Archive for Challenges

It’s not the reading that’s the issue…..

In a way to improve myself I am undertaking many different forms of learning.  Some is personal development, some is an education and some of it is to support my family.

One such learning is a 10 week parenting puzzle.

It isn’t a course that holds a secret instruction manual to raising children, rather it looks at ways in which as adults we have to dispel our own learnings as a child, to move past it and to understand ourselves better to support our children.

As the weeks have added up, the inner-termole of the course content has began to take an effect.  This teamed with counselling I have been undertaking to support me and help me with my anxieties and depression…… Has been giving me plenty to think about.

It has been commented (not as a critisism, more an observation) that I have become quieter as the weeks have rolled on.  The group I am in are very understanding and supportive towards everyone.

This week we were given an extra book.  “The huge bag of Worries” by Virginia Ironside.  It is a beautifully illustrated children’s book, yet one that is also written for adults too.

As part of our group, those leading us asked if one of us would read the book to the group.

A quick flick through the pages and I heard my voice before my thought had caught up

I’ll read it.

The intakes of breath were audible and noticed by others.  You see, I am an educated woman, I have a passion for reading, it is just my sight that doesn’t always play along!

Being a book to be read to and read by children; the type was larger, clearer and only briefly obscured by the illustrations behind.

I took a deep breathe and began to read.

I enjoyed the book.  I felt myself giving the characters tone and passion as the punctuation implied.

I felt saddened momentarily when it ended.  I closed the book and placed it on my lap.

I felt touched by the story; I felt that the story was so much more than a ‘children’s book’ it meant something.

I had also done something that I hadn’t done for many, many, MANY years.

I had read aloud to people other than my children.

You see, this is not just a little thing.  This is a MASSIVE thing.  I feel anxious reading, not because I dislike it, (far from it) more because I fear that I will miss words, not see them; especially in a children’s book, where the words can wrap around and over the pictures.

For someone who loves to read, yet faces my own worries over the act of reading.  It felt like it was a truly enlightening moment.  One that will hopefully stay with me for many years to come.

I have since ordered my own copy of the book, shared it with friends on Facebook and am looking forward to reading it to my own children.

You see, it isn’t the reading that’s the issue.  It’s the seeing the words.

 


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This is a WHOLE other challenge (Pretty awesome though)

So, in recent months I have conquered a Cheese-grater, climber my arse off and began to face many of my demons.  But none of these, or even all the climbing competitions I took part in last year compared to this mornings events.

Having told you all about my change of volunteer role in Scouting I did what anyone would do; in preparation for an upcoming weekend.

I bought a tent!

I had previously gone to a large outdoors shop with a friend and had a good look at all they had on show, I fell in love with a canvas Tippee.  However at just under £800 it wasn’t going to be for me at the moment.  I was able to walk among various sizes and layouts.  But as with everything, budget was my biggest factor.

I had a check list:

  1.  To have a separate bedroom area.
  2.  To be able to stand up in (although a little crouched was ok)
  3.  Have windows.
  4.  Have a black out bedroom area.

And with all this, and the wise words of a good friend who had bought many a tent.  I bought one I felt fit the bill.

I bought a Vango Beta 450 XL in blue.

It arrived yesterday, sat in its box and making me itch with excitement.  The rational in me thought I should wait until I had a friend over to help me, however the ‘kid in a candy store’ won out.

And I set about putting it up!

After all, it had an assembly guide of 15 minutes.  How difficult could it REALLY be?

Well………..

For a start, it took AN HOUR.

Oh and it was a tad bigger than my garden.

Also, with my garden being totally laid in patio, I wasn’t able to fully ‘pitch’ it.  Although with a helping hand of my garden furniture and a few plant pots, I got pretty close!

I had watchful eyes in both Vicky and Fizz who seemed quite amused at times by my antics.  They both had a thorough explore of it; both in its flat form and in its ‘pitched’ form.

I photographed my progress just for you.

Image shows ground sheet laid out on garden patio

In the beginning there was just a ground sheet and a flat tent.

Image of the outer tent laid out flat on the patio ready to assemble

And the instruction…..

3 poles, colour coded for ease with 1 pole longer than the other 2.

3 poles …. Check

colohr coded ….. check; if you count 2 being totally black and 1 having a grey section amongst the black colour?

1 longer than the other 2 …. Ummmm. Nope! 1 shorter (grey section) than the other 2 (totally black)

Maybe I should have stopped at that point.  But given it was all out of the bag, no harm in carrying on.

So following the colour coding; or rather tiny little black or gray tabs of material on the end of the pole sleeve that I hoped was what the instructions were referring too, I carried on.

It wasn’t a easy as it should have been, not having the space to walk around the outside of the tent, it involves climbing over my garden wall (pictured about, it’s about 3f)

I also had to negotiate the poles with the shed and fence as fully extended they where pretty long (even the short one!)

And then came my garden furniture. With the help of a garden chair, a bench and some plant pots I was able to semi-secure the tent in place.

Image shows front quarter angle of erect tent with flower pots holding it in place with the side door open

Image shows side view of tent with door panel open, against the low garden wall and with Guide Dog Fizz looking inside

It was perfect!

