I’m running a temperature and not feeling tip tip, so we’re having even more old poetry. Current content coming some.
I planned a really lovely weekend. I was going to visit a friend I haven’t seen since pre pandemic. She lives by sea and always makes me giggle like a maniac. I was so looking forward to it, but my body had other ideas.
On Friday evening my chest pain got really bad. Then I had a fainting spell. As soon as I managed to get on my feet I would faint again. Sitting on my hall floor with my head spinning and heart pounding I felt scared.
I wasn’t scared of one particular thing; the fear was in the uncertainty. Not knowing how bad this is. Not even knowing what exactly this is or if it will ever go away. I have felt so fragile and vulnerable in these last few months. I haven’t been able to trust my body at all.
I have gotten used to my body failing me, but this has been on a whole new level. Every time I stand up my head spins and my whole body tingles. I can’t catch my breath, I don’t know if I will be able to stay on my feet. I have always prized my self sufficiency and it feels as though it has been slipping away.
My weekend in hospital hasn’t changed anything. Drs gathered some more information, but they couldn’t solve the problem. I await appointments with specialist consultants. Hopefully they can get to root of my long covid complications. The truth is I don’t even want to consider living like this permanently. It’s just too terrifying to think about.
For the moment I am happy to be home with my furry little nurse. I’m trying to rest and not stress about all the things that I am not getting done.
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It’s been a while since I did a week in pictures. Mainly because I have not been doing anything all that exciting. I have had a few family dos of late, so I’m doing a share.
First up was my youngest nibling’s first birthday party. The first year of these baba’s life has gone at lightening speed. They have been an absolute delight from day one and continue to be wee darlings. They are now very much on the move, starting to find words and full of fun. Their party was lovely. The babies enjoyed their new toys, grown ups enjoyed a cuddle and bigger kids loved running riot.
Following on the family fun theme I had a gorgeous Easter lunch with my Mum, Sister & her boys. My sis made a superhero afternoon tea with plenty of vegan friendly options for me. The boy opened some Easter gifts and then we set off to his swing park for a bit of carry on.
After all that activity, I required a wee bit of rest. I had a quiet few days at home. Wore my comfies, tried to finish some work and painted my nails. I also had some yummy comfort food & bought Bronan some new catnip, which went down well. Strangely it also increased his paper fascination.
Thursday brought some Auntie time. My sister needed me to watch the boy for a few hours in the morning. This worked out perfectly as it gave him an opportunity to try out the blocks that Geomag* kindly sent me. I had intended to get a few of my littles to try them out, but this boy fell in love with them. He played all morning, took them home to play all afternoon too. The Magicubes are magnetic blocks that connect and hold on all six sides, meaning kids can build anything with them. I’ll definitely be buying more for the rest of my nibling gang.
I finished off the week with blood boost. A transfusion can be a nuisance, but necessary. Ultimately I am very grateful to have access to the medical care I need. Plus it gives you a good excuse to stay still and listen to a podcast all afternoon. I came home to huffy cat (annoyed that his dinner was late) & a lovely sunset. Not the wildest Friday night, but I’ll take it.
Of late I have been bothered by much of the therapy speak I see cropping up everywhere. I’ve always been slightly irritated by the therapy buzz words, but it used be reserved to certain arenas. Now it feels impossible to get away from it. Some are impenetrable, some misapplied and some a little stupid. So, come with me in a little therapy rant.
Sit with it.
The ‘it’ being emotions. I doubt there is anyone who has ever sought mental health treatment who is unfamiliar with this phrase. I have been advised to ‘sit with’ all manner of feelings. I’ve never been entirely sure what this means. Nor has any explanation ever satisfied me. Let yourself feel it makes sense if you are actively avoiding emotions. I used self harm, disordered eating and occasionally alcohol to block emotions that I wasn’t able to deal with. However, when I moved past avoidance it was still the guidance I was given. When I was ready to acknowledge and tackle those feelings I needed more. ‘Let yourself feel it’ is redundant. I am feeling it; that is the problem.
