Lifestyle

Finding the right balance – Daily life with Fibromyalgia

One of the things I have found most frustrating since living with fibromyalgia, is the sometimes uphill battle with daily life. Somedays feel great and it can be easy to feel obliged to pack as much as I can into these days, and other days are really not good at all, and fibromyalgia can rob me of joy and opportunity. Finding the right balance can often be tricky. However, there is a simple way of managing your life on a daily basis, while living with fibromyalgia, and I would like to share this with you today.

I was taught about this technique in a recent Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) session. It was my second session and we were reviewing my previous sessions ‘homework’. I had been asked to keep a daily activity diary, which looked a little bit like this.

I had filled this in for 9 days straight, just as I went along, or at the end of the day as I was reflecting back on what I had achieved. When I went along for my CBT session I felt embarrassed that my life looked boring, too routine, but at the same time knew that building a routine was helping me to feel better, helping my overall wellbeing, and my ability to sleep. Yet I still found myself saying, as I handed my diary over ‘I haven’t done very much’. Heres a sneak peak into what my diary looked like (excuse the messy writing!).

My very lovely and patient therapist took a few moments to look at it. Then she said “Actually, it looks quite busy to me…..”

She asked me why I felt I hadn’t done very much and we spoke about how sometimes it can be easy to compare your current fibromyalgia self to your past self. You find yourself thinking “am I lazy?” because you feel that you should have perhaps done more or that what you have done has left you feeling tired and no longer productive. We spoke about how you can often find yourself thinking that you haven’t done much because compared to your own extraordinarily high standards you haven’t and yet you are still tired at the end of the day. However, in reality, you have actually done quite a lot of activities, just not necessarily in the right order or with the right approach.

Prior to having Fibromyalgia, I could pretty much go out on a whim, childcare permitting. I could have late nights, sleep like a log, with alcohol in my system, and even with only a few hours sleep still function like a relatively normal human being, knowing that I would catch up the next night. I could squeeze in running without much thought, be out all day with the kids and still cook dinner, and whip round the house in a flash tidying up.

There are no more late nights, no more evenings out, and if I do go out it has to be planned so I know that the next day I can recover. Alcohol? Pah. My sleep is all over the place, and I never catch up. If sleep is worse than just ok, I just well write the next day off. If I mess up my sleep routine, well, I can forget sleep. I don’t run anymore, but haven’t given up all hope of this, and I have to make a choice between going out for an entire day or cooking dinner, I can’t do both without consequences. For every activity I have to sacrifice something else, I simply cannot do it all, and thats ok. I’m at peace with it. What I had never considered however, before this session, is how I plan my activities and my days so that every day can potentially be a good day. I’m already quite good at scheduling “me time” in, but further consideration needs to go into when that time is.

This is where my therapist introduced me to the theory of graded activities into RED, AMBER, and GREEN activities, or as I know them, RAG ratings (we use RAG ratings a lot at work so I’m stick with what I know).

Red activities are those that require a lot of either physical or mental energy. Amber requires a moderate amount and can be sustained for longer. Green are those that don’t require much effort at all, and should be considered as restful activities. These ratings will of course be different for everybody, but I have since re-written the diary shared above with my own personal ratings of the activities to see how it looks, and this is a snippet of the results.


You can probably see that I have a good mix of RAG in there, but the problem is that they aren’t exactly in the right order….. I’m tending to book end my days with green activities, with the occasional one thrown in during the day, and then the rest of my day I am filling with ambers and reds. Also, on some day’s I appear to to have taken the “all or nothing” approach (especially weekends) and this leaves me in danger of having a flare day.

