Tag Archives: olympics

Why We Must Watch the Paralympics.

If you believe in equality and love incredible sporting action, get in front of your TV and watch the Paralympics in Rio. Come and support some real heroes who’ve risen out of the ashes of adversity to become elite athletes. This competition is seriously intense and you’ll soon find yourself getting right into it… all from the couch!

Although I don’t watch sport, I decided to give equal attention to the Paralympics in Rio to the able-bodied games. While this started out as a ethical standpoint, it grew into a form of kinship. After all, I live with disability and chronic health issues and these are my heroes. The people who were dealt cards similar to my own, and instead of giving up on sport, persevered. They loved it. Sport moved them in ways which defied their physical being, and the Paralympics provided them with a dream. More than that, it was somewhere to hang their dreams and turn them into goals. In this new environment, they were no longer the slowest, the last to be chosen for the team but through their hard work, dedication and sheer tenacity, they emerged elite athletes. Moreover, in many instances they became medalists, standing up on the dais. That’s such a different story to that deflated kid always coming last.

“People have this idea that struggling is a bad thing, but struggling is brilliant. If you see someone struggle and overcome it, it is infectious. It makes you feel good to be alive”.

 Kurt  Fearnley: Pushing the Limits. Kurt is an Australian Paralympic Gold Medalist among other achievements.

http://www.kurtfearnley.com

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Sport isn’t easy for a tortoise.

 

I have absorbed so many stories from the Paralympics and the stories I’m hearing and telling pertain to Australian athletes. I wanted to share a bit of Brayden Davidson’s journey to Rio. The 18-year-old long jumper, was born with cerebral palsy.

As a 6 year old, Brayden Davidson was that kid. Always coming last in sport. Always the last kid to be picked for teams and, as I can share, this is completely demoralising and you can’t help feeling like a loser, a failure, somebody who’s been left behind.

As his Mum said:”He loved sport but he hated sports days because he was never fast enough, never strong enough,” she said.

Even though Brayden loved sport, his family could’ve directed him into other interests and kept him out of school sport. He could’ve spent PE lessons in the library. However, his grandmother was a woman of vision. After one particularly bad day at school as a six-year-old, he retreated to his late grandparents’ house where his dream to become a Paralympian was born.

“And [his grandma] said to him ‘look you’ve got a disability, the Paralympics that’s what you can do’.

“If you dare to dream, it can come true.”

Brayden initially set out to compete in swimming. However, his cerebral palsy made the muscles in his shoulders too tight. A coach told him he could not modify the strokes so he quickly lost his passion for swimming.

But just four weeks after taking up long jump about six years ago, Davidson was competing at his first junior national competition and his love for the sport has stuck.

Davidson defied all odds, and a groin injury, to jump of 5.62 metres to clinch gold in Rio. The jump was 11 centimetres better than his previous best and broke a Paralympic record. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-13/reynella-east-college-assembly/7840694

As a teenager, I shared Brayden’s humiliation in school sports. I had been born with undiagnosed hydrocephalus, or fluid on the brain. While my coordination wasn’t too bad before puberty, it really deteriorated then and my struggles were further exacerbated by a massive growth spurt.

I don’t know why PE teachers have to divide the class into teams and get the cool kids to pick out kids for their team. It’s totally humiliating for anyone at the bottom of the pack for whatever reason. Of course, no teacher would do this to an academically challenged student and yet your uncoordinated kid is fair game. Gets crucified each and every sports lesson. Naturally, it’s all too easy for these kids to retreat from sport altogether. That is when they really need that exercise and could really use the sort of cheer squads usually reserved for the jocks.

Rugby - Olympics: Day 3

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

 

I have been lucky when it comes to my hydrocephalus. In what seemed like the ultimate bad luck, it was diagnosed when I was 25 and after a rapid descent into a neurological abyss, I had brain surgery. I had a VP shunt inserted which managed the pressure in my brain and I began what was a very slow a gruelling recovery process, which was rudely disrupted by a shunt malfunction and further surgery. For someone whose identity was entrenched in academic achievement and had graduated with an honours degree from university, this was crippling. Things couldn’t get any worse and from where I sat at the time, I could never see myself living independently again. I told a friend that “I can’t even look after a gold fish let alone kids”. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to spend the rest of their life with me. From where I was sitting then, I wasn’t dead but life had reached a full stop. Moreover, despite being told that “I am a human being, not a human doing”, I had to get back into my old work shoes and get my life back.

