30 March 2016

I didn't want to be a burden on our minimoon.

Adam and Carly on their wedding day - Adam is fixing Carlys jacket button

(Photo by Souri from Fabulous Femme and Fresh Photography)

I tend to fall in a heap after a big, exciting event. As a child, I'd have my birthday or go on an excursion to the zoo and then spend a week in bed because my skin was so sore.

So it was inevitable that I'd be sick after our wedding. I was sore prior to my wedding, actually - on the day of my wedding I had a salt and oil shower and requested a chair for the ceremony as I didn't feel up to standing for a prolonged period. Adam had a chair too - so we were well balanced on stage.

I could feel a cold coming on the Friday before the wedding, so I dosed myself up with vitamin C, brandy, lemon and honey and pho. Miraculously it held off on the big day, but resurged with force the day after. And then my skin worsened.

I described the skin pain level as 90 late last week. Hospital stage. I went to an event on Thursday night, and while it was fun, the hugs were painful. Friday was spent in bed, with Adam making me breakfast and letting me sleep. I was determined to go on our minimoon - a weekend away to country Victoria, and we did.

I packed lounging pyjamas, a blankie for the car, painkillers, antibiotics, salt and oil for the bath, and the optimism that the weekend would be restful, not racing.

And it was. We had brunches and dinners out, short wanders through shops and the highlight - seeing the penguin parade. We gazed at each other, amazed that we're now married. He looked after me well. In sickness and in health, right?!

I booked beautiful, homely and luxurious accommodation - perfect for resting. I spent much of the weekend in bed or in the spa bath. We watched TV and aTe cheese and enjoyed a tipple. I read a book. I left feeling feeling well rested, but still a little sore.

Accommodation at Cowes

I was upset that this trip away wasn't full of romance and site seeing and had a bit of a cry. I hated the thought that Adam might have gone from a husband to a carer in a week. While I'm very self sufficient, my pain meant there was a limit to what I could do. I encouraged Adam to see the sites without me. I didn't want to be a burden.

I had read how many carers and parents felt their Easter weekend was spoilt because of their disabled relatives' needs. Even when these comments aren't directly about us, they hurt. Because they perpetuate the idea that disabled people are burdens and embarrassing and restrict the lives of those who care for them. I didn't want to contribute to the "unfair" easter toll of a dependent with a disability letting their needs get in the way of the family's good time.

My beautiful husband didn't take to the Internet to complain that my pain ruined his weekend, but actually wrote a loving Facebook message about how amazing our accommodation was, that I am sore but it's nice to spend time with me doing nothing. It was so uplifting and reassured me he had a good time and I'm not a burden.

"Carly Findlay and I are on our minimoon in Phillip Island, Carly has booked an amazing hotel with an amazing view. She has been quite sore this weekend, she is sad that she hasn't made it as fun as she would have liked, but just soending time away with her in this lovely hotel is lovely.

I do hope she feels better soon, but for now she just need some rest before we head out to see the penguins tonight.

Love you so much Carly and love the time we have together."

Carly and Adam selfie waiting for penguins

What a loving, tender start to married life.


22 March 2016

We're married!

I want to do a proper blog post about the wedding soon, but for now, I'll keep it brief with words and a few pics.

Sunday was simply amazing! Adam and I want to thank you for the lovely wishes you've left us for our wedding day - we feel very loved.

Thank you for being a part of our special day via social media. It's a huge part of my life, and it is flattering to know that others are so genuinely interested and caring.

Also, thank you to everyone who was there on the day (and helped us in the lead up) - it was so much fun. We have amazing friends and family. (And thanks to our friends for these pics!)

We are both exhausted, happy, in love and excitedly recalling memorable moments of the day. I hope you don't mind me posting a few more wedding photos ❤️

So happy, so in love. Thank you everyone. More to come.

(You can find lots of our wedding pics on Instagram and Facebook.)


20 March 2016

Today is my wedding day.