Moving forward what I am now doing is planning my week by pre filling some of these activities into my calendar, the ones I already know are going to be happening, and then building and planning my days around them. An example of this may be that I plan my acupuncture sessions to be at a time where I can place a green activity either side, I may decide to read or listen to a podcast on my train journey there and back and make the journey itself more green than amber, or arrange for the girls to be picked up from school by someone else to allow me to rest with a green activity when I get home. I may ask my husband to cook if I am doing the after school clubs or vice versa, to lessen the impact of too many red and ambers in a row. I may simply ask for a break for 30 minutes to go and read a book in a quiet space if I have been at home with the girls all day (this is probably going to be the hardest thing to do, mum guilt). This planning ahead is going to be especially important as I have now returned to work and gradually building up to full time hours again..

It doesn’t matter what you do with your day, just so long as you bookend red activities with green ones and you don’t do your red activities for too long. Schedule in breaks from these tasks, and make sure these breaks are green. Don’t forget those pesky amber chores which don’t feel like much in themselves, but stuck together can easily turn into an amber marathon.

We are all individuals and will have our own RAG ratings, and just because a task is red doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable. One of my favourite things to do since having fibromyalgia is to cook, and I enjoy it immensely, but it is still a red task and drains me of energy. However, just because it is red, doesn’t mean I’m not going to do it, or enjoy it. By scheduling your days, putting a little more thought into the order of your tasks, and letting go of some things, you should be able to reach an equilibrium and manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia that are a direct result of simply doing too much.

Since implementing this approach for the last few weeks, I already feel more in control of my day and my symptoms. I am listening to my body and mind more closely and paying attention to how important each task is (do I really need to hoover if no-one is coming over?). I’m working hard on not cramming too much into my good days, and taking a little bit more time to fill the gaps with green tasks, not amber ones. I have also adjusted the way I do some of my previously amber tasks so that they have now become green tasks.


The last thing to consider, which I haven’t had to deal with yet is simply the chance that life is going to get in the way of this well thought out plan. There will occasionally be days when the children are sick, the cat needs to go to the vet in an emergency, or your kitchen floods. On these days you just need to do the best you can in dealing with the issue first and then re planning your day – do you need to do the shopping tomorrow instead and rustle up a quick microwave meal, just this once? Many tasks we do are as a result of a choice we have made, and for some of them there may be an alternative, such as getting someone else to do the washing up or getting the kids ready for bed.

I would encourage you to experiment with RAG ratings by first keeping a diary for a week and not doing anything different at all. After a week sit down with your support, this may be a partner, a room mate or a parent, rate your activities and see what changes you can make. What they can help you with? Have a go at re-writing your diary using colours, are all of your colours clumped together or are they interspersed throughout the day? Are you compensating on your good days and doing too much? If so, have a practise at drafting a new diary,  by first filling in the non negotiable tasks like employment, and switching around the optional tasks. You’ll probably find you can still get the same stuff done with your day but just slightly differently, conserving physical and mental energy and controlling your fibromyalgia symptoms better.

I hope that you have found this useful, and please do not hesitate to get in touch via the comments below, or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

For more information on fibromyalgia and CBT please visit here

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, in the words of Albert Einstien “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”, so try something new and RAG rate your lifestyle today!

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Lifestyle

Learning to live again

I’ve taken a bit of time away from the ol’ blog to try and determine how best to present my story and to concentrate on which direction my little life is now taking. Theres been a lot of Winnie the Pooh style “think, think, think” happening, but I now think I have a grasp on it (emphasis on the “I think”). This is a little blog post about what I have learnt so far on this challenging journey.

Learning to live again

The first step has been quite simply, learning to live again. When you’ve been ‘out of order’ for a little while, you almost forget what it means to be a well functioning part of society. You realise that you took for granted all those years when getting up in the morning, however miserable, was nowhere near as hard as it is today. You took for granted that meeting a friend for coffee was a pleasure and not an effort (but it is still a pleasure too). You took for granted that running your kids to the after school activities was a piece of piss, and now you just can’t wait to get home and close the door, knowing you don’t have to go back out again (best feeling ever). It has taken me months to accept that I have had to slow down and appreciate what I can still do, even if it does require a little, or a lot, more effort than before. I’m by no means housebound, or incapacitated, and my body does still work, albeit painfully, and if it works, then I just have to use it to the best of its ability.

