Posts Tagged ‘kindness’

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 What did it tell you?

Server not found?

I rest my case!

Yet 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.



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 🙂


“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 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

Dear Robyn,

OK real real short one. What do you make of this? (video at end of post – if anyone needs captions I can make some but the donkey is the only one with an sort of intelligence and he doesn’t really say much…)

This morning on the Breakfast programme news they ran a story about an animal cruelty investigation in Russia where some beach hooligans strapped a donkey to a parasail and power boat and sent it for a fly around the beach (just like the tourists do). They are now likely to get two years in jail for this thoughtless act and good job too! Cruelty to animals is a horrible thing.

Hosts, Pippa and Paul Henry’s reactions to this were classic. Pippa of course thought it was mean and didn’t find it funny at all but predictably Paul cracked up completely in hysterics and I confess to replaying the article a few times just to watch him lose it! And I am ashamed to say that despite my (sometimes overly) kindhearted nature with these sorts of things, a hurtling donkey in space does look pretty hilarious and I joined the “rofling” party with a disturbing lack of restraint…  (rofl = rolling on floor laughing)

But it got me thinking that it’s interesting how we perceive things. It’s easy to agree with Pippa that the beach goers’ actions were cruel since the experience for the donkey would no doubt have been pretty stressful. But would sending it for a fly have earned those “hooligans” the same cruelty charge if the situation had been very different? What say there had been some sort of natural disaster and it was stranded on the beach and likely to drown if someone didn’t act? What if those same guys saw it’s predicament, harnessed it to a helicopter and sent it into the air in order to rescue it? Perhaps risked their own lives to do it? The donkey would still have been scared witless but  those guys would now be getting media attention for their kindness instead and we’d be calling them heroes not hooligans!

The bottom line though is donkeys were not built for flying. It’s pretty mean to send them into space for no good reason. Sheep and cattle were not designed to be hurtled down a motorway at 100 kph, crammed into a rattling, dusty truck full of manure and other nervous, frightened animals for hours on end either but we do this sort of thing to them every day in the name of dinner without batting an eyelid. We don’t care. It’s called farming. On the other hand, if  “hooligans” were to do the same thing by borrowing a sheep from a paddock, stuffing it into the back seat of their souped up Nissan Sylvia and go for a jaunt around the block for half an hour before returning it, that would easily grab the SPCA’s attention and get everyone fired up with cruelty accusations!

Kind of weird how things look to us in different contexts huh?

Morgan 🙂

Here is the video for anyone who wants to test their cruelty <–> hilarity meter… or here…