Herolds Bay, Western Cape

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Oscar Pistorius – In your shoes…

I sent this letter to Oscar Pistorius on 26 February 2013:

Dear Oscar

I hope this message finds you well!

I cannot even begin to imagine how traumatic the last two weeks must have been for you. I do not for one moment feel that I can comprehend the pain and suffering that you, your family and Reeva’s family is going through. I cannot place myself ‘in your shoes’ to try and understand what transpired that day in the early hours of the morning.

I cannot place myself in your shoes, because I have both my lower limbs and both my feet. I have a certain outlook towards life because I am always at the same vantage point. I have both legs and thus always perceive things from my 1.88meter perspective when standing upright. I always have the same reaction time during daytime or night time, because my legs are ‘always attached’. This allows me to feel no disadvantage to any threat that I may experience. I have both legs and feel comfortable to go about my day not realizing how different ‘EVERYTHING’ must be for you…

You must feel a higher level of exposure when you are not wearing your prosthesis? You must adapt mentally to the change of perspective when NOT wearing your prosthesis? You must feel vulnerable in a way that I will never understand, when you go to bed at night? You must feel exposed that when you wake up at night that you are not as fast without the prosthesis than when wearing your blades? You must feel extra committed to ensuring you know where your legs are, in case of emergency, to attach them to your body, in order to react as a reasonable person would be expected to react in a crisis situation?

The legal teams that represent you all have their own legs. The legal teams that represent the state all have their own legs. The Magistrate has his own legs. The reporters all have their own legs. The people who made jokes about your disability all have their own legs. None of them can put themselves ‘in your shoes’, and none of them try.

You have inspired so many disabled kids and adults around the world by being such a positive athlete! You have been a hero to many! You have changed countless lives and motivated ‘down-in-the-dumps’ people by reaching the goals that you have! I’m convinced that you have saved lives by helping those who felt like taking their own lives because of their disability, by helping them to rethink their situation and by rather aiming for a better life. You have had a global impact on so many people and that’s why there are so many messages of support for you! You are a life saver!

But…

You have now taken a life, which is the hardest thing to do for any man with a conscience. You are not the first person in the history of the world to take a life, and you will not be the last person to do so. The difference is that you took a life of someone that you loved. You left a void in her parents hearts, in her friends hearts but most important also in your own heart..

I am a son, a brother, a husband and a father. I have lost loved ones in my life to the grave, and the void will never be filled. It was their time to move on to heaven. I have been through deep waters before, but every morning when I wake up I realize that my time is still not up. I can still make a difference.

Oscar, your time is not up yet, and I hope that you find closure after mourning the death of your loved one. I believe you will find joy and happiness again with the support of your family, friends and fans. Start training again ’cause that’s what you’re good at!

Be strong, and inspire others, as you’ve always done, to live life to the fullest, because you never know when your last day will come.

If you need some company for a great cup of coffee, I’m available!

Blessings,

Riaan

Tai Chi Health Benefits

Excerpts from article published by Harvard University…

The health benefits of tai chi

This gentle form of exercise can prevent or ease many ills of aging and could be the perfect activity for the rest of your life.

Tai chi is often described as “meditation in motion,” but it might well be called “medication in motion.” There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems. And you can get started even if you aren’t in top shape or the best of health.

In this low-impact, slow-motion exercise, you go without pausing through a series of motions named for animal actions — for example, “white crane spreads its wings” — or martial arts moves, such as “box both ears.” As you move, you breathe deeply and naturally, focusing your attention — as in some kinds of meditation — on your bodily sensations. Tai chi differs from other types of exercise in several respects. The movements are usually circular and never forced, the muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, the joints are not fully extended or bent, and connective tissues are not stretched. Tai chi can be easily adapted for anyone, from the most fit to people confined to wheelchairs or recovering from surgery.

Tai chi in motion

A tai chi class might include these parts:

Warm-up. Easy motions, such as shoulder circles, turning the head from side to side, or rocking back and forth, help you to loosen your muscles and joints and focus on your breath and body.

Instruction and practice of tai chi forms. Short forms — forms are sets of movements — may include a dozen or fewer movements; long forms may include hundreds. Different styles require smaller or larger movements. A short form with smaller, slower movements is usually recommended at the beginning, especially if you’re older or not in good condition.

Qigong (or chi kung). Translated as “breath work” or “energy work,” this consists of a few minutes of gentle breathing sometimes combined with movement. The idea is to help relax the mind and mobilize the body’s energy. Qigong may be practiced standing, sitting, or lying down.

