Posts Tagged ‘ambitions’

Dear Robyn,

OK, here are my answers to your 20 questions.

1). What was the naughtiest thing you did as a kid? How did this impact on your life now?

I think the naughtiest “thing” I did was just being generally stubborn, questioning everything and not automatically doing what I was told! I was one of those kids who is always going “Why? Why? Why? Why? But Whyyyyy?” and if any adult could not give me an intelligent answer why it was fair I had to do something then there was no bloody way I was going to do it just because they told me too. (After all, I figured blindly following “authority” without questioning it might be a bad thing since it might be unreasonable or dangerous).

How does this impact me now? I haven’t changed!!! (I only care about rules that are fair and will challenge any that are unreasonable).

2). How many times did your mother break the wooden spoon on you, and what did you do for that to happen?

I think she only did that once and I can’t remember what it was for (wow, must have been really effective!) We think it is hilarious now. I could always tell if I had been really bad by the sound of “STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP” followed by the wooden spoon drawer opening. We still joke sometimes that if I misbehave she will get the wooden spoon out!

But I do remember once when I was in primary school (I think), I wouldn’t eat my vegetables so my mother threatened that if I didn’t eat them she would put them in the fridge and I would have to eat them the next day. I didn’t eat them. So the next day guess what I got to eat for breakfast? COLD hard vegetables. I still didn’t eat them. It’s a wonder my mother still has hair. Poor woman.

3). What is the best book you have ever read, and why do you rate it as your best?

There are a few:

Einstein: The General and Special Theory of Relativity

It’s just fascinatingly beautiful and thought provoking and Einstein had a great way of explaining himself as well as possessing an absurdly fun sense of humour. Anything by him is fascinating and fun – even his writings on the surface tension of water!

Jung: Psychological Types (Psychologische Typen)

My favourite of Jung’s works and where my interest in personality theories started. Whilst it’s not actually a theory and hasn’t been validated as true I have so far failed to find sufficient evidence that either it or the Myers-Briggs Indicator that was inspired by it to be untrue. And newer theories that are now taken more seriously seem to somewhat validate it.

Richard Dawkins: The Greatest Show on Earth

Chosen simply because it is his latest offering but anything this guy produces is brilliant. This is one of the most intelligent books I have ever read. What he doesn’t know about science probably isn’t worth knowing. After reading this I can’t see how any intelligent person could refute evolution as a scientific fact.

4). What was the animal that most influenced you as a child?

The horse. I love them. They are beautiful to look at, gentle, noble, strong and make intelligent companions for humans either as friends or workmates. As a child my friend had a gelding called Amigo. He was awesome. If we went “camping” in the back yard he would have to come too – even going so far as to sit in the tent with us and share our tea and damper bread and join in our silly games. And he did this “thing” with his feed bucket just to make us laugh (by sticking his hoof in it and biffing it around the paddock.) I am sure they have a sense of humour and love the way they “test” you when you first ride them to see what they can get away with. There is no zip in the back of a horse’s head that is for sure!

5). Have you eaten anything really stupid?

No, but I’ve tried smoking something stupid. When I was 12 a friend of mine and I decided to try making roll your owns. Only problem is we had neither roll your own papers or tobacco. So we improvised by using eucalypt leaves from a tree in back garden and A4 typing paper! They came out like giant sliffs, were a stinker to light, smelled like roasted koala bear and were about as horrendous as those awful menthol cigarettes you can get when you are trying to fool yourself you don’t really smoke. They didn’t exactly inspire me to never take up smoking but they didn’t inspire me to want to start either!

The most unusual thing I have eaten is jellyfish which I am rather partial to and eat whenever I can find it in Japanese restaurants.

6). What has been your most embarrassing experience in your life?

Well, I am shy so I could say the whole thing so far!

7). What is the funniest thing that has happened to you in the last year?

Running around the house playing games with Lia and Glyn’s 3 year old son Zac under strict instructions not to make him laugh too much otherwise he might throw up. After much giggling and more running around I threw up! So now the instructions go more like “Zac, don’t make Aunty Morgan laugh too much or she’ll barf!” I love kids. We have so much in common….

