My visitors today

Saturday 31 July 2010

Inclusion or natural progression?

"Japanese flowering cherry",
by Susie Mallett, July 1020

One evening last week I was sent a URL by one of the people I work for. It is about one of the littlies I know. We have worked together for five years, since she and her mum were taking part in my very first parent-and-child group since my training. I have often mentioned her here on this blog:

The day following my discovery of this site featuring littlie, another client canceled a session, so I took myself off for breakfast with the local newspaper to the local café.

In the Nürnberger Nachrichten, the NN, I read an article headed:

Surgeon returns to work, operating from an electrically operated wheelchair.

The same story

The two, the URL and the news article; link together rather well. The article is not specifically about the surgeon but about the bureaucracy that prevents disabled people from working or returning to work. The story of the littlie does not actually describe her struggle but shows one step on the long road of life - just as the photograph of the surgeon also does.

A sub-title ” We are not disabled – we are made disabled” heads the article, which is really all about how, despite the fact that the 2009 UN Convention on Rights for the Disabled states that it must be made possible for everyone to enjoy the right to take a full part in society which also means in working life. In reality it is different.

The NN says that in Germany it looks quite different. I say not only in Germany!

The NN also says: “It is knowing where to find help that is the first and biggest hurdle to get over”.

Inclusion rather than integration

This was reiterated by a group of parents later last week when we were discussing their fight to get places at mainstream junior school for their disabled children. A different newspaper was interviewing us all for an article on inclusion.

The NN goes on to tell its readers that, although there is the “special integration service” not many people know about this - and that it is still easier for those who have become disabled after they have been working to continue with their employment later than it is for those disabled people who are already disabled when it comes to applying for a first job.

“ Germany can not allow talent to go wasted on the streets, we must change our way of thinking. We are too used to sorting disabled people into different specialist institutes, homes and special schools.”

“What is missing the natural interaction with disabled people.”

The magic word, says the newspaper is “inclusion”. The experts say that this is different to integration because inclusion means that, right from the very beginning, disabled people are (or should be) equal members of society and not integrated into it at a later date. This means that all facilities in all areas of life must be accessible. Everything, says the NN reporter, must be designed and managed so disabled people too can use them.

Only then, the paper concludes, is a physical disability just one of people’s personal characteristics, like the colour of their skin or whether they are male or female.

Conductive from the start

Back to that URL and the site with the child who has grown up conductively and who, from the age of three, was in Kindergarten with non-disabled children.

It says “When integration works it is like being the receiver of gifts”.

It goes on to explain how this works in all of the school life. Even if you do not read German, the pictures tell the story.

I have known the child featured on this web-page since she was two years old. She attended a parent-and-child group, then graduated to our Petö-Montessori Kindergarten and now she attends school.

I know that in another fifteen years I shall still know her and perhaps visiting her at university, where she will still be included and. I expect still be fighting for her rights to be so.

What a wonderful start she has made in her education and upbringing.

The struggle continues

It has not been any easier for her, or for any of the first three graduates of our Kindergarten, to find a place in a mainstream school than it was for my clients fifteen or even twenty years ago.

Those clients and their families had to fight a similar fight all those years ago and, once the fight had been fought and won, the placements were a great success - just like it is for this littlie in this story.

Despite what the UN Convention is telling us, and despite all the discussion about inclusion and integration, the fight seems to be getting tougher, not easier. More bureaucracy, more red tape, more tables to push papers over, or computers to log in to!

The fight may have been won for this littlie now but in five years, when a grammar school must be chosen, will the fight begin all over again? And when it comes to the bachelor’s and master’s degrees, I wonder how much easier it will have become by the time this hurdle needs to be crossed.

Inclusion explicit and implicit

I often talk to the cleaner at work. We are about the same age. She and her husband have a farm with horses and a market garden. She has a great interest in the upbringing of children.

