“Do what you can while you can”
He was much changed this time. His once towering strength looked, much diminished, almost lifeless. He saw me and his is eyes lit up, “The Hospice rejected me,” He said, almost joyfully. “They only take those who have less than two months to live, so at least I’ve got two months more.” Two months more, I thought, as I looked at his once strong body now emaciated and his once curly mass of grey hair, now thinned and sparse.
He reached gingerly towards a box of tissues on the tray in front of him, his fingers moving in a scissors action, fluttering like two butterflies as they tried to grip the tissue on top. I moved my arm ready to assist. “No, no,” he said “I must do this. I need to do this.” Suddenly images flashed before my eyes of him, not that long ago, racing vintage cars at over 100 mph. Such a change, I thought. He coughed a weak cough and coughed again, in an attempt to bring up whatever needed to be brought up, but it simply refused to oblige. Still he smiled. The human spirit is amazing, I thought, being able to adjust as it does.’
“You know,” he said, quite excited, almost proud, “I’ve found a way to eat my breakfast of a morning. I haven’t got the strength to open the Weet-Bix wrapper or break up the Weet-Bix or pour the milk, the nurse has to do that for me, but if I use both my hands I can manage to get hold of the bowl and gradually bring it to my mouth and lick out my breakfast.”
His demeanour then darkened, “I’m a bit worried though,” he said, “I now have a great deal of difficulty pressing the buzzer for the nurse. I can only manage to get enough pressure if I use two fingers.” He then proceeded to show me how, and eventually his wavering thumbs rested one upon the other. Then he looked up at me, “but what will I do when I can no longer press the buzzer? I can’t call out. They wouldn’t hear me. This is as loud as I can speak. He then lowered his eyes. “You know,” he said, “I can no longer control my bowels or my bladder. The nurses have to clean me up. They are lovely, they don’t seem to mind.” Even with all this, he still radiated a gentle acceptance. It was time for me to go. I kissed his hand and he smiled, but as I walked out I looked back fleetingly and saw, not a smile of acceptance, but a look of desolate despair.
I walked to the lift and pressed the elevator button, my mind still completely immersed in what I’d just witnessed. I was lucky, I was alive, I was mobile and I still had time. As I walked out of the hospital the freezing winter air hit my face and hands, ‘Don’t put things off,’ I thought as I hurried towards the car, ‘there might not be a tomorrow.’


I wonder what you think about difference. Many human beings have difficulty coping with difference. Many see difference as something to be avoided at best, and annihilated at worst.
How do you see difference? Do you see difference as some dark night invader ready to swallow you up at any second, or assault you, or wipe you off the face of the Earth? Or do you see difference as highlighting the diversity of life, like a colourful display in a country garden?
For me, difference serves to relieve us of the monotony of sameness and to escape rigidity of thought and to shake us out of complacency. I see difference as a catalyst for growth and the enhancement of the spirit and for injecting spice into life and for stimulating ideas. I see difference as fostering compassion, increasing understanding and illuminating what we have become, good or bad.
As I see it, rejecting difference ensures stagnation, the repetition of sameness and a life of continued monotony. Thank God for difference!


‘Whew! What a day, Paris on foot. It’s now time to relax. So, off with my gear, my shoes, my bras and my old faithful trousers that I’ve worn every day, and into my soft blue and black flannelette pyjama pants. Wow, that feels great. Now, for my top, ah, my green ‘Mustang Sally’ singlet, thin and well-worn, yep, that’s just the thing. Yep, feels wonderful.
Suddenly, Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Oh my God, what’s that? The sound was deafening. Hell it’s the fire alarm. What am I going to do? What am I going to take? I know my money belt. What else? —oh I’ve got no shoes on—got to take my shoes. Got to get out of here now but I can’t go out like this! What do I do? What will I take? I know my shoes and my money belt and get out of here.
Out of the room I went, post haste carrying my shoes and money belt. Four sets of stairs to get down. Hurry, hurry, I looked behind me and there was my partner sporting nothing more than boxer shorts, sandshoes and wearing a cap and holding his driver’s licence. People started peeping out of doors, half naked, looking worried and uncertain as to what to do. Down the ancient stairs we raced then on the last set of stairs, we heard, “False Alarm, False Alarm,”
A dark fat man was waving his arms feverishly and yelling out, “False Alarm, False Alarm.”
‘Phew, thank God.’ We turned around relieved and started going back upstairs, me in my flannelette pyjama pants, singlet and bare feet and my partner in his boxer shorts, sandshoes and cap and hold his driver’s licence. On the first landing a mother stood holding her baby close to her chest, her face tense with fear. A half-naked man was leaning out of the next door, seemingly frozen. “False Alarm,” we heralded as we made our way back to the fourth floor passing a rather interesting array of skimpy and half-clad attire.
I’d often wondered what I’d do if a fire alarm went off and now I know. Frightening and exciting as this experience was I learnt two things from it. I know now how I’d react if a fire alarm went off and I found out that behind closed doors of an evening, at least in hotels, people dress very similar to us.

