Month: July 2012

Practice Makes Perfect.

The phrase “practice makes perfect” is usually applied to scenarios where someone is learning something or training in some way but here I mean it in a slightly different sense.

As those of you who read my blog know, I have been battling chronic pain and chronic fatigue for several years now and it is an ongoing fight. (If you are new to my blog and want to know about this then I suggest you read this post to learn a little more!)

At the moment I’ve been seeing the Pain Clinic and the physio and we have had many discussions about where my future lies, what I can do to keep fighting and making progress, and how I can work on making myself better and living as normally as possible. I am not going to lie, I feel that my chronic condition has really held me back over the past year, with my health deteriorating so much in the first term of my first year at uni the year did not go how I expected or planned.

Being on holiday and back at home has made me all the more determined to get better. In September Tom is starting his first full-time job and will be moving to London and I want to be able to visit him easily and do lots of fun things. In October I start classes at my new university and I want to be able to throw myself into my course and into extra-curricular activities. I have plans to volunteer at a primary school and maybe with a charity, I want to have the energy for that. I am going to join the local gym and I want to be able to go regularly for proper workouts.

I know, that’s a lot of ‘I wants’. But the thing is for the past year, longer really, I’ve just been settling. Settling for things which aren’t as I planned, settling for something less than I hoped for, settling for a life I wasn’t 100% happy and fulfilled by.

Whilst I know that I will probably have to live with chronic pain and fatigue for the rest of my life, that doesn’t mean they have to completely dictate my life and it’s within my power to live life to the full as much as possible. I don’t want to spend my life regularly relying on people to help me with things, having to constantly make compromises and not being able to do the things I love.

I am not in denial. I know how difficult this is going to be and I know that there will be days and even sometimes weeks when I struggle and feel awful but I don’t have to constantly live as though I am an invalid.

With chronic conditions there are always periods of remission followed by periods of relapse, it’s just the way things are. I just want the remission to be the more significant part of my life. I want to feel healthy and able-bodied, I want to be happy with myself.

This is where the practice comes in.

Recovery and remission is not instant. It doesn’t just suddenly all clear up. Although some of it is just down to your body working better, a lot of it is down to the individual. Healthy living is so important for combating chronic fatigue and exercise really helps with the pain too. Equally your mental attitude can make an enormous difference to how you feel physically.

If I were to give into the pain and exhaustion, to just let my family, friends and Tom do everything for me, if I didn’t push myself to work, to study and to pursue my hobbies, I have absolutely no doubt that I would be worse and this is something my pain consultant wholeheartedly agrees with. It isn’t easy, you have to work past the lower levels of tiredness and aching. But it’s so worth it to be able to live the life you enjoy.

So I will practice pushing myself in a healthy way; not going to extreme to the point that my energy levels drop below around 20% or my pain levels rise above 8/10, but merely gradually doing more.

I will have goals to work towards, building up my physical ability and my day-to-day energy levels. I will make life worth living. I will live the way I love to be, I will make the most of all of the wonderful positive things I have and I will be healthy and happy.

will beat this.

Guest Post – Sarah from To Build Books and Castles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey lovely readers!

Today I have a real treat for you, a guest post from the fantastic Sarah who writes over on her blog To Build Books and Castles. I love her blog, she writes beautifully and is pretty hilarious – you should go check out her blog. I hope you enjoy her post!

For me, summer has always meant steamy afternoons, smoothies for every breakfast, and of course that lingering sense that the world has stopped turning. Each day feels the same as the one before, as if everything is repeating in some sort of sultry, lackadaisical Groundhog Day. I can’t help it; I’ve never been a summer person. In fact, summer is the season when my wanderlust is at its lustiness and my heart leaps at the mention of someplace foreign and exotic and new. I’m practically jumping out of my skin to just get out and go.

After spending the first four months of the year studying in England and traveling around Europe, I thought this summer I’d be content to just relax and enjoy a bit of normalcy. But no luck. Of course, it doesn’t help that everyone in the blogosphere seems to be going on their own world adventures lately. Just saying, Sophie’s Paris posts had me combing through every word and picture to capture that feeling of abroad-ness that I’ve been missing since I came back to America. Because really, is there anything better than traveling to new and amazing places?

I have to say, traveling this year has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Okay, okay, I can see you all rolling your eyes from here. I’m sure you’ve heard it before:

Oh, studying abroad has changed my life.

I feel like I’m a whole new person.

Seriously, you just can’t truly know yourself until you’ve spent some time traveling.

