The value of life is worth more than the the value of success.

So am in a success or failure?

Success is not determined by those around us but by our own self worth.

Recently a very dear friend and work colleague passed away. In-fact he was the inspiration to this blog.

He was kind! Gentle! He always made time for everyone! Nothing was considered a task! A true gentleman in every way and definitely a man I am going to miss.

He was younger than I, and we often spoke about what makes a person successful. I would talk to him about my current situation and also about my future dreams of a motorhome. I threw several ideas his way and stood eager for his response. Never critical! Always well thought out and perfectly delivered. Usually presented with an explanation or an example of his point.

Definitely one of my mentors! A man of quality and an example for others such as myself to follow. Rest in peace mate and thank you for the friendship and time we had spent together, and thank you most of all for helping me to clear my mind when i needed it most.

So where has my thoughts taken me?

Well simple! What is success? What is the idea of being able to say you are successful. And what is the purpose of life?

I am 36 years old I have served in the armed forces, I have worked as a funeral director. Run my own business for several years. I am married I have a lovely car, beautiful stuff and own my own home. Am I successful?

Currently I am getting divorced. I am selling my home! Sold almost all of my stuff. Looking to get rid of my car and I now live back home with my mother! Am I a failure?

Let’s start from the beginning.

Am I a success? Can I be considered as successful? When I became a minimalist I learnt the power of living life without the restraint of possessions. I always considered myself successful. I mean, I had a nice car, home and lots of lovely possessions.

As I started going through my divorce I realised that these where insignificant. I started to become more and more of a minimalist each step of the way. Now I have very few object possessions. Somehow now actually feel even more successful.

I now live freely without the lust for the next thing. I am free of the temptation to try and buy happiness through possessions.

Free mind!!

Recently I took up meditation. I started to feel my mind was as full as my home and this also needed concentration. I could say I started to actively clear out my thoughts. Put things in to a simple context.

The best thing I ever started was to take time to myself. Meditation relaxes the body. Puts you into a state of harmony with your thoughts.
The brain after all needs time to heal and rest the same as any other muscle in the body.

I have been single now for 9 months. Single as in no longer with my wife. It’s been a massive journey of discovery. I loved my wife with all my heart and I think I probably always will love her in one way or another. We shared 8 great years together and I don’t regret a single day of it. However in any relationship you have to compromise.

You change a little bit here and a little bit there. Over the years you think you are the same person but in reality you aren’t. Throw in a life changer like disability and you can’t even begin to imagine the changes and sacrifices you make.

I should imagine that when my wife and I become her and me instead of an us she must have felt a little like I do. Who am I? Where am I? What do I do now?

Dating

I attempted the dating sites! Not my cup of tea and honestly the rejections get difficult. I would message a woman and over and over again I was faced with the no replies! You run out of witty comments and open one liners.

Once you get a reply you start a conversation. You talk about likes and dislikes, you try and find a common ground or something to build upon. I would then explain I am disabled and that would end that conversation. No reply or explaining just deleted and often blocked.

It’s hard going and soul destroying. I was left feeling like a reject and disheartened. I met a few lovely people don’t get me wrong. We are growing and building what we have into amazing friendships. In fact these people are becoming an incredibly important part of my life. If that is all i was destined to get then i consider myself very lucky.

So every grey cloud has a silver lining.

Living with mamma Mac
So 36 years old and back home with my mother! That has to be considered a failure! Right?
Wrong! I am getting the opportunity to get to know my mother again. We eat together, we talk, we spend time together. I am sharing a great moment with a woman who is strong and amazing, I could not be happier.

There is a reality that my mum won’t be around forever. I know I will miss her terribly. My love for my mother is with every atom of my human body and this time! right now! This is something I will treasure for the rest of my living days.

so where has this mind journey left me.

Well this all started after the passing of a very dear man in my life. I was left wondering if my own life was on track! am I or am I not successful.

My conclusion is that only I will ever really know. Success is in the eye of the one travelling on that journey! Wherever that  may be.

Many things in your life matter,but only one thing matters absolutely.

It matters  weather you succeed or fail in the eyes of the world. It matters if you are healthy or not healthy, It matters weather you are educated or not educated, Rich or poor — it certainly makes a difference in your life. Yes, all these things matter, relatively speaking, but they don’t matter absolutely. there is something that matters more than any of those things and that is finding the essence of who you are beyond that short-lived entity, that short-lived personalised sense of self.

