* (INTRIGUING ELECTRONIC MUSIC) I don’t climb because I’ve stoppedbeing afraid of falling; I climb because when I conquer fear,I feel alive, and that just quiets the crazy and makes the pain a background hum. I never thought I’d do itwithout the use of two legs. When I’m up thereand it’s me against the walland me against my challenges,… yeah, I’m afraid of fallingevery time I get back on the wall. That fear is there. The feelingof falling is right on my shoulder. (ELECTRONIC MUSIC CONTINUES) Captions were made withthe support of NZ On Air. www.able.co.nzCopyright Able 2019 (LIGHT MUSIC) (BIRDSONG) I am a para-climber for New Zealand and recently was New Zealand’sfirst athlete to make it intoa world championship final at the World Champs in Austria. When you’re sitting here at home,and you’re back in the’mum life’ stuff, it’s bizarre to talk about somethingyou did in Austria last month.(CHUCKLES) It’s very weird. A little bit trickyto connect to that, because that wasover there, and now I’m back here. But that’s kind of the juxtapositionof my life right now isthere’s these two roles — there’s being a mum and there’sbeing an athlete, and tryingto make them work together. Charlotte is my oldest.She’s 13 now. I think about Charlotte as withall my kids — in the context ofsuperpowers. All of my children are theseamazing, unique little people who are growing into the mostincredible individuals withstrengths and goals of their own. And they each havea resilience in them that, I guess, they’ve developedmaybe through watching stuffthat I go through; maybe through working out how wefunction as a team when the word’disability’ is relevant for us. Mum is very supportive. Sometimes with my training, I feelso tired I just wanna give up,and she won’t let me do that. And in the end, I’m always readyand waiting for sport, and I doreally well and have fun. Oh, we’re stuck. (GRUNTS) Can I help you?You can help. I feel like, maybe,I probably would do it… Door. D-O-O-R. (LAUGHS)You’re awesome. I’m Charlotte, and… How old—? How old I am, Poppy? Poppy a little bit…Poppy just told me I’m 13. She competed internationalwith these women. And… (CLEARS THROAT) GIRL: Where was that? In Austria. And she had…she have a climbing wall accident, and then… an ac— and… and, uh… I don’t know wherethe accident happened. I do rock climbingevery single year. We’re gonna make it bigger.We’re gonna explode stuff.Yeah! Explode stuff! Science! (LAUGHTER, INDISTINCT CHATTER) My mum is a para-athlete thatgoes to some Worlds sometimes. Sometimes I feel sad for her,but then again, I quite like it,because we get the closer parks. Our normal works becausewe understand that there’sgonna be highs, and there’s lows, and the point is not to feel likeeverything’s perfect all the timebut to work out, ‘How can you celebrate the simplejoys in the midst of all the crazythat is the word “family”?’ Because family’s crazy. It just is.Let’s keep it real. (CHUCKLES) Every family’s crazy.It’s not just mine. (CHUCKLES) There’s no other mumlike her in the world. (LOW, TENSE MUSIC)
(LOW, TENSE MUSIC) I was 16 when I hadmy climbing fall. It was in a practice roundat the end of a day of quitesuccessful climbing as a team. We had the highest scorefor the finals the next day,and we were all very excited. So, with a spotter taking some ofthe weight and in a controlled way,I came off the wall. I just said, ‘Yeah, I’mcoming down,’ and I let go. I let go, but I landed on alittle margin where, I don’t know, the flooring wasn’t flash.Maybe a bit of duct tape in there. One ankle dislocated and shatteredand was nearly out the side ofmy foot, and the other broke. And I remember, as I fell,obviously it hurt, but… it wasn’t until I went to sit upand the person that I was with took their arm and smacked itback across my chest and said,’Lie down. You don’t look.’ And at that point, I thinkI understood something hadgone really, really wrong. I didn’t connect the dots thatI was not even gonna walkfor a long while. I thought I’d be climbingthe next day,… which I wasn’t. (CHUCKLES SOFTLY) (GENTLE MUSIC) I didn’t climb for the 17-year gapin the middle. It never occurred to me thatI could regularly climb.I went once or twice with friends, but it wasn’t somethingI fought for. And maybe I didn’t need itin my life at that point, because pain and mobilityweren’t such a big issue for me. But as my immobility increased,and as I lost muscle strength andlost the ability to use that leg, um, I guess I needed somethingto help me thrive regardless. (PANTS) (EXHALES) (UPBEAT ROCK MUSIC) When I’m training at the gym,when I’m climbing at the wall, yeah, I might go a little ‘beastmode’, but mostly I’m trying toquieten everything else in my life. And that’s what I keep coming backto when people ask, ‘What is itthat makes you train?’ Or, ‘What is it that pushes you?What is it that drives you?’ It’s not even the idea of success; it’s the idea of balance. And when I climb or when I’m inthe gym, I’m bringing everythingback into balance, and… the noise of being in pain or… the emotional challenge offeeling like you can’t doeverything you used to do, the disconnect that sometimes youdo still get because you can’tparticipate with your kids — all of those things seem quieterwhen I’m exercising. So, really, it’s just swappingone drug for another. You get to choose what your life’sgonna look like, from an attitudeperspective. You can’t control everything in lifethat happens to you, but you get tochoose how you respond to it. And so when I put on the mirror’I can go to Worlds,’ I was choosing ‘I have a goal,and I am gonna focus on that.’ I came back from that competitionwhere the judge had said, ‘Do you think that everybodybelieves in you more than you do?’ And I went on,and I topped that climb, which… I’d never topped a climb in finalsbefore. That felt pretty amazing. * A part of going back to climbing wasme deciding that not only did I wantmy kids to see something different, but I wanted to seesomething different in myselfwhen I look in the mirror. And now when I look in the mirror,I don’t recognise the personstaring back, but I like her, (CHUCKLES SOFTLY) because Ihad to fight to become her. (LIGHT MUSIC) I had a journal for each of mychildren. And so from the momentI knew that they were with me and through my pregnancies, I waswriting them little letters. And I wrote in this journalfor Charlotte one day that no matter how the world saw heror how they accepted her, she wouldstill be loved in my eyes. I wrote that because two differentpeople on that day had told me, ‘We think that there’s somethingdifferent about your child.’So before she was even born,
‘We think that there’s somethingdifferent about your child.’So before she was even born, I knew that she wasmy magical child, that she was different,but not less. I’ve never looked at her andfelt loss. I’ve always felt sothankful that she’s in my life, because I’m a different person,because I get to see the worldthrough her eyes, which is so differentto how I would see it. She’s got a visit to her new schoolfor next year today, so she’svery excited about that. But it can be a bit overwhelming forher — extra people in the house andschool visit coming up and, yeah. When you’re dealing with severe pain and a child who has someextra magical colours, we do sort of pull together as ateam. So I’ve tried to help my boysand Charlotte understand that a mum doesn’t do everything.We work together. So if I’m needed to look afterCharlotte or Quillan, or if I’mnot able to stand in the kitchen, Max is quite capable of puttingomelettes on for everyone. He’s beendoing that for a couple of years. And if I’m having a momentwhere I’m a bit sore… I had an evening where I was really,really sore, and I just plonkedmyself down on the kitchen floor and thought that I was being veryquiet whilst I had a little mummycry and thought nobody was looking. And Quillan — bless him —came around the corner and said, ‘Mummy, what happened to your face?You look like a clown!’ (CHUCKLES) Quickly followed by, ‘It looksreally cool, Mum.’ (LAUGHS) I thinkhe knew he’d put himself in a hole. But then we sat there,and we all had a little(IMITATES SOBBING) together, cos life is a bit challengingsometimes, and it’s like thatfor every family. But if you can be real about thatwith your kids and then give themthe strategies to get up and to keep movingand to focus on the good,I think they’re gonna be OK. Four-plus a day, right there,and a big fat cucumberand salad sandwich. OK, Mum. All right, you got togs?Who’s getting wedges?Togs? You sorted? Charlotte, do youhave socks for your skates? Um, there’s socks in there.There’s socks in there? Quillan, have you got socksfor your skates?Yep. Awesome. All right. (GENTLE MUSIC) I’m thinking about where I putmy body against the wall —spatial awareness — so that I’m lifting as leastof myself as possible and using… the wall. I guess there’s a strengthturning into the wall, ratherthan fighting against it. (GRUNTS, PANTS) (GRUNTS) (GRUNTS) Come on! (GRUNTS, PANTS) (GRUNTS) (GRUNTS) (GRUNTS) (PANTS) (EXHALES HEAVILY) (PANTS) I’m dead. I officially screwedthat last move up. (PANTS) That was so hack. (PANTS) It’s disappointing when you… (EXHALES) when you knowyou could’ve done better,but that’s why I’m here, because there’s always that gain;there’s always the chance that you improve, and that’swhat you’re fighting for. You have off days. Some days,you win. Some days, there is thedisconnect between me and the wall. And that’s where I have to remindmyself I started this for fun.I started it for myself. And you have to cut yourselfa bit of slack, take some ofthe pressure off and go back to why you’re herein the first place, which isthat it makes me feel alive.
