Do or do not, there is no try

“Do or do not, there is no try.” Yoda

Yoda

When one has a physical limitation, or any limitation, these are words to live by. Unfortunately, in real life one discovers there are limitations as to what one is realistically able to do.

I may not always succeed, but I always give everything I do or everything I attempt my very best. I never give up easily. I often make several attempts at doing new things. I can’t skate for instance, although, God knows, I’ve tried. I mentioned this story before, so I will skip the monologue, and get to the gist of the story. After many, many attempts of no improvement, I threw in my skates. I guess I could have kept trying, but I didn’t see any point. I had plateaued and I never saw any improvement. If I had, then I probably would have stayed with it.

For me, this is the key. I require some sense of improvement when I strive to do something. If I don’t see any improvement, I generally give up.

Unlike fantasy movies and books, life has its setbacks. The key is to keep trying until it becomes evident that it is beyond one’s ability. We can’t do everything, or else we would all be able to do it all. We all have our individual gifts, skills, and traits which makes each of us unique.

I learnt my limitations after I have made numerous attempts. I wanted to try for track and field once. I asked my teacher and she said if I could run a mile under 5 minutes, then she would let me. I couldn’t meet the time, but I completed the mile (I remained stubborn until the end).

Unfortunately these trials and failures, and what with professionals (teachers, counsellors, etc.) telling me to be realistic about my career choices, I began to lose my confidence. I stopped trying new things. I never attempted alpine skiing, and by the last surgery, I lost the flexibility in my ankle and feared I would only hurt myself.

Doubt and fear are two obstacles blocking most people from trying new things. I should have kept trying thing when I was younger now I feel I am too old.

Unfortunately one cannot go back. I have to accept that I cannot do everything, and I have. As mentioned above, no one can do everything. We all have limitations, but one must give it their all before one tosses in the towel. I still try new things. I have done IT ( I learnt to program and repair computers). I have taken up writing and I have written a book and I have this blog. I have drawn a map for my novel. I find if there is a will to do something, then one can usually accomplish the task. The end result may not be perfect, but at least it gets done.

In my case, the method I use may not be the same as someone without a physical limitation, and it may take me longer to accomplish it, but I get it done. And this is what counts. It doesn’t matter how one does a thing, or how long it takes. It only matters that one accomplishes what one set out to do.
—Robert Confiant 4 September 2018

The hardest task

The hardest task for me to do is fine motor skills, for example, working with tiny tools.

I love computers and computing. I found this out when I got my first computer (I was late to the game). It was a 286 IBM clone withe 512Kb of RAM and a 40Mb hard drive (a low end computer at the time, but it was good for me). I wasn’t getting the computer thing until it dawned on me that it was an idiot machine without its software (An obvious observation, but I was slow at first). I got it for university.

After I scraped by a degree (I picked the wrong major and I was too stubborn to change). In hindsight, I should have chosen social sciences or English literature (Either of these would have served me better). I digress, once I obtained my degree, I moved back home and worked, but I still wanted more, so I went to college and got a programming certificate, which lead to work in IT (A job for life, or so I thought). I loved working in IT.

repairing computer

My first computing job was “Presales.” I tested software while it was still in development stage and tested scenarios our clients were experiencing with previous editions of the software (reproduce the bugs they were experiencing). I loved it I would reconfigure computers to match their own machines by taking apart and rebuilding computer to closely match the test machine to reproduce the bug). It was fun, but for someone with Cerebral Palsy, it was tricky too. I got the shakes doing the finer aspects of the job and the more I would concentrate on doing the job, the worst my shaking got. I couldn’t help it was an aspect of my CP. I did it, but if the shaking got too bad I would need to step away until the shaking decreased, or ceased all together (This didn’t take much time. Sometimes all it took was the idea of getting away and a deep inhale and exhale). Overall, I was good at my job. I went on to just quality assurance (software testing with no taking apart and rebuilding machines), and eventually, I went on to work in a non-computing field; however, from time to time l still get IT request from friends, and the fine skills of working with small tools still cause me issues, but I manage. I love to dabble in computer stuff. It helps me keep my feet in it.