In fact, before I left on my trip. I was absolutely positive that I’d come back saying these same clichéd, pretentious things. I’ll admit it, a large part of me expected to “find myself” during my travels. I wanted Europe to help me figure out who the hell I wanted to be, because honestly, I’ve never been quite sure. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that wasn’t my experience at all. In fact, quite the opposite. I don’t think traveling around Europe changed me (although living out of a backpack for five weeks certainly changed my packing priorities). Instead, something better happened.

When everything else was stripped away and it was just me and my backpack and a train ticket, I finally realized that I was already there. Everything I wanted to be but wasn’t sure I could, I already was. It simply took leaving all my friends and family and traveling halfway across the world to show me that I’ve always known who I am, and I’ve always been who I wanted to be.

I think that’s one of the most unsung benefits of traveling. Being forced into unfamiliar and sometimes unsettling places gives you more confidence to just be yourself. I mean, let’s be real; traveling is so exhausting that you don’t have the energy to be anything else. And that’s a good thing. Sometimes it’s just hard to hear yourself over the noise of your everyday life, but take all that away and it’s just you. That’s when you discover what you’re really made of.

So now, in the warmest and most stagnant days of summer, I’m sitting here in my bedroom with no air-conditioning in 90 degree heat (er, 32 for you European folk), pining for the dizzy streets of Prague and the freezing lochs of Scotland and that irresistible sense that I can conquer the world. But you know what? In writing all this down, I’ve realized that I haven’t lost that. I may not be adventuring at the moment, but I still haven’t lost that confidence that I can do anything.  And I wonder if perhaps that’s the point of traveling in the first place:

To show yourself that you’re already strong enough to handle it.

And then, of course, there’s the really good food and shopping. But that’s a subject for another post.

 

I hope you loved this as much as I did! 

Do you love to travel?
Have you ever spent long periods abroad?
How do you deal with being out of your comfort zone, does it make you stronger?

I hope you’ve all had a really lovely weekend 🙂

Off Again!

Hey hey everyone 🙂

So tomorrow at around 3am (urgh!) I will be getting up to leave for our family holiday. We’re off to a beautiful region of France for a week and I’m really looking forward to having a relaxing week off. Work has left me feeling pretty tired and I need the time off to rest and look after my energy levels.

Today I had a great day at work, the children were all pretty well behaved. We had a little mini talent show (non competitive) and it was pretty hilarious, some of the children just get up and more or less perform some sort of imaginary game/improv… They’re so sweet 🙂

 

What do you think of my name badge? I always have fun trying to come up with new designs, this is about as creative as I get at the start of the day 😉

I’ve spent the evening picking up Tom who is coming with us, as well as doing all of my packing. I’m feeling quite excited about going, although less excited about the early start!

Dinner was a delicious plate of leftovers:

Courgette on baguette and mango, cucumber and mint couscous salad.

Anyway, I know this is brief but I just wanted to say goodbye to you all! I’ll be back next Saturday and then in the meantime I have a few posts scheduled for you, including guest authors 🙂

Have a great week and weekend everyone!

 

What I Ate Wednesday No.39

I can’t believe I’m already halfway through the week, working really does make the time pass so quickly. I love my job but it is so exhausting! Having said that working with children really is fascinating, we can learn so much from the way children interact with the world.

As you may have realised, today is Wednesday which in my book means WIAW! I know some people are a little bored of this pattern each week but I still really enjoy joining in with the other WIAW participants each week. As I’m slightly moving away from merely blogging my food, Wednesday gives me the opportunity to blog  all of my food and have a nose around other people’s eats for the day. I have to admit, I do enjoy taking photos of what I eat…

As always, thank you so much to Jenn over at Peas and Crayons for hosting WIAW, you must check out her blog if you’re a fan of photos of tasty looking food!

Breakfast today was pretty typical. I bet you are all incredibly bored of seeing my breakfast in its many, ever-so-slightly different incarnations, but here you go anyway.

Weetabix with fresh blueberries and raspberries – so delicious. It is definitely the perfect way to perk myself up in the morning, especially as sleeping in the heat we have at the moment is somewhat difficult so I’m a little more tired than usual.

I have to pack my lunch to eat whilst supervising the children outside so I like to take myself meals that are easy to eat, stuffed pitas, salads, etc.

I had what was left of the picnic’s pasta salad and added in more rocket, some tomato and cucumber which made the perfect light lunch to eat whilst working.

As I said, working with children is both a fun and a learning experience. Each child is so unique and has their own way of interpreting things, something that is especially clear when doing art work. Sometimes they misunderstand the instruction or else they decide they fancy doing something entirely different, either way there are always pieces which make us giggle as we round up their art at the end of the day.