One of the ways I have been able to muster the strength to ‘live’ is through mindfulness, a topic close to my heart that I will definitely share with you soon. The joy of living, and being present in the moment is a powerful remedy to most problems we all face at some time in our day.

Learning about my body and how to live with pain

Learning to live with widespread chronic pain that I may never rid myself of has been one of the biggest challenges of this whole journey so far. There are so many other symptoms, and they all kind of intertwine with each other to be a massive pain in the ass, but the pain is one of the most bothersome characteristics of the beast for me.

I’m taking the time to monitor my symptoms very closely and learning about what makes it worse, what makes it better, and what may now be major no go areas for me. Again, I will share my triggers in a later post, but I do now believe that what anyone with the F word should at least consider is working out why the pain was worse on Tuesday than it was on Monday? What did you do differently, and how can you try to prevent this from happening to you again? Trying not to avoid life and hide under the duvet cover is my one rule in all of this, and some days it really is very hard, and drives me to the point of exhaustion (but then I can’t sleep, doh!), but sometimes I find great satisfaction in knowing that I have tried my best and that is good enough.

Learning to live with bad days and learning to appreciate the good days

Some days are truly terrible. and some days are just OK. Occasionally I surprise myself, but those days are few and far between at this early stage. Again, mindfulness has been a wonderful tool for me in being present and not being too hard on myself if all the symptoms and extra effort I have made on a bad day have left me with deep dark circles around my eyes and a little bit snappy with my poor husband (god bless that man).

Learning how best to function in my ever so important career as a midwife

Everyone who has been supporting my on this journey will have heard me talk about my anxieties about managing work when I return. Just today I had a really good meeting with my occupational health team and for the first time it all now seems realistic and I even have a date set to go back. Yippee! However, this is just the beginning of the journey, and I will definitely be sharing more with you as I return and tackle the job I love head on. For now I am content with the love of my colleagues, the support from my amazing manager, and the overwhelming encouragement from all those that know how important my career is to me. Please, if you have a job you love, and are affected by a long term chronic illness, find a way to try and make it work. It may not look anything like what you expected, but it may well be magical. Also, just ask if you can work flexibly, if you can jiggle your hours, if you can have time to attend important appointments, and time to care for yourself. If you don’t ask you don’t get (and no I haven’t got the answers to these questions myself yet, but I WILL explore under every stone)

Learning to be a parent, to the best of my abilities and not letting the F word affect my so longed for children too much

Oooooh, this has been a toughy and I’m still working on it. When you are tired without a chronic illness your children can be annoying, but add in a day of pain, a headache, lack of sleep and a thousand complaints such “mummmmmyyyyyyy, she hit me over the head with a spoon!” and you will be forgiven for wanting to hide in the toilet with a packet of biscuits and your iPod on full blast through headphones (seriously, don’t do it, it makes you feel crap, also, I seriously wouldn’t swap the thousand complaints for anything in the world, not even getting rid of fibro). The biggest thing that has helped in this department is explaining to our girls, who are old enough to understand, what is happening to my body at the moment and that they can do to help. Sure, they still push my buttons in the only way 6 year old siblings do, but at least they understand why some days my fuse is a little shorter than others!

Also, and this doesn’t come just with parenting and a long term condition, but parenting in general, TALK TO YOUR PARTNER! Work out between you what you expect from your kids, and show a united front. Minimal confusion = more family harmony (whatever that is, just made it up).

Learning to maintain relationships with those people close and important to me.

Another tricky one. Typically most people work during the day and are busy with their families at the weekends, and so want to meet in the evenings. The kids only go to bed at night and so your precious time with your partner usually come in the evening too. THE EVENINGS SUCK. If there is any time of the day I am going to be at my worst, it is anytime from 4-5pm. Sadly, it all goes downhill from there. That being said, I have had a couple of evenings out and thoroughly enjoyed myself (then paid for it the next day, and not in the fun “I had too much to drink” way). However, my friends, and husband believe it or not, are incredibly important to me and so sometimes if I can suck it up and have an easier day the next day I will, because there is nothing worse than being lonely, and this is a lonely journey at times. I have had to bail out twice (one of them was tonight in fact after a gruelling physio session and horrible back pain) but luckily for me, my lovely friend understood (luvoo forever Annabanana).