I can even teach others about computing. This wasn’t always the case, but I got better at it, although this is another article for another blog post.
—Robert Confiant 14 August 2018

One cannot just throw in the towel

When all else fails, just keep doing, keep trying, and keep moving forward. This is what having Cerebral Palsy has taught me, but that wasn’t always the case.

In my late teens and early twenties, I gave up. I stagnated. Before then, I was a happy, carefree, determined young man. I tried everything so called, “Normal” kids did. I wasn’t always the first kid chosen, but I participated. I never really gave it much thought then, but I tried everything at least once, and lots of time I had to do things differently from the other kids; I had to do things my way (I just couldn’t do something’s the way the other kids did them. It was physically impossible for me to do these things normally). But I participated. I had a lot of confidence back then, but in my late teens and early twenties, I lost that confidence. I fell into a deep depression.

I stagnated. I couldn’t move forward, and like everyone else in this linear existence of a world, I couldn’t go back. This depression went on for quite a while until I hit rock bottom.

Eventually, I got help counselling, job training, job searching and employment. I was happier for a few years, but then I quit work and went back to school. I disliked my latter year of high school the first time around (I was just present and I was really participating. Well, all except music. Music kept me going). I did extremely well when I first returned first college and then to high school to obtain my Grade 13/OAC credits. I didn’t do so well in university, but I picked the wrong major (hindsight is twenty/twenty vision). Oh well…

Somewhere along these school years, I got my confidence back. I never looked back (I removed, but I haven’t looked back). It’s become one of my axioms: Keep moving forward and never look back (The others, in case you are wondering are: Believe in yourself – have confidence, and one more; nobody is perfect – we’re all human and everyone makes mistakes, so be easy on yourself).

That’s where I am in life. I am moving onward. My life isn’t perfect, but it isn’t bad either. I having reached all my goals, but I keep trying. I have made some misjudgments, but nothing too serious. I keep trying. I try plan A, then plan B, and plan C if I need to or Plan D after that. I have lots of plans to help me to my destination – all leading to the same goal.

That’s the trick – keep going and keep trying. You’ll find the journey is what life is really all about. (Gees, how did I get this wise? It must be because I am getting old. LOL)
—Robert Confiant 10 July 2018

 

 

Laughing through trying and difficult times

I just completed Lindsay Wincherauk (“Seed”) “Driving in Reverse – the life I almost missed.” What a compelling read; it’s witty, sarcastic, and very funny. The style of writing is different than I am usually used to – very back and forth-y; a unique style of writing – very much characteristic of its writer.

Driving in Reverse - TLIAM

If you cannot laugh at trouble, there is something wrong. My laughing during very difficult times is what aided me through them. I know, it seems strange to make jokes and laugh during very trying and difficult times in life but laughing certainly helps one get through them. I cannot not explain it, but it does help one to cope and to keep one’s sanity intact.

Like the author mentioned above, I have experienced many trying and difficult times. I have cerebral palsy a dis-ablility (sic) which affects mainly my legs and which I cannot hide. I stood out from the crowd. As a kid, this made things difficult at times. I wasn’t always accepted. I didn’t always fit in. Luckily, I lived in the projects. The kids there did not care. It was the other kids at school that made things more difficult. As I aged, I was teased by children – they made fun of the way I walked or pestered me on why I walk so funny. I usually just ignored them but sometime the teasing stung – I was hurt; even until today, the kid teasing can still hurt; I guess some scars just run too deep.

When I hit my teens and it became time to decide which areas of high school course I wished to pursue for my career path some teachers stirred me on the easier path because they believed I could only do so much. These “professionals” only wanted me to be more realistic about my career path, looking back on it now. I see that they had my best interest at heart and at the time, I did follow their advice. When I returned to school seven years later to upgrade for university. I proved to myself that I could do it. Although, my success at university wasn’t that great; I should have pursued a writing or social science field instead.

