LITTLE PEOPLE: BIG LIVES

3 Aug

Warwick colour head & shoulders copy

My new book features renowned British actor Warwick Davis.

It is a collection of stories about people living with dwarfism.

Many of them belong to Short Statured People of Australia, whose president Meredith Young agrees with Warwick that this book conveys a positive message about people living with a physical difference.

The book also contains facts about the medical features of dwarfism, how little people have featured in history, in the arts and describes their outstanding performance in sporting events such as the World Dwarf Games which are happening now in Michigan.

I launched the book at the annual convention of the SSPA in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia on 30 September 2013.

It is now for sale via this site on the Book Sales page.

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To teach or not to teach?

10 Mar

To teach or not to teach? 

Karen closed the classroom door, sighing with fatigue and relief. ‘I will never come back here,’ she promised herself. Long-service leave and an overseas trip lay ahead.

Paris, Rome and Barcelona revived her spirits before she headed to Kenya to build wells. The physical labour was exhausting so when she was asked to help out in the school Karen agreed to consider it.

Appalling conditions confronted her: tin shed classrooms, dirt floors, no books or pencils. But the children’s toothless grins melted her heart.

When her savings dwindled, her resolution to stay led to an email home requesting a loan.

Mini-short  story – shortlisted for January competition – Positive Words Magazine 

2 of Us – Graci and Oliver Lynch

2 Feb

2 of Us – Fairfax Media – Good Weekend magazine 2 February 2013

 Graci and Oliver image

GRACI AND OLIVER

US-born Graci Lynch, 30, met her husband Oliver, 33, on the internet.  After a long courtship, they married and now live in Melbourne. They both have Achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism, and together face the daily challenge of living in a society obsessed with body image.

GRACI

Oliver and I met in an Internet chat room for short-statured people in 2002. Our first conversation was typed because Skype didn’t exist then and it was about two hours long. I kept thinking, “Is this for real?” We got on well so he came over to the United States to meet me at a convention of the Little People of America association in 2003.

We knew all about each other from the online chatting, phone calls and we’d exchanged photos, but I was incredibly nervous about meeting Oliver in person for the first time. I didn’t have to worry because when we cuddled and shared a laugh I knew it was meant to be. Oliver is the kind of person that people draw to with ease. He’s really kind-natured. He immigrated to Australia from Scotland when he was 16. His mother had recently divorced and she brought him and his brother here to live with relatives.

The girls at his high school in Scotland thought he was cute and funny, but they were nothing more than friends. He’d tried dating average-sized girls in Australia but that never worked out.

When we got married in 2009 I had a lot to get used to in a new country. Oliver’s done a great job supporting me and introducing me to people. His mum and I shop together and talk on the phone all the time. My own family miss me but they know we’re happy and we Skype a lot.

We’re both active members of the Short Statured People of Australia association. I’ve made a lot of friends through that and some of us started a radio show called Small Talk on (Melbourne community radio) 3CR. Once a month Oliver and I get on the microphones with the others to raise awareness about dwarfism.

Oliver works as an Admissions Officer in a hospital. He’s treated with respect there. After all, when you go to a hospital you’re usually sick or with someone who’s unwell, and you hope that the staff will be helpful no matter what they look like. Sometimes people think he’s a doctor! He told me, “I always find that if I stand straight and walk tall (excuse the pun) people will say ‘Good Morning’ as they pass.”

We like to go to movies together and then analyse the plot and characters. I’ve helped introduce him to theatre too – we went to a play at the Arts Centre recently. It was a sequel to one I performed in at college in the States.

We tend to act differently in certain situations. If someone is annoying us – like, taking a photo of us in the street – Oliver never wants to cause trouble but I go up and tell them to stop. He’s a better observer than me – more sympathetic, too – and good at understanding people. He’s taught me a lot. So we’re a good balance for each other.