She observes in minute detail the comings and going of her several grandchildren and she often picks my brains about conductive upbringing and pedagogy on the evenings when we meet. I hear about how when she was a schoolgirl there was no such explicit thing as inclusion. It was taken for granted that their two disabled friends were in their local classes. Each morning a crowd of youngsters would collect these children, both with a physical disability, and transport them on the back of their bikes, they would carry their friends up and down the stairs at school, and look after their needs all day. That was life then.

I think that we have to go a long way until we get back to the place when we can say inclusion is implicitly part of life.


Georg Hegel -

Nürnberger Nachrichten, Politik -

„Trotz Handicap zurück in den Job“

14th July 2010

Monday 26 July 2010

Weather report

"Making waves" by Susie Mallett
July 23rd, 2010

What a different a spot of rain makes

I dodged the rain clouds on the bike this morning and also on the way home this afternoon. I only got a soaking when I walked around to the shops later.

Last week it was between thirty and thirty-five degrees, people were dropping like flies, including me! We were trying our very best to make the most out of conduction, mainly by hanging our feet in buckets of water, stroking our arms and legs with cooling flannels from the freezer and now and then we took the opportunity to jump into the swimming pool. Those are very distant hot memories in the coolness of today.

Today both my client and I were sneezing. With a drop in temperature of almost twenty degrees it is hardly surprising. As I sit and write I am wrapped up in a blanket and with the distant rumblings not a good sign that it will be getting any warmer over night, it will be a chilly ride again tomorrow.

Usually when the temperature drops to fifteen degrees the heating is switched on, but not in July!

I will look out my long cycling trousers for tomorrow just incase. When it is warm enough I prefer to cycle in shorts even in the rain, I get wet legs and have just a waterproof jacket on top. But when it is as cold as fifteen degrees the muscles don't like it so I will have to wrap up a bit!

I look forward to the heat for just a little bit longer, the last winter was just too long.

Sunday 25 July 2010

Story telling

By Susie Mallett, 25th July 2010

I have been having a lovely few hours on this cooler but no longer stormy Sunday afternoon.

The serenity of these past few hours has reminded of those Sundays when my Dad would get out the jig saw and set it up on the card table. I would stand with my nose at jig-saw level so I could catch the pieces of plywood as they fell. then I would set to piecing the jigsaw together, that always told me a new story in pictures such as "The old woman who lived in a shoe" that was the double-page spread story picture in my Jack and Jill comic.

Many of these are jigsaws still being puzzled over by children in the family.

Not only do the pictures tell a story but the jigsaw pieces too. I was able to suggest difficult wiggly shapes to my Dad and he always tried to make them. One of our puzzles has a tiny piece, still in the box, that broke off.

Today I have not being making jigsaws but I have been watching stories develop. I have been watching YouTube and reading about painting exhibitions at the Hong Kong Museum of Art.

This is what I read:

Landscape painting commands great importance in the history of Chinese art despite a development that is predated by figure painting. This unique genre of Chinese painting consists in the representation in lines, ink and colour of a natural vista or spiritual realm that stems from an internalised observation of the natural world.

Zong Bing (375 – 443) of the Southern Dynasties (420 – 479) put forward his theories in Preface to Landscape Painting. He believed such works to be visual approximations of the Way, or Dao, which could then be appreciated with a serene mind even in the comfort of one's home.

By virtually transporting the painter and the viewer to Nature, landscape painting lends itself not just to viewing but also to the sense that one is travelling and living in that natural environment. It is this idea that has made the making and viewing of the art form never the same again.

Diverse in format, the vertical scrolls, albums and especially hand scrolls serve to testify how painters of those days vividly recorded their daily life, travels, and even their ideals and aspirations, through landscapes depicted in brush and ink.

In addition to gaining an understanding of how natural sights are integrated with spiritual ideas, you are warmly invited to experience for yourself how you can be transported by the paintings to enjoy the pleasure of travelling without actually making the journey.

...and this is what I watched:


Hong Kong Museum of Arts -

Igniting enthusiasm continued

"Fitting pegs into holes, square and round",
by Susie Mallett, July 24th 2010

I have just received some new information on the "chanelbags" mystery.