I did continue with my education taking computer programming which allowed a six and a half years stint in the IT field before the bubble burst and I could not get a job if my life depended on in (which it did).
I am a survivor and I am not ashamed to start over, or at the bottom. I landed a secure government job. It was nothing fancy, but it was stable, and it allowed lots of free time to resume my writing. The re-introduction to writing saved me. Writing made my life joyous. I found my passion. I found my goal. If one must do something in life, one should find one’s passion; discovering one’s passion makes all the difference.

I used to write when I was in my mid-teens but gave it up at twenty-two. I suffered from depression, and as a result, my writings were very dark. Unfortunately, I no longer have these writings – unfortunate because it would have been interesting to go back now that I do not suffer with depression as much and I can handle going back to review the writings without getting depressed again. Oh well, I guess losing these writings was meant to be. I rediscovered writing about ten years ago. At first, a lot of my writings were amateurish. Am I there yet? Not likely, but I have improved immensely over the years – every year I see improvement.

Look, most of us have it hard in life. No one ever said that life would be easy. Like Seed said (and I am paraphrasing here), “If you can survive difficult times in life with the person you are (the “ME” as I say) intact, if you can be happy, if you can find that which makes you happy, if you can love yourself, then that is everything you’ll ever need.” I concur. I have had my share of difficulties. I may not be a perfect person, but I think I am a good man – I try to treat others as I would like to be treated. I found that which makes me happy. My life is good. What more can one ask for?
—Robert Confiant 2 June 2018

The demons in our lives

We all have demons in our lives. We all have our peak points and our low drops.

Driving in Reverse - TLIAM

I am currently reading: Lindsay Wincherauk “Driving in Reverse: The life I almost missed.” It is a fascinating story. In the story, the author discusses “Vices.” We all have them. My biggest is drinking. Most of the time, I am a happy drunk, but alcohol (beer specifically) magnifies my mood. If I am in a good mood, then l feel better, if sad then I get more depressed, and so forth…

The “demons of our lives,” I have made poor choices; I have hurt people (never intentionally, but I have). I act on my emotions (sometimes I still do, although I have curved this as I have aged). My emotions betrayed me leading me to make poor decisions. I am better at this today.

My drinking has led me to act poorly toward others, but mainly I have hurt myself (physically, by falling down a lot – cerebral palsy and drinking don’t mix well). As I said, other than lower my inhibitions and acting on my feelings, the harm that results is usually self-inflicted. Although, once it a while I have unintentionally cause hurt in others. My actions cannot be undone. I could only ask forgiveness and move onward in life.

I know all about the highs and lows in life. I suffered from depression earlier in life. For the most part I am over it, although one never fully recovers from depression. It occasionally rears its ugly head – I have had bouts of depression, but I have learnt methods of dealing with them when I eventually realize I am experiencing a bout of it – it takes about a week to come to this realization and I just do the opposite of what I am feeling. For example, I get up instead of sleeping in; I go out instead of shutting in, etc. I curve my drinking, “Hello coffee shops.”

I have recently curved my drinking. I do so only if I go out. Usually, once every other week, or so, I feel better for it. I cut back because I am hoping to get healthier and the medicine I take to help me walk better is hard on the liver – I didn’t want to add to it.

We all have our demons. I have spent most of my life in reining them in. I have had some success. I also do not let guilt overwhelm me.
—Robert Confiant 30 May 2018

 

I took a tumble yesterday

Yesterday I took a tumble and I fell. It was the first time I have fallen for almost six months my right foot hit the filing cabinet as I was turning the corner. I was walking too fast when I hit it.

falling

I did what I always do after I fell; I picked myself up declaring I was fine then sat at my desk. I also brushed it off with a joke that I have fallen so many times in my life; I know how to fall without hurting myself seriously. On one such fall, I even managed to do a complete summersault without getting a scratch on me.

To say. “I have fallen a lot,” is probably an under statement on my part. I have fallen and a lot of those times I have scratched the shit out of my hands and/or elbows. I usually fall on the pavement since a lot of the times the pavement can be uneven.

