Anything is Possible, in your own Way!

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An Open Letter to Dick Johnson Racing…and the gorgeous Johnson Family – 10yrs on…

Dear Steve, Dick, Jillie, Kelly…& Managing Director and Team Principal of Dick Johnson Racing, Ryan Story,

Today, Monday 23rd August 2021, marks TEN YEARS since my life changed in the most Magical way…completely out of nowhere – Surprising us all!! haha who would have thought what would unfold after that day at Queensland Raceway, being raced around that track?!? 😁 NONE of us had ANY idea what was to come…what struck my life like a fierce, beautiful lightning bolt, out of absolutely nowhere!

My hotlap with Steve Johnson, in the beautiful #17 beast, out on Qld Raceway – doing something my ‘blood family’ did but I was on the sidelines, not having a way to indulge in it myself – having it (racing) in my heart my whole life…meeting Steve for the first time IN the racecar (wow, such an awesome moment – I was right beside this awesome professional racer who, I’d loved witnessing his magic, his talent and skills as a race driver, when he was on/off track at race meets!), meeting the man I affectionately call my “Racing Dad”, Julianne Johnson my “Racing Mum”, and Kelly Johnson (your family has truly been an inspiration to me…the way a family ‘should be’) – and being around this Team that keeps Dicks racing Dream alive…and those beautiful cars out on track, doing what they do best…

3.5mins out on that track turned into:

– 10yrs of finally having the belief in myself that I never really had, the first 40yrs of my life…and finally knowing what ‘pride/being proud’ meant;

– Finally finding a way to ‘let out’ my sense of adventure and fierce spirit, which had been hidden for my entire lifetime…I knew it was in there, but I never dared, much less knew how to, ‘let it out’. An absolute shit-ton of fun and adventures, including: swimming with sharks, having stunt motorbikes jump over me, being on TV a couple of times, flown down to Melbourne given the VIP treatment including a chaffeur with my name on the board, at Arrivals (wait…what? haha), driving a jetski myself, flying above QR in a helicopter while a race was unfolding below, climbing an indoor rock wall…and, doing something I never in a million years dared even think I could do – getting down out of my chair, surround myself with raw nature and Climb Mt Coolum on my beautiful Sunshine Coast 💙 …plus many, many more adventures, living the Life I had never dared to Dream – also having the incredibly humbling experience of having someone approach me to tell me that witnessing me living this new life of mine, has saved their own life (what an honour it was, to hear this…);

– Raising almost $10k (so far…reaching for that magic 10k…!) for a charity very close to my heart – giving back to them for the many years of intensive support they’ve given me personally;

– Being surrounded by the care and respect I’d craved my entire life, finally having people (the beautiful Johnsons, and the race Team itself) have belief in me, and see my potential, and worth – the worth I just couldnt see in myself back then.

To quote my (now) favourite line from a movie “NOBODY puts Baby in the corner!”. That was me, in the corner of my own life…its all I knew, and what I’d learnt. Not now – Nobody DARE put Baby in the Corner!! *defiant look* 😉 haha

– Acceptance of the wider car community when at shows/events – or at Team Mates night etc (I never really went to car shows/race events etc before this magical day, I just never felt a part of it all, back then – because I ‘missed out’, I never really thought it would be a part of my life. It is very much my (excuse the pun!) driving force, now!);

– Building so much belief and faith in myself so that, even though the last 4yrs has been incredibly tough personally, and I’ve had to pivot away from my ‘bucketlist life’ for now, to more of a ‘survival mode’ to get myself through it…I could now reach into this newfound self-belief and strength, to help me through.

Then (2009)..and ‘now’ (2017) – from pre-Hotlap/Bucketlist-life, just not caring about myself
– to throwing myself, body and mind, into everything & anything I Possibly can!

– From my newly discovered love of all things Climbing…and getting out into raw nature, throwing my body into it all (with the support & assistive equipment I require) – I’ve discovered that this body of mine is far more powerful  and strong than I’d ever given it credit for.  There’s a well-known question in the fitness/training world “Why do you train?” – I train, to dominate over this body of mine that doesn’t work 100%. I wouldnt call myself a ‘gym junkie’ haha…but being a part of my local gym & fitness community has had profound benefits, far more than I ever thought they would. I belong…they are also part of my ‘family’, now. As a bonus, I know for sure that I have increased my (unknown, and limited because of my disabilities) life expectancy, with ‘discovering fitness’, in the later stages of my life (beginning this after 40yrs – which is ‘heading into ageing’ when you live with spina bifida & hydrocephalus).

I may be ’10yrs older’ since this magical day….but in some ways, especially in my mind (maybe not the body so much haha…I definitely know that I’m 51, right now! In saying that though, all the work I’ve put into my fitness & Goals, is definitely helping this body of mine, slowing down the progression of ‘ageing with disability’) – I feel so much younger in my mind & spirit than I felt on, and before this special day!

– Finally knowing what I am ‘here’ for. From being completely lost, to finally finding Me, Tania, the woman who does have worth.

 Steve – I know I’ve said it so many times haha…but, thank you so much. That time with you in the car (and with your Dad and the Team out at QR that day) when you quite literally Raced me (or ‘co-piloted’ me as it was called at the time…which I love thinking of it that way! haha) to my Dream, has turned  into something that quite literally, has saved my life, 10yrs on. To be honest I dont know if I would still be here now, if it wasnt for what unfolded since that special day. That day saved my life, in many ways.

PS Steve you were so patient, especially with the time it took the crew to get me in the car beside you – and when I teared up (those tears were from overwhelm – and from the person I was back then, not ‘fear’…are you kidding haha I wasnt scared, I couldnt wait for you to FLOOR that #17!! 😂👌) – when all you wanted to do was to get back out onto that track! I still remember when you told me  “when we’re out there, look down at my feet changing pedals” …out on track I just didnt know where to look, much less down at your feet haha…it was insane! Throwing it into that first corner, my mind was like “OK..there’s the corner…brake….brake….he IS gonna brake, right?!?!”😂😂👌 Loved it!!