The essay that you mentioned in your blog is translated from Mandarin, which itself is translated from a Japanese book co-authored by a Japanese writer (Mayumi Komurasaki) and a Korean picturist.

Ms Komurasaki graduated from the Kobe University of Foreign Studies, majoring in International Relations. She then worked in a Japanese TV Station as reporter and program host. In 2005, she qualified as an education counsellor and worked in school and then in the Education Bureau.

Currently, she is a private practitioner, advocating 'conductive counselling' for upbringing normal kids and is running counsellor training courses.

Her linkage with CE is not yet known.

I have just spent over an hour searching for her in the internet, I have not found her yet. Perhaps more experienced googlers will have more luck. I would quite like to contact her.


This new information came from Mr Ivan Y. W. Su. Thank you.

Previous postings -

Andrew Sutton -

Susie Mallett -

Saturday 24 July 2010

The changes of life continue

"Finishing off projects"

July 2010

New beginnnings

At the end of July the art therapy sessions with an autistic client are coming to an end.

It is amazing the developments that have taken place in this relatively short time, moving on from attending the sessions with his carer for the first few weeks, through working intensively with me on his projects, to the present point when he decides on his own projects and works a lot of the time alone.

When he has the materials he needs to hand, my client can now work independently until a particular job is finished. We then decide together on the next stage.

At first verbal comunication was only through his carer, then when my client came alone he would ask his carer to tell me what he wished to work on when we all met at the door. Now that my client comes from the car to my room unaccompanied he communicates directly with me.

Over the past few weeks we have been not only discussing our art projects but he has also been telling me about other interesting activities in his day.

My client will take with him lots of new experiences that he will be able to use successfully in other aspects of his life as he moves on to pastures new.

I will miss this island of art in my conductive days, but I plan to move on to pastures new too. I will offer the time to the retired, disabled adults who live close by so, if they wish, we can produce some works of art to brighten up their homes.

Fun and games

" Having fun on Thursday, the fifteenth of July"

I had actually given the hoola-hoops to my stroke group for a completely different reason. I had thought that my clients could work in pairs and practise skills like balancing on one leg, jumping on two and so on. How wrong I was. They all collected a hoop for themselves and had their own ideas of what to do with them.

Just what they were made for: hoola-hooping!

Those who could not keep their arms out of the way to hoola-hoop around their waists hoola-hooped around their necks.

I actually stood back and looked on in amazement. I couldn't believe my eyes so, with their consent, I took some photographs just to prove it was real!

Being self-employed… or

"My house with birds" by E.
23rd July 2010

…. Variety is the spice-of-life

Sometimes clients cancel at the last minute. What does one do? Sometimes I am ill and I have to cancel at the last minute too.

Sometimes I work for private individuals and when rarely a cancellation occurs we can work out another appointment and I get an hour or so to do some bits-in-between-for-conductors or have a lie-in!

If I am working for a centre then it is more complicated. If an individual session is cancelled at the last minute then I get down to some paper work or tidy up. I can on the other hand sign out then do something for myself.

Usually I am working with a group so it really is a very rare occasion when the whole group suddenly are not there, but it can happen.

Exactly this happened last week

The time had come round again for the children from the integrated Kindergarten to have their intensive “Petö” weeks. Instead of spending all their day in the Kindergarten with ten other children, the motor-disordered children have three weeks spending their mornings in a smaller group with me and my colleague. It was time again for the multi-culti Hungarian, English, Greek, Turkish and German group to have some time together.

We were surprised to discover at the very last minute that both the Greek and the Turkish departments are already off for the summer in their respective homelands. The Hungarian department said she would leave me, the English department, to do the work in the conductive group, now comprising of only one, the German department, and she would replace the missing staff in the Kindergarten with the other eleven children.

All seemed well.

Until Monday morning that is. The German department was ill, had a high fever and we were told that he would be away for two days.

This suited me as I was feeling a bit under-the-weather too so I took two mornings off.

