Saturday, 31 October 2009

Interview with Michael J. Fox and Conductive Education for people with Parkinson's disease

"A decade ago, he revealed his Parkinson’s diagnosis. Now, in an unflinchingly honest conversation with Good Housekeeping’s editor in chief, Rosemary Ellis, Michael J. Fox shares what life is like.

Rosemary Ellis: In your new book, Always Looking Up, you write that, ironically, you had to quit your day job to do your life’s work. How did you realize that was your life’s work, and where are you with it right now?

Michael J. Fox: Well, the first part of my life was to be an actor and maybe have some success at that. Then [it was time] to find somebody to be in a relationship with and have a life that way. Because of Parkinson’s, I had to change: How can I be of service here? Is there something unique to my situation that I can use to help people? I did not have the wherewithal to invent that. It just happened in front of me and had me join in.

RE: But you had to recognize and seize it, and not everybody does that.

MJF: It is about trying to still the voices in your head — the monkey brain that’s saying, “Gotta do this, gotta do that” — and trying to really listen. I heard a guy at a congressional hearing say that Parkinson’s is going to be cured in five years. I was like, “What did he say?” It was the first I heard of that, and it turned out not to be true, but that just fed into the next thing. Then, Lance Armstrong showed up, and I started talking to him; I saw all these people with cancer who followed him to Paris for the Tour de France, and I saw the difference he was making in their lives. That put it together for me…having it be not so much about me, but [my being] a vehicle for it.

RE: To have it be bigger than you.

MJF: Right. Now I look back at the foundation and what we’ve been able to do. We have certainly not met all our goals yet, but steps have been taken. When I started it, I thought, I’m not smart enough to do this. I had no experience in management, no experience in administration, no experience in nonprofit; but then this phrase came into my head: I only have to be smart enough to find people who are smarter than me; I only have to be smart enough to recognize who knows more than me.

RE: In this book, you reveal — pretty entertainingly, I have to say — exactly what a steep learning curve you were on. What are the milestones you are proudest of?

MJF: At first, it was uncomfortable. Nobody likes to say, “Hey, look at me!” I got this thing, and I spent seven years hiding it. It was counterintuitive for me to do that, but almost instantly [after my announcement], I saw the first couple of days the coverage was about, you know, “Fox’s Parkinson’s, blah, blah, blah.” Then, two days after that, I saw the coverage turn. It started to become, “Can young people get Parkinson’s?” All of a sudden, the conversation turned to become about that. And that was one of the first eye-opening things.

Also, at first, I let different foundations come and talk to me about what they were doing. I didn’t really find anything that fit what I thought I could do. I didn’t just want to be a poster boy and sign on to publicize somebody else’s method of operations. If I was going to put myself out there, I wanted to make sure that it was to an end. So I got involved with this congressional hearing about Parkinson’s being underfunded. I testified about that.

RE: You have been very vocal about there having been a lot of political impediments to medical research in the past eight years. What do you expect President Obama’s administration to achieve on the health-care front?

MJF: I think that legislation will be passed to create federal funding for stem cell research and move ahead on that front. A bigger area that I think is already on their agenda is getting health-care coverage for everybody — that is very important. Every time President Obama talked about preexisting conditions, it always rang a bell for me. I know that is a real [important] thing in the Parkinson’s community, because by the time you start to exhibit symptoms — whether, as in my case, a twitching pinkie or whatever — 80 percent of the cells are already gone, so you’ve essentially had Parkinson’s for a while by then. So it’s a hammer that people get hit with; they really fear losing their insurance.

RE: Let’s talk about your marriage. In your book Lucky Man, you wrote very eloquently about how you and Tracy met, fell in love, and weathered your Parkinson’s diagnosis together. In this new book, what aspect of your marriage did you want to focus on?

MJF: Here’s the thing with Tracy and me: We like focusing more on the comedy and less on the drama. The secret to a good marriage, as far as I am concerned, is a joke I make: Keep the fights clean and the sex dirty.