You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realising who you are at the deepest level.

 

 

Imprisoned in your thoughts – freedom comes from within. 

The Mind can hold you ransom

I want you to think about the your life and your mind! As humans we develop a prison! The walls are our thoughts and our freedom can only come from within. We are imprisoned in our thoughts. Why?

Most people spend their entire life imprisoned within the confines of their thoughts. They never go beyond a narrow, mind-made, personalised sense of self that is conditioned by the past.

The mind is a powerful tool and yet a double edged sword that we offer to much power to. It can create some of the most beautiful thoughts, feeling and emotions known to man.
The control it has over each and every one of us. We are built to be happy and enjoy our experiences. When we smile this fuels our inner happiness.
Think back to how you felt the last time you laughed! Really laughed, gut loaded and deep. Remember that moment and remember that feeling.

That is the feeling we are built for and yet……..

The other side of our mind! So powerful it can make worlds come together. Yet so intense it can bring your sheer existence crashing down around you. The negative emotions it can create the power and control that it uses to drag you in to the darkness.

We allow this to happen. Why? How?  We look at our inner anxieties to route the path we decide to travel. Our options are endless, we simply need to take stock of our choices.

I once read:-

This one moment – now – is the only thing you can never escape from, the one constant factor in your life. No matter what happens, no matter how much your life changes, one thing is certain: it’s always now.
When you make friends with the present moment, you feel at home no matter where you are. When you don’t feel at home in the now no matter where you go, you will carry unease with you

The past that seems to rule our now is gone and leaves no trace except what we keep in our-self. However we seem to find the need to hold it close. To us it is not important if it is negative or positive. We still make a conscious decision to hold on to the past as tight as possible.

The future has not yet happened! Yet we use the past to map out every possible scenario! This path is rarely a scenario of happiness and joy.

When I became a minimalist I looked at my life in several areas.

My belongings, my mind and those around me!!

Each element both created a positive and a negative.
My mind is definitely the hardest thing to clear. The biggest challenge to face trying to understand and reconfigure. I have tried very hard to clear out the negatives!

I have failed several times and the power they hold over me is very real. It is OK to fail. It is OK to struggle. The path to success and happiness is littered in failing and set backs. Each failing and every set back makes us stronger and more powerful on our mountain climb to success.

Do you really need to mentally label every sense, perception and experience? Do you really need to have a reactive like:dislike relationship with life where you are in almost continuous conflict with situations and people? Or is that just a deep-seated mental habit that can be broken? Not by doing anything, but by allowing this moment to be as it is.

Open-mind To Minimalist Living

What is minimalist living?

Minimalist living seems to create two very different opinions. The main concept is to live. Not to be suppressed by possessions and be free of the clutter both physical and mental.

Some say that they like there stuff to much. Others love the concept of no clutter. I feel clutter causes stress. Clutter takes away the ability to sit and not be crowded in your surroundings. A clean environment offers you the chance to have a clean mind.

The minimalists

I watched a show on Netflix called The Minimalists. The show inspired me to want to try and live a clearer life, free from the unwanted clutter.  I came to realise the pressure of the want. The want for the next best thing. I realised how we are pressured by marketing and general conception that what we need to have lot of stuff. We are convinced that it is stuff that marks our success in life. The show showed me that in fact happiness in the true measure of success and it is something we can all work towards in our own way.

My minimalist journey

I started to clear out my home after my marriage broke down. This difficult task offered me the chance to create my own space. I could have my home how I wanted it. The feeling was energetic and I quickly felt free. Firstly I cleared out the kitchen and got rid of all the stuff I have not used or intended on using. I cleaned every cupboard and organised my belongings to make it easier to use. Sorted out the bathroom and I had clear and free space. I then simply moved from room to room doing the same thing and before I knew it my house was completely clutter free.

 

Once the house was done i moved onto my life

Once the house was completely minimal I realised that I had to much space. I have decided that I dont want to keep the house anymore! There are to many memories there to much mind clutter! I needed to have a sort out of my emotions as well as my stuff.

So I have decided on moving into a relatives house for a bit to get myself on my feet. Give my mind some free space to think.  I have thought about following my dream of buying a motor-home. Then I thought well if I had a motor-home maybe I could get rid of the car. And then the true reality of a life long dream hit me!!! Why don’t I just live in the motor-home!! It’s a perfect solution. Cheep, as minimalist as it gets and I can go wherever I want.

