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Rediscovering My Spiritual Self

I started off 2018 on a real high, determined to make it the best year yet, make it ‘the year’ as I kept telling everyone until they were sick of talking to me. Things have certainly come my way to test that theory but I keep on bouncing back, and for that I am endlessly proud of myself. I have worked so hard on myself this year and I’m really starting to see the benefits. It’s a practice, an endless process, and it really is quite wonderful.

Last year I started working with Jody Shield and her team and became a founding member of TribeTonic, an amazing guidance, healing and spiritual support system of mentoring, live sessions and endless support. The tag line is ‘get your spiritual six pack’ and I can honestly say, with a lot of help from Jody and Jeanine (Gasser) I am well on my way there. This year I have put a real focus on healing sessions, meditations and being open to what the Universe has in store for me. It’s helped me see the positive in every situation by reminding myself I’ve got through things before, and will do so again. As Jody always says, you are not your mind, and always be in your ‘yes’.

It’s interesting how I’ve recently realised that as a child I was actually quite spiritual, but as a teenager, trying to be cool (not that I ever got anywhere near) I dropped it all in favour of things slightly more acceptable for a kid in the late 90’s. From about the age of ten onwards I developed a strong interest in crystal healing, reiki and aromatherapy. I had my own little collection of stones and oils and an array of books my mom’s sister passed on to me. I had meditation cassette tapes and often listened to them on a Sunday afternoon before the school night blues set in. Then life got in the way and it all gradually fizzled out.

As the years have gone on I’ve continued to feel a spiritual calling but I wasn’t sure what it was, I exploring religion a little but realised that while I do have certain beliefs, it’s not quite the right fit for me. Then I read Jen Sincero’s You Are A Badass. I’d always been a little put off by this book as the first page mentions God, The Universe, Mother Earth etc etc but get beyond that first page and the book opens you up to a whole new world. One you are already living in but didn’t quite notice. After seeing her speak at Future Shapers Live I knew it was time to get over my awkward embarrassed phase of feeling but not being spiritual and just get on with it. I’ve never really bothered what people think about my eccentric ways before and I decided it wasn’t time to start now.

I came across Jody Shield’s book, Life Tonic in a magazine and got my hands on a copy. I struggled a little with reading it (chronic fatigue and brain fog will do that) so I stepped out of my comfort zone a little and listened to the audio book. Then when the Tribe came along it just felt right, so I signed right up. And I have to say it’s one of the best things I’ve done in a long time.

Mentoring from Jody and Jeanine has lead me to read/listen to a rather different selection of books than in previous years. My new favourite genre of books are spiritual self help. I’ve recently finished Light Is The New Black by Rebecca Campbell. A beautiful selection of poems, prayer, journal prompts and insight into the spiritual world. A calming and peaceful read this is definitely one I’ll be returning to time and time again. Currently on my audible playlist is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert who has the most soothing voice I’ve heard. I’m so glad I chose to listen to this on audio book as I don’t think I would have felt the same effects reading it on paper. Even if you aren’t in touch, or haven’t got, a spiritual side I’d definitely recommend both of these books as they create an escape from the chaotic non stop world we live in today.

As I’ve got back in touch with my spiritual side, rediscovering who I am, I have slowly grown my collection of crystals, guided meditations, yoga flows and breathing exercises, all of which are extremely helpful when it comes to living life with both physical and mental health issues. I also journal more regularly too.

I remember endless journalling starting around the age of nineteen when I was training to be a nurse. Each night, or morning depending on my shifts, I’d write sides and sides of A4 about my innermost feelings, journals which I still have to this day. Again, it’s something that stopped, this time around the time I became unwell at twenty three. My thoughts all just felt too overwhelming and it was easier to bottle them up and file them away as opposed to getting them on paper. I’ve since dabbled with journalling but 2018 has proven to be a year of both insight and relief by getting things down on the page. I have a beautiful hand crafted leather bound journal that I take everywhere with me and is more like my 2018 Workbook than just a journal.