moab adventure lace and go back to why you’re herein the first place, which isthat it makes me feel alive.
and go back to why you’re herein the first place, which isthat it makes me feel alive. So,… the original surgery when I was 16, they went in through the side of thefoot to reconstruct it and put itback together with metal. So that was there to thereand there to there. And then some bone out of my hipand a bunch of screws. And then, over the years,I’ve just had more and more ops to just continue to take outcartilage and take out bone and tryand alleviate some of the damage. So this has been cut into again. I have muscle atrophy on this sideby about 13%, and then limited, passive range of movementin the foot. There’s limited options for me atthis point. So, one risk is thatif they were to, um, definitively fuse or paralysesome of the joints in the footto stop the degenerative process of the bone breaking down,that could give me, certainly, somemobility back for a period of time, but the risk is that you potentiallywould progressively fuse moreand more joints in the foot. And then, possibly, once the footwas, um, very un-functional, the option would be,at that point, to amputate it. And I feel like I’m atmy best self right now,and I don’t really want to give the next 15 years of my lifeover to more surgery when I’vehad so much already. So I’m considering… and, I guess, going throughthat process of investigatingwhether it’s appropriate. Nobody wants to cut a leg off.(CHUCKLES SOFTLY) But I don’t wanna give my life overto multiple surgeries, either, andrisk that I head into an amputation when I’m older and I don’t havethe same dreams and the same goalsto keep me going. So, from that perspective, maybethere’s merit to doing that nowwhile I have some really clear goals to move forward with and get meback on my… foot. (CHUCKLES) Feet, foot. Hmm. Push. I remember my 7-year-old saying,’Mummy, could you just takeyour leg off, you know, ‘and get one of those real onesthat actually work? ‘And then you could stop saying noto us when we ask you to play.’ My kids watch me go inand out of surgery, and itaffects them as well, so… it would be nice if the surgeryside of it could come to an end. MAX: Sometimes it’s so bad shecan’t walk, and quite often,like, in the past few weeks or so, she’s needed both crutches at theend of each night, cos, like,I’ve got lots of things — like rep soccer, athletics, andother things like that after school.And so it’s, like, a load of— Like, I think it was Thursdayor something, I don’t finishschool till 3.45 because we’ve got athletics,and then I’ve got swimming… No, that was last term.But last term I had swimming, and then I had rep soccerafter that, as well,that didn’t finish till 7.30. And the others had skating,and that finished at 8 o’clock. So it was, like, really busy,and Mum had to drive quite a lot. So, it can be pretty full on.We do bounce, as you say, fromone thing to the next to the next. We make it work. My children are sogood at bringing me back to centre, and I think coming back to centreis what brings healing. So, yeah, in that regard,my children have helped. * (LIGHT, CHEERFUL MUSIC) (BIRDSONG) (MUSIC DROWNS OUT CONVERSATION) This is why I climb. So, tonight is the Ray WhiteWhanganui Sports Awards, and it’s kind of a…little bit of a big night for me. It’ll be the first time that I amthe guest speaker for an event where your main audience is adults.Usually I speak to young adults. So, I’m speaking for 10 to 15minutes on resilience. Then I’malso receiving a recognition award for my, um, I think achievementsand participation in sportsas a disabled athlete. So thankful for Lianain this moment.(LAUGHS) ‘This moment’ — thanks. I’m a rock climber. I wear aponytail or a mum bun everywhere.(CHUCKLES)