The guide ropes and zip toggles are all light blue, there are tension bands on the inside and it has a ‘lip’ to save the weather getting in, should it be wet.

And the added bonus is that I only have to duck my head ever so slightly to move around.

It was hot, it was tricky; but oh wow it was fun!  And I did it all by myself. I was bursting with pride, I sent the photos to a friend with the simple of caption

Look what I just did, not bad considering, am knackered now.

Woth the guide time of 15 minutes, with the advisory that first pitch may take slightly longer, I was happy when I discovered it took me and hour.  Some people may not feel that is something to be proud of, but for someone who has never pitched a tenth before, who has considerably limited vision and who has no help either with reading the instructions or pointing out where the pole sleeves were…… I am totally amazed and proud with my achievement.

…… Now to take it down!

In comparison that took 30 minutes, it was a simple reverse of the pitch.  I folded and rolled my tent, then the ground sheet and even managed to get it all back in the bag!  It wasn’t quite as pretty as when I took it out, but with a quick sitting on to help remove the air.  It was done and ready to put away for camping later next month.

Image shows tent bag with tent inside sat out in the garden on patio.

Now to see how long it takes to pitch in a field !!


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10 days ago I climbed a Cheese-Grater !!

Ten days ago I CLIMBED A CHEESE-GRATER:  All 225m plus a little extra for good measure.

It seems so much longer than 10 days.  Part of this is because my hands are shredded like they were after The Gherkin Climb, which although it was a much shorter climb that this one, it was at a time when I firstly hadn’t been climbing very long and secondly I wasn’t as physically fit as I am now.

I won’t lie, it was hard.

It was emotionally exhausting.

It was uncomfortable.

And almost a hard slap in the face to how differently I could see and hear inside the climbing centre.  So much so that at one point mid-climb that found me 2/3rds of the way up a wall I strategically removed and dropped my hearing aids into the awaiting hands of my climbing partner.

During the climb we had the additional media of not one but two GoPro (like) pieces of recording equipment.  We took lots of footage, we shared ‘live’ videos on Facebook during the challenge.  We do however have a fair amount of editing to do before we can share the ‘helmet’ footage or even the footage I didn’t realise was recorded.

This editing is only to remove some of the ‘colourful language’ used, we also have to mindful of copyright on music that was being broadcasted in the background!

It is coming together though, there is some fantastic footage of both myself and Simon my climbing partner accessing and defending the wall.  Simon even talked through descriptively on his final climb!

The support, emotionally, encouragingly and financially have been higher than I ever expected.

At the time of writing this post, HelpTeeHear had raised £900 online and a further £100 off-line.  That is One-Fifth of the total hoped for.

So for now, I say thank you; THANK YOU; thank you.


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Taking my time to come down !

Continue Reading Taking my time to come down !


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Envious of the mundane

Sat waiting for a friend to arrive and watching (as best I can) the people coming and going with their shopping.

And a very mundane task struck me.  People were walking with shopping bags in both hands.  Sounds rediculous, but in that small insignificant moment I became upset.

And the reason for it?  The realisation that from now and forever I will always walk with one hand full; as I will either be holding a long cane,  a guide dog harness or onto another person’s arm.

It sounds silly, but having to consider what you are buying when you go out, to either contain it in a back pack or worst case over my shoulder.  It is very difficult with Fizz to have a bag in my right hand, she works off of tap que’s and a gentle reminder from having her lead in my right hand at times.

I guess for now I shall just add it to the list of ‘no longer possible’ and carry on by focussing on the ‘can do’ list.


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A little over SIXTEEN climbs isn’t THAT much!

… In one day, with each of those climbs topping out at 14m, doesn’t make a 225m climb sound TOO difficult, does it?

Or is it wishful thinking on my part?

Either way, there is no backing out now.  The posters have been printed, the wall booked and my climbing partner (in crime) has agreed.

So, on May 3rd I shall be climbing the equivalent height of The Cheesegrater; otherwise known as The Leadenhall Building, the 225m office building that towers over its closest neighbour (and another building who’s height I have climbed) The Gherkin, 30 St Mary’s Axe.

Time to ‘earn’ my hearing aids.

Poster reading "Climbing a cheesgrater, having conquered a Gherkin."

If you would like to show your support, you can donate HERE


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Planning, plotting, working and wondering …….

Continue Reading Planning, plotting, working and wondering …….


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How did people cope before Google?**

Or more to the point; how did people cope before assisted technology?

This weekend just gone, I attended a conference with colleagues, part of the presentation was a show, bright lights, loud music, all contained in a large conference centre, with about 1700 other people.

Enough to put anyone with anxiety off!  So add to that my sight issues and ever changing hearing and I was in a total panic mode.  I had my faithful Fizz with me and some fabulous friends, so knew I would be well liked after.  But having been to a similar (yet different) event with the company in the summer, knowing more wasn’t helping to make me feel better.

This was a BIG event, there were lots of whispers about information that was going to be shared, I knew o had to be alert and listen, while also taking notes.

And this is where the assistive tech came into play……

Out of my bag came my iPad and headphones, just one placed inside my left ear and my voice over switched on and I was all set.