On Wednesday I arrived fit and well to find that the little German boy was still ill and added to that the Kindergarten were out at the playground in the village. I had lots of time for paper work and tidying up and preparing for the next few weeks.

When the kindergarten got back from their adventures in the big wide world, we decided on the best way to use me for the rest of the week. No more mornings of paper-work or signing out and sitting with the newspaper over a slow breakfast in the local café!

No, it was time for being arty and for new experiences

On Thursday I waited at the back door of the Kindergarten until someone was free to tell me who I was to work with first.

Before I had time to speak to an adult a four-year-old boy, one of the usually loud and boisterous ones, had slipped his hand in to mine and asked: "Who is coming to you first?". His name had actually not been mentioned in our plans for the day but one glance at him and the staff all agreed that it would do him good to have a relaxing hour with paint, glue, scissors and what ever else we came up with.

How right they were.

All the children in the Kindergarten know me. I make a point of popping my head round the door every day to say good morning when I arrive for my work. I think this is important as I often have to jump into the breach when a colleague is ill and it makes life easier when we all know each other.

So, I knew this little boy with his hand in mine, he is not one of the original members of our Kindergarten when it opened four years ago, but it feels like he has been here for ever! We have been bumping into each other for a long time it seems. He is always busy playing with bricks, sticking and cutting, or rushing around on a tractor outside so we have smiled at each other a lot but have not had time for many words over the years.

I soon discovered that he was a child with “ants-in-his-pants”, but, once settled, chatting to me and interested in our painting and collage we spent a happy relaxing hour together.

Just the two of us

Usually it is only the children with “special needs” who get one-to-one attention outside the Kindergarten rooms: the speech therapist for the children from different countries or with motor disorders, the advisor from the school for the visually impaired, the pre-school development advisor comes to those children who have been in their system from babyhood.

Children like this lively little boy sometimes need to take an adult by the hand and quietly say "Today I want some time on my own. Today I have “special needs”. Fortunately we listened to him and fortunately I had the time.

It was a great success all round ending with him asking me when he can come again as he has a specific arty project in mind. He will make a painting for the window, executed with special paints.

We shall see, and I shall make time.

I had another fifteen minute session with a three-year-old who had been looking for something to do all morning. Unable to stick to one game or one group of friends she came to paint with me. She is also a figety little thing who managed to stay in one place with her paint brush and made a man with blond hair to add to the art gallery on the door.

The art gallery is always on the outside of the door and not inside the room, so that the children can show their friends and families their works of art without disturbing my groups.

With the arty sessions over for the day I went on to have a completely new experience

The day before I had watched two people on the stairs, a blind boy and the young man who is training to be a Heilerzieher. I have no idea what a Heilerzieher is in English, heilen means to heal and erzeihen means to bring up. I will let you decide for yourself want that makes him in English.

These two were learning how to walk up the stairs without holding the banister, touching the wall and feeling the size of the steps and using leg-muscle power and not the arms to move upwards and downwards.

I had given them some advise and the young man said it had worked immediately.

I was happy when I was asked to take this little chap, born with no eyes, for an hour of individual attention.

The last time that he came to me, or should have come to me, he cried so much that I took him back to the familiarity of the Kindergarten and played with him there. But now three months later I had a different child with me. He has become so self assured that he led the way to the stairs and then into the “Petö” room.

He taught me so much. It is lovely to have a new task, something that makes me think hard about conductive upbringing and playing and living. This child did all of that, he got me thinking. He enjoyed all the games that we played, especially learning to play football without lifting his feet too high so as not to step on to the ball but high enough not to trip over.

We made vegetable soup with our plastic vegetables, I was sorry that they did not smell it would have made identification a lot easier. Next time I will bring the real McCoy.

We climbed the stairs too, using the same tricks I had taught them yesterday. With a short stick in the hand to use to feel around, and to hold in both hands and stretch forward to climb a stair we progressed well. When we were half way up we met the postman! The postman was brilliant, he wanted me to sign for a parcel but I explained that he would have to come upstairs to us as my little friend can not see and I could not leave him alone. Postie leapt up to us, introduced himself to my friend, shook him by the hand and held tight to it while I signed his odd, electronic machine with a plastic stick!

