Something that makes me happy even though I’m in pain: nature aka The Great Outdoors.
Also, cute babies and smiling dogs feature on the list as well! X-)
Something that makes me happy even though I’m in pain: nature aka The Great Outdoors.
Also, cute babies and smiling dogs feature on the list as well! X-)
Last January I posted about trialling a ‘Jar of Joy‘, here’s a snippet from that post…
“The idea is that whenever a good thing happens in 2013 we write a note of it (little bits of different coloured or patterned paper would be really pretty) and pop the notes into the jar. At the end of 2013 we have a jar of reminders of all the good things that it’s so easy to forget or not give it the importance it deserves in our memory. For those of us living with health conditions, or any other challenging life anomaly, this could be really beneficial to our satisfaction at the end of 2013 and looking ahead to 2014. Many of us have experienced the mixed emotions at the end of one dastardly tough year and trying to feel like it was worth it and that the new year will somehow be better. It is easy to remember the hardships, especially when they’re reinforced in our memories by occurring daily, so it’s even more important to remind ourselves of the little joys that so easily get lost along the way, x
From an ill health perspective ‘good things’ would mean slightly different things than perhaps a rock band roadie or NASA scientist might imagine 😉 If we manage a physio’ session with less pain, clean the bathroom and still have enough juice left to make ourselves a congratulatory cup of tea, if a good friend comes to visit and lighten our day, if we have a meal with family, or get to visit a library or museum or see a film or play, If we dress ourselves without as much pain as usual, or put on an item of clothing that we couldn’t put on ourselves for a long time, any of these things and more are experiences and achievements to allow ourselves a moment smiling and a warmth in our hearts, and if they make you grin then they deserve to get jotted down and added to the jar. Think about what will make you smile when you look at them again at the end of the year, and those are the ones to note down.”
I definitely found the Jar of Joy a very positive experience, so once I’d emptied the Jar (and saved the notes because so many positive memories is a very valuable asset 🙂 ) I set it back on the mantle ready for 2014. My first note was: “First Tai Chi lesson of the year”.. And yet here I am in July and I still haven’t written about 2013’s Joys and the whole Jar-of-Joy experience! *gasp*
So after collecting Joys to be remembered, how have I found the experience?
It certainly makes me focus on the positives in a more tangible way. I am naturally positive anyway, but I found that sometimes I would forget to physically note down good things and then I’d have a re-cap of the previous week or two and write down several good things in one go to catch up. If I didn’t have any that readily came to mind then I would think harder to find some. That’s all to the good because it shows that even those of us who are naturally positive can benefit from the process, so for my fellow patients who are currently in earlier stages and/or really bumpy times this could be incredibly useful. We can but give it a whirl and see. 🙂
So if you’re thinking of trying out the Jar of Joy and would ilke some ideas of the kinda things to include, here’s what I ended up noting down as Joys in 2013…
I looked through them all and grouped them by theme. I found that I have some main categories in the way I note down the good things I experience. They are… outings and friends, enjoyable physio’ classes, studying, health blog and arty stuff. Here’s the kind of things I have included from my 2013 adventure on these themes…
Outings and Friends: I tend to include eeeeeverything!
For anyone who has spent any length of time unable to get out much, having someone help you to go somewhere different means a massive amount. I’m not sure that others truly realise how much this means to me, but any of my friends recognising their inclusion here… now you know how much it means to me to see your wonderful selves, xxx
So this category included things like …
Friends, (but not outings)!: not every chat I have was noted down but things that stood out for me as particularly smiley were…
My enjoyable physio’ classes: Tai Chi and adaptive Kung Fu.
It’s been an amazing year for Tai Chi, it’s been like a dream. If it could never happen again I would live in the joy of that year forever and a day! 😀
Studying: I was completing a distance learning module during the first 3 months of 2013. It had been a really tough journey and I had lost my brain completely in any critical thinking at all for a solid three months at the end of 2012, so I had a large amount of work to do to get to the finish-line in time. So my Joys were..
