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Friday 31 January 2014

Hibernating and Gentle Stirring

If you follow me on Twitter, then you'll know that the past few weeks haven't been my best. My M.E. has reared it's head, causing me to struggle to do the few things I had previously been able to do without much issue (such as going online, making breakfast and lunch, etc).

Just before Christmas I was beginning to see a slight improvement in my health, and was beginning to have hope that one day I would return to a 'normal' life. This has made these past few weeks all the harder, as to be honest it has been disheartening to go back to not even being able to read as much as I would like, whenever I'd like.  In a way it felt like taking a step forward, only to take a step back. Thankfully I have had the support of many wonderful 'spoonie' friends, who have made it possible for me to fight the downward spiral my depression, frustration and anger was taking me.

Michael Nobbs made January a month of hibernation. I hadn't intended my January to follow suit, but my body clearly had other ideas. Now that my emotional and mental state have come back to positive, I'm planning to join Michael's month of gentle stirring in February (can't believe that tomorrow is February, it seems far too soon), by committing to working on a project for 20 minutes every day.  20 minutes may not sound a lot to some people, but to me each 20 minutes of work will likely need to be followed by 90-120 minutes of full resting, and of course, 20 minutes is better than none.  If you'd like to join in, you can find out more here, and I would love it if you let me know in the comments.  The project I will be working on is one I started last year, and feel it's time to continue and hopefully finish. I hope you will understand that I won't be sharing the specifics here just yet, as from experience I have discovered that I have a much better chance of finishing if I don't talk about it much.

On the plus side of the past few weeks, I have had plenty of time to think without planning or hoping or dreaming, which has left me feeling open and ready to be filled with new ideas. I've also been watching Charmed on Netflix (I'm just starting series 3 so no spoilers please), and wondering why on earth I waited until now to give the show a chance (actually, I know it was because I read a few of the books when I was a teenager and hated them).  I've also been watching White Collar when I've been feeling up to it (shows like this use more energy than you'd think, as it requires me to actively pay attention the whole time to actually enjoy it), and have a very long list of films and shows I want to watch in the future.

Overall, I don't think this was a wasted month, as it's given me the time to recover from the holiday season (admittedly, I'd like to have recovered earlier, but that's life with M.E.) both physically and mentally, and I'm back to hoping and dreaming about the year to follow.

Sunday 19 January 2014

Sunday Shout Out: Duolingo

Pretty much since I left Sixth Form, I have been keeping my French and Italian books (GCSE and AS-Level) with the complete intention of reteaching myself French and starting again with Italian (I didn't do a whole lot of Italian, and all I remember is how to say 'my name is...' which I don't think will get me very far).  Every place I have lived since I moved away from my parents, I have taken these books with me.

I am really passionate about foreign languages. I love how they sound, and I hate that I can only speak one language fluently (and for that reason often wish I'd been born somewhere else where English is taught as a second language practically since birth). But I'm not good at foreign languages.  No matter how hard I tried, how much I studied, I still lagged at the back of the class, and managed to get a 'U' in AS French. For those of you who know me, you'll know that I was a bit of a swot in school and graded fairly high in most of my classes. The burn of course is that French was the only subject I actually tried at, yet it was my worst subject.

Anyway, a couple of months ago one of my brothers (or two of them, I'm not sure), mentioned DuoLingo - a free site which helps you learn foreign languages. I dutifully bookmarked it then forgot all about it.  Last week I watched this New Year video, and Sanne mentioned the DuoLingo app. As I'm beginning to get used to my smartphone, I figured I'd give it a go. I've been using it for a week and already I have learnt words I'm fairly certain I never knew.

DuoLingo teaches you in short themed sections. You translate to and from your chosen language and are also able to practice your pronunciation. As i said, it is both a website and an app (they sync together), and for anyone thinking that this is the year to learn a new language, or refresh your memory, I have to point you in DuoLingo's direction.

Oh, and you can follow me here.

[Disclaimer: I am in no way, shape, or form, sponsored to write about this site. I just want to share it with you.]

Thursday 16 January 2014

A Musing, A Ramble and Thoughts on M.E.

For those of you living without a chronic disability, the chances are you won't really get excited in the same way I'm about to.

Today I started reading the next book on my ever growing TBR (to be read) pile. It's a women's literature book and I've only read the first few chapters, but I just had to share a few sentences. The first sentence is from the end of the first chapter:

Five years ago Eileen had been diagnosed as suffering from M.E. and ... there was a limit to what she could do.
Eileen is the main character's mother, so while she's not (so far) a big part of the story, she is in the main group of characters in my mind. So when I read the above sentence, I actually had to stop and reread it. Surely I had got it wrong. Surely the author didn't mean the same M.E. that is the debilitating and life-changing (and not usually in the good way) chronic disability that I live with.

