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Monday, 31 October 2011

Tonight I Am...

I know that only yesterday I told you I was taking a week off.  That's still my plan but this post was just too important to me to not share it today so I hope you'll forgive me.

Today is Halloween.  Most of you are probably planning on dressing up and going trick-or-treating - I hope you have a safe, fun evening.

For Pagans, today is Samhain.  On this evening the veil between our world and the spirit world is at its thinnest, so is the best time to contact those who have departed (I seriously don't advise you do this though unless you know what you are doing).  For me, today is a reminder to remember those I love who aren't with us anymore so tonight I am planning on lighting a candle and thinking of my Grandad.

I will be remembering those times I rode on his knee as he sang 'Ride-a-cock-horse'; watching him in his garden and helping him to pick the runner beans; and his desk full of 'free gifts' he had claimed (mostly pens and a few pedometers is what I remember).

I hope you take time to acknowledge those beliefs that differ from your own and please feel free to share your opinions on tonight's festivities in the comments, or to remember someone you have lost.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Taking A Week Off

This week has not been a good one for me.  I have spent a lot of it on the sofa doing a whole lot of nothing.  And every day I have felt more and more guilty for not writing enough, not reading enough, not designing, not stitching - you get the idea.  The problem is that this guilt is stopping me from properly resting as instead, I am constantly going over things in my mind - trying to think of blog posts and design ideas that simply are not forthcoming at this time.  And so I've decided to take a leaf out of Michael Nobbs' book (see this post for learning about making time for resting) and announce that this week will be a holiday.  While I am not physically going anywhere, I have decided that I will stop feeling guilty about what I'm not doing, and instead allow my body and mind to relax.  Therefore I will not be blogging next week and will probably only pop onto Twitter and Google+ every now and again rather than trying to be constantly connected.  I hope you understand and I look forward to seeing you again a week on Monday, hopefully feeling more like myself and able to focus on starting to do a little at a time towards my goals once again.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

History in Words

I am currently reading ‘The Oxford Book of Essays’ as I fancied a bit of a change to my normal reading habits.  I expected to be entertained, informed and my knowledge widened.  I didn’t realise just how effected I would be by reading them.

The essays in this book date back to the 17th Century, and I haven’t got that far through the book yet.  But the one thing that struck me as I read, is that these people who are writing and being written about are becoming alive for me.  I was never much of a history fan as dates and names pretty much leave me staring blankly at a wall in panic.  Reading the words of those who lived then, though, that is a completely different experience.  I can imagine I really am among that society, in that time – seeing and hearing everything going on about me.

While this is amazing and incredible, it also shows just how important words are.  Obviously I already know this (hello, I’m a writer!) but it’s always good to be truly reminded of the power of words.  Words can invoke any feeling, words can change a person.  The words we are writing now may one day be read as an account of this period of time (I can dream).  And that is why I try and make every word I write the truth of who I am and where I am.  I want to use the power of words to change the world.  I want my words to be remembered and, by extension, be remembered myself.

This may seem completely selfish but isn’t that what everybody wants?  To leave some sort of legacy?  To prove we did exist?  For me, words are my answer, but even if they were never read I would continue to write as every word I write effects the writer just as much (if not more) than the reader.  My words make me who I am.  The words left by those in history are what is left of them and when I go, I hope my words will show who I was and show what I believed in.

How do you hope to be remembered?

Monday, 24 October 2011

Non-Exercise Tips for Those with Chrongic Disabilities

On Friday I spoke out against exercise advice as being the only advice as not everyone is able to exercise.  As such I figured that I really should share some a few tips of what works for me in improving my health.  Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that exercise won’t improve your health, I believe it’s a vital component to a healthy lifestyle but for those of you unable to exercise regularly, these are ideas that you might be able to try.

