Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Nonna Knows Best: Why I will be voting Yes to Marriage Equality

Nina and Glove
So, the other day Nonna asked me straight out, “Are you and Damion living together?” And when I gave her the answer, her reaction really surprised me…


Just for a bit of background, my Nonna is 95 years old and was born in the tiny Sicilian town of Francavilla where she lived until emigrating to Australia in 1959, with five children, to join her husband (my Nonno) who had been working here for several years


Like most of her generation she had an extremely conservative upbringing and was brought up as a devout catholic.


She has never worked outside the home, never voted, and speaks very little English

(especially if she knows you can speak Italian).  She does all the stereotypical things that Italian grandmothers do. She’s got an altar, she enjoys force-feeding and she is awesome at laying on the guilt.   But most of all, she believes in the old fashioned values. 


So, you can see why I wasn’t keen on telling her that I was “living in sin.” Plus, I was afraid of what she might do to Damion (remember she’s Sicilian). 


We are very close. I am even named after her and she has lived next door to me most of my life.  Half of me was scared that she would kill me but really, I just didn’t want her to be disappointed. 


I admitted that, yes, we were. Hastily adding how well Damion can cook and how big the portions he serves are. Then I waited for the rant that never came…


Instead she said, “Oh well, as long as you love and look after each other that’s okay”  


Now, my Nonna is sharp as a tack. I suspect she had worked out that we were living together long before I actually admitted it.  Which had given her lots of time to get used to the idea. But I still couldn’t believe how cool she was being about it.


I think this has a lot to do with Damion. She loves him, and for a boyfriend of mine that is no mean feat.


It might have something to do with the fuss he makes of her every time they meet. Or maybe it’s because when we went to the Perth Food and Wine Show he got Gary Meagan, (her favourite judge from MasterChef Australia), to autograph his magazine with the caption, “To Nonna, keep cooking love Gary”. Either way we are both still very much alive.


For those who don’t know, we in Australia are about to commence a postal vote on the subject of whether or not we are in favour of changing the Marriage Act to include marriage between two consenting adults instead of only between a man and a woman.


I was going to write a scathing post criticising those who intend to vote no on the grounds of religious belief.


I intended to point out that the book of Leviticus which is widely referenced as forbidding gay marriage, also forbids those with deformity, disability or mental illness (A.k.a. me) from coming to the altar.   Then, I was going to ask if anyone was willing to admit that they agreed with this too, and then hope to God that someone did so I could prove my point that things in the Bible are a little outdated and frankly, quite insane  (which as we have learnt is not allowed in church).


But it did seem a little ironic to me to be asking everyone to embracet love in whatever form it takes, with a post filled with anger, hatred and sarcasm.


So how about this? If my Nonna at the age of 95 can move and grow with the times then can you find it in your heart to do the same?


In these times when Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un are on the brink of nuclear world war, wouldn’t it be nice to have a bit more love in the world?


I had 12 years of catholic education and yet I will admit that my knowledge of the Bible is fairly limited. Although, I seem to remember that Jesus did say, “Love one another as I have loved you”.  There was no caveat that I know of where He says “unless the other has a different lifestyle to yours.”


Apologies if I appear to be bending Bible verses to suit my own agenda. I thought that’s what we were doing now





Nina the Narcissist: The World’s Best Abseiler

nina abseil April 2017

A year ago today I attempted my first abseil down the QV1 building in the Perth CBD.  A week ago today I tried it again. What a difference a year makes!

 Long story short (a first for me I know) this time, I actually did it.

 I had everything going for me on this attempt.  I had a super supportive instructor in Rob (I have never met anyone so encouraging. I am thinking of hiring him to follow me around all the time now). Miraculously I was feeling well (despite being unwell with suspected kidney stones just days before). And the weather was good.

 I had been planning this attempt in my head all week, determined to do it all by myself this time.  That was my measure of success.

 In my mind, last year I failed. Not that anyone else thought so though.  I kept being told, “you stepped off the top, that’s more than I could do.” But that wasn’t enough.

 What people don’t understand is, I don’t do things to impress them. I do these things to prove to myself that I can.

 Although this can’t be strictly true. otherwise I wouldn’t brag about it on my social media channels (did I mention my blog has its own Facebook page?). 

 I have just realised that I posted my “success” photo almost immediately after. Mentioning that it only took me less than five minutes (The time is still a subject of debate) and that I did it completely by myself.

But I neglected to mention (or thank) the people who donated to my cause which allowed me to qualify for the abseil in the first place

 I completely forgot about the reason I was doing the abseil to begin with. 

 Oh my god!  Am I a narcissist? It’s probably narcissistic to ask that.