Don’t Judge it.
Once you are sitting in all that emotion you will often be advised ‘not to judge it’. Just feel it, they’ll say. Well, I’m sorry, that’s impossible. I have already judged it. Judging is a prerequisite for finding something problematic. The judgement is automatic. More than that, it’s involuntary. The minute I find the emotion unpalatable it has been judged. I came to the (sometimes correct) conclusion that perhaps what these therapist meant was don’t judge yourself for having that emotion. That makes sense, I can work on not attaching negative connotation to what I feel or how uncomfortable that makes me. I can even get on board with attempting not to label specific emotions intrinsically negative. I’m not convinced, but I do see how in some cases that could be fruitful. However, removing the intuitive I DO NOT LIKE THIS just doesn’t strike me as a realistic goal. If I were able to control my brain in that way, I wouldn’t have a problem.
Let it go.
Feel it and then let it go is definitely the aim. I’m not sure it actually counts as advice though. I know that getting stuck in difficult emotions is not good for me. What I need is help learning the way out if that. Restating what I should do is not helpful. I know the problem, I am here because I am looking for answers.
Many years ago when I first experienced therapy the inner child thing was kind of a joke. It never came up. Of course therapists talked about childhood experiences & being compassionate to past versions of yourself. However, a psychologist would never say the words ‘inner child’. Now it is everywhere; from woo woo spiritual healers to actual trained therapists. I’m sure it applies to some people, but it’s just not relevant to me. My inner child is a ok. I had a remarkably lovely childhood. I was loved, appreciated, supported, safe and very well taken care of. My ‘inner child’ is probably the healthiest part of me. I’m not carrying any painful scars from childhood. So, I have found it incredibly frustrating that everyone and their granny wants me to get in touch with my inner child and heal her. Even when I proffer my history and explain that my upbringing is not a problem area, I am still pressed to explore it. I don’t know how or why this happened, but I really don’t love it.
This is another one that totally has merit in the right situation. There have been times when I have been scared of touching memories and emotions that made me feel vulnerable. I did need to work through that. Being vulnerable can be frightening, but it is also necessary. I would argue that engaging in therapy is already submitting to vulnerability in many ways. The showing up is a great first step. However, the canonisation of vulnerability has gone too far. There is definitely a time and a place for vulnerability. We can’t and shouldn’t always expose weak spots. We live in a fairly brutal capitalist society and being completely honest about your vulnerabilities will not serve you in many situations. People will take advantage, they will bypass you based on their perception of that vulnerability and many folk will judge you. Still I hear professionals who really should know better urge everyone to embrace their vulnerability throughout their life. It drives me crazy; we need to protect ourselves. Let yourself be vulnerable in safe spaces only.
Am I just jaded? Or do you feel frustrated by these therapy catchphrases? Maybe you have your own therapy pet hates. I would love to know your takes.
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If you have been eagerly anticipating the second part of holiday escapades, today is your day. When last I left you I was chugging out of Munich. So, let’s get going on magical Salzburg.
Our trip was a 70th birthday present for my darling Mum. Her favourite film is The Sound of Music. She never tires of Sister Maria and all the Captain’s children. Thus our (& now the grandkid’s) childhoods overflowed with edelweiss & doe a deer. Mum has talked about visiting Salzburg forever, the big 7-0 seemed the perfect opportunity to take her there. Purpose explained it won’t surprise you to discover that we stayed in the hotel where they filmed the movie.
Schloss Leopoldskron was a dream. Everything about the hotel is luxe. The rooms are gorgeous, the views are breathtaking and you have breakfast in a ballroom.
The hotel is gated. When you arrive it feels like you have entered a secret world. Wandering around the grounds I grew up watching on screen was so lovely. Sound of Music aside, it is a beautiful place. The grounds sit right on the river, looking out onto the most picturesque mountain scape. The only sounds are the ducks & geese on water. The air feels fresher. It is a wonderful spot for a complete escape from real life.
