Friday, September 27, 2013

Win or lose, we are still awesome!

This is a response to the America’s cup fiasco. 
I’m not talking about the Oracle teams cheating or the delays to racing due to seemingly contrary match rules, but rather about the kicked puppy response from the New Zealand public. It still shocks me to see how emotionally invested such a large portion of our communities seem to be in the outcome of events like the America’s cup. I’m personally all for people being enthusiastic and cheering for their team of choice, but it baffles me when that team loses and people seem to suddenly drop into a spiral of dismay or anger.

So much of the media coverage of public reaction has shown a drastic split between those who put a brave face on the situation and those who appear to be somewhat traumatized by the situation. I think part of this response is due to the hype and drama that media build up around the events of such sporting occasions. It reminds me of history lessons about the coliseums of the ancient world, where everything was geared to get the crowd excited and invested in the events of the arena. In those times the aim of the events was to create a distraction for the public from the hardships of daily life and to win the public’s favor for local leaders or high profile individuals.
These days our lives don’t exist on the same level of hardship and grind but people still seem to identify and react in similar ways to people of the past. There are a number of scientific studies that show a link between the levels of crime (violence) and the winning or losing streak of the local or national sports team of note. 

As I said I am all about being supportive and passionate about a team or event, but it concerns me that people’s mood and behavior are so tied up with the results of various sport matches. Yes, I acknowledge this isn’t something unique to New Zealand, as evident in the occasional soccer\football riots in Britain or parts of Europe. But I have to ask can we not find other ways to build up our own sense of self enough that our happiness doesn’t depend on the outcome of sporting matches? 

If there were more of a positive and reasonable focus from the media and others then hopefully the drastic reactions of supporters could be avoided and our sports people would not be driven to extremes in their pursuit of success.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

More then books required

Below is a copy of a woman's journal that she shared on the Muscular Dystrophy Association website.
I suggest that you read it in full on the above link or scroll or read the red sections on my blog posts below before reading my comments.
Her perspective on the impact that disability has had on her expectations and experience (or lack of) of dating, romantic relationships and sex, as well as everything tied up with these things is common to many disabled people, but not necessarily talked about. I find that so much of this woman's life and perspective parallels my own, besides the obvious commonality of being female and effected by some form of Muscular Dystrophy. Along with each excerpt of this woman's entry I will add my own reflections and observations.

"I have self-efficacy, and I have detailed planning for nearly all aspects of my life except the “love relationship.” I aspire to have it in my adult life but I really have not had any positive expectation for it. It is only on this aspect I would tend to self-stigmatize. 

 This young woman has so many things in common with me that when I first read this piece I actually thought "has someone stolen my life?". But then I considered again what reason did I have for thinking that my own experience or thoughts and feelings around these topics was unique. This revelation or reminder sent me off in search of others stories and musings on this area.

Although many of my friends (who have different types of disability) are engaging in committed relationships happily with people with/without a disability, I find it difficult to overcome my psychological barriers whenever I think of the situations for which I need intensive caregiving, and that my life span is threatened by the disability.

In some ways our own experiences and thought processes are just as much of a barrier to building relationships, whether romantic or platonic. Although I don't have statistics to back me up, I would guess the number of people who struggle with shyness and other social difficulties are much higher in the disabled community, particularly those with physical disabilities or significant physical limitations.
My friend said that disability could not take away my right to engage in love relationships. He then asked whether I have already met a person on whom I have a crush. When I answered “yes, but he does not have a disability,” he immediately asked, “It seems that basically you don’t accept your disability at the outset. Then how could you expect that he would accept your disability and appreciate your inner beauty?”
Those that have a significant role in our lives, whether or disabled or not have a big impact on how we view ourselves in terms of self confidence, social skills and other aspects. But when it comes to the expectations and experiences around dating and relationships and how successful or not an individual is it seems to be beyond the positive or otherwise input from our social and family circle.