Hand drawn portrait of Carly and Adam, with wedding date of 20 March 2016
Today I marry Adam. I am so excited, nervous and happy. I think we both are. It's going to be amazing to see 60 of our closest family and friends we haven't seen in a while, all in one room, hopefully having fun!

I can't wait to see Adam in a suit - most days he's in shorts and a hi-vis shirt, or a short sleeved casual shirt. I can't wait to say my promise to him - and to hear his. We will have our first dance to a very special song. And I'll get to wear my dress and a crown - I seriously feel like a princess in it!

I did a radio interview with the lovely Clare Bowditch earlier this week, and she asked if marriage is something I've always dreamed of. I said no, I never thought I'd get married, and it's not something I aspired to either. Marriage often isn't expected for people with disability - the burden of low expectations extends to love. Ive certainly experienced those low expectations and countless letting me down gentlies (and some thuds, too), and so I focused on other things like writing and study. I've lived a really fulfilled and independent life prior to and since meeting Adam, and I know we will continue to be successful in our own rights once we are husband and wife. Adam has shown me what real love feels like, and it's only since I met him that I realistically imagined spending my life with someone else. Being loved is most wonderful.

It's been lovely to see how excited people have been for us. We've had wishes and gifts from all across the world - from people who haven't even met us. That portrait up there - it was drawn by the very talented Deb Baker (do follow her on her socials: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter). She sent us the original and we've framed it to display at the venue.

It's almost two years to the day since we were engaged, so I feel we've been planning this wedding for ages (because we have!). The bulk of the planning (and saving) was done months ago, so I've been relaxing this past week. My tip: start planning and saving early. It saves stressing close to the big day. I know it's not the done thing to talk about money, but I am so proud that Adam and I have saved for this wedding entirely ourselves, so we will not be in debt for our wedding. We've done a Melbourne wedding for less than $15,000. So bloody proud.


Of course our wedding will be on social media. You can follow along with the photos on my Facebook and Instagram through the day.

Thank you so much for the well wishes - we so appreciate it! Thank you to everyone who has helped to make this day so special - there are so many of you. We feel very loved.

Next time I write, I'll be Mrs Carly Findlay Morrow.


Top: Hand drawn portrait of Carly and Adam, with wedding date of 20 March 2016. I am wearing a wedding dress, and Adam is wearing a blue suit and bow tie.

Bottom: Light box with #CarlyHeartsAdam.)

14 March 2016

Know your worth. Speaking up about non-payment.


I was asked to do a speech for International Women's Day. It was a panel speech, with four other talented, accomplished, experienced women.

At the time of being asked, I didn't raise the question of payment.

I didn't raise the issue of payment because I thought it might be raised by the organiser.

I also didn't raise it because payment is a hard thing to discuss as a freelancer - as a woman.

Often the moment you ask about pay, the opportunity is no longer yours.

I also thought, deep down, this is a union organisation running the event - we'll be paid.

I spoke on the panel with the other women. We spoke a lot about equal pay for women. I talked about people with disabilities being asked to work for free, and how that devalues and lowers the expectation of us. (See this piece for more on that.)

We spoke for two hours. We weren't paid.

This wasn't a charity or a not for profit. This was a union organisation that fights for workers' rights. We weren't paid.

It was an uncomfortable irony - a union organisation-run women's work themed event not paying their female panelists.

The organiser spoke to me after the event, embarrassed she didn't pay any of the panelists for any of the events her company runs. She thanked me for raising the issue of what it's like to be asked to work for free, and said she will consider paying future panelists.

The discussion and the lack of pay played on my mind all night. The very topic of and discussion during the event set the expectation and necessity of payment.

So with trepidation, I sent off an email the morning after. I sent it to the organisers, the panelists and the producers - because we were all encouraged to be transparent and question pay inequalities during our discussion on the night. I wrote of the irony of our discussion, and the lack of payment, and suggested future panelists be paid. I was apologetic, because I didn't want to burn bridges. I emphasised how hard it is to broach the issue of payment.