Learning it is ok to say no

It can be really easy to make yourself feel bad for not keeping up or joining in what society expects you to join in, but what I feel is most important for me is that if I do say yes, I can commit to that yes and be good at what I do (even if it is just idle chit chat about smutty subjects). Don’t say yes if your yes is going to followed up with half hearted effort because you are too sick. It is better to do a few things well than to do many things, well, rubbish. In the wise words of Grange Hill, just say no.

Thats it from me for now, just a brief little peek into how I am navigating life, and I have so much more to share, but I need to get organised, something I haven’t been for a while and I have some major blog planning to do 🙂 for now, I am content with spring and the new life it brings. Here is a snap from a mindful walk I took last week.

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Toodle Pip!

Lifestyle

In the beginning

I’m often asked, how did it all start? How did you know something was wrong? Truth is, I didn’t know, in fact I was foolish enough to ignore all the warning signs, and hindsight is a wonderful, wonderful friend of mine these days, but I’ll try not to punish myself to hard….

To explain how it all started, we have to take our minds all the way back to last year (remember THAT year?). At the start of 2016, many of you will recall that I was in training, looking and feeling great. This time last year I had just completed my first ever half marathon and was feeling  EPIC. I had another half marathon coming up, the London Marathon was on the horizon, and I was raising a good amount of money for charity, with a plan to complete 12 races in 12 months. It was all looking splendid. I look back fondly on these times, and realise now I may have taken them for granted.

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March 2016 after completing my third race and feeling great!

 

Fast forward to the warm summer air and June 2016. I had just finished my 6th race and I was starting to feel tired. I had a niggling achilles injury that wouldn’t go away, and I knew that I shouldn’t carry on training. But I did, only lightly, but still it proved too much and it ended sorely for my poor ankle. Training was off, and the pain was unreal. I remember thinking that maybe I should now actually listen to my body, and rest. Maybe I had taken on too much this year. No, that can’t be it, I just needed to rest I told myself. But still, I had a lot to be thankful for, a great family, wonderful friends, and a good job with a fantastic team. I had already completed 6 races, which was amazing. Already half way. It was warm, it was summer and all I needed was to ease off my training plan for a week or two….. or three?

The weeks went by, and the summer was glorious, but still the pain wouldn’t subside. I started to get annoyed by my body’s inability to heal itself. I was doing all of the things the books and physiology told me to do, but still it wasn’t getting any better. We went on a great holiday to Cornwall and I went for some gentle runs in the tranquil Lizard countryside. Still the injury was niggling. Before I knew it, it was 6 weeks and my race plan was literally falling to pieces. However, not one to be defeated easily, I still remained positive and made ambitious plans of how I could ‘catch up’ once my fragile achilles started co-operating. I laugh in the face of the past me, how fickle I was.

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Running in the Lizard Countryside

My hairdresser told me my hair was falling out (massive deal). Expensive shampoo will fix that right? This by far has been one of the most distressing symptoms.

We roll into September, and this is truly when I started to wilt and where my old friend hindsight now teaches me a lesson or two. I developed an ugly looking rash on my legs, which lasted for about two weeks and boggled the minds of all my wonderfully clever colleagues at work. Even the consultants were perplexed. Now, I’m not a vain person ordinarily, but this rash looked so peculiar and like I had some horrific contagion straight out of a Sci-Fi TV series, that I even wore black tights, in a hospital, while we were having an Indian summer. To say I was hot would be an understatement, and foolish would be spot on, it only made it worse.