Yes, confidence plays a big part in how attractive someone can seem. But the greater impact of media and wider social forces on shaping the impression of what or who is attractive has an even bigger impact. Both our self impression and the expectations others have in  seeking a potential relationship partner are significantly influenced by these publicized standards.
The questions raised by my friend have made me experience deep distress and confusion. What is meant by “accepting my disability”? Does it mean doing whatever a person without a disability would do? I do not think so. I considered myself as having been adjusted to my disability quite well; otherwise, I could not survive the painful surgery, numerous clinics, chronic pain and fatigue throughout the years, and enjoy a fruitful university life now. However, it is the reality that I need intensive caregiving for daily life, an issue that would complicate dating and marriage considerably.
 The opinion that relationships are impacted or made less likely by being a recipient of care from support people and living with other realities of disabilities is entirely correct, based on research and anecdotal experience. But I have also found there are definite exceptions, not easy to find but there are relationships blossoming between disabled couples and couples where one partner is disabled and the other not. Possibly the ability to remain optimistic and see potential for ways of working around obstacles comes with time and perspective, even if it remains hypothetical for myself at this stage. 
You may say that people cannot stigmatize you due to your need for caregiving. However, it is one of the central aspects in my life that cannot be eliminated simply by attitudinal change in me and in others. To me, stigma and dating is not an easy question to be solved. We could not say Person A is not stigmatizing Person B with mental illness because A dates B; nor A is stigmatizing B since A does not intend to choose B as a dating partner even though these factors have significant relationships as shown in research.
Paradoxically, I always advocate for stigma reduction and social inclusion, but I am always confused about a situation — it is a normal human instinct that we tend to choose “beautiful”/”good” things based on our feelings and interests. We choose the university programs we like; we tend to befriend people we like. Just now, from the perspective of dating, I suddenly found that I regard my disability as a relatively “bad” attribute. I could not even go shopping or hold hands with and hug a boyfriend easily. If such human instinct actually originates from evolution, then how could we effectively control or modify such principles by those “stigma-reduction programs”? In fact, what and who defines “beauty” and what is “good”?
To some degree I agree that some of these standards and perceptions are based on inherent qualities or needs but at the same time there are many situations common not just related to disability in relationships, where peoples perceptions and actions go beyond inbuilt assumptions. If peoples instinct to run away from danger can be overcome in the name of saving someone else then I think there is definite possibility that there will be individuals who can see past the disabled exterior. It is just a matter of finding these admittedly scarce individuals.
A few months ago when I went for a regular medical checkup, the doctor asked if I had a boyfriend and she said she would be very happy for me if I had found my Mr. Right. But then she chatted with my mom, saying that my future husband could take over the caregiving from my parents as they are getting older. Finding a man who would be willing to be my caregiver would be important for my future life.
This assumption from the doctor is understandable but misguided as it adds to the pressure and assumptions that families and individuals with disabilities build up in regard to what they expect of a partner of someone with a disability.
I felt so frustrated and sad when I heard this. I wonder, if my future love relationship would be no different from just receiving “caregiving”? Couldn’t it involve simple romantic love at first?
I agree that it would be frustrating to have someone assume that the partner/significant other would have to take on the care-giving role. As with any relationship the roles and 'responsibilities' of each partner in the relationship need to be negotiated and clear so that both know how things work, not saying that there is not room for re negotiation as time goes by. The motivation or pressure placed on a significant other to fulfill support or care giving role is potentially more common in other countries where the societal and governmental support systems provide less financial assistance for such needs. 
Nowadays, “marriage” would not be a must for an adult — and being single would not lead to diminished growth (I suppose).
For me marriage is not a essential or an expectation that I am expecting. I guess it is very personal to peoples world view and what priority is placed on certain things. But it seems that marriage is just another outcome of societal structures used to define what a 'normal' life path is made up of. Maybe if individuals who struggle with relationships as a result in some part of their disability could look at the idea of relationships in a more broad and creative way we might be able to find someone or something that can fill the gap that so many of us feel.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
However, marriage and childbirth would be important experiences for me since I really want to experience the unique feeling of giving birth to a baby and nurturing him/her. I have been growing up under the endless, unconditional love and care of my mother. I also wish to transfer the love and care received from my mother to my offspring. But I will not be able to give birth to a baby as my disability is heritable and my health conditions could not support the whole process of pregnancy and going through labor. The experience of being a mother is something that I cannot obtain by simply reading books.
Having the curiosity and need to experience and understand certain things are definitely goes beyond what can be objectively or understood or learned, particularly when it comes to relationships emotions and physical experiences. Everyone has their own priorities when it comes to what it is that they most feel the absence of, but I would say very few individuals would escape experiencing the 'obsession' with related topics. For me it is about finding someone to trust and be close with and to feel secure and confident in their company, this means I feel much more connected with people on an emotional and mental level than necessarily focusing on their physical aspects.
It is not like reading numerous books and watching videos of a rat dissection in order to compensate for the loss of my ability to perform a rat dissection in biology class in secondary school due to my disability. It is about the irreplaceable emotional bonding with offspring.
Author’s note: The blog is modified from one of my reflective journals from the practicum last semester. Part B on this topic will be posted next time. Could you share with me your thoughts on dating and love relationships for people with disabilities? Do cultural factors play a role? Leave me comments and share with me your thoughts and feelings in the comment box below!"
More and more disabled people are finding a voice either on the internet or in the mainstream media where they are expressing opinions, experiences and ambitions that are still sometimes shocking and unexpected to mainstream community members. I think in order for individuals in our community who have disabilities to feel more confident and hopeful when it comes to serious relationships it will take a shift in societies attitudes about what being attractive, sexual and being in a relationship means. The greatest contributor to my peace of mind and sense of possibility has been the process of opening my thinking to a greater range of possibilities of what it means to be in a relationship who it is you're in a relationship with and how the connection is established between the individuals.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Don't hope Decide!!!