Ultimately, I did. I succeeded.

Perhaps even more unlikely, I met Geoff and found my soul mate and someone who accepted me as I was and just loved me. We got married. Bought a house and a couple of dogs and then had our two beautiful children.

Since then, we’ve been dealt a further blow when I was diagnosed with dermatomyositis (an severe auto-immune disease related to Muscular Dystrophy) and Institital Lung Disease.

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On your marks. Get set! Go! Doing the three minute walk at Rehab.

While I haven’t made it to the Paralympics, I’ve conquered physical hurdles way beyond my dreams. Not just through my own efforts but the teachers who became “the wind beneath my wings”. People who slowly but surely unravelled all that ridicule I experienced in PE at school and believed in me instead.

My journey started out with an Adventure Camp with Muscular Dystrophy NSW. There I went down a water slide without my glasses on as well as having muscle weakness. I rode a camel, went sandboarding and complete shock of shocks, I rode a quad bike. I went from there to ski down Perisher’s Front Valley supported by the Disable Winter Sports’ Association and my instructor. I had a surfing lesson and most recently, I signed up for an adult ballet class expecting to spend my time sitting down but instead have mostly been keeping up with the class. It’s an absolute miracle and I’m so chuffed.

These experiences as a disabled person conquering physical hurdles in the sporting realm, have shown me just how important sport and dance are for everybody. Taking this further, the Paralympics provide athletes living with disability that higher place to aim for. After all, we each achieve more when we have an ambitious goal, a destination, something challenging to work towards. Everybody deserves that.

So, switch on the box and prepare yourself for some great sporting action from some very deserving sporting heroes.

Bring it on!

Have you been watching the Paralympics? Any favourite events or stories?

xx Rowena

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share August 20, 2016.

If we were having coffee today, I’d throw you a cushion and invite you to join me on the couch for some home made banana muffins. I almost didn’t mention the home made bit. Or, that I made them from scratch. After all, that goes without saying. I don’t know how to make banana cake without real bananas, and I don’t want to find out.

How has your week been? I hope you’ve had a good one.

Have you been watching the Olympics? I’ve been winning heaps of Gold Medals from the couch. Don’t you love it? After starting at the top of the medal tally, Australia is now 8th…not bad given our smaller population. Obviously, my use of the remote has made all the difference!

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Glebe Street, The Junction, Newcastle.

The highlight this week was driving my daughter to her violin rehearsal in Newcastle. It was held at The Junction Public School, which is in an older boutique part of town and is absolutely delightful. I love the quaintly painted timber cottages with their picket fences and frangipani  trees, which are currently naked and undressed. I’d love to come back and see them in full bloom. They’d be stunning. Not that they weren’t photogenic as they are.

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Talulah Bar, The Junction, Newcastle.

With three hours up my sleeve, I parked myself at Talulah Bar, a fabulous Cafe/restaurant/writer’s retreat.  After feeling  lost in Newcastle driving into Newcastle, I felt I’d  found myself here. Before your mind start wondering and you’re picturing me downing cocktails at 10.00 am, I was strictly on the caffeine and nothing else. In fact, I didn’t even think of alcohol. I’d had enough trouble finding my way around Newcastle sober and I definitely don’t drink and drive. Nothing like a rustic cafe to pull out your writer’s notebook and feel inspired. I was particularly inspired by an antique piano in the corner which had those old brass candle sticks stick onto the front. It seemed strangely haunting and I started writing a short story. I might have to turn it into a piece of flash fiction so I can get something finished and come back to it later. Anyway, I ordered sweet potato falafel for lunch, which was a fabulous twist on an old fave and that 3 hours flew by and I was needing to get back to the school without dessert…damn!

On the way home, we went on what proved to be a huge detour via the Bloch’s Dance shop in Charlestown, on the Sydney side of Newcastle. Again, we got thoroughly lost but found it eventually and I managed to try on my beautiful pink satin ballet slippers, matching pink tights and dance leggings…all but a leotard. Definitely no leotards! I was in seventh heaven, even though I wondered whether I was too “mature” for all of this. I didn’t care. If I was going to do ballet properly, I needed those pink satin shoes. They had to be satin. You can read more about it here.