 

Getting started

The benefits of tai chi are generally greatest if you begin before you develop a chronic illness or functional limitations. Tai chi is very safe, and no fancy equipment is needed, so it’s easy to get started. Here’s some advice for doing so:

Don’t be intimidated by the language. Names like Yang, Wu, and Cheng are given to various branches of tai chi, in honor of people who devised the sets of movements called forms. Certain programs emphasize the martial arts aspect of tai chi rather than its potential for healing and stress reduction. In some forms, you learn long sequences of movements, while others involve shorter series and more focus on breathing and meditation. The name is less important than finding an approach that matches your interests and needs.

Check with your doctor . If you have a limiting musculoskeletal problem or medical condition — or if you take medications that can make you dizzy or lightheaded — check with your doctor before starting tai chi. Given its excellent safety record, chances are that you’ll be encouraged to try it.

Consider observing and taking a class. Taking a class may be the best way to learn tai chi. Seeing a teacher in action, getting feedback, and experiencing the camaraderie of a group are all pluses. Most teachers will let you observe the class first to see if you feel comfortable with the approach and atmosphere. Instruction can be individualized. Ask about classes in your local community.

If you’d rather learn at home, you can buy or rent videos geared to your interests and fitness needs (see “Selected resources”). Although there are some excellent tai chi books, it can be difficult to appreciate the flow of movements from still photos or illustrations.

Talk to the instructor. There’s no standard training or licensing for tai chi instructors, so you’ll need to rely on recommendations from friends or clinicians and, of course, your own judgment. Look for an experienced teacher who will accommodate individual health concerns or levels of coordination and fitness.

Dress comfortably. Choose loose-fitting clothes that don’t restrict your range of motion. You can practice barefoot or in lightweight, comfortable, and flexible shoes. Tai chi shoes are available, but ones you find in your closet will probably work fine. You’ll need shoes that won’t slip and can provide enough support to help you balance, but have soles thin enough to allow you to feel the ground. Running shoes, designed to propel you forward, are usually unsuitable.

Gauge your progress. Most beginning programs and tai chi interventions tested in medical research last at least 12 weeks, with instruction once or twice a week and practice at home. By the end of that time, you should know whether you enjoy tai chi, and you may already notice positive physical and psychological changes.

 

No pain, big gains

Although tai chi is slow and gentle and doesn’t leave you breathless, it addresses the key components of fitness — muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and, to a lesser degree, aerobic conditioning. Here’s some of the evidence:

Muscle strength. In a 2006 study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Stanford University researchers reported benefits of tai chi in 39 women and men, average age 66, with below-average fitness and at least one cardiovascular risk factor. After taking 36 tai chi classes in 12 weeks, they showed improvement in both lower-body strength (measured by the number of times they could rise from a chair in 30 seconds) and upper-body strength (measured by their ability to do arm curls).

In a Japanese study using the same strength measures, 113 older adults were assigned to different 12-week exercise programs, including tai chi, brisk walking, and resistance training. People who did tai chi improved more than 30% in lower-body strength and 25% in arm strength — almost as much as those who participated in resistance training, and more than those assigned to brisk walking.

“Although you aren’t working with weights or resistance bands, the unsupported arm exercise involved in tai chi strengthens your upper body,” says internist Dr. Gloria Yeh, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “Tai chi strengthens both the lower and upper extremities and also the core muscles of the back and abdomen.”

Flexibility. Women in the 2006 Stanford study significantly boosted upper- and lower-body flexibility as well as strength.

Balance. Tai chi improves balance and, according to some studies, reduces falls. Proprioception — the ability to sense the position of one’s body in space — declines with age. Tai chi helps train this sense, which is a function of sensory neurons in the inner ear and stretch receptors in the muscles and ligaments. Tai chi also improves muscle strength and flexibility, which makes it easier to recover from a stumble. Fear of falling can make you more likely to fall; some studies have found that tai chi training helps reduce that fear.

Aerobic conditioning. Depending on the speed and size of the movements, tai chi can provide some aerobic benefits. But in the Japanese study, only participants assigned to brisk walking gained much aerobic fitness. If your clinician advises a more intense cardio workout with a higher heart rate than tai chi can offer, you may need something more aerobic as well.