As usual in my meanderings of Facebook and the internet I came across another gem of social observation. So often the posts I see are things to glance at and think "oh that's nice", or "that's so pretty", but this reached out to me and left me thinking. 

To be clear, I did not create the following anecdote and do not claim any ownership of it, but wanted to share this with any and all who might happen upon my blog in the hope that it will make your day a little brighter and your sense of hope in the power and possibility of love a little stronger.

(If you're interested below this story will be my observations, thoughts, feelings etc.)


While waiting to pick up a friend at the airport in Portland, Oregon, I had one of those life changing experiences that you hear other people talk about. You know, the kind that sneaks up on you unexpectedly? Well, this one occurred a mere two feet away from me!

Straining to locate my friend among the passengers deplaning through the jetway, I noticed a man coming toward me carrying two light bags. He stopped right next to me to greet his family.
First, he motioned to his youngest son (maybe six years old) as he laid down his bags. They gave each other a long, and movingly loving hug. As they separated enough to look in each other's face, I heard the father say, "It's so good to see you, son. I missed you so much!" His son smiled somewhat shyly, diverted his eyes, and replied softly, "Me too, Dad!"

Then the man stood up, gazed in the eyes of his oldest son (maybe 9 or 10) and while cupping his son's face in his hands he said, "You're already quite the young man. I love you very much Zach!" They too hugged a most loving, tender hug. His son said nothing. No reply was necessary.

While this was happening, a baby girl (perhaps one or one and a half) was squirming excitedly in her mother's arms, never once taking her little eyes off the wonderful sight of her returning father. The man said, "Hi babygirl!" as he gently took the child from her mother. He quickly kissed her face all over and then held her close to his chest while rocking her from side to side. The little girl instantly relaxed and simply laid her head on his shoulder and remained motionless in total pure contentment.

After several moments, he handed his daughter to his oldest son and declared, "I've saved the best for last!" and proceeded to give his wife the longest, most passionate kiss I ever remember seeing. He gazed into her eyes for several seconds and then silently mouthed, "I love you so much!." They stared into each other's eyes, beaming big smiles at one another, while holding both hands. For an instant, they reminded me of newlyweds but I knew by the age of their kids that they couldn't be. I puzzled about it for a moment, then realized how totally engrossed I was in the wonderful display of unconditional love not more than an arm's length away from me. I suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if I were invading something sacred, but was amazed to hear my own voice nervously ask, "Wow! How long have you two been married?"

"Been together fourteen years total, married twelve of those." he replied without breaking his gaze from his lovely wife's face. "Well then, how long have you been away?" I asked. The man finally looked at me, still beaming his joyous smile and told me, "Two whole days!"
Two days?! I was stunned! I was certain by the intensity of the greeting I just witnessed that he'd been gone for at least several weeks, if not months, and I know my expression betrayed me. So I said almost offhandedly, hoping to end my intrusion with some semblance of grace (and to get back to searching for my friend), "I hope my marriage is still that passionate after twelve years!"