The motor-home

At first i was Fuelled by my new found ambition.  Full steam ahead with the plans. Of course! I have been faced with two very different opinions. Of course I have! On one side, I am completely crazy. On the other side my idea is amazing.

Let’s go back to crazy first!

I currently work full time and every penny I get is taken into the cost of the bills. No little luxuries! No free cash! Just bills and paying for food and fuel. So I spend my life earning just enough money to go to work and eat. I am trapped in a job I don’t really like! Feel captured like a caged animal in a world made up of two computer screens and a telephone headset.

I drive a car that basically works as a tool to get me back and forth work to pay for a house that is fundamentally half of my ex wife’s. I have all the normal debt and nothing to spare at the end. Let’s hope my boiler don’t break down.

So I ask you is it not crazy to live this life for the next 40 years? Running on the spot to simply pay bills? Never seeing anything more the two sets of four walls!

now let’s look at the amazing opportunity.

Living a life of little responsibility. Enjoying seeing some of the most beautiful parts of the world. Never having to worry about being home for work on Mondy. No dead lines! Not governed by targets! No real rules except your own. Taking time, having a clear mind. Living life your way at your pace and being free to roam and explore.

For me the life of a full timer is definitely for me. Yes I am worried about the life changing choices. Getting rid of my STUFF was in fact the easy bit. Essentially turning my back on normality and creating uniqueness is the dream.

I plan on writing a book. Get more creative with my poetry. Take up photography and simply being free.

So why?

With simplicity and minimalism your requirements are rapidly reduced. Your expectations are fewer and your decisions are less complex. You are free to think! I have now moved out of the house. De-cluttered my mind and my stuff. I now have what I need. Everything I own has a purpose. My mind feels free from the stress of perception and expectation. Will I travel full time? Will just travel part time? Who knows! What i do know is my life will be simpler and less congested leaving space to concentrate on me!

 

Disability- lifestyles and life changes. 

disability lifestyles and life changes.

There are several types of people suffering with disability, those born with a disability, those who suffer from an injury and those who suffer from an illness.

If you weren’t born with a disability as many aren’t, it can be a struggle learning to adapt and enjoy your new lifestyle. This will lead to times of frustration, sadness, and despair. It shouldn’t have to, you are the one in control and you do have the power to succeed. I get it! Yes! This is Easier said than done. Yes! We all struggle. Yes! It is perfectly natural however it’s important to find your new way of living. Your task is finding a way to make ‘you’ happy.

Coping with your emotions

It’s hard and even more so if an injury or illness is keeping you from doing the things you enjoy. You will start experiencing a profound impact on your emotional and mental health.

For many people there is the offer of counsellors to help them sort through their emotions. Some like myself this is not necessarily on offer so I turned to friends and mentor programs. Programs like what is offered by the BackUp Trust.

Truth is you just need to find people to talk through your feelings with. It helps if they have a grasped understanding of your situation. There are loads of foundations and organisations that can help in this area for example Limb Power help with individuals that have lost a limb or have limb impediments. I have recently been a guest at the Katie piper foundation. They support burn and scaring survivors. The foundation and the patrons are fantastic and supportive.

I was very lucky as I met people through sport and those people introduced me to other people. I joined my local baseball team. (Archers Wheelchair Basketball) This helped loads, my journey from there has been positive and now I am in a position where I can offer others a bit of support.

Through sport I found confidence and from confidence I found will power. Before I knew it I was back in the saddle, I was planning adventures and deciding what I wanted to do next.

limitations

Your limits can be a massive issue. Your body’s new limits is something you will need to explore and also experiment with. This is the area however that will make you angry and at times irritable. You can gain a lot of benefits from working with physical or occupational therapists to help you find new ways of doing things. Effectively using your body to its best potential will be how you overcome the limitations presented to you. For all of us the hardest thing to beat is our own frustration.

Be patient with yourself it will come in time. We all try we all fail but if you don’t try then you have failed before you begin.

Coping financially

Now this is the area of real pressure. It comes with its own issues and I have often stated that no one plans this life changing event. Often a recently new disability will keep you from working. This could possibly be long or short-term so you are effectively already starting on the back foot.