Because I didn't raise the issue of payment in my initial emails, I wondered whether it was the right thing to do. Nothing was in writing prior, so was it ok to raise it after the event? And I didn't practice what I preached - I said I didn't want to work for free, yet I wasn't being paid for this. But I hadn't negotiated.

That afternoon, the organiser emailed me. We will be getting paid for our time and expertise. She will be looking to pay future panelists. Thankful.

Never settle. Know your worth. Always speak up.

(Image: three rainbow cakes in jars, spoons tied on them with bows, and a blue background. Text: 'know your worth' plus my blog URL. It has nothing to do with the post, but I loved the pic!)

This was originally a Facebook post - you can find that here.


07 March 2016

How altering my wedding dress changed the way I saw myself.

How altering my wedding dress changed the way I saw myself. Pic: lady in wedding dress, green shoes


I've been having my wedding dress fitted and altered. My dear dressmaker friend Jo is altering it - I've had about four appointments so far, with hopefully one more to go. We joked that I would be spending more time in the dress while it's been altered than on the wedding day!

I'm very short, you see, and about 30 cm of material has been taken off the several layers. And I'm also big busted, so the bodice has had to come out - to help me breathe properly and to minimise my cleavage. It's not always a blessing to be blessed!

The first time we met, she was politely honest with me, saying the dress doesn't fit as well as it should. I couldn't breathe with the dress zipped up, and at one stage, I felt a bit faint! My hour glass figure looked amazing - but it wouldn't look amazing if I was slumped on the floor on the big day, would it?!

We both panicked a little - six weeks from the wedding and my dream dress might be a disaster! I worried that I would need a new dress, and would waste the money I'd spent on the dress I have and that there wouldn't be enough time to find a new one!

I've stood in front of the mirror in my wedding dress for hours. At first, I grimaced, worried that my arms were too wobbly, that my back was rolling over the dress and that my boobs were enormous. I worried that the fit of my dress would stress my skin and I'd be even more uncomfortable on the day.

I couldn't see my size 10-12 figure in this dress - despite my reflection staring back at me. I couldn't love my body when I felt so uncomfortable and was supposed to be feeling my most beautiful. Jo's husband (who, along with Jo, I've known since my early teens) walked in after cricket one night - he said I looked amazing. I didn't believe it. I feared it was the wrong style and my figure wasn't the same as when I bought the dress. (And I'd was sore at that time so there wasn't a chance of going to the gym.)

After several appointments with Jo, we've worked out a solution to keep me comfortable and ensure the dress is still stylish. We've come a long way - Jo has done such a fantastic job. It's important for my skin to be calm - so she's made me jersey band that looks a bit like a pregnancy band to go under the boning. She's altered the dress to fit my bust and my height. It's perfect.

During yesterday's visit, my posture had changed, my breathing was natural and my breasts didn't look like they'd make me topple over. There wasn't a grimace because of wedding dress claustrophobia - but a broad, genuine smile. I am excited about wearing my dress for four or more hours.

Jo and I have spoken a lot about standard sizing and size, and how hard it is for dressmakers to cater to all shapes, sizes and heights. The wedding industry makes a certain shape and style of dress - which doesn't cater to the diversity of bodies. (And bridal magazine rarely show diversity.) So a size tag that doesn't correlate to bust-waist-hip and even height measurement can make you feel a bit self conscious (at worse, depressed). Slate outlines how a certain style of dress is easier for dressmakers to make, but doesn't suit all brides, and calls for more diversity in wedding dress styles. I agree.

I've learnt a lot while staring at myself in the mirror in my wedding dress for hours on end. I've learnt and appreciated the time and attention to detail that goes into dressmaking. I've learnt that fashion is uncomfortable when ill fitting. I've learnt that the way we see ourselves is different to the way others do. Comfort is key - and if I am uncomfortable, it shows. It's been lovely to be able to spend quality time with my friend. The right fitting dress can change my posture and outward happiness. I look and feel amazing now the dress fits.




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