Selected resources

Tai Chi Healthwww.taichihealth.com

Tai Chi Productionswww.taichiforhealth.com

Tree of Life Tai Chi Centerwww.treeoflifetaichi.com

 

Tai chi for medical conditions

When combined with standard treatment, tai chi appears to be helpful for several medical conditions. For example:

Arthritis. In a 40-person study at Tufts University, presented in October 2008 at a meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, an hour of tai chi twice a week for 12 weeks reduced pain and improved mood and physical functioning more than standard stretching exercises in people with severe knee osteoarthritis. According to a Korean study published in December 2008 in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, eight weeks of tai chi classes followed by eight weeks of home practice significantly improved flexibility and slowed the disease process in patients with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful and debilitating inflammatory form of arthritis that affects the spine.

Low bone density. A review of six controlled studies by Dr. Wayne and other Harvard researchers indicates that tai chi may be a safe and effective way to maintain bone density in postmenopausal women. A controlled study of tai chi in women with osteopenia (diminished bone density not as severe as osteoporosis) is under way at the Osher Research Center and Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Breast cancer. Tai chi has shown potential for improving quality of life and functional capacity (the physical ability to carry out normal daily activities, such as work or exercise) in women suffering from breast cancer or the side effects of breast cancer treatment. For example, a 2008 study at the University of Rochester, published in Medicine and Sport Science, found that quality of life and functional capacity (including aerobic capacity, muscular strength, and flexibility) improved in women with breast cancer who did 12 weeks of tai chi, while declining in a control group that received only supportive therapy.

Heart disease. A 53-person study at National Taiwan University found that a year of tai chi significantly boosted exercise capacity, lowered blood pressure, and improved levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, and C-reactive protein in people at high risk for heart disease. The study, which was published in the September 2008 Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found no improvement in a control group that did not practice tai chi.

Heart failure. In a 30-person pilot study at Harvard Medical School, 12 weeks of tai chi improved participants’ ability to walk and quality of life. It also reduced blood levels of B-type natriuretic protein, an indicator of heart failure. A 150-patient controlled trial is under way.

Hypertension. In a review of 26 studies in English or Chinese published in Preventive Cardiology (Spring 2008), Dr. Yeh reported that in 85% of trials, tai chi lowered blood pressure — with improvements ranging from 3 to 32 mm Hg in systolic pressure and from 2 to 18 mm Hg in diastolic pressure.

Parkinson’s disease. A 33-person pilot study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, published in Gait and Posture (October 2008), found that people with mild to moderately severe Parkinson’s disease showed improved balance, walking ability, and overall well-being after 20 tai chi sessions.

Sleep problems. In a University of California, Los Angeles, study of 112 healthy older adults with moderate sleep complaints, 16 weeks of tai chi improved the quality and duration of sleep significantly more than standard sleep education. The study was published in the July 2008 issue of the journal Sleep.

Stroke. In 136 patients who’d had a stroke at least six months earlier, 12 weeks of tai chi improved standing balance more than a general exercise program that entailed breathing, stretching, and mobilizing muscles and joints involved in sitting and walking. Findings were published in the January 2009 issue of Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair.

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

– William Ernest Henley (Written circa 1875)

Tai Chi

I’m doing a Tai Chi Demonstration tomorrow at Virgin Active in George, Western Cape at 8:00… Exciting stuff!

Why am I doing this?

Why am I doing this?

Why do I have a Blog?

See this Blog as my ‘Me-Time’, my moment of clear sanity among all the crazy stuff going on in life today… So join me on this journey!

I am 35 years old, married, have 2 daughters, and recently moved to the coast…

Yes, we live at the coast, in South Africa, beautiful!

We have a 3 bedroom house, 2 bathrooms, nice yard, cool estate, great town, positive province but a very strange country…

We are the APARTHEID country, the land of Nelson Mandela, Oscar Pistorius and Table Mountain!

We are the Rainbow Nation with 11 official languages, try and beat that!

We deliver on nothing, we have protests, crime ,hate, racism, prejudice, corruption and rhino’s…

We are hoping for a better future but we know it’s impossible with the current ruling political party as they are to busy with self-enrichment and not caring about the ‘man-on-the-street’ anymore than caring about tiles in the Sistine Chapel!

I have to raise my 2 daughters in this place, this place with the most beautiful nature. The most spectacular sunsets, the most breathtaking views, abundant wildlife and fantastic nature!

The reason I am living in this country apart from the fact that I was born here is because of the nature. We have it all!

I’ll prepare great posts for you to read throughout this year and the next and the next and so on and so forth!

So be open minded and follow me on this journey through our very very beautiful piece of magic nature land!

Talk to you soon!

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