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Ageing and disability: Independence, dignity and freedom of choice

As I have been working with Government on eAccessibility, which focuses primarily on considering the needs of older and disabled people, maintaining as much independence as possible is the principal goal and this goal is a constant, irrespective of the underlying cause of the loss of independence. It is something that I understand all too well and think about more than I care to admit.

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Why am I so nauseatingly upbeat, positive and optimistic?

My life is never short of drama; whether I subconsciously seek it out or it is my legendary anti-Midas touch that brings it to me, life is quite a spectacular struggle. I am pretty certain that I could reduce my oversized share of tussles if I played by the rules, but that is not going to happen anytime soon.

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The Queen's royal garden party: where honour, respect & dignity roam

As a thank you for the work I have been doing with Government on eAccessibility, I had the honour of receiving an invitation to one of the Queen's Royal Garden Parties. When the invitation arrived in the post, with the Queen's emblem franked on the envelope and the words "The Lord Chamberlain is commanded by her Majesty to invite Mr. Mark and Mrs. Sandi Wassmer to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace", emblazoned on the invitation, the importance and magnitude of this wonderful opportunity hit me like a ton of bricks. My heart filled with gratitude and I began to feel a rather gleeful sense of anticipation.

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Mediocrity, concession and acquiescence? No thanks.

Tenacity is certainly something I have in abundance. Sure, it sometimes manifests itself as pigheadedness or even downright stupidity, but it is always accompanied by honour and integrity. One of the characteristics of having ADHD is a tendency to uber-focus, but it can also serve me very well indeed, so I'm not fussed. Life is full of trade offs. So, with my usual positivity and ability to see the beauty in everyone, I just figured that even though I may behave this way or that way in my fervent pursuit of a better world, somehow folk would see the beauty in me.

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Society and subculture: rights without responsibility

I have agonised this past week in a vain attempt to formulate an opinion about, not only what has occurred on the streets of England but, what on earth has caused so many people to have so little respect for anything. I have grappled with thoughts about human behaviour and the many different things that influence it - biology, family, culture, community and so on - and why, oh why, no matter how civilised or democratic we think we are or hope to be, there are people in our society who behave so deplorably and with such little regard for themselves, others and ultimately human life.

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Is happiness a noble pursuit?

I spend a lot of time thinking, about the world, the people in it and what makes them tick. I am forever perplexed, delighted, bemused, fascinated, and sometimes even angered, but I am never bored. People are all unique, extraordinary and surprising creatures, that's for sure, but there is one thing we all have in common that should bring us together, but it does not; we are all seeking happiness, so why then do so few people know what happiness is, how to get it or even where it resides?

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Acts of kindness: the thread that connects us

It's funny really how what seem like small events in life end up being pivotal moments and more so how what may appear to be random acts of kindness can actually be major influences in guiding you along your path, catapulting you unintentionally towards achieving your goals. I don't think I am ever going to make sense of such things - if they are coincidence or if they are meant to be - but what I do know is that I never forget those who give of themselves without wanting anything in return, simply because it is the right thing to do.

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An open heart just has to get broken now and again

My life is nothing short of beautiful. I wake up every morning filled with hope and wonderment. No two days are ever the same and I have the good fortune to be able to do the things I feel passionate about. Of course, there are the day-to-day challenges posed by living with two impairments, but I have adapted and only ever really feel disabled by ignorance. On balance, I am a happy girl, but I have always asserted that there is no yin without yang, no joy without pain, no happiness without suffering, and this has certainly been true of late.

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Hope, sight loss, grief and the remarkable resilience of humankind

Yesterday, we made our pilgrimage to Moorfields Eye Hospital for my annual MOT: this involves having my eyes photographed, having drops that sting like crazy put into them and then having bright lights flashed in their direction at different intervals, only to be told that my eyesight is getting worse. The retinitis pigmentosa has now completely invaded my macula, which makes sense of the gazillion point font I need to read text, my whopping 1/60 acuity is now hanging on for dear life and the double vision as well as the psychedelic photopsy are now permanent features, but I am not troubled. In fact, on receipt of all of this news, I was so non-plussed that it was as if someone had told me that I was perfectly fine.

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