As I mentioned above, discovering and working with everything the spiritual ‘you’ has to offer is a practice, it never ends, and it never fails to surprise and delight. It’s helping me cope with chronic illness, change and the stress that comes with every day life. I have a new morning routine which consists of meditation and writing before work and I try and do the same before bed. I’ll add some relaxing oils to my burner and set aside half an hour for myself, to be undisturbed, no phone calls, emails or social media, just me and everything that I am.

So don’t turn your nose up at spirituality, you just never know what you might discover, after all now is as good a time as any to try…

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Reflections on 2017

2017 has been a year full of ups and downs. Before I go on I will no doubt mention on numerous occasions:

Without further ado, lets get started…

January

My amazing friend Sabrina beat breast cancer then got married abroad, and I was lucky enough to be able to make it to her wedding reception for a couple of hours with the help of another friend. Definitely a highlight as I hadn’t seen her since I moved to Brighton six years previously.

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I also managed to make it to a tutorial for my Open University course at the London School of Economics – I finally felt like a real student!

February

The first two weeks of February were a washout with a nasty virus that wouldn’t leave me and more fatigued body alone. It was a long, horrible few days. A trip to see a friend in Midhurst was cancelled and I was pretty upset and blue.

On recovery I managed to meet Stuart in Preston Park where it snowed and we went on our first mysterious ‘assignment’. An utterly fantastic and hilarious afternoon.

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I finally got an appointment with a real medical professional who for once didn’t patronise me, tell me to join a gym or make me cry, I had some medication increased and was booked in a month later to see how I was doing.

March

My wife and I finally had a day out together and we went to Worthing. After hearing numerous horror stories I was pleasantly surprised at the beautiful beach, different wildlife and lovely town centre.  It was also the first day of two solid months of heartburn.

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I wasn’t well enough to make a tutorial at Kings College London, again, but did manage to look round a few old bookshops with Stuart instead.

I went on a solo mini trip to Seaford, a local town, to sit on the beach and write. Again, I was surprised at what this small seaside town had to offer in way of views and scenery. It was also a beautifully warm spring day.

I had to give up my university studies with The Open University. I obtained a letter from my doctor supporting my decision. the university kept all my money and sent a letter saying I have to recover by November or I lose it.

April

Stuart took me to his studio before we went on an ‘Industrial Assignment’. I came home to find my wife and brother in law tucked up asleep on the sofa.

The second week of April saw Nat and I celebrate our fifth anniversary and we had a lovely little treat planned. With a cat sitter booked in, we headed off for a delightful french afternoon tea at Julian Plumart, shopping for a Pandora bracelet and then on to The Grand Hotel, a stunning luxurious Victorian hotel on the seafront where we had a suite, a queen size bed and more floorspace than we knew what to do with. Oh, and a bath – all hail the bath!

May

I joined a local gym and before working out decided to get some expert advice. I found a trainer who said his mum had fibro so thought we’d be a great match. On the day of one of my first session I was very ill after a lot of overtime at work. After emailing to cancel he replied saying lying in bed won’t cure me and I should get off of my backside. I didn’t go back.

‘Assignment Carouselfie’ with Stuart. No further words are required.

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I met dad in London for a trip on a Route Master bus and took fun photos with my polaroid camera.

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We bought Suzie Smart Car. A lifelong dream come true!

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I attended Marie Clare Future Shapers in a flash London hotel. A great but utterly exhausting day, but I met another fellow Lancashire Lass living south and we spent the day hanging out together while she looked after me.

Woo, a busy month!

June

Nat and I visited the animal rescue centre Raystede. A beautiful day and nice relaxing drive through some quiet countryside.

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I was meant to attending a blogging event – Blogtacular – but wasn’t well enough to go, as usual.

The guys from work chauffeured me and Nat in a rather posh car to One Aldwych for afternoon tea, my birthday present from Nat.

July

My parents came to stay. A lovely weekend. We took them to Julian Plumart for afternoon tea.

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I stayed with my friend for a quiet, sleepy weekend in Midhurst and went to watch her perform in her local village choir. A beautiful evening.

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August

I bought Nat horse riding lessons for us both for her birthday. Note to self, don’t learn to horse ride at 31 and definitely don’t do it with chronic pain. I actually couldn’t sit down for a week. However, riding a horse over the South Downs was an incredible, if not extremely painful, experience.