The man suddenly stopped smiling. He looked me straight in the eye, and with an intensity that burned right into my soul, he told me something that left me a different person. He told me, "Don't hope friend...decide." Then he flashed me his wonderful smile again, shook my hand and said, "God bless!." With that, he and his family turned and energetically strode away together.

I was still watching that exceptional man and his special family walk just out of sight when my friend came up to me and asked, "What'cha looking at?" Without hesitating, and with a curious sense of certainty, I replied, "My future!"

-Michael Hardgrove-

 Most people who have had conversations with me about relationships and love etc. will say I am an incurable romantic and up until a couple of years ago I would have agreed. But if I were to describe myself now I would say that, as I have grown up and grown older, I have become at the very least a skeptical romantic.

Although I hold on to the sweet dreams of soul-mates and love at first sight and being swept off my feet, as happens in all the great romance stories, I know it rarely happens that way. I feel as though the world in its harsh reality chips away at those daydreams with the multitude of stories and examples that demonstrate the opposite of love. Too many stories of relationships that end badly, of abuse, of heartbreak and other terrible things. All these things resist the rose-tinted view of the perfection of love and relationships.

The terrible stories, statistics and situations that could make me afraid or disillusioned don't entirely succeed  because somewhere between my incurable optimism, my romantic streak and the inspiration that those quiet but constant love stories offer, it is enough to keep my faith in the possibility of love and romance alive. These happy stories are there to remind us that it never hurts to hope and to keep seeking the possibility of these positive ideals. They remind us of the power of family, of dedication, forgiveness, trust and commitment. All things that are harder to keep hold of, especially when the world creates so many obstacles, temptations and trials. But as in the moral of this story, it is not a matter of hoping and dreaming alone, but of making a decision, a decision to keep believing and keep trying.

Having faith and inspiration from these stories is what keeps people like me seeking romance and love in its various forms. But it is balanced with the acknowledgement that effort, determination and the teamwork of all those involved in the relationship are what really make it special. These are the things I took away from reading this sweet little story and I hope to combine these lessons with my life observations as I continue striving to  build extraordinary relationships and connections with people.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Tegan M- Health detective

After all my bladder health troubles started to really bother me I started doing some serious internet detective work and below is some of what I found or figured out along the way.

Suggestions and info from my research;
  •  It’s always good to consult with the appropriate health professionals and doctors when considering trying new medications or supplements, particularly if you have existing medication or other health issues it may interact with.
  • Learning to recognise the signs and symptoms early, according to how your body presents them can make a big difference in how quickly it can be treated and you can recover.  This is really important as bladder infections and UTI’s can progress to kidney infections, which can be serious and do long term harm if untreated.
  • If your bladder infections or UTI’s are associated with having a catheter check whether you are using one that produces the least irritation e.g. silicone versus rubber catheters (I find the rayleen/silicone works best).
  • Try to maintain a steady intake of water (preferably) or juices, tea etc. This will help keep the body hydrated and the bladder constantly being flushed through.
  • Minimising extra sugar and caffeine is advised, as sugar can encourage bacterial and fungal problems. Caffeine is a diuretic and can cause bladder spasms and irritation. Also avoiding alcohol if you have an infection or limiting intake if you have a catheter is a good idea, as alcohol is an irritant and often has high sugar levels.
  • Don’t put off using the bathroom as bacteria can build up if the bladder is held for too long. This also counts for people with catheters, so ensure there is good drainage and that the system is emptied regularly.
  • General hygiene is important so correct bathroom techniques and washing is essential. This includes changing catheter bags regularly (I have been told once a week).  For women, changing sanitary pads etc. regularly helps to avoid bacteria build up.
  •  Underwear made from cotton or with cotton between the legs (wash with gentle cleaners) is important as it reduces the chance of irritation from clothing fibres and wash powders. Also not always wearing tight fitting pants may also help the area from being overly suitable for bacteria.
  • Do your own research, ask questions of professionals until you find a system of health management that works for you (I didn’t think it was possible in this case, but I’m hopeful I was wrong).
  •   Below are some natural options that have been indicated as helpful; 
  1. Vitamin C- 5000mg or more for immune support and bladder cleansing,
  2. Pineapple with antibiotics- Bromelian enzyme may help fight UTI’s,
  3. Blueberries- similar to cranberries with cleansing and antioxidant effect,
  4. Baking Soda- teaspoon full in water neutralizes acid to reduce discomfort and makes bladder environment less suitable for bacteria.  
  5. Buchu- disinfectant and improves urine flow,
  6. St Johns Wort- anti- inflammatory, may help reduce spasming, and is antibacterial
  7. Billberry- antioxidant and anti- inflammatory
  8. Lemon balm- anti-inflammatory properties, antiviral.