8). Who was your first boyfriend and why didn’t it last?

A super intellectual nerdy Mensa member who regularly devoured 4 books a day. He lived further down the country. We were only about 14. We spent several years writing very long intellectual letters to each other and sending them via the post 3 times a week and sometimes visited each other! I still have them somewhere. Particularly cool is the one where he had decided (at the grand age of 15) he wanted to marry me. But he wasn’t sure how I’d react so he made a hidden compartment in the letter and said to only open it if I really want to know. Our long distance communications didn’t last because he eventually moved up to Auckland and I decided I wasn’t so keen on his party animal side!

9). If you could have anybody in the world as your life companion, who would you choose and why?

A Burmese cat like your Kass. It would be cool to have such a loyal companion and be able come home at night to millions of hugs and someone who would listen for hours to your philosophical ramblings without complaining they are bored! I just love the way cats are always content just to be with you and don’t make any judgements about how much housework you’ve done today.

10). What is the gadget you would most like to buy and why?

Considering I have absolutely no sense of direction a Navman wouldn’t go a miss. Only my model would need to be able to give me really specific instructions – like how to navigate to the bathroom in a restaurant and find my way back safely to my table! I kid you not. Twice in the past few months I have gone to the bathroom in restaurants and ended up getting back to my table via the kitchen much to the surprise of the staff!

11). If you could live in another country for a year, which country would you choose and why?

Germany. I have always felt an affinity with Germans and when I was in Germany I loved the way it is organized so efficiently, that train timetables makes sense and they turn up on time, that it’s so clean and tidy you can lick the roads and that the people are so thoughtful (and above all else MAKE SENSE!)

What I love about the German people is that they are really honest and mean exactly what they say. So for example if they compliment you, you know they really mean it and are not just hiding the truth to keep the peace, saying what they think you want to hear or to manipulate you so they get what they want. And they tend to think of doing things in a way that will be helpful to other people. Like planning a project effectively so everything is well thought out from start to finish or designing windows for tall buildings that open inwards so occupants can wash the outside of the window from inside rather than having to clamber up the outside of their dwelling on a dodgy ladder (like we do in New Zealand!)

I also speak German so having the opportunity to speak completely in a foreign language for a year would be interesting! (Which incidentally should explain the occasional lapse into strangely Germanic spellings of Englisch words and capital Letters imposed on far too many Nouns!)

12). What would you study at university now if you could?

Hmmm, well in the past I have seriously considered studying Psychology, Philosophy, German, Computer Science and pretty much all the other sciences. But realistically I am interested in EVERYTHING (see question 18) so I get more fun out of watching Uni lectures on YouTube without spending any $$$ to change my mind all the time! (I find this guy’s lectures on Steganography really fun).

13). If you suddenly won or came into a lot of money – what would be the first three things you would do with it?

1. Come visit you

2. Stick the rest in the bank and live off the interest

3. Use it to help other people

14).What was the turning point for you which made you realise you were Atheist?

When I was seven I thought it might be worthwhile trying out church since my friends went and it seemed to be about nice morals I believed in like “love your neighbour” and “god is love”. When I got there we learned that God is vengeful and jealous and will throw anyone who does not obey his draconian and unfair laws into the eternal fires of hell where they will be burned alive forever…. It was at that point I figured the Christian God was a horrendously cruel entity, probably didn’t even exist and certainly didn’t deserve followers!

So when I say I am an Atheist this means I am 99.9% sure the probability that there is some spiritual entity in charge of the universe is incredibly unlikely (.1% is for the off chance I am wrong). But I am 100% sure that the Gods of organized religion are no more real than tooth fairies or Santa Claus.

15). If you could write a book, what would it be about?

Personality Theories or Aliens.

16). What has been the saddest moment of your life? The one that has affected you most of all.

I can’t think of any particular personal one. But in general it makes me sad that on the whole humans are not always very supportive or understanding of each other. Especially when things go wrong. I’ve been surprised when people criticise me for supporting things like the Auckland City Mission because “you shouldn’t give money to those homeless bums. Why waste your time caring about them?” My answer is always “why not? That could be to you one day”.