And later on:
Eileen wasn't getting enough rest, and if that went on for too long, Harriet (the main character) knew her mother would be stuck in bed for days. ... Just as soon as she started to feel well and her energy levels increased she invariably overdid it and was back to where she'd started, feeling ill again.
And my favourite:
...before M.E. sneaked its way into her life and sapped her energy...
So why did these references surprise me so much? Because, other than books that are specifically written about M.E., I have never come across it in fiction before, and definitely not so casually added to the story. And as you know, I've read a lot of books.

While this book isn't 'new' (2004), I can't help but feel a surge of hope at seeing M.E. included in a book this way. It marks, at least to me, the idea that people in general are becoming more aware of it. When you live online, talking mostly to people with chronic disabilities, it's easy to forget that the rest of the world doesn't have much of a clue of what is happening to us.

In some small way it also felt like a validation. I know it shouldn't have, I know what I live with and what it has done to my life and to others' lives, but seeing it in print made it suddenly seem more real. While this may not be a bad thing, especially if M.E. starts to be seen as 'real' by many who currently disagree, it has made the little bit of hope that this is just a bad dream die a little more. Just to be clear, I'm still hopeful and positive about improving. And I'm not so blind as to think that I can just wipe these years out of my mind. But it is pretty overwhelming and ignoring my reality is sometimes the only way I can cope.

Okay, so this post ended up going in a completely different direction from what I planned, but hey, that sometimes happens. And if you're curious, the book is 'Love and Devotion' by Erica James. Is it bad that I'm thinking I'll have to read more of her books just because of this?

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Long Days and Changes

I stayed with my parents over Christmas and New Year, and since I've got back, the days suddenly seem extremely long.

When I was with my family I spent most of my time chatting or watching things, or going out (thanks Kaz for pushing me all those times in my wheelchair), and of course rested when I was near collapse. Now it is back to just me, alone in my flat.

I realise that probably sounds a lot more drear than it is. It's just that I can't work out why I now seem to have a lot more hours than I did before visiting my family.  I am resting just as much, more actually; but the rest of the time I am (mostly) more focused on achieving what I can between rests.  Even over the weekend where I pretty much slept the whole time to recover from my 'holiday', the days seemed so long.

On the one hand this is kind of nice as I have a lot more time to play with (I know I don't really, but that's how it feels), and therefore I've been doing a little more. Of course the consequences to doing more, is that I'm in a lot more pain than I'm happy with.  I guess it'll take me a little while to rebalance myself.

However, I am trying to be more aware of my time. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result (or something along those lines). While I'm not claiming in any way to be sane, I do want to instigate small changes into my life. Now my health is starting to improve I want to make sure that continues, but I also want to make myself ready for when I find I am able to join the rest of the world (getting a job, learning to drive, etc). I don't think it will happen this year (and that's not me being pessimistic for those of you into positive thinking), but I do feel this year is going to be a major stepping stone to my future (okay, technically every moment is a stepping stone to the future, but you know what I mean).

I plan to do a few posts on the changes I'm making, but other than that I honestly don't know what else will find its way onto this blog, so I guess we'll find out together.

Sunday 12 January 2014

Sunday Shout Out: MUA Heaven and Earth Eyeshadow Palette

Since getting interested in make up in the past couple of years, I have really wanted a Naked palette by Urban Decay, but due to the price it just wasn't going to happen.  So imagine how excited I was to discover that the new brand MUA, has a 'dupe' palette, and at the ridiculously low price of £4.

Over the Christmas period I was able to do some shopping, and when in Superdrug I finally picked up the palette I had been lusting over, and so far it is as amazing as I'd hoped. I love all the colours, which are fairly neutral but there are enough of them to lend itself to many different looks.  I have a feeling that this palette may become a favourite in 2014.

MUA stands for Make Up Academy and is sold in Superdrug in the UK (I don't know if it's available elsewhere). There are a few different palettes, but this is the only one I've actually seen in a shop, as the brand is still fairly new so not everywhere stocks a large selection in the brand.

And if you're curious, I have not been asked to do this post, I haven't been compensated for it in any way, I just love the palette and wanted to share it with you all.

Tuesday 7 January 2014

1 Word for 2014

For the past couple of years I have chosen 3 words which I aim to focus on other the coming year.  At the beginning of 2013 I chose the words Positivity, Prioritize, and Love (you can read the full post here). Honestly, I'm not sure I was as focused on them as I wish I had been, but there is nothing stopping me from keeping them in my mind this year as well.

I have spent some time trying to think of 3 words for 2014. I have found only one that resonates with me. At first this bothered me, but then I realised that if there are no other words then it doesn't matter, and I certainly shouldn't force words to focus on.

So this year I'm just having one word to focus on: Perseverance.

Over the past couple of months I have slowly been making progress on many of my plans. Many of the plans are ones I've had for years, but I've never managed to get past the beginning stage.  It seems I have finally found a way of continuing, making tiny steps, and I'm determined to continue in this way. This year I'm going to persevere with a few projects (of course I'll share progress with you when I'm ready), and hopefully start building up my future.