and knowledge is learning from mistakes and victories. Embrace who you are, love life hard and have no regrets.

I hope this has been useful to some people. This wasn’t intended as a step by step guide of what to do but as an insight of what I do; maybe it will give you some ideas on how you want to conduct yourself in times of challenge.

Peace Out!

Written by Jacqui Barrett

Creator of the Special Me Group

Photos courtesy of Tracey Stevens Photography