Looking after myself

Leonie is a business coach that I subscribe to (a), I have talked before about how I find her a little hippy for me sometimes, but sometimes who works for me too… I take what I need and leave the rest – I am sure she would be happy with that, especially as I keep revisiting it time and time again!

Recently she issued a post entitled Self Care Smack Down

In the past I would have answered not a thing to pretty much every stage of this! And then felt shit about it.

But with the help and encouragement of my wonderful husband and actually Leonie’s advice I am getting much better. After watching this video I listed my self care routines

Massage twice a month.

Like Leonie I would wait until my neck completely seized up, or my back solidified before I would get a massage from my amazing masseuse who always managed to get me back together again. Now I see her twice a month and it keeps my body moving and relatively pain free. As I am a stressy person, no matter what I do, this helps my stress pain points.

Therapy.

I have therapy every week, this is a big financial and time commitment but one which I have come to realise I need in my life. It is wonderful to be able to speak about all of the problems I am facing and everything which is going through my head in a non judgemental space. I never have to worry about boring her and talking about the same thing time and time again. She helps me reflect on patterns in my life and having that objectivity is wonderful. I highly recommend having therapy. I do try not to start sentences with ‘my therapist says….’ for fear of sounding horribly American (!)

Morning routine

I love my morning routine and I hate it when it gets disrupted, to the extent that I will go back and do it later if I have to. It involves gentle yoga, meditation, journalling, 1000 words of writing and then my Most Important Task from work. All before swtiching on the internet! It takes discipline and practice to do, but it is totally worth it.

Days off

I now have every Friday off and it feels like a complete and utter luxury. I often still do a 35 hour week just working Monday – Thursday, so having Friday is amazing. I don’t do any work stuff, but I do do other stuff. I will write more about it later.

I felt so proud of myself – I am taking care of myself and it will hopefully start to show when I get sick less and all out so burned out that I have to cancel all of my appointments and seeing all of my friends. Hurrah!

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Brain detox

There is so much information out there – we really are bombarded with so much data, images, opinions and other types of media that it can be difficult to figure out what is going on in our own brains.

For the last two weeks I have stopped reading all blogs, self help books, spirituality/religion books and the news. edited to add, I wrote this over a week ago now, hence there is a quote from another blog on here!

It has been so refreshing to say the least! I feel great for it. My anxiety has dropped somewhat, not least because I am no longer comparing myself to everyone else, feeling like I should be doing this that and the other.

I am not sure how much longer I can keep it up, I do need to go back to reading work related news, so that I can stay current in my knowledge, but as for the rest of it….I’m not sure at the moment.

I might stay blog free for a while longer yet, and maybe go back to some of it at a later stage. I might just pick one or two to read, those who don’t necessarily make me wish for a better or different life, but just those who interest me. I’m not sure.

 

Sticking with the stick

I am still having to use a walking stick to get about, I have found out that I haven’t done any major damage to my knee, just worn away a bit of the cartilage, but it is not something which can be fixed. I am going back to the physio next week, but they have told me I will not be able to run distances again, probably only 5 or 10Ks and certainly not on the road. My dreams of doing Ironman cannot happen. And that is ok, I can find other ways of keeping fit. My dog means that I am walking a great deal and it is certainly kinder to my joints. Which really, I do need to start thinking about as I am hypermobile, and not invincible.

But it does not give me the all out high that running does, when my knee is a bit better I am going to try cycling again, but I only really took up cycling proper because of doing triathlons. I suspect they are not going to happen now, although in a few years time if I find ones that run off road then I might be able to. I guess it is a case of patience something I am really, really not known for at all!

In the meantime I will carry on using my stick, because when I let vanity or pride get the better of me and I spend a day out and about without in by the end of the day I am limping and shuffling along at half pace and in a lot of pain, where as using the stick I am able to keep going for longer, with good posture and with only a little pain.

As it looks like the stick is going to be around for a while I have decided that I am going to get a funky one, so I have found the one I want, it is just out of stock for a couple of weeks, so I will have to wait that little bit longer. I have been putting off buying one as I was hoping it was a temporary thing, and it still might be, just kind of longish term temporary – not the few months I originally hoped – it has already been much longer that a few months.

It is hard adapting to using a stick, it is a very obvious declaration of a problem, but when you have something like a plaster cast people seem to be able to process it as broken leg, that’s ok. Whereas I get stared at by people. I am still relatively young to be using a walking stick and when I am using it there isn’t much of an obvious limp, so I guess people don’t know what to do with the information, so they look at me strangely. That’s ok, I can cope with it, but sometimes, when I am feeling vulnerable for using a stick, it makes me feel bad.

I have noticed I keep saying to people, when they mention the stick, ‘but this time last year I was training for a marathon’ as if I need to justify that this is only temporary, its not who I really am. Which is strange and it is teaching me a lot about identity.