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I had lunch at The Lanesborough in London following on from a work trip. A delightful, delicious experience.

Nat and I hopped in Suzie for a spontaneous trip to a small local farm. We acted like children, got lost in a maze and attacked by the most persistent wasp ever to have existed. A jolly good day in the sunshine.

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September

I met my buddies from the ME/CFS NHS group I attended last year – the first time we’ve all been well enough to meet up together. It was so amazing to see them again.

I had a brain and head scan to see what on earth is so wrong with my painful locked jaw. I must have a huge brain as it took over an hour!

October

On a way to a local cafe to meet Stuart I fell upon a book fair. Needless to say we had the most wonderful afternoon with some excellent antique finds.

November

I didn’t recover, thus lost my university fees.

I headed for a restful weekend in favourite place on earth – St Annes on the Sea. With the help of staying in a luxury guest house a two minute walk from the seafront I had a relaxing, sleepy time and saw some of the most beautiful sunsets and chatted to some wonderfully friendly people. Lancashire is definitely my spiritual home.

Nat and I stayed in a hotel on Brighton seafront a few minutes in a taxi from our home. With a mahogany four poster bed and sea views it was a lovely treat, and dinner at Prezzo was indulgent and delicious.

I started working with Jody Shield – the healer, coach and mentor and got taken under the wing of her and her amazing team.

Nat and I went to a local Christmas Craft Fair at Brighton Open Market, a stones throw from our house.

December

Mom came to stay while Nat was at a Buffy The Vampire Slayer Convention. We had a lovely festive weekend including a buffet and Christmas song evening with Stuart.

I attended both the Advent and Carol services at my local church which is a beautiful example of architecture with stained glass windows and a stunning original organ.

Christmas (early) at my parent’s house was the most festive I’ve felt in years, with gifts, decorations and Christmas dinner it was quite perfect indeed.

Nat and I also went with Stuart to a traditional night of ghost stories as told by the Victorians in the run up to Christmas.

And so I finish writing this on the 21st December, with the real Christmas day still to go. I have of course omitted most of the parts where I have felt dreadfully unwell for most of the year, and I simply couldn’t include every wonderful lunch or tea/coffee shop visit with Nat, lunch and serious selfie dates with Stuart (or Dr Mystery as I prefer to call him) and the many wonderful times with my parents or I’d never get this post finished! I have also seldom mentioned my beloved Trinny, the fluffiest, prettiest nurse around. 2017 wouldn’t have been the same without her…

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I also haven’t written about my job. I work with an amazing group of people who I am proud to call my friends and colleagues and I am being supported in my ever changing career no end. They take me to and from work to save on energy, run my errands if I am too unwell to go out and are just an awesome bunch who look after me, so a huge thank you to everyone at Consec 🙂

I am currently working on my hopes, dreams, goals, aspirations (whatever you want to call them) for 2018. But the product of that is definitely for another blog post…

So as I bid farewell to 2017 I want to take a moment to express gratitude to the friends who have checked on me when I’m ill, not got annoyed when I cancel plans for the fifth time and bought me loads of tea!

Here’s to a fabulous 2018!

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Who Am I – 2017 Edition

Who am I? Who are you? How does anyone know what their identity is? Is it your job, marital status or age as so often detailed in a magazine columns – ‘Lady K, 31, Civil Partner, Brighton’. I prefer to think of it as what you enjoy – hobbies, interests, pastimes. So for me I think I can be identified as an eccentric, cat loving, bird watching, nature loving trainspotter who loves reading, spending time alone and is a classic introvert. Or can I?

Life with chronic pain and fatigue and all the other symptoms that come as part of the joyous package mean life is far from what I would like and what it used to be. My days now revolve around feeling wiped out, worrying about feeling wiped out, resting to recover from feeling exhausted and resting to store up enough energy to get through the coming days at work. So where does that leave time for my hobbies, of which I know there are many.

