On Loss & Resilience Through Design

Posted on February 19, 2016

My life no longer looks like it did just a few short months ago. My partner of a decade and I are separating. We were trying for a baby. That dream has been recategorized into the ‘hopefully someday’ bin. My home, no longer mine. I now live a few blocks away. But it’s not just this separation. My security blanket is moving not only to a new town, but to a new country. My insurance situation has taken my beloved neurologist from me, I simply cannot afford the deductible. And moreover, I cannot see my psychologist as I had previously been able to. At a time when I need her more than ever. Things feel dire. And when things feel dire, my body begins to fail me. What I thought was a cavity is actually an infection that requires surgery. I threw my back out. Dropped my computer on my foot. And little things that I previously would have brushed off feel very big. Life is not easy for Liz right now.

But I am a resilient person. And that’s the reason I am writing this post. Not for your pity, but to share how I experience resilience through design. You see, I found a set of coasters. And because of these coasters I know that everything is going to be alright.

The last time things felt this bad was back on March 30th of 2012, when I landed in the hospital. I left with the ugliest, most dreary medical grade aluminum cane you could have ever imagined. But you don’t have to imagine this cane, because you see them everywhere. At the time, I remembered thinking to myself how badly I wished I could shop for a beautiful cane. But searching far and wide, I could not find one. And I fell into a deep depression.

And then one day, about 8 months later, what appeared before my very eyes (on a website called FAB) but a most beautiful purple cane. And the rest is history. One could call the timing of my depression subsiding and the acquisition of this purple cane a coincidence. But that’s not the truth. Because I am someone who experiences resilience through design. My purple cane helped me form my new identity. The bond was so intense that I discovered my superhero alter ego — ‘The Girl with the Purple Cane’,which is probably the best thing to ever happen to me. I now preach about good design for those who need it most. For those who need the chance to experience resilience through design.

beauty of a purple cane

This is the difference between design and disability design. It took me 8 months to find my cane. The coasters just suddenly appeared. And like my purple cane, these coasters are helping me craft a new identity. My mattress is made of air. My coffee table, a scratched sidewalk find (feel free to ask why I even need coasters). There are currently sheets taped to my windows (windows that unfortunately face a busy intersection). But none of that matters, because Mamma Jackson doesn’t know it yet but she’s about to buy me a set of the most beautiful coasters $32.40 can buy. And with these coasters I am going to make my new home my own.

…and that’s the beauty of resilience through design.

Could someone please tell the car out front to stop honking??

Update: I just received a call from my insurance, they are asking me to transition to a new psychologist. Why can’t I have any say in my life?

What Others Are Saying

  1. Anne February 19, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    I am so sorry to hear that so many painful things are happening all at once. Perhaps those coasters are telling you something more. Just coast for now, you have accomplished so much and started several wonderful projects. They will carry you through.

  2. Virginia Bemis February 20, 2016 at 1:02 am

    Not gonna hand you a load of crap about “it just makes you stronger”. I’ve been through dire, and it sucks. Keep hanging in there. I found a lot of help through my community mental health center when I was broke. Give them a call. ANd know that a lot of people out here are on your side.

  3. Barbara Raho February 22, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    Wow–that’s a lot for any person to handle.
    I love the tale of the purple cane but whether it’s a cane or coasters, the strength and resilience are within you and I’m betting you will pick yourself up and continue to thrive. Just a (big) bump in the road, Liz.

  4. maura February 23, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    ❤️ love everything about your resilience!

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