Home / Feros Stories / “A disability is not the end, it’s the beginning”: Carol’s thoughts on creating an abundant life

“A disability is not the end, it’s the beginning”: Carol’s thoughts on creating an abundant life

Carol Linley O’Connell is vision-impaired – a disability
she says that plays a very minor part in an “abundant” life that is all about
giving back to her community, and role-modelling resilience and empowerment to
her family.

Carol believes that the way a person approaches and potentially accepts their disability can have a profound impact on the way they are able to move forward with their life.

She has lived with her disability, Retinitis pigmentosa, for 26 years. With her vision loss being gradual, she has found herself working through the various stages of acceptance, grief and anger around her loss of sight.

“The hardest part about a disability is the way others deal with it, and other people I’ve spoken to say exactly the same thing. When you say to a person that you’re blind or vision-impaired, they look at you as though you’re from
another planet.

“And, unless you’ve done personal growth work, this can feel like the end of your life.  But, in among all of my life, this is a very minor part, and it just shows that life goes on.

“People look at you and think that they wouldn’t cope if it was them, but I’ve got news for you – you would cope.”

‘My life is hugely abundant’

Carol has more than 40 years of experience as a teacher including as a school teacher, a special education consultant, a massage teacher, a spiritual teacher and a life teacher. She has 30 years of experience as a therapist, has worked in Indigenous Australian
communities gaining spiritual insights which she uses in her work, and has run her own massage and natural therapies business in Adelaide since 1995.

Carol has also travelled extensively, and lived in Bristol, in the UK.

Her biography, Tapestries of Time (by Carol Linley), was released for her 60th birthday in 2021. The book explains her life so far and shows that her diagnosis has just been a part of her overall journey which has included many adventures and countless
enriching experiences.

And, although she has released her biography, she’s not planning on slowing down any time soon.

Carol is currently attending weekly sessions with her physiotherapist on a program design to strengthen her body, so she can begin rowing. She is being coached by a rowing coach who has previously worked with paralympians.

Carol’s aim is to be part of a rowing team and to enjoy the experience while keeping fit.

She says her spiritual work has given her incredible insights and wisdom which she has been able to share with others. 

“I did a lot of work in Arnhem land, including spiritual work – I draw from the earth what I need to get me through.

“I’ve got a sixth sense. They take the vision away but the sixth sense is huge. When you’ve got lack of vision, your senses are just heightened.”

Carol says she doesn’t think about her vision loss very much, “and I’ve had a big loss in the past 12 months”.

“All of a sudden for me, over the last year, the vision loss became quite significant … and then my world opened up. Other people can see the limitations I’ve got, but I don’t see that.

“I go out for lunch and dinner and I have margaritas. I go to yoga every week –my life is hugely abundant.”

Supports, role modelling, and setting goals

Carol’s current support network was made possible through the support given by her Feros Care Local Area Coordinator. Via funding provided in her NDIS plan, she has workers who support her weekly – this includes for activities such as sewing,
yoga, cleaning, physiotherapy, acupuncture and remedial therapy and the purchase of a reader which allows her to listen to books.

When she is sewing, she makes quilts for the hospital and she’s planning to provide quilts for other charities.

By not having full vision, Carol says she is less distracted in life.

“I’ve got focus, and so I keep people on track and I keep myself on track. I don’t get into the drama of life – I don’t worry about that. It is empowering.”

Carol also both offers and finds support in the women’s book club she created.

“It’s a sisterhood. Women learn so much from each other and we all love to be together. The sisterhood is an important part of our empowerment.

“I’m a goal setter and I want to achieve my goals. I’m very patient and methodical and I keep any stress and chaos out of my life.”

Carol says she is able to be flexible with how she spends her NDIS funding, and can alter her activities to suit what she would like to do that week. 

“Having supports helps me to achieve all the goals that I want to achieve and feel that I’ve got purpose in society.”

She says achieving her goals isn’t about pleasing herself – it’s about being productive and realising what she can do for others.

“This is role modelling to my family and my daughters – you can have something happen that’s not in the plan and your life can become even better.

“Be an inspiration, be a role model – it’s about joining us all together and saying, ‘we’re all people and we’re on a path’.

“A disability is not the end of the world, it’s just the beginning.”

At Feros Care, we’re proud to help people with disability live healthy, fulfilled and connected lives. Click here to find out more about how we support people throughout our LAC office locations.

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