The hotel (& Salzburg in general) aren’t big on the film connection. It wasn’t a hit in Austria for various reasons & the hotel is keen to focus on its links with Harvard. That doesn’t take anything away from the experience if you are a fan.
Since we are fans we booked The Sound of Music Tour. As it was a special trip we opted for the private tour. It was expensive, but felt it was worth it. The hotel doesn’t grant access to the tours, so if you aren’t staying you can only see the captain’s house locations from across the river. We were very happy to have had access to those spots, but there is still plenty more to see. Our wonderful guide, Alenka knew everything there was to know about the film & the city. She led sings songs on the drive out to the mountain locations & made the experience a total delight.
All of the locations on the tour were accessible. The group tour is on a coach, which would present accessibility problems. Our hotel had great accessibility; lifts in both buildings, wheelchair accessible entry and adapted bathrooms (on request). On the Covid front I felt pretty safe the entire trip. Masks were mandated indoors and we had to present our vaccine passports to enter any premises.
The final chapter of my holiday saga will be coming soon & it includes a castle.
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I returned from my German speaking adventure a week ago and am only now in possession of the spoons to tell you all about. I had such an amazing time that I wore myself out entirely.
We started with a few days in Munich. We got unbelievably lucky weather wise. The sun shone every single day. It was so warm that I wished I’d brought less cardigans and more floaty items. Don’t worry, I still put together some excellent outfits. We also saw many excellent sights and had a grand old time.
Our first stop was Munich’s old town hall. It is an incredible building located in a square full of beautiful architecture. The boy loved all the gargoyles and crazy creatures sculpted in stone. We enjoyed the sunny square whilst we waited for town hall clock to do its thing. Its thing was worth the wait. At the stroke of noon court characters began to dance and play the organ high above us. Royalty, drummers, jesters and even a joisting match spun above us as the gold clock glinted in the sun.
Just around the corner from the town hall is Munich’s old fruit market. These days the stalls have a variety of wares; hand made crafts, flowers, cheese, fruit and plenty of beer. The market is also home to lots of drinking water fountains and my nephew adored them. You can take a 4 year old anywhere in the world and they will be happiest playing with simplest of things. Thus he spent many a delighted minute emptying & refilling water bottles.
After a wander around the picturesque market, with our handmade delights purchased we found a lovely outdoor cafe to sample some German yums. The boy selected authentic Bavarian sausages and munched the lot. His Mummy & I played it safe with giant pretzels. Gran went for a truly a delicious apple strudel. We were mildly pleased with ourselves for navigating the German menu with the help of google. Even happier to receive what we had intended to order!
We rounded off the square with stop at the the exquisite St Peter’s chapel. Although I am not Catholicism’s biggest fan, I do enjoy the beautiful architecture. My Mum, who is regular worshipper, took the opportunity to say a prayer. Meanwhile the & boy I lit a candle for our respective Grans. As we waited outside for my Mum the boy was overjoyed to meet a headless busker. Watching him come up with explanations for the man’s lack of head was exceptionally entertaining.
Our final stop in Munich was the Englischer Garten, an awesome oasis in the city. This park is the perfect sunny day outing. As you enter you can see people surfing on the man made river. The water moves so fast, watching folk brave the rapids is amazing. A few steps into the park there is the cutest little cafe, which we took advantage of. Refreshed, we ventured further and discover a fab play park for the boy to rascal. After a little rest for Gran and Auntie ly we continued on to admire ducks, pretty bridges and have a tonne of carry on.
Munich is a handsome city. There was so much more to see, but we only had two days. We ate lots of yummy food and found the people to be really friendly. If you can catch the city in the sun even better. Public transport is abundant. If you’re struggling (like I was) street taxis are all over the place and I got Ubers really quickly when he weren’t near a rank. It’s fairly flat city which makes it easier to walk. I also found most places to have good accessibility. I’d rate it a good city for spoonies to get around.
