Show Us Your Hands! Annual Report: Empowerment and Pride

To celebrate the first anniversary of Show Us Your Hands! as a non-profit, the Board of Directors is writing a series of blog posts about the past year. Each of us writes about a different topic, relevant to us as individuals, to the organization and to the community. We welcome your comments and hope you’ll share these posts with others to continue the conversation. In the first post, Jessica Murphy, Director of Communications, writes about empowerment and pride (part of our vision and values) and how acceptance has influenced her own journey towards acceptance.

In our first year as a non profit, defining our core organisational vision and values has been an important step towards developing our culture and objectives. We aimed to create a vision that captured the spirit and purpose of our organisation. Pride and Empowerment are central themes in our vision, and for me personally they are at the very core of my journey with inflammatory arthritis. We want people to see the positive side of their disease, feel proud of their bodies. Encouraging people to feel empowered and take ownership of their disease is very important. These themes help us refocus as an organisation and ensure that everything we do has a purpose that supports these aims. Our vision and values guide our decision making and ground us.

Recently I defined my personal values for the first time. This was a challenging but liberating process; it helps me realise the importance of integrity, acceptance and reflection in my own life (3 of my core values). As a team we are getting better at taking a step back to check that our actions reflect our goals, but I realised I rarely do this in my personal life. Through Show Us Your Hands! I have developed a stronger sense of what is important to me, and learnt how through clearly defining my core values I ensure I live by them every day.

Embracing acceptance has empowered me; it has given me the freedom to come to terms with my disease and focus my energy on things that are within my control, instead of raging against them. I no longer 'suffer from' arthritis, I 'live with' arthritis. I call it 'my arthritis'. Because it is mine! In a funny way, I love it. I know I would not be the person I am today without it. My arthritis has given me the gift of patience. I am accepting of both my own limitations and am not angry with myself if I can't do things. I am more accepting of others for who they are (and not who I want them to be). I am more reflective, and consider my actions more carefully. I am also more self aware, as I have a lot of time to think about how others actions affect me (people kicking my walking stick on the tube). This in turn helps me consider how my actions affect others. So I am all round a better person! And for that reason, if I had the choice, I would choose to have arthritis. It is a terrible yet wonderful disease, and my life without it would be less rich.

Looking ahead, I am excited about what 2014 will bring. Our organisation is starting to take off. I am looking forward to continue to work with my fabulous Directors, and raise the profile of Show Us Your Hands!, empowering and taking pride in our bodies.

Jessica Murphy
Show Us Your Hands! Director of Communication
December 11, 2013