A Cranberry a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

For over a year I have been putting up with almost continuous bladder infections and other related problems. These have been initiated because I have a catheter, because of nerve damage relating to my disability. As a result of these infections I have spent weeks and weeks on various antibiotics trying to get well. After such an extended period of problems and having researched both natural and medicinal options I realized there was one main reoccurring suggestion, both from doctors and natural health advisers. This reoccurring suggestion was cranberry!

Being who I am and not being a fan of cranberry in general I had for a long time dismissed this option. In reality I can’t stand drinking cranberry juice due to its strong taste and weird texture, which was enough to put me off the idea of this as a cure. But after such a long time of infections and pain it had driven me to a point of desperation to find an answer that would work long term.

 After looking through available research and suggestions I found out that there are several plant extract oils that are considered beneficial in reducing the rate of infection or helping to eliminate an existing infection. Although there was some opinion and data about the effects of these things, the evidence seemed largely inconclusive. Some of these natural options included oregano oil, high vitamin C doses, pineapple, blueberries, baking soda and a number of others. But when I questioned the naturopath about the concentrates or supplements she was concerned about interactions with the other medications I take (my blood pressure/ heart medication). So at that time my only option seemed to be either to continue in the never-ending downwards spiral of infections, or to be more open to trying things like cranberry which as far as I know is safe for pretty much all cases.

Speaking further with the naturopath, I was fortunately told that I would not be stuck drinking litres of cranberry juice to get the effect, but was introduced to cranberry concentrate capsules. The ones I am currently using are called Thompson’s Ultra Cranberry 17 000. When it comes to natural remedies I tend to be open minded but somewhat skeptical as to how effective they will be. I guess after being reliant on strong antibiotic treatments for various health problems and infections over the years it is probably to be expected. Also my difficulty with swallowing tablets or capsules over a certain size tends to have an influence on what I can or choose to take. 

If I am unable to swallow a tablet because of its size we have had to resort to crushing them into powder and trying to disguise the taste and texture with various substances like yoghurt or ice-cream. (I am sure anyone with children or those with swallowing difficulties will know what a problem and how unpleasant this can be). Fortunately these cranberry concentrates come in capsules which have the advantage of being easier to disperse through a substance like yoghurt and also do not taste overly unpleasant. 

Nearly two months since my last diagnosed bladder or kidney infection I have noticed there has been an overall improvement in the comfort levels of my bladder. Previously I would have episodes of spasming pain or stinging/ burning caused by irritation or oversensitivity due to bacteria or other irritants. Since I have been taking the cranberry capsules this has improved significantly and still no sign of infection settling in (keeping my fingers crossed). I checked with my GP a couple of weeks ago as to what signs might have been indicated in a sample I provided and was informed that the simple test they carried out showed no signs that would indicate infection. This is the first time in over a year that there had not been a positive result for signs of infection. 

Although it is early days I feel like this hiatus from infection and health issues connected with my catheter is worth celebrating. I am determined not to take this reprieve from issues for granted and am continuing to maintain my dosage of cranberry capsules. If that is what will help me to avoid almost continuous doctors’ visits and antibiotics I am certainly willing to do it.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Slow down, take a seat

Our communities have always been the basis for our connections to one another,as a way for family units and individuals to be connected to a greater network of others. But these days for many people through necessity or circumstance there is an increased sense of isolation. This is one of the biggest determining factors in people's social and emotional well being (in my opinion). There is so much suspicion, fear, isolation and loneliness even in towns and cities where people live and work in such close physical proximity.

After living for seven years in a city I have gone through periods of time feeling very aware of how isolated I am, even amongst so many people coming and going in my life. It is only when two people can take the time or make the time to connect in some way that these feelings of isolation can be diminished.

Building these relationships and networks are generally challenging at the best of times, particularly for those disadvantaged or challenged by disability, physical or language barriers and distance. This is one of the reasons why as I've grown in my experiences and confidence I have come to fully appreciate the power of connection. Not just with those who would be a usual choice of social contact but even taking a second to share a smile or say hello to someone in passing. Having these moments with different people can be a very enlightening and enriching experience, as shown in the video above.

