Meriel Stranger, author, 'Permission To Shine - The
First, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your
what can I say, I was born Meriel Parker on the 12th
April 1959 and I grew up on a wheat and sheep farm
about 2 hours north of Perth, Western Australia
I went to the boarding school Penrhos College
in Perth and while at the college won a Rotary scholarship
to West Virginia USA in 1977 I started
an Interior Design business in 1981 till 1991
I have two daughters Brittany Parker,
born in January 1983 and Serena, born in November1987,
while married to Richard I moved with my family
to Queensland via Merimbula NSW in July 1992, after
I separated from Richard in April 1994 and then met
James in August 1994 The accident
was in March 1995 4 months in a coma and not
quite a year in hospital and I came home in February
1996 a quadriplegic. I love my growth
as a person since the accident, as I was a complete
selfish cow before! It was as if I survived
to tell the tale I have had a wonderful
life thus far and I hope have more to say, as I learn
and grow from the accident
of course leads us as to your present love life, are
you currently involved in a relationship, at present?
James left me in July 2001, saying, I
had wasted the best years of his life, I learnt my
reality, there here is no-one in my life and I find
it hard to understand societys view that Im
not a success because I dont have a man in my
life. I call this syndrome, the penis factor!
I do try and imagine a man in my life and, at the
moment, there is just no room
talk about youre your book Permission
to Shine-The Gift. Why was this book important
to you to write?
didnt want this accident to be in vain, it thrust
me into a life that I could have, never imagined,
I had an interesting life story to tell, one of acceptance
and I found that I was loved by everyone, I wasnt
about to waste their energy.
did you approach the research necessary for writing
about your life and the accident?
started by writing down the chapters I wish to cover
and then I asked for my notes from the Royal Brisbane
Hospital and all the gaps were filled in by talking
to significant others and from my memory At
the time, I remember I got very tense; it was hard
to relive the hospital stays, it was as if I was re-living
that moment of time, it was almost as if I went into
a trance and had stepped out of my body.
did you enjoy most about writing Permission to Shine-The
was a challenge at the time I was writing the book,
but, now, on reflection, I enjoyed every moment of
writing Permission, and what the most enjoyable was
to actually finish the book, that feeling that comes
of writing the last words and knowing the book was
to Shine-The Gift pulls no punches when taking on
the subject of how the disability affected your life.
What are your thoughts on the way society views disabled
people in the 21st century?
does society treat disabled folk in the 21st century?
I dont see myself as disabled; Im just
a half blind lady in a wheelchair! My personal experience
has been one of a positive time, I refuse to see things
negatively, and I am probably the worlds greatest
like to talk a bit about your life today. Would you
describe a typical day in your life?
typical day for me is to be up out of bed at 5am,
between checking emails and doing my morning ablutions
Im usually into the shower by 6.30am,
I liked to be showered, dressed, fed and ready to
be out the door 8 oclock Depending
on what appointments I have, I usually do food shopping
and schedule my carer for the day, I have one carer
for 20 hours per week and another carer for 5 hours
a week, the 20 hour a week carer does all the cleaning,
hanging out of washing, vacuuming of floors, food
preparation etc. My other 5 hour carer
does my ironing and plays Scrabble and I dont
have any carers over the weekend, if I need someone
over that time, Ill ask. My carers
have become friends and outside my two carers, I have
a wonderful taxi driver with a team of two other men
who are just fantastic, they have got to know me and
my haunts. I spend about 30 hours a week
with various disability boards and council community
did you approach writing about your disabilities?
Were there any characteristics that you tried to avoid?
soon realise that you had to be extremely honest,
my way of handling anything uncomfortable was by writing
the prose initially in the third person, I almost
took pleasure in being brutal It was almost
as if I needed to bleed a little in order to heal,
does that make sense?
like to talk a bit about that difficult period in
your life, after your accident, how did you find the
strength to go on, and to launch a new career? What
kept you going during those years?
have always thrived on being challenged I
would have to say it was the process of acceptance
of my situation, focussing on what I could do not
on what I couldnt do Seeing the
glass half full not half empty, seeing the wheelchair
as my friend, not my enemy, it is all an attitude
I could see the way I was I was going to lose
my family and it was important to me, that I didnt!
to me, that would have been a true tragedy!
- have you ridden since the accident and are you still
involved in the equine or polo community?
I have been back on a horse, the first time was in
September 2000 and the last time I rode a horse was
September 2001 and in October 2004 I was the Event
Director for the Queensland Dressage Championships
The dressage world is completely different to
the polo world I live near the beach;
have 8 stables in the back yard and before the accident
I used to ride on the beach before I went to work,
we had a couple of polo ponies at home, but, I havent
watched a polo game since October 2000 Not
being invited to go and watch James play
polo was the first hint that the relationship was
over I miss the game; it is very exciting
to watch, Dressage is extremely disciplined to watch
and I can appreciate that I live in a
racing stable area of Brisbane, so I hear the neighbours
go out at 3.45am to exercise the horses down at the
besides being an author, what other goals would you
like to achieve?
have often joked about being on the Oprah show, some
day and thats one dream, I hope becomes a reality
for me It has been one of my dreams because
she is a lady I truly admire! One of my
others goals is to get my second book published by
November 2005. Sometimes I have this insane
goal of someone sharing my life with me. I
also have this goal where I want my girls to be proud
of me, as they are my toughest critics.
do you love most about being an author? What is your
least favourite aspect of the profession?
love and enjoy every aspect of being an author, to
be able to reach people in a positive way, to have
the opportunity to meet people, you know, at book
signings, just in every day life and have them respond
to me as an author, not a disabled person in a wheelchair,
has to be the most wonderful experience.
do you see as the greatest challenge for women in
this new Millennium?
dont have an answer to this question, yes; this
woman is stuck for words!!
you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
I can give you a little taste, just to whet your appetite;
With the success of my first book Permission to Shine-The
Gift, I was constantly being asked why I was so happy,
the working title is, The Shiny Ones Guide To
Happiness In the eyes of society, I had
every reason to be unhappy, Im a cripple with
no hope of walking ever again, Im legally blind
and I am no longer the person I was, thank goodness!
Happiness seems to elude many people, I hear
them saying Ill be happy when; I have paid off
the house, paid off the car, got a job, get married,
have a child and the insane list goes on, be happy
now! Your life will always be filled with challenges,
many of them, you have no idea you will encounter!
Thats what makes life interesting! There
is no better time to be happy than right now, embrace
and treasure everything that happens to you, it is
a gift, a true gift! Happiness is a journey not a
destination; enjoy the journey, as you only make it
you, Meriel; its been a pleasure talking to
To Shine - The Gift
and Author Profiles
Meriel Stanger @ firstname.lastname@example.org