What an interesting life we lead.

Being self employed .... variety is the spice of life!

Yes, self-employment is a bit risky, but these days being employed is no less risky. As a self-employed conductor I think I have more choices, more variety in my work than I would have in permanent employment. I am more adaptable and am ready to jump in to fill any role. Sometimes I work all hours under the sun, not necessarily a plus, but I can take time off to read the paper in the cafe when a client cancels!

Friday 23 July 2010

"How to ignite children's enthusiasm"

"Sparks in the glowing embers"
by Susie Mallett, July 2010

Long, hot days and occasionally a rainy night that means sleep is easier.

I woke from such a night to discover that Google Alert had been incredibly active in the early hours and amongst the offerings I found this:

It is something a bit different to the usual CE Google Alert offerings about centres and blog postings.

This is a really interesting descriptions of conductive upbringing. It took a couple of readings, standing at a distance to take in everything that I could gather from the side lines, to understand what was being said.

But in the end I thought that in front of me was sometthing for parents all over the world. It appears to me like a combination of what I heard Dr Mária Hári saying many times and what I have read in Mararenko's writings.
The more I think about it the more I realise that reading this article really was very much like listening to Mária Hári. I needed to call on all my resources, previous knowledge and experience to really understand it, just like in a Dr Hári lecture! But on the other hand it had asimplicity about it, it had the natural, common sence feel about it of Makarenko and his work.

I like it.

It is a bit of a mystery as to where this article originates.


It does not really matter where it comes from, what does matter is where it goes. It matters if others read it and understand it. Perhaps it exists somewhere in an original language.

I hope it gets read and the readers begin to ask questions and wonder what this lifestyle is that is being described here and try to find out more.

Has anyone any clues?

Wednesday 21 July 2010

The time to let go

"Spirally upwards"
by Susie Mallett, June 2010

When to let go

In a short communication with Aenna last week we began discussing letting go and learning when to. A mum said to me a few days later that she learnt to let go of her disabled daughter with the decision, when she was three years old, to send her to an integrated kindergarten.

There are many meanings for the phrase "learning to let go" and many reasons why we should do so. There are also many ways to learn this.

Lots of parents talk about learning when to let go, about learning when to loosen the apron strings. With each stage of a child’s development parents have to know when to take a backward step, when to let go a little and then a little bit more. They discover a way of giving their children more and more freedom as they learn to be independent.

Parents learn to do this from their children, from observing other parents and children, and they learn a lot from practice, by actually living life and from working out together as a family what is best.

Parents of children with a motor disorder also need to learn when and how to let go but there are not always the places available for these children to discover and enjoy their independence in. Places where they can escape from their parents but still have the assistance that they require because of a motor disorder. They need places to be with their friends without their parents being always with them. They need places and people where their special needs are catered for.

This sort of letting go, the letting go that takes place between parents and their children and vice versa was not actually what Aenna and I were discussing, although it really all comes down to the same thing. Sometimes we conductors just like parents have to let go psychologically and at other times physically. More often than not we all need to be prepared, and to prepare our clients, to do both at the same time.

Aenna and I were talking about knowing when to take a finger away from a child and when not to. About when to turn your back and when not to, about when to walk away and not turn your back and when the time has come to simply walk away.

We talked about how we know when we can leave a child to sit alone on a chair at a table, with an extra chair placed at the side or without.

How do we know when to leave a child sitting on a stool or standing in the parallel bars? How do we know when we can leave a child to stand up from the floor alone at the wall bars with shoes on, and then maybe on another day without? Or when we can leave someone to walk alone pushing a stool, using sticks or with nothing at all, just hands, body head and legs to balance with?

How do we know on which days we can let go and on which days we should not.

Aenna said where did I or where do we learn this? Because learn it we do.

How and where and from whom do we learn?

It is a continuous process. We learn it from ourselves from our experiences. We learn it often from parents and carers, we learn can it from other conductors.

