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On not feeling lighter

For a year, I basically sat on my ass, doing nothing.  I had no energy.  I was actually very anemic, but I didn’t know it at the time.

I didn’t realise that gasping as I walked up the stairs was not a result of being out of shape and sitting on my ass all day.  I blamed myself.

I didn’t realise that not being able to walk across a soccer field carrying a camping chair without feeling like I was going to faint was not a result of being out of shape and sitting on my ass all day. I blamed myself.

Still, if you sit on your ass all day doing nothing, even if it’s because you’re anemic, you’re going to gain weight.   And I did.

One year on, I’m no longer anemic, and I’m working.  Both these things are good. Doesn’t mean I’m any more off my ass, since it’s a desk job, but it means, at least, that my meals are more regulated and I make sure they’re healthy.

I have also apparently lost weight.  I have no proof of this – only that my doctor and my husband say so (I haven’t been weighed to check) and that I’ve had to take my belt in two notches.

I certainly don’t feel like I’ve lost weight.  I feel just as huge and bloated. I still blame myself.

I don’t feel any lighter.


Learning from a walking bus

Recently, our little cul-de-sac started up a walking bus.

A walking bus is where a group of school-aged children walk to school with an adult or two accompanying them as the “bus driver.”

Our local council pays for the “bus tickets” (laminated punch cards), rain ponchos, hi-vis vests and jackets for the adults, umbrellas, first aid kit, and little keychains that are the rewards for walking to school a set amount of times.

I was skeptical of the benefits of a walking bus at first. Surely the older children would think it was “uncool?”  Possibly the parents might think it’s a waste of time.  Would anybody show up when it was raining?

But I was pleasantly surprised.  Even the two oldest girls in our cul-de-sac like the walking bus.  And I think I can tell you why, using the Te Whaariki learning strands.

  1. Well-being.  When we all walk together, we can talk and laugh and share stories.  Only one adult has to be with our group, as there’s only 9 children. And yet, the other parents walk with us often, just because it is a good time to share.  All of us (adults and children) arrive at school happy.  There’s also the health aspect of it – we walk even when it’s pouring with rain.  Finally (but I think most importantly to the older children), our path to school goes through an alleyway, past a dairy and past a highschool. I think all the children feel safer as part of the group and with an adult around. Teenagers can be a bit scary to everyone!
  2. Belonging.  We’re part of a group, and we all know each other.  We all know the rules of the walking bus, and each one of us (children included) enforce them. The children also keep tabs on who is about to get a new reward keychain. This feeling of belonging has even extended to the adults on the street. We talk and visit each other more.
  3. Contribution. We take care of each other. The children like to make sure everybody is on the bus, to the extent that they will knock on the doors of the missing, or go to the classrooms of the children who aren’t there. In the cul-de-sac, our Neighbourhood Watch is stronger because it’s not just the adults watching now, the children watch too. They know all the people on our street, and they know which people shouldn’t be there. And they tell us! Plus we all watch out for each other, offering to help out when we see people gardening, doing some DIY, or anything else that may need some neighbourly help.
  4. Communication.  Making sure each of us knows who has netball after school, who’s going home with their Dad instead, who’s sick.  Who’s having a hard day/week. Who’s going on vacation and needs us to keep an eye on their property. Who is making a presentation at school today! Who got the taonga* for doing something special at school today.  Celebrations and Sadness. Funny stories. Also, learning how families are different through our stories.  There are 3 families not from New Zealand, one Tangata Whenua family, one family that moved to Australia and then came back, one family from a single parent home, two families that have extended family living with them.  We learn from each others similarities and differences.
  5. Exploration. We gain confidence from walking together.  We jump in puddles and notice differences in the trees, plants and flowers as we walk. We look for Monarch chrysalis and monitor their changes as we go by every day, and once we even got to stop and watch a butterfly hatch. We find sticks, and interesting rubbish. Sometimes we find interesting graffiti and talk about why it’s there.  Even our walk to school is an opportunity for learning.

Our walking bus has brought our little neighbourhood closer together, and brought positive changes in our outlook towards each other and our environment.  Our children have gained confidence, and all of us have gained friends. We’ve all learned something.

My skepticism is all gone. Clearly even the bigger kids saw something that I originally didn’t!

Snow is teh evil.*

Ruapehu in January 2002

Ruapehu in January 2002 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m pretty sure snow has something against me.

Where I grew up, snow was a rare event, and I can count on one hand the number of white Christmases I’ve ever seen.  This shows that the snow doesn’t want to be anywhere near me.

The first time I went up a ski hill (with my grade 6 class) we tried cross country skiing and I fell over and sprained my wrist within the first few minutes. Had to run behind everybody else the rest of the way. It made me slip, in all it’s evilness, and then had the audacity to make my housekeys fall out of my jacket pocket, too. Somewhere on the mountain my keys are probably still hidden underneath a tree.

On days when it snowed, I had to walk 5 kilometres to my high school, mostly on the busy highway because the snow was mounted up on the sidewalk/footpath. Uphill both ways.  Yes, that’s possible. I’m not exaggerating. I’m sure it was a plot by teh evil* to get me run over by a car.

The second time I went up a ski hill (with my husband – then my fiancé) we tried snowshoeing. I twisted my knee. Not badly, but badly enough that it put an end to the day.

And (probably because it snowed so rarely) I am useless at driving in the snow. I’m sure the snow’s out to get me, and I drive accordingly.

So last Thursday, my most recent ski hill attempt, we went up Mount Ruapehu to show my children snow for the first time in their lives.  (How sad is that – Canadian children having to wait until they’re nearly NINE to see snow?) The snow didn’t disappoint. It only took two minutes for the snow to have its vengeance on me – I carefully negotiated down the first snow bank and slipped. WHAM! Majorly twisted knee.  Of the electric pain twinge OMG WTF that hurts kind.  I just got to sit and watch while my husband tobagganed with the kids.  And made a snow man. And I got left behind when they went higher and higher for better snow.

