The getting of an authentic life

I have long described myself as someone who works as an academic, consultant, writer and speaker, with a particular focus on disadvantage and diversity.

This is all true enough. As an academic and consultant, I am guided by the principle of inclusion to drive the improvement of disability policies and services. As a writer and public speaker, I understand the power of personal stories to stir new ideas into life, influence policy for the better, and create bonds of fresh understanding.

I am a Senior Lecturer and convenor of policy courses and disability studies in the School of Human Services and Social Work at Griffith University. Over a span of 30 years, I have been at the forefront of developing social policy as a social worker and have established extensive policy networks in Australia and England. I have provided policy advice to Federal, State and Local Governments nationally and internationally.

I am a published writer with two books, several book chapters, journal articles and essays. My publications include my memoir of grief following my infant son's sudden death in 1987 "Jack's Story", and essays such as "I Hear with my Eyes" (Griffith Review 2006), "The Reluctant Memoirist" (Griffith Review 2011) and "When Time Stops: The Courage for Joy" (Stories of Complicated Grief: a critical anthology 2014).

My latest book is "The Art of Being Deaf: a memoir" (Gallaudet University Press: Washington DC. March 2014).

However, I am increasingly wary of such labels now. They are useful for professional purposes but they do not reflect my main preoccupations - that is, how to live an authentic life? how to be purposeful? how to carry my creativity into my work and daily life?

At first blush, these preoccupations may sound self-interested. But I find that whenever I share these apparently "self-interested" concerns with friends, colleagues (and even family members), those concerns transform themselves into a community of shared concerns, fresh ideas, and an enlivened hope - even if just momentarily, transiently - to establish something better for all of us.

In my memoir, The Art of Being Deaf (Gallaudet University Press; 2014), I examined some of these questions. I found some answers but uncertainty and ambiguity prevail . . . which in turn help to foster new pursuits and adventures!