 By the way, thank you to everyone who so generously donated to my fundraising for the Perth Children’s Hospital. I am very proud to announce that with your help  I raised almost $1,000. 

 Thank you especially to Revolution Pilates who allowed me to post a begging flyer on the wall of the studio. 

 The problem is, I am so used to being congratulated for wiping my own bottom that when I actually do something worthwhile I can’t help but brag.  And even worse than that, I get a kick out of it.

 Dear God, help me, I’m Donald Trump!

 Ironically, by putting this down on paper I am going to get (having said it, it would be very embarrassing if I didn’t) people leaping to my defence. And the cycle continues…  Aargh! 

 Where is the line? On the one hand, isn’t pride one of the seven deadly sins? But on the other hand, if you don’t respect yourself enough to be proud of your own achievements then you are effectively sending out a product that (at least to you) is below par.  That’s not being respectful to others. You wouldn’t deliberately give someone a rotten apple, would you?

 My head hurts!

 Oh screw it! The fact is I did actually did it (Come on, you didn’t think I wasn’t going to brag a little bit did you?).

 I did cheat a bit though. I can’t even walk 160 m in less than half an hour. How on earth did you expect me to be able to abseil that far in under five? Without falling that is.

 I had to admit that my legs were pretty useless. So I abseiled with my hands.  No, I didn’t do a handstand all the way down.  I simply sat back in my harness and lowered myself hand over hand with the rope (I  think that’s how people in wheelchairs do it). It proved to be quite effective. I’m thinking of getting around that way all the time now.

 I was quite thankful that I am a girl though, if you get my drift.

When I got to the bottom I couldn’t stop smiling. And my (dare I say it), fan club who had come out to watch me and were screaming their support the whole time, only made my smile bigger.

 I had mentioned a few weeks ago that after I did my skydive in October 2014 I have never been able to find a rush like that again. 

 At last I think I have found one.



In My Opinion: I am not your scapegoat!

So, campaigning for the right to be the next US President is in full swing. It is during times like this that controversial topics resurface in the public consciousness, everyone becomes an expert, and said topics are once again thrust into the spotlight for debate.

 I have recently been asked a very interesting question; where do I stand on the subject of vaccinations? Or rather, do I ever encounter people who, based on the fact that they know I have a disability assume they know where I stand on the topic?

 Well no actually …  but since we’re on the subject, I am very much pro vaccination. 

I myself am vaccinated as is my brother.  I had my disability before my vaccination and my brother (who is three years younger than I am) does not have a disability at all.  Should I become a mother in the future my children will also be vaccinated.

 I do not begrudge any parent who chooses not to vaccinate their child. I just believe that prevention is better than cure.  I am aware that disability can occur at any age without warning via other means (even if you have had a vaccination).  I believe it never hurts to have insurance and it is my belief that vaccinating against diseases such as polio, whooping cough and others will help to provide that insurance. I am aware that there is a belief that vaccination actually causes disability. I don’t believe this to be true but I would be happy to read any credible scientific evidence that proves me wrong. 

.I am slightly uncomfortable with people using the fear of a child becoming disabled as a reason not to vaccinate though. To me it infers that life with a disability is tragic and I do not believe that it is. I do understand that raising a child with a disability is a difficult job and the thought of it may be daunting, but isn’t parenthood a challenge with every child?


Then there is the topic of abortion…

 Remember Sarah Palin, the former Alaskan governor who was the running mate of John McCain in the 2008 US presidential election. You know, the one that said she could see Russia from her back porch (suddenly Donald Trump isn’t looking so bad is he). She is staunchly anti-abortion unless the life of the mother is in danger and she can prove it. She has a son with Down’s syndrome. That’s right, the fact that she gave birth to a child with special needs even though he could have messed up her plans was used in the Republican campaign to bolster her anti- abortion stance. This was possibly not her idea, but it did result in her being held up as some kind of hero.

This doesn’t sit well with me either. Again, it paints disability in a grim light and seems to suggest that this child is not as valuable as her others. Also, that she is somehow a better mother because she is caring for a child who has a disability.   This is ableism at its worst.

 Because I have a disability some people do assume that I too would automatically share the same opinion.  I don’t. I do not appreciate being told what I should do to my body and so I will not do that to anyone else. I am pro-choice.

I know what it’s like to live with a disability. Hell, I know what it like to live with several disabilities at once. Yes, sometimes it’s hard, but for the most part my life is pretty damn good. As I see it the issue here is not where I stand on controversial topics but why it is necessary for me to declare my position at all. Especially when this means I then need to defend my life and my very existence.

 I’m not the one running for office…


I will not condemn you for your opinion, however, I will not award you a medal either. I speak for me and me alone and so do you.  I am not your scapegoat.