Speaking of ballet shoes, I suspect these could be my mid-life crisis vehicles and in my defense, a pair of pink satin ballet shoes is much cheaper than a new red Porsche!

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Thursday night, I had my second adult ballet class and headed off wearing my new shoes, stockings and black leggings. I think I’d probably look like a basketballer next to a real dancer but I didn’t care. My shoes were a hit, although my ballet teacher showed me how to do up my ribbons properly at the end. I should’ve known you don’t have huge pink bows out the front, looking very much like clown feet on an adult. Rather, you tie them in an elegant knot on the side of your foot and tuck the ends in. So, I guess next week, I’ll at least look like a real ballet dancer. Or, will have the shoes done up properly. You can’t become a ballerina overnight, even with those years of ballet as a child.

Margot Fonteyne

Dame Margot Fonteyn…what dreams are made of!

In between what felt like driving somewhere over the rainbow this week, I also finished reading a great book…Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies. Have you heard of her? She’s an Australian author. This book is about a murder at a school function. Right from the start, we know there’s been a murder but we don’t know who is murdered or who done it. So instead of the story starting off with a body, we’re drawn into a tangled social web and we know all the players and I certainly knew these people. By the way, I should mention that she even had a “Rowena” on the P & C (Parents and Citizens)…just like me. that intrigued me as there are very few Rowena’s around and it’s very much MY name. Thief!

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The final countdown is on for my daughter’s performance at Sydney Opera House on Monday night. She’s playing in a huge multi-school string ensemble with her school. Even though she’ll be a speck in the crowd, for us, she’s a star and might as well be playing solo. She has essentially picked up the violin this year and they’re playing at about a grade 1-2 level and so I’m really proud of her and myself. I drive her up to her lesson every week and as most parents testify, their kids don’t practice with a bit of “encouragement”. It might not be the Olympics but it’s a huge effort.

To that effort, I’d just like to point out that while she might be swanning off to the Opera House, you wouldn’t believe the organisation involved in getting her to the Opera House with the school and then get my son, husband and parents organised. I have a disabled parking permit so we can get free parking at the Opera House, which is great. I also have a companion card and I requested disabled seating and the only spot they had left was a wheelchair spot so they’re providing me with a wheelchair. This all feels a bit fake but I wasn’t doing so well when I booked the tickets and what with crowds and stairs to contend with, I chose to play it safe. I’ve also had to sew up the hem on her skirt, which was a bit tough with my bad eyesight. That’s what it means to be a real stage Mum.

Hope you’ve had a good week and I look forward to hearing from you!

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. You can click the Linky  to read the other posts.

xx Rowena

 

 

Olympic Coffee Share

If we were having coffee today, I’d be asking you: “Would you like Gold with that?”

After all, the the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are in full swing and today, I was watching the swimming live from the couch. Australia has taken out a bronze in archery but I was here in front of the box when Mack Horton romped home to take Gold in the 400m freestyle. Our Australian swimmers in the Women’s 4 x 100 Freestyle relay soon won Gold and also broke the world record. That really had me leaping from my seat: “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!”

Mack Horton with Flag

Australia is currently at the top of the medal tally and I’ll enjoy it while it lasts. Of course, I put a lot of hard work into my training routine!

Here’s my Olympic coverage: Gold From The Couch.

Miss with Medal

Not that I’m showing off, by here’s my daughter wearing Cate Campbell’s Gold medal from London 2012. We met Cate at a fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy “Fill The Boot”, which was run by the fire brigade. The last leg of Fill The boot was held at North Sydney Olympic Pool with Cate Campbell racing against X Factor host Luke Jacobz as well as swimming a demonstration lap. I’m not into swimming but even I could appreciate the difference. Knew I was witnessing the world champion in action. You can read more at: The Niceometer and Fill The Boot.

Family with Cate Campbell Xfactor

Mr, X-Factor’s Luke Jacobz, Miss, Cate Campbell and Me.

Meanwhile back at the ranch…

Milly Violin

Miss playing the violin at Open Day.

 

Last Wednesday was Open Day at my daughter’s school. The day began with a gala performance with our daughter performing with the senior choir, orchestra, string and dance groups. Proud Mum was watching through the zoom lens, taking photos. It’s my way of saying: “I love you”, even though she might hate it and no doubt that’s why she’s labelled me “embarrassing”. Afterwards, we went back to her classroom. The must-see was the robotic cars the kids have made for a race at Newcastle University next Saturday. Not as many artworks not that she’s getting older, but still a primary schoolroom.

