Tag Archives: Musings

Nina the Narcissist: The World’s Best Abseiler

nina abseil April 2017

A year ago today I attempted my first abseil down the QV1 building in the Perth CBD.  A week ago today I tried it again. What a difference a year makes!

 Long story short (a first for me I know) this time, I actually did it.

 I had everything going for me on this attempt.  I had a super supportive instructor in Rob (I have never met anyone so encouraging. I am thinking of hiring him to follow me around all the time now). Miraculously I was feeling well (despite being unwell with suspected kidney stones just days before). And the weather was good.

 I had been planning this attempt in my head all week, determined to do it all by myself this time.  That was my measure of success.

 In my mind, last year I failed. Not that anyone else thought so though.  I kept being told, “you stepped off the top, that’s more than I could do.” But that wasn’t enough.

 What people don’t understand is, I don’t do things to impress them. I do these things to prove to myself that I can.

 Although this can’t be strictly true. otherwise I wouldn’t brag about it on my social media channels (did I mention my blog has its own Facebook page?). 

 I have just realised that I posted my “success” photo almost immediately after. Mentioning that it only took me less than five minutes (The time is still a subject of debate) and that I did it completely by myself.

But I neglected to mention (or thank) the people who donated to my cause which allowed me to qualify for the abseil in the first place

 I completely forgot about the reason I was doing the abseil to begin with. 

 Oh my god!  Am I a narcissist? It’s probably narcissistic to ask that.

 By the way, thank you to everyone who so generously donated to my fundraising for the Perth Children’s Hospital. I am very proud to announce that with your help  I raised almost $1,000. 

 Thank you especially to Revolution Pilates who allowed me to post a begging flyer on the wall of the studio. 

 The problem is, I am so used to being congratulated for wiping my own bottom that when I actually do something worthwhile I can’t help but brag.  And even worse than that, I get a kick out of it.

 Dear God, help me, I’m Donald Trump!

 Ironically, by putting this down on paper I am going to get (having said it, it would be very embarrassing if I didn’t) people leaping to my defence. And the cycle continues…  Aargh! 

 Where is the line? On the one hand, isn’t pride one of the seven deadly sins? But on the other hand, if you don’t respect yourself enough to be proud of your own achievements then you are effectively sending out a product that (at least to you) is below par.  That’s not being respectful to others. You wouldn’t deliberately give someone a rotten apple, would you?

 My head hurts!

 Oh screw it! The fact is I did actually did it (Come on, you didn’t think I wasn’t going to brag a little bit did you?).

 I did cheat a bit though. I can’t even walk 160 m in less than half an hour. How on earth did you expect me to be able to abseil that far in under five? Without falling that is.

 I had to admit that my legs were pretty useless. So I abseiled with my hands.  No, I didn’t do a handstand all the way down.  I simply sat back in my harness and lowered myself hand over hand with the rope (I  think that’s how people in wheelchairs do it). It proved to be quite effective. I’m thinking of getting around that way all the time now.

 I was quite thankful that I am a girl though, if you get my drift.

When I got to the bottom I couldn’t stop smiling. And my (dare I say it), fan club who had come out to watch me and were screaming their support the whole time, only made my smile bigger.

 I had mentioned a few weeks ago that after I did my skydive in October 2014 I have never been able to find a rush like that again. 

 At last I think I have found one.

 XOXO 

 

Training Day: I even surprised myself!

abseilingnina and Cecily.jpg 

Lately I have been feeling decidedly unable.

 

My legs have been feeling weak and wobbly. My ears have been hindering my social life and my eyes are seriously contributing to the black hole that is my apartment.

 

So, it was no wonder that I was feeling very nervous about doing the training for my abseil. 

 

I know I say I am nervous before I do anything “exciting,” but considering the disappointment I felt when I had to be helped to the bottom of the QV1 building last year, and my aforementioned wobbliness, I really didn’t think I would cope.

 

The training takes place at a quarry where the scariest thing for me was not the actual abseiling down the rock face but walking the path to get there.

 

There are so many rocks and trees to trip on, it’s a miracle I did not break anything.

 

I don’t think this has anything to do with me though. Possibly it was the fact that I was being held up by the back of my harness and thus being moved around like a marionette that did it. I am certainly not complaining either.

 

Cecily was absolutely no help at all. I really need to get myself an off-road walking frame.

 

While everyone else had to trudge up the mountain I was chauffeur driven up in the Ute. This was no picnic mind you, the ride was so bumpy that I bopped my head on the roof of the cabin at least twice. Luckily, I was already wearing my helmet. 