I know here in the U.K. You can seek benefit support and in other countries there are other such assistance. The application process can be lengthily and often complicated. You may even get rejected on the first attempt but the hard work is worth the effort. Remember two things:-

  1. You need this initial support and never be too proud to ask for help. One of the biggest mistakes that many people do in my opinion is to fund the new unexpected out goings on credit cards or loans. This is the voice of experience.
  2. Financial hardship is common, you are not the first. Sometimes the sudden lack of income can put massive pressure on an already pressured situation. You don’t have to face this alone and you can visit well run organisations such as Citizens advice or stepchange to seek financial guidance.
Finding new passions and hobbies

Hobbies will be very healthy, your life may have changed due to disability but your life style doesn’t need to. If you are unable to keep working in your current job try seeking a further education.

Sometimes hobbies have to change. I was a runner before my wheelchair but I found new activities such as wheelchair basketball, Handcycleling,  wheelchair rugby,  wheelchair squash and of course I became a blogger.

It is absolutely vital that you find new ways to enjoy life. There are plenty of hobbies and activities you can do. All you need to do is just be willing to explore your boundaries. Step outside the box.

It is hard to adapt but trust me you will find away. When I developed my disability so many people told me what I couldn’t do but all I could think about was “but why not?” So I decided to try to find a way to do these things for me that became my hobby! And I love it…

The journey from where I started to the place I am now has been long, painful and frustrating. I have had to overcome, push my limits and rediscover who I now am. People would say it’s not about the chair you are the same old you. No I am not I am a new me. I laid the able version of me to rest and embraced the version of me that has a disability and decided that if this was the cards I was dealt then I am playing them my way. Keep hope, keep faith and look to those around you for the support you need. You can do it and you will…

Living life outside the box.

Living life outside the box.

When I first fell ill I never for a second thought my life would end up where it is today. I have managed to achieve so many amazing things. Meet so many amazing people and try so many fantastic activities. All because I am willing to ‘Step outside the box’ I have often been asked why do I try to do the crazy things I do…. Am I not worried I am going to hurt myself?

They say you must be crazy!! you need to take it easy!! you need to be careful!!
Then its, what sort of things have you done?

Once I tell people I climbed Pen y Fan in a wheelchair.

I was the second person ever to do it! People seem shocked. Yet I know wheelchair users that have climbed Snowdon not once but three times. That person is not only a close friend of mine but is part of my driving inspiration. He always seems to be there when I need him no matter what is happening in his own life. His climb up Snowdon inspired me but his character is what makes me consider him a friend.

I tell people I play basketball! That I played wheelchair rugby for Wales! That I cycled a marathon! I have completed the Carten100.

People say “ OMG that’s amazing” Maybe it is maybe it’s not. Either way these where great times in my life.

People listen to me and my short stories!

They tell me I am inspiring! It still knocks me back, just a few minutes ago I was being told I was crazy. I never know how to react. It feels good knowing that you have given people a shove in the right direction.

I have thought about it and I have realised that in fact the only reason I am inspiring is because I have been inspired. Inspired by those around me. With out that support from friends and family I would not do half the things I do now.

I do what I do,

Because there is so much that I can’t do so I replace it with the things that I can. If it looks like I can’t, well that just makes me more determined to at least try.

I like to fail, it means I get to try again next time. I love to succeed it means I get to try something else.

I am happy for people to tell me I am inspirational but not because I am in a wheelchair but because I am so much more than that. I am just a simple guy, stepping out of the box and living life the bast way I know how.

My talk with St Cadoc’s church ladies. Raglan

When I was asked by Beverly Jones of Awaken Life Coaching to talk in front of a group of ladies, in St Cadoc’s church and where they are all older ladies. I admit I was a little worried. These where a group of ladies that have lived through a world war. Seen and experienced things I could not begin to understand. And here I am with a story of my life. How could I even begin to offer them anything of any value.

I decided to open up my talk with a poem, something I wrote, something that had dear meaning to me. Very quickly I realised that my audience was engaged, so i continued with my talk feeling a lot more relaxed and comfortable.

I told the story of waking up one day and my life had changed for ever, I talked about loss and about how I had to learn to cope. I spoke about the path I had travelled on my journey and the exciting things I had experienced along the way.