Children are definitely on our plan. I come from a big family of average-sized children and I know I’d love my kids if they were short or tall. There can be complications if two short-statured people with different conditions have children but Oliver and I both have Achondroplasia so the odds are better.

OLIVER

In our Internet chats I thought Graci was very mature. There was an attraction as well but you can’t be sure when you communicate a lot over the phone and can’t actually be with one another. She told me that she tried dating average-sized guys but it was hard. Of course, I understood. It’s like, “How am I going to be perceived? Am I going to be laughed at?”

It’s not always easy for people with a difference to find someone who can love and appreciate them. Only one child in 20,000 is born with dwarfism and although some have average-sized partners, the main thing is to be with someone who understands the issues that short-statured people face in life.

When we met at the convention in Boston, we found we shared a lot of interests and we definitely liked each other. It was good to find out who she was as a person. We went to a baseball game and to the movies. We still have a lot of fun together now that we’re married. Over the next two years I went back to be with her three times.

Graci came to Australia in 2007 for a three-month visit and decided that she’d like to live here with me. I helped her with the application for permanent residency. It took hours and hours of gathering information and photos. She wrote a 25-page essay because she wanted to make sure she could get in. She was accepted in only three and a half months. I think it was because her application was so genuine.

It was hard for Graci to start with. Everything in Australia was new for her – the money, the politics, the way people talk. She got a job as secretary to a chiropractor. She was worried that he’d be reluctant to hire her because of her short stature. She told him, “All I need is a kick stool and I’ll manage just fine”. He was great and found other ways to accommodate her, like moving things lower around the office.

When you’re short statured you have to accept that you’re different. But you’re also perfectly healthy and if you get the balance right, you can give off good vibes and people are more likely to accept you.

Graci has a lot of attributes that I don’t, or are not as well developed in me. For example, she’s more outspoken than me and if we’re given a raw deal in a shop or restaurant, I would just let it go, but Graci will stand up for our rights.

I play basketball with a short-statured team called the Sspitfires. It’s a mixed one and Graci enjoys socialising with the women in the team as well as watching the games.

We’d love to have kids but we’d need to have a house and be more settled. If our children were short statured I would know how to help them lead their lives. Geneticists have mapped out the equation. If a couple both have Achondroplasia, each carries one normal gene and one faulty gene. If two normal genes go together the child will be average size, but one faulty gene with the normal gene means it will be short statured; and when it’s two faulty genes together that’s a double dose.

We could have a scan at three months to find out if the baby had a double dose and if it did, then it would be better to abort as the child would die very young. Because we’re planning a trip to the UK and the US soon to visit family, we’re putting off the baby plans for a while.

Short story published in Kurungabaa Journal

19 Oct

 

SAIL AWAY

By Carole Lander

“It’s time, mate. It really is.”

Phil peered across the desk at his accountant. How long had he been coming here? It seemed like centuries. They had grown old together; shared stories of parenting and grandparenting and, more recently, compared wrinkles and ailments. The difference in their incomes sometimes reared its ugly head but never more than today. Stan had no money problems, Phil was sure of that. He still lived in a leafy suburb on the right side of the river, still had the beach house and a big share portfolio. He only kept the office going for a few old clients like Phil. He’d given a lot of good advice over the years so why wouldn’t he be right today?

“Sell that boat, mate. It’s time you reaped the benefit of all your hard work.” Continue reading

Sam Drummond profile

19 Aug

I recently interviewed Sam Drummond who is a producer at 3AW. Sam is a short-statured man who is willing to be profiled in my book Little People: Big Lives. He has had an interesting life with an arts/law degree from Monash University, a burgeoning career in radio and his own music festival  – Feskyval.

H has done a legal internship with Bush Heritage, a not-for-profit group that buys up land around the country for conversational purposes. If and when he gets back to a career in law it’ll be in the area of human rights. He told me, “The focus of my degree was human rights and indigenous law. So on the agenda is going to the US and working with people who are on the death penalty.” Continue reading