 

Thank goodness I only had to “walk” along the ledge at the top.

 

I really love working with Urban Descent. They don’t presume to know the best way for me to do things, they ask me. They probably would even have let me go by myself if I wanted. Yeah, like that was going to happen!  

 

In the end, I did three abseils. A 20 metre, a 30 metre and another 30 metre where I had to lower myself with my arms by going down a rope instead of walking down the rock face.

 

The idea of this freaked me out. I was sure my arms were not up to the challenge. But they were, and so were my legs.  Damion couldn’t help saying “I told you so!”

 

I was amazed and in such a good mood that it hardly even bothered me that I heard someone say, “you’re such an inspiration” as I went over the edge.  I was doing what everyone else was doing, and I had help.

 

There was a lady there who is terrified of heights but she was doing it. I’d say that is far more inspirational, especially when you consider that I’m only doing it for the attention! LOL

 

It is so annoying that I get so much credit for being disabled. It’s embarrassing and to be honest very discouraging.

 

I had learnt last year that a successful training session did not guarantee success on the day. Even though they tell you that abseiling a building will be easier. So, I’m still a bit nervous.

 

I needed to do it again this year. My ego won’t be beaten by a mere 160 metres. However, after this I think I’ll hang up my harness.

 

If it doesn’t rain I might be ok and, at least I get to wear real clothes this year.

 

Wish me luck!

 

XOXO 

 

My reaction to the ABC documentary “You can’t ask that! Visual difference”

 

After watching the ABC’s fabulous documentary “You can’t ask that! Visual difference” naturally, I felt a blog coming on.

 

I also have a very sore neck from nodding in agreement. And my tummy hurt from laughing so hard.

 

I know I have covered this topic many times before. But what can I say? I couldn’t help myself.  

 

I am not in the habit of doing it, but if I asked someone “do you think I’m pretty?”  The answer will most certainly be yes.

 

If I make a negative comment about my appearance, I can almost guarantee that I will be contradicted.

 

Often, not only contradicted, but also told off.

 

I get random strangers tell me that I am “gorgeous, beautiful” or worst of all, “cute,” completely out of the blue.

 

This is not because I look like Scarlett Johansson I assure you.

 

Then there are the conversations, often with strangers, who feel the need to tell me what might “help” me to look more “normal.” 

 

Or the one with people that tell me about someone I remind them of (not because we both look different though). They used to be miserable but after having plastic surgery got married and lived happily ever after. 

 

They possibly also got themselves a rainbow coloured unicorn.

 

Then there are the people come up to me on special occasions (after I have spent a king’s ransom and an entire day making myself look gorgeous ) who say “it’s such a shame that you have to bring that ” when they see me hobbling toward them with Cecily, my walking frame. 

 

And my favourite, the people who say, “I don’t see your disability, I just see Nina,” without actually being asked.

 

This, by the way, is much more offensive than if you were staring!

 

I hate that people assume that I am ashamed of myself because I look different or because I am disabled.

 

Sure, I’d love to have bigger boobs (or any boobs at all actually). It would make my clothes sit so much better. But other than that, I don’t think I would change anything if I got the chance. 

 

I realise that a few people won’t believe me. But that says more about them than me.

 

Of course, they these things because they think they need to boost my confidence but what they are actually doing is trying to convince themselves that they are not uncomfortable with how I look.

 

It’s 2017, a disabled or visually different person is no longer required to lock themselves away (Yes there was a time when it was commonplace, even in Australia).

 

To borrow a phrase from another marginalised group in society, “We are here, we’re queer, get used to it!”

 

 

I won’t bother telling you how confident in myself I am, because if I need to do that, then your discomfort with my disability would have prevented you from finding my blog anyway…

 

What I will say though, is that if you’ve had as many operations as I have, you wouldn’t be too keen to have more surgery either.

 

Furthermore, what would be the point? To get myself a boyfriend? 

 

Well, there’s more to life than that.  And besides, I’ve already got one of those!

 

XOXO

My Boyfriend is so…….

 

My boyfriend is so…

 

 

My boyfriend is so aggressive. He’s always pushing me around (in my wheelchair).

 

 

My boyfriend is so rude. He’s always telling me where to go (coz if he doesn’t, my blindness  is bound to get me lost).

 

 

My boyfriend is so nasty. He is always yelling at me (even with my hearing aid, sometimes it’s the only way I’ll answer).

 

 

My boyfriend is so patronising. He repeats himself over and over (see above).