‘Health Professionals’ and various people I have come across tell me not to waste energy. I can rarely muster up enough energy to cook a decent meal, and when I do end up with some sort of injury – a burn or cut – so if I can’t even feed myself properly, then why should I use any lucky spare energy on doing what I enjoy, for example reading a book. I’ll tell you why – because I’m allowed to enjoy things too. It what makes me who I am, keeps me sane, and allows me to cling on to the little bits of me that I feel are left. Its a reminder that the real Lady K is still in there somewhere, fighting and waiting eagerly to escape the slow, tired body and mind I’m currently trapped in. So while I may feel absolutely awful after such activity, the chances are I’ll feel absolutely awful anyway, so I might as well enjoy a little me time while I can.

In 2017 I’ve attempted to make myself a priority. I’ve spent my life putting other people and things first, and it’s really hard to stop that. However, I think for a first try I’ve done well. I’ve read seventeen books this year. Admittedly some of these are graphic novels or books that require very little brain power, but others were deep storylines, that although short, were a challenge to read. And I loved every second of it. Some of my earliest memories are of reading. My parents reading bedtime stories, winning awards in reception class aged four for having read the most books and having a reading age double my actual age. Reading is a part of ME (not M.E.) and I’ve made space for it in my life. I’ve read in bed, reclined on the sofa, in between napping on long train journeys home (I recommend advance first class tickets, affordable and comes with a reclining seat and endless tea on Virgin West Coast). Reading is rather easy to incorporate into chronic life, and I thoroughly intend to keep it up in 2018 and beyond.

2017 has also seen me making more time to spend with friends and family. My anxiety, pain and fatigue often leaves me trapped in the prison of my home but this year I have tried to fight it just a little. It’s gone well. I’ve seen plenty of my good friend Dr M, managed to have catch ups with friends who also have M.E. and pain conditions, met with Mrs B for tea and cake, spent more time with my parents despite the distance between us. Yes, a very good year for socialising indeed. Go Lady K!

I’ve also ensured I’ve had good, quality time on my own. Yes, alot of that is in my pyjamas talking to my cat while I drink tea and eat crisps, but throw in a book or a good TV series and it makes it that bit more pleasant. You forget how flippin’ awful you feel for just a moment and get lost in whatever it is you are focusing on.

So while all of the above may not seem very rock ‘n’ roll told the old me, it’s progress for the present me and it’s making life more enjoyable. No, I won’t be running along the seafront at twilight any time soon watching the starling murmuration around Brighton Pier (hopefully one day though!) but I can curl up under a blanket, have a cup of tea with a friend, nap and read a chapter of my latest book.

So the next time someone asks you to identify yourself, remember, you are more than your job or marital status, your are more than any illness that may affect you, you are YOU.

My name is Lady K, and I’m an eccentric, cat loving, bird watching, nature loving trainspotter who loves reading, and spending time alone.

Who are you?

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Taking Medical Leave From University

Deciding to do a part time degree, while working part time, and living with ever changing chronic illnesses has always been tough. I may never have got the best marks but I have somehow managed to complete three full years with the Open University and overall my scores were good.

The latest module started in October and was the first level three, or third year for full time universities. I cannot describe the change between second and third level, it was so much harder. But I found it so interesting having the freedom to independently study and use my research in essays. Despite being persistently behind I achieve the best scores in my university career to date. However it got harder and harder to keep up. As my anxiety greatly worsened at the beginning of the year I found my studies were only adding to the exhausting endless turmoil in my mind. I certainly don’t need help feeling exhausted, and I got to the point when I knew it wasn’t doing me any good, in fact I felt it was being detrimental to my health.

I chatted with two good friends about my thoughts to defer and take medical leave, which gives me the option to return and use the credits I have within twelve years of starting. It took a while to sit with my thoughts to know what was truly the best thing for me, and my health, both mental and physical. It was on the short walk home from a coffee shop, whilst propped up with Sticky (my latest walking stick) that I made my ‘executive decision’ (I always call important decisions executive, I think it gives them a bit more oomph!).

I called the university on Monday, a call back never came, so stressed out and pacing I called again on Tuesday and finally spoke to someone who said I wouldn’t be entitled to a penny back of the hundreds of pounds I had paid for the year. After pressing the matter more, I was told I would urgently need a letter from my GP to state it was is not in my best interests health wise to continue studying. My GP have advised this will take three weeks and will cost me £20. I have never requested a letter from my GP for any reason, not for any type of benefit, not for work, never, so I am saddened and angry I’m expected to pay yet more on top of my taxes and prescription charges.