These ladies where relating to me each in their own way, they where listening intently to what I had to say and I felt a real vibe of interest in the room. The setting was St Cadoc’s church Raglan  with the large church organ behind to set the scene.  It accrued to me exactly how fantastic this was, so prudent, I was a single man tiny in form engulfed in the architecture of this absolutely stunning building. Lit by the light coming in from the massive stain glass windows towered by the stone walls and watched by this incredible church organ. And yet here I was making a difference to people’s lives. simply by communicating and sharing my experiences with others. This was an amazing experience.

I spoke about my journey through medical investigations, tests and examinations, heads started to nod and a reaction of familiarity showed in the ladies faces. It dawned on me that these ladies had been on similar journey as I had. Of course they had! why did i even think for a second they would not understand the feeling of ignorance you get from doctors at times. The pain and frustrations of once being capable and suddenly you realise you are not so able. Each and every person in that room had a story, each story special and full. everyone there had experienced so much and seen so much and yet they offered me the grace of appreciating what I had to say.

I spoke about jumping out of aeroplanes and a sea of smiles shined back at me. I told the story of challenge 2015 and the interest grew stronger, these amazing ladies where so captured by my stories and tales of craziness, every joke I cracked was welcomed with laughs and interaction between each other, the best part was that all the way through they never took their eyes off me and that was extremely refreshing. (not one single mobile in the room)

I was so please when i finished and was showered with applause and congratulations, the questions flowed that I was happy to respond to. I explained what exactly a blog was, for some reason this was by far one of my finest moments of the past few years.

I have done many talks and I can honestly say that this was one of my favourites. I worried about what value I could offer these amazing ladies, I hope I achieved what I set out to do. However the fact they ended up offering me the grace of their time fulling with pride. The experience left me feeling very humble but really buzzing all at the same time.

This right here is what I need in life. This moment is the drug I am addicted to. This is what I want for myself. The moment you sit in front of a group of people share your time and story and leave with the feeling you have added value to the lives of other people is worth more that anything in the world. I would like to thank the ladies of St Cadoc’s church Raglan group for the most amazing evening and an experience I will hold very dear for a long time.  Thank you xxx

My life With CRPS (complex Regional Pain Syndrome}

What is CRPS? (complex Regional pain syndrome).

CRPS! Well it kind of is what it says on the tin really! A complex condition that results in the suffer experiencing unbearable pain. Caused by the neurological system and normally effecting one limb. It is rarely in two or more but definitely possible.

I have been living with this condition for just over 3 years. A condition that has affected my mobility in my lower limbs and has meant I have had no choice but to use a wheelchair.

At first I was full time in the wheelchair however recently I started to use crutches. Its great to be up on my feet more but I get tiered very quickly and the pain never goes away and I mean never.

Not only has the condition meant I have struggled to walk but I also get spasms. The Spasms are caused by a condition that can be related to CRPS, called Dystonia. These, sometimes very aggressive attacks, effect mostly the right hand side of my body and are somewhat unpleasant.

The medication Gabapentin helps to control these very uncomfortable and painful symptoms but unfortunately don’t stop it all together, however I feel they are reduced dramatically.

So my legs don’t work and I use a wheelchair!

Not so bad! I mean when people look at me thats generally what they see! a guy in a wheelchair. Well maybe this is a good time to mention I also suffer because of it all a significant reduction of control in my bladder. Between the CRPS and the cocktail of drugs I take I have Recently been diagnosed with Sensitive Gastroenteritis.

Now if you followed the link you will know that i am basically pron to bowel infections. during this time I cant sustain my levels of Phosphate. This is called hypophosphatemia.

So I am stuck in this fantastic circle.

CRPS has caused Dystonia. the issues with my lower mobility has resulted in Gastroenteritis. when i get flare up of that I then suffer with Hypophophatemia that causes high level stomach and muscle cramps. Cramps cause spasms and spasms are caused because of the dystonia.

Yep CRPS sucks but it could be a lot worst. what i have had to do is learn to adapt. and adapt i have!

CRPS for many “professionals” is considered as a cop out diagnosis. Not recognised as being a real disability, Well neither is ME and that affects 1000’s of people every day and is very real.

I also want to mention that it was not that long ago that if you had epilepsy you where executed for being possessed by witch craft. And dyslexia was not even known, you where just stupid. So I think it is fair to say that science and medical opinions change and doctors are not gods and not always right.

So what is my take on CRPS? Well for me it’s hard to explain because unless you are in the situation it’s not an easy thing to describe but I will try.