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Open Day at the high school for our son was cancelled due to the rain.

Writing-wise, I have been beavering away on a short story for a local competition, which was due on Friday. Unfortunately, I can’t post it here but I can share my angst trying to knock off 300 words to reach the 1500 word limit and repeating and repeating the process in the last day as I fine tuned it all. I’ve never murdered so many adverbs and adjectives in my life but I didn’t want to delete any of my complications as I really wanted to tension to reach boiling point.

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Pelicans Sleeping at The Entrance After Dark- Photo Geoff Newton.

Saturday afternoon, our daughter had a birthday further up the coast and so we went out for dinner at The Entrance. I remember going for a holiday there as a child. It gets it’s name as it’s located where Tuggerah Lakes enters the Tasman Sea via a narrow inlet. The Entrance also has a sandy, ocean beach. We had a fabulous Spanish meal and I fully immersed myself into a seafood paella with muscles, prawns and tender squid! Yum!

You can read more about our night at The Entrance here.

However, as soon as we left the restaurant, my mobile rang. Lady, our recalcitrant black dog, had escaped yet again and had been found. We were over an hour from home so we asked them to put her back in through the gate and hoped for the best. She was actually still there when we arrived home. My husband has been blocking up all sort of holes and gaps over the last two weeks and she’s still getting out. We have no idea how she’s getting out now and we’re starting to wonder if she can fly. Perhaps, she flaps those long, floppy ears of hears and takes off. As crazy as that sounds, that mutt seems deceptively daft and given her propensity for mischief, it wouldn’t surprise me if she was actually incredibly smart.

This will be my last Weekend Coffee Share coming from my navy, leather couch. We spotted a temporary replacement at the Op Shop last weekend and it arrives Wednesday. Tomorrow night, the couches go out beside the road for council cleanup, taking their stories with them. There’s the cushion that flew out of the trailer on the freeway moving up here when it was still pretty new and treasured. Geoff had this couch when we first met and I’ve breastfed the children in it, read them stories and struggled with my mobility issues trying to get out of it at times. At about 20 years old, however, it was time for it to go to the great sofa heaven in the sky. That said, I still don’t want to be home when the truck munches it up, converting it into landfill…sob! It’s so brutal.

How about you? How are you going? Have you been watching the Olympics? Read any good books?

Hope you’ve had a great weekend and have a great week ahead!

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. You can click the linky  to read the other posts.

xx Rowena

 

 

Hands On Gold.

In what was an unforgettable moment, here’s our daughter holding Cate Campbell’s Gold Medal from the London Olympics.

Congratulations to Cate, sister Bronte, Brittany Elmslie and Emma McKeon who took out the Gold Medal and World Records in the 4 x 100 Freestyle.

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!

xx Rowena

Gold From The Couch.

Nothing like crawling out of bed after a Sunday sleep-in and winning a Gold Medal at the Rio Games. After all, when Mack Horton won Gold in the 400m freestyle for Australia, that includes me.

Mack Horton Gold

Aussie Mack Horton Savours Gold…another great shot from the couch.

Thanks, Mack!

I also have to thank Mack Horton for a great Sunday morning pep talk. After his win, he shared his self-talk during the race: “I am in control.I can do it.”

What a contrast to that panic-stricken: “Everything’s falling apart”. Feeling “out of control” and “I’ve lost it”.

That’s the difference between being a VICTOR, and becoming the VICTIM…success and giving up!

Great wisdom…as I scoff another Honey Joy from our daughter’s stash from last night’s party.

Are you watching the Olympics? Any highlights?

I must admit that I also just cheered when Hungarian Katinka Hosszu won Gold in Women’s 400m Individual Medley. This is her fourth Olympics and although a brilliant swimmer, she was yet to win an Olympic Gold:

“In London, I was so scared of what’s going to happen if I lose,” Hosszu said, according to The New York Times. “It was awful, really. I just felt like: ‘This is my time; I need to show it. It’s now or never.’ I put this pressure on myself.”

Hosszu was ranked World No. 1 coming into the Olympics, yet there are no guarantees. So, her success was a huge personal triumph and a reminder to anyone:”Never Give Up!”