On day three we were Austria bound on the train. Stay tuned for the next chapter of the adventure.
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I’m stuck. Chronically stuck, you could say. My body has been refusing to behave for months. I’m operating at minimum capacity & maximum exasperation.
My pain levels are high and brain fog is impenetrable, but I also have a variety of ‘bonus’ complaints. This is a thing my body seems to do when I am particularly run down. A change in medication from injectable to oral about 18mths ago resulted in some messed up test results late last year (I had been against the change, but hey, what do I know?). Around the same time I had a bad cold that would not shift (definitely wasn’t covid) and culminated in Labyrinthitis. I was fairly lucky with that as I didn’t have pain, but the vertigo & nausea stuck around for ages. Into the new year the impact of that med change has made all my Long Covid symptoms more pronounced. The fatigue was never ending, a few steps left my heart rattling & my lungs crying out for air. Add a uti that quickly turned into a kidney infection. Then the three weeks of treatment required to correct the impact of changing the delivery of that medication left me vomiting all day & unable to eat. That of course messed up my electrolytes and landed me in hospital hooked up to a drip to get me back in shape. All in all it has been rough and I have struggled to get anything at all done.
That’s where feeling stuck comes in. There are so many things I want to get done. From big career moves (finish the book) to everyday task (mop the floors) it feels like everything is on hold. I am so exhausted and sore and foggy brained that it really is baby steps all the way. I write to do lists that are never completed. Every task takes a ridiculous amount of time. Proof reading each email you send three times cuts into available working time. If I put some washing in the machine, I need to rest. Some days a shower will be all I can manage. Spend a day out of the house and I need two or three days to recover. The ‘to dos’ get longer, the ideas go unexamined and I am trapped by all the unfinished everything.
It’s impossible to break free. There are things that could make my life easier, but they are of course costly. Usually a person could take on extra work, get a side hustle, but I can’t keep up with the bare minimum. If one has a deadline they could work all night. However, I can barely get through an afternoon without a lie down. Pushing myself to keep going not only results in less than my best work, but also puts me out of work entirely for days. Chronic illness pens me in. I can’t afford to buy the services & items that would make my life easier. The lack of those things contributes to worsening symptoms and limiting my ability to earn. See how it goes around & around?
I also feel welded to the spot. There are jobs I would love to accept, projects I badly want to complete, but I just don’t have the capacity at the moment. Thus, my career feels stagnant, it is heart wrenching to so badly underperform. My life is similarly entrenched. I want to see more people, have nights out, try new things. Of course, I can’t. My body simply will not allow it. I am so tired of saying no or rescheduling. It’s a no win situation my mental health suffers from being home alone so much. My physical health declines if I do too much. Again, the balance seems impossible to get right.
Finally, there is the mundane. I’d really like to have an empty washing basket. I want to be able to spend a day tidying the spare room. Instead, I do ten minutes a day for weeks and never quite get it done. It would be lovely to go out spur of the moment; but having a shower and putting on clothes can wipe me out. I never thought I would long to walk to the corner shop for cat food. Yet, here I am stuck in my house unless I can get a taxi or a lift. It is exhausting and demoralising. There is no easy way out. All I can do is wait and hope that I feel a bit better soon. I ran out of patience a long time ago.
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We’re all familiar with those comfort zone quotes, yes? Basically the message being you have to step out of your comfort zone to achieve success. There’s a grain of truth. Sometimes you have to try new, scary things. There are certainly times when you must push yourself. What happens to that wisdom when comfort isn’t exactly part of your repertoire?
Perhaps I bring my own hang ups to this, but I’ve all read this kind of advice as a dig. To me it feels like being told I’m not brave or ambitious or working hard enough. Long before I had physical health issues I struggled with mental illness. As a result, comfort has been hard to come by. When your head is making you feel that everything is wrong, you’re never very comfortable. The world is an assault. Every decision is fraught, navigating daily life can be arduous. Living in that state makes running away from comfort the antithesis of healthy.