Basically

It’s all about signals and receptors in the body not communicating in the right way.  For example if a sensor on your car starts to malfunction it may send a signal to light up a warning light on your dashboard. It can even cause the car to lack power or stop altogether.

Now there is nothing mechanical wrong with your car. It’s a simple electrical fault that causes a whole load of problems. Anyone who knows cars and electrics will know this can be a nightmare to find. Well that is basically CRPS!

The sensors in the body that detect pain starts sending false signals and sends false messages to the brain. And as in your car can cause a world of problems for the person trying to live with the fault accept you can’t just replace them like you can on a car.

CRPS can be brought on by a number of things. An old injury or even an illness such as shingles. There is no cure and the use of medication  is designed to reduce the effects.

For me even though my condition has effected both my legs I am in a much better place than most. By using a chair I can live a fairly active life. I do sport, train, and I work full time. I’ve been very successful in all areas and have been very lucky.

I adapted

I had to make my house wheelchair friendly.  Purchased a new car that is automatic. Changed my job so I could work in an environment that can accommodate the wheelchair. these are just the big changes

Things have been tough. It has had a dramatic effect on personal relationships and friendships. At times I have felt very lonely. I have struggled with depression and I have struggled with emotions. Suffered with anxiety because of how these symptoms effect my everyday life. I just do my best to put all this aside and concentrate on the positives.

So ‘how’ do ‘I’ live with CRPS? Well I take each day as it comes and I think that is all any of us can do.

 

Cwmcarn Forest Walk with a FreeWheel

A day at Cwmcarn Forest Walk with a FreeWheel. Walking as I have mentioned many times before was a very favoured pass time for me and my wife. Before my condition it is the number one thing I miss the most. Hill walking through the forest. Walking around a lake well. Basically we loved being out.
For Christmas Natalie bought me a FreeWheel. An attachment that clips on the front of your wheelchair. It works by raising up the front two wheels so that you can take it off road.
To give it a little test we decided to hit the woods at Cwmcarn. What a treat it was to feel a bit of extra freedom. The weather was brisk and fresh as you would expect 2 days after Christmas. It was amazing to be out and about together and to work off a bit of the Christmas dinner, sweets and chocolates. The path was some gravel. a fair amount of mud. Oh yeah there was a tiny bit of Tarmac. Nothing slowed me down, well except the hill bits. My wife came in handy on the hills.
Now don’t get me wrong this was not really a challenge for me not after climbing Pen Y Fan. This simply shows that you don’t need to walk to enjoy time outside. Spending time with family and loved ones and enjoying the fresh air is very important and healthy.
The views and scenery where amazing. With waterfalls, streams and wild life everywhere. Just what a great way to spend the day with my wife.
The water was so clean and clear.  The ducks was loving life and you could see the fish at the bottom of the lake, so pretty. I bet this place will be amazing in the summer i really do need to find my way back.

Taking to the ice in Cardiff Winter wonderland

Taking to the ice in Cardiff Winter wonderland was amazing. There are times in the year that are all about friends, Family and loved ones. Christmas is one of those times.

Christmas 2014 is my first Christmas in my chair. A miles stone in many ways, it’s the closure of my first year as a chair user. The land mark of my first winter and it was a celebration of some of the amazing people I have met along my journey.

This year we decided to really make the most of the things available, to get out and enjoy life to its fullest. One of those decisions was to make the most of life events. Ice skating and the Cardiff winter wonderland, what could go wrong? Drinking mauled wine, eating hod dogs straight off the coals and indulging on candy floss. Perfect. To enjoy this with some of our close friends made it very special.

To say taking to the ice was a frightening thought was an understatement. We waited in line for a few moment. Thoughts went through my head like their was going to be 250 people on the ice! What happens if I fall out? Could I hit someone over? What if I go backwards and hit my head? What if I get on there and can’t move? How the hell do I get on the ice in the first place?

Well these thoughts I am sure are perfectly normal. I was determined to give this a go and see what happens . As it happens the staff where all great and very helpful. My wife love her can’t skate. I knew she would be no real help on this one but take to the ice I did.

It was amazing moving was strange at first. I soon realised that I needed to simply start slow and work up to it. The other people on the ice where fine they just skated around us. Somehow I never bumped into any one. I was shocked at how stable I was on the ice. I even pulled a wheelie just for a laugh.

