Another mastery for Simon!

“Not too important, just another level of word” he said! Just another level of word is pretty important I think – every Mastery is important. It means those neuronal pathways are growing and the changes in Simon’s understanding and thinking as a result are remarkable. And I take my hat to him (again!) for being in Peterborough on his own, albeit with a great network of caring friends and teachers around him.

I continue to try to take care of my patient, aka my husband – the problem is he is not really a patient as he feels so much better and in much less pain now he has had his hip replacement. There is just the matter of the continuing hip displacements to overcome now – so easily done but putting his recovery back every time. A revision is on the cards but he is not keen.

Our Australia Day weekend in Pearl Beach was glorious, apart from the torrential monsoon-like rain which started on Australia Day and continued on for most of this week. I am hardly in a position to complain about the weather when Simon tells me it is minus 27C in Peterborough right now! We shared many (probably too many) delicious meals with friends, walked up and over “the mountain” to Patonga and back, walked the beach with Rusty, swam and then when our friends left we lit the fire to counter the damp and watched the Socceroos beat the UAE in a thrilling, tense match – soccer (football, actually!) history being made!

I wait to hear what the rest of the week has brought for Simon when he facetimes tomorrow. I hope he isn’t feeling quite so miserable about giving away his turtle but I’m sure for a little while his room at Argyle will feel much emptier with the turtle’s company.



Barbara Arrowsmith Young’s moving article about Learning Disabilities and Mental Health

Barbara explains so well how it feels to be living with a learning difficulty – please click on the link and read it. And how fortunate are we that she wasn’t successful in her suicide attempts and went on to develop the cognitive improvement exercises that allow Simon and the many other Arrowsmith students to become the people they were meant to be. They can overcome their learning difficulties and all the issues associated with them thanks to Barbara.



In honour of Bell Let’s Talk Day today, intended to open up the communication channels for people struggling with mental health challenges, we’re reposting Barbara Arrowsmith Young’s article linking learning disabilities to mental health difficulties.…/canadian-mental-health-week_…

Our discussion of learning disabilities is a mental health issue. I was born with severe learning disabilities. By my twenties I had tried to commit suicide more…

Go Simon!

This email from Matt Coppins has made my weekend – it is so good to know how well Simon is doing.

“Simon has been doing excellent work lately. This week has been perhaps his most productive and well-rounded week ever. Today he volunteered to help tutor a younger student in clocks. I was not around to witness his teaching, but according to Miss Hopkins he was very professional and had great success. I also think he really enjoyed the responsibility.”

A proud and happy Mum!

Happy Australia Day, in case I don’t get to the computer as we are in Pearl Beach (sorry Simon and Lara – sending sunshine to you and everyone else missing the sun!).

Stella was here!

imageAnother glorious weekend with Stella, such a busy time but such fun too! Simon would have liked to have been here too but it is just too far for a quick trip home for the weekend from Peterborough unfortunately. He was freezing in Peterborough whilst we sweltered in Sydney – no other word for it, hot and humid and energy-sapping!

I picked up Stella from her meeting and we headed to Parramatta to the Riverside Theatre (designed by our friend Byron as I learnt later!). We saw “Timber”, a Canadian production, part lumberjack, part circus and lots of fun – though the acrobatics through the band saw were terrifying and as for juggling with axes – clever but scary (for me!). It was put on as part of the Sydney Festival which hosts an amazing variety and number of shows. Tomorrow we are going to the Spiegeltent at midnight to see a show!

Friday saw me catching a ferry to Milsons Point to my course, with Patti Miller, at the Australian Writers Centre – fascinating learning about memoir writing. I am not sure that I will actually write my memoir but maybe! We met up at Darling Harbour where Stella showed me her family name on the Welcome Wall for those who came to Australia by sea, what a great way to remember their journey. We then went onto to the Beautiful Whale exhibition at the Maritime Museum showing extraordinary photographs by Bryant Austin, life size photos captured after weeks and months floating near the whales to get to know them.

More culture on Saturday, Pop to Popism at the Art Gallery of New South Wales – another great exhibition, onto the movies to see Birdman, I am still trying to work out what I thought of it, cinematically brilliant, brilliant acting but too strange a story. Our day finished with a boat trip up the Lane Cove river, finding a mooring, cracking open a bottle of champagne, watching the sun go down whilst a pair of sea eagles swooped around the bay. Heaven!