Jump to now, when I am somewhat healthier mentally, but much more unwell physically and it seems more nonsensical. I’m not sure I remember what real comfort feels like. I wake up in pain, I go through my day in pain and I lie down at night still in pain. My mind is continually balancing what I can do against what needs to be done. Even in moments when I am physically resting my thoughts are rarely in repose. When washing ones hair or making a phone call is ‘out of the comfort zone’ is doesn’t feel like the magic lies there.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say my best work comes when I can create as much ease as possible. I have a tiny office in my home with a desk etc, but I do much of my writing with my laptop on the sofa. I rebel against traditional work clothes and wear what I feel like me in. I say no to projects that I know will be too much. I give realistic timescales and I guard my boundaries. When my body/mind or both are screaming, I stop. I do so because I know what lies beyond that line is breaking point. I am aware that this may go against much of hustle culture, but I believe I produce magic when I am whole.
This doesn’t mean I don’t stretch myself. I give talks when public speaking is absolutely not my strength. I do so in ways that are safe for me. I spread them out, I’ll talk only on topics that I feel passionate about & to groups that I think are worthwhile. I lay myself bare in articles, but only on my terms. I have undertaken things that I doubted I was capable of; I did them when I was up for the challenge. I have never found bulldozing my limits to be productive.
I live in a world where comfort is rare and precious. Almost everything involves some kind wrestling with myself. I do not enjoy it. I am not prepared to make that a virtue. What’s more, I contend that this applies to most. You shouldn’t have to go to war to succeed. Your level best is good enough. We all need a hard no in our vocabulary. My best lives in a cocoon of measures that help me feel my best. I’d suggest that yours might too.
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January has been a slog. It always is, right? It’s cold, we’re skint and coming down from the festive season. It always drags, but we’ve made it through. In the spirit of silver linings I thought I would share the things I enjoyed about Jan ‘22.
I spent a lot of time having a good old carry on with my little ones. My 3yr old nephew thrashed me at arcade games. My 4yr old niece decided she only wanted to be in photos if they involved crazy filters. I taught my 2,3 & 5 year old nephews how to play ‘pile on’; their parents were delighted. The twins are now in the move & finding their voices (noisily). Last, but certainly not least my oldest girl has been texting me in French & Russian. What’s not to love about this amazing bunch?
Stumbled upon this by accident and I’m so glad I did. It’s a bit ridiculous, but also so good. Strong (kinda crazy) female leads, which is totally my jam. Oh & it’s half set in the 90’s. It’s American 90’s which is not quite as good as home style, but still awesome.
I am a picker. If I have a blemish or a scab or blister I am entirely unable to leave it alone. Thus I have long been in search of product that will reduce blackhead etc and shrink my pores. I think I may finally have found a winner. The Ordinary salicylic acid 2% solution has been having good results. Hopefully it will stop me spending hours in front of my magnifying mirror. The Ordinary are vegan & affordable, so I’m a fan.
Another accidental discovery that I am very happy about. Emmy Meli apparently posted the hook on Tik Tok and the went out for some drinks with friends. The next day it gone wild, spurning thousands of videos of women acting out her lyrics. She of course decided to finish the song and it is a massive hit. I first heard it on tik tok and then searched it out online because it was instant love. I am so into how fresh & empowering she is. I love the sound of her voice and how upbeat this song is. I really like how spontaneously this song into life. Emmy at full volume has been helping me get things done all month.
I’ve always been partial to a clog, but the whole Croc thing put me off. Well, the clogs are back. I found these animal print beauties that are also exceptionally comfortable. I will be buying them in every variety. They’re from Vegan Flats.
Forever in love with this brand. The second I knew there was a new was a new fuck u print I had to have it. These are the bat knickers on the planet. I always feel better knowing I’m wearing my frustrations on my arse!
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I am talking Body Acceptance & Medical Weight Bias on this amazing podcast today. I’d be delighted if you fancied a listen.
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