Today we spent the day designing sombreros, creating them out of cardboard and paper mache, and then painting them in bright colours. It’s fair to say that only about half of the hats actually resemble sombreros. We like the children to do as much of their work without any assistance so there are many brims which are less than circular and there are a fair few incredibly lopsided hats. It’s all part of the fun though and that way they can say that they made them all by themselves. Another interesting thing is watching them choose the colours for their hats, I wonder what gives some of them a good understanding of which colours go together aged 6, whilst some of the older 9 and 10 year-olds pick the most random (and clashing) colour combinations!

I finished work at 4.30pm today and was pretty tired so dropped onto the sofa to watch TV for the first time in a while and to have a nap. Sleep feels so wonderful at the moment but I do really miss reading, I’m quite behind my target of books to read so I need to find the time. Luckily I always seem to inhale books when abroad so I’ll be taking a fully stocked Kindle to France next week.

Dinner was again eaten outside in the garden. I am in love with this weather, seriously.

Chicken Caesar salad. So so good. I’m really quite into my salads at the moment, hot weather always makes me just crave smoothies, salads and ice cream.

For dessert I didn’t have any of the latter so I went for the next best thing…

 

A strawberry cupcake. I’ve made these before and I am pretty sure they are the best cupcakes I’ve ever eaten. There is fresh strawberry in the actual batter, a little well of strawberry jam in the centre and the icing (or frosting to those from the US) is amazing. I may have had two. Maybe.

A rather excellent day of food in my opinion.

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?
What kind of food do you like to eat when the weather is hot?
Have you ever worked with children?

Picnic.

Hey everyone 🙂

Still enjoying the weather? I know I am. It feels like a complete novelty after two months of solid rain so I am absolutely making the most of it!

As I mentioned in my last post I am working this week and so far it’s been great fun. The children are all lovely this week and with the weather this gorgeous we get to spend a great deal of time outside. It’s quite a satisfying job as I love helping the children to create things and develop their artistic ability, teaching in any capacity is such fulfilling work.

With the sunshine and the high temperatures we’ve been eating outside a lot recently. Yesterday evening we enjoyed a delicious dinner outside in the garden which was so relaxing – this truly feels like a summer holiday now!

Then this evening two of my lovely friends from my old sixth form came over for a nice long catch up. We put together a delicious picnic and went for a picnic in the nearby park. It was fantastic to be able to meet up and chat for a few hours and we had some lovely food!

I made one of my favourite pasta salads and we ate it with crisps, sausage rolls, grapes, and cupcakes – the perfect picnic.

Baiba and Ellie both looking lovely 🙂 It’s so nice to be able to just pick up where we left off and chat as if no time has passed, those are definitely the best kind of friendships!

I have another physio appointment tomorrow morning before work so I will let you all know how it goes. Having now been off uni for almost two months I’m already feeling a lot better, all the walking I’ve been doing has definitely strengthened me and helped with the pain, plus the resting has really lessened my fatigue. Fingers crossed things are looking up!

Are you a fan of picnics? Favourite picnic food?
Do you have any plans for the rest of the week?

How do you like to spend hot summer evenings?

London Town.

Hey hey lovelies!

For those of you in the UK isn’t it nice to finally have some sunshine?

The last couple of days have been just lovely, I’ve spent the entire time with Tom and I couldn’t be happier 🙂 Who knew I could love spending so much time with just one person!

On Friday I was up bright and early to get ready for a day trip to London. It was absolutely pouring with rain so by the time I’d cycled to the train station I no longer looked fresh and well groomed, I resembled a drowned rat puppy. It hardly mattered though, clothes dry, as does hair!

I love train journeys when I’m headed to something I’m looking forward to. Watching the countryside zip past is always fun and it’s the perfect time to read my current book (Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea).

Arriving at Kings Cross it wasn’t actually raining (hooray) so I snapped a quick picture of a building that has always intrigued me, does anyone know why it is decorated like that?

The main plan for the day was to visit the Science Museum in South Kensington. I’ve never been before so it was a new experience for me. It’s a great museum, there is heaps to see and to do with lots of interactive displays to discover. I particularly enjoyed the exhibition on space discoveries and travel, it was really well set up and I actually learnt a fair bit. The room titled ‘Who Am I?’ is fantastic too, it is full of various machines on which you can do quizzes and play games such as taking a test to see whether you have a male or female brain (mine leans ever so slightly female, no surprises there!).