Most of what we learn, we learn from our clients.

Oh how I enjoy those days when I can turn to a child and sy that I am off to help so-and-so. “Now you are on your own, you are looking after yourself” I say.

Those days when I tell people that they are responsible for their own welfare, I suggest that they hold tight, concentrate, step carefully, watch their own feet or hands or cup or whatever it is they are doing. That the job of taking care is put into their own hands for a few minutes.

Or those days that I say to a child's friend “Hold her hand and help her to feel safe until I come back”. Of course I know that the child does not really need the help physically but children are always glad to know that there is a friend nearby, sharing the success and giving a bit of security.

These days are good for everyone, but how do we know when to do it?

We need to know our clients well and we need to trust our feelings and be open to observing the slightest changes.

I have a little athetoid client. I know precisely when it is time to let her go in specific activities, and now she knows too. Often she knows better than I do. She also knows as well as I do that perhaps yesterday she stood up at the wall bars alone but today she cannot because she is tired, because it is cold or because she is thinking about something more important than standing up! Perhaps she is off to a party or she is thinking about the picture she wants to paint.

Even though I usually know, I always ask before doing something whether she thinks, that she can do it alone today or not. This way she begins to learn what her own body is capable of in different situations.

To a diplegic child who walks independently I can say: “Look out for your feet, look where you are going, please do not fall over!”

I know which days it is OK for him to remove his bike helmet and on which days I should stay nearby.

When working with adults it is no different. They too need to experience the thrill of doing something alone but also to feel the security of help being near as and when it is needed, but not to feel someone is hovering over them. Sometimes it is only a case of saying as to the children: “Look after yourself, you are on your own”. A few words are perhaps needed from across the room so that the concentration can be switched up a notch or two, with regular reminders too from other group members.

It is very important from the very beginning, from playing with a baby through all the developments of crawling, sitting, rolling, standing, walking, eating, drinking, swimming, cycling or painting, that child, teenager or adult clients all feel that they are responsible for their own safety at different stages. We must give them all the freedom to be in situations where they can be in charge of their well-being, and make situations so secure for them, but with a sense of freedom too, that we can move away and say "Take care of yourself, you are doing it on your own".

Learning to let go

We all must learn it. All of us, parents conductors, carers, partners and clients. We must all learn it from each other, from conductors, from our clients, from their carers and parents, and our clients from all of us too. Another spiralthat is spiraling upwards like life!

In the end we must feel it. Sense the right moment to let go and the right moment to hold on and, equally important, how much of both.

Team work

"Toucan do it better than one"
by KK, 2009

Sorry, I have been a bit too busy doing other bits-in-between-for-conductors to be able to blog too.

As usual I have a few postings up my sleeve, in my note book and in the computer. I just need to put them on the blog over the next few days.

Until then here is something to watch, something that I discovered on another American family's blog:

Thursday 15 July 2010

Re: Language

"Summer holidays"
by Susie Mallett, 10th July 2010

Job done

I have helped "network" the German family that was looking for a conductor.

They are now in contact with a conductor who was looking for just such a job.

All done in German! After I discovered that the family are in fact German.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

One more PS to the muscular dystrophy postings

by Susie Mallett, July 2010

Thank you

A friend of mine has so rightly pointed out that if someone who does not know anything about muscular dystrophy reads this posting, without having read the first one that I wrote, it could lead to some misunderstanding.

In my first posting on the subject I wrote about the necessity of teaching clients with muscular dystrophy how to judge their strengths and capacities in the same way as we do this with clients with multiple sclerosis.

Below is a snippet of what I wrote there:

"Just as with clients with multiple sclerosis it is important with clients with muscular distrophy to find the happy medium. To encourage and motivate the clients to lead an active life but also to help them to learn their limits, so they recognise when to rest and learn how to relax.

With children with muscular dystrophy it is important to give them activities for a short time and with different movements and energy levels required. We must do this too with children with cerebral palsy, planning activities according to their abilities and stamina levels.

