Hot Topics, Life Stories, Life+Style, Uncategorized

CORONAVIRUS: NATURE’S WAY OF TELLING US TO SLOW DOWN?

When news of Coronavirus first broke, I was on summer holidays in Forster with my family and I thought nothing of it. I was then planning on making 2020 a memorable year as I turn thirty this spring and at that time, I was plotting ways to document my year. Coronavirus was in China, I was in Australia, so the chances of it happening here were slim.  

I have been learning many new skills during isolation.

February rolled around, at this time each year I assist in the marketing department of my local agricultural show. The first reports of a possible Coronavirus outbreak were just hitting our shores but I was knee-deep in my work, and was oblivious to the reports on the news. I just kept tabs on what was happening, world and to some extent, national news doesn’t interest me, unless it is rural or affecting small communities.  

March comes. The agricultural show goes on despite reports across the virus swirling and picking up pace. I was also planning my annual trip to the Easter Show, I had only paid my membership the week it was cancelled. I was pretty upset; I was in pain and I was mad. The next week, I was a bit more cautious about the virus, it suddenly became ‘real’ to me.I was helping to run the St Patrick’s Day celebration at my service provider, I don’t like crowded spaces at the best of times let alone at a time when a national emergency was unfolding before my eyes. St Patrick’s Day went on, but I went home early to avoid the crowd. On the Wednesday my friend and I went out looking for hand sanitiser and baby wipes because I figured that those items would be the first items to sell out, because they are such an accessible hygiene option. On the Thursday, we’d gone shopping at the local shops because my mother had said that I’d better go get my shopping fix while I could.  

It was a ghost town; it was bare and it was scary. I was so used to it being a bustling hive of activity. To see it like that, it will always stick with me.  

Saturday. The day that my world changed. My mother had a phone call from my service provider to say that they were shutting down until further notice. I thrive on routine, my routine was now in shreds and without warning, I was home all day, every day. Initially, I thought the closure would last 2 weeks, 3 weeks at the most so I didn’t start any home projects. The only things that was the same was my small business and I focused on that, I had time to build it up and improve the quality of content.    

Easter Time!

Easter came and went; I was still at home bored. My mental health was just intact, like scraping the bottom of the mixing bowl, getting out the last of the yummy cake mix, the novelty of staying home was wearing thin. I needed to get back to work or some type of work. I had helped my father outside in the garden when I was very young and loved every minute. I’m no stranger to gardening and shed work. I was getting into the slow life and the work I’m doing now is all about home-made stuff, stuff made with love. Every day I cook, do craft and help my father, all the things I did when I was at my happiest which was when I was younger.  

Now I am wondering whether this Coronavirus lockdown is nature’s way of saying “Hey, chill out!”. At the beginning of this pandemic I didn’t quite grasp the meaning, it was foreign to me and I just couldn’t understand. But as I stayed home for an extended period of time, I started to slow down as I realised that I will be in this position for the foreseeable future and I have to change into the slow life, and then appreciate the value of life in general.  

I watched the world shut down, London’s bustling Piccadilly Circus and Italy’s Venetian canals to Disneyland and the bright lights of New York’s Broadway. All shut down, all sleeping, and the benefits are out of this world. The air is clearer, streets are quieter and people have time to think about what really matters. This Coronavirus pandemic, although it’s very scary, it gives us humans time to slow down and think, what is this challenge teaching humans?  

I truly believe that we will come out of this as better human beings, each and every one of us.   

Hot Topics, Life Stories

A disability does not define a student

A school in Gary, Indiana has given out a Most Annoying Male award. It was awarded to a 11 year old boy on the Autism Spectrum. I find this very disturbing as I have a disability myself and I had trouble at school, as well as identifying another issue.

Where was the Most Annoying Female award? Was there one? Or  was the Most Annoying Male award completely made up, just because they needed to give every student an award  at the end-of-year presentation?

Regardless of the reason, it is very disappointing that the teachers couldn’t see any positives and had to resort to negativity. When I was at school, not everyone got an award and I was lucky to get 10 merit awards in the school year. On Presentation Day, I didn’t get many class awards but got awards for languages and academic achievement. I wasn’t an angel, I didn’t tow the line but I shone in my favourite subject, Languages Other Than English (LOTE) where I studied mainly Italian, but a bit of German and later Indonesian. Not bad for a girl with a speech impediment!

Why couldn’t the teachers at this school in Indiana see the positive things that this child does?  Aren’t we supposed to be teaching our children empathy, compassion and inclusion?  Teachers should be setting the ultimate example for the next generation not doing the complete opposite.   What did this ‘stunt’ teach the students present at the award  ceremony?  Nothing. Nothing except apathy, inconsiderateness and exclusion.  The three things that a child should never, ever learn.

Every child has a right to feel safe and respected at school, as well as the right to an education.  Learning is an essential part of life and you never stop learning.  A student’s disability does not deprive them of these things that non-disabled people can freely access. 

Life Stories, Uncategorized

My Great, Big, Independent Adventure!

 

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Anybody who knows me knows that I don’t go adventuring alone and I have never travelled all by myself.  I love when I defy my own thoughts and beliefs of what I think is possible.

I had put forward a proposal for a drought relief fund-raiser at my service provider, unbeknownst to me that there was already something in the works across all of our sites – we have several departments.  When I caught wind of what was happening, I thought “I got to be a part of this, no matter what!”. Unfortunately, it was on Friday, the day I have off.