 

 

My boyfriend is so selfish. He never lets me do anything (unless it’s fun)

 

 

 

My boyfriend is so violent. He always beats me (in Monopoly, Guess Who…)

 

 

My boyfriend is a West Coast Eagles supporter (no, I don’t understand it either)

 

 

 

The moral: there is usually more to every story.

 

 Make sure you are in possession of all the facts!

 

 

 

XOXO

 

The blind leading the blind: 10 tips for socialising with some who is visually impaired

Last week I covered socialising with someone who is hearing impaired. Then I remembered, I’m visually impaired too. What luck, another excuse for a blog.

 

I am lucky in that I have some sight (for what it’s worth), so for me, having a vision impairment isn’t really a hurdle when socialising. Not as much as the hearing impairment anyway.

 

It is irritating how clueless some people are though. So here are some things to keep in mind if you meet me:

1.   Your hand is invisible to me. I have no peripheral vision at all so holding out your hand to shake mine is useless.  If you want shake my hand just take it in yours. Just leaving your hand hanging in the air makes us both look stupid.

2.   Give me real directions. I can’t see where you’re pointing. Use “Left” and “Right”.

3.   Get out of my face. It’s unlikely that pushing something up against my nose will help so just don’t do it.

4.   Remember there are boundaries. I once had a women grab my hand and thrust it into her bosom in order to “show” me the chain she was wearing.  Computer says no!

5.   Warn me. In situations like the one above it would be nice if you gave me a heads up if you intend for me to grope you.  Otherwise it could end in tears. Yours, not mine.

6.   Excuse me. Having said that though, if I inadvertently get too friendly or bump into you while doing something else, I am eternally sorry.

7.   It’s not one size fits all. I think the “official” way to guide a visually-impaired person is by letting them grab your elbow. This doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t offer me enough stability. Don’t assume you know the “right” way I should do things. Find out what works for me.

8.   Be my mirror not my groomer. If I have something on my face, in my teeth or up my nose, tell me. Don’t take it upon yourself to fix it.

9.   Put it back. I am a neat freak. I can usually find things because I know where they live. I can walk around familiar places because I know where the “landmarks” are.  Don’t leave things out for me to trip on or re-arrange my stuff. It will only piss me off.

10.Tell me where you are. Sometimes you’re just a dis-embodied voice. So, tell me where you are and stay there so I can face your direction. It is very embarrassing when I realise that I have had an entire conversation with someone while facing a solid wall.

 

In terms of socialising it is ok to suggest a movie to someone who is blind. High-action low-dialogue movies such as “Pirates of the Caribbean” might not work well as they are hard to follow if you can’t see. But British comedies such as “Notting Hill” (not slap-stick) are great as are movies based on books as they are easy to follow.

 

Stand-up comedy and concerts are also helpful as there isn’t much to see.  And anything where multiple senses can be used such as parks and beaches etc. are excellent.

 

Although, if you are there with me be careful. It’s highly likely that I’ll confuse my left from my right and end up in the ocean.

 

XOXO‘    

The socialite in the wallflower’s body: 10 Tips for socialising with someone who is hearing-impaired

So the other day I went to yet another party where I was unable to interact. Not only was I extremely bored but I also felt like a bit of a moron and, if I’m honest, a loser. Not to mention, claustrophobic.
It’s not that I don’t want to interact. But what you have to understand is, when you have a hearing aid, interaction can sometimes be very hard. You can hear everything.
From the clatter of someone’s high-heeled shoe on the hard floor. To the crackling of the opening of a chip packet and the crunching of the people eating them. And, if there is music, well forget it.
Yet in actual fact all I’m really hearing is nothing. A whole lot nothing!
But it’s not like the din in a night club. You can’t just raise your voice.
Often with a hearing aid as sounds get louder they also become more distorted. So chances are even if I can hear you I won’t be able to understand you.
People do try though. Bit it doesn’t last long. Either I will give up because of frustration or, having repeated themselves 100,000 times, others think I’m a moron because I can’t understand plain English. And technically I guess I can’t.
I hate getting invited to parties.  It makes me incredibly anxious.
Do I go knowing that I will not be able to participate and not enjoy myself?  Or do I decline, risk being branded as “The friend that always cancels” and risk not being off ever again?
And what if I do go and people feel that they need to babysit me because I look lonely? That’s no fun for anyone!

I don’t speak for every hearing impaired person, but  I prefer not to be invited at all.