Tracy and I are taken aback sometimes when people come up to us and give me this sad moon face and then they give Tracy a hug, and say, “You are so strong.” We roll our eyes at each other, because we are having a really good time.

RE: What’s your favorite way to spend a date night with Tracy?

MJF: We go out to dinner and maybe go to a movie, just the same as anybody else. A lot of times our son hitchhikes along. He’s in college now, so it’s a little easier.

RE: What are your favorite little family rituals?

MJF: We’ll go up to the country, and it’s not unusual to make popcorn and then for all six of us to climb into bed and watch TV — just bodies everywhere. We are a really affectionate family, and we laugh a lot.

And you know, with Parkinson’s, my kids just make the transition. If I am reaching for something, they will just do it and carry on. Again, people say to me, “How do you cope?” And I think, Cope?! It’s really hard to even think that way. Sometimes I’ll stop and think, Am I selling short the experience my family is having? But then I’ll look back at it and say, no — they’re having fun.

RE: And don’t you think they are learning things that, frankly, they wouldn’t learn otherwise?

MJF: Yes: empathy, resilience, and also sorting out what’s important from what’s not — things like vanity. I saw a birthday card the other day, and it said, “If you didn’t know how old you were, how old would you think you were?” I started changing it in my mind right away to, “If you didn’t know how sick you were, how sick would you think you were?”

RE: And what was the answer to that question?

MJF: Not very much, not very sick. It just becomes what it is. Like right now, I’m just weathering this [tremor] as I’m talking to you; I just need to pace around a little bit. [I've learned] to make the separation: It’s purely a physical thing, and if you don’t care what it looks like and it really does not feel that bad, then it’s not that big a deal. It’s just distracting. So [getting up] I am going to walk around for a second.

RE: What has being a dad taught you about coping with the disease and with life?

MJF: It has taught me that there is not one moment that is frozen in time. There is no better example than to watch four kids grow up. For instance, I’m not feeling particularly steady right now, but this is not going to last for more than a couple of minutes. Same with raising kids. There are no moments you have frozen in amber. It’s moving, it’s changing, so appreciate what’s good about right now and be ready for what’s next.

RE: Good Housekeeping has 25 million readers every month, so it’s fair to assume that a number of them are dealing with challenges related to a chronic illness. What would be your advice to them?

MJF: I would say look at the choices you have, as opposed to the choices that have been taken away from you. Because in those choices, there are whole worlds of strength and new ways to look at things. Again, everybody has tough situations — I don’t mean to be pat about how they should deal with them. Certainly people have a lot tougher situations than I’ve had to deal with. But I will say we are all dying from the moment we are born. This is not just rehearsal.

RE: What surprising truths have you learned about yourself since this diagnosis? What aspects of your personality did you maybe not even realize were there from before?

MJF: When I was younger, I was always described as happy-go-lucky. Then I drank and I partied — did all that stuff that might tell you maybe there was a little bit of untruth in that [description]. Now, the surprising thing is that when I say stuff, I actually mean it. I don’t have to do the work of trying to formulate my point of view. It just is. And it’s surprising how much I love life. I just really have a good time.

RE: At a fund-raiser in New York, you recently played guitar with The Who, which I understand was always a dream of yours. What else is on your list — or do you even have a list?

MJF: I don’t really have a list. But there are things I’ve always wanted to do. Things I may not be able to do, but I never really ruled them out — like running a marathon. It’s all a matter of timing for me. I suppose I could probably do it if I planned it out right with medication. I don’t set a whole lot of goals. It smacks a little bit of will to me, and I find that will is not the way to go for me.

RE: One of my favorite quotes is from Louis Pasteur, who said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” Does that idea resonate for you?

MJF: It’s why the book is called Always Looking Up. People say, “How do you achieve this?” And you hear, “Just keep your head down.” But I find the opposite is true: Keep your head up.

RE: That’s funny; that leads right into my next question, which is how do you cultivate faith?