The first days after cancelling my course and getting those dreaded emails through were hard. I had a sudden realisation at work that I was no longer a student and that it is probably for the longer term, if not for good. But as the days have gone on I feel a great sense of relief, a huge weight feels as if it has been lifted off my shoulders. I am free to use what little spare time I have doing what I love; reading, taking photos, spending time with family and friends. And most of all I don’t have to feel guilty for napping, for sleeping, or for taking entire days in bed with cups of tea, my cats and a steady supply of painkillers because that’s what my body needs.

So I’m not a student any more, and I may never graduate. And that’s ok. Because I come first, education will always be there, and I have already achieved so much despite all the things set against me. So if you don’t mind I’m off to stick my head in a magazine and have another cup of tea.

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Spring At Home

Spring is such a beautiful time of year, it’s a close second the array of bronzed colours Autumn brings.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know that I don’t often get out an awful lot, and I certainly don’t have a garden to admire from the dark basement flat that is my home.

The winter had left me feeling rather down in the dumps and generally fed up of the four dark damp walls of my expensive Brighton rental home. With no grass verges outside, few trees and not a sparrow or starling to be heard twenty minutes inland from the sea, I was desperately craving some greenery and colour at home. But with the lack of sunlight I have always been convinced that no plant could survive here, just as I appeared to be struggling to.

Then I read a magazine article about how good it is for your mental health to fill your home with plants. I am lucky in that I have huge Victorian windowsills on the two windows in my flat so I decided to hot foot it (get the bus) up one of the steepest hills in Brighton to my (very) local garden centre.

I’m positive that once inside my wife despaired of me, I was thoroughly excited by the greenery an houseplant options that surrounded me and she promptly abandoned me for the book section! Cautious of the poor light I finally came home with a couple of plants, a cacti pot and some pretty pots for them.

A few weeks on, they are alive and well so after a doctor appointment we went to the local florist at our market who always have a lovely selection of plants. Having read aloe vera plants are good for aiding sleep and need little light, this insomniac got her hands on the biggest one there for the bedroom windowsill along with a beautiful red edged grass of which I’ve not a clue what it is.

Finally, I needed some floral colour, so a trip to Marks and Spencers gave me the opportunity to be treated by my wife to a couple of lovely bunches of flowers and daffodils that cost just 25p because one flower had started to open, bargain!

Having been a keen gardener back in my home town of Birmingham, and even volunteering for a Jacobean walled garden, this green fingered girl (ok, woman)  is loving chatting to and watering her plants, I forgot how much I missed it. I’ll certainly be getting a bunch of flowers every week too.

Here is a small snapshot of some of the colour that is currently filling my home. I hope you like it as much as I do!

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Southern Rail Strikes – Trinny’s Story

Controversial as this post may be, I suffer endless abuse on social media for supporting the ongoing rail strikes, not just because I’m from a family of rail workers all over England, but because I travel with a disabled rail card.

In the past conductors and train managers have looked after me when I’ve had panic and anxiety attacks, have been so unwell I vomit, and have struggled with mobility after long journeys. Most of the assistance comes from the amazing staff on Virgin Trains and in the Virgin First Class Lounge. I travel first class as I need extra room, less crowding and extra staff to help if needed. I also need to rest between each leg of my journey. Since moving to Brighton, the routes I regularly use locally have not had any staff and it has been the case, on more than one occasion, that passengers have looked after me, from keeping my mind busy during anxiety attacks, to holding my hand to help me get off the steep train steps with large gaps between the platform and train.

I recently discovered the catsagainstsouthern hashtag, and of course, being the mad cat lady I am, I just couldn’t help but get my Trinny involved. So without further ado, here’s Trinny’s Story.

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Last Week

My week in pictures.

  • A flower amongst the over grown pot plants.
  • A train ride
  •  ME Management Group
  • Cuddles with pets
  • Living in pyjamas.