Breakfast at Kazbah and then it was time to say goodbye to Stella, as I left her at her next destination. Great aunt Stella had a wonderful time with her dear friend Meryl’s daughter and granddaughters.

In the meantime Simon trudged back and forth to Arrowsmith, worked hard on his cognitive exercises and achieved another mastery in Word! Well done, Simon!

Throw back Thursday – never mind that it is Wednesday!

I thought this post I wrote this time last year is worth re-posting and re-reading. I have been looking back through the old posts – what interesting times we have had, so many adventures with family and friends, new places, new friends – thank you all for sharing Simon’s journey with us. I hope you enjoy re-reading this too and take a look through all the photos on the older posts. I can’t remember Simon with short hair! DSCN5843

How to find what is a meaningful life

Today I want to share with you this article I read to day – I think it is such a different and interesting way to look at your life and decide what is important to you and even more, what is your passion that you should be following. I hope the author doesn’t mind my sharing his article – I really think everyone should read it! Thanks Mark Manson! And I love the Huffington Post!

Everybody wants what feels good. Everyone wants to live a care-free, happy and easy life, to fall in love and have amazing sex and relationships, to look perfect and make money and be popular and well-respected and admired and a total baller to the point that people part like the Red Sea when you walk into the room.

Everybody wants that — it’s easy to want that.

If I ask you, “What do you want out of life?” and you say something like, “I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,” it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.

Everyone wants that. So what’s the point?

What’s more interesting to me is what pain do you want? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives end up.

Everybody wants to have an amazing job and financial independence — but not everyone is willing to suffer through 60-hour work weeks, long commutes, obnoxious paperwork, to navigate arbitrary corporate hierarchies and the blasé confines of an infinite cubicle hell. People want to be rich without the risk, with the delayed gratification necessary to accumulate wealth.

Everybody wants to have great sex and an awesome relationship — but not everyone is willing to go through the tough communication, the awkward silences, the hurt feelings and the emotional psychodrama to get there. And so they settle. They settle and wonder “What if?” for years and years and until the question morphs from “What if?” into “What for?” And when the lawyers go home and the alimony check is in the mail they say, “What was it all for?” If not for their lowered standards and expectations for themselves 20 years prior, then what for?

Because happiness requires struggle. You can only avoid pain for so long before it comes roaring back to life.

At the core of all human behavior, the good feelings we all want are more or less the same. Therefore what we get out of life is not determined by the good feelings we desire but by what bad feelings we’re willing to sustain.

“Nothing good in life comes easy,” we’ve been told that a hundred times before. The good things in life we accomplish are defined by where we enjoy the suffering, where we enjoy the struggle.

People want an amazing physique. But you don’t end up with one unless you legitimately love the pain and physical stress that comes with living inside a gym for hour upon hour, unless you love calculating and calibrating the food you eat, planning your life out in tiny plate-sized portions.

People want to start their own business or become financially independent. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to love the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, and working insane hours on something you have no idea whether will be successful or not. Some people are wired for that sort of pain, and those are the ones who succeed.

People want a boyfriend or girlfriend. But you don’t end up attracting amazing people without loving the emotional turbulence that comes with weathering rejections, building the sexual tension that never gets released, and staring blankly at a phone that never rings. It’s part of the game of love. You can’t win if you don’t play.

What determines your success is “What pain do you want to sustain?”

I wrote in an article last week that I’ve always loved the idea of being a surfer, yet I’ve never made consistent effort to surf regularly. Truth is: I don’t enjoy the pain that comes with paddling until my arms go numb and having water shot up my nose repeatedly. It’s not for me. The cost outweighs the benefit. And that’s fine.

On the other hand, I am willing to live out of a suitcase for months on end, to stammer around in a foreign language for hours with people who speak no English to try and buy a cell phone, to get lost in new cities over and over and over again. Because that’s the sort of pain and stress I enjoy sustaining. That’s where my passion lies, not just in the pleasures, but in the stress and pain.

There’s a lot of self development advice out there that says, “You’ve just got to want it enough!”