Feeling that undeniable ‘click’ inside of myself as we were coming back into the Pits, a true knowing of, I had changed as a person (you can see in the official Hotlap video, me taking a big breath just as we were coming back in…right there was when I felt that powerful ‘click’ inside me, and knew I’d changed, just like that – I now knew I was exactly where I was meant to be….and I could do ANYTHING I dreamed of.  My little bucketlist venture was born, in that moment – and the ‘me’ I thought I knew up until that point, was changed forever – that person was gone (although I do temporarily creep back to that person, when under extreme stress…but now with the knowing that I can do, and be, more than what is happening for me in that moment).
I was finally Me, Tania – the woman I’d been searching for my entire life 💙

My reaction shared to Facebook, after literally the Time of my Life!! :)))

Still ‘pinching myself’, 10yrs on 💞 So blessed, so grateful xx

(Ryan Story I’ve included you here too…I dont know your involvement in the Team back then (did we cross paths before I knew I’d met ‘the Doc…THE Ryan of DJR’? haha) ….but just to let you know I feel blessed to have met/to know you, I’m so grateful for absolutely all you have since done for this awesome Team, and family – and for how you have treated me, with so much respect. Dick has had so much praise for you over time, and I (we all!) have gone on to see why)

The next 10yrs…I have no idea what it has waiting for me…but…BRING. IT. ON! 💪👊💞

To Dick, Steve, and all at The Team (Jim Beam Racing, as it was back then) who made this incredible day happen, the day that went on to shape my future…Thank you all so much xx

Forever indebted to you all – my Racing Family
with Love and gratitude,
Tania x

Keeping myself accountable – documenting my #256 Month-long Fitness Challenge!

Well here it is, finally after the ‘false start’ that hit in October when I first attempted to tick this off of my List (before a massive curveball hit – it taught me how much I REALLY want to achieve this though!) – this Challenge is underway! I thought I’d set up this page to document (ie. put it out there!) each day as it happens – as a way to keep myself honest ie accountable! 😉
My physical therapist is also keeping me accountable, by me updating him whenever I see him in our sessions…
Total (minutes): 691
Day 1. 20mins Ball therapy work (to assist with my hand-eye coordination), out in the sunshine at home. Was a low-energy day for me, so am (as I always am!) pleased with this effort!

Day 2. Solo hit-out at O2 Performance 1hr (including walking 150m, timed, no rest – plus weights work on the gym floor).

Day 3. Yoga practice (Yoga with Adriene on Youtube) – 17 mins. This felt so great, after a full, heavy day at my desk, it was awesome to stretch my body out, spending some time on my mat connecting in with myself. Today was a humid/hot early summer day here in sub-tropical SE Qld, so ‘exercising’ was the last thing on my mind especially after such a heavy day – but, I made this time for myself, moving my body (Yoga can actually be quite a workout, believe it or not – depending on the practice you pick for that day, and how your body is feeling that day)…and it was so worth it!)

Day 4. Well that was a push to get today done…with temps in the high-30s (C) 😅*another “whyyyy did I choose to do this Challenge now?!?!” moment haha*, with these high temps set to continue. Summer sure has arrived! At the end of a busy Friday and this heat..I thought I’d dive back into a little bit of hip hop I’d started teaching myself (Youtube) during my first attempt of this in October. So much fun… the moves all came flooding back from memory. Today’s session: 16mins…a tough 16mins in this heat – but I’m so glad I didn’t think “bugger it, once summer is over I’ll attempt this again”. I’ve got this! 👌

Day 5. Whew…that was fun..but wow, with today being in the high-30Cs again, that was a tough 12 minutes of dance fitness (again on Youtube). Todays intention was to head over to O2 Performance as I normally do on Saturdays for a hard hit-out..but my body vs this weather got the better of me..dammit. We’re expecting this wave of higher temps until Tuesday, so I need to keep watch on my energy output (I’m unable to regulate my body temp effectively – basically I ‘cook from the inside, with no release valve’). Bring on Wednesday (Day 9) when it cools…I’ll be making up for it then! 💪😁

Day 6. Some people pay to do Hot Yoga…I decide to do it on a 39C (102F) day at home! I was waiting till later in the day in hope the temp would fall to a more comfy level, but by 5pm it was still 32C. “Its now or never!” and of course “never” just didn’t cut it, so on my mat I went. 19mins later, and all I know is, my cold shower has my name on it BIGTIME! 😅😅🥶😂 proud of myself for sticking to this Challenge & commitment, even during this heatwave! I had intentions to get back to the pool today – my energy levels decided otherwise!

Day 7. Another high heat day…another effort that I’m very proud of especially right now…1hr Exercise Physiology session in at O2 Performance. That clocks my minutes total so far to OVER 200…204mins in 7 days! Wowzers..it goes to show that even with smaller stints of exercise – done consistently, it all adds up! I’m not focussing on my minute count as such, just making sure every day gets done – but I’m pleasantly surprised at 204mins after a weeks effort! 😁😁💪

Day 8. Resistance band work at home. 30mins.

Day 9. Physio (over Zoom) 1hr – focussing mainly on resistance straps (my new kit, with Nathan giving me various ideas to get the most out of them.

Day 10. Hip Hop (Youtube) 16mins
It was at this point that I started thinking…I have no regrets in life – but What. am. I. thinking(!) haha, attempting this during a very busy end of year, madly trying to wind everything up, finish various life admin tasks etc before I go on a Xmas-New Year break just before my birthday (22nd Dec), in the heat of summer – including a heatwave?!? – basically not giving me much spare energy – or time – to fully focus on this Challenge. BUT…this is proving to me that no matter what, even a little bit of movement/fitness work can be done – it all adds up – even a little bit of movement is better than none, if you have the motivation to just get it done!