  •   Drink plenty of water.  Since I’ve upped my intake of water, I have had more energy and am also eating less.  For those of you who can’t stand plain water, try herbal or fruit teas – there’s a flavour to suit almost everyone. 
  •  Cut down on caffeine.  I only have one mug of coffee a day on most days and I always have it in the morning.  If I feel I need a pick-me-up during the day I usually opt for a redbush tea.
  • Take breaks from looking at a screen.  I spend a large portion of my day in front of my laptop – writing, reading, socialising and playing games.  I take short breaks every half hour where I give my eyes a rest.  Workrave is a neat little application you can download for free which will remind you when to take your breaks (at intervals and lengths of your choosing).
  • Have a sleep schedule.  This is another of those pieces of advice you find a lot and that’s because it really works.  I used to have great difficulty getting to sleep but I figure that’s probably due to spending the majority of day in bed.  Therefore, to get my sleep schedule sorted I took a very small dosage sleeping pill (prescribed by my Doctor) which helped me evaluate how long I need to sleep for and to get me in the habit of going to bed at the same time every day.  I now continue going to bed and get up at the same time everyday (I fall down if I don’t get up as then my body doesn’t realise it’s tired enough).  If you suffer from insomnia it is not a weakness to seek help.  Other than that, my main advice would be to stay away from technology before bed as this stimulates the brain, making it much more difficult to relax.
  • Meditation.  I don’t meditate as often as I would like but when I do I notice the effects.  When my mind is still and peaceful, my body naturally follows suit and relaxes.  Meditation doesn’t have to be done sitting up in the lotus position – it can be done anywhere and in any position you find comfortable.  I would recommend finding somewhere you won’t be interrupted when you first start out as trying to focus in a busy or loud area can use a lot more energy.
  • Smile.  Smiling and laughing release endorphins that are guaranteed to make you feel better, plus it’s much better to get your highs from laughing than from chocolate as you will no doubtedly be left feeling guilty for over-indulging.
  • Eat dark chocolate.  When I feel I have a chocolate craving coming I eat a square or two of dark chocolate (my favourite is Divine) as obviously this is much healthier than splurging on a whole bar of Galaxy.
  • Eat your fruit and veg.  Now, I don’t usually make it up to the ‘5 a day’ that we hear so much about but I try to get in a few portions every day as they are necessary for our body to perform correctly.
  • Take vitamins and supplements.  I currently take Vitamin B Complex and an Iron & Vitamin C every day.  I don’t know if they are actually helping but I like to think they are (and I know they’re not doing any harm so better to take them than not in my opinion).  If you are on a lot of medication or are unsure ask your Doctor or Pharmacist for advice as they are qualified to help you.
  • Get some sunshine.  Getting outside and soaking up some rays can be very beneficial to our mental health.  I often can’t really go out so most days just take a step out the door and stand in the sun for 5 minutes.  I am hoping to save up for a sun lamp (often used to treat S.A.D - Seasonal Affective Disorder) for those days when I can’t go out at all (or when there’s no sun).

Hope you found these ideas useful.  Please remember that I am not an expert so before taking any drastic lifestyle changes, please consult your Doctor or Pharmacist.  Have I missed anything that works for you?  Let us know in the comments.

Friday, 21 October 2011

A Little Word on Exercise Advice

I am always on the look out for good advice, especially when it concerns health and/or creativity.  I’m not looking for a magic pill to make me thin or the secret to motivation (okay, maybe a little on the last one), I am simply trying to find ideas that others have tried – I don’t want to miss out on something that will make me feel better because I didn’t know about it.

The problem is there is one piece of advice I come across over and over and over: exercise more.  Now, I’m not disagreeing that exercise is very good for your health and creativity, but every time I read those words I feel a knife in my gut. 

To begin with I feel angry.  I mean, I know I need to exercise, I want to exercise, but I physically can’t.  I can’t even stand up long enough to have a shower or wash up so how do you expect me to go for a walk to clear my head?  It may be easy for you, but not everyone is lucky enough to have that option. 

I then feel guilty.  I know that when that advice is spouted out it’s not to make me feel worse about myself.  I know that the chances are, the person on the other end of the words really is trying to help.  So I feel guilty, first for getting angry at them, and then for not being able to follow their advice.

It’s a never-ending circle of anger and guilt, even though I know it’s completely unreasonable to feel either of these.  I have to constantly remind myself that for many people, exercise is a viable option.  And I also have to remember that it’s not my fault that I can’t follow their advice.  But sometimes I just wish that someone would acknowledge those of us who don’t have good health through no fault of our own, even if they don’t have any other ideas, being acknowledged would make my day.