Then came the coughs, colds, urine infections, chest infections, pylonepheritis, norovirus and generally feeling crap. I felt eternally fatigued, looked terrible (even with make up cemented onto my face), and would barely shift one opportunistic bug before the next came along and made itself at home. This went on for eight weeks, and once again, hindsight (there she is) reminds that I really should have taken more than one day off sick in those weeks. All of those times my friends and colleagues were concerned because I looked so dreadful, and I paid no attention. That’s the problem with healthcare professionals, we are so busy caring for others that we forget to look after ourself. Quite a phenomenon amongst the healthcare workforce.

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October 2016, on holiday in Oslo, beginning to look tired and pale

Eventually, I went to the GP. Some routine blood tests revealed Vitamin D, Iron and Folate deficiency. Great, thats an easy fix, off I went on my way with some over the counter supplements to pop. At least I knew why I am was tired and getting so sick. A few weeks and I’d be right as rain. I still went to work, feeling terrible, but was certain it would pass. What followed however was an increasing lack of concentration for my managerial responsibilities (I’m forever thankful that my capacity for clinical work was unhindered). I was becoming forgetful, and felt dazed and sometimes even confused when not at work. I was developing a lack of patience for everyday things and had waning energy for anything at all. I had convinced myself that I was ‘just feeling blue’ and that I needed to ‘snap out of it’. Pull my socks up as my parents generation would say. So thats exactly what I tried to do, I even started running again. I carried on working and put a brave face on it.

Then the day came that I could ignore it no longer. I simply could not plough on anymore.

Mid November, in my dark windowless toilet, getting ready for work at 5.25am. I felt nauseous, then dizzy, then sweaty. The realisation that I’m about to pass out comes to me. Luckily for me, I’ve felt this way before when I was pregnant, so I immediately knew I needed to lower myself to the floor, before I fell. Damn, can’t go to work today.

I lay on the toilet floor pondering my next move, a day off work for sure. Just a day of rest and I’ll be fine, must be getting ill again, another cold, that will be it. I’ve only been on the supplements for a few weeks, they just need a bit more time to work.

A day turned into a week. A week of fatigue, the onset of pain and boredom. I slept……. and slept and slept. The GP diagnosed burnout, and at that point I agreed with her. But three weeks of ‘rest’ later (basically time off work, not sure how much you can really rest as a mother), and I was actually feeling worse and not better.

The fatigue remained, the pain was worsening, I was getting strange rashes, I had IBS symptoms, my hair was still falling out, and I was terribly grumpy but the GP couldn’t find anything. Diddly squat. I was offered some painkillers, they didn’t work. I was being told that my symptoms were too vague, that nothing was wrong, and asked if I was ‘feeling ok?’ ‘Just rest’ was the remedy…… I couldn’t rest anymore, I felt like I was losing my mind! I felt like nobody was listening to me (more on that in another post) and whats more, insomnia was now settling in for the long haul. I was frustratingly being told that I couldn’t be referred to any specialist until I had been symptomatic for at least six weeks…… SIX F*@!ING WEEKS?! OK, I’ll just sit and wait then…….

If you know me you will of course know that this is not what I actually did…. Off I plodded back into the hospital I work and was kindly referred immediately to the rheumatologist. Many weeks of blood tests, x-rays, pokes and prods later and the diagnosis finally comes (see my last post for that story!), and I can begin to move on from this whole ordeal. What a difficult but also wonderful year that was. It is taking far longer than my impatient self wants to manage the beast that is fibromyalgia, but as I have written for long enough, I will that I will save for another day.

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Me today, ready to move on and live life to the fullest I possibly can!

 

Lifestyle

The F word 

Friday 27th January 2017. Haven’t counted down to a date like I did this one for some time. Sitting in the waiting room of the rheumatology department I felt nervous, scared, unsure, yet also had a sense of excitement, that today was THE day. I was going to find out what the freaking hell is wrong with me. The F word, Fibromyalgia, had been thrown around doctors opinions for a few weeks by now and today it was finally confirmed. I now officially feel like a proper patient (and it isn’t all bad, people do care).