17). What would you most like to achieve in the next 10 years?

1. Become an A grade photographer like you

2. Record some decent songs

3. Get good at programming

4. Still have a job that contributes something meaningful to society.

5. Spend lots of quality time with friends and family

6. Get a Burmese cat!

18). If you could choose a complete new career – what would it be?

Web Developer. Though I can think of lots of others that are completely impractical and won’t be done in my lifetime:

Alien Hunter for SETI, Professional Skeptic, Songwriter, Poet, Photographer, Philosopher, Jazz Drummer, Hermit, Theoretical Physicist, Astronomer, Evolutionary Biologist, Robot Inventor, Programmer of Artificial Intelligence for Robots, Mathematician, Artist, Writer, Psychologist (in which case I would want to be the Richard Dawkins of Personality Theories and come up with a VALID one or crack what consciousness really is), Sound Engineer (take two as already been there, done that) and start something called “The Alien Abduction Company” that produces humorous but intelligent games with alien vs spy themes.

19). If you could change any part of your body – which part would that be?

I wouldn’t. I like me the way I am, although it would be quite cool if my eyelashes and eyebrows were naturally darker. I am so pale that without makeup on I look like the White Witch from Narnia! I have the kind of Scottish complexion that Billy Connolly refers to as “Pale Blue” (or “Pale Bloooooo” in his accent!) A friend of mine used to joke that I shouldn’t be allowed outside in the moonlight because I glow in the dark.

20). Write me two paragraphs of an opening of a ghost story…

Er, well I am not very good at this sort of thing but here goes.

Mando was relieved. Finally he could sit down beside the freshly lit fireplace with a good book and relax after a day of hauling boxes into his new abode – a cute little cottage in the countryside, right up on the hill. It had been wet and windy all day which was a bit depressing but Sally would arrive tomorrow and he knew she’d love the place and brighten it up with her laughter. He opened the book and paused to listen to the sounds of their new home – the fire crackling, the rain outside, the trees scraping up and down outside on the window pane making a squeak, the wind swirling around making howling and whimpering sounds… whimpering sounds? “That’s strange”, he thought. “I’ve never known wind to make that sort of sound before. It almost sounds human. How creepy”.

He ignored the uneasy feeling something with a tortured and unwell soul was creating the noise and resumed reading his book. But he couldn’t concentrate. He began to feel increasingly like there was something glaring at him from the hall. “Don’t be silly Mando”. The whimpering sounds became more elaborate and deep like growling. “Definitely not the wind then. Maybe an animal?” He started feeling distinctly uncomfortable and wished he had turned more lights on now. If Sally were here she would ease his fears and convince him it was just his overactive imagination, just what he needed because now he was petrified and reluctant to look and see if anything was really there. But he had to, just to reassure himself.

He stared into the fire for a while longer hoping the warm glowing colours might help him muster up more courage and that the noises would stop. They didn’t so he decided to bite the bullet and just do it. That is what Sally would do with her logical mind. He cautiously glanced down the dimly fire lit hall. A creeping sensation passed through him. “What the hell is that hunched over in the corner?” He let the flames play over the emaciated looking object, animating it slightly. “Did it … move? Surely that is just a pile of dirty rags. It’s just my mind playing tricks with the firelight”. He grabbed the torch he had been using earlier and pointed it down the hall. Two beams of light at floor level shot back at him from within the pile in an angry glare. Definitely eyes! He dropped the torch. “Shit! What is that? A starving dog?” He fumbled around for the torch while his mind started racing “What the hell do I do now? I can’t look. But if it’s an injured animal I have to do something, I can’t just leave it to suffer.”

He started making his way gingerly over to the doorway to look for the light switch. The eyes seemed to follow him. He felt around nervously on the wall for the switch and found it just as he stubbed his toe on a toolbox. “Ow!” The eyes suddenly rose up to a height of seven feet and started coming at him. “FCK! What sort of dog is this big?” He flicked the switch. Then he saw it, whatever it was with its hideously thin limbs and protruding ribcage, its drool covered mouth and wild eyes with pinpoint pupils boring into him.