MJF: It’s just constantly being in the now; knowing you don’t get to choose whether you move forward. You’re going to move forward, so don’t fight it. It’s like with kids, you pick your battles. I remember my son wanted to go to bed with his cowboy boots on, and we had this fight for like an hour. Then I realized that the only good reason I had for him not to do it is because I didn’t want him to. There was really no other reason. And finally I said, “OK, fine.” It was a great victory for me, because I realized it doesn’t really matter.

RE: Let me ask you this: You love hockey, and you love playing the guitar. Both require a lot of coordination (as does acting). Are there any physical activities that are restorative or therapeutic for you? What do you like to do?

MJF: I love hiking around our property in Connecticut; we go mud-stomping with the kids. I like being outside and doing anything with them. Oh, and one of the rules I have now is whenever my kids say, “Can you look at this?” or “Can I ask you something?” or “Can you come here for a minute?” no matter what I am doing, I say yes instead of saying, “Just a sec.” They never abuse the privilege, and I never once regretted it. What they took me away to do was never less important than what I was doing already.

RE: One last question. Finish this sentence: In my life, I felt like I’d earned the Good Housekeeping Seal when…

MJF: To tell you the truth, when I just got diagnosed, I quit drinking, and Tracy and I were having probably the toughest time we’ve had in our marriage. It was early on, and we came through it. We had talked about having more kids, and for a while there, every time I brought it up, she changed the subject. I’d gone through all this stuff and really changed the way I looked at things, the way I looked at life. And then one day we were watching Sam run through the bushes with one of his cousins, and Tracy turned to me and said, “He’d be a great brother.” I knew then that she was ready to have more kids; that she trusted me [enough] to have more kids with me. And the Good Housekeeping Seal was when we got the sonogram, and it was twins. That’s when you kinda knew. An extra one, a bonus baby.

RE: A bonus baby…and then yet another bonus baby.

MJF: Yeah, with Esmé, it was like, Tracy and I were both in our early 40s and decided, well, it just needs to be a little noisier!"

Conductive Education has been providing dynamic, comprehensive programmes for people with Parkinson’s disease over the last 60 years.

András Petö the Hungarian born physician was the founder of Conductive Pedagogy; a system, which teaches people with motor disorder to overcome problems, related to damage to the nervous system.

If you would like to benefit from Conductive Education please find list and contact details of UK centers offering services for people with Parkinson's disease. These links were kindly provided by Gill Maguire on her Conductive Education Information blog.

The copy of Gill's list:


In the UK

At the moment there are eleven centres in the UK offering services for adults.

Conductive Education Support Services, New Forest

Hereward College, Coventry

International Therapeutic Initiative UK, High Wycombe

Independent Conductive Education Services, Wirral

Megan Baker House, Leominster

National Institute of Conductive Education, Birmingham

PACE Centre, Aylesbury

Paces, Sheffield

Path for the Disabled, Exeter

Percy Hedley Foundation, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

QCET, Rotherham "

Readers can also find a wealth of information related to Conductive Education on CONDUCTIVE WORLD written and published by Andrew Sutton.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Why do you know so much and live it so little?

Many people know things philosophically, theoretically, but they don’t live them.
They somehow separate themselves from their knowingness. They live in a kind of reserve.
In an area of their mind they know but they never live their knowingness, because living is somehow separate from this knowingness. And you will hear people say, “Inside of me I know better. I know what the truth is but I don’t live it.”
Is there some element to you that says… that truth already is truth if it is realized… and does not it beg us to live by our own realization?
What an interesting concept.
Why do you know so much and live it so little?

Is then the action part of your life what is meaningful?

You have got this great knowingness that you kind of worship… but will it ever become?

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

It is Just a Ride...Do not be afraid to do anything you believe is right...

I have made available both of my two previous blogs, which were shut down for two different reasons. You can find them on the bottom of my blog list on the right hand side.