The pictures disguise the difficulty of the week, but show how my pets are such an important part of living with chronic illnesses.  I don’t know where I’d be without my regular kitty cuddles.

Karen xx

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This I know – notes on unravelling the heart

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This book has to be one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. It’s part journal, part Polaroid photography, and part guidance.

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The idea for Susannah Conway to write this book followed on from the sudden passing of her partner, the deep, dark hole she fell into and how she slowly, but surely climbed her way out. From her journalling of spending hours alone in he house, in her pyjamas, longing for her partner to return in some form or feeling, to her counselling, long walks on the beach and her move to another city to rejuvenate her career, this book tells the story of how although you never get over a death of someone, you can learn to live in harmony with your thoughts and feelings. In theory it sounds like a book that would be good for helping people deal with bereavement in their lives and getting themselves back on track, but it is so much more than that.

I felt the book didn’t so much relate to the very recent passing of my beloved grandma, but it pulled more at the feelings I have towards my health and illnesses. It spoke to the grieving I have for my previous life, to the reality that is my current life and how I am trying to create a life for myself that will work for me, for the new me.

Each chapter ends with ‘Reflections’. These include little tasks you can do to treat yourself, to delve deeper into your thoughts, and to just remember that everything is ok. My favourite task is writing 20 little cards of treats for yourself, put them in some sort of basket and when you’re feeling low, struggling with life or just feel like you deserve a little happy time, you pull a card out and do whatever is on it. It might be a bar of chocolate, a posh cup of tea or coffee, a chapter of a book or a cuddle with the cat, whatever works for you. And what’s more, my crafty mom made me beautiful little cards and envelopes to pop these ideas into, so opening every treat is a pretty, cute little treat in itself, adorned with a beautiful butterfly on each little pocket. Each little task can be created to your own personal likes and loves.

The book is beautiful to flick through, every few pages is adorned with meaningful quotes, soft Polaroid photos and it brings an overall feeling of peace to you as you read. This book itself will be one of the treats I add into one of my little envelopes.

In recent times of high anxiety, feeling blue about my difficult health situation or just having one of those days, I’ve recently reached for these pages and got myself lost in a world of learning to feel good about life, and most importantly, myself, again.

Susannah also has a beautiful website with lots of free ebooks, courses, meditations and photos to download.

Karen xx

Uncategorized · yoga

Yoga for Pain and Anxiety – My Story

The idea to write this post was given to me by my fellow Twitter and blogging buddy, Ness who suggested it’d be a good idea to share my story of yoga and chronic illness.

Lets start at the beginning; roll back about eight or nine years. I was a member of a Virgin Active gym where the local Z-list celebrities were said to go, not that I can say I ever spotted one. Pre-illness days involved lots of running, body pump classes and the genius idea that yoga would be easy, and almost certainly relaxing. I turned up for a two hour session in a room above the pool, it was hot, humid and the mats smelt of sweat and germs. A beautiful zen-like teacher swept in and began her class by singing to us, ahhh perfect. About ten minutes later I was making a ‘basket’ with my hands and someone was pulling my legs into a headstand position. All I remember was somehow managing to drive home and making it as far as the dog’s bed in the hallway and joining him on it. I was in agony for days. For some strange reason I continued to go to those classes until I left the gym. Then I moved to Brighton, got splattered by a bicycle and life was never the same again.

In January of 2015 my wife found a deal on Groupon for a year’s membership to Yoga Download for £18. We’d been chatting about how unfit I felt and how I missed exercise and that I’d like to try yoga again. For £18 I had nothing to lose, so I signed up. The selection of classes on the website was amazing, and I went in hard. 45 minute classes every evening at advanced beginner, because obviously I knew what I was doing from my previous yoga experience, right?!

I now know I should have only practiced the very basic classes and moved into more restorative poses such as child’s pose for the asanas I couldn’t, or shouldn’t, have attempted. My body was sore and I was feeling more tired than ever, yet I had an immense feeling of wellbeing. Despite the classes I attempted being too hard for me the poses and focus on breath had actually done me some good.