So for all of you like me, you are not to blame for whatever has happened that makes it impossible to lead a ‘normal’ life.  I understand your anger towards those who don’t understand (like I said, I often feel it myself) but honestly, realising that words spoken aren’t usually there to hurt you, uses a lot less energy than anger.  And after all, we want to keep that tiny bit that remains so we can make some semblance of continuance in this journey called life.

Have you ever felt angry at advice not intended for you?  Do you have any advice for me, something that perhaps made your life a tiny bit better?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Living Through A Screen

For the past couple of months I have been living almost entirely through my screen.  I don’t mean to say that I don’t disconnect, spend time with Chris, my hobbies, my books, because I do.  I mean that for me, the majority of my connections and experiences are rooted almost entirely online.

This isn’t really surprising and I have to say I’m so glad to live in a time with internet access as otherwise I would feel much more alone, helpless and trapped.  But I realised the other day, when I was able to go outside to visit a friend (a truly wonderful experience, made much more gratifying now that we rarely see each other) that in becoming so connected to the online universe, I had disconnected from reality.

When I saw people walking by, going about their everyday business, I felt envious.  Granted, I have often been hit with the strong feeling that life is unfair and questioning why this happened to me, but this time it was different.  I had gotten myself so worked into the world that is the internet, that I had almost forgotten that there are other people in the world, right outside my front door.  Even those who I have conversed with and been touched by remain hidden behind another screen. 

The web may have the ability to connect us to everyone, but in the process we must always remember that those we connect with have lives outside the screen.  They eat and sleep, the same as us.  They have families and best friends and mistakes and dreams and desires that we can never see.  Part of me wants to see right through the screen and be included in their lives.  I want to see and know everything.  Now, I know this isn’t possible, but just by remembering that everyone has a life outside the gates of my screen I believe that I can connect in a much more real and valuable way.  When it comes down to it, we are all the same – and we want to know that.

Monday, 17 October 2011

What I'm Not Telling You

Having any kind of presence online leaves us open and vulnerable.  We are constantly aware of the risks we take in sharing an aspect of our world.  You’ve probably noticed that I never mention where I live, or where my family lives, or anything that could root my existence in the real world.  But at the same time, while I don’t want you to know where I live, I want to share how I live.  After all, isn’t that reason we blog?  To show a little of ourselves to the rest of the world.

The truth is I don’t know where the balance is anymore.  I want to be open and honest with you, not just to be authentic, but because I want you to see me.  At the same time there is just so much that I don’t know if I can, or even should, share.  I know everyone goes through bad times, everyone has bad days.  I’m completely guilty of thinking that they only ever happen to me.  Yet I still don’t know whether to show you my open wounds, especially as they are still so open and raw for me.

I want you to understand what my life is like.  But at the same time I want to protect you from it.  No, I want to protect myself from it.  I want to protect myself from being judged due to my feelings and reactions to them.  And I want to protect myself by imagining that it isn’t true.  If I don’t say it out loud (or online in this case) then perhaps I can believe that it didn’t really happen, that I am the happy, positive person I want to be, the one I want to show to the world.

This is not a new dilemma for writers.  Where do we draw the line between allowing our audience to empathise through common emotions and giving them the blow-by-blow account of reality?

This is what I’m thinking about today.  I don’t want you to worry, the wounds aren’t anything new I’m having to deal with, but I wanted you to know that there is more to me than I am prepared to show, at least right now.  Saying that, however, I always aim to write my complete truth in this space.  I may not be able to give you all of me, but what I do give is unedited, truthful glimpses of my life.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Feeling Angry

Yesterday I went into town with Chris (well, it would be hard going on my own in my wheelchair).  We went to the library where I got some books out (you know I can never resist reading material) and had a coffee at Costa.  In general, it was a good hour or two, especially as I was out of the flat (something I'm hoping will begin to happen more often).

But on the way home we unfortunately ran into one of those really careless people.  Not only had he stopped his car on the corner (really not a safe place), but it was right across the dippy bit in the path which we needed to use to cross the road.  Despite mentioning this, they completely ignored us, meaning that Chris had to push me quite far out of our way just so we could cross the road.  Needless to say this put a mega dampner on our day out.