I am also deeply uncomfortable using my stick when I am meeting new clients or have pitches, it feels like a massive weakness to be admitting and putting out there. And of course what does this say about my attitude to disability, or societies attitude? I am rubbish at being ill – even just a cold, because I do not like showing weakness, this is something I am working on and its ok to be ill and to need rest. I think in my head it is ok for other people to be ill, just not me.

I have done a lot of work with people with disabilities – I volunteered when I was a teenager at a playcentre for handicapped children and I never saw them as ‘weak’. It is just me I am seeing as weak. I think that also links in to depression too. I have never taken time off of work because of it, even when quite frankly I really needed to.

A lesson in patience, kindness and identity, all symbolised in a stick.

Yoga acceptance

Yesterday I went to a yoga class, even though in a bid to get well I have cancelled all appointments, meetings and even seeing friends. This yoga class is different, it is a relaxation and restorative class and my teacher has trained in yoga for MS, CFS and cancer. She also knows me well as I have been going to her classes on and off for about 4 years now, since she started up.

As I have said before, yoga around here tends to be done in village halls, with everyone is either see through leggings or track suit bottoms, no lulemon here!

So, it is in no way a pretentious class.

During tree pose I did my usual highly wobbly practice on my left side – hypermobile ankles mean that I can be as still as possible on my legs, but my ankles will not stay still at all! But I couldn’t stand full weight through my right knee. So I did mountain pose instead.

Then we came onto doing equestrian pose, with an extended practice here. This was too much for my knee, so I went up into a full lunge, again fine until I had my bad knee at the front, then I couldn’t do it at all. At this point I started to get cross and angry. This is not particularly hard yoga, and I can’t do it. I then did the rest of the work sitting down, sobbing quietly into my forward bend. My teacher noticed and came over and touched me on the shoulder and said I was too hard on myself and I know it. She is right, I am and I do. But it was so frustrating not to be able to stand and do the yoga moves.

But then something shifted. I accepted my body for what it can do today. Not yesterday, or three years ago, today. I went through the rest of the class feeling sad, but yet deeply embracing where I am. Up to now I have been fighting using a walking stick to get around, pushing myself to get well and to carry on regardless. On Monday I find out what is going to happen with me knee, if it is something they can fix, or if I need to live with it. If I need to live with it I am getting a purple and silver stick.

By the savasana at the end of the class I felt such a deep relaxation, my body felt heavy, but in a good way. I didn’t listen to the visualisation, instead I took my awareness around my body, listened to the pain in my back and the sharp pain in my knee and embraced it.

I slept well last night, deeply and I have woken up feel like I have rested, for once. My body still feels deeply relaxed, although I am sure that will change as the day progresses.

I also feel like something has shifted, that maybe I am beginning to accept my body for where it is right now and that feeling might even stay around for a while, before I find something else to rail against!

Going omni

As you know, I recently went vegetarian and this has been a great struggle for me, I have felt much better ethically for being vegetarian, however it has been causing me a lot of stress.

Firstly my body has been craving meat, not just the occasional bacon sarnie, but like it needs meat. I have been ill a lot recently and I worry that it is partly related to that. When I told my mum I was going vegetarian she said that I should be careful not to get ill, as that did happen last time I went veggie for a period.

Although I don’t think my illness is totally related to not eating meat, I don’t think it has helped.

As I have said before I don’t have the best relationship with food and I struggle to know what to eat and cook. And this has added a new layer of complexity to eating and another aspect to worry about – am I getting enough protein to give myself energy?

So, I feel like I am cheating in going back to eating meat, especially as it just felt so right ethically, but I can’t do it anymore. What doesn’t help is I am a very fussy eater and there have been times when I have been out that I haven’t eaten much at all because of this and that hasn’t helped my overall health and how I feel at that time.

I am going to buy ethical meat, and I will probably go back to buying from Abel and Cole again, as this is a good way of getting ethical meat.

It is also difficult in announcing to people that, once again, I have changed my mind. But once again, I need to learn that it doesn’t matter what other people think about me, I have to do what is right for me.

Bimbling goals part 2

OK, so I have explained my word of the year and shared part 1 of my goals, so here are the rest

Spiritual

To find a women’s group
I have no idea how I am going to do this, especially  living where I do. But none the less, I think that if I continue to search for one and keep it in my mind that is what I am looking for that it might happen!

To go on retreat by myself 
I would very much like to have a retreat by myself, maybe some music, my laptop to write on BUT NO INTERNET, pens and paper and a chance to do what I want and not to have to worry about anyone else.

To be honest in my sharing
I want to be as honest as possible in my sharing of my spiritual practice and my life in general. Although I will not be going ‘warts and all’ into the details of my life I want to share my spiritual journey honestly and openly. I am sure at times this will be very difficult

To continue to develop my spirituality and its practice
oh, this is a complicated one to explain once you get past the obvious. It will be a major theme this year I can promise you!