Notes: Picture Peaceful Warrior

The clip of the Peaceful Warrior Bridge Slow Motion scene was first posted on my first sourcesense blog on 6th October 2008. The 6th October is the day when Dr Maria Hari my mentor and the successor of Dr. Andras Peto passed away in 2001.

The clip above I posted on 6th October 2009.

Does it make sense to you? ♥

Saturday, 17 October 2009

"My heart is full of many things...there are moments when I feel that speech is nothing after all" Ludwig van Beethoven

After a long day at work, I drove home. It was a two and a half-hour long journey.

By the time I unloaded the car from all the equipments and by the time I was searching for the keys to my house in my courtyard it was dark.

The ice-cold breeze of the autumn night lingered over me without hesitation. I sniffed into the cold air and it was mixed with the smell of fire-smoke from the chimneys.

My grandmother’s home made jams and preserves came to my mind.
On the first coldest autumn days we were allowed to open the first ones while she was making us delicious potato pancakes.

I stepped through the door and sat down in the study. I looked around and I was pleased with the newly cleared shelves.
Recently I donated a huge amount of books to charities. I collected so many books throughout the years.
When I decided to clear out all the clutter around me it meant my precious books had to be gone too. I love books, but I felt they have served their purpose in my life, so I wanted to let someone else benefit from them from now.
It is quite liberating when you let go off things so you give life a chance to bring in something new.
I moved around the house and sat in all the newly decorated and cleared rooms. My appreciation grew bigger and bigger.

There were so many things which disturbed me during the day… things, which I know you might also have to deal with while working with Conductive Education in different settings serving all kinds of different purposes.
It has nothing to do with what you were taught and nothing to do with what you should be dealing with.
But for now let me tell you what I did. I sat down at my piano and after such a long time I started playing Beethoven Fur Elise.
This is the closest version I could find to the gentle way I beleive it should be played.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Educação Condutiva - com amor, Conductive Education - with love

I love reading Leticia Burigo’s postings. I always felt drawn to her and to her thoughts pouring from the heart.
I have been thinking about a new posting for a few days now. I was searching for words… how to explain what I always believed and never dared to say openly. She just said it. Thank you Leticia.
Here is her last posting translated by Google.

“Be better than I am

The children teach us to be better people.
teach us to love.
teach us patience.
teach us to set routines even more organized.
teach us to take more responsibility.
They teach us to predict before it happened.
must be more, go further.
must guess a movement, a response.
predict and is now ready. always have a second option.
To be better than I am,
respecting the diversity of each one.
Be better for me, for you, for all.
To able to read what they are telling us.”

Leticia said it in such a beautiful way…

I have been working and interacting with children and watching them nearly every day for a long a long time. It has been a longer time than my own growing up years.
I can still remember myself as a child growing up and I have seen my own daughter growing up. I have been witnessing these children’s power and their clarity. It taught me how to feel, hear and see what the children are trying to tell me.

Their power and clarity might not appear to be as we expect them to be, but my definite conclusion is, that they are bringing us up in so many ways. By reminding us of what is important and what really matters.

They all have a message, which they are so eager to share. Every time I meet them I always have an enquiring heart asking them internally… so what do you want to teach me, what do you want me to hear?

My job is to facilitate them in their journey in this life, but nether the less I need to hear them out first and learn from them, before I use my knowledge and experience to pave the path with them towards becoming what they wish to be and expected to be.
I adjust my gaze to see them with unconditional love, which accepts them as they are. I don’t want them to be different. They don’t need to be different to make me feel better, nor they have to be different to feel my acceptance. This is not the case and never will be.

I know this concept might be a little bit hard to understand.

What I am trying to convey here is, that we can only facilitate the changes and the transformations of people’s life if we can accept them as they are.
When we see them who they really are and engage with them in true sharing, which is giving and receiving.

It is the same with adults. Isn’t it?

