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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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Overdoing It

Chronic illness is a funny old thing (not as in haha funny, as I’m sure you’ll understand if you’re reading this!). Sometimes you can do nothing and feel absolutely awful as if you’ve run a marathon then had the remainder of life sucked out of you by a Dementor, Harry Potter style. Other times you have the luxury of doing a little bit more than usual and feeling ok, no post extertional malaise days later, you just keep on plodding along. And then there is actually overdoing it and your mind and body punishing you for it as if to make sure you never leave the house again.

Last week I worked a couple of extra hours, had to get to the vet with my kitty cat (old lady check and essential vaccines) and like an idiot decided to book a ticket to the (very) local book discussion at a book store to see my favourite writer, horticulturist, and all round awesome woman.

Extra hours worked, no more than two I might add, lifts to and from work all week by my wonderful team of colleagues and friends I was doing ok-ish. Getting to the vets with my wife which is five minutes away wasn’t too troublesome. But as we were sitting in there waiting for the nurse to find the kitty blood pressure cuff (by the way the cutest thing in history – see here), that feeling came over me, as if someone had pulled the plug out and I needed to lie down immediately. I couldn’t string a sentence together, support my own body weight – thank goodness for the kind nurse who brought in chairs – or feel like I was going to be able to keep my eyes open. When that feeling hits I feel like I could collapse at any given minute, something which thankfully has only happened once and luckily I made it to my sofa in time. As soon as we made it home my wife helped me put my pjs on and I made it to bed, tramadol, a bottle of water and a very upset kitty cat for company. I slept solidly for three hours.

As the week went on I became more and more anxious. My generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) has no known trigger but tiredness makes it so much worse. I couldn’t face the book talk, could I. At the last minute I awoke from a nap just in time to slowly get ready and get the bus which thank god is only five stops and door to door. Disability pass in hand I bagged a front seat and the driver waited until my backside had hit the itchy nylon cushion. Alys Fowler is a true hero of mine, she inspired me to garden when I was housebound for almost three months with the onset of GAD, got me obsessed with growing my own fruit, vegetables and cut flowers, study floristry and she writes an awesome book. I got the lift to the third floor, folded up Little Johnny and made it just in time. For that short period of time I forgot about being ill in the intimate setting of the small discussion and enjoyed myself more than I have in a while. Everyone I told bar my parents said I need to get out more and am too young to watch a horticulturist impart her life wisdom in my spare time, but I’m so glad I braved it and made it. My hair may have been a disaster, make up smeared around my eyes post nap, but I didn’t care, and neither did Alys when I had the opportunity to chat with her.

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Next comes the weekend. A time to have luxurious lie ins, wander about the local area (I live in Brighton’s iconic area of coloured terraced houses and steep streets), eat great food and meet friends. Er no! My so called lie in woke me at 3am Saturday morning so dizzy I had to hold onto the wall when popping to the loo, lie down in stages as my head was swirling as if I’d drank one too many bottles of wine, and of course, couldn’t get back to sleep. Dizziness to this extent is reserved for times when I have seriously overdone it. I assume this means going to the vets and sitting down to watch a 45 minute book discussion. Really living it large! The dizziness intensified and waned throughout the day depending on how close I was to my next nap and all hopes of cooking delicious healthy food went out the window for a takeaway. I felt as if I was floating all day, was nauseous and a strange pale shade of grey that matched the dark circles under my eyes. I fell asleep on the sofa, awoke as dawn broke and spent the next few hours waking up every half hour. Exhausted and still dizzy I gave in at 9am and made myself a cup of tea. Unable to get to sleep for a nap I decided to get out my notebook/laptop and write this blog.