At that precise moment the whole village of Devonsmire was woken by the blood curdling screams from the cottage on the hill. And that was the first and last time they ever heard the voice of Mando Alexander.

Sorry! I can’t count. So you get a whole intro instead of two paragraphs!

Morgan 🙂

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Dear Morgan,

Thanks for your email asking me 20 questions.   Did you imbibe a bit too much brandy over Christmas?  The reason I’m asking you this as you actually sent me 21 questions, not 20.  I’m worried that something somehow affected your ability to count.  Or did you grow another finger or toe?  It happens you know – some people actually have 6 toes on their feet, or on one foot.  I’m pretty sure you’re like me and count on your fingers and toes!

Anyway – I’ve answered your 21 questions and the answers to them are below.  I look forward to seeing the answers to mine!

1. What was your biggest blonde moment in 2010?
Getting up at 6am thinking I hadn’t turned the water off on the garden.  When I got to the tap, everything was soaked and I was kicking myself for leaving it on for so long, to find that the tap was already off.  It took me another minute to realise it was pouring with rain, and that was the reason why it was so wet.  Then I realised, standing in my PJs at the garden tap, when it was barely light, that I also was being heavily rained upon!  I was too wet to go back to bed!!!

2. Your photography is stunning. What would you advice be to beginners as to how to know when they have a great shot?
Look at the shot carefully, if it can be improved – improve it.  If it can’t be improved, then it’s probably a great shot!  Seriously though, a great shot is often quite flukey.  When all the elements are right, everything is lined up for you, and you happen to get the right angle and perspective.  Other times, when you work at it, you won’t be able to achieve the same result.  It’s a mystery to me!

3. What reaction do you get from people when you tell them you are an atheist?
The biggest reaction at the moment is that I should say ‘non-believer’ because the word ‘atheist’ sounds so horrible.  No matter how I explain that the word ‘atheist’ means ‘non believer’ it makes no difference.  Obviously ‘atheist’ conjures up visions of devil worship and witches in some people’s imaginations.  Most likely because that is what they’ve been told (a case of a christian upbringing or brainwashing) .  The other comment that is made is that I won’t always be an Atheist, and that eventually I’ll  ‘go back into the fold’.  In other words, they believe that somehow I will suddenly start believing in ‘miracles’ rather than ‘coincidences’, or that I’m sitting on the fence and if something happens, I’ll immediately re-convert.  Not a chance!

4. What is something the world would be better off without?
War.  Greed.  Jealousy.   Oil Barons (see 2nd word).  Mobile phones! Anal probing aliens!

5. If you could be a famous person for a day who would it be and why?
Kate Middleton.  Cos I’d like to shag a prince ! lol  Oops – that was ‘snag’.  Honest!

6. How many books did you read last year and which ones do you recommend?
I didn’t indicate ‘year’ in my list, but since March 2009, I’ve read 126 books.  I’ve actually read a few more than that but forgot to update the list!  Still – that’s an average of 2 per week so not actually a bad result.  The book I most recommend is ‘Tears of the Desert’ by Halima Bashir.  Absolutely brilliant.  The reason it’s so good is that I can’t stop thinking about it.  When a book affects you in that way, then you know the writer has achieved something rare and good.  I’d recommend it to anyone.

7. What do you feel are the most amusing aspects of my personality and of yours?
The ability to laugh at ourselves and our quirky personalities.  My most amusing is my competitiveness.  My ability to turn reading into an olympic sport!!  I can’t even help myself.  A friend of mine won’t even play Scrabble with me anymore!!!  Sigh!

Yours is the amusing way your imagination can go wild with marshmallows and elephants.  Whatever you are on, I’d like some !

8. How do you think we (humans) got here (on earth)
Sigh!  Didn’t you know?  You have to ask?  Well, it started with Planet Oxeon (or planet Ox for short).  The inhabitants there were once called shemanhunians.  They lived in utter peace and contentment.  They were only 4 feet tall, and all weighed 300 pounds.  All their food was on trees.  Even a cake tree.  When they mixed the leaves of any tree with water from their lakes, they could change the taste of that water to anything they wanted, depending on the leaf.

