Archive for Challenges

Why do I climb?

I watched a climbing film this morning about a climber with progressive cerebral palsy.  He took up climbing as it looked more fun than physiotherapy.  When asked what he enjoyed most about climbing he answered:

I am equal to everybody else.

This comment has had a profound effect on me.  A friend asked me a few months ago; how do you feel when your climbing?

I couldn’t answer. I told her it was something I would have to think about and come back to her on.

It is a simple enough question isn’t it?

How do I feel when I am climbing?

I feel free.

No-one is looking at me when I am climbing, they are all too busy concentrating on their own climbs or climbing partners.

I have no idea what it looks like to climb (not first hand, without zooming in on pictures) therefore I do not feel conscious of how I look.  Don’t get me wrong there is the odd occasion I come down off a wall and I can feel the sweat stinging my eyes and I have a fair idea of how red and sweaty I look, but that is no different to any other Climber that has just given their all.

Climbing is not something I have known with much better sight.  It is not like the sight I had 15 years ago, which although pretty poor was much clearer than the sight I have now; the sort of sight that wearing glasses made a real difference; where as now they only really help with REALLY close up things.

An example, as a child I rode a bike, as an adult I rode a bike and even up until last year I felt comfortable riding a bike.  Since my hearing loss I have found it a real struggle to feel safe on a bike.  Not the physical movement of actually turning the peddles and making the wheels move, but the ability to even judge how far my foot is from the ground.

I refuse to give up on ever riding again, but my days of riding alone or just taking the kids out are gone.

[I have digressed slightly….Fogive me]

With climbing there isn’t this feeling. Because the routes on walls are very rarely the same after 3 months, there is no ‘marker’ to judge my changes in sight.

The only way I can judge my climbing is the same as anyone with any type of sport…… How I feel the next day !!

I am working on stretching and movement, on endurance and core strength, which in turn is improving my climbing.

When I am on a wall, only the thought of reaching the next hold and getting further than I did before is on my mind.

My sight loss and hearing loss don’t come into it.  They make up such a small part of me as a person, and yes they clearly do have an affect on the way I climb.

But for me I JUST CLIMB.

And just as Nik Royale (BMC Article linked here) commented how he felt about climbing over 5 years ago; I find myself absorbing his comment and believing in it, regardless of if you take part in Paraclimbing or other forms of competition.

Climbing is about equality.  A climbing wall doesn’t care about the colour of your skin, how your body looks or even how your body works.  It enables you to find a way, to reach personal challenges and milestones.

It is simply there for you to climb it.

 

 


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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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