Tomorrow the cycle begins again, my alarm will go off and my incredibly boring, sedate, yet exhausting routine starts all over again…

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Daily Routine With Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS

My daily routine is far from what it used to be before I became unwell. I can’t do most of my hobbies now (gardening/baking/long walks/running) because they are just too painful and exhausting. I work part time, have had to give up my studies with The Open University, rarely cook a decent meal, and spend most of my time at home resting with a cup of tea, a pile of unread magazines and books (in the hope I will be able to muster up some mental energy to read them) and cups of Pukka Ginger Tea being frustrated about the pile of washing up in the kitchen and the clutter that surrounds me. So I thought I’d write out my routine for work days and days off just to put into perspective what life is really like, even though I’m only thirty (almost thirty one ahhhhh!) and look relatively well.
Work Days – Mon/Tue/Thur/Fri
7:15am: The alarm goes off, I snooze endlessly as I usually haven’t been asleep long.

7:40am: Finally drag myself out of bed, stretch, creak and crunch and stagger over to wherever my cat is sleeping for a morning cuddle. I let her out, change her water, poopie scoop her litter tray and top up her biscuits. She comes first as she is totally reliant on people to care for her. Tea, breakfast and medication, you get the idea…

8:30am: Leave the house to either get my bus right by my house which drops me outside work (its quicker to walk but that’s out the question) or get picked up by colleagues. I have a special pass for the bus that allows me to sit in the priority seats. The bus journey usually involves some funny looks from people who see my pass.

9am-3pm (5pm on Mondays): Work. By early afternoon I’m clock watching as I am struggling so much. Exhaustion set in a while ago and the pain creeps in behind it (and this is on a good day). A lot of the time I get a lift home from colleagues. Absolute life savers!

3:30pm I’m in bed having drunk a glass of water, taken tramadol and the kitty is usually sitting on me purring. Pyjama time has begun.

7pm: Out of bed (later on Mondays) and make the sort walk to the sofa. Still exhausted I’m in great need of a cup of tea. I’ll probably burn myself on the steam or spill some hot water.

8pm: Dinner time. Far later than I would like, and I definitely don’t have the energy to cook. Probably a ready meal, something out of the freezer chucked onto a tray or a tin of soup. Yep, I’ll burn myself again at some point during this short process of heating up crap food.

9:30-10pm; Shower. I leave it as late as possible as it is surprisingly hard work. Getting dry and dressed is exhausting. Take a handful of medication and more painkillers if I know I will be in (increased) pain all night.

11:30pm: Back to bed. I read, sometimes listen to meditation and hope for a good nights sleep.

1am: Still awake…. I can’t get comfortable from pain, my mind is racing but I’m too exhausted to get up. Sometimes I end up dragging myself to the sofa for a cuddle with my wife if she’s not working or getting up for an early shift.

2am: Probably still awake.

3am: Hopefully asleep. But often not.

Days Off:

No routine. I let my body do what it wants. It’ll sleep, snooze and rest, tell me it needs pain relief, when it’s peckish and make sure I leave the laundry, washing up and cleaning for another time (we really need to get our amazing cleaner back but at fortnightly visits it was still so expensive). These days involve endless cups of tea, a chance to flick through the pile of magazines, watch YouTube and stay in my pyjamas all day. I probably won’t go out and if I do, it’s been planned down to the very last details, and I’m probably terrified of the exhaustion that will come with it. These days are all about saving enough energy to work and earn a living. Sadly life is ruled by the need to pay bills and not look after my body and mind.

Picture credit: Meowingtons 

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Books, Reading, Donkeys and Disability

Books are some of my earliest memories; from standing in front of the assembly in reception class winning prizes for having read the most books (and crying with shyness), to raiding book boxes at car boot sales as a child to find an unread Enid Blyton or Roald Dahl book, and bedtime stories every night as a young child. I had a bookshelf full of books by the time I was about eight, and I read them at lightening speed.

As adulthood swept in I continued to read, having piles of books on my bedside table and churning out books faster than the charity shop receiving them once I’d finished could cope with. As a fully functioning ‘grown up’ with a job, chores and bills to pay, reading came in waves but it was always there, and I always had my eye on a book I’d want for Christmas or my birthday. Then came along the disabilities I live with today.

Fibromyalgia and ME cause such fatigue, such brain fog and a great difficulty in focusing. I had to read the same page ten times over before I knew what the words written on the page were hinting at. My book collection grew and grew, eventually causing one of my book shelves to break as the weight of unread books grew too much. I began to grieve the loss of such a huge part of my life, something which had defined me for the last three decades. Finally, Christmas 2015 gave me a nine day break from work which meant I had a little more energy to spare, and in the space of about five days I managed to read the two books my parent’s gave for Christmas – Sue Perkins Spectacles and Steph and Dom’s (from Gogglebox) Guide to Life. I enjoyed reading them so much I ordered and acquired yet more books in the hope I was back in the swing of reading. Then I went back to work and all of that went out of the window.

Fibromyalgia and ME can cause debilitating insomnia, something which has been particularly challenging for me this year. After a countless row of nights with barely any sleep before work I decided to take an over the counter sleeping aid in a desperate bid to get some decent shut eye. Upon waking I felt like superwoman, the first quality night’s sleep I can remember in years, and on the second occasion of taking the tablets this week I read approximately 80% of a book whilst waiting in for an engineer on my day off. That book was Amber’s Donkey.

Amber’s Donkey is a real life tale close to my heart. It’s based at Birmingham Donkey Sanctuary and tells how an abused Donkey, Shocks, and a little girl called Amber help heal each other over a period of months to help them both defy the odds of a recovery. I have sponsored Moses at the sanctuary for a couple of years, and one particularly poorly day when I was staying with my parents ended up in a trip to see them. I had the pleasure of grooming my sponsor donkey and meeting some of the others. Strangely, when I was there, my symptoms eased and I felt so much calmer upon leaving. Having first hand experience of the effect the donkeys had on me as an adult left me eager to read the book and find out how animal therapy can help children and teenagers with illness. I’d had my eye on the book for months since it was released and was determined to get around to reading it.I’m so glad I waited until I was well enough, and I’m so pleased this was my first read in eight months.

The last few days I’ve found myself glued to Booktubers on Youtube (see Jean Bookishthoughts and Reads and Daydreams) and my Amazon Wishlist is ever expanding. I’m hoping to take time out for myself, pushing thoughts of unmade beds, unswept floors and unfolded washing to the back of my head, giving my body the time it needs to rest, and fuel for my imagination in the form of books.

Next on my list to read is Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg and Bodies of Water by V H Leslie. Goodness only knows when I’ll actually finish them but I’m hopeful I’ll get there, soon.

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

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Goals for 2016

Social media and the internet are full of resolutions at this time of year, so I thought why not join in.

I’m working on lots of projects at the moment, personal ones and ones for my professional future, both of which interlink with one another.

So here they are, my goals for the coming 12 months and a day (it’s a leap year) of 2016:

  1. Learn to manage my pain and fatigue. It’s not going anywhere, but I know I can do more to learn to live with it.
  2. Read more books. I LOVE reading and can’t remember a time when I didn’t, but last year I only read four books. Shocking!
  3. Attend as many events as my health will allow, I’m already booked onto a networking event, into The Stationery Show and Summer In The City.
  4. Work on setting up my business. This is the big one but I know I can do it.
  5. Reduce and manage my anxiety and worrying using meditation, breathing and gentle basic yoga.
  6. Explore YouTube more. I’m serious latecomer and former YouTube hater, but I’m loving it so much already!

So I know that doesn’t look like much (I’ve just seen Hannah Witton on YouTube set ten resolutions, one of which is to read 50 books) but to me that’s enough. Each one of those is life changing for me in it’s own way. I could make a list five times as long but my body needs rest too, so that’s a priority, hence it being my first goal on the list.

Have you decided on any resolutions or goals this year that are really important to you? Let me know in the comments or over on Twitter.

Karen xx

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