One day there was a terrible storm. It raged for two weeks, and when it finally abated, the leaves of all the trees had been stripped bare.  Gradually all the trees started to die.  Terrible food shortages were experienced, and the weakest began to die.

They sent SOS messages in bottles that they threw into the air.  These travelled in tiny worm holes to the outer regions of space.   A kind Minocthican from Planet MXcoen came across the bottle with a message, and sent out a party to Planet Oxeon to see what they could do to help.  The situation was so dire, that in the end it was decided that their planet had to be abandoned.  So Planet Oxeon was evacuated.  Airships were sent down and one by one filled up with Shemanhunians and taken to Planet MXcoen.  Each airship was filled with 400 Shemanhunians.  There were 396 airships altogether.  (MXcoen was a wealthy planet).  Many Shemanhunians chose to stay on their planet choosing death over life somewhere else.

All airships except one made it to MXcoen.  Airship 281 was accidentally sucked into a giant wormhole and deposited in our solar system, where they eventually found Planet Aerth (now spelt Earth because of poor education and mobile phone texting).  The Shemanhunians gradually adapted to life on Earth, grew taller because of better food.  They spread out and populated all the world.  In some countries they have maintained their weight, and in others became healthier and slimmer.  They became known as Humans.

And that is how Humans got to earth!

9.  …and what do you think the purpose of life is?
Purpose of life is to keep improving our lot generation after generation, and to have fun while doing so.  Not sure if this is what happens though!

10. Do you think there are aliens in outer space and if so what might they be like?
See question 8!

11. How would you describe the best way to spend a day?
Exploring new places with a camera, especially where very little people are. As in very few, not little little people!

12. What qualities in people really really really frustrate the hell out of you?
When I see bullying, meanness, oneupmanship, dishonesty, exaggeration, braggarts.

13. What is the most oddball thing (that isn’t true) you have believed in and how did you find out it wasn’t true?
A friend of my brothers came for dinner and told us that the little beetle that eats the hole in macaroni had some sort of virus, and was dying out.  This was affecting the crops and soon there would be a terrible shortage of Macaroni.  I believed him.  In my mind I pictured fields of macaroni with no holes blowing in the wind and little beetles getting fat by eating the out holes inside.

The next day I told my friend about this, while in a elevator full of people.  She laughed (as well as all the other people in the elevator) at my seriousness and earnestness and my emphasis that it was true!  She told me I had been ‘had’. but I didn’t believe her!!!

The problem is that I was about 22yo!!!  I am (still) so gullible!

14. If you could wave a magic wand and make the world perfect, what would it be like?
Everything would be free.  People would help each other because they want to, not for money.  Cars would run on air with no pollution.  Humans would love animals, revere them always.  There would not be a need for religion, people would be good and kind always.  There would be no hatred.  No one would be hurt or disabled, deaf or blind.  If they were, it would only be temporary as there would always be a ‘cure’ on hand.  Water would be clean everywhere.  Everyone would be vegetarian.  The sun would not be dangerous.  You could go freely around the world wherever you wanted.  There would be no borders.  There would be no war.  Without war, wealth could be spent where it was needed, in research development, space exploration, and humanity.

And the most important… everyone would have a burmese cat or 3.

15. What’s something you’ve done you’re really proud of?
I built my own vegetable garden with nails and hammer.  (and wood).  I’ve managed to grow vegetables!  Today I picked ONE brean,two tiny tomatoes, and ONE courgette.  I have ONE carrot left.  Gee – I’m not sure I’ll survive a disaster yet!

16. How important do you think science and reason should be to society?
Incredibly important.  In fact, it stand to reason that this is the one thing that people should base their education and facts on all the time.

17. What scares you (apart from sharks in swimming pools)?
Horror movies.  I won’t watch them.  Gremlins see… My other blogpost

18.  If Kass the cat could suddenly talk what do you think she’d be saying to us?
At the moment, she would be scolding me for going away so often.  She would also probably be telling me how she hunts, and decapitates her baby rabbits, and the reason she does it.  She would tell us about the three nasty magpies that keep dive-bombing her.  Right now she would be telling me that the wind is cold.  She would tell us what time we should go to bed, what food she wants and doesn’t want.  Moan about how bored she is when it rains.  She’s quite an intelligent cat, so she would probably give us her theory of relativity and discuss aliens.  She would probably tell us that Mika was abducted by aliens, and she was too, but after the anal probe how she got away! (Just had to get that in there somehow)!