I know I shouldn't let other people get to me, but it's so easy to get upset or angry when someone is inconsiderate or just plain rude.  I'd like to think the world is made up of good people (and the majority of the time I am able to believe it) but when people are aware that they are causing a problem and don't care, it really gets me down.  More accurately, it gets me angry.  Most of the time I just breathe and ignore them (I've found being patient in a queue when everyone else is grumbling is actually quite satisfactory) but this becomes a lot more difficult when I am tired (which I was, having left the flat for a change).  Often I stop and remind myself that it is just possible they are having a bad day, after all, it happens to everyone and perhaps I should give them some slack.

Yesterday wasn't one of those days where I was patient or understanding.  Yesterday I got angry.  And then I got even more angry that he drove off before seeing how much he'd made us go out of our way.  And so I grumbled and complained and moaned, and felt hurt and upset.  Of course this led to me feeling guilty for allowing some idiot to ruin the end of the day.  I know that I can't take back my moaning, and I know that Chris is way too understanding (doesn't make me feel any better though).  All I can do is to try and remember for next time.  Hopefully next time someone makes me angry I'll be able to shake it off and not let it effect how I'm feeling.  After all, everyone makes mistakes, we just have to learn from them to make a better future.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

The Announcement

So I know you have all been waiting patiently to see what I have in store for the future.  Well, for starters I am starting my own creative business.  In fact, back when I first mentioned my secret project, I was referring to an idea I had for a business - that was all I had.

Since then the kernel of an idea has grown and grown and grown.  Now, it no longer even looks like the same idea (and for the most part it's not).  Now I am not only starting my own creative business, I am planning my own website where all the facets of me will sit comfortably together side by side - both the creative business and my writing endeavours, and anything else I come up with on this journey.

All this has been in my mind for months, slowly growing and evolving until last week when I was jolted with the knowledge that it was time to stop planning.  Of course, I haven't stopped planning completely, but I have made the first few steps to making my dreams a reality.  I have ordered a few supplies.  I have jotted down ideas.  I have bought my domain name(s).  And now I am telling you about it.

So look forward to a new website coming from me soon - I promise you will be the first to know when it is up and running.  And just so we're clear, I will continue blogging (though I don't think I will stay here indefinitely, blogging is a big part of my plans).

You can breathe a sigh of relief now, the worst bit, the not knowing, is over.  Or are you now mad at me that it's not ready right now? (In which case, I would like to point out that originally I hadn't intended to tell you until I had something to show.)

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Standing on the Cliff Edge

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Since I announced on Friday that I am going to start acting rather than simply reading about my plans, I have felt myself come to a shuddering stop.  I don't know if this is because I told the world to get ready for me, or if it would have happened anyway.  All I know is that I feel completely paralysed, I know I need to take the next step but I feel as though I am standing on a cliff edge and just one more step and I will fall.

Of course I know I need to take the step anyway.  I could go back the way I came but if I'm honest, I really don't want to.  I even know that while there is a chance of falling, it won't be a hard landing.  Besides, I might end up flying.  I just need to find the strength inside me to take that step and move forward - knowing you are here watching me helps (though it also terrifies).

So what do you do when you need to find the strength to take the next step?

Friday, 7 October 2011

Time for Forward

I know I have been procrastinating recently.  I have been spending my days reading about action.  I have been filling my mind with powerful words from others.  I completely believe that I needed this to get to this stage - the stage where I am ready to act.

While I have been constantly absorbing and thinking, my ideas (for my secret project) have expanded.  They are now so huge that I stand here, slightly intimidated in their presence.  Now I know that it is time to stop passively moving forward and start purposefully pushing myself forward.  Just so we're clear, this doesn't mean I plan to put my health at risk; I don't expect to go as fast as I'd like, but I do want to start taking slightly bigger steps towards my dreams.

I may be terrified of the challenges I know are in my path, but I also know that this is a path I have to follow as otherwise I will never have rest. 

Next week I will be sharing a little snippet of my path - I hope you will want to follow me through the trees and over the boulders.