Deaf Girly helped me navigate my way through some incredibly challenging personal and professional times in my twenties. She was my voice when I just wanted to – and often was – crying in a cupboard at work, and she allowed me to say things out loud on Twitter and in print that I didn't have the words for in real life.
So in celebrating my birthday, let's look back at my – in no particular order – top 10 moments on the blog. Click through (I've linked the blogs in the headings) and have a read at these nostalgic ramblings:
Back in the summer of 2009 (not as catchy as the Bryan Adams' version let's be honest), I became a Superdrug Summer Insider alongside the wonderful Phoebe of North of London blog and Hollie. It was a fabulous summer of blogging, beauty products and benefits, including an all-expenses paid trip to Barcelona, which was my price for being the Ultimate Summer Insider. It was the first time I realised the power of social media as a way to be Deaf Girly. I made YouTube videos and tweeted my little heart out. It was an amazing experience.
3. The one where I gave all my friends 'Blog names'
Fab Friend, Mr B and Mrs B (although to be fair I think I leveraged this from them), SuperCathyFragileMystic, First Ever Friend, NikNak, Shakira Shakira, GBman, Singing Swede, London Aunt and London Cousins One and Two, Mustard Boy, Onion Soup Mate, The Rents, and of course the wonderful FJM - being an anonymous blogger meant thinking up new names for a lot of my friends and family. The only person who got to keep her name was Gma. It worked. She was my Gma. She was a big supporter of my blog. It was through Twitter that she had an amazing final year of her life. Thank you BT for making that possible for her. Blog names just work. Sometimes they don't and it's back to the drawing board. For example, GB-man started out life as Beeb-boy.
Honestly, I cannot read this blog without tearing up. Getting hearing aids – and actually persevering in wearing them – was the most challenging but most rewarding thing I have ever done. They are amazing. They make my world 3D. Since I got them, my career has taken new, exciting paths. I'm braver, more confident, more me. I am so privileged to have amazing hearing aids available to me on the NHS. Hearing aids and the NHS. Two life changing things. Let's never forget that.
Regular readers know that the buying, owning and selling of my flat is something that made me sad and happy, and also a bit mad in equal proportions. But when I had my flat, I threw myself into the joys of flat ownership with gusto. I pulled up floorboards, I painted and I used No More Nails to fix pretty much everything. It didn't always work... see here. It was during my home ownership days that I discovered the power of customer service on Twitter. I sorted out British Gas and O2 Broadband issues over Twitter, I booked plumbers, I ordered furniture. Twitter was a deaf girly's life saver.
Remember back in 2013, I decided to rent out my flat and become a live-in au pair and write my book? Can't believe it's now five years since I made that decision to kick open a different door and see what was behind it. Best decision I ever made. I wrote the book. I mapped out two more. And then all of a sudden, there were new opportunities for work, like this one. And many more that followed. There were the lows of losing out on jobs – here – and the terrible stats surrounding deaf people and employment. But then there were also the highs of getting an amazing job at a global company and finding my feet and confidence there...
There's something pretty ace about being approached by an amazing up-and-coming and now established writer to accuracy read his books which feature a deaf heroine. I was honoured to meet Will Dean's character of Tuva in Dark Pines – his debut book – and Red Snow, out in 2019. And when I discovered that Dark Pines had been optioned by Lionsgate for TV, it gave me a new ambition. I want to be Tuva on the screen. I understand Tuva's deafness as if it were my own. I want to tell her story. Watch this space on that slightly insane ambition peeps!
The Hearing Dog journey for me is an incredible emotional one as due to location changes, I have currently have to put this on hold, but what an amazing year I had during my application process. I got to meet so many amazing people - from Anne and her hearing dog Tegan to Nicholas Orpin, a community fundraiser for Hearing Dogs. I also got to go on the Great British Dog Walk, which is happening again this year peeps, so get involved here.
This is the first blog I wrote about FJM for Scope's End the Awkward campaign. His blog name appeared one day and that was that. And he's featured in many many blogs over the last four years as he's a fantastic pair of ears amongst other things and I am incredibly happy that he cycled into my life that sunny weekend at SuperCathyFragileMystic's. Being with FJM has made me braver than I've ever been before. I've flown long haul by myself – even though I hate flying – been trekking in Oman, walked miles in the Swiss Alps and thrown myself headfirst down a very steep ski slope in gale force winds. Here's to many more adventures with you @FJM, I love you very much.
Reader, I married him. And what a wonderful day it was. My blog was a wonderful platform for talking about the challenges of deaf wedding planning and our honeymoon was the perfect excuse to campaign for a date-nite subtitled showing of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The wedding was attended by Mr and Mrs B, who I never have met if it wasn't for Deaf Girly and my best woman – Jenny M – presented me with a printed copy of her speech so I could read along. It was a a perfect, perfect day.
Really though, there are so much more than this to @DeafGirly's 10 years of blogging. The time I successfully campaigned for vibrating pagers in NHS Walk-In centres, or all the amazing reviews of theatre that I've been able to do thanks to Stagetext. The massive wobbles I've had when I've doubted my value as a person as a result of my deafness. The times I've picked myself up and just got on with it. And the times where you amazing people have done the picking up instead.
I just wanted to say thank you. For reading, commenting, sharing, engaging, laughing and crying with me on this journey. Here's to the next 10 years eh? Although am I now entering the tween years of Deaf Girly? Heaven help us all.
Happy Monday peeps.
Love Deaf Girly