This just reinforces my belief.

And justifies our decision to move to a place where it does not snow. I will not go to a ski hill ever again. Ever.

* “teh” is not a typo.


What if Autism was normal?

The other day I was thrilled to attend a local TEDx talk.  It was the first one in our little town, so it was poorly attended and ended up being mostly videos, because some of the speakers couldn’t attend.

So that day I came home and spent a few hours on TED.  And found a gem by Juan Enriquez, titled “Will our kids be a different species” (Sorry for not embedding the video – it just wasn’t working for me today.) Anyways, go have a watch. It’s nearly 17 minutes long, but well worth it. Then come back to my post, pretty please!

The video brought to mind a little story that was given to me at a workshop about inclusion.  In the story, able-bodied people were no longer the “norm.”  It was a city created entirely for the needs of people in a wheelchair, because that was normal. Doorframes and counters were lower.  There were no stairs. Things weren’t modified for people in wheelchairs – they were made for people in wheelchairs. When someone came along who didn’t need a wheelchair, instead of modifying the environment, they modified the people – making them wear a harness that basically bent them in half, so they were the right size.  It was a very interesting story for the idea it created, even though I didn’t agree with what the author thought would happen.  Update: Here is the story online:  “To Deny or Not to Deny Disability” by Vic Finkelstein.

My point is, that if you combine the idea in the video (mankind may be in the middle of an upgrade and perhaps Autism (just maybe!) is that upgrade) with the idea in the story (what if what we considered a “special need” was, in fact, the norm?) how could things look different in the future?

And then I had a thought that I had to put out to those bloggers who discuss Autism frequently…

If Autism was normal, and our NT brains were not, how would the world look?  What would change?

I have a few ideas… I suspect that there would be severe noise laws, to make most environments quieter.

TV shows would go back to longer shots – minutes instead of seconds between screen changes.

Education would become either one-on-one or small groups.

But what do you think, Moms, and even those of you who are adults on the spectrum? How would the social, economic, educational and cultural environment change for a culture of people with brains that are wired differently from those of us who exist today? And how would they change the infrastructure to suit themselves?

Using one idea to answer another

Not too long ago, I read a post at BlogHer about a different way to get out of debt. In a nutshell, since concentrating on paying off her debt wasn’t working for the author, instead, she concentrated on making more money. (Focussed on a positive (more money) rather than a negative (less debt).) In this way, she paid off her debt.

I’m fortunate enough that Hubby & I agree on financial matters, and we have no financial difficulties in that way.

But it got me to thinking – I am physically challenged in the fitness category.  And when I say challenged, I mean that.  I have had foot, knee and hip problems since long before my BMI went over 25.  Within the last few years, I’ve concentrated on the negative – removing body fat to alleviate some of the pain.  But maybe (as in the link above), I would be better off concentrating on the positive – increasing how much I move.

And then a friend of mine posted this video on Facebook (Oh how I love these videos!!)

Seems I’m not the only one who thinks increasing my movement – however I do it – is of greater benefit than trying to remove the fat.

So that’s what I’ve already started to do.  I can limit my sitting and sleeping to 23.5 hours a day, surely?

Everything looks okay, but it’s not.

The beach looks okay.

Just the same as it ever was.

It's a lovely walk around the sleeping volcano.

Looks beautiful. But there's a problem.

The beach is not the same. It's a health hazard. We must use caution.

The warrior couldn't stop the Rena from ending up on the Astrolabe reef.

And if you look, you see places humans can't go without some safety gear.

And if you look again, you can see the oil on the rocks. It makes me wonder if it's hidden in the sand.

It looks okay. But all the same, us locals are staying off the beach.

I need home for a rest

How does that song go? “You’ll have to excuse me, I’m not at my best…”  except I definitely haven’t been drunk for a week.  I am home for a rest.

My Girl brought home another cold to end the school year. Unfortunately she shared.  So last Friday suddenly I was achy and sore. All I did was sleep and take paracetemol at regular intervals.  The children were wonderful.  They informed me that I did indeed have a fever (hand on forehead “Mum, you are definitely hot. You have a fever. Should I get the beepy thing(thermometer)?” and brought me a light blanket for when I started to shiver.

Friday night the paracetemol barely touched my fever and by Saturday morning, I was a wreck.  There was a problem, though.  I had two functions to attend. One we had paid good money for, and one that was just special.

Special? Yes, special.  Of the kind you don’t miss.

Life membership can be conferred on any individual whom the Association or Centre wishes to honour for contributing substantially to the Association or Centre over a period of time. It is intended to be a rare and special honour. It is conferred on an individual who has taken on numerous and varied roles and tasks for many years in a voluntary capacity.

Apparently, my centre thinks that’s me. Because Saturday morning, despite me feeling drastically horrible, they honoured me with a Life Membership.  They asked for a speech and a waiata (song) but my throat hurt so badly that I only gave them an inadequate, short speech.

Then we went to the activity we had paid for, hoping that my pain killers would last the whole time. They did, but only just.

We came home just before dinnertime, and I was feeling absolutely wretched.  It occurred to me that my sore throat was getting worse, not better. So I got out a torch (flashlight) and had a look.

Yikes. One look was all I needed. So I hightailed it to the after-hours care doctor (not A&E/Emergency) and showed the doctor what I had seen.  He was so impressed he sent me home with more paracetemol and a full round of antibiotics.

So I’m feeling much better now.  And disappointed that I was so sick for such an important moment. Fortunately, my centre was very understanding. Even still, special events like that come around but rarely, so I’m a bit sad.