And so, as the word from Tega Orhorhoro speaks to me in my head. “Continue”. (Seriously, look Tega up, she, and what she stands for, is amazing! 😀 )

Day 11. 1hr Solo over at O2 Performance. Track work, and a little weights, too.

Day 12. One of my favourite fitness sessions of the week…where I just get pumped up right into it, no holding back, fully in the Zone, full weights/other work and just not stopping till I’m completely, just Done. “Saturday Hard Hit-out, at O2 Performance”. Missed it last week because of the high heat – but well and truly made up for it today – hit it for 1hr 30mins!! Loved every second of it!
Side note: even though as I mentioned I’m not tracking my minutes count – I sat down at O2 and worked out my total minute count – and I’ve now hit over 400mins! That is amazing to me, and I had to check it again just to make sure! That’s an average of just over 38mins/day, since this began…I am so proud of myself 🙂

Day 13. What a difference a week makes! From last Sunday being a horrible 39C(102F) and all I could muster up the energy for was Yoga (‘Hot Yoga’! haha), to today – a very, very unusual rainy and cold (24C/75F) ‘sub-tropical summers day’ – which made todays fitness effort MUCH more comfortable – even with yesterdays awesome DOMS (post-workout muscle pain, which I LOVE to feel!) after my 1hr30min gym floor effort! Today I pulled up Youtube again, and enjoyed 34mins of dance fitness. So much fun!! 😀 Youtube is getting a workout during this Challenge, too – now that its cooler at the moment (wow, that was weird to say in December!), when this rain event lifts hopefully soon, I will be heading out to nature during this Challenge – the weather gods have been against me almost this whole month so far!

Day 14. While I was at O2 Performance for 1hr Exercise Physiology session, plus about 30mins afterwards solo on the track, and boxing – I’m calling today just 1hr total. My EP and I spent a fair amount of time in discussion-mode, rather than actual movement/effort during our session. All very relevant, and needed – but its not right to say I did 1hr30 today…when I didnt 😉 haha

Day 15. Does battling Christmas crowds and traffic down on the coastal strip, moving around down there in and out of the car for 6hrs on a hot summers day – count as a workout? It sure raised my heartbeat – awesome cardio! haha. When I eventually got home (after waking up bright and super early at 4.30am this morning!), I just couldnt even think of moving my body (or my mind) anymore today – I was done. I was trying to think of a way to ‘tick today off’ on this Challenge, and was going to settle for just a few simple stretches (but in the back of my mind thinking nooo I can do more than that!) – but, after a lovely cool shower, I went outdoors just before sunset – my favourite time of day, threw on my hip hop class I’ve been doing on Youtube lately – and 16mins later I was done. Feeling so much better, and revived, too! As I’d done the class regularly, I didnt have to use my brain, my body just flowed with the routine I’d grown to know and love! 16 minutes of fitness, after a big day – done!

Day 16. I hit the wall today – bigtime! But…this Challenge was not going to beat me…I had zero energy for the entire day – but, late afternoon I threw on a Youtube video (yes, Youtube to the rescue once again! haha) of dance fitness – guided dancing to the classic 80s hit – Flashdance! It may have been ‘only 4 minutes’, and to be honest without this Challenge I may not have done it – but it was SO much fun!

Day 17. I’ve got to be honest, I’m struggling with coming up with energy for this Challenge at the moment – and once again ‘hit the wall’…I’ve had so much to do the last few days, to ‘tie up the loose ends of 2020’ (and this summer heat has hit a very humid patch with this rain about) so I can go on my break with nothing on my mind/schedule except to relax (and continue with this Challenge till New Years, of course!).
So, I decided to Challenge my brain as well as my body, with a different Hip Hop track than the one I’d been teaching myself – and wow was it a Challenge in itself! A lot of fun, and a brilliant workout, too. Mixing up your fitness, keeping it interesting is such a great motivator! 16 minutes – done for today!

Day 18. Really, really craving a wander out in nature – but once again the weather gods vs my commitments were against me today. I had all intentions of going for a wander along a local rainforest track (over 1km total – I intended to do 2xlaps at least) – I even drove there on the way home after my mornings commitments when the blue sky came out (plus high humidity with the rains we’ve had!) – but I just couldnt find a park in the area – the Christmas crowds are well and truly taking over my region!
So, today I’ll count, as I had 1hr physio – 30mins of that as todays part of this Challenge – because my physio stretched and moved my body in so many different directions – phew, it was a workout in itself! Even if I wanted to do a tougher fitness stint – I thought I’d give this body of mine the ‘break’ it deserved, after my physio treatment loosened it up awesomely!

Day 19. Well if I wasnt time/energy poor enough at the moment with everything going on – I decided to throw something else into the mix! I spent a number of hours this afternoon decluttering the last area of my home that has needed sorting for so, so long now – lots of bending, stretching, moving things about the space, out to the shed, some in the bin – but now, its done. Exhausted enough after this, I knew I had to keep with the momentum (and commitment!) of this Challenge – so threw 31mins of dance fitness into the mix! (I did this straight after the decluttering effort, as I knew that if I stopped for a while after the mammoth task was done for a break – I’d definitely run out of steam. I sure have now!)


#256. Do a month-long Fitness Challenge – almost Game On!

