I had a new experience today.    Sarah McKay teaches online courses about Neuroscience.   As a past student I was invited to a zoom meeting to share my experiences in applying her teachings in the work environment..

In these an online courses Sarah teaches coaches the basic neurological principles behind behaviour change.   Once the students have acquired this knowledge, the coaches are empowered to motivate their clients by sharing with them the underlying psychological and neurological principles of behaviour change.   You can read about the course here

What is a Zoom Meeting

I am not going to presume that all my readers are familiar with what a zoom meeting is all about.   Those of you who are familiar with the concept and the experience can skip the next paragraph!

A Zoom meeting  is held on the internet.   The initiator invites participants to join the meeting by sending an online email link together with the date and time of the proposed gathering.   If recipients wish to join the meeting, they do not need to reply, they merely note the time and date and log in at the appropriate instant.   Meetings can be held with just two people, or with scores of participants.

Today’s Meeting

It was 8 o’clock in the morning for me in South Africa.   For Sarah in Australia, it was just getting dark.  Online were two women from Belgium, which is more or less my time zone!

Contributions from Belguim

One of the ladies from Belgium was a teacher trying to revolutionise the conservative schooling system in Brussels.   When I heard about her ambitions and her progressive ideas, I was able to suggest that she takes a look at Ken Robinson’s TED talk.   Here is a brilliant presentation by Ken on bringing creativity into the school curriculum.   It has had over 3 million views:

Ingrid lives in Belgium.  She spoke about the work she does with Ear Acupuncture and the healing of emotional trauma.   She told us how she applied needles in the ear, which enables her to help her patients reduce anger, anxiety and trauma.

Amrish from India

Amrith from India was the next person to introduce himself when he came online during his lunch break.   He had completed Sarah’s course many years ago but still remained in touch with the teacher who had enriched his practice of alternative therapy.   He was impressive in describing the relief he had given to his clients who suffered from both physical and emotional challenges.

Grace from South Africa

Of course, I was also given the opportunity to share my shenanigans with the assembled participants in the Zoom Room.   I recounted my experiences with facilitating Couscous Ageing for Seniors.   In these 2 hour discussion groups, participants are made aware of the neurological background of the ageing process.  This knowledge and understanding help them devise a methodology for maintaining and building their cognitive reserve.   The non-negotiable importance of the maintenance of  physical fitness is emphasised.  In addition, techniques for building emotional resilience form a large part of the discussion.

Sarah’s Contribution

Sarah shared with us some of her accumulated wisdom.   She had been participating in an Australian TV program in which Octogenarians and Nonagenarians were being interviewed.   This series aimed to glean information about successful ageing.   Emerging from her experience with this group, Sarah suggested that a mind of curiosity may be the critical quality that helps those in the latter decades of their life remain involved and committed in the ever changing contemporary environment.

Striking a receptive chord.

I agreed with her hypothesis.   I have always taken pride in my belief that curiosity is one of my positive characteristics.    Sarah jogged my memory when she made this comment.

Photocopying was the latest in technology then

I recalled the era when photocopying machines first arrived.   I had taken my notes to a photocopy shop to have the minutes of the school committee meeting printed for the attendees, and I wondered, why does the assistant not ask me what my material is all about.    Is he not interested in what I am copying? My curious mind would continue, “If I were an assistant doing his job, I would want to know what is written on the page as well as the reason the customer needing this material.”

I had never seen a computer screen

Another early memory popped into my mind.   I recalled going to reserve a long distance bus ride from Cape Town to Johannesburg.   It was at the time when businesses were just starting to use computers to enhance their services.  My curiosity was aroused.  I wanted to view the screen.  However, all I could see was the back of the monitor. I had never even had sight of a computer screen and could only imagine what the assistant was viewing.   I can still sense my frustration, my curiosity was not satisfied.   I could not have sight of the screen.

Where is my curiosity taking me?

You may consider the above examples somewhat trivial.   But I am curious, and that is why I am starting to explore the methodology of sharing my accumulated knowledge and life experiences with online learners.

The latest initiative

I am planning to complement the face to face monthly meetings I have been running for the past 12 years, with some opportunities offered by current technology in the form of online tuition and zoom meetings!  I plan to offer guidance and advice to those in the middle years about a lifestyle which will allow them to build cognitive reserve, maintain their physical fitness and develop their resilience for coping with the emotional challenges of their life.

I need your help!

Anyone who is reading this blog and has an idea what they might like to learn within my area of expertise is welcome to place suggestions in the Comment Box.    I would love to hear from you!

 

 

It was Saturday morning and I decided to visit the local park where an open-air Craft Market was taking place.    Usually when I visit this park the dogs have a wonderful time interacting with the squirrels and running freely, but because of the current activities they needed to be restrained on their leads out of respect for the other both the exhibitors and the visitors.

A Special Spontaneous Interaction

Walking around viewing the selection of home-made goodies and crafts, my lean and good looking Whippets drew the attention of many of the visitors.   One young woman was particularly impressed with my dogs and spent some time admiring their sleek coats and patting them.   Standing a short distance behind her, I noticed her companion – a young man who was standing supported by some very specialised looking crutches.  This sight piqued my curiosity and I turned to him and inquired, “What happened to you?”   “Oh, I broke my neck three years ago.” he casually reports.   As I look at him standing with the aid these specialised orthopaedic structures my thought was, “But, surely there is something wrong with your legs!”   After a further enquiry he then went on to explain.   “It happened three years ago.   I fell off my motor bike.   For many months I just lay on my back without being able to do anything.  I was in hospital for nearly six months.   Now I go daily for therapy and do regular exercises to regain my muscle tone.”

What I was now interested to learn was whether he was at this stage able to play the role of breadwinner for his family.   I learned he runs his own computer company and is planning to be riding a motor bike by the end of the year.  “You should become a motivational speaker,” I ventured.    Justin then went on to tell me about the personal growth he had sustained during his recovery period.   Whilst not actually saying he was glad this shocking accident had happened, he indicated that his individual growth and emotional maturity had been enhanced during the sustained and disciplined recovery period he had endured.

My Friend’s Son

This brought back a memory I held from many years ago.   A good friend of mine had to nurture her three year old son after he sustained a spinal injury when he was knocked over by a lorry.   The resulting surgery required the insertion of a steel rod to support the spine of her young son.   Post-operative rehabilitation followed for many months and years, requiring specialised daily attention from both parents.   It meant daily exercises and the patient had to tolerate much pain and discomfort.   What struck me was the sober reflections of his mother who reported to me how many wonderful people she had met during her son’s rehabilitation and recovery from the injury, as well as how much emotional growth the family had achieved as a result of this unfortunate incident.

And now my Story

I broke my anterior cruciate ligament in my right knee whilst playing tennis in 1991, which resulted in major surgery followed by a rigorous rehabilitation program.   Nearly thirty years later I am realising what a gift this accident has been.   Part of the exercise program following surgery was the daily riding of a stationary bicycle.   To this day I have maintained this practice and exercise on the bicycle and in the swimming pool at the gym two or three times a week.  I also maintain my balance by using the Boso Ball (see illustration above!) Not only has my knee held out allowing me to play tennis in the ninth decade of my life, but I have maintained a degree of fitness far greater than any of my contemporaries.

It is not what Happens – It is how you Deal with it!

These stories reinforce my conviction that art of living a healthy lifestyle is having the capacity to translate our accidents and hardships into lessons of emotional and physical growth and well-being.   Even mishaps can become opportunities for growth as these incidents demonstrate