I had a so many questions, but top of the list – when will I be better? The question that nobody can find the elusive answer to right now, and there isn’t much more that is as frustrating as not knowing. You can’t help but think, “will I ever get better?” This is impacted further by the fact that nobody really knows exactly what Fibromyalgia is, or how to treat it with the confidence of success. I’ve was referred for some treatment being told that this may take some time to come through, and given some advice on how to battle with my symptoms for the meantime.

I made my way home, slowly, thoughtfully, and dazed. Although I (sort of) knew this was coming it still bamboozled my noggin a little. I don’t really remember how I got home. A small piece of advice for anyone going to an appointment where they will be diagnosed with anything big or small, TAKE SOMEONE WITH YOU. Anyone. Otherwise it is a lonely and painful journey to find someone to connect with and show your emotion to.

I eventually found someone to hold me, when I got home, Matt was there with open arms (for the record, my appointment was really early and so he couldn’t make it, unless we let our 6 year olds take responsibility for themselves in the morning 😂). The moment I fell into his arms, my eyes leaked. And then flooded. For 30 minutes. I felt so sore and the anxiety and adrenaline that comes with this sort of emotion makes my symptoms a whole lot worse.

Many caring phone calls later I managed to pull myself together and make plans for getting better. A lot of fibromyalgia treatment is very dependant on the individual helping themselves and so that’s what I have to do. I was a bit manic over the weekend, reading research article after research article on what complementary therapies are proven to work and what other gentle therapies I can seek to treat myself. Once I realised I wasn’t going to get that information and I didn’t have enough money to do it all, I had no choice but to calm myself and look at just trying a few things at a time that may work, very much using a trial and error approach.

One thing I will not allow to happen (and I’m as stubborn as a mule) is to be defeated. Defeat is not an option here. I have a good life, a privileged career, a wonderful family and a world to explore. I am determined to live this one life on this earth to the full, I just might have to going the long way about it! I firmly belief that when you receive a diagnosis of anything (and Fibromyalgia is far from life threatening and a really big pain in the ass, and everywhere else for that matter) you can either let it define you or you can control it to the best of your ability. Changes will have to be made that’s for sure, but I am still me, a 33 year old mother and midwife, with a passion and zest for life, and I have a deep set need to be more than this.

I’ve started my own cobbled together “treatment” plan this week while I wait for referrals to be made and to be called back for “proper” treatment. I will share my results with you good, bad and ugly, and I am also hoping that my experimentation will help other people or those newly diagnosed fight back at their symptoms. Right now I am working hard at Gratitude and I’m finding contentment with the love that has been extended my way by friends and family (you are all incredible). Never in my life have I felt more loved (well, maybe with the exception of my babies looking at me for the first time!).

Please comment or share far and wide if you or anyone else may have any suggestions or advice to give. Or if you have anyone that you feel may benefit from following my journey. Comments and shares are always welcome and awareness of this invisible disease is needed.

And remember

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Albert Einstein.

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P.s to see all of the wonderful things life can offer, and not just the glumness of illness, please follow me on instagram @the_f_word_blog

Lifestyle

Papering over the cracks

Warning: this is a bit of a blah post……

So apparently it’s Blue Monday. The wind is swirling outside, it’s already dark at 4pm and all I want to do is eat chocolate. Wondering if I would be paying as much attention to feeling blue if it wasn’t actually Blue Monday.

This last week has been a pig of a week on the pain front. My body has ached from top to toe, I’d happily swap my back, neck and shoulders with someone else, diagnosis still feels a lifetime away, and nothing is relieving the pain. I’ve also had a not so positive meeting about returning to work (nobody’s fault just the way my body is right now and as usual me expecting too much of myself). Hence this last week has been slower and it has felt like I’ve had to paper over the cracks a little.

One of the things that has helped this last week is taking things slowly, book ending my day with positive thoughts and doing things in my own time. Also letting my eyes leak from time to time, sometimes from fatigue, other times from sheer frustration. Luckily I’m a relatively positive person and I am by no means low in mood or any less the happy woman I have always been, just a little fed up!