19. How do you manage to get so many things done in one day (and am always amazed by this)?
By only putting my head in the clouds after they are done!  Lists.  I write lists.  I have them in my computer.  On the bench.  In my head.  I get great satisfaction of crossing things out once they are done.  I also imaginarily pay myself.  I imagine myself getting a salary for the jobs I do around the house.  If I don’t do the vacuuming, I won’t get imaginarily paid.  Works a charm.  Always have had a great imagination.  If I’m too tired, I try and imagine all those things getting done.  The only problem is imagination lets you down time and time again!  I’d like a genie.  Or fairy godmother.  Or George Clooney in a French Maids outfit, complete with fishnet stockings.  He’ll look into my eyes with those gorgeous eyes of his, and say.  “Where do I plug the vacuum cleaner into?”  Sigh!

20. Describe the perfect man and where you get one.
There is no such thing as a perfect man.  Only perfect women!  So you can’t get a perfect man anywhere.  You can try at www.yourperfectman.com What did it tell you?

Server not found?

I rest my case!

Yet www.yourperfectwoman.com will lead you to website where they will be found!

21. What are your aspirations for 2011?

  1. To get Morgan to visit me
  2. To get my foot fixed
  3. To pay off more of my mortgage
  4. To somehow save and get to see my daughter who is living in europe.
  5. To look at selling my car and buying a 4×4 to explore the back and beyond
  6. To keep trying new things photography wise,  and improving my photography.

Cheers
Robyn

Dear Robyn,

(Read in Monty Python voice) And now for something completely different!

Today I want to post a speech made by our friend Lia because she is a truly remarkable person. Not only does she have a knack for setting seemingly impossible goals and then achieving them despite any obstacles in her way (and she says how she does that in her speech) but she is also a very kind hearted person who goes the extra mile to help out other people and is pretty creative about how she goes about it. She is proof that one person can make a huge difference in the world.

This year she has single-handedly instigated “Swim 10,000”, a fundraiser to raise money for the Leukaemia and Blood Foundation and support the 10,000 people in NZ living with a blood cancer or condition. So for the next year she is swimming 10,000 lengths of the Millenium Institute Pool – and if that’s not challenging enough, she is doing it using only her arms (as she explains below, this is due to her Cerebral Palsy). Quite frankly, just thinking about swimming that makes me tired. But as she puts it:

“The challenge of the 10,000 lengths and year-long commitment pales in comparison to the challenge and struggle that people with cancer face on a daily basis. I am extremely proud in the knowledge that the money I raise will help people like Rangi (who has Leukaemia), as they are an inspiration to me.”

The LBF were so impressed with her Swim 10,000 that they have made it their main campaign for the year! And they are right to be impressed because only a few weeks in she has already completed her first 1,000 lengths and raised a reasonable amount of money for them.

This week she was invited by Long Bay College to be the guest speaker at their awards ceremony for young people who have done inspirational things, give out the awards and tell her own story. The thing is Lia HATES public speaking (something I can totally relate to!) so she read her speech to me over the phone many times as a trial run. No matter how often I hear or read this it inspires me every time so I thought it would be great to share with everyone.

If anyone would like to donate or help out with Swim 10,000 details are at the bottom of Lia’s post.

Morgan 🙂

LIA’s SPEECH:

“What, you’re swimming 10,000 kilometres?”

Okay, so mum got it slightly wrong.

Hi, I’m Lia, and I am doing a fundraiser “Swim 10,000” where I am swimming 10,000 lengths of the pool at the Millennium Institute of Sport and Health in Mairangi Bay, over the course of a year to raise money for the Leukaemia & Blood Foundation.

Whilst I admit, 10,000 kilometres does sound amazing, at 27.3 kilometres per day (546 lengths) every day, for a year, it is a tad unrealistic even for an olympic athlete, let alone for a 34 year old mother of one with Cerebral Palsy!