Health Blog: That’d be this ‘un, here!
By the way, I’d love to know more of my fellow bloggers on Facebook, so drop me a line in the blog’s Facebook page if you want to get in touch 🙂
Arty stuff: it is very rare that I can risk the physical indulgement but I love it.
Three notes didn’t fit perfectly into any of the main themes: One was a note about wearing my ballgown whilst sat at home for New Year’s Eve, because I loooved getting to wear it! Another was a surprise note that I found on my car windscreen after a Tai Chi class – Magic Dude had been in the area and spotted the car so he left a gorgeous note for me. The other was the one and only note that related specifically to my health, it said:
“London trip (2 days re autonomic appointment)
went much better painwise thanks to the wheels”
– Nothing about the appointment, just that the wheelchair helped enormously. So really it’s about a tool to help me, not the appointment itself.
I had made a conscious decision not to include health stuff in the jar. After all a good appointment is not a joy, it’s just not a cack appointment for once! Or is it? Should I start including health-stuff? I’m not sure. The guide I use is.. would it make me smile if I re-read the notes when going through a tough time? If the answer is no then I won’t include it. And although the health positives are good at the time, I think that during difficult times of the year like christmas and new year I would not want to have my thoughts drawn to health stuff in any way, I would rather read about totally separate Joys. So I suspect that, unless it’s a cool physical achievement of some sort, health stuff will not be a part of my jar this year either.
So what do you reckon?
Is there anything else I should focus on?
Any events or circumstances I’ve been neglecting to write notes about?
So far in 2014 I’ve also been including that I’ve had some lovely conversations with friends who I originally met as fellow patients, sometimes on the phone, sometimes on Skype. I’ve also just realised as I write this that I’ve not included any gardening successes, or happy purchase of a new plant to grow, or seeds to germinate. The key to the Jar of Joy is that it helps us to spot more of the positives, even if we’re pretty positive to start off with and, as you can see, I’m already spotting the potential for even more Joys to get noted down for when I really need a boost when times get tough.
If I carry on like this… I’m gonna need a bigger Jar!
Why hello there! Fancy meeting you this New Year’s Eve, come in, come in. And please excuse the sparkles! 😉
Christmas with Magic Dude’s folks was lovely. Okay,yes it’s true that I sat with my trusty hot water bottle most of the time, with my feet up on the footstool. And yep, it’s also true that I drank more fluids in one day than I can comprehend (pretty much equivalent to putting me on a rooibos tea drip)! And I admit that I tended to nod and pretend I understood what people were saying when I had no clue coz the multiple conversations had taken it’s toll and squashed any remaining ability to process information (unless someone said “Tea?” then the answer was easy)! And of course I thought of my missing family, but the choices of others are the choices of others. We need to hold onto who we are despite the losses and misunderstandings.
Part of who I am is the girl who always dressed up at christmas because, well, why not? I didn’t get to any other time and it felt nice to dress up. And this year I decided to have a giggle trying to make my fingernails look a bit festive. I was going for christmas trees and a snowman…
Of course that was my left hand… painted by my dominant right hand.
How do you think the snowman turned out when I had to paint the other one with my useless left hand? 😉
Haahahahaaa! It was looking kinda good up until that point, eh?!
(S’cuse the chip, I forgot to take a piccy of the comedy snowman til after christmas)!
I tried to paint on some eyes and buttons but I just got big blobs of paint everywhere, then I tried to wipe them off and… well… snowman-in-the-fog anyone?! Or Magic Dude said it might be a vomiting-snowman? Feel free to add whatever twist you feels fits the, er, artwork! 😉
So, here I am on New Year’s Eve and I’m gonna keep it simple tonight – sparkles will do the trick.
Of course I can’t go anywhere tonight, so I’ll be sat on my sofa with Magic Dude and our Local Friend. Am I ready? I’m so exhausted, and fainty, and nauseated, and… Bah! I’m gonna do New Years Eve from my sofa and it’s gonna be sparkly despite all that.