I’m a rock climber. I wear aponytail or a mum bun everywhere.(CHUCKLES) I do get nervous, and I probablyget more nervous public speakingthan I do right before a climb. I’m taking a chance, and I guess I’mtaking the risk to be a little bitmore vulnerable and to open up and share a bit of my journey,and maybe that will helpsomebody else in the room. It’s gonna be quite exciting. (INTRIGUING MUSIC) I get asked all the time,’What happened to your leg?’ So,… one thing that I guess is nice tospeak about is raising a bit ofawareness around disability and how other people approach that.And I don’t think that anyoneapproaches you and… and, up front, talks about yourdeficit because they’re trying to beawkward or frustrating or unhelpful. I think maybe it’s just a…an innocent unawareness that it’s really stink to have to answerthat question all day long. MAN ON MICROPHONE: Rachel Maia —rock climbing and paraclimbing.(CHEERING, APPLAUSE) I didn’t know if I was gonna be ableto climb without the use of this legor not. I can’t put that foot on the wall.Sometimes I use the knee, and sometimes that doesn’tcome off so well. But I didn’t want to spendthe rest of my life not trying. When I went back to climbing, it wasmy way of trying to reconnect withsomething that made me feel like me. If I took away the word’disability’, if I took awaythe word ‘mum’, if I took away the word ‘pain’,who was I, and what did I have left?(APPLAUSE) (CAMERA SHUTTER SNAPS) (GENTLE MUSIC) MAN: Look for trainsboth ways before crossing. Yep. Oh, good job! ‘When I watch her climb, she just…she doesn’t let go. ‘And I give her a bit of slackin the rope, like I have whenI’m in a competition. ‘I’m not doing the work forher at all. She is 100% notletting go of that wall.’ Is the climber ready? ‘I have to every now and againremind her not to use her knee,cos she’s watched me climb so much, she’ll automatically chuck the leftone on. And I’m like, ‘No! You havea foot.’ (CHUCKLES) ‘Use that.’ BOY: See you up there. We went to an event that wasarranged for children as aspecial event for special kids. I can’t remember if itwas me or Caleb, but started conversingwith Charlotte.Yeah. She’s just a huge support.I don’t— I feel like I’d belost without her now. Oh, it goes both ways.It’s just nice to have someone totalk to that gets it, you know? Gets the little strugglesand the daily things and the things that are a little bitdifferent to what other parentshave to deal with. She just pushes— You know?Like, nothing’s holding her back.She just pushes through. The travelling she’s doing,and the effort she’s putting in, and the juggling of the familyand the kids and the… She’s just amazing.I don’t know how she does it. For us, when our kidstie their shoelaces,… …it’s a big thing….we throw a party. And I was withDonna the first day Caleb managed to use a straw, and it was justthis most magical moment. And then when Charlotte tiedher laces for the first time, I’m taking a picture of that smileand sending it to Donna, and we understand what that means.So to see both of our kids, like, up a wall…Yeah. Right. We’ll let Rachelmake sure it’s safe.OK, we’ll just… Step aside for the pro, honey.(LAUGHS) When I came back to climbing,I first came and climbed atTaranaki, and I… I joined in, and I wentback to it for the people and for the chance to connectwith something that felt good. (PEOPLE CHATTER) So, this is theTaranaki Tuataras,… who are all gonna wave and say hi.This is the Taranaki Tuataras. Take three. This is theTaranaki Tuataras. (CHUCKLES) Hi.Hi. (LAUGHS) I’ve been climbing with theTaranaki Tuataras for 18 months. This is the first place thatI came back to when I startedclimbing again, and it was the first group of peoplethat I climbed with when I was giving it a try without the use ofthat left leg— without the full useof that left leg. Right from the start, they wouldcontinue to tell me that,’You can do this,’ and so it was a positive soundin my life that I wanted tokeep coming back to. Nice!Whoo-hoo! – (YELPS)- (APPLAUSE) Ugh! Dammit! Everything comes back to community.That’s what resilience is. You don’t get to a worldchampionship on your own; you do it because there’s peopleat the bottom screaming at youto keep moving. I love that I get to choosemy own labels about who I am.I can get up in the morning and… and focus on the fact thatI’m a history-maker; I’m a mum;I’m an athlete; I’m a friend. I’m not just a crippleor just anything. I am Rachel Maia. (CHUCKLES)And I climb walls. www.able.co.nzCopyright Able 2019 Attitude was made withfunding from NZ On Air.