I am so excited for the series comeback of “She’s So Inspiring.” So many people have told me how it has been their favourite feature here on the blog, and I have to say, it has certainly been one of mine. The series’ brief breather turned into a long sabbatical and I was beginning to wonder if any time would be the right time to bring back the inspo.
I dillied and I dallied with this sequel to the original series wondering how and where I would find these wonderful women. But you know, a funny thing happened. Once I committed myself to the project, I found amazing women literally all over the place. It’s going to be a joy and privilege to share their stories and I can’t wait for you to meet them.
And if you’re new here and have no idea what’s going on, you’ll want some context. My life has been touched by some uber amazing women whose passion for life and the way they choose to live it have really inspired me. A few years ago, I started the She’s So Inspiring series to showcase these amazing stories because I knew that they would inspire others. Some of these inspiring women are bloggers, some are not, their lives are all different and they are all incredibly special. I am so honoured that they are sharing their stories and sprinkling a little bit of their awesome right here. May you be wom-inspired!
Meet Kate Morell.
I’ve never met Kate in real life and only recently “met” her online. I was first introduced to Kate by the lovely Josefa, and as soon as I had I got to the end of this post, I was tappity tapping on my keyboard sending an email to Kate and begging her to be in the series. I’m so pleased she said yes and can’t think of a more inspiring way to start the series.
Kate is not just inspiring in the way she has faced off her own challenges, but in the way she strives to inspire others. She has an amazing way with words and she uses them with such purpose and I’m so pleased she’s sharing them here. Meet Kate, she’s so inspiring!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
When I was fifteen, it was by forty I was told my deafness would become deaf-blindness. Usher syndrome means I was born with hearing loss, and would gradually experience vision loss until I become blind. And there is nothing I can
do about it. I am now forty-five and not yet blind, so winning, but I know I am ‘seeing’ on borrowed time.
A wife and mother of two, I began writing a blog, My dear Angel (and later, From Katie to Kate) when approaching that dreaded age of forty. Depressed and suicidal, no longer able to escape and run away from my diagnosis by traveling, something I once did quite often, writing became my therapy. It was my companion. It was my friend. I wrote through the healing process and slowly my depression lifted. Meanwhile, I sought out a place to belong and found the Usher Syndrome Coalition Blog, and was invited to share my words with them too.
I am now taking those 100,000 plus words written through tears and rewriting them for my memoir. It covers many, many themes. Let’s see; Adoption, Angels, Blind Cane, Bono, Counselling, Cuba, Depression, Faith, Healing, Hearing Impairment, Invisible Disability, Love, Miscarriages, Post Natal Depression, Post Traumatic Shock, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Travel, Usher Syndrome, Vision Impairment, Writing … (big breath) and The Girl in the Blue Dress, my ongoing (and still going) story about trying to find the girl my husband married (I wore a blue dress at my Cuban wedding – I also married in Australia). I am happy to report, there have been appearances, though she does seem to come and go unpredictably. But I have nearly found her.
Tell us 3 things you are and 3 things you’re not.
I always say see me as me, forget my ears, forget my eyes, please, just for a moment, see me as me. So, I am Kate. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am not Usher syndrome. I am not my ears. I am not my eyes. I am me.
Complete this sentence, ____________________ changed my life. How and why?
Having had a lifetime of life changing moments, I will leave them all for my memoir, and use the very first one from the very first moment of my life. My adoption changed my life. How? Oh, where to begin … some say adoptees suffer from a primal wound from when the relationship between mother and baby,which is physical, psychological and physiological, is disrupted. Why? Being an adoptee is why I began writing and writing is how I made it through all my other life changing moments. Not a sentence … sorry.
What has been life’s greatest lesson?
Don’t keep things in. Don’t bottle things up. If can’t talk about it, write. Write.Write. Write. Not being much of a talker, I tend to leave the talking too late and by then I am just a blubbering mess trying to get out the words. It is much easier to write through the tears than talk through the tears, but my lesson has been to write it all out, before the tears, before it is too late. Writing, I can quite honestly say, has saved my life.
What is your biggest achievement?
My biggest and proudest achievement is all here in this quote from Mark Dunning, founder of the Usher Syndrome Coalition blog. “Kate is a hero to a disenfranchised community of several hundred thousand desperate and frightened people. […] Kate’s honest and deeply personal writing, her willingness to lay open her soul and give voice to her fears, has given countless people the courage to face their condition and hope for the future. Many use her words as a talisman to get through their day and her blog posts are the common language that holds the community together.”
But I am currently doing a little passion project that just might rival that achievement. Thinking how Usher syndrome could possible rob me of 14,610 sunsets if I was to go blind by the time I am fifty, and live to be ninety, I realised I could do something about it. I invited people to share ‘Sunsets for Kate’ so I may experience a lifetime of sunsets in the lifetime of my sight. (Take that Usher syndrome!)
I am immensely proud of this beautiful project and not yet able to put into words just how special it makes me feel to know strangers from all over the world are thinking of me each time they see a sunset. And the awareness it is bringing to Usher syndrome? I am sorry, words fail me right now, I simply cannot describe what I feel as this little project is soaring to new heights every day and both the beauty of sunsets and the kindness of strangers takes my breathe away.
What has been your toughest obstacle and how have you overcome it?
I am resilient, determined, (and can be stubborn and fiercely independent) in the way I don’t let others deter me from what I know I can do. Told ‘you can’t’, I will show you ‘I can’. I strive on exceeding expectations and preconceptions.
Constantly having to prove myself is tiring, but I have quietly but triumphantly smashed through all the barriers imposed on me by others. I once wrote a blog post outlining all the things I have done, just to show others having Usher syndrome is not the barrier so many perceive it to be. I jokingly added at the end of that post, ‘this post will now self-destruct’ as I really do not like to boast. But it is still there … perhaps the one person who needs to read it has not yet seen it.
Viktor Frankl says “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.” Everyone needs a purpose, what’s yours?
I write to attempt to better understand myself in order to know how low I can fall,and too, how high I can soar. I am learning to have faith and trust in myself, to listen to my intuition and allow myself to be daring, powerful and strong.
Travel has enabled me to witness the bond that extends with a smile, across cultures, borders, classes and religion. It has opened my eyes to both how big and how small the world can be, my ears to the common language of kindness,and my heart to the dreams shared by all across the globe. Wealth, for me, is not money or possessions, but adventures, experiences and stories. Through my childhood, my career, my travels, and my adulthood, I am blessedly rich with adventures, experiences and stories.
I am motivated to be brave and courageous in order to inspire, to use my impending blindness to open the eyes of others. Through my writing, I seek to share my adventures, my experiences, and stories. I believe I am on the cusp of discovering my true life purpose, if I continue to be led by my intuition and my heart follows, there is no limit to what I can achieve. (And this both excites and scares me, in a very good way.)
What are your words to live by?
This surprised me. I tried to think of something wise and meaningful to write … and then I remembered the words I spoke when suffering from post traumatic shock, the second time (another life changing moment story) and depression, the second time (of how many, I have lost count). Words that led me run away from
my life, the second time (I have run away six times), taking with me nothing more than a tent, backpack, an Eastern European and Balkans guidebook, a journal,and the intention to surround myself with people, places and stories of those not as fortunate as me. As a graphic designer, all I did was earn very good money designing marketing material with the purpose to earn very good money for the board and shareholders who earn very good money. To my manager I would exclaim ‘there are starving children in the world, you know’.
I now realise, these are wise and meaningful words that I still live by. I am extremely aware of how fortunate I am. When I first uttered those words, there were no wars being fought at the time. No terrorism. No displaced persons. No asylum seekers. There are still starving children in the world, but now there are millions and millions less fortunate than me. I never want to forget that.
If you could have any mentor, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?
There is a little girl, a fictional character, Marie-Laure in ‘All The Light We Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr. One line in the book stopped me. I took a moment to take it in, and then write it down. “But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?” I aspire to be like her and in many ways I am. But I think it would be wonderful to have her as my mentor, a little blind girl not letting the dark stop her light.
Many say I am inspiring, but I don’t feel inspiring, I am just being me. And being me just happens to be someone who is hearing impaired, vision impaired and going blind. I too know no other way to be.
If you could play hookie for a day what would be on your list to do?
You know, before marriage and motherhood, I could do this. I was good at this. I would sleep late, walk to a cafe, have breakfast and drink coffee while making my way through the weekend paper … I could not do this now. I miss my little family. I long for time for myself, but when this wish is granted, I am almost paralysed with loneliness. So, can I say, all of the above, with my husband and kids nearby but not bothering me, and with not one mention of the word ‘Mum’?
You give so much to others, what do you do to take care of yourself?
To answer this question I need to switch it around. In order to take care of myself, I need to write. I need to write to understand myself, I need to write to remain mentally sane. I need to write out the negatives in order to find the positives. It is those words that I give to others, and I hope, helps others understand themselves, helps others remain mentally sane, and helps others find the positives. So for me, taking care of myself is writing, and sharing that writing is what I give to others.
Thank you for sharing, Kate.
Let Kate inspire you a little bit more…
on the blog Sunsets for Kate
and on twitter
Linking up with Kylie for IBOT