– One ballgown (yes, ballgown. <pulls a determined face> ! )
– Sparkly nails that don’t exactly go with the dress because I’m such a rebel!
– Christmassy headgear
– Party hats on standby
– Non-alcoholic mulled apple juice for me
– Warm fluffy blanket
– Hot Water Bottle
– Random christmas nibbles
– DVDs to choose from already by the telly
So let’s have a moment in our own homes where we pat ourselves on the back for getting through last year, for smiling and laughing despite the downsides, for making friends online who understand, for finding the ‘me’ in each of us that the health stuff never reaches. You are beautiful. You are strong. And even if your nails aren’t sparkly tonight, your soul certainly is. Sparkle my friends, I will be thinking of you all tonight and wishing you well.
Much love from me to each and every one of you,
A Day In My Life Photo Challenge for 30 Days Of RSD/CRPS Awareness, June 2013
Day 23 – A picture of awareness/creativity
Creativity is a great way to focus my mind away from pain and other symptoms. Awareness is both a different ball-game and the same ball-game depending on how I look at it…
Awareness of the joy in creativity, and of it’s use as both a distraction tool and as an uplifting tool is great. But the bigger awareness of who we are, and how we are still ourselves despite the changes in our lives, well that’s the shiny. 😀 As I said in a recent post, I decided to be as me as I want to be. Yeah so I’m chronically ill and I can’t do the stuff I used to do, but that makes me no less me. That was about what I did, this is about who I am – I can still be in the world, live my life, love all of the amazing people I have met in the world and online, share thoughts, share laughter, I can still be creative even though I can no longer do pottery, and even though painting is such a mega pain fest to do too often. I can be creative in my head, in silly conversations, on the laptop when I’m up to it, and even the occasional silly sketch for the blog.
Yep. My awareness that floats me onwards through life is that I have my world, my life, my skills, my love… all that I choose to do and all that I choose to be is in my hands. And although what I can do is restricted, that’s okay. It doesn’t stop me from finding ways to express my ‘me’. It doesn’t stop me from being who I am.
So here’s a pic’ that was taken during a Tai Chi-ish moment in the British Natural History Museum in London. For me it was a creative moment, but it also says so much more to my heart.
Being true to myself is about who I am on the inside, what I think about, what I feel, how I express myself, who I share my thoughts with, how I still try to be there for others. The question of whether I can still milk a cow, or do an accidental wheelie in a little Massey Ferguson tractor, or do a cartwheel down a quiet aisle in a supermarket is nothing to do with who I actually am. I did that stuff, they are expressions of who I am, and the memories make me smile, cool eh? Now, onwards… I’m creating new memories to add to the old… tea with a beloved friend, a silly conversation, a physio’ class I enjoy, some handy research shared with fellow patients that helped somebody out, a silly pic taken at the Natural History Museum the day before seeing a consultant….
My own personal world is in my hands, and it shines 😀
Hello! Yes, it’s me, please don’t fall over in shock! I know I’ve been awol for a while whilst getting to grips with the final dissertation for my studies. Today is allocated to studying, well, in my functional moments anyway! However, I’m in a lot of pain from how I’ve been sitting so I’ve moved to the sofa (complete with duvet and hot water bottle, of course) and rather than faff about online doing unproductive things whilst I wait for the pain levels to calm down a bit, I decided to pop in here and wish you all…. (wait foooor iiiiiit…)….. a very happy first ever “International Happiness Day”!
Seeing as my brain is full of study and it’s a more painy day than usual I don’t relish the thought of going out for a physio walk today and getting told to be happy, when I’m concentrating on moving through the pain! But I do like the idea of formulating some replies that would subtly inform whilst making me laugh hilariously at their surprise at my daring to be so jokey about such a serious subject as my health! (Twisted sense of humour, much?) 😉
I remember a horrific physio walk, back in my early physio days. The physio experience got soooo much better because I persevered with it, but this was back when I was desperately trying to slowly make it around the (very small) block without bursting into tears. Then the ruddy postman cheerfully suggested to me that I should “cheer up love, it may never happen!” as he passed me by. Okay, so the thought of punching him in the face did occur to me in my imagination, but in reality I just feigned a smile and promptly burst into tears the moment he’d turned away.