I still feel that we have more to learn from our children than they have to learn from us. LIFE is clever. It always makes sure that the seeds of growth are coming through plenty if we dare to see them and find them.
The children are the carriers of these seeds.


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Amanda Elliott’s Challenge Me! Speech and Communication Cards has been short listed for a Nasen Award 2009

in the 'Inclusive Resource for Primary Classrooms' category.

Amanda Elliott is one of the first graduates of the National Institute of Conductive Education UK.
The Nasen awards 2009 ceremony is going to be held at Hotel Russell in London, at Russell Square tomorrow evening.
Winners will be announced on Friday 16th October 2009.

'Nasen provides up to date information on SEN and Disability issues. By working closely with government agencies, other organisations and providers of products and resources...'

"Nasen's Mission statement

Nasen believes that:
  • Every human being has an entitlement to personal, social and intellectual development and must be given the opportunity to achieve his/her potential in learning.

  • Every human being is unique in terms of characteristics, interests, abilities, motivation and learning needs.

  • Those with exceptional learning needs and/or disabilities should have access to high quality and appropriate education.
Nasen will:
  • Promote the interests of those with exceptional learning needs and/or disabilities
  • Provide a forum for those actively working with or caring for children and young people with special and additional educational needs and/or disabilities.
  • Contribute to the formulation and development of policy and practice.


The specific objectives of the Association are:

  • To develop the Association’s structure to run efficiently and effectively

  • To offer a comprehensive service and relevant products to all members

  • To collaborate with organisations and associations concerned with education

  • To promote the principles of effective inclusion

  • To develop the Association’s profile within the global market

  • To prepare for and respond to key government legislation and guidance

  • To provide significant input into Government policy on all aspects of special and additional educational needs and disability

  • To disseminate and commission research and policy development in areas of interest to members of the Association

  • To research and develop world class solutions to support those working with or caring for children and young people with special and additional educational needs and disabilities "

Photos: Hotel Russell London


Monday, 12 October 2009

Are we at the edge of a new paradigm?

If we are, are we ready to see it, acknowledge it and work with it?

Do we need a Conductive Pedagogical Renaissance?

What is Renaissance?

“The Renaissance was a cultural movement that profoundly affected European intellectual life in the early modern period. Beginning in Italy, and spreading to the rest of Europe by the 16th century, its influence affected literature, philosophy, art, politics, science, religion, and other aspects of intellectual inquiry. Renaissance scholars employed the humanist method in study, and searched for realism and human emotion in art.”

Are we ready for the rebirth of and the revival of Petö’s Conductive Pedagogy?
I first mentioned this in one of my advertised training courses on 16th May 2009 'Conductive Pedagogical Renaissance series’ on my sourcesense blog.

Petö was ahead of his time in many respects and he still is… He had a single focus and that was, to create a system, which shifted the already existing paradigm about disability, especially about motor impairment.

It happened at a time when everybody was in survival mode after the Second World War.
Petö had a great understanding about human beings and about the ‘system in general’, which was created for people in the new era after World War ll. They had to accept it as a norm.

He deeply understood and worked with the laws of creation and manifestation.
He was able to see the powers, that each human being possess, whether they are aware of it or not and whether they are labelled as disabled or not.

On my first lecture with Dr. Mária Hári, she told us that always ask permission from everyone, even from a baby when you want to facilitate them at the first ‘examination’, which we call initial consultation or observation in Conductive Education.
Conductors do not examine people. I only used the word to highlight the importance of the difference.
What does the first remark of her first lecture tell you? Think about it!

It told me, that when we start our work with anyone (not just at the initial consultation, but always), we must show and have the highest respect and regard for them.
How many people who are working with Petö’s Conductive Pedagogy in the world understood this deeply and apply it as a norm every day in their work?

How many of us realised that the removing of Gill Maguire from the National Library of Conductive Education put the heritage of the work outside of Hungary to a standstill?

How many of us are truly grateful (every time when we open her blog) of the fact that she is still providing us with essential information about Conductive Education and related issues?