Women's Relay Team

No time to rest or get a cup of tea, it’s grueling pace.

Another race and a huge yahoo from the couch, as the Australian Women’s 4 x 100 m Freestyle Relay Team take out Gold and the World Record.

The kids and I met Cate Campbell at a Muscular Dystrophy NSW event held just after the London Olympics. She is a truly inspirational person in real life, just as much as in the pool. Truly, someone to follow…even if it’s only with a cheer from the couch!

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!

Top of the medal tally…not that I’m showing off, but I had to play this: Queen: We Are The Champions.

Have you been watching the Olympics? Any highlights so far?

Cheers from the couch! I have more medals to win!

xx Rowena

The Niceometer.

It’s time we bring back the niceometer and value niceness, instead of celebrating the very worst of human behaviour!

For some reason, being “nice” is now perceived as some kind of put down. Used to refer to someone who boring, bland or insipid, it’s used as a derogatory term – instead of something to be revered.

I say we need to bring back “nice”. Resurrect it from the dead and all nice people should sport their niceness with pride.

Nice needs to come out of the closet and strut its stuff.

I know being nice probably sounds very Brady Bunch but what’s so wrong with caring about your fellow human being and developing a bit of character? Shouldn’t we be encouraging giving instead of taking? Building community?

I was reminded again about the importance of supposedly old-fashioned niceness on Friday when we attended the finale of Fill the Boot, a fundraiser run by the Fire Brigade to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation. We were there because my auto-immune disease is a neuro-muscular condition and I am a member of Muscular Dystrophy NSW. To read all about Fill the Boot, you can read my previous post and click here for the official web site: http://www.filltheboot.com.au/

We had such a fabulous day and experienced the very best of human nice and kindness that I had to share it. Here are a few vignettes from our Fill the Boot Day, which might just restore your faith in human kindness. I’ve listed them in chronological order as the day unfolded.

Some firies at the North Sydney Olympic Pool

Firstly, there was the fundraising by the firies. Firies are wonderful people who put their lives on the line everyday to save others. Yet, they found the time and energy to get out there and raise money for us and I really appreciate it! They managed to raise $100,000.00 for the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation. Yippee! That’s a lot of chocolate… oops! I mean research!

The kids with Luke.

Secondly, we not only met Luke Jacobz, Host of the x Factor, he actually spent time with us – real time. I have to laugh because when I first met him, he was wearing an Olympic gold medal around his neck and I thought he was one the athletes. Go Ro! I have watched the x Factor but I don’t watch a lot of TV and I’m certainly no celebrity chaser. I honestly didn’t recognise him.

Luke was genuinely very, very nice and one of those rare people who are very attentive and really listen to you. Mister and Luke had some very long discussions about something although none of us can quite remember what they talked about. I do remember Miss talking to him about her tooth falling out and how she’d found fairy dust on her hands the next morning along with a $5.00 note from the tooth fairy. As I said, Luke was very attentive and asked her questions and took a real, genuine interest. He wasn’t looking over his shoulder for someone more interesting to chat with. The kids really appreciated this. Not because he is the host of the X Factor but because he helped them feel special, loved and treasured. They were glowing. It really touched me to see them so happy. We have had some very tough times and it meant the world for me to see them smile and have so many deep belly laughs.

Kags & Mister

Kags from MDNSW also did a pretty good job at making the kids laugh and feel special too. I’ve been asked when they’re going to see Kags again.

Kags & Miss at the lunch.

The kids with Kate, Luke and the gold medal.

Thirdly, Cate Campbell shared her precious Olympic Gold Medal (or “mettal” as Miss called it) with us. It was only when I arrived home and was talking to my husband, Geoff, that the enormity of that hit me. The kids were able to wear the medal round their necks. When I was a kid, I wasn’t even allowed to touch Dad’s good crystal wine glasses. They were very, very precious. Yet, Cate trusted my kids, complete strangers, with her very precious, irreplaceable Olympic gold medal. This wasn’t just some plastic replica you find at the $2.00 shop. It was the real thing. That was very, very nice!

Miss with the gold medal.

Cate also spent time with us and I must say I enjoyed watching her swim. She took freestyle to a whole new level and had something like the grace of a swan. Needless to say, it was quite a different experience to what I’m used to at swimming lessons!

Fourthly, a fireman drove my car across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and into the Sydney Fire Station. I always feel a bit silly about my nervous driving even though I am spatially challenged. However, I was able to voice my concerns to MDNSW who sent Kags along as navigator. But then a fireman offered his services so how could I resist?  I decided that driving home across the Harbour Bridge would be a better time to extend my driving prowess. As it was, because the fireman was driving, we ended up at the tail end of the street parade featuring the beautiful historic fire engine. It was quite exciting being part of the action.

The Kids with Blazer.

Fifthly, the firies gave the kids caps and toys. This might not sound like much but it meant the world to the kids. Mister was given a cap from the Sydney Fire Station, which is almost glued on his head. He loves it!! He even took it to bed with him. He was also given a patch from the Northern Territory. Miss was given a cap from the Tasmanian Fire Service, which was very special because Geoff comes from Tasmania. A firey from  Brisbane’s Roma Street Fire Station gave each of the kids a fire fighting koala bear called Blazer. They love him. We have also been invited into the Roma Street Fire Station when we’re in Brisbane next and hope to get there in January. There were other gifts, I’m sure. The kids were spoilt!

I always appreciate that whenever I go to functions organised by Muscular Dystrophy, that I feel so loved, valued and accepted. I always feel like I’m floating along in a wonderful love bubble. This isn’t because people feel sorry for me or pity me but they do acknowledge what we are going through. I have found everybody I meet there truly inspirational and so encouraging. Pretty much most of us are living life to the max…our max anyway. I often find that when people are challenged by adversity they can actually achieve the most amazing things. People find strength seemingly out of nowhere and it’s just amazing and seemingly quite illogical

It’s now Monday night and that fire brigade cap is still glued to Mister’s head..

This morning when I dropped the kids at school, one of them piped up in the car and said: “we are the luckiest kids in the whole wide world.” That’s what being nice does. It builds people up. Helps them feel good and makes the world a better place.

In a world where being known as a “hater” in some circles is cool, I’d much rather be “nice”.

Wouldn’t you?!!

If you enjoyed this post, I recommend reading my previous post The Love of A Stranger.

Love & best wishes,

Rowena

Overcoming Life’s Hurdles…A Tribute to Olympic Champion -Sally Pearson

http://instagram.com/p/OC4_Q8Maqm/

I have a new hero. This morning, I watched Australian athlete, Sally Pearson, take out the gold medal in the 100m Hurdles at the London Olympics. It was awesome!

Sally Pearson is my kind of athlete. She shares my weakness for the mighty Tim Tam but obviously doesn’t let a packet of so of the things get in the way of her Olympic dream. I bet she can even stop at one. I can too, you know!

Not being into sport, I haven’t watched much of the Olympics. Moreover, I usually cringe at the thought of sporting heroes. Just because someone is good at sport, it doesn’t mean they have integrity, character or the sort of values that should denote a hero. However, I’m open-minded. Being a sports person shouldn’t disqualify them either.

I had no intention of getting into the Olympics. I loved Sydney 2000, attended a few events and even had my photo taken with the Olympic torch. Like everybody else, I was also running around everywhere chanting: “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!” like a complete lunatic but that was then and this is now. The Olympics are over there…in London…literally on the other side of the world. Bu­­t you know what it’s like when you have kids. You get drawn into things. My daughter’s class was following Sally’s Olympic journey and I was sort of pulled into the slip stream. So in between painting the Olympic rings and the Olympic torch, the kids and I started jumping to attention every time Sally Pearson’s name was mentioned on TV.

To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t really heard of Sally Pearson before the Olympics but what I started out as an educational experience for my daughter, has became a motivating and insightful moment for myself.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m having a bit of a rough time fighting my auto-immune disease at the moment. I dodged a bullet on Monday when even my specialist thought he was going to be admitting me. I’d even taken my pyjamas and toothbrush with me (haven’t done that before) but went home a free woman instead.

I am still on 50mg a day of prednisone and that is unsustainable but survivable short term. It’s a bit of a roller coaster ride emotionally speaking but creatively, I’m on fire doing some amazing stuff. Being a creative soul, I could almost say it’s been worth it but the stress has been phenomenal and it’s been really hard on our family. That kind of stress is to be avoided literally at all costs!

I have also picked up a nasty viral infection and I’m coughing my lungs out all night. Every night, I am hovering on the edge of calling the ambulance but somehow manage to make it through the night.

So you can see how I might be needing a hero at the moment!

Sally Pearson inspires me for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I like somebody who can jump over hurdles at great speed and win. After all, jumping hurdles takes guts. I remember doing hurdles at school and feeling rather defeated before I even got started. Those hurdles looked huge, enormous. It was like trying to jump over a tower. I know I baulked at them. Moreover, I’m sure I thought I was going kill myself if I actually hit the hurdle. I’ve always been a drama queen.

When it comes to jumping life’s hurdles, I’m not always quick off the mark either. Just do it, Ro! Get on with it. The more you procrastinate, the worse it gets! The more you gaze at the mountain, the higher it gets. We all know that but it’s another thing to actually do it.

Sally Pearson conquered the hurdles at speed, seemingly without a second thought. However, I’m sure her brain was processing things at a thousand miles an hour. Even a gold medal athlete doesn’t conquer hurdles without a lot of mental and physical processing! She just made it look so easy!!

Secondly, Sally Pearson won gold in the rain. If you live in a country where it rains or drizzles a lot that might not mean much to you but around these parts, things come to a grinding halt when it rains. My Mum was allowed to stay home from school when it rained when she was a kid. Sally won in the rain. She didn’t let it get her down. She didn’t stop. She got out there and she won gold…the ultimate reward.

I can do it too. Don’t let the rain stand between me and my dreams. Get on with it!!

Thirdly, Sally won by .02 of a second. Initially, I thought about that being an insight into how you need that competitive edge to win. It was such a tight, tight margin. Then, I saw another way of looking at it. You only need to be a very small step ahead of your adversary. I have always seen my auto-immune disease as a separate entity code-named “Dermie” and when things get bad, he’s like a malevolent creeping, lurking shadow… a stalker.  It’s never been part of me or who I am as a person.

Now, I only need to be .02 of a second ahead of Dermie to win! That sounds so much more achievable. I can do it but I know I’m in for the long haul and I will need to have the commitment, dedication and focus of a gold medal athlete to win the race. There is no room for complacency, defeat or turning my back on my foe. I need to fight for my life before my life depends on it! We all face this fight. It isn’t a glamorous journey. There will be no gold medal accolades but I just want to see my kids grow up and to be well enough to enjoy it. I also want my husband to have his wife and my parents to have their daughter. That seems like such a small request and it is I hope, quite achievable but it will be a fight.

As I said, this is a battle we are all waging. The distinction is that I am conscious of my battle. Most of us are quite oblivious. I know I was.

Sally was also competing under incredible pressure with the entire world watching her…so many fans willing her to win but there are always those wanting to see the tall poppy fall. She won gold under all that pressure and she didn’t crumple. She won gold…not just for jumping those physical hurdles but all those mental, metaphorical hurdles as well.

I have just watched an inspirational interview with Sally Pearson. I really felt I was running the race inside her head, inside her heart. Seeing things how she saw them. It was so amazing and such an encouragement now that I’ve decided to take inspiration from her success. There were a few quotes I liked: “Nothing hurts at the moment. I’m walking on a cloud”, “they almost got me but they didn’t”. “You have to push yourself to limits.” “All I could see was the yellow of Australia”, “You’ve done this a hundred times before. Get out there and do your thing.”

I’ve also Googled Sally and found an insightful interview. Sally hasn’t had the easy life and has fought against adversity. She’s been independent and has always been a fighter. That was very encouraging too. That ironically adversity can fuel your success, instead of just bringing you down. It reminds me of a quote by Australian photography sensation Ken Duncan which I stuck on my whiteboard last week:

Stumbling blocks are stepping stones to victory.

You can read the interview here:

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/the-sunday-interview-sally-pearson/story-e6frexni-1226051679724

So congratulations Sally Pearson. You’ve won a gold medal on and off the track. You’re simply the best!…along with Olympic cyclist Anna Meares.

Anna’s story is also inspirational but that’s someone else’s story to tell. Suffice to say that Anna Meares made an astonishing come back from a very bad cycling accident at the World Cup in January 2008 when she broke her neck. It is just amazing to think that you can break your neck and then go on to win Olympic gold. Another incredible inspiration!

I hope these stories encourage you to jump your hurdles whatever they might be. They’ve certainly inspired me!

xx Rowena