I’m learning that it is ok to feel frustrated and sad about things out of our control, it’s ok to let our guard down, and ok to be a woman, mother, and midwife simply trying to do her best. Even if her best is something quite different from a year ago.

It’s amazing how much your life can change in a year. This time last year I felt on top of the world. Running races, medals around my neck and enjoying marathon training. I was probably in the best shape ever since I had the girls, and felt wholely good about myself. Right now I can’t even walk two miles without paying for it for the next two days, and that is an incredibly difficult change to accept.

The other thing I am incredibly grateful for is the overwhelming support from family and friends. I’ve had so many calls, texts and messages in this last week and no longer feel so alone in this journey. I now have plans to meet with some people who have kindly offered their time. Being away from work and ultimately away from friends can feel incredibly isolating. I urge you, if you know anyone who is going through a hard time right now, or has simply gone off the radar, get in touch with them and brighten their day, show them you care, and offer your hand in friendship. No big gestures needed, just a friendly ear, a herbal tea and some cake goes a long way. Also, while you listen to their stories, remember to talk about utter crap, about the funny things they may have missed, and about good news that may have passed them by, they don’t want to spend their time only glumly talking about how they have been. It’s a good place to start but feel free to move on and change the subject.

When you are unwell you can feel a burden to people, and also, shouting it from the rooftops is not at all the style I and many others wish to adopt. You don’t always want to ask for help, or friendship, but deep down you really crave it. You keep it to yourself and within your close family, in hope that no one will think you are weak or pathetic. But when that offer of friendship is made it feels amazing to finally let people know and you realise that nobody thinks you are weak or pathetic at all.

When you make that contact don’t be offended if you don’t get a reply straight away. Or if the person turns down your first offer of meeting for that slice of cake. To begin with, just knowing someone is their for you and able to meet when you are ready is good enough. In time, they will come around and you will get to see them.

So I want to thank all of those people who have sent messages of good will and support in this last couple of weeks. You know who you are and you are all top of my list to say thank you to when I finally get back on top of my game and back to the Sarah you all know. You are all wonderful human beings and deserve the thanks coming your way.

Good Friends Don’t Grow on Trees

On a positive note you can check out my instagram page for some of the good things that have happened over the last week. I am posting a picture of something I am thankful for every day as part of project 365, so check it out! Back to a weekly summary next week!

Lifestyle

2017 is a go go!

Its been a busy but productive start to 2017. The week started off with some absolutely glorious weather and we brought in the new year by enjoying each others company, reminiscing over 2016, taking some nice winter walks and slowly, trying to get back to normal after Christmas.

Just some of the highlights from 2016
So lucky are we to live so close to the wonderful Thames

My physical wellbeing has still been a challenge this week, particularly from Thursday onwards, but a lot of effort has been put in to maintain my psychological wellbeing.

Did anyone else find that it took all week to let their house recover from the chirstmas hangover? Or are you still recovering? Im still finding pine needles everywhere, which is a lovely reminder of the fun we had this Christmas, but still just a little annoying 😂 I’m still to take the paper chains down from the hallway and the girls bedroom, and after the initial “is it bad luck to keep them up beyond twlevth night?” running through my brain, I am now endevouring to get them down by the end of the week, if I can be bothered…. The only thing I really couldn’t part with just yet is our nordic star in our window, I’m playing the card of it being a winter accessory, and not a Christmas one.