The best part for me was when my wife held onto the back of my chair and I pulled us both around. this was a first, and the most fun time had in ages. I was able to help her with something! I was able to support her when she needed it! As strange and small as that may seem, for me it was massive.

All in all it was an amazing achievement. I tried I tested and I survived. here it is just one more thing I can tick off my list. Don’t be afraid to try things! Don’t feel you can’t do something because you think it is impossible. Hit the ice and see where it takes you. Life can be slippery at times but it can also be fun and exciting as well.

Volunteering at Greenmeadow Community Farm

Volunteering at Greenmeadow Community Farm was my way of getting back into the working world. It can be one of the biggest challenges you may have to face. Being around people who don’t know your abilities. Treat you like you can’t do anything! Constantly worry about your safety! Well the list goes on.

Its hard going and nerve-racking. The experience can be very frustrating. Be rest assured you are not alone with these feelings. We all go through them but you can do something about it. Sometimes you simply need the opportunity to discover your new strengths. A way to learn new skills. The best way to gain this experience is by volunteering.

It can be so rewarding and gives you a great opportunity to get back out. Try new things. And you can learn so much from other people. It is one the best ways to help towards your recovery.

The video above shows me doing a wheelie over wood chip bark. I done this while helping out  building the Santa’s grotto. The 2014 festive season was here. I have helped out at the farm for a few months. Enjoyed trying new things at my own pace. Feeding the animals. Helped with cleaning out some of the enclosures.  I have met some great people who dont hold me back. They help me with my skills by not telling me I cant do this cant do that.
I have also helped with the Out Reach program. This is a program where we take small animals out into public places and work with children. the program is about giving them the opportunity to interact and learn.

I have always had a love for animals and more so since the chair. They don’t judge me! Animal therapy has to be one of the best forms of therapy available.

I have also always wanted to work with young people, again with my role at the farm this may become a great opportunity for me to do that. I recommend volunteer work it will help you in so many ways. Never let your disabilities hold you back. Take your abilities and grow on your strengths.

Hand-cycling over the Seven Bridge. Wales

Hand-cycling over the Seven Bridge what an experience. South Wales and England is separated by the river Seven. A mass expanse of water. Crossed in two main places by two iconic bridges. Originally the Seven bridge that made up the M4 motorway.  After many years in full service this was replaced by the new Seven Bridge river crossing.
The old bridge became part of the A48. Currently still used by 1000’s of people everyday. Once a year 1000’s of motorcyclist cross the bridge for Hog The Bridge. The event raises a lot of money for some great causes. As a biker I used to complete this event nearly every year. When I became a wheelchair user I sold my bike and started to take interest in hand-cycling. The idea of crossing the bridge was one that a really good friend suggested to me. So we set about and decided we would do it ASAP.
I didn’t go into great planning. We simply loaded my hand-cycle and his mountain bike into a van and we set off. The route was not massively challenging. The first half was a steady incline and the views where just amazing.  I have crossed that bridge millions of times. This was the first time I had the opportunity to stop and look at the bridge from this fantastic position.
The wind was blowing and every time a lorry passed by the whole bridged rocked. We where safe on the side path and the experience was simply mind-blowing. With the view right up the river it was breath-taking.

 

Sometimes it’s not the big challenges in your life that you need to think about it. Sometimes it can be the little things that stick strongest in your mind. Crossing this bridge was not about pushing my limits or testing my strengths. this time it was about doing something. Something I can with an old mate and being together with no limits.

When I became I full-time wheelchair user things changed. People around me needed to help me. They needed to adapt to my way of life. Its been tough but for me cycling across the Seven Bridge with one of my very dear and close friends was a massive milestone. A time I feel very grateful for. It made me realise that I am still me and still a normal person. A moment I will treasure for a long time. Sometimes its the simple things in life that mean the most…………………

Bowling In Cwmbran

Bowling In Cwmbran, Now here is something that takes some adapting. Even then you are going to either love or hate it. Bowling is very common. Friends, children and family will often arrange this as a night out or family party event.

So I can’t lie I did put this off for as long as I could but then a group of fiends convinced me to stop worrying and they had a point Nathan who has done a few things with me now spoke sense when he pointed out that no one cared if a won or lost it was about having a laugh a few drinks and winding up the kids.So off we went now I was offered for the barriers to go and my top tip take the offer  but for me oh no I was fine.I choose my ball and the pins where set and I was terrible I would have one great shot and then send the ball in some random direction and I think I even lost that’s right the kids demolished me..

