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Time for a new lens?

Last week, while speaking to a group of healthcare professionals working towards a goal unimaginable a decade ago, that of a HIV/ AIDS Free Generation, a woman in the audience asked how we could work towards removing the stigma surrounding HIV/ AIDS.

My response revolved around focusing on how we see ourselves first; that people pick up on the energy our self-talk/ self-perception creates, and treat us accordingly.

Two examples come to mind, both from prior to my presentation that same day.

First, while grabbing coffee at Calgary Airport, I ran into Paralympian (and downright badass freeskier) Josh Dueck. Josh was on his way to speak in Orlando. We talked a little about speaking, about injuries, about catching up; before I had to run to catch my flight.

Arriving on the Skytrain into Vancouver a few hours later, I shared the elevator up to street level with a native man in a motorized wheelchair. A big guy with an incredible light in his eyes, he asked me what had happened. Told me he’d been in a car crash 30 years ago that left him a quadriplegic.

“You know, being a quad isn’t so bad. It’s just the little things; bladder infections; stuff like that.”…

Stuff like that…

We parted ways up at street level.

It strikes me now that in both of those situations, onlookers could have perceived a completely different version of events; a version stuck on the image of the chair and what that image means; to them.

Both conversations were upbeat, high level, celebration of life type conversations that could have so easily, with but a glance, been perceived quite differently.

Which begs the question:

How do you see the world?
Is there a lens or filter you’ve become used to?
A lens that if you think about it; you’ve been using for quite some time.

Here’s the kicker.
How is that lens affecting the way you see yourself?

Warren Macdonald
Warren Macdonald
One catastrophic moment redefined Warren’s life in April 1997 with a freak rock fall on a remote Australian island that left him pinned under a one-ton boulder. For two days he lay trapped and alone, surviving the ordeal only to lose both legs at mid thigh. Doctors told him he’d never walk again. Warren’s response: “I don’t recall them saying anything about cycling, kayaking, or climbing mountains…” Just ten months later he scaled Cradle Mountain, and in February 2003 Warren became the first double above-knee amputee to reach the summit of Africa’s tallest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro. Born in Melbourne, Australia; Warren lives in Canmore, Alberta (an hour from Calgary, 20 minutes from Banff National Park) in the Canadian Rockies with his partner Margo.


  1. Hugh Benham says:

    Thanks for suggesting the change in filter! Able bodied, able-minded, quick with a smile and helping hand man feels woefully under utilized. Hmmm😃

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