We decided to reuse our Christmas tree in the most part this year instead of the council taking it away, and we are going to spread the pine needles over our allotment plot, so Christmas will live on in our crops this year!
Writing about allotments…….. I took a stroll down to ours on Thursday (it was bloody freezing), full of the hopes of sitting in the shed, planning, and plotting, about what our allotment year might look like. Only to get there and not be able to get in, I think the lock may have been frozen. A cold and dejected walk home it was, but in the end, every cloud has a silver lining because it took me much longer than I anticipated to get all the Christmas things taken down and the presents put away before the darkness of twelvth night settled upon us. The girls exclaimed when they got home from school that the lounge was MASSIVE……. That’ll be because there’s no tree in it now!
I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen this last week, and not in a wife handcuffed to the sink way. I’ve really enjoyed cooking and baking this week and its been really lovely to eat some wholesome, homemade food. We haven’t eaten anything processed this last week and are feeling so much better for it. This weeks offerings included, amongst other things –

  • Roasted butternut squash soup – with some of the leftover Christmas ham
  • Cider Bread
  • Banana Cake
  • Avocado and eggs on toasted homemade bread
  • Homemade Pizza
  • Bagels (see below)
  • Spaghetti Bolognese
  • Apple, Raisin, and Cinnamon Porridge
  • Roscon de Reyes (see below)
  • Cashew Curry
  • Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Meringues
  • Roti
Bagels are a slow bake but totally worth it. Something about them bobbing around in the poaching water gets me really excited about what they are going to taste like!
Roscon de Reyes or King Cake is a traditional sweet bread eaten by the Spanish on Epiphany (6th January) to celebrate the Three Kings arrival and Jesus being revealed to the world….

Other enjotments this week include candles, reading, sowing broad bean seeds and chitting new potatoes indoors ready to plant in the spring, eating all the lovely food, playing dohnutters, robins, and enjoying “Class Dismissed” on CBBC a little too much.

How has your year started? Anything exciting planned for 2017? Are you over Christmas yet? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!

Lastly, if you would like a little peek into my new way of appreciating life then follow me on instagram @manysilverlinings

Love you all xx

Lifestyle

New year, different beginnings

Been trying to think of a way to start 2017, as I am starting from a very different place to 2016.

2017 heralds a new and different beginning to the year. While last years aim was not quite achieved, only completing half of my 12 race challenge, I am still amazingly proud of myself for completing those six races and raising lots of money for charity in memory of my brother. Especially when I look at where I am today.

2016 ended in a plague of injury and poor health. While the health side is still a work in progress and I am still working towards a diagnosis that may impact my future, my brain is still in fine fettle. The running has to take a back seat for now (but not forever) and I have to occupy my mind in ever different ways.

I’ve had to do a little bit of soul searching towards the end of 2016, and I have come to realise that while not running leaves a little bit of who I am behind, there is a whole world of possibilities outside of my window and I need to discover a new me.

The last six weeks have pretty much consisted of ploughing through the physical battle I have been dealt with and putting my make up on every day to keep my mental health in tact. Not running or working has made me feel a little bit broken and empty as both things are an incredibly important part of my life. I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend, but just as important I am a midwife and runner. Sincerely hoping both of them will get back on track very soon, although both are a little out of my control as 2017 begins.

I am not saying I will never run again, but for now it isn’t the priority. Also, I WILL get back to work really soon (before I forget how!). My priority for today however, is to be thankful. To be thankful for my family, our home, the world we live in, and new discoveries.

I plan to document as much of my 2017 journey in photos, with one photo each day to represent something I am grateful for, something I have discovered/made/appreciated, things that make me smile or inspirations. This is by no means an effort to edit out the tough bits. I will still be working through each day and the challenges a full time job, motherhood, wife business, and life brings. I am simply focusing on the small things that make me smile.

I have no idea if anyone is even interested in this blog, and the number of readers it attracts is not my priority, but if you are, join me in my 2017 journey to overcome the battles life can throw at you and the silver linings that await us around each and every corner (sorry that sounds super corny….) feel free to comment and share your exepriences with other so we can all enjoy ‘the simple things’. The web is a hugely diverse place of knowledge, inspiration, ideas and I would love to hear from you.

My photos will be shared often on instagram and I plan to summarise my journey within this blog at regular intervals. However, as this is a personal journey and not one I am actually too worried about people reading, I will not be putting too much pressure on myself to do this at particular time intervals. They will come when the time feels right. This is just my little way of changing my mindset a little and documenting my journey as my life changes and evolves.

Peace out.