It is not likely that any of those individuals will see each other again but the potential (positive) impact of that brief meeting are infinite!

We need to go back to working and living in ways that recognize our mutual humanity. As cool as this experiment/tool is, this sort of behaviour should be the rule, not the exception. The world would be a more loving and connected place if we did.

Friday, February 22, 2013

A bit of effort

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment" - Emerson.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of the free thinkers of his time, writing essays and hosting lectures on his views and the associated teachings. He was all about the infinite potential for human achievement and how every person had an element of the divine in them, meaning all life should be respected. Many of his writings show his objections to power inequalities that existed in the world of his time, such as slavery and the dictatorial influence of church leaders. (I hope I have understood his biography correctly).

Having come across this mans words recently I was struck by how very true they are, in a world that tries to influence everything about who we are and how we live it seemed very relevant. Life seems to be a constant barrage of messages about what we should like, what we should eat/not eat, what we should look like and how we should act. It seems like the greatest voice of influence comes from media and the marketing industry that drives it.

Being a member of a society that has all these messages and 'advice' on how to live well it is no wonder so many people spend a lot of time feeling confused or inadequate in some way. That is why I grab on to such words of inspiration as Emerson wrote, to give me comfort that I don't have to be anyone other then who I am. All I need be the best, is to be the best me that I can.

Taking on that perspective involved shutting out the messages that are unhelpful and learning which ones are. It has also involved a bit of soul searching and making some promises to my self. To live this way and be the best me I can be involves; being genuine and truthful with myself and in my connections with others; being courageous when the opportunity arises; to take action or speak out to better myself or others situations; and finally (this the toughest one), to accept that I am good enough to be where I am and do what I do at any given time.

It isn't always easy to live that way, so I keep on striving for those things which I promised myself. With the aim of being the greatest me I can be, in order to have that freedom and peace of mind heart and spirit that comes from knowing I am enough.
"Nobody can bring you peace but yourself." - Emerson

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Summer Bounty

Every face shines with a summer glow
Ripe and glossy, bursting with flavour
My garden that overflows
encouraging generosity and neighborliness with its bounty.

A joyful palette of colours
Some on display others mysterious and
wily in shadows
Keen eyes needed to spot the prize.

Adventures in the jungle of generous nature provides
food for thought,
for heart,
and for soul.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Not easy, but worth it

I have to remember that the trail often gets harder before reaching new levels. But I don't long for ease. I crave challenge. #2013 - These are words of wisdom from an actor, philosopher and poet I admire, Curt Mega. The sentiment has been shared and voiced by many others in various ways. But I wanted to take it on and add it to my own life story.

It is the perfect time for a reminder like this as it is that time of year where we all assess what our ambitions and direction will be for the coming year. It is a time when I see the year ahead as being full of possibility and my optimism is at its highest. But in addition my anxiety is also very strong. The recognition that so much of what is ahead is unknown.

I think that those feelings fit perfectly with this saying. As the act of getting my year of goals underway is one of the biggest challenges, just as the journey to achieving those goals is a challenge. But the effort and the challenge always seems to make the achievement that much sweeter.

So it is with this in mind that I put my goals and ideas for the emerging year on paper and send them out into the universe in the hopes that I will find others who share similar ambitions and who want to share or be inspired by the challenging but ultimately rewarding journey.

             1. Participate in a Disability Leadership course - (scared witless by the unknowns of this but so excited by the possibilities of things I will learn, people I will meet and places it might take me.)
             2. Direct a play for the 2013 Fringe Festival or Hamilton Summer Gardens Festival - (less unknown but many challenges including finding collaborators, thinking of doing retelling of NZ childrens stories.)
             3. Working with a local organization to manage or start a food redistribution service to reduce waste from retailers - (not too scary, working with already existing networks. But very scary but exciting challenge would be to create such a service mirrored on Kaibosh in Wellington if there isnt an equivalent in the Waikato/Hamilton.)
             4. Continue working on writing my original fiction novel. - (exciting and enjoyable challenge)

Proceeding forward into this new year I will hold on to my hope, optimism and excitement as a motivation for when the trail gets steep or rough. I know from my past and from others comforting words that every rise has its peak and the steeper and longer the climb the greater the view.