 Even though I may be your “disabled friend” please do not use me as justification for your opinion. Just like a broken mirror would do, it may reflect badly on me.




Nina – Marie Butler

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E-snuff is E-snuff about Me Before You!

The following blog contains spoilers.


So I saw “snuff movie” Me Before You the other day and you know what? I actually quite enjoyed it. Don’t tell anyone though, being a disabled person I was meant to find it offensive.


For those who don’t know, the basic plot is this: A young woman (Louisa) who has little ambition loses her job and with nothing better to do she takes a job as a carer for a quadriplegic man. Her charge (Will) was once the bee’s knees. The CEO of his company, rich, athletic, and a world traveller. But now he is totally reliant on everyone for everything, frequently ill and in constant pain. He hates his life. And… (at the beginning at least) he is an asshole (it’s ok, disabled people can be assholes too).


After trying unsuccessfully to end it himself, he tells his parents that he intends to go to Switzerland and end his life in an assisted suicide clinic. His parents ask him to wait 6 months and he agrees.


Enter Louisa. After finding out about Will’s intention she hatches a plan to help him experience life again in the hope of changing his mind. Predictably, they fall for each other. But despite this he still goes to Switzerland to die. Following his death, Louisa vows to live everyday to the fullest.


The main criticism I keep hearing about this movie is that it suggests that death is better than disability. I don’t think it does that at all. No one suggested Switzerland to Will. He is highly intelligent and has come up with the idea on his own after a lot of research. Further, everyone in his life (all able bodied) is trying to get him to reconsider. He is still very wealthy and can afford the best of care and almost any kind of leisure activity he desires. Still, being unable to take part in such activities himself means that he will forever be only a spectator of life not a participant and he will be in constant discomfort all the while. His intelligence means that he is all too aware of this.


The other thing is that this is a man who lived a “big” life completely autonomously. Now his every move is monitored and he has to do absolutely everything in the company of someone else. All of the intimate details of his life are now public fodder meaning little to no privacy. For an adult, especially one who isn’t used to it I’m sure that would be hard to accept.


Yes, it paints disability in a dim light and this could make people feel sorry for Will because he is disabled. However, I recall seeing “The Pursuit of Happyness”, a true story about a man who has some terrible struggles with homelessness. I’m pretty sure few people saw that and thought “wow that seems like a great way to live”, either.


I can definitely understand his position. When I lost my sight and hearing I had a similar situation myself. I had always been wobbly so I could never do anything too physical and I developed a love of movies, stories, live comedy and the theatre. When I couldn’t even do those things anymore, let alone conduct a conversation, I felt lost and worthless not to mention BORED! The notion that life was going on right in front of me only made things worse and I spent far too many hours wishing that I was stupid so I wouldn’t have to notice. Luckily for me I got some of my lost senses back, although at times I still feel like I am only a spectator. If it had been permanent I am not sure what I would have done.


In actual fact this movie is more of a commentary on euthanasia not disability. That is a topic that I feel I am not qualified to comment on, but I do believe that everyone is entitled to dignity and a quality of life. Plus, the main character is Louisa the carer not Will.


The other major complaint seems to be that “Me Before You” is yet another example of “inspiration porn”. Well ok, yes it is. There is no denying that. But it is very difficult for anything featuring a disabled person not to be. In that case, the only other option is not to let able-bodied people refer to us at all. Let’s just be thankful that it isn’t saying “there is no disability accept a bad attitude” or something ludicrous like that. As the late great Stella Young used to say “no amount of smiling at it will turn a set of stairs into a ramp”.


The moral I got out of it was to live life to the fullest because you never know what is around the corner and not to live life with regrets. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Sure, they could have done this in any number of other ways. Including by making Will terminally ill rather than disabled. But let’s face it. That’s been done to death!


There is one thing that irks me about “Me Before You” though. It does seem to harbour the notion that physically disabled people are not capable of making decisions for themselves and that if an abled bodied person pays you some attention everything is right with the world again. To be honest it actually pissed me right off, so much so in fact that I did an inner cartwheel when Will revealed that despite the “great life” that Louisa had created for him, he still intended to go through with the suicide (which he did). Not sure what that says about me though.


At the end of the day “Me Before You” is a story which is funny in parts and sad in others (yes I cried). It might make some people feel sorry for us whilst others might be more understanding and still others won’t care at all. But let’s stop being so precious. Especially when the disabled community (and the world in general) has some much bigger fish to fry.


Besides, ignorant people don’t listen to rational thinking anyway. If they did, Donald Trump wouldn’t be a US Presidential candidate now would he?