Cerebral Palsy affects people in different ways. In some people it affects their arms and legs, and even their speech. Some can walk, others cannot. I have Cerebral Palsy diplegia, which means both my legs are affected. As a baby I started going to Wilson Home for physiotherapy, and would continue going there for physio for many years. The physio strengthened my muscles and “retrained” my brain to learn how to walk. My mother said she wanted me to be walking by the time I went to school as she didn’t want me to go to a “special” school for the disabled, and wanted mainstream education for me. At 4 years old just before starting school, I took my first, rather wobbly steps.

The typical gait for someone with Cerebral Palsy is knock kneed and walking on their toes. This is how I walked for 4 years. At age 9 my parents had the opportunity through Wilson Home, for me to see an orthopaedic specialist who offered the option of surgery. I remember the doctor asking me if I wanted the surgery, and all I wanted to know was “would it make me walk like my sisters”. He told me “close”, and I was sold.

This would be the beginning of a long road of surgeries and physiotherapy to correct my walk. With each surgery I had to re-learn to walk. Due to my limited mobility, my parents got me into a swimming club as a form of exercise. I remember trying very hard to swim freestyle, moving my arms one after the other and wondering how far I had progressed down the pool, only to find that through all that effort I had moved very little if at all. I have come a long way since I was a kid. Luckily now, I actually move forward! (or backwards in the case of backstroke!)

Whilst I am not a fast swimmer, I can swim a reasonable distance. At about 14 years old I got stress fractures in both my feet. About a dozen fractures in each foot that would require numerous surgeries to fix. My gait puts added pressure on my joints and as a result I have a problem similar to arthritis in my feet which often causes severe pain .

Swimming is good as it doesn’t put any stress on my joints or feet.

I used to swim a lot. But to be honest, before starting Swim 10,000, I hadn’t been swimming for about 5 years. After having my son (who turns three next month) I often thought about getting back into swimming. The problem was there was too much thinking and not enough action. So I decided, right, I’m going to get a membership and go swimming every day I can. I have heard that a lot of people get memberships and for whatever reason lose interest after a while and stop going to the gym or the pool. It was then that I decided to incorporate my year-long swim into a fundraiser.

I calculated the number of lengths I thought I could do over the course of a year and, at 30 lengths (1.5km) a day it came to 10,950. I capped it at 10,000 to allow for days when the pool may be shut and sick days. It was quite coincidental, when deciding to support the Leukaemia & Blood Foundation, that I had read that there are an estimated 10,000 New Zealanders living with a blood cancer or condition. I have always wanted to support the Leukaemia & Blood Foundation. I have seen many people who have joined in the “Shave for a Cure” campaign, and thought I would participate, so when deciding on which charity to support I thought, perfect, I can swim 10,000 for the 10,000 people living with a blood cancer or condition.

I wanted my fundraiser to really help those in immediate need. Like many people, perhaps even some of you, I have known people who have gone their own battle with cancer. Some who have won, some who have not. So, the Leukaemia & Blood Foundation is a charity close to my heart.

Through this fundraiser I want to show that anyone can make a difference regardless of their personal circumstances. Many people who look at me may see me as disabled, a person with special needs, or physically challenged. I have always challenged those labels, as I believe the only real restrictions we face are those we put on ourselves. Sure there are things that I find difficult, and yes, some things that I am unable to do, at least how someone “able-bodied” might do them. But, if I want to do something badly enough, I have found there is usually a way.

When I was a baby my mother was told it was unlikely that I would ever walk, or talk, and would go to a “special” school. Luckily for me, I have a very determined mother who was not going to take “no” for an answer. And again, luckily for me, I have inherited her stubbornness and determination.

It is with this same determination that I began planning Swim 10,000. Upon telling some people of my goal I was told “you won’t do that”, and it made me even more determined to prove them wrong, but the real sense of achievement I will get is in knowing that I have proven it to myself.