My cerebral palsy affects mainly my right foot. When I was younger, my right foot turned in 45 degrees and I used to drag it a bit, so that caused me to fall a lot on the sidewalk. This was especially true if I was speeding, or tired. or just didn’t pick up my feet, or any combination of all the above. At eighteen, I had my final corrective surgery at Sick Kids. The doctors broke the foot just above the ankle and turned the foot thirty degrees the other way and locked it in a cast. It partially worked. The hope was that the foot, once the cast was removed, would be straight. it really didn’t. It turned a bit leftward instead of turning rightward (like it did before the surgery. The funny thing with surgery is that for the most part, it corrects somethings and creates other complications, which at first are not always apparent.

So, I fell a lot when I was younger, and I continued to fall a lot as I aged. I still learnt to fall without serious injury to myself (Except, as I mentioned above, my hands and/or my elbows, and my ego it embarrasses the shit out of me every time people would make a big deal out of it. It still does). Once I sat down for a little bit, the same co-worker came over and asked, “Seriously, are you okay?” I assured him I was even though, at the time, I did ache slightly (I am fine, it’s been hours and I feel nothing unusual, so I am good. I just want to put that out there).

The point of this post is about the actual fall. Before this fall, I started a pill (Dantrolene) I have been taking for about a year now its been; before this fall, I would have fallen hard. “Like a ton of bricks,” as the saying goes. This was like my falls used to be like.

I used to fall hard and getting up was like lifting dead weight. Not yesterday’s fall, I didn’t fall that hard. There was a lighter aspect to it. I don’t know how else to put it in words. Plus, it was easier to pick myself up. It didn’t seem as if it was “dead weight.” I cannot put it into better terms.

Suffice to say, “Yesterday’s fall felt, and was, different than all the previous falls in the past.”

I believe the medicine made all the difference.
—Robert Confiant 23 May 2018

 

Keep moving

Keep moving

A little over two years ago, when I was experiencing a lot of pain in my legs, I went to visit Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia to discuss the topic: Aging and Cerebral Palsy (there wasn’t a lot of information about growing old with CP, and there wasn’t a lot of research on the topic). I figured CPABC would probably be a good place to start.

While there, I spoke with a woman who once was mobile like myself, but who now found herself wheelchair bound (she must have been about ten years younger than myself). She gave me some advice, “Keep moving,” she said, “Always keep moving.”
At the time, I said, “I take transit; I have no other options than to ‘keep moving.’”

What I said was true to a point, but it was not the complete truth. Because of the pain I was experiencing, and because I was falling down a lot, I only walked as much as I needed to in my everyday life activities. I stopped moving regularly. I stopped working out at the gym, I stopped walking (I would hop on the bus just to go a few stops). I wasn’t moving.

This winter was no exception. I pretty much hibernated this winter. I rarely went outside other than to work and back. I never pushed myself to move more. I used the weather as an excuse to not go out. I was pathetic (and this is the truth). As a result, I gained all the weight back, which I had previously lost). It wasn’t until I got disgusted with myself that I finally acted on it.

I gave up drinking beer at home, and I am cutting down on junk food at work (and somewhat at home, if I am truly being honest). I have also started to walk more. This isn’t easy. I am terribly out of shape and I require to stop half-way to my destination just to catch my breath. It’s pathetic really, but it is a start, and this is what I need to focus on that it’s a clean start. I am not walking fast, so when friends asked to walk with me; I turn them down, because I either can’t keep pace, or I need to rest.

My goal this week, I plan on walking home from the Skytrain. I told my other half that I would be home later than usual because I plan to walk from the station. I won’t be doing my “Toronto walk.” If I did that, then the walk would kill me; New Westminster has a lot of hills and from the station most of the trip is uphill, or on a rising slant, so I will be taking things nice and easy.

It’s a new plan. It’s about change, and I am all about changing if I improve myself: Never stop learning, and never stop self-improvement.
—Robert Confiant 6 May 2018 Continue reading “Keep moving”