**UPDATE – Unfortunately, due to an unexpected issue which came up mid-October, I just could not continue to give this Challenge the focus it deserves. I was having SO MUCH FUN with it too, I got to Day/Oct 16th, moving my body every single day, in fun ways like: teaching myself a little bit of Hip Hop, Dance fitness, Zumba, Body Jam (Youtube is filled with so many fun ways to encourage us to move!), as well as my usual heading to my gym, and my yoga practice, nature wanders etc. Bring on December when I attempt this again – through the first month of our sub-tropical summer, ‘silly season’ (Christmas), and my birthday month, too!! 😀

During September 2020, I had (unfortunately) let go of my Dream of Climbing Mt Ngungun in 2020 – just days before gym closure in March, was when I had originally set this Goal firmly in my mind…

Then Covid hit – and our world as we knew it, fell apart. With a couple months isolation, the associated stress and strain which took a toll on me & my life, including my mental health, my mobility and other factors, then there was the gym closure – and before I knew it, a number of Covid-Curves had crept on…

When O2 Performance opened back up June/July, absolutely that beautiful mountain came to the forefront of my mind – I was determined to at least try to make it happen – I was not going to let 2020 win!
As time went on however – and the closer it got to September – and our warmer weather here on the Sunshine Coast (sub-tropical weather, which can be very hot & humid, which puts extra pressure on my body when achieving, or preparing to achieve, my Fitness Goals), I had come to the realisation that this massive Goal of mine just wasnt going to happen anytime soon. I’ve been flat out, like so many of us, adjusting to this ‘new normal’ of ours, getting this body moving again, and getting my stress levels/mental health/and my life back on track – let alone putting myself under even more pressure, in preparing and attempting to climb this Mountain that is sitting there waiting for me! It saddens me – but I know that it WILL happen – at the time its meant to. This isnt the first big Goal I’ve had delayed – I know it wont be the last….and I know that this delay will make it even more special when I do, do it!

Then September came around…this left me with a longing to now start to push my body more, post Covid-isolation – after all, this was the time of year that I was meant to be ramping up my Game bigtime, in the weeks before this Climb of mine was originally meant to unfold! My body & mind knows that this was ‘meant to be Climb time’, I can really feel it!

Halfway through September I suddenly thought (as I’d recently been inspired by a Youtuber I follow – and I already do month-long Challenges in other areas of my life at times) – hey…why dont I set myself a month-long Fitness Challenge?!? Yesssss…that was it, I felt my insides light up like a Xmas tree! This is a perfect way to get my motivation and movement fully back on track post-iso (and kiss those Covid Curves goodbye for good!) – throwing myself in the deep end (as I love to do haha)!

So, as its the final day of September, I’m all set for tomorrow, October 1st to get into this!
I have a month calendar set out, ready to tick off each day,
I have a list written down in my fitness journal, of options I can do for each day – my aim is to do at least 30mins/day (although I havent set an actual daily fitness plan out – this is going to depend on my fatigue/energy levels each day, so its best for me to wait until I know how I’m doing each day before picking something off of that List, to train (I’ve also got options for my higher fatigue days that may hit me so I dont have to pass on that day)
…..and my mindset is switched on, to give this everything I’ve got!

OK my Body & Mind – you just dont know what’s about to hit you haha….LETS DO THIS!!! 😀

#252. Push a gym Tank! (aka Telling the Tank who’s Boss!)

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No I didnt push an army Tank..but I have gone for a ride in one, in NZ as a child…LOVED IT…so Tough!!  (Google image)

From the very first time I went into O2 Performance, and fell in instant love with this new world-class health and fitness facility here on the Sunshine Coast in mid-2019 – as soon as I laid my eyes on the tough “Tank” sitting there waiting for someone to conquer it – I wanted, no, NEEDED to play with it!

Every single time I went in for either my therapy or solo sessions at O2, I spotted that Tank, sitting there quietly – it was as if it was quietly challenging me haha, I couldnt get my mind off of it!

One day during a solo session while over at the 60m athletics track, I spotted a guy pulling the Tank with a rope – putting everything he had into his body (and mind), to pull this awesome piece of machinery along that track.  I was mesmerised – I LOVE watching people pushing their bodies hard, putting all their physical and mental strength into their goal.  To see this man pushing this piece of equipment, that I myself had wanted to conquer – such a great feeling! That was my ‘want’ right there – and I WAS going to do it myself, one day! (Putting my own ‘want’ aside, it was just so awesome to see the strength that went into this man pulling this piece of heavy, tough equipment…)

Not long after that day, I had my next session with my therapist – the first thing I said to him was (pointing at the Tank), “I need to pull that thing!”, telling him of what I’d recently witnessed right there on that track and how it had inspired me to want to try it, myself.

Next minute, the rope was attached to the Tank, my therapist pushed it down the track a fair distance…I was handed the rope – and I was doing it, I was pulling that Tank, with everything I had in me (its SO much heavier than it looks!! haha).  It was such hard work…such an awesome challenge…LOVED every second of it!

So that was it…that tick off the List, that thing I had “always wanted to do” – DONE!

But…I hadn’t finished with the Tank just yet…ooooh no, I had more that I wanted to do with it – I wasnt just going to do one thing with it, and be done! Achieving this Goal on this day encouraged me to want to now, stand up and push the Tank (especially after being, once again, inspired by another member of O2 – who this time, got out of his wheelchair to PUSH this beast.  I spotted his awesome video on O2s social media and once again, that delicious “I want to do that…I NEED to do that” feeling washed over me)….can I do it? YES, I can! Before I attempted it I thought – even if I just walk a few steps with it I’ll be happy with that…

So, once again I went into another session with my therapist – told him of this next ‘Tank Goal” of mine – next thing I know I was up on my feet, pushing that beautiful Tank – very slowly as it was difficult – but I was doing it! (He was kind enough not to add an extra 10kg weight this time! haha).  I managed to push it 20m each way (so 40m all up) – very proud of this effort!! Such awesome, hard work!

So there it was, two different ways that I ‘told that Tank who’s Boss!!’ haha…two ways that, before even attempting them I had no idea just how, or what I was even going to do with it.  All I knew when I first spotted it that first day was – I NEED to get to that Tank!