Though I do reserve the right to be jealous when looking at photos of the event on Facebook and feeling a little bit miffed that I wasn’t involved. What can I say?  I’m complicated!
In an effort not to kill my social life completely though, here are some tips for socialising with a friend or family member who has a hearing impairment:

1. Try and pick a venue that is quiet or at least not too crowded. Places that have any music playing or worse, a band, will mean that your companion will be almost completely unable to hear you at all. Outdoor venues are good.

2. Try and keep your catch up to a maximum of three people at a time. Any more than that and you risk the possibility of more than one conversation going on at the table at one time. This will mean that the person who has the hearing impairment will not be able to participate in either one.

3. Concerts, movies, the theatre etc. are all perfectly fine to suggest for an outing. However, comments and questions should be saved until after the show because whispering in their ear is pretty useless.

4. Most people who have a hearing impairment have a preferred ear (mine is my right). Use it. And, if possible, let the person with the hearing impairment sit with most of the group on that side too when you’re out.

5. It is okay to tap them on the shoulder. In fact, it’s highly recommended. If they’re anything like me,just coming up behind or beside them and starting a sentence will scare them half to death.

6. As mentioned above, sometimes the problem is not the volume it’s the clarity. If a room is echoey then there is too much sound and your voice is distorted, not too soft. Stop yelling.

7. Face them when you are talking, they might be able to pick up some visual cues. Having said that though don’t assume that they know sign language. I am also visually impaired so I probably wouldn’t see them anyway.

8.  Be patient. If it is frustrating for you that they cannot hear/understand you. T rust me, they are frustrated too.  Getting upset makes me feel stupid. And you look like a dick!

9.  Excuse them if they are yelling at you.  Sometimes, a hearing aid will pick up sounds that you might not notice. Sounds may seem louder to them than they do to you.  They may inadvertently raise their voice above the din even if they do not have to. Throw us a bone, tell us if we’re doing this. We mean to be talking to you, not the whole room.

10. If in doubt, send a text. If you try to call me while we’re out the venue will be too loud for me to hear you on the phone. But, this can also work in reverse. Even if you ring while I am in a quiet place, if you’re somewhere noisy, all I’m going to hear is the noise.

XOXO 

A pony is not a baby horse…

So, riding for the disabled did not want to know me and it had been several months since I was able to check something off my bucket list. My feet were getting itchy again.
I asked my friend Jessica (a champion jockey) if I could come and ride one of her horses instead. She is awesome so of course she said yes, but with one caveat. I could ride the kids’ pony not her race horses.
Naturally I thought I would take to horseriding straightaway  (You know, like I do with everything), so I was confused by this request. But, knowing that it was with my safety in mind I agreed.
Besides, I love baby animals!
When I met Bambi I found that not only was she not a baby horse she was in fact 16 years old (roughly middle aged). She didn’t look as I had expected either. She was extremely beautiful. But where was the rainbow coloured mane and tail and where was the rainbow on her rump?

She didn’t look like the ones from that documentary “my little pony” at all. I bet she couldn’t even fly. With the advice, “sit up straight and keep your hands in front of you” from six year old Jett   and with the help of Damion and Jessicas partner Will (also a champion jockey) I got awkwardly onto Bambi’s back.
Apparently it’s not only on my feet that I am unstable on. I just couldn’t keep my balance.

Didn’t help that I was terrified. Or that I was wearing my Docs.  This was not as easy as I thought it was going to be…
Every time Bambi took a step, I would slip. It was lucky that Will was holding onto me for dear life (mine not his).
Eventually I got the hang of it.   I was still slipping constantly but at least I wasn’t so scared.

Funny how I can be 14,000 feet in the air and totally confident but closer to the ground and I’m terrified.

I had been warned that ponies were very cheeky.  Lucky for me Bambi decided to be on her best behaviour. She did stop regularly to snack on the very lush grass we were walking on.
But I’m told that this is because she usually lives in the “Jenny Craig” yard   So she would like a kid in a candy shop.
It turns out that lots of grass isn’t good for ponies… You learn something new every day.
I was allowed to give her carrots after our adventure though, and she didn’t even bite my fingers which was nice of her.
Everyone warned me that I would be in pain after sitting on a pony. “Pfft” I thought “I can handle a little bit of pain.”
That night I was feeling pretty cocky. No pain at all. The next morning, that was a different story.
My back was killing me and my abs felt as though I had done 10 Pilates sessions in a row . Turns out they were working after all. I would hate to see where I would have ended up if they weren’t.

Sadly I fear I will never be a champion jockey. And I will never appear in the Olympics in the show jumping. However, I loved my first horse/pony riding experience and as long as Bambi stops having nicer hair

than mine I would love to do it again!
XOXO