Especially with young children it is important to change the activity often and to make the day interesting and motivating, although it often happens that children will surprise us all by becoming so excited and motivated that they will do something for a relatively long period of time.

When working with children with dystrophy it is important to observe where the limits of their strength are, to try to extend these limits but at the same time preserve enough strength so the child can actively take part in all the other planned parts of a programme and their day. As a conductor we must watch and change activities both individually and for the whole group when necessary".

When the clients are very young then it is the role of the conductor to decide on the length of time that children can stay with one activity, before having a break and doing something more restful. This is especially important with children with muscular dystrophy.

It is not always OK for a child with muscular dystrophy to go racing around on a bike with his mate on the back, as the child in the story I told on Sunday was doing.

How the children play and how they divide up periods of play is specific to their needs and abilites and a careful eye is keep on the children's stamina levels.

I hope tat this makes things a bit clearer.

I am still hoping to hear from any of those conductors who worked with muscular dystrophy children at the Petö Institute.


Previous postings on muscular dystrophy -

Monday 12 July 2010

At last enough raindrops to cool the air

"Window-hingin and singing in the rain", by Susie Mallett, 9.15pm, 12th July 2010

It is nine twenty, pitch-dark, and I am cool for the first time in days.

Yesterday at about the same it rained about two drops, not enough to cool the air at all.

About an hour ago I wrote:

'I think I hear the thunder on its way. The swifts and house martins are swirling around catching their tea and squeeching like crazy because of the coming rain.

Even earlier today, at four this afternoon, I left my bike at home and walked with a brolly in my bag as the skies looked ominous even then, and the wind, still very warm, got up.

Now we have the lightning too and some gorgeous rain. My neighbours and I at the front are all window-hinging. I tried to lean out so far as not to fall, but far enough to get wet!

My balcony is in the tree tops so there is no chance of getting wet out there. The downstairs neighbour’s child is out in the yard dancing in her bare feet and a T-shirt, something that I would be doing too if I lived on the ground floor!

What a relief to be cool again. Even if it was only for five minutes. The rain has eased off, the thunder and lightning will do the rounds in Johannis for the rest of the evening and I expect that, when I get up to cycle to work tomorrow, it will be just as hot as this morning, already thirty degrees celcius at eight-thirty.

Now I have the door at the back and the window at the front wide open, just like everyone in the whole street has. We are all enjoying the breeze while it lasts. A pity we can not bottle some of the lovely refreshing air for tomorrow.

I plan on leaving an hour earlier tomorrow, just so I can enjoy the ride a bit more. Maybe there will be a few sprinklers near enough to the cycle-path so there is enough spray to cool my legs as I ride past the fields of radishes, and onions and lettuces in all shades of green, from almost black to yellow.

It is so nice to live in the city. I meet the neighbours in my house now and again. Sometimes this is out the back at the bike-stands or on the stairs, but when it rains like tonight, or at New Year when there are fireworks in the street, I get to meet and speak to the people who live high up in the flats opposite me too.

Time to switch off

The really loud thunder and bright lightning strikes have arrived. I was just about to write that I was so glad to be cool that I had forgotten my fear of the lightning. I really had for a while but now it has returned as the skies light up and the thunder crashes very loud. The rain has stopped.

Conquering fears

As a teenager the old wall beside our house was struck by lightning and a circular flint with a diameter of five inches splintered away and flew straight thought the window where I was standing. It bounced from the wall out through the window again landing under my Mum’s car. I have never really conquered my fear of thibder and lightning since, but I did manage to hang out of the window with the neighbours this evening and sit on the balcony with a cup of tea when I has switched everything off to avoid electrical problems in the storm.

The rumbles continue and the raindrops have long since ceased to patter on my metal window-sills but the breeze is still blissfully cooling.

Looking after body and soul

"Those hazy days of summer"
by Susie Mallett, 12th July 2010

The body

I think it was in Hamburg where I spoke to the director of a centre providing conductive education who told me that as well as CE for their clients they provided physiotherapy for the conductors whenever they needed it.

