Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Don't Stop Me Now

Don't Stop Me Now

I'm havin' such a good time. I'm havin' a baaaaalllll.... Actually hate that song!

I am now back from an amazing week long holiday to Morzine, in the French Alps with my Mum, Auntie and T (the boyfriend, not the friend. However they did use to date when we were 14 which is a fun fact for you all!). Instead of staring out and seeing mountains wrapped in glistening snow, trees tipped with frost, watching the wonder of Mother Nature, I am now back to looking at a rotating washing line! Harsh turn of events. 

This last week has been really amazing for me in many ways. It was my first holiday away with my Auntie since my transplant and we use to go away together every year. It was so good to spend some quality time with my Mum and auntie on International Women's Day and Mother's Day which has made me love and appreciate them even more. It was wonderful to see T, who is fairly new to the family, bond and get to know the two strongest women in my life. If he can cope with them then he's doing well! And it was also an incredible time to look around me and witness so many people doing something they love despite their 'adversity'. 

I know many people will say how they have the most fantastic family but, sorry, you are wrong. I do! During our trip my auntie, who is outrageously ballsy, steadfast and hilarious, got drunk on several occasions and made heads turn in restaurants because of her shameless and unapologetic laugh. We played some sort of scrabble type game and my Mum, auntie and T came out with words like "big wiener, slag and fanny". I only made up sensible words, of course. And my Mum taught T how to dance the Waltz at the bottom of the Bubble lift which actually makes my heart melt. Family is everything to me and being close to people, family or not, is such an important part of life.

So I have been skiing since I was about three years old and it has always been a very family orientated activity for me. I have been away with my parents, auntie, uncles and cousins almost every year, minus probably six due to illness, studying, etc. I was away over New Year with friends for the first time and despite the flu, norovirus, a busted back on T's part and several tantrums and throwing of ski poles cause I forgot how to ski, I had a great time! 

Again, and I stress this in almost every holiday post I write because something always happens to me on holiday, it is how you just get on with things that are thrown at you, not what has actually happened. 

During my New Year ski trip to Morzine, my parents were out with my sister who brought her three girls out too (they are the most beautiful children on the planet. I'm allowed to be biased, OK!). I was helping the youngest one learn how to ski and I realised that I could not do a basic snowplough turn, Goggle it, which made me freak out hence the tantrums and pole throwing. Coming out this time I was determined to get my ski level back up and I thought it would be best to get a private lesson just to pick me up and get my confidence back. 

Side note: just because you are good at something and have been doing it for a very long time does not mean you have nothing left to learn.  

So the lovely lady at the B&B booked me for the lesson with a guy I had heard about over New Year. When I found out he was going to teach me I was thrilled. He is an instructor, obviously, has been doing it for over 20 years and has one leg!! He skis with one ski, has a metal stick as his second leg and poles with flat, mini-snowboard-like bottoms. He lost his leg, I believe, in a motorbike accident when he was 18. He is now in his 60's. AND during the Summer he teaches water skiing among other things. This guy was so cool! Wore a snap-back and washing-up gloves as his ski gloves. I mean, ripped my skiing ability to shreds but awesome guy!

And throughout the week I noticed more and more people with disabilities like his going around skiing still and I found it truly wonderful. 

On my third day I saw what looked like two slope rescue vehicles. It soon became clear that it was two young boys with learning difficulties being taken round the mountains by experienced skiers who were there to help and support the boys. What a wonderful, wonderful thing. 

The next day I saw another one-legged skier but this time on a chair about the same height as a wheelchair and another one the following day. They were two separate individuals as the chairs were different. But I just loved how those people figured out a way to just keep doing what they loved and that freedom that they have given themselves is such a joyous thing. 

A lot of holiday companies, like Crystal, offer adaptive skiing for their clients and that is the way it should be. There are so many companies now that offer safe and fully accommodating holidays for people who have both physical and learning difficulties such as Ski2FreedomBack Up and Special Olympics Great Britain. This is my favourite part about humanity. The fact that we have the ability to help others and actually do it! We are all equal and should all have the means to enjoy life in any way we want. 

I read an article recently in the Huffington Post about a man with spinal muscular atrophy who wanted to travel the world. His friends decided to carry him on their backs like a backpack for three weeks in 2016 and he has now travelled to Europe, including Skellig Michael (Luke Skywalker's new home). There is now a GoFundMe campaign for Kevan Chandler so he can see more of the world as well as a blog. I always say that you need to surround yourself with amazing people and Kevan's friends are the perfect example of how to be amazing! 

This week has, yet again, proven to me that nothing should stop you. Feeling trapped must be the most awful thing but there are great people and organisations out there willing to help. All you have to do is look and just go for it! 

One final note: Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.  It matters that you don't just give up. Stephen Hawking, 1942-2018



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