When  I see people use that Tank now for their strength work, I smile and think yeaaaaahhhh I know how it feels to do that, now (in my own way, of course)! Such a great feeling – sure beats ‘never giving it a go as I just dont know if I can!’

A question often asked within the fitness/gym industry – What do you train for?

“To Dominate over this body that doesnt work 100%!”
(and what better piece of equipment to ‘dominate over’, than this
gorgeous tough Tank!) 😀

“I feel the Need…the Need, to CLIMB!!”

Well this is something that took me completely by surprise, how my life and mindset further evolved in a massive way, after I first attempted to “Climb – in my own way” by walking the steep ocean Boardwalk at Coolum on the Sunshine Coast in 2012.  That day was my version of climbing the gorgeous Mt Coolum – but to do it in a way that I knew I had a chance of at least making it to the ‘top’ of a steep slope.  That day was also my first fundraiser for SBH Qld – which I also attached (all on the same day/night!) my Goal to Walk down the beach on Sunset, and my first ever Standup Slowdance.  What an introduction to, what was to shape the direction and rest of my life, in a huge way!
What a MASSIVE DAY/NIGHT – I literally could not walk, for almost a month afterwards! haha 😀 But – this day/night was to shape my future, in ways I just did not realise at the time!

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Never in a million years back then, did I even think it was possible that I could one day, climb an actual Mountain…and more!

Fast forward to further down the track of Chasing my Dreams, and achieving many other things (some big, some ‘just fun stuff’) that, once again, I previously didnt think were possible (but…over time I came to realise – as is my mantra – “Anything is Possible…in your own Way!”).  Achieving, and doing many of these things that “I’d love to do that one day!”, even just the smaller, fun stuff, had such a wonderful effect on my confidence – I’d realised that there was one major thing holding me back – my mindset.
With a switched-on mindset, with support structures around you (people, and the environment you surround yourself with), and with the willingness to adapt that Goal/Dream to doing it “in your own way” – Anything really is Possible!

Then came 2014, the year of my 45th birthday – a milestone that was very important to me personally.  I got to thinking, what can I do to celebrate this – to ‘pat myself on the back’ for smashing this milestone out of the park?
‘Climbing something’ was the first thing that entered my mind – again I thought, well an actual Mountain is out of the question right now (but, just quietly in the back of my mind, I really was starting to think “Maybe this can become real…maybe?”)
I’d always been fascinated with indoor rockwalls, mountains, and the adventurous mindset of climbers who scale them – some as if they were just flying through the air up that surface.  That was it – I HAD to celebrate my special day by attempting to do this.  So, once again, after working my butt off in my physical training/therapy – and meeting the owner/founder of the awesome RockIt Climbing gym here on the Sunshine Coast, them kindly arranging the support I would need on the day to attempt (achieve) this – I woke up on my birthday, raced down to RockIt – and next thing I was scaling that wall! haha it was SO MUCH FUN!!!
I made it up to the 6m mark, the Wall was 8m – I was very proud of even being able to make it a couple of metres, let alone 6! And there it was, I was a climber – in my own way,  and with my guide near me if/when needed, but I was doing it!

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Fast forward (although it seems like a decade between 2014-2017!) to mid/late 2016.
Something that felt so delicious sparked deep inside of me and told me, with absolute certainty and not a shred of doubt in my mind…

“I CAN CLIMB MOUNT COOLUM – I *NEED* TO DO THIS.  I NEED TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN!!”

So, once again I worked my butt off with my training – but with an extra special dose of motivation – this is IT, my Dream I had always thought wasnt actually possible – I’m on my way to actually attempting/achieving it! I CAN DO THIS! (as the amazing human Matt Golinski himself said to me before I attempted the 2km Walk in the Sunshine Coast Marathon – those words are very dear, and incredibly motivating to me now!).
It really felt like a dream at times, very surreal – this is actually going to happen.
THIS right here, is the Magic of Chasing your Dreams – the once ‘impossible’ (even if just in your mind) was steadily turning into This really IS Possible! Wow.

July 2017 (ironically, the ‘number year’ of my beautiful ‘racing family’ and Team who gave me the wonderful opportunity in 2011, which turned into….well this website and how I now live my life, says it all, really!) arrived – and I was off – meeting up with my Team who were supporting me up & down that beautiful Mountain…

While I didnt make it to the very top (after 2hrs of gruelling, exhausting but exhilarating effort and shuffling through all of those beautiful rocks and raw nature – I have come to absolutely love rocks and big boulders, all their various natural forms, curves and colours, sitting there ready for me to explore and navitage my way around them) – I was absolutely satisfied with my achievement.  I got my view, I got my Goal…I GOT MY MOUNTAIN!! Wow…

That was it, I was addicted – just as Racing is in my blood – Climbing had slowly crept in over all those years, and was now embedded into my very soul.

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Anywhere I am..admiring a sunset, looking out at the ocean, local mountains – anywhere there is rocks, I am instantly drawn to them – I need to touch them, to explore them!

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In my element!

But still, I thought I was done.  I thought Mt Coolum was my one and only chance to Climb – especially as this body of mine was getting older (I was 47 at that time) – and also after my Climb, being hit full force with influenza, dislocating my finger, losing function of my arm – with surgery and a rough, long recovery to ‘get it back’.  Plus being hit with a serious mental health crash.  Thats it I thought, I’m done.  This part of my life is over.
I started to let go and to grieve ‘the woman I was, and the life I had built up since 2011’.
Throughout anything else that has happened throughout my lifetime, this was undoubtedly one of the hardest things to come to terms with, and to accept that this was happening.  I had an insight as to what elite athletes are saying when they talk about ‘life after sport, it can hit you like a ton of bricks and leave you at loose ends.  Something that is such a big part of your identity, is now over’.  This scared me, as I could somewhat relate – in my own way. I felt that I may be heading back towards my ‘pre-Chasing my Dreams life’ and the person I was, where I just felt…lost.