One of the (non-scientific) highlights of the visit was a trip to the Shake bar…

I went for a scoop of blueberry ice cream and it was just divine. It tasted so creamy and decadent, I’ve never had an ice cream like it, so delicious!

Definitely go check it out if you’re ever in London and you enjoy that sort of thing, I think it’s a brilliant place to take children too as there is a lot to keep them entertained and it’s very educational.

After spending a couple of hours wandering around the museum we hopped on the tube to Leicester Square for lunch at Leon’s.

My lunch consisted of their chilli chicken salad and it was fantastic. I love Leon as it serves purely fresh, healthy food made that day in the restaurant. It’s definitely my kind of fast food!

For the remainder of the day we just wandered around various parts of London before going for coffee and then getting on the train home.

The day didn’t finish there though, we were then off to watch The Dark Knight Rises. I know action films often get slated for poor plots and things like that, and I can imagine some critics probably had negative things to say about this but I had a brilliant time. The cinema was absolutely packed and they had two showings on at the same time, the crowds gave the place such a great atmosphere. It’s a fast paced film and I just love some of the characters (Michael Cain will always be a favourite with me, ditto Morgan Freeman) so it’s a fab bit of entertainment.

All in all a really lovely day 🙂

Yesterday after a lazy morning we decided that, as we were finally having some fairly nice weather, it was a good day to go for a walk. We drove to a National Trust estate called Wimple Hall which has a lovely park (as well as an adorable farm which we didn’t visit). It was sunny and it felt so so nice to be out in the warmth, actually being able to enjoy the summer for once.

It’s been such a relaxing and enjoyable weekend!

Tomorrow I start work, if you’ve been reading my little blog for a year now then you may remember that I worked a children’s holiday scheme which focuses on arts and crafts. I’m going back there for the week and then a further three weeks in August and I’m quite looking forward to it. I like to feel like I’m doing something productive and it will give me a schedule (you know how I like things to be scheduled and planned!) .

Anyway I’m off to enjoy an evening of relaxing and an early night 😉

Have you been on any day trips recently?
Do you enjoy visiting museums and galleries?
How have you been enjoying the summer weather?

Lovely Sunshine.

The title of this post could be a little deceiving. Let me clear things up, we have absolutely not been enjoying any lovely sunshine. Nope. It has been grey, cold and raining all day! This title refers to something else entirely…

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been tagged for some blog awards so I thought I would complete the tags 🙂

The gorgeous Leelu tagged me for the first award (you can read her post here!) as did the lovely Jessica (her post is here!) and then Lisa Taylor of the Writer’s Block Party blog tagged me in the other (read her post here!).

The rules of the first award are as follows:

a) Link back to those who nominated me
b) Tell you 7 things about me
c) Nominate a bunch of other great bloggers

So here are my 7 things!

1. I love scented candles. They’re just so beautiful and I adore the way the scent fills the room. Something about a lit candle is so magical and scented candles really help to relax me. As well as relaxing me, they also seem to help when I have headaches which is lovely. I currently have two gorgeous candles but I would love some more, I will probably be putting some on my Christmas wish list (yes I’m already thinking about December!).

2.  Although I suffer from both chronic pain and chronic fatigue I dream of one day being able to run. Who knows if it will ever come true but it’s up there on my bucket list. I’m not talking about being able to run a marathon, I’d just like to be able to do a 5k run…

3. Sometimes I daydream about having my own little cafe or cake shop because I love to bake. It would suit me perfectly but I can’t imagine ever taking the plunge. I just like to dream about it, imagining how it would look and the lovely things I would bake.

4. Whilst I love the summertime (ignoring the fact that we haven’t had any summer weather) my favourite time of year is still Christmas. It’s just so wonderful, in my family we have many traditions which I adore and I love the way the holiday can really bring everyone together. I love all of the preparations and the build up. Buying gifts for those I love is something I really like to do so it’s a fantastic time for me 🙂

5. Something that may surprise you is that when I was younger I used to be a really pessimistic person. I don’t know if it was just a teenage thing or something else entirely but at one time I immediately saw the bad side of things and never saw things in a positive light. It’s really strange to think about now as I am such an optimistic person these days!

6. Although I don’t know for sure now, the two career paths I can really see myself pursuing in the future are either working with children in some capacity or writing. I don’t know the specifics but I can’t really imagine any other options that would really make me happy in life.

7. I am incredibly open and honest person, I really struggle to mask my emotions. Whilst I know it can be annoying occasionally I am pleased that I am emