ME Awareness Day


Yesterday (May 12th) was ME awareness day. The regular readers among you will know that one of the conditions I suffer from is ME (also known as CFS), and I’m passionate about exposing what it is really like to live with that condition. On that note, one of my new projects while I’ve been going through a very bad patch of health lately (told you I end up with loads) has been to set up a new a blog about my life. It’s much more personal than this blog, because if it wasn’t  then I wouldn’t be telling the truth. It won’t consist of post after post of whining, I’m just writing about my life and in that (hopefully) it will become obvious to the reader, the way in which my chronic condition affects my life. I really hope you’ll check it out and read it as loyally as you do this blog. I’ve named it Chronically Katie, and there are currently three blog posts for you to have a gander at to get the flavour for the blog, as well as two pages explaining more about myself and why I decided to start the blog. Please feel free to share a link and help me get the word out and give some constructive feedback.

Happy Sunday!

Link- www.chronickatie.wordpress.com

Advertisements

Wish you were here


In an earlier post I mentioned how I always take up lots of projects when I’m stuck in bed. As well as being surrounded by loads of books, papers, pens and my typewriter, I now have lots of postcards of Cardiff to add to the pile. What could be my new project? Well actually I’ve gotten involved with someone else’s project.

Like most people my age, I would love to travel, but at the moment I’d be lucky to make it to the cinema because of my health. And, of course, the hurdle to most people- cost. So when I read about the Postcrossing experiment, I was more than excited about it. As fast as my little achy hands could, I typed in the web address and signed up.

You must be wondering what sort of project could get me so keyed up (pardon the pun). Postcrossing members exchange postcards with each other. I would have been sold at that, I love postcards and handwritten letters. I always collect and send them wherever I go. More than that though, Postcrossing is international so members get postcards from all across the world. When you sign up, you are given the address of strangers to send postcards to, and in turn, strangers are given your address and send postcards to you.* My first postcard was from Malaysia. Members can also browse each others’ profiles and request direct swaps. I am feeling very popular because I have already had a few such requests.

As though it were made for me, Postcrossing combines so many of my favourite things. The founder, Paulo Magalhães, is bringing back the wonderful tradition of handwritten postcards. I can’t wait to learn about the lives of people all over the world. How can you have possibly finished this blog post without clicking onto the site to sign up?

As a special offer I will send a unique postcard about where I live for the first three people to request it.

Do you like sending postcards or are they redundant with texts, emails, Facebook, etc?

For more information on Postcrossing, visit the website www.postcrossing.com

*For those of you who would be concerned about posting your address on the internet (and you are right to be), your address is not published on your profile but only given to members who are selected to send postcards to you. Clearly it’s not full-proof but I feel ok about a few random people who lives hundreds of miles away being given my address and nothing else.

When the chips are down


In the last few weeks I have gone through a really bad patch with my illnesses. Whenever this happens, I try to keep my spirits high by forming habits like writing down three things everyday that I am thankful for, or a list of activities I can do when I get bored. At the moment I’m trying to think of easy one-day projects I could do.I love little projects, especially creative ones, but I often get bored before I complete them so I’m trying to stick to attempting do something which will only take one or two days, and not much energy. We all have little things we like to do when the chips are down, what are your favourite things to do when you’re sick? Any ideas for my one day projects?

Reading= happiness


In all the festive craziness and end of term deadlines, taking time out of our to-do list to read novels can seem a bit of an indulgence. In fact all year round I hear people piously declare to me, “I don’t have time to read”, which is a bit of lie really. All of us have time to read, I know very few people who don’t have any leisure time at all. It’s a case of how you choose to spend that leisure time. For me, I can’t not read. I get unhappy, my creativity dries up- in short my happiness decreases and that makes me lose motivation and productivity. Unless I am really ill then I read or listen to an audio book everyday.

At the moment I am reading The Shallows: How the internet is changing the way we read, think and remember by Nicholas Carr. I have so many things I want to blog about this book but at this busy holiday time, I’m going to start by explaining why reading is essential happiness. When we read fiction we are able to get ‘lost’ in a book because our brain tries to recreate what we are reading. Our brain actually stimulates our senses and uses our memories so we feel like we are living what we are reading.

Reading fiction makes us see the world in a new way and makes our brain pay attention to the smaller things in life. Carr explains: “The words in books didn’t just strengthen people’s ability to think abstractly; they enriched people’s experience of the physical world.” If you need to de-stress or find happiness in everyday life again then you need to make time to read whatever fiction takes your fancy.

Do you make time to read regularly? Or, do you believe you don’t have time to read?

8 Ways for Beating Busyness


One of my favourite bloggers, Tom Basson, has written a great post with the above title. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me, new things are being added to my schedule almost daily but so is my capacity. God is doing great things in mine and Paul’s lives and He is providing enough energy and time to do it. We just need to get organized. I’m sure many of you are starting to struggle with juggling festivities, Christmas shopping and planning with everything else in your busy lives. I recommend you take a couple of minutes to read Tom Basson’s post– it might just help you out this December.

Read Tom’s post at: www.tombasson.wordpress.com

SIMPLE PLEASURES: everyday life


Our normal routine, our everyday life is the very simplest of pleasures that most of us miss. It’s an awful irony that we only realize how blessed we were every single day, when something awful that puts those things into jeopardy. It’s only when someone has an accident that results in paralysis that they realize how lucky they were to live without a disability. It’s only once you get ill that you realize that you took a good night’s sleep for granted. For me, I’ve come to realize how lucky I am that I only have fibromyalgia and CFS/ME. This hit me one day on a hospital visit, I was looking for the right ward when I read ‘teenage cancer’ on the sign and right there and then I thanked God that wasn’t where I was going that day.

I found out recently that a family friend has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Although I am not close to this person or his wife, they are my parents friends, this has caused me a lot of grief because I can’t imagine how painful it would be to lose Paul. I think about all the things they’ve already done for the last time without knowing- the last holiday they went on, the last birthday. My parents are going through an awful time in nearly every area of their life but they have each other. I know that I would take any suffering if I could have Paul with me. These friends have lived a good, comfortable life but I know all of that will feel empty when she looses her husband.

This is something Gretchen Rubin tackles in The Happiness Project. It seems too morbid a topic to have in such a book, but realizing that bad news is only ever a phone call away makes you realize how lucky you are. None of us are exempt from the call telling us a loved one has been in an accident or that the test results are not good news. In a twisted way it is other people’s tragedies that make us thankful for what we have. Nothing can bring us security, we can work all our lives for a retirement fund that disappears in a few days in a global banking crisis or loose all our possessions in a house fire or natural disaster. We tend to think that because we worked for something then we deserve it, and we do, but just because you bought it, because you’re a good wife or husband, because your parents love you unconditionally does not mean it will be there forever. In reality we never really own anything, it can be taken in an incident is what I’m trying to say.

In my Church, we have a saying- everything is a gift. Don’t take anything for granted. We can’t live everyday as if it were our last, I’d have no money for starters and I would spend a lot of time on tearful conversations and making funeral plans. But, we can live a fulfilling, satisfying life. In the Bible it says to live life in all its fullness, sometimes that means doing not very fun stuff like being good with your finances so you have a roof over your head, but I’ve learnt not to see these things as a drag, I am so thankful that I have money to pay my gas bill, unlike many people right here in the UK. Instead of seeing things as a drag, I turn it on its head and I see the blessing, instead of missing the blessing. It may sound saintly but I’m happy than I’ve ever been. The other morning, I woke up really early in pain, instead of moaning at how unfair this is and how tired it made me, I thanked God that being in pain meant I finally got around to doing some stuff. I have a really short attention span and a bad memory so it takes me so long to get around to doing stuff so being stuck in the bathroom made me do some internet shopping I needed to get around to. Later on, I feel asleep with my head in Paul’s lap, usually he can’t sit down for more than a couple of minutes but because he didn’t want to wake me, he chilled out on the sofa watching TV, something he barely ever does.

So, thank God or the universe or just be happy that you are so very blessed today, no matter how little you have.

The next step on my journey


Although I didn’t expect to learn much through doing my fibro awareness posts, I have. It’s the first time I’ve ever been in contact and chatted to other sufferers and it’s been a bit of an eye opener. It’s made to realise and come to terms with the fact that part of the reason I always feel so rushed, panicked and like nothing is getting done properly is because I’m trying to live a life which would be very busy without any illnesses, let alone someone with CFS and fibromyalgia. It’s not giving up to admit that and neither is tailoring my life so I’m not stuck in a cycle of depravation- always over-doing it, paying the costs and then being frustrated because I can never sustain a schedule.

Things have got to change. Part of that was actually writing down my “ideal” schedule- exactly what I would want to achieve everyday or every week- it was ridiculous so I’ve put some stuff on the backburner for now instead of trying to do everything at once. In honesty, that wasn’t enough, even after I cut out as much as possible, it was still obvious that I would still be doing too much. I had to make some tough decisions in reducing my work load in EVERY area of my life, including this blog. I have never been able to post as much as I always planned to on this blog and by rushing posts, I have sometimes compromised quality (if I’m honest)- re-reading some of my earlier posts made that obvious to me. I am, therefore, cutting back the features on this blog to what I think are the best parts and you may be seeing a few less posts on here but I promise to make them really good. I really hope my readership doesn’t go down as a result of these choices, I love each and every comment and subscription. It is a great moment in every bloggers life when someone signs up to be notified when a new post is published. It’s even greater to look back over the first year of blogging and realise how much more successful your blog is than you’d hoped and how it has grown.

Part of being a good blogger/writer is knowing what works and what doesn’t so I won’t be posting any more film reviews or sports time posts regularly, I will, however, be leaving the pages up so you can access old posts and I won’t completely close the door on the possibility of the occasional post in these areas.

And, I will be adding a new feature- inspiration of the month. Every month I will be choosing a person who inspires me and I’ll write a post on them and why they inspire me. If you know someone inspirational who deserves to be honoured then please contact me on the email address below- I am open to all submissions.

As you read in an earlier post, I launched my own small business this summer (eek!) called Pandora’s Box. In brief, Pandora’s Box grew out of the home-made posts on this blog. More and more I’ve realised my passion for vintage/retro items and remaking old things into new is something I want to share. Vintage shops and markets can be really expensive and so can handmade products so part of what I do is making sure all my products are really affordable, meaning that my products are cheap but I don’t make a huge profit but I’m ok with that for now. I love individual things but my flat is small and I can’t fit it all in so I’m happy to pass on vintage finds and home-made treats to happy customers. You can find out more about it and view items on the page here. I will post updates here on my blog for you to see and if there is anything which you love in a home-made post but for whatever reason don’t make yourself, you can request me to make it for you in the comments section on the post or on the Pandora’s Box page.

Related to this, as part of the Etsy community, I come across other great and very talented sellers- look out for posts for my favourite Etsy finds.

Most of all, I’d really like to take on guest posts, I welcome any and every proposal so whatever you feel you might want to put on screen and have published here, you can get in touch with me by email: kate.bennett@live.com

Thank you loyal readers,

Katie x