But I loved it. A few drinks, we smashed a few pins, some smashed more than others but I had the time of my life. I have been bowling a few time since. I have not got any better! Now use the barriers with no shame at all. Decided I can’t keep letting the kids beat me. Its great fun and sometimes when you completely get it wrong it is best part. When you throw that one strike you are the king of the lanes and no one will tell you different. A few top tips for you to always remember…

  • Always put your brakes on.
  • Use the barriers there is no shame.
  • A heavy ball is NOT the way forward.
  • Finally what the hell let your hair down no one cares if you win or lose.

Pen Y Fan in a wheelchair 

Pen Y Fan my maker

Pen Y Fan in a wheelchair was not your everyday challenge. However! Pen Y Fan was the mountain that used the elements against us in the Three peaks challenge. It was my aim to prove that mother nature would not get the better of me. Of course my fantastic team of supporters was right behind as we talked about completing this climb. Only difference was this time I was in a wheelchair full time and if I was to climb Pen Y Fan then the wheelchair was coming too.

The Mountain

Pen Y Fan stands at 886m / 2907 ft. And the climb is not forgiving. If you are on foot it is steep slippery and hard, in a wheelchair it is simply mind blowing. I was under no allusions that this challenge was going to test my will and my strength. If anything was going to break me then this was the place it would happen.

10649986_10152858403172868_5719851178553778397_nthe wheelchair

This video shows how I took a simple wheelchair that I had when I first went into a wheelchair full time and adapted it to cope with the terrain ahead.

The little wheels would never mange the rough ground. To overcome this we added a large front wheel. The tyres needed to be better gripping and harder wearing so they where also upgraded.

We tracked down a set of mountain bike tyres that would fit my 24” rims. I didn’t want to fall away from the chair through fear of it landing on me so I use a waist strap leg strap and foot strap so I was fully 10501999_10152921780397868_4735642306619399126_nsecure.

Added a camel pack to the back so I had water as dehydration could not become an issue

My little pack also allowed me to carry some first aid supplies.

the team

The team was as always a big part of this challenge working. As well as my two close mates Thomas and Lewis I needed a lot more support. If anything went wrong it could become life threatening. This was a very clear fact.

As soon  as my story started to spread around my works the team began to grow. Soon we had first aid covered, strength and moral support. All areas covered and the challenge was on.

the climb

Every inch of this climb was hard. I had completed the three peaks earlier on in the year, but at the time I was an able bodied man.

Facing this was a different ball game. I could never imagine how hard this would be but we did it we completed the climb and decent in 4 hours and 21 minuets. With 111 ditches to overcome. Slippery walkways and the skin on my hands being ripped off halfway up. This challenge set the bar high but for me its marked the beginning.

Even though I think everyone who completed that climb had in their own mind achieved a little satisfaction. For me it was a mile stone. If I can climb a mountain and the biggest in south Wales then there is very little I cant do.

Clydach Gorge waterfalls Brynmawr in a wheelchair

Before my life changed so dramatically myself and my wife used to go walking all the time. We loved waterfalls, being in the country and simply being together. My illness came with without notice, this all changed. I used to love spending time with Natalie. Things had not been easy we had to adapt and change our hobbies and interests to suit my needs. This had not been easy.

We often talked about this walk but never attempted it. One day we decided that the sun was shining, I had an off road chair, Why not. A welcomed chance to get out into the country and spend some time together.

This was not just a test of my ability. This was a chance for Nat and I to take control and enjoy a little bit of our past. We decided to do this as a first walk together just the 2 of us. Knowing the route we knew it was possible.  We set off and the sun was out and shining down on us to make this one of the most perfect days I could ever have wished for.

We had to take on a few obstacles. however once we where off the beaten track the the experience was just amazing. I used the same chair I planned on taking to the top of Pen Y Fan and It worked perfectly.

We followed the path up to the waterfalls, across the rocky ground. Amazingly I was almost able to touch the water. here I am doing  something I never thought I would ever be able to do. Made possible with a little help from Natalie. Simply feet away, the feeling was so special. This made me feel alive.

From the moment I went into a chair I had to start planning everything. Calling ahead to see if my chair would be a problem. Out here in the fresh air it was a case of give it a go, lets see what happens.

My advice to anyone would be to stop wondering if it was possible and get out there and find out for yourself.