But..my mind and life had other plans! After a long, mentally tough two-year break from “all things Chasing my Dreams” (and my life, really) to recover from everything that had hit me since that magical Climb in 2017 – I started to get itchy feet to get back out to raw nature again, it hit me quite by surprise.  “Uh oh…there it is!” I giggled silently as I felt it…that feeling deep inside me that tells me, I need to get back out on another adventure! My 50th birthday was approaching, after all…another milestone – and you know what that means… 😉

Another gorgeous local area had always been in my mind, to find a way to get there (but knowing it just was not an easily accessible area, so I’d basically accepted that thats one thing I’d have to just not have a ‘want’ for – except, as someone offered once, to ‘piggyback me there’).  But you know what entered my mind…thats right… “easy, who needs easy when I know I want to do it?” haha.

And then my want to trek the rocky, off-track distance to Serenity Falls (from Harrys Hut end, Buderim Rainforest) was born…more pushing hard at my training, hearing from others what the trek is like, seeing photos and coming up with somewhat of a Game Plan – next minute my 50th birthday arrived, and I was off to get these beautiful Falls I had heard and seen so much about, with my Team around me…

While it wasnt a steep mountain, Buderim *is* a Mountain so it was a steady incline trek which took many, many hours to get there (and back out again).

The effort was very, very well worth it!

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After Serenity Falls was done and dusted, I laughed and thought “Well this really is it this time – my last hurrah – I am 50 after all and surely its time to slow down and face ‘Life after my big Fitness Goals’?!”.  I had started to come to a healthy acceptance this time, unlike after Mt Coolum when it hit me like a ton of bricks.  But again, my mind had other plans…(who’d have guessed, right?)

Just days before the Covid-19 situation got more serious, and evolving overnight/by the hour at that stage without much warning in March 2020, I was speaking with a staff member at O2 Performance (an incredible, newly built world class training facility housed at the Sports Hub, here on the Sunshine Coast – which I am absolutely blessed to be able to push my body and mind to its limits, at) about our local Mountains…in particular, the picturesque Glasshouse Mountains. At the end of that conversation – one of those beautiful Mountains was cemented into my mind as my next big Fitness Goal, with this inspiring young mans encouragement – Mt Ngungun.  Yep, thats right – I was intending to do ANOTHER Climb (as always, linking it to raising funds for SBH Qld (Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Qld), and about to commence training for it! haha “Somebody stop me!” (while of course, having serious respect for the serious Covid-19 situation foremost in my mind, and being prepared to wait until ‘the right time’ to do this).
I had recently been to the entrance of this mountain, while on a local roadtrip with an acquaintance – funnily enough, ‘something’ struck me that day – I was soon to find out what that feeling was about!
Ngungun
With this beautiful Mountain in my sights, I was determined to do all I could, to achieve it.  Only to have the news that, days later, my awesome training facility was being closed because of Covid-19 – and we were being asked to stay at home unless it was essential.
Being high risk, I took this very seriously, and so my life, as others also experienced, as I knew it came to a screeching halt.

But you know what….and again this is the pure Magic of Chasing your Dreams – that Goal, that beautiful Mountain, stayed with me in my mind throughout my entire many-months isolation at home, through all the incredibly tough struggles that hit me personally/mentally during that time – especially when I got ill early on and feared that I may have caught this serious virus that was surrounding us.

Now, fast forward to mid-July 2020, and being back at O2 Performance for just under a month now, and loving being able to push my body & mind through whatever I set it – I havent set a date yet for this latest big adventure yet (I’m still in a bit of disbelief that its actually happening! haha) – it may not be till 2021 given its already mid-year and I’ve had several months of immobility due to Covid-19 restrictions and gym closure – but I do know that from now until I achieve it, my mind is fully switched to doing absolutely everything I can, to give my body and mind the best chance possible for this.

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More Climbing…told ya, I’m addicted. Anything and everything, I just have to Climb it! 🙂

First task: Get rid of my “Covid Curves” which crept in over the last few months of less movement, more stress and uncertainty (and personal stressors that hit) – its time to get my mobility and condition back which I’d also lost – ready to train so I am able to conquer this beautiful Sunshine Coast Mountain!
Mt Coolum will always be my ‘special one’ as it was the one that I never believed I could – but then I did…but this one is going to be special too – as all my Fitness Goals, and other Dreams, even the fun stuff, are – in their own Way! Who knows if this may be my “last hurrah (Take 2!)” – it may be, I am getting older (and starting to feel it! haha)…all I know is, I’m going to do everything I can, to keep climbing and Chasing my Dreams (fun stuff, and the big ones!), for as long as possible!

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GAME ON

MT NGUNGUN HERE I COME – I cannot wait to meet you! 

A Tick off the List…with a twist!

One of the first ‘ticks’ (Dreams) on my List I wrote down in 2011 was, because of my absolute love of nature, and waterfalls:

“14. Find a waterhole/waterfalls that I am able to access in my wheelchair”

…well…this has taken a very surprising, and awesome, turn – because now, not only have I found a waterfall that I can access – I now have the courage and strength, after my Mt Coolum Climb in 2017 (I apologise I havent yet updated with a post about this incredible day in my life…as my previous post/vlog states – a lot has changed since then, I’ve basically been AWOL for 2yrs!) to, as I did for Mt Coolum – get out of my wheelchair and either walk on my crutches, and/or ‘bum/shuffle/crawl’ over the rocks and raw nature – basically do anything I need to do, to reach a waterfall that is only about 10mins away from my home – Serenity Falls in Buderim!

For decades, I have wandered happily along the 600m timber track, being totally surrounded by the gorgeous tranquil rainforest – but also knowing that at the end of that track there was a rocky stretch to navigate over, which opens up to the beautifully serene and picture-perfect Serenity Falls.