That’s only partly true. Everybody wants something. And everybody wants something badly enough. They just aren’t being honest with themselves about what they actually want that bad.

If you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs. If you want the six pack, you have to want the sweat, the soreness, the early mornings, and the hunger pangs. If you want the yacht, you have to also want the late nights, the risky business moves, and the possibility of pissing off a person or ten.

If you find yourself wanting something month after month, year after year, yet nothing happens and you never come any closer to it, then maybe what you actually want is a fantasy, an idealization, an image and a false promise. Maybe you don’t actually want it at all.

So I ask you, “How are you willing to suffer?”

Because you have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns.

Choose how you are willing to suffer.

Because that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question. And pretty much all of us have the same answer.

The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain?

Because that answer will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change your life. It’s what makes me me and you you. It’s what defines us and separates us and ultimately brings us together.

So what’s it going to be?

Mark Manson is an entrepreneur, author and world traveler. He writes on how people can improve their emotional and dating lives, as well as social commentary and various life experiences at

Life is not so dull after all! And Simon is doing well!

imageJust when I was wondering what to do with myself Michael managed to dislocate his new hip again! It took 2 ambulancemen and 3 firemen to get him down the stairs and out of the house, into the ambulance! Oh my! Popping the hip back in took only a matter of moments once we got to the Emergency Department, waited (not too long) to see the doctor, waited for the space in the Resuscitation Unit (not very reassuring!) where they would administer the general anaesthetic and do the procedure, then a long wait until Michael ate and drank after which he was allowed to go home! He slept all afternoon, wandering into the kitchen when he awoke, not using his crutches. The crutches are essential to lessen the load on the traumatised hip to allow the tissue around it to heal. No crutches = no healing! Fortunately at the point at which I was about to leave the house with exasperation, our good friend, a physio, phoned and Michael slunk into the bedroom and came out with his crutches saying “You win!”. Since then Michael has been on his best behaviour, resting and sitting around which is not his normal state, he is like a caged tiger!

Simon, as you know, is in Peterborough and my communication with him has been via facebook messaging – this is how it went:

I woke up at 8 am

the next message, written the following evening, was:

I can’t sleep

then, the next day:

Are the worms or snakes (Australian lollies/sweets, just in case you were wondering!) for Zac?

and various messages since then!

Fortunately on Saturday evening he went to watch a movie at a friend’s house and used their wifi (as the wifi at Argyle is terrible) to facetime us to talk to us! He was rather more communicative than via facebook, though I am glad of the facebook messages, which give a sense of what he is feeling and what he is up to. Talking to him, it is clear that he is not enjoying the cold weather, not surprising having enjoyed the sun of Sydney really but he is managing well – for example, having woken up late, he dashed down to breakfast, picked up something for lunch and rang for a taxi so that he could make it to Arrowsmith in time, having already rung to let them know that he might be late! He wouldn’t have had the wherewithal to get himself so organised this time last year. In fact, this time last year there is no way I could have imagined that Simon could go back to Peterborough travelling on his own, and being so far away by himself, albeit with a great support network around him. It is a huge step for him and we are so proud of him and the fact that he is able to do this thanks to his own hard work at Arrowsmith and the cognitive changes that have resulted because of it. What a long way he has come. I know I wrote about how proud we are in my precious post but I can’t help repeating myself as the changes we see are so thrilling, they are allowing Simon to be more independent, resourceful and resilient and in the end, isn’t that what you want for your children? As well as their being content, which in my (personal!) opinion, is more important than their being happy.

So, this is it!

Funny how the pattern of our lives has changed so much so recently. I guess it will take some getting used to, being here with Lara in the UK and Simon in Canada and Emma being here from time to time! Last night was the first home alone night – we enjoyed a few glasses of wine with beautiful mussels cooked by Michael, after which he went to sleep whilst I caught with some emails! Tonight we had a tiny, wine free, but delicious dinner, even if I say so myself – the diet kicking in after too many weeks of too much indulgence! Then we both spent the rest of the evening on our respective computers – I hope this isn’t how all our at home evenings will be filled! It is quiet in the house with just we two! I don’t feel ready for this (almost) empty-nester phase!