How many of us would be prepared to be part of creating a more formal venture in our history for the preservation of Gill’s and Andrews’s knowledge and experience?

For sometime I have been thinking long and hard about these two people who invested their best in establishing something very unique and valuable.

If we don’t look after this still available pool of knowledge and experience what are we hoping to create for the future?

How can we, who are working with Petö’s Conductive Pedagogy expect that we will be looked after if we miss this opportunity?

In all sustainable, beautiful, native cultures where people understand about life and see it as a precious commodity, they respect and love their ‘elders’ the most experienced.

They don’t brush them aside and believe that they have no more use anymore.

I am proposing to set up a contribution project for our heritage and invite these two individuals, Gill and Andrew to help us as long as they can.
We can call it the Conductive Education Information Project.
The mission of the project is to be a focal point of reliable and accurate information about the system of Conductive Education.

The purpose of the project is to provide a vehicle and a source for researchers, the media, conductive education students, conductors, students of the rehabilitation and special needs professions, health care professionals, educationalists, parents, carers, projects, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis Societies etc., education authorities, health authorities and the government.

The Conductive Education Information Project endeavours to steer the worldwide conductive movement towards the highest quality and unified understanding of Petö’s Conducive Pedagogy.

Every project working with Conductive Education could budget for it within their means, (doesn’t matter how little it is), they can do individual fundraisings for donations towards it, and we all can approach and invite people to donate even if they are not part of Conductive Education. Just a little awareness and some good intention could create something remarkable for our future.
I believe that this is important for all of us.
If you beleive that it is important to you to take this further, please comment or contact me at

Thursday, 8 October 2009

"You have to find the inside of the Now"...

A friend of mine… a very special friend of mine sent me this book as a present, which arrived yesterday.
When I opened the package I didn’t understand it at first…I sat down and started reading it…and it all became clear.
Whether you are an adult or a child you might like to read it yourself.
The book is about Milton's adventures as he learns to stop projecting his past fears into the future - and live simply and happily in the moment.

You might like to read this too:

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Do your research, choose wisely...

For the last few months the mainstream media has been bombarding the world with fear provoking information about the swine flu virus and the importance of the swine flu jab.
Less well-known regional papers in European countries have been expressing concerns about the lack of research evidence on how the vaccination could affect people and also have been reporting about the Jane Burgermeister case.

'Information is not knowledge.' A Einstein

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

'Pilgrim, how you journey on the road you chose, to find out why the winds die and where the stories go.'

All days come from one day
that much you must know,
you cannot change what's over
but only where you go.
One way leads to diamonds,
one way leads to gold,
another leads you only
to everything you're told.
In your heart you wonder
which of these is true;
the road that leads to nowhere,
the road that leads to you.
Will you find the answer
in all you say and do?
Will you find the answer
In you?
Each heart is a pilgrim,
each one wants to know
the reason why the winds die
and where the stories go.
Pilgrim, in your journey
you may travel far,
for pilgrim it's a long way
to find out who you are...
Pilgrim, it's a long way
to find out who you are...'
Enya Pilgrim

Thank you everyone for the kind Birthday wishes.

I had a wonderful time, which happens when, synchronicity brings people and events together.

Four new people entered my life on this day and they showered me with with presents and shared their kindness, their thoughts and their experiences with me over a delightful lunch.

I am used to magical events in my life, but in the past, I never found it easy to share a meal with people I met for the first time. Sitting around the table and enjoying culinary delights is a very personal experience for me and it is the most enjoyable when I am with people who I feel relaxed and at ease with. After a very short time I forgot my reservations and I was absorbed by the energy of the place and by the energy of the people around the table and by our conversations. It was almost as fabulous to see how we opened up one by one and shared our energies, as the actual synchronistic event itself.
I will always remember and be grateful for this birthday! ♥

The Mill at Gordleton where we had lunch.

Link to the article about Crispie the duck who was waddling around the restaurant to everyones delight!