We all know those days. But I’ve found that happiness creeps into my life in new ways. Admittedly I look for it because I want to be happy. I’ve spent time thinking about what truly makes me happy, and it really is the simple things that make me both happy and kinda peaceful on the inside, too.
I smile when the sun shines. I really enjoy a nice cup of tea (oh okay, many many cups of tea!). I adore my friends near and far, (some of my closest friends are beautiful souls I met through online CRPS groups, and even lovelier is that they are beginning to meet those of my closest friends who know me from the 3D world and they are becoming friends with each other, too. *glee*).
I loved hearing the first Spring birdsong a while ago (Spriiiing is on the way… waaarmth is on the way! Okay, so we’ve had more snow since then but I didn’t foresee that at the time so I still smiled at the Spring songstrel)!
I set myself little goals because that way I am not endlessly fighting to get to a far-off distant goal. Instead I achieve little goals along the way to the big goal, each of which gives me a sense of achievement and makes me smile. It brings a feeling of capability and self-worth with it, too. Often my big goals are questionable as to whether I can actually achieve them, but my view is that I don’t know if I don’t try, and if I achieve lots of little goals along the way then every bit is an achievement to be proud of, however far I do or don’t get in the broader picture.
For example… I’d love to do a PhD, so I’m battling my health to get my masters degree. I don’t really expect to get a PhD, but I expect to keep looking into the possibilities and seeing if there’s a format that could work for me. Never say never, right?!
Another example… I’d love to represent my country doing Tai Chi at the Paralympics, but Tai Chi isn’t a part of the Paralympics and won’t be any time in the foreseeable future. (Yep, I even emailed the International Paralympic Committee to ask! Well, if you don’t ask, you don’t get, right?! tee hee). I’m not saying I’m that good, but I do tend to aim high these days just to see what is possible. I’m still working on improving my Tai Chi as much as I can for as long as I can. I see it as something which can help me through my life into my grey-haired years (which, between you and me, I appear to be embarking upon already but they’re not too noticeable, yet, shhhhh 😉 ). One of the keys with CRPS is the balance between activity and rest, for me Tai Chi is a perfect activity challenge. (Here’s another secret… I’m even entering a big Tai Chi tournament! I figured, “why not?” It’s ‘only’ a beginners classification. I’d love to whoop some able-bodied asses with my slow-mo’ disabled styleeee, hehehe)!
I also wanted to do something to help my fellow CRPS patients, hence this blog came into existence. But with my professional(ish – my health stopped me from working after the psych’ degree) background training I wanted to do some research that would help in a more professional capacity. It’s all very well being an ‘expert patient’, but I figured a paper from a ‘researcher’ has more weight with the multi-disciplinary professionals involved, (not much more weight, but a bit, hey?). So I’ve spent my final masters module doing just that. Goodness knows if I’ll get these pain levels down enough to hit the dissertation deadline and pass, but after that I’ll have no deadline, and I will have the time to spend on writing a paper to share.
All this stuff, broken down into little chunks, little achievements, little moments of joy, (yes I’m still adding to my Jar of Joy!), moments of happiness both the big (a bronze medal at a little local interclub tournament last November. I know I didn’t write a post about it, I should have but I was feeling shy about it at the time. I think the reality has sunk in a bit more, now!) and the small (the sun shining in through the window whilst I sip a lovely cup of tea). I have soooo much happiness these days, I know it sounds weird but I can’t really explain it other than to say that my wants and appreciations in life have changed. Not that they’ve been downgraded, although it used to feel that way during the earlier stages of transformation, it’s actually more that I’ve recaptured my childlike appreciation of the things that we so easily grow to miss as busy responsible adults. Perhaps that’s why I like hanging out with the nieces so much! They’re about the same age as I am in my heart these days 😉
Fun. Silliness. Joy. Happiness. These are the ways I live these days. Despite (and quite possibly because) of the massive relationship losses that so many of us experience. Achieving small goals is valuable for the associated personal progression (I love learning 😀 ). I know I have pain and additional neurological, autonomic- and central nervous system issues with resulting physical and neurological difficulties, but I prefer to see them as a challenge! I relish a challenge these days! I never thought of myself as competitive, I want everyone to do well and I like to encourage others to progress, to become, to *be*, if that is what they want to do. But it turns out that there is a type of competitiveness I hadn’t taken into account before, and that is my competitiveness with myself! That is, that I always want to push harder, to be the best that I can be at something, but still within realistic boundaries applied by my health. After all, pushing too hard only results in going backwards healthwise and having to cover the same ground again to get back to the standard I was at before. That’s fine, I’m in no hurry. I am not competing with anyone else. I am on my own path and I’ll take it at a pace that is most productive for me. I’m fine with that, it’s worked for me so far.
It’s always exciting looking at how far I’ve come and gleefully dream up new ludicrous ‘big’ goals to make me grin! Half the fun is inventing a new goal and fully expecting that I can only get so far but that I’ll be so proud of myself for what I manage,… and then surpassing my own expectations. That’s fantastic! I do not expect to achieve my goals, but I expect to work towards them and achieve stuff along the way! Gosh I’m a paradoxical chick, huh?! 😀
Above is a tree of my journey that I created a while ago. I began it with my health changes as the roots and trunk – the beginning of this particular tack of my journey. Then the experience got less concentrated, more diverse. It branched out into many things. All inter-related, many overlapping in timescale, so there’s no pattern to the branches, just a lot of words, feelings, experiences and more that led me to starting this blog. Then I found a whole new chapter of my journey lay before me. I look forward to living it, I’m intrigued to see what happens next in the story!
Lotsa love and happiness from me,
Today’s theme for the November Challenge is one I may write about properly one day, but for now my level of symptomatic wooziness means that I can’t write for long. So today you’re getting a CRPS and Dys’ related poem, x
Life and Death
One day at a time.
Finding strength through love,
A pathway through the minefield.
Rays of sunlight shine.
Voices lost and present,
Sear and sing within my heart.
I’m ‘me’ all the same.
No shame in my sustaining,
Shining light throughout the fear.
Sat downstairs awake once more,
Listening to the upstairs snore,
Restful in my sleeplessness,
Knowing he, at least, will wake refreshed, xx
Tomorrow is another day,
And through it I will make my way,
With outings of unusual type,
Then home to see my friend on Skype, xx
Today the Olympic torch started it’s journey from Lands End in Cornwall on the most South West tip of the UK. Many torchbearers will take their turn at carrying it a little further on it’s journey all around the country. All have been nominated for reasons of strength either in their own illness, or in selfless giving to a cause or community.
Here are three of the people bearing the torch today…
Kenneth Johnson will carry the torch through St Austell. He has raised lots of money for a project on MS after one of his children’s teachers had to give up work as a result of the condition.
Sophia Cowburn will be carrying the torch through Liskeard. At the young age of 18 she has not only had to cope with her twin brother’s suicide as a result of depression, but she has started a charity and been doing lots of fundraising as a result. All whilst studying for a degree and holding down two jobs, as well. She has been described as ‘a truly inspirational teenager’, and deservedly so.
Carrying the torch through Plymouth is Chris Theobold, who not only has ME, but is also a carer for his wife and a volunteer for the Association for Young People with ME.
All three torchbearers include a focus on sports either for fundraising or health reasons. I hope that everyone enjoys their experience today, and a big cheer to all those fabulously strong inspirational people that we each know all around the world.
Despite spending the majority of time on my own it’s not actually a quiet life. If you were in the house with me you’d probably not know I was there, except for the occasional conversation with myself and the sound of the kettle going on! But in my head there is music playing a lot of the time. And when there isn’t music there is incessant jibberjabber, thoughts parading round my head, problems to be solved, ideas of things to do and to write about. It’s very busy in my head, and definitely not quiet!
With all this hubbub and music I should probably stretch to having my own theme tune. I wonder what that would be?
If it was a theme tune for the CRPS I reckon it’d be a proper old-style blues track….
Da… …DAH… ..da….
I woke up this morning….
Da… …DAH… ..da….
Still got CRPS….
Da… …DAH… ..da….
I’ve run out of teabags,
And the RAAAIIIN is coming down…..WOOAAAH yeeaaahhh…!
It’s not unusual for me to start singing the blues riff because I quite often hear the words ‘I woke up this morning…’ come out of my mouth, and the blues riff is the natural follow on! Which then results in barely awake Magic Dude listening amusedly to an impromptu made-up song about whatever it was I was going to tell him!
If I was going to pick a theme tune for the Dysautonomia it’d have to be something that fits in with my brain fog. Something where everything is weird, wobbly and incomprehensible, but at the same time any negative aspects pass me by so that I just drift along thinking everything’s bound to be A-OK if only I could find my brain. And with that in mind, this eclectic ditty leaps to the forefront of my thoughts….!
Hehe, that’s a tune from my childhood and I suspect that I shall continue to find myself periodically singing it for the rest of my days! 😉
But essentially, and overall, the most important thing is to find yourself, find your drive, and keep your own life moving forward in any way that you can. Advice from others to those who have chronic health conditions is often along the lines of ‘just think positive’ without bearing in mind just exactly the array of counterbalancing issues that there are to contend with. Yes, we can be positive, but everyone has down moments, everyone is only human. And it’s that beautiful, rough raw spirit that deserves to get acknowledged. No-one should be viewed as any less a person for not being positive aaall the time. Better still to acknowledge the true strength and beauty of the characters in this world who keep going despite the negatives. Who find the will to take hold of that steering wheel and allow themselves the space to just be.
And with that in mind, I shall leave you with this…
I’ve just been browsing some of the latest updates to flickr.com and I thought I’d share a couple with you as they are so beautiful.
This photo’ is of the sea at the shoreline, with the motion of the water blurred in movement to create a wonderful sense of looking at the world from a different point of view. The photographer, Rob Dickinson, has chosen to keep the seaweed in the foreground in focus, giving us viewers a sense of stillness despite the movement of the water. A pure moment in time.
To me it suggests almost a detached point of view. Not one where the detachment denotes a lack of emotional connection, but one where we detach from the distracting high frequency and pressingly urgent, humdrum mundanities of our day-to-day modern lives. It’s a depiction of one of those moments where you look up from your cup of tea, feel the breeze coming in through the open window and suddenly notice the birdsong behind the traffic noise. Those moments lift your soul. They remind you of the beauty in the world, and they refuel your inner self.
I love this pic’, thanks for sharing it, Rob.
The other photo’ that stood out as I browsed, was posted by Fabi Flores and it spoke to me in a very different way. This photo’ does not speak to me of the now, but of the lost past. Of childhood carefree days before we grew up and got serious. The sunlight is aged, nostalgic and beautiful. But the swing seat is empty. Those times are gone. Looking at this pic’ makes my heart swell in remembrance, but it is tinged with a sadness of what is an unregainable past. We have grown up, and yes we toil and fret, but we carry those warming memories with us like sparks at our centre that keep the fire burning.
And when we return our thoughts to reality, to the present day, we still have those beautiful detaching moments where we breathe in the world and smile over our steaming cuppas. Present-day life is not so bad. It’s all part of our journey, and the journey is scattered with glorious mini-moments to be noticed and savoured.
Thanks Rob and Fabi for sharing your pictures, x