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Friday, 14 February 2014

Best Valentine's Day: Memories That Have Made Me

So much has happened in my life already, and a lot of those experiences have stayed with me.  They are not all monumentous, nor are they all life changing.  But every single one of them (and the countless more that are buried deep within me) have made me who I am.
 I hope others will join in with me and post their own memories on their blogs (or in the comments).  I will be posting mine every Friday, but it doesn’t matter when you write yours or if you wish to do them fortnightly or monthly – your writing should fit with your schedule.  If you do join I ask that you link to my blog with this link: (until I’ve worked out how to create a button for you to display) and that you will link your POST (not just your blog link please) in the comments each week (until I’ve worked out how to make a linky thing for you to add your links to – I’m really not very tech-savvy!).

Sorry for posting this so late (it is 10 pm here after all), but Valentine's Day sort of crept up on me this year - I was aware of it, I just didn't make the connection in my mind until I was just inundated with Valentine videos on my YouTube stream.  I'm sure you don't care about that, so I'm just going to tell you about my favourite Valentine memory.

I was in Sixth Form (wow, that was at least 8 years ago) and dating a boy called James.  In our group of friends, there was only one other couple, so we made the choice to go on a double date.  It could have been a disaster, but it turned into one of my best memories of all time.

We chose Great Yarmouth as our destination (I still have no idea why we thought that was remotely romantic) which meant getting on a train.  I remember being quite excited by this fact alone, as it was the first time I went on a train without my parents; it certainly added to the 'grown-upness' of the whole day and I know that it felt like I was finally an adult (who had responsibilities as well as freedom).

The first thing I actually remember is when we met up at the train station. When asked, I specifically told James that I didn't want anything expensive or any soft toys. He turned up with the Valentine bear from Build-a-Bear (definitely expensive, and definitely a stuffed toy); I was really pissed at him, after all, I now had to carry around this great big cardboard box all day.  Yet I decided to let it go (I think that was a first for me) as I wanted to enjoy the day.

To be honest I don't remember much else. I know it was a Sunday so almost everywhere was closed, there were very few people around, and the weather was grey and wet.  We went into an arcade where they had ten-pin bowling - the really old kind with strings on the pins and every bounce of the ball made you think the floor was going to give way (it was on the second floor).  Before that day I didn't even realise there was bowling without screens and automated systems.  We had pot noodles from a machine for lunch, as we couldn't find chips anywhere.  Then of course had to have ice cream as we walked along the beach in the rain.  These are the few specifics I can pinpoint in my mind.

What I really remember about the day was how happy I was.  I was spending the day with my boyfriend and two of my best friends (admittedly, I didn't know the guy that much back then, but not the point).  We never ran out of conversation and there was a lot of laughter and the kind of gaiety that has you running in circles on the sand with your arms widespread.  I know there are many times since then that I've felt just as happy (or even happier), but that Valentine's Day was the first time in my 'adult' life when I fully embraced that joy and knew that if I had that feeling every now and then, life wouldn't be too bad.  Since then I've been lucky enough to have that feeling often and always do my best to embrace it.

I have a feeling that in ten or twenty years time, I will still remember that Valentine's Day. Even if I forget what actually happened, I am sure I will always remember where my ability to embrace life's joys started.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Sunday Shout Out: M.E./C.F.S. Diary Pro (App)

One thing that is often recommended for those of us living with chronic disabilities such as M.E. is to keep an 'energy diary'. Basically this means staying aware of how much we are resting, and how much low/medium/high activity we are doing. Of course, this varies from person to person, as everyone's energy level is different - for example, taking a shower is a high-level activity for me now, but I know that for many people showering isn't something they would classify as difficult.

Anyway, I was advised to do an energy diary when I was first diagnosed; and I did, for a couple of weeks. Honestly though, I found it annoying having to remember to write things down and highlight the colour etc.  Recently I became aware that as my health has changed so much, I should start keeping an energy diary again. I resisted starting one, as it's not a 'fun' thing to do, and if done on paper, it does cut into my available energy.  So I Googled to see if there were any apps I could use to keep track of what I'm doing, and was amazed to discover one that is actually designed for people in the same situation as myself.

M.E./C.F.S. Diary Pro is an app where writing down what kind of activity I'm doing is as easy as pressing a colour-code button and then tapping the half hour block it correlates to. Not only can you then easily see how much of each thing you've been doing (for example, I can see I need to rest more often), you can add in how bad your symptoms are and access graphs showing the data over time. Of course, I wish the app was a little more adjustable to the individual case, but it is still definitely worth the £4.99 (though it's on offer this month as the new, updated version has only just been released).  I am certain I will be using this app for quite a while, and it's much easier than having to map out what I'm doing via pen and paper, as it requires very little effort for me to just press a few buttons instead.

Do you keep an energy diary? Have you found it useful? I would also love to know if there are any other apps other spoonies have found useful.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Living History

For those of you who aren't Doctor Who fans - this post isn't really about Doctor Who, though the video above prompted this post and is a good example of my points.

As I was watching all the different Doctor Who opening credits, in order, I couldn't help but notice that as I viewed them in my head I was thinking 'yes, that's definitely 70's, and that is obviously 80's, and OMG that is sooooo 90's'. Of course they are all similar and you can see how the theme evolves into what it currently is, and that in itself is probably a whole other post - seeing how over time one thing can morph into something completely different yet when you break it down it is easy to follow the progress, and wondering if Doctor Who will still be around in 20 years time.

But my point, seeing as there is one I am actually trying to get to, is that there are certain things we automatically associate with certain time periods, and these are especially noticeable in television as different effects were discovered and became popular. From those associations, we create ideas of what those decades were like - eg. swinging sixties where everyone was a hippy with long hair; eighties with flared trousers and neon clothes. Obviously I can't know what those years were like, only what is projected from films and photos and stories.

And this got me wondering (yes, I'm almost at what I wanted to write about), is what people in 40 years time or so, will look back and think of us right now. What things will they remember, what will be distinctive about our society and culture? This is something I often think about, and of course cannot have any clue, but I think it's something that's fascinating - that we are living history right now. I can't wait to find out what the future holds, but I also would love to know what future generations will look back and see.

I guess this post wasn't particularly cohesive and a bit rambley, so sorry about that. However, I'm super excited about the fact that once again I seem to have started having ideas I want to write about that aren't simply updates about my health, so fingers crossed there will be more random content spewing from my brain here soon.