The Spoonie Guide to Xmas…

Christmas is joyous and lovely and incredibly hard for the chronically ill. On top of keeping up with every day life there are a million other tasks to contend with. Not only is there shopping, wrapping & cooking, but there are a multitude of festive social events. Oh & the expectation that we’ll all be merry and bright.

When you’re chronically ill you don’t get time off for Christmas. Keeping up with seasonal demands when you’re in pain & exhausted can be impossible. Here’s my spoonie guide to surviving Xmas. Plus a little advice for friends of family of the chronically ill.

Make a list, check it twice.

The only way I can keep track of what needs to be done is making a multitude of lists. Lists help combat so many issues. If you’re dealing with brain fog, anxiety, impaired cognitive function, fatigue and so on, lists are life savers. I usually break things down into categories and try to assign a time scale to each list. The trick is to be realistic about how much you can do each day and not freak out if you don’t complete your list. Simply roll over outstanding items. Accept that some times you will have to make cuts. You can’t do everything. The world will not end if you don’t post the Xmas cards this year.

Start early & manage expectations.

I always start Xmas prep super early. The longer you have to get organised the more you can spread the work load. Getting a jump on the shopping also really helps if you have a tight budget. It is much easier to find smaller amounts of energy & money.

Be honest with yourself and others about what you can manage. If you have to trim the gift list or swap a phone call for a meet up, do so. I believe Christmas is about embracing the ones we love. Try to work out in advance which parties/get togethers you comfortably manage and communicate that. Float the idea of secret Santa style gift giving rather than buying everyone in your group an individual present. Expensive presents don’t matter. An enjoyable phone call or grabbing a quick coffee is much nicer than forcing yourself to suffer through social engagements that cause you distress.

If you have to cancel, make your apologies, but be firm. You didn’t choose to be ill. You are not intentionally disappointing. Remind yourself of this and try your hardest not to feel guilty.

The internet is your friend.

I do the majority of my Xmas shopping online. It is much less stressful and physically taxing to order from the sofa. The shops are crazy at this time of year. Not to mention the weather is awful. Stay warm & rested and get your festive haul delivered. This goes for food too. You can order in advance and have the Christmas groceries delivered as and when you need them.

Allow yourself to enjoy what works for you.

Christmas comes with a variety of traditions. Everyone has their own variations and seasonal essentials. It’s lovely to uphold family traditions, but only if they work for you. This is your life and your Christmas, you are entitled to enjoy the festivities. If something will negatively impact your health, don’t do it. There is no joy in activities that hurt you.

Establish your own Christmas customs. Whether that is embracing existing rituals or just making up them up from scratch. Deck the halls, wear an ugly jumper, stick cinnamon on everything or don’t. Suit yourself. Celebrate in style, but make it your style.

Don’t be a dick.

This is for the loved ones. If someone in your life is dealing with chronic illness, be kind. We know we disappoint sometimes. We get that we’re not the easiest to accommodate, but please be patient. Cut us a little slack. As inconvenient as our symptoms can be for others, trust me dealing with them every single minute of our lives is harder.

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Snow is falling…

It’s been a fast year, but December has really put its foot down. We are riding swiftly towards the big day, which means it is time for more festive primping & seasonal giving.

It’s the third week of Xmas (advent, whatever), so it’s it apt that it took three attempts to get my nails right. I really wanted to be adorned in delicate sparkly snowflakes, but try as I might, I could not pull it off.

ly h Kerr nail art

Each attempt was clumsier than I wanted. In the end I abandoned my snowy vision & opted for some glittery presents. You can’t go wrong with a well wrapped gift, right?

ly h kerr nail art

This week I turned my charitable attentions to Glasgow Women’s Aid. An organisation doing wonderful work with women & children who have been affected by domestic abuse. Women’s aid provide a number of services from refuge centres to training for service users & therapy for their children. Two women a week are killed by their partner or ex partner in the UK, so it is vital that women (& their children) have access to this help. You can help in a number is ways. A donation can be made via the website or you can follow your local Women’s Aid on social media for updates on what goods, clothes etc are required. Often women have to leave everything behind and start from scratch, so please check before you throw away anything that could still be useful. Obviously at this time of year toys & treats are most welcome. Even small donations can change lives.