I had always accepted that, because of how rough (for me at least, it apparently is an ‘easy walk’ for an ablebodied person) it would be on me to get to the Falls – that I was perfectly fine with having that timber track as ‘my way’ to experience that beautiful area of our Sunshine Coast, my home – but, at the very back of my mind there was often a very small thought drifting in of “I’d love to get there one day…I just need to find out how”.

Then – my Mt Coolum Climb happened.  I then fully discovered just what this body and mind of mine was capable of!
A couple of years (the years I went AWOL as I said above) went by, with some huge personal struggles to conquer – through these events, I had basically said ‘goodbye’ to, and grieved, the woman who did whatever she could to chase her big Fitness Goals – and grew to be perfectly content at the time for Mt Coolum to be my ‘last hurrah’.  I was also getting older, so I had to face and accept that it was ‘Game Over’ for that part of my life….or so I thought…

This year, I have been on an awesome transformation, for the positive. After a huge amount of work I have done on my body, and my mind throughout this year – I now feel that I am back to ‘Me’, the Me who I had grieved and let go of – the Me who loves to challenge myself in whatever ways present themselves to me in my life (except forced challenges, like health hiccups etc – those challenges can stay away thanks! 😉 )

Photo Credit: Hayden Evans

The Me who feels like I CAN actually do this – I will be attempting to get to, and see the Falls, right in front of me – THIS Sunday, which also happens to be my 50th birthday, a massive milestone personally, as there have been times in my life I honestly felt that I could never reach this age.

With the support of my awesome crew beside me, I will be doing absolutely everything I can, to reach the picturesque Serenity Falls in Buderim, in person – a place I have only ever seen in photos/video.  I’ll be totally immersing myself in raw (and beautiful!) nature, Chasing and living a Dream, that I, until this year, thought would only ever be in my dreams…and not actually bringing it into my life.
Wow….I cannot WAIT!! This feeling I’m experiencing right now, only days out from this special Dream off my List – THIS is what I live for…this is what I thought I (well I had, but here it is again haha) had let go of, after these past two years, and onto, as I thought (but Life had other plans!) a new and different phase of my life than I’ve been living since 2011.  Got to love the twists and turns of life, huh…it really does surprise you at times!

Serenity Falls…I cannot wait to meet you! ❤

Where have I been…and where to from here?!”

Im baaackkk! 🙂  Hi all….rather than write a (as we all know I can be a bit longwinded at times haha) post to update where I’ve been the last 2.5yrs…I thought I’d put it in a vlog instead! (a lot has changed since I went AWOL…and it seems ‘vlogs’ are the way to go now so I guess I’d better keep up with the times! haha)

This next 3 weeks until my 50th will be very busy preparing myself for a special way I am choosing to celebrate this massive personal milestone (hint: there’s a big hint in the below video – and elsewhere on my website >>> 😉 …hehe) – plus spending time winding up a number of ‘loose ties’ that need to be dealt with before 2019 ends (as many of us know, December is a very busy month overall!) – but I will do my best to update you on how my magical Mt Coolum Climb went in 2017 as soon as I can!!  It. Was. INCREDIBLE!!

As the Great Man himself, Dick Johnson says:

“The only thing you get from looking back is a sore neck!”  

My Mt Coolum Climb tunnel-focus has kicked in BIG-Time!!!

I apologise for the lack of updates since the beginning of 2017 – knowing that my Mt Coolum Climb IS, and WILL be happening this year (my 3rd, yearly attempt) I’ve been very tunnel-focussed and doing the very best I can to prepare for it, along with dealing with everything else in my life behind the scenes.   Its all getting very exciting!

(I may not be posting any/many new site Blogs between now and July 8th, the date of my Climb – so jump on over to my Twitter @ChasingDream17 for more frequent (quicker) updates! My time and focus is very streamlined, now…heading towards the home stretch towards the big day….and the HUGE Climb!)

SURPRISE TICK OFF THE LIST
My bucketlist in general is taking a back seat until after my Climb is done….but I did manage to sneak in a cute, surprise little tick off the list recently when out on Whale One, off the coast of Maroochydore/Mooloolaba…
“229. See a turtle in the ocean/its natural habitat” – I’ll be writing a blog about this cute little visit from “Tommy the Turtle”, after my Climb – my tunnel focus has me not wanting to concentrate on anything else but getting up the top of that beautiful Mountain, right now!

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He popped his head up just after the photo – Tommy’s there…even if he’s hard to see! haha

#117 GET BACK UP ON A HORSE
Aside from preparing hard for my Climb, and spotting Tommy the Turtle…I’ve been back to Sunshine Coast Riding for the Disabled for more sessions on their beautiful horses, slowly getting over my fear of being back up on a horse, since being bucked off twice, a number of decades ago!  My confidence is slowly growing, and Im actually enjoying it now…which makes a change from when I first got back up, I was very scared! THAT right there is exactly why I did it though…to work through that fear I had held onto for so long!
https://chasingmydreamsbucketlist.com/2017/03/15/117-get-back-up-on-a-horse-tick/

SBH QLD FUNDRAISING
As always, I am still striving to raise as many funds and awareness as I can, for SBH Qld (Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Qld).  Sunshine Plaza Maroochydore are continuing to be a very much appreciated source, to be able to be placed at their Community Site a couple times a month – this has proven to be very successful, in getting the word out about SBH Qld, and also to raise these muchneeded funds.  SBH Qld relies on community support to continue its programs to support over 700 families in the State of Qld.

The current total raised is so, so close to $9,000…I am so proud to have raised these funds, with the community support shown towards myself, and SBH Qld! I am hoping to reach the magic milestone of $10,000 by the time my Climb is over – who knows, I may be able to achieve this on the day as well!  If you would like to donate to this very worthy cause and help me reach the magic milestone of $10,000 raised, please feel free to click on the Donate button, on the right hand side of this page!