I have, however, been told “you can’t do that” many times in my life. Many times been subjected to the stares and pointing from strangers. Growing up with a disability you develop a thick skin to such things. I remember being 4 years old (unable to walk at that stage and being pushed in a chair similar to an oversized pushchair by my mother. A woman approached us, and said rather rudely to my mother “what’s wrong with your daughter she shouldn’t still be in a pushchair, she’s far too old for that”, and my response, “you don’t see me coming up to you asking you what’s wrong with you and why are you wearing those ugly glasses, and kicking her in the shins. Looking back, I’m not proud of kicking her in the shins, nor, I am sure was my mother, however, she and I are both proud that I felt able to defend myself, and not have to be spoken for.

But then, sometimes the reaction was just for fun. At age 9 after having my first surgery, I was in a wheelchair with casts on both legs and bandages on both thighs, on a day out shopping with my mother, who was pushing me in the wheelchair. A couple approached us and asked what had happened to me. My mother always hated this, as she never knew what I was going to say! I then turned to the couple and said “see this woman pushing me in the wheelchair” They nodded “We’ll she’s my mother, and she pushed me down the stairs!”. To which the horrified couple gave mum a quick glance and went about their business as my mother and I continued on our shopping trip, my mum red with embarrassment but the two of us laughing.

Humour, was the way I dealt with the staring, pointing and questions from strangers. I have learnt not to take things too seriously, and that laughter can dispel those awkward moments where you’d otherwise be inclined to run and hide, when you know that running is not an option.

As I have grown I have become more confident and less inclined to take offence at the sometimes blatant prejudice from others. The aim of Swim 10,000 is to help the Leukaemia & Blood Foundation. But Swim 10,000 is also helping me. It is helping me complete one of the biggest goals I have set, but much more than that.

I am a very shy person. My shyness has often stopped me from doing things. I’m the sort of person who feels alone in a crowd. I am more comfortable around people I already know, and familiar surroundings. I want Swim 10,000 to be a success, and raise much needed funds for the Leukaemia & Blood Foundation who receives no government funding. To do this, I realise that I need to get the word out about Swim 10,000 to as many people as possible in the most effective ways.

I have written letters, emails, and made phone calls to companies, sent friend requests to strangers who have heard about my swim and asked for their support in helping to spread the word. I have been interviewed and photographed for an article in the North Shore Times Advertiser, and there may be other media interest by way of radio, TV, newspapers, and magazines. And, here I am speaking to you. Public speaking. The thought of which leaves me with more butterflies in my stomach than you’d see at Butterfly Creek. But I’m here. And I find with each new thing I try, once completed, the fear goes with it.

I have met many people through doing my swim. One friend I have made is Rangi. Rangi heard about Swim 10,000 on the Leukaemia & Blood Foundation’s facebook page. Rangi has Leukaemia.

He told me he is proud of what I am doing, and continues to follow my progress and give me his support. Some people may be inspired by what I am doing, and I’m glad, if that “inspiration” leads them to action. But really, I don’t see what I’m doing as amazing. I am simply a regular person who was inspired by others, and decided to take action. Many people don’t act, as they say to themselves, “what difference can I really make?” Challenge the norm. What difference can you really make? Challenge those who say that one person can’t make a difference. They can. You can. And only you can decide how. The action I chose to take in completing Swim 10,000 is a physical challenge, as I wanted the challenge to be something from which I will gain a real sense of achievement. Without it, what’s the point? I see it as a challenge which I am enjoying. It’s my goal.

You can achieve any goal you set. Just break it down into small steps, and take one step (or in my case, length) at a time. On Tuesday I passed my first thousand lengths, and am now on my way to my second. The challenge of the 10,000 lengths and year-long commitment pales in comparison to the challenge and struggle that people with cancer face on a daily basis. I am extremely proud in the knowledge that the money I raise will help people like Rangi, as they are an inspiration to me.

Please join me in making a splash. To donate to Swim 10,000, and go in the draw to win an aquamarine and diamond ring from Diamond & Time Jewellers valued at $920 go to www.leukaemia.org.nz 10,000 thank yous.

Lia in the North Shore Times
Lia’s journal of her year long swim
To donate

Photo by Ben Watson, North Shore Times