Wellbeing & Fitness

Adventures for 2012

New DH contributor, Gaina Cowley, (from Somerset, England) has some big plans for 2012 focused on trying out some new sports and activities that she has been wanting to do for a while. Gaina will hopefully be sharing her adventures on DH over the course of the year, but here she shares her story about coming up with the plan for 2012.

My name is Gaina and I’m 38 years old and I live in Somerset, England.  I’m a Pagan, animal lover, maker of shiny things and destroyer of bubble wrap.  Oh yes, and a bit of a potty mouth. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I was born with Spina Bifida and I’m a full time wheelchair user. This has brought me moments of utter hilarity and intense frustration in equal measures and continues to do so.  I’m not a ‘disability blogger’ but some of my experiences can definitely go in the file marked ‘You couldn’t make this shit up!’ and I’ll share those moments on my own blog, Musings from the Den.

In 2010 I graduated from Bath Spa University with a Foundation Degree in Applied Art and Design. I’m a tad obsessed with Natural History and like to disappear with my binoculars and my camera when the weather permits (rain and wheelchairs are not happy bed fellows, trust me on this).

I used to love horse riding – I competed in a few Dressage competitions and even contemplated becoming an instructor in my early twenties, but we moved to another part of the country though I always meant to take up riding again, I never got round to it.  By the time I realized I was craving my horse riding again, it was no longer physically do-able.   I could have switched to carriage driving, but though I enjoyed it there’s nothing like that close contact with your horse (or the mild thrill of knowing you might fall – fortunately I got really good at bouncing!). I also used to drive a lot, but with the move and losing my job as a result that too tailed off.

For the last few years I’ve kind of drifted along in this mode, and thought it was ok with me. Well, that changed when I read “Looking for Adventure” by Steve Backshall, and the pennies started dropping in a big way. It was a smack round the back of the head that made me realize ‘actually, I’m not living authentically. I’ve been sleepwalking and totally lost touch with my Wild Self’. My well-honed inner critic locked on to this inner dialogue and took exception to the way I’ve neglected these things, so now I resolve to do something about that.

I started driving again this year in earnest and it quickly became obvious I needed a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle if I was to drive to places where I wouldn’t necessarily have someone at the other end to get my wheelchair out for me (I really do enjoy my own company and so being able to go somewhere and just be with myself is very important to me).

Next year I will be getting my first Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle which means total, unbridled freedom to do anything and go anywhere.  I figure if I am going to get that much freedom back, why not go the whole hog?  So now I’m selecting some experiences I wish to have in 2012. Of course I have to be sensible and realize that some things would just be damn stupid and really bad for my body, but within that there’s still a hell of a lot to choose from! So, I present to you the start of my 2012 Bucket List:

• Skiing
• Kayaking
• Four cross Mountain Biking/Mountain trike.
• Surround myself with Batshit-crazy enablers!! LOL.

So far my enquiries about Skiing and Kite Buggy racing haven’t been too promising, as I either live too far away from training facilities or I’m still waiting to hear back from people as to whether they can accommodate my disabilities. However, I shall not be deterred in my mission. I will have a packed year, and enjoy every second of it!

Actually, I’ve just realized that the fourth point on this list is essential, and in fact should be at the top. I’ve kind of got out of practice with socializing and making new friends. Putting myself in situations that – due to the very nature of the activity – mean I have to trust other people completely, is probably the aspect of my plans for next year that makes me most nervous.  Once you leave work, or in my case finish Uni, the ‘friends’ you had often tend to melt away because you’re not moving in the same circles anymore and it’s very, very easy to not just become a solitary animal but to actively avoid humans. Whilst – as I’ve said before – I’m something of an introvert and I do enjoy my own company, no woman is an island and I’ll always crave the company of half a dozen like-minded individuals to inspire (incite?) and support me.

I fully expect the above list will get longer, and I won’t cross everything off it in 12 months, but I can have a bloody good stab at it!!  If anyone reading this is disabled and taking part in an extreme sport, hit me up! I am more than willing to be led astray… **grin**.

By Gaina Cowley


  1. Gaina, I have found a kite buggy school that teaches disabled people called Mobius in
    Perranporth, Cornwall. I am going to try it in May. I will let you know how it goes. Also, your local google “disability snowsport” to find your local dry slope. – Claire

    1.  Hi Claire! I’m so sorry for my late reply to this comment. Thanks for
      the heads-up on Mobius! I’ll check them out.  Hope you have fun when you
      try it!

Back to top button