If Bronan can suffer the indignity of being cat Santa, you can get your purse out.

For all your days & nights…

My niece will be 9 years old this week. My tiny muffin is growing at record speed. She is the oldest of my niblings. The first perfect little person one of my siblings created. The first mini Kerr to steal my heart. Our wee goddess is not so small anymore. She does however remain utterly incredible. Which is why I give you this Ode to Athena.

Athena is girl who wins gold medals in her very first Jui Jitsu competition. She speaks with that Aussie tone that makes almost everything a question, but always make her point clear. She can mimic a Glasgow accent expertly & she turns it on with perfect comic timing. My muffin has always been precocious. She walked & talked before most; her tongue has rarely been quiet nor her person still since.

Bias aside this child blows me away. Her vocabulary is impressive. Her creative talents prodigious. She excels in every subject, but more importantly, she’s kind. My Athena will brook no cruelty. Be it mean names or rough handling, tiny animal or a giant Daddy, no feelings shall be hurt. She cries foul. This Goddess rules her world with benevolence.

My baby girl now has longer legs than her Mama and as much sass as you’d expect from a kid who’s ancestry includes a Scot and a Zimbabwean. She can always come up with a game we can play via FaceTime and she still ends every call with beep, beep, beep, love you. At almost 9 she has already worked out that Disney love stories are bull & clocked it’s important to watch the news. So much of the baby Athena is gone. She now prefers jeans over party dresses and ipad games over my little ponies. My little one is big and brave and so so smart, but she’s not grown yet. She still wonders if maybe I should have married a dragon and to my utter relief she still has time for long running video calls with her old Auntie.

No matter how incomprehensible her text messages get, Athena will forever be my muffin. I’ll always know where her select freckles lie. I’ll never forget the days she fell asleep in my arms. I will always love her more than my heart can handle. She has been wowing the world since even before her first breath. I’m certain she has many more wondrous feats in store for us. She hardly needs to be told, but,

Baby be a giant,

Let the world be small.

Oh Christmas lights keep shining on…

We’re into the second week of Christmas; I’m not sure if that’s really a thing, but go with me. That means it’s time for more festive nail art & acts of kindness.

I stuck with the Xmas tree theme, but turned up the glitter factor. I am very pleased with the end result.

On the charitable front I opted for direct help this week. I had to be in the city centre a fair bit, so decided to just give cash & food to as many homeless people as I could. I do try to give directly to homeless people throughout the year, but usually just whatever change I have on me. This week I gave a bit more and got some hot food or a drink for those who wanted it (circumstances permitting). I’m not interested in the giving homeless people money doesn’t help argument. It helps that person in need. It helps them maybe get a room a in hostel or buy a warm blanket, pay for transport or whatever the hell they need to make their very difficult life more bearable. Even if you can only spare a little change, it could make a big difference to someone in need.

I am fortunate that what brought me into town were seasonal meet ups. Christmas is always a good time to catch up with folk you haven’t seen for a while. I have been doing just that & it’s been lovely. I really do feel very lucky to have so many fab people in my life. I’m also kind of in love with Glasgow’s Xmas ornamentation. How pretty does my city look?

Take good inventory…

I’m not a resolutions type of girl, but early this year I did have a stern word with myself about some things I wanted to get done this year. Some I had been procrastinating over and others that just seemed like a good idea. It’s time to take inventory.

Top of my list was making decor changes at home. Unfortunately I haven’t achieved all I had hoped. Life just gets in the way. In great and shitty ways. I have two new amazing little ones in my life, trying to expand my freelancing and a tonne of health issues have kept me busy. I have not managed the complete overhaul that I had imagined. However, I have updated the accessories and added some very cool pieces, like this amazing portrait & some delicious succulents. I reorganised and made better use of my space with some clever storage solutions. I also killed two birds with one stone & ticked off another from my 2018 to do list by creating a fabulous picture wall. I said I wanted to make photo albums with some of the thousands of pics I’m constantly snapping. I still intend to do that, but putting my most special moments up in the living has contributed to a revamp & got those lovely images into the real world.