I decided to ask whether I could get support for the day. It was unlikely, but I could get transport to and from. Then, I thought some more and asked my mother if I could catch a taxi to and from if a person I know met me on either end. Mum agreed and so began the next exciting chapter in my almost 28 years of being on this beautiful planet we call Earth. Initially, I felt scared but that’s a natural feeling of being frightened of the unknown. But I calmly gathered myself and started planning my day.

Gone are the days of ringing up and ordering a taxi. These days, yes I’m going to say it, there’s an app for that and for someone like me who has a speech impediment, it is so much easier. A few taps and bang, a taxi is ordered. How easy is that?

Next morning, I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed. Today was the day I, Kaitlin Ann Lawrence, would not only travel in a taxi all by myself but would be embarking on my first solo adventure! My morning carer came in and got me ready for my day of firsts, and she would see me off then come back to greet me on my return. She even organised the taxi driver for the return journey. I felt so independent in the taxi, on my way to help raise much needed funds for our farmers and rural communities, a cause that has always been close to my heart.  A support worker whom I know met me at my destination and I texted my mother to say I’d arrived safely.

I headed straight for the office to get the fundraising started.  A Halloween bucket served as our donation container and together we raised $140 for our company-wide fundraiser. I’m beyond proud of our efforts and I proudly handed the money over to our main office.

Then I had an hour or so until my return trip so I did my time sheets while I waited (Yes, I do my own time sheets as well) and submitted them. Then the same support worker who greeted me, helped me board the taxi home. I was met by my morning carer on my arrival home.

All in all, I learned so much in four hours and I realised I am not a girl anymore, I am a woman! I have already began thinking about the next  solo adventure and how I can make myself more independent!

Be sure to stay tuned to find out what I come up with next!

Life Stories, Life+Style, Uncategorized

Yoga: My Life On A Mat

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Me with my fabulous yoga teacher and creator of Yoga Loft Newcastle,  Cveta.

I started yoga back in 2015 because I hated the gym I was at and I needed to keep fit.  I was also going through a tough time with anxiety as there was a lot going on in my life at the time.  My friend,  Amy suggested yoga as it would help not only my physical health but my mental health as well.  Anybody who knows me well knows that I don’t stick to things, I do something for six months and then I quit, get bored or walk away.  Not this time, three years down the track and I’m doing the best yoga I’ve ever done.

Yoga is a form of gentle exercise, with a focus on stretching and breathing.  I am a proud student of Yoga Loft Newcastle and I attend the Yin class on Monday.  I don’t do any tertiary education so yoga is also a time for me to learn and grow, listening to our teachers talk about anatomy, chakras and how a pose helps our bodies.  I also do my yoga practice completely blindfolded so I don’t get distracted, but it deepens my practice because my sight is taken away so my sense of hearing and touch are heightened as I need these senses to do yoga.  I never knew how much I relied on my sight, no matter how shocking it is, until I tried to do yoga with an eye mask on.

My classmates are my Yoga family and for the first time in forever, I’ve found somewhere I feel I belong outside of my family and close friends.  I’ll explain, I’ve never felt like I belonged anywhere outside of my family home and I felt like an outcast wherever I went.  Now when I enter Yoga Loft,  it’s like a sanctuary, quiet, peaceful and comfortable,  and it’s like coming home.

My family has noticed a change in my personality and my day-to-day anxiety levels have dropped dramatically.  Both, Mum and Dad plus other family and friends, are so supportive of what I do and they notice when I haven’t done yoga! For Christmases and birthdays, I get yoga clothes and equipment that I need instead of typical presents.  I believe that is a sign that my family and friends love the way yoga makes me feel and that they want me to keep achieving great things on the mat!

Life Stories

Friends Forever

I went to Lambton Public School for integration for most of primary school. I also commenced Girl Guides towards the end of year five, leaving me with a decision to either give up my dream of Girl Guides alongside my cousin or finishing primary school alongside my classmates I had been with since year one. I chose to be a Girl Guide, sadly leaving LPS without saying farewell.

I gained my Baden-Powell award in 2006, and subsequently graduating Guides. Once I graduated, I missed the friendships I had with my classmates and felt like something was missing. Since then I have searched on and off for my Lambton school friends and kept it on the quiet in case I never found them. I wanted to reconnect with my classmates, I wanted to get my group of friends back together.

I often wondered what it would be like at the year six farewell, year ten and year twelve formal, getting glammed up and dancing the night away with my friends.

Even at my own year twelve graduation, I vaguely recall standing on the stage feeling empty knowing people like Mat, Brendon, Bronwyn, Sam and Brock, weren’t there beside me. People who were there on the night wouldn’t have known – I hid it well.

Even watching high school films such as High School Musical and Grease, sparked questions. Would school life be any different, would I have excelled better and would I have the movie ending of everyone skipping out the school gate together, remaining friends forevermore.

The fear of being forgotten stopped me from getting into contact. I was afraid my friends wouldn’t remember me, so I faced the fact – I had Buckley’s chance of it ever happening. So I was quite upset about it all for a long time but I moved on, without getting closure.

One night as I looked at Instagram, as I do, I saw someone I remembered named Mat. So I tapped ‘follow’, unbeknown to me, that the missing puzzle piece was going to drop into the space. My life was about to change forever.

I received a message from Mat, asking if I went to Lambton, and I felt like bawling my eyes out in happiness. I replied with shaky fingers, and I said yes I did. I couldn’t believe it, I found someone who went through primary school with me. I still cannot believe people remember me and I am now in contact with a few people who I haven’t seen for nearly eighteen years and I now feel like I’m complete, because I’m reunited with my friends I thought I would never find – the people I grew up with.