At the time I was struggling with my anxiety. After a few years of being stable and knowing where I stood with it, it reared it’s ugly head and as threatening to make my life a complete misery once again. It wasn’t possible to just remove the stresses in my life as one very unhelpful GP suggested, but I inadvertently found that yoga really helped me. The focus on slow, deep breaths, as simply as it may sound, was just what I needed as a chronically worried, anxious, stressed out girl. Yoga Download also has meditations available so I decided to try out a yoga nidra practice.

I’ll be honest, having dabbled in meditation before I was dubious as I really didn’t seem to be able to get the hang of it, but I needed support with my anxiety so I decided to give it a go. As soon as the recording began the soothing voice of the very lovely yoga teacher Celest Pereira had me zoned out and dozing off well before the 25 minute session was up. I still use this recording on a regular basis as it is everything I need to calm me down. From the relaxing body scan, to the counting of breathing and focusing on certain sounds in the environment around me, it really is just perfect. I strongly recommend checking out her website and Youtube channel, while lots of the videos are for the more advanced yogi, she doesn’t forget about us beginners and her videos are just so positive and upbeat you come away feeling pretty damn great!

Anyway, back to yoga. In addition to Yoga Download I started attending classes at my local studio, a five minute walk away. One or two classes a week was such a lovely get away from reality. I explained to the teachers my health problems and they were always so supportive, gathering blankets, bolsters and cushions to support my practice. Ultimately, I couldn’t afford to keep paying for classes, and in the end my health got so bad last year I stopped practicing. Whilst I was gaining physical strength, muscles were reappearing and mentally I felt much better, my body was crying out for relief, a rest and just to relax in some gentle poses instead. Overdoing yoga didn’t cause the downward spiral of my health, but the way I was forcing my body to practice for an hour or two at a time really wasn’t helping.

Fast forward to 2016, I have practiced yoga 5 times per week for the last two weeks. Doesn’t sound like much does it? Well for me it’s one heck of an achievement. I’m going through a pretty tough flare up at the moment but have discovered a more suitable website with lots of very short beginner classes, some less than ten minutes long. Movement For Modern Life seems to be well suited to my abilities. The longest class I have completed is fifteen minutes and the shortest is four. Bedtime yoga has sent me into a deep slumber for the first time in months, meditation classes have calmed me down on painful days and the overall sense of wellbeing it’s given me is such a wonderful feeling to have.

A five minute class is an achievement, I learnt to recognise that the hard way. Five minutes of yoga can leave you feeling chilled out and wonderful if you let it. Don’t push your body, when it’s ready to move forward it’ll let you know, but in the meantime keep it simple, your body will thank you for it in the long run.

Karen xx

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Achievements in 2015

2015 was a tough year in a number of ways. My health deteriorated from the get go and this prevented me from doing many of the things I had planned. I didn’t get my business started, had to defer my degree, had to give up my voluntary work with FibroAction, I didn’t make it to all of the events, shows and exhibitions I had planned and I didn’t manage to keep up all of the healthy lifestyle changes I made at the beginning of the year.

But enough with the negative! Here’s what was acheived:

  1. I went to the Fibromyalgia Conference, learnt lots and made some wonderful friends.
  2. I learnt gentle basic yoga which I hope to ease back into soon.
  3. I went to The Stationery Show, my first professional event in years, and I did it with confidence!
  4. I managed to hold down my 30 hour per week job despite my health trying to tell me I couldn’t.
  5. I created a (admittedly)  basic website for my business idea. Yep, this technophobe right here!
  6. I had the courage to step down from my voluntary role before it got the better of me and my fatigue.
  7. I finally put enough pressure on my (many) GPs and got referred to pain and fatigue clinics.
  8. I learnt to control my breathing when I’m having an anxiety attack or a particularly bad pain flare.

All of these begin with ‘I’ because I want to remember that it was me who managed to do all of this, and that’s always a positive, right?!

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The list may look a little feeble, but it was a difficult twelve months, and every tiny little thing meant something to me.

What achievements have you had in the past year? Share them with me, and others, in the comments below or over on Twitter.

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I hope last year was successful for you and one to remember, and I hope that this year is brimming with achievements, happiness, good health and positivity.

Karen xx