Since I was 6, I have been able to touch type, so could happily type as the various speaker talked, using the camera on my phone to photograph the PowerPoint slides I thought would be relevant …. Even though I couldn’t actually see them at the time!

I have said it before that “I am a Mac” but over the weekend it became so clear just how much of one I am.

I have many a ‘shortcut’ set up on both my phone (iPhone SE) and my IPad, so with certain finger taps or multiply finger movements I can easily move around.

The one that got a lot of whispers was the ‘screen curtain’.  For those who don’t need it, I guess it is a feature you don’t know about.

The screen curtain does exactly as it suggests, it puts a black curtain over the screen, or an easier way to explain it; it turns the screen off, without turning off or stopping you using the iPad.

This feature works hand in hand with Voice over as I have no need to see what I am doing as I am able to hear it all.  Also in a conference setting, where the lights are dimmed and others are sat behind writing notes, it saves the light from my screen being of a distraction or glare to them while allowing me to conserve battery.

It did cause no less than three people gently tapping me on the arm and explaining that my laptop seemed to be switched off.  So, with a quick three finger triple-tap the screen curtain was turned off and they could see my document, which often then led to “wow” or “aren’t you clever?”  But like I said above, it’s all just part of the tech and my ability to get the most out of such a conference as others.

Over the weekend I wrote pages and pages of notes, which I have since edited and corrected the odd predictive text issue and been able to recap on my learning.

The conference was much more tricky than I had anticipated, I didn’t realise just how much my hearing had changed from the previous 6 months.  I didn’t anticipate the eye atrain, ear ache and headache that I would suffer after four hours.  So much so, that in the evening instead of putting on my new posh frock, I got into my pj’s and curled up instead.  Knowing that Sunday’s training was almost twice as long!

The team around me were concerned about my struggles from the previous day, so arranged for me, Fizz and a friend to sit in a better position, much closer to the screens, yet further away from the speaker, so the presentation was clearer, and not as loud.

I felt very emotional and suppressed my tears at this act of kindness, they did not need to do this, yet they did and it became clear when I returned to the conference just the extent hey had gone to.  A member of staff met us at the door and walked us in moving us through the crowds and seating us, checking if Fizz needed any water or if I needed a drink or anything.  This biggest part with them making these adjustments for me was that they allowed me to have a friend with me, my colleague who I was sharing a room with, who was more than happy to take Fizz out for a walk and a wee or get me anything I needed or showing me where the toilets were.  This simple act allowed me to relax, to know that I was with someone I knew and trusted and that didn’t have to worry about a thing.

So at our next conference in February I shall be keeping a tally on how many comments and ‘gentle nudges’ I shall get about typing or pretending to type on a switched off iPad ….. Watch this space !!

The one thing that this weekend has shown me is how much I am loosing my control on my disability, how much it has changed and thankfully how much I am now surrounded by people that are happy to support me.

 

**DISCLAIMER:  Other search engines are available


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Crowdfunding and me

So, it would appear crowdfunding as aposed to charity fundraising comes with a limit… Not a monetary limit, rather a time limit; of just 120 days !

So having been keen and set up a page (as detailed in my previous posts) we have had to change the name slightly and create a new page.

The £95 that was raised on the original page is being moved over and the link for the new one is:

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/HelpTinkHear

so, the 120 day counter has been reset and from today we have 3 months to raise this.  So, even if it is just £1, if you can help it would be greatly appreciated.


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The Cheesegrater is going to have to wait

An image of the London Skyline, showing The Cjeesegrater with The Gherkin to the right and The Lloyds building in the foreground.

All the climbing of 2016 has taught me so much more about myself as a climber, I am going to need to work on my technique dramatically if I am to turn my 1st place into a Team GB place.

This doesn’t mean that I am giving up on my fundraising, now more than ever I want to show my worth and EARN my Resound Hearing Aids, but with my climbing partner currently our of action, as the post title suggests ‘The Cheesegrater is going to have to wait’

Just days before Christmas, my climbing partner in crime underwent an operation for a hernia, one that has left him unable to train for a minimum of six weeks.  So with him not even being able to go to the gym until mid-February, let alone climb.  I have made the decision to postpone my climb.

Yes, I can climb with another partner.

No, I am not sharing my climb with ‘climbing partner in crime’.

But…… He is my motivator, my muse and my forceful “not let me down until I have reached the top” coach.  It wouldn’t be right to climb without him as my belay.

The new date is looking like late March, early April.  But no date is being set until the whole of ‘Team T’ is fit enough.

First a gherkin; Next a Cheesegrater !! is where I wrote about my challenge back in October, it was hoped that the climb would happen later this month, but health comes first and so, I am going to be cheeky and link you to the Crowdfunding page that has been set up for me, ‘HelpTeeHear’ where you can see why I am doing all of this.

My world is getting quieter in addition to darker and I’m not happy with it, not one little bit.  I want to be able to keep me, my independence and my love of technology that helps me to do all this.

So, my shameless plug is above, please take a moment to have a look.

And in the meantime, follow me for more updates on the climb and my other adventures.

 

 


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