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WALKING TRAINING RAMPED UP TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL!
My Climb/walking training went up a whole new level today, completely unexpectedly!
At Suncoast Fitness this morning, preparing to start my walking training – longstanding Suncoast member & now staff, Graeme strolls up “You need to get some weights on, for that walking!”
Next minute…out comes the chains/weight belt haha…it was awesome – and I definitely noticed a difference on just how much harder I had to work, with the extra weight on me!
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OK…next stop…Mt Coolum, here I come! BRING. IT. ON!!!

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#117. Get back up on a horse…Tick!

As outlined in my blog below, getting back up a horse has been quite a special journey…!

https://chasingmydreamsbucketlist.com/2016/11/01/117-get-back-up-on-a-horse-first-babysteps-meeting-flash/

From meeting the beautiful Flash, amongst other Sunshine Coast RDA horses
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– and being almost ‘thrown in the deep end’ by the RDA volunteers surprising me when I turned up on 21st February, saying that they wanted to get me up  (but with me being unwell that day which affected my balance, we didn’t go ahead with it).  At least I was a little more prepared with what was to come next session, when it finally happened!
We did, however, practice mount and dismount on the cute ‘pretend horse’, to see how we were going to manage getting up and back down again…

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Finally, after 28yrs of not quite being brave enough to get back up there onto a horse – on Tuesday 7th March, the day arrived.  I nervously but excitedly (have I mentioned how much I LOVE this feeling of nervous excitement, so, so much!!) drove out to the Sunshine Coast Riding for the Disabled complex at North Arm.  It is such a beautifully relaxed drive out to the country to RDA..and the complex grounds are just so tranquil.

Pulling up (it had been explained to me that Flash, the horse I met at the very beginning, may not be the horse I would ultimately get to ride, as he may be booked in for other sessions with other riders/participants) at the grounds, I saw the girls who were to assist me on the ride, surrounding a beautiful grey spotted horse which was all saddled up.  Turns out his name was Spot (funny that, with his markings! haha) and he was the horse which was to make my Dream come true.  I made my way over to Spot and the girls, and met this gentle giant.  What a beautiful horse he was, so gentle!  “Lets do this!” I thought.

Some last minute discussions on how we were going to get me from where I was on the ground, up onto Spots back – and the next minute, I was up there!  It turns out that all the hard work I have done with my fitness has really paid off, my core work especially…I sat up very straight on that horse, and didn’t find much trouble with my balance at all.  Awesome!

(the helmet we used is a ‘soft’ helmet rather than the standard riding helmet, as we had to take into account my hydrocephalus, the other helmets pressed a little too hard onto the front of my head, for my liking).

Still feeling quite uncomfortable about being up top of this magnificent creature, I steadied myself and then we were off for a short walk, turning around at the end of the field, and coming back again.  I had a number of handlers around me, reassuring me that I was ‘safe’ up there – I had a few memories come flooding back of the last time I got thrown off a horse back when I was 19…but I was determined not to let those memories and my insecurities stop me from enjoying this experience.

I was OK, until Spot suddenly stopped, and his ears were flicking in different directions…he was just having a good look around him, but it did make me feel a little nervous (given that when I fell off in the past, all I remember is ‘my horse’s ears suddenly “standing to attention” then the horse racing off, throwing me off in the process). I need to move past this fear…which is a big part of why I’m looking forward to my next session! At least I’ve taken the biggest step, and gotten back up on a horse…something I had avoided for many years.

Bring on next session…I cant wait to get back up and conquer this fear even more than I already have! Thank you to all at Sunshine Coast RDA for making this possible..including of course Spot (and Flash, and the other horses I’ve met along the way of my various sessions of ‘familiarising’ myself with these beautiful beasts).

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE….when you face your fears, and work through them!

Challenges keep me motivated!

OK 2017 – now that I’ve had the first day (Jan 1) off, recovering from New Years Eve – now that it’s January 2, its time to hit the ground running, and GET INTO IT!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE a Challenge…I’m a very goal/results-orientated person, if I have challenged myself to a set goal, I will do whatever it takes to get there!

I also love doing those ’30-day/monthly’ Challenges, whereas each day you have a mini-goal to achieve – and by the end of the month it (hopefully) has formed into a good/positive habit that becomes a part of your daily life/selfcare.

I’m starting off January 2017 by doing a couple of challenges:
1) Decluttering guru Peter Walsh’s “31 Days to get Organised” challenge. This has become part of my new year tradition, I think this is my 4th/5th one now – its now become more of a ‘springclean/refresh my home’ than a declutter – as I no longer have much ‘clutter’ to get rid of – and if I do, I find it so much easier to ‘let go’ of it now! Deeper housework/springcleaning is also exercise..so its a win-win for me!
2) A health/selfcare site I follow is starting Monthly selfcare challenges for 2017 – the first being ‘January – Journalling’

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My Challenges reminder on my computer desktop…keeping me accountable!

Towards the end of last year, I also brought myself a little mini-diary – every day, I started writing down any little ‘selfcare’ actions I took “sat outside with cuppa” “ate vegies for dinner” “do my stretches” “time out to read” etc – any little action I take during the day which is good for my personal selfcare.  I normally do these anyway – but its when ‘times are tougher’ that I find my selfcare goes out the window – this little pink diary keeps me accountable – its my daily challenge, to fill in at least one entry every day, into that diary.  What I’ve found now, a couple of months since starting this is – I HAVE to fill in that diary every day now, its my little ‘guilt factor’ sitting there on my dining table, daring me to do something ‘selfcare’ related, so I can fill in the little book!

It is said that it takes 21 days to form a habit – these monthly challenges are a great way to form new positive habits for yourself!

 

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE….when you set yourself challenges/goals to achieve!

“time

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