Welcome to 2018. I wish you and yours sprinkles of gold as we glimmer in to a new year.
For the first post of the year, I haven’t planned to share reflections of 2017, yearly goals, or motivational and inspiring new year musings. Frankly, I have never been very good at, so I will leave it up to those who I know can!
Instead, I am going to mark a moment in time and celebrate the learnings that have brought me to the position I am in now. Colours Of Grey Matters moves into the 12th year of operation. The business name is a play on words to celebrate the amazing brain and the diversity it brings to our community. The purpose of Colours Of Grey Matters (aka COG Matters) was inspired by people in my life and continues to be by those that have a different way of understanding and brains that emulate nothing short of spectacular. I am drawn to want to find out more about how diverse neuro workings can be understood and celebrated in the wider community.
One of the people that inspired COG Matters in the early days was my first boyfriend. When he was young he had a terrible car accident and was not expected to live. He beat all odds and did survive. I am certain that it was in part for us to learn from him. The accident left a scar, not only a physical one with a smashed ankle requiring numerous hospitalisations and surgery, but also an injury that we couldn’t see. Nick had an ‘acquired brain injury’. A change in his brain because of the accident that made an impact to his life and those around him.
Nick had foresight that this brain change needed to be understood by loved ones and the wider community. Often, he would take me along to counselling sessions for me to understand the new workings in his brain. I attended as a young 20-year-old and it was very hard for me to comprehend. It did however ignite something in me. The need to listen to the person with a lived experience of a brain change. It was something we couldn’t see, so we needed to be in tune with his voice.
It is this experience that led to wanting to create platforms in our community for us to all learn about diverse brains and with this knowledge, to take positive action for widened day to day support.
This journey has led to learning about and working in the field of ‘neurodiversity’, Like acquired brain injury, autism and mental health needs are also hard to see and recognise.
‘Seek to understand’. Three words that a strong advocate in the mental health sector was renowned for. This to me is powerful and shares Jackie’s voice and those of the wider community. We lost this wondrous woman in the latter half of 2017, and those words can never be truer. Jackie set up platforms for success and amplified lived experiences. So that we must do …. seek to understand.
There are many lived experience voices of people that I have just met and those that have been in my life for years, from near and far that have made a positive impact on the direction of COG Matters. I can honestly say, I learn something new every day.
This week has been a good time to think about the worlds that brings COG Matters to where it stands today and my learnings both professionally and personally. It is also a good time to celebrate Nick’s voice in the first blog for the year, as it marks the week of Nick’s birthday and the week we said goodbye to him many moons ago.
For 2018, we continue to make the change, elevate the lived experience voices of people with neurodiversity, where we will ‘seek to understand… and then take positive action’.
I can’t wait to see what is in store for COG Matters this year for all of us. Here is to forever listening to increase our knowledge and understanding of the colours of our brains and those of others.
Until next time …..
Emma L. Donaldson. 12th January, 2018.
emma.donaldson AT cogmatters.com.au