I thought this was wonderful and very innovative, but I discovered that surprisingly few people took up the offer.

Over the years as a conductor, and before that as a teacher and art therapist, I have had periods when a part of my body needed a bit of assistance to do its specific job properly.

Sometimes I have been prescribed physiotherapy by my doctor and earlier, when there was money in the health insurance piggy-bank, also massage. At other times I have simply asked one of my therapist friends to help me and I have paid for the treatment myself.

I have had a pain in my shoulder since the spring. What caused it I do not remember, perhaps I never knew. It could have been a sudden movement that I made when I was cold, it could have been caused by digging, it could be from the position I am in on my mountain-bike each day for tweenty kilometres, sometimes in the wind, or it could be from writing at the computer. It could have been from carrying heavy suitcases up and down the stairs on my numerous journeys or it could be a combination of two or more of these. I could just put it down to wear-and-tear and age!

What ever caused it I will never know, it does not matter at the moment as long as I do not do it again.

The problem now is that the pain did not go away in the way such pains usually do, with a bit of self-therapying.

I can usually rub on a lotion, stategically place the TENS machine everyday for a week or two, lean on a prickly massage ball against the wall to hit the spot and even ask a friend to have a go at what ever they do best.

None of this worked this time

Two weeks ago I took myself off to the doctor and surprisingly she gave me a prescription for six treatments.

The treatments can be what ever the therapist decides is necessary and mine has decided on a combination of manual therapy and massage. He is young and very good. After two fifteen-minute attempts to get through the almost iron-hard shoulder and neck muscles the pain has already decreased so much so that I can get comfortable at night, push a plug into the socket and brush my hair. Moving plinths is still hard going but funnily enough riding a bike is pain free. This makes me suspect that this fixed postion of my hands on the handlebars of a bike almost daily for the past fifty years is the cause of the problem in the first place.

Early this morning I had the third fifteen-minutes of work on my body and it was like magic. I did a bit of self-hypnosis, willing the muscles to relax, while the therapist did the hard work.

I would not have believed it possible if I had not written, only yesterday, about all one can achieve in ten minutes! I could feel with every movement that the therapist made that he was hitting exactly the right spot each time. The spots that I have not always been able to hit on my own with my massage ball and TENS machine.

So combined with the shoulder movements that I do several times a day and some swimming, I think the six physio-sessions should just do the trick, then all I will have to do is to carry on the hard work of keeping the symptoms at bay, some weeding and digging at Dad's in the autumn will be just the follow up medicine I need.

The soul

Today as well as having something good done for my body I did something just as good for my soul.

Directly after my treatment I returned as always to work. Each time I have thought how much better it would be to have the day off after physio to let the relaxed muscles relax some more.

Today I was handed some soul food on a plate

When I got back to work, which is just around the corner from the physiotherapist's practice, I discovered that there was no client for me this morning. For some reason my new stroke client, who is beginning with individual sessions before joining the group, was unable to come.

Instead of jumping back on to my bike and cycling the ten kilometres back home, I jumped on my bike cycled the two minutes to the cafe next to the duck pond in the village where I bought a newspaper and a coffee. I spent an hour with them both pretending I was on holiday in the shade of a chestnut tree, feeding my soul.

I consciously let the work of the physiotherapist carry on doing its job. Letting the deep massage and manipulation soak even deeper, into my soul, instead of into the moving of plinths.

Yes, now I am home and already back at the computer putting the tension back into the muscles again, but every five minutes I get up to make a few more daubs and strokes on the latest painting, to water the balcony, to read my book or to cool off a bit. All of which are good fodder for the soul and all allow the medicine for the body to soak in and do its job.

It would be lovely to hear that more centres are offering gymnastics or physiotherapy, fitness training or sport of some kind, to their team. But if no one takes up the offer then of course it will not happen.

One of the places that I have worked for offer their staff assitance with the payment of the yearly subscription for a fitness centre that occupies the same premises as the administration centre. Most of the people who have taken up the offer are office workers, I believe.

Don't forget that conductors need to look after body and soul too.