February’s Topic of the Month by Toni Marie

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23rd February 2022
Open book on picnic table with Topic of the Month logo overlay

Hello Readers! My name is Toni-Marie. I will tell you just a little bit about my disability as I feel it is relevant. I have cerebral palsy quadriplegia and scoliosis of the spine. This means I am a full-time electric wheelchair user.

Toni-Marie

Topic Of The Month: Books & Literature

I absolutely love books and how they have the ability to completely draw me in, taking me on an all consuming journey of complete and utter discovery! I must confess that in an age whereby there is so many different ways of accessing all kinds of different types of literature, I am somewhat more selective when choosing the kind of book that I want to read.

When I was younger I read a lot of material out of academic necessity. At times this could be very hard going, and this is probably the reason for taking better care to choose a book wisely. I am passionate about helping oneself from within — meditation, Buddhism, psychology and self development. I find great strength and empowerment through reading books that allow me to find better ways of understanding humanity and why we behave the way that we do.

 

The Untethered Soul book coverOne of the most empowering, thought-provoking and interesting books that I have ever read is ‘The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself’ by Michael Singer.

It asks what appears to be a simple question. Who are we? Encouraged to really look microscopically at this question — it is soon evident that the answer is way more complex than one might imagine. Singer demonstrates how our own consciousness and our ability to observe ourselves can affect how we interact, engage and integrate into the world around us. It really is ‘ The Journey Beyond Yourself’. And as someone who likes to understand everything, it is a must read over and over again! Here is one of many powerful quotes:

“You will not be able to solve anything on the outside until you own how it affects you on the inside”. 

— Michael Singer

In many ways this book has helped me to better understand myself on a much deeper level. It is a book that I often still refer to when I feel the need to gain some strength to get through my own difficulties.

 

LIfe Without Limits Book CoverMy second choice of book has definitely helped me to carry on living my best life in a quiet, and yet fiercely independent way. 

Entitled ‘Life Without Limits’ by Nick Vujicic — this book has had an incredibly powerful and positive impact on how I choose to live my life! Arguably we share a lot of the same attitude towards our disabilities and how we approach our lives in general. I was completely and utterly blown away by Nick’s lack of physical ability — and yet his unwavering and stoic choice to live “A ridiculously good life”. 

Nick Vujicic was born with Tetra Amelia Syndrome — a rare condition that is characterised by the absence of no arms or legs. Let’s think about that for a minute — in the knowledge that he can swim, surf and speed down a log flume! I find his story one of the most inspiring and motivating books that I have ever read! In fact, over the years, I must have bought at least five copies, as I often give them away as a present. Those of you who know me well will also know that there is one fundamental difference between myself and Nick Vujicic. Perhaps order yourself a copy and see if you can work out what the key fundamental, non-visible difference is between us! If only to boost the sales of his book that in many ways changed me for the better!

“I encourage you to accept that you may not be able to see a path right now, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t there”

— Nick Vujicic.

 

Beautiful by Katie Price book coverMy final choice for the purposes of this blog is the story of Katie Piper.

An incredible woman who survived the most horrific acid attack. The attack was planned and orchestrated by her then boyfriend after he raped her. I read the book in two days and for the first time ever, I felt compelled to write to the author. Especially given that in the back of the book there is a list of all the awards that she has since been given as a result of her charity work on behalf of all those who suffer with any kind of burns. Indeed, upon finishing the book I wrote to her and said how incredible I thought she was to turn the most heinous crime into something that has gone on to help so many other people in a similar position.

 “Stop asking yourself ‘why has this happened’ and instead ask ‘how can I recover?

— Katie Piper

Katie was awarded the Revitalise ‘Woman Of The Year’ Award. I went on to tell her just how much Revitalise has helped me! I was both humbled and ecstatic when she wrote back…A short yet very cherished letter of thanks for my kind words.

 

I have decided to stop at three books.

This is because I could simply go on forever about them! Not forgetting of course, my passion for the classics, as well as anything to do with our planet earth, food or travel! My preferred medium is definitely still a book in my hand — there is just something extra special about it for me. And when I think about what the writer goes through to produce their work…I simply would want to keep every copy on a bookshelf!

As I pointed out earlier there are so many different ways to access books these days.  As well as the many organisations that specialise in helping people to be able to find and develop a love of books regardless of an individual’s specific needs or abilities. Here are just two organisations that help people with disabilities to access books:

  • BAG BOOKS:
    • Provides multi-sensory books and storytelling for people with severe or profound multiple learning disabilities.
    • Tel: 02076270444
  • RNIB — Bookshare website
    • Helpline: 03O31239999

 

A heartfelt thank you to Michael Singer, Nick Vujicic and Katie Piper for producing books that have only served to reinforce my own strength, determination and thirst for knowledge! These are three books that I simply don’t want to ever part with!

 

Finally, it is a long held dream of my own to finish writing a book! Watch this space!…

 

Always see your ability in disability! 

Thank you for reading!

Disclaimer: The views expressed are the author’s own.


2 Comments

  • Angela Alexander says:

    You never cease to amaze me Toni-Marie! I can’t wait to read your own book. You’re often in my thoughts. Best wishes, Angie x

  • Morgan Rothwell says:

    Hi Toni Marie, this is Morgan, one of the volunteers who attended last month. This blog was a great read and I must try out those books as they really do sounds inspiring. As for your own book, I really, really can’t wait and next time I come to volunteer you are definitely signing it for me.
    Hope your staying well,
    Morgan

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