Picture wall

I noted that I wanted to work on this here blog. Mostly behind the scenes stuff that I don’t take to naturally. Even the seemingly simple tech stuff is often baffling to me. I have kept to my word and streamlined the overall look. Plus I’ve brushed up on some of the boring blogger businessy do dah too. Mostly though I’ve really focused on increasing my content output; hopefully to good effect.

My third task is a total fail. I vowed to teach the Toyboy to swim. As of our last dip, about a month ago, he is still struggling to master a stationary float. He’s a very bad pupil and I am probably a terrible teacher. In his favour, he does still have the cutest arse.

The Toyboy

The final chore I needed to get on top of was my washing basket. Maybe there are people out there who have no problem emptying that damn hamper, but I am certainly not one of them. I am just one person, but I man alive, do I produce a lot of washing. The TB’s habit of leaving his pants on my floor does not help. Anyway, I am proud to announce that I conquered the wash basket TWICE this year. Yup, you heard me it was completely empty twice. It’s not a perfect score, not I’m calling it a win!

Excuse me I have to go me awesome

It’s coming on Christmas…

I’m feeling the need to immerse myself in the festive spirit this year. The tree is up, the presents are wrapped, but I want a more. Thus, I have concocted a not at all cunning plan, but I think it will be effective.

Step 1 – Up the daily merriment with lots of Christmas nail art. I always keep my nails adorned anyway, so I might as well up the glitter quotient & get my crimbo on. First up was this simple swishy tree. Rouge Noir is never not perfect.

ly h Kerr Xmas nail art

Step 2 – Spread the goodwill. As Cliff said, it’s a time for giving and there are hell of a lot of people in need. I have decided to commit to one bigish charitable act each week of December and as many small gestures as I can muster along the way. First up is the reverse advent calendar. Basically, you get a box and put a foodbank donation in it every day of advent. Individual foodbanks list what they most need at any given time, so check their websites. At this time of year I like to add some treats along with the basics. If a person can’t afford food they are unlikely to have money for Christmas present and extras. No one should have explain to their child that is Santa isn’t coming. I am by no means rolling in it, but with a little planning it’s possible to pick inexpensive items that will make a huge difference to a little one. Even chocolate Santas/coins can really help a family struggling at Xmas. We are living in difficult times, the continued roll out of Universal Credit in particular is leaving many people in financial hardship. Those of us with enough should & can give a little (or a lot) to the people our society is currently failing. Plus, it makes you feel really warm inside. It’s a win/win you feel like a lovely person, people in need feel a wee bit less bleak.

If you’re local to me here are some links to Glasgow Foodbanks & other food services. Otherwise you can search via postcode here. Sadly, Foodbanks are springing up everywhere, there will be one in your area.

Crookston Community Group & Foodbank

Storehouse Foodbank

Glasgow City Mission

Wayside Club Centre

Deck the halls…

It’s December and you know what that means. Yup, it’s time to get Christmassy! My insomnia came in handy for getting decorations up bright & early on the 1st. Then I really got into the festive spirit with a trip to the most beautiful Xmas Fayre.

The Christmas Fayre was at House for an Art Lover, a stunning Charles Rennie Mackintosh building hidden in the middle of a a very cool park. There were many beautiful wares for sale, but the building itself stole first prize. Our little monkey enjoyed exploring all the pretty nooks too.

House for an Art LoverHouse for an Art LoverIHouse for an Art Lover

For our festive outing I wore giant polka dots. I don’t often wear white, but I couldn’t resist this dress. I’ve actually had it for ages (I forgot about it, oops), but this is it’s first outing. I love it. Add a cardi & some boots for cute day wear. Reveal the cute off the shoulder fit & some statement jewellery to up the oooh. As is often the case with Boohoo, size up!

ly h Kerrly h Kerr tartan boots

Dress – Boohoo

Tights – Asos Curve

Boots – Primark

As for my Christmas decor, it’s perfectly sparkly. It’s amazing how warm a sprinkling of festive cheer can make you feel.

ly h Kerr Xmas decsly h Kerr Xmas decs