Family & Friendships 

To hold monthly soup sojourns 
getting together with my friends can be tricky, we are all really busy, and so when we do see each other we make it a big deal, cooking elaborate food etc. I wanted to combat this by opening my house one Saturday or Sunday a month and making soup and break and going for a nice walk in the woods with my dog. If one can make it great, if three can, fab. The idea being that seeing friends doesn’t have to take hours in prep.

To have a day out with mum/dad/niece
A whole day with each of these people individually. Not sure what that will look like yet but there is time to figure that out

To have a date night with Gavin twice a month 
Not necessarily out of the house, but doing something together with intent, rather than just vegging out in front of the tv. This might be a nice meal and games or going out to the cinema.

To have an actual dinner party
With a couple/s joining us. We have only done this once in the time we have been together and we would like to invite people into our home more

To have an amazing holiday together
Not sure what this would look like at the moment, but it involves leaving England for the first time since we got married (which will be three years ago in July)

My personal goals 

to relax 
mainly by bimbling

to use all my own products 
moisturiser, going no poo etc

My massive big scary goal 

To publish some writing and get paid for it. Wow, I said it and it is out there. I want to write something and get paid for it. Just today I have pitched to join a team of writer for a big website. Eeek!

So, there we go, all of my major goals, I have stated my intent for the year and we shall see how it all goes!

Bimbling goals – part 1

Goals could be seen to be contrary to my word of the year being bimbling, but actually they are bimbling goals, not driven but kind and gentle. Most of them are aims rather than actual goals. If I don’t make them it is not another way for me to beat myself up, it is just a way of focusing and shaping my year.

So here we go:

Financial

To feel more relaxed about money
Money has always been a stress point for me and now I have the added stress of being self employed and although it has gone well so far I am prone to worry. Part of this will be to see an IFA and to look at my budget again.

To save £xx into my emergency savings
I think this is really a subset of the above!

To give more to charity
My husband and I at the end of last year decided to sponsor a girl through Plan UK and I am also starting to lend via Kiva. I have allocated a small amount to do this each month.

2 no buying physical things month
I did this last year and although it had to be stopped due to a puppy incident of eating my glasses, I found it eye opening to my spending habits, so I would like to do that again this year.

Body

To learn to accept my body and to be as healthy as I can
Difficult challenge here. I don’t know what is happening with my body, if my knee is just isolated to my knee or if it is start of major problems with my hypermobility. I don’t know if my knee can be fixed with a simple operation, or if I have to live with it. So this goal is about trying to be accepting of myself and kind towards me. The healthy as I can refers to the fact that I can no longer be training for a marathon, I have to be realistic about myself!

To have 24 massages a year
Massage helps my body to keep moving and to not seize up, I have written about it before and it is important to my physical and mental health.

To swim at least twice a week.
A gentle goal for me, I wanted to put down four times a week but if I aim for two I can always do more than it!

To do a yoga class at least four times a month
I really feel that yoga rebuilds my body, which I need and my lovely teacher has started up a restorative class, which is what I need rather than hard core astanga!

To try tai chi
I have been wanting to try tai chi again for ages. I used to do martial arts, but after breaking and dislocating I realised it wasn’t such a good idea for my body. But I like learning katas and tai chi has them. It is also a moving meditation and slow and precise is key. Neither of which I am particularly good at, but I think it would be good for me to learn!

To have swimming lessons one to one
I love swimming and I want my technique looked at to make sure I am not damaging myself through poor technique.

Creative

Hmm, looking at my goals I have written quite a few of them are not bimbling and so I am editing them to the following

To create for creativity’s sake
This is my main one – to do things for fun, not to show to other people. I think this idea is practically therapy for me and one I should apply for my whole life! It is the opposite of perfection, it is about enjoying life, colour and things!

To experiment with raw chocolate
I made raw chocolate for presents this year and it went down well and I would like to make different flavours

To play music four times a month
I love to play my instruments, but I never do it and I don’t know why. Maybe writing it down will make me do it.

To listen to music and do nothing else four times a month
I used to spend hours as a young adult doing this and it fed my soul in no uncertain terms. Now I only listen to music when I am doing something. But music is more important to me than that and I want to prioritise it .

To do morning pages every day
to handwrite in a notepad – not a nice moleskin or other, but just a notebook with pencil. This is all of the moaning, whinging and ‘I did this and went there’ type writing that clogs my brain up

To write 1000 words a day
This will be typed and possibly turned into blog posts, or maybe at some point something bigger, who knows.

I want to be a published writer someday – in fact I already have been, but under client’s names when I worked in PR, I have been published in quite a few trade magazines but I want to be published under my name. Writing every day makes it more likely to happen. Someone once said you are what you do every day. So I want to be a writer, so I need to write every day.

To publish 5 photos a week on flikr or this blog
I want to develop my visual side of my creativity, which is quite weak actually, so by setting myself a goal of 5 photos a week I will have to take lots of photos and get out there!

To have 2 artist dates a month
To go off by myself and do something to ‘fill my well’ as Julia Cameron puts it

There are other sections in this goals list, but I will save them for another time as this is getting rather long now!