THE BOOK OF LIFE (Memoir Extract)

I believe in something I call ‘The Book of Life.’ I believe that everything we think and do is recorded in this ‘book’ and that we carry this book around in our minds every day. We cannot escape the contents of this ‘book.’ We might be able to justify to ourselves and deceive, hood wink and play the innocent with others, but our book of life will remind us of the raw truth in our quiet hours. You simply can’t hide from your book of life and irrespective of what method you choose to camouflage and justify your deeds, all the good, and evil contained in your book of life will be there constantly reminding you of the truth now and forever.


The world is forever changing. Do not be hypnotised by today’s world. What seems strange today may be commonplace tomorrow or at least commonplace in years to come. So do not let the stereotypical thinking of the day stop you from experiencing life. And do not let fear stop you either. In fact you should congratulate yourself if you are feeling fearful because you are more than likely going forward. When I was boarding the plane in Sydney to fly to Los Angeles for my very first International Competition I was so nervous I was taking in big gulps of air and thinking, “What am I doing? Who do I think I am, going over to compete in the USA?” And when the plane was circling in a holding pattern before landing in LA I remember almost having a panic attack. I was so petrified at the thought of what I was doing.
But I also remember with an elevated heart how wonderful it was being given the title of MS Universe, Grandmaster Division, in a venue in New Mexico which held 5,000 people, with the crowd roaring and my image being beamed live across America. What an exhilarating fairy-tale experience that was! Here is the good news! After fear comes exhilaration. But the bad news is the only way you can get the exhilaration is to go through the fear in the first place. All of us are frightened of the unknown. It is normal to be frightened but do not let fear stop you because on the other side of the fear coin is success. Fear is on one side and success on the other. It is a bit like the agony and the ecstasy.

CHALLENGES (manuscript extract “DARE TO BE DIFFERENT”)

You can choose to stay safe and remain inconspicuous and not experience the wonder of yourself. There is no doubt that fear is an uncomfortable feeling and anyone who moves outside his or her comfort zones will experience some fear, but fear, although uncomfortable, isn’t a bad thing. Fear energises, stimulates, heightens sensitivity and helps to motivate. In my opinion there is only stimulation or stagnation, there is no in between. Stimulation excites and heightens the emotions. It can cause anxiety, fear and anticipation but if you’re not being stimulated by life you are stagnating and in a state of decay. Struggling with challenges is stimulating, eventful and rewarding.


The person who chooses to take charge of his or her life stands naked before the world. Some spit at these courageous souls, others cheer. But irrespective of the response of the onlookers, these courageous souls have begun their journey to freedom.


Retirement is seen by many as a time to stop, and relax and enjoy life. This, I believe is a recipe for death of the spirit. Struggle, striving, commitment, persistence and even anxiety are all part of a meaningful life. If you organise your life to eradicate these elements I believe, you will find life empty and meaningless in the post retirement world.
If you’re not going forward, you’re going backwards because the world will continue to move on and you’ll be standing still. So endeavour to become more and more of who you can be every single day you’re on this planet. Don’t let your spirit wither and die, keep going!


Try not to be certain about anything. You need to think outside what you know. People who are certain restrict their life experience. Have an open mind and remember your time is always NOW! Stop lamenting over what was and start making the most of what is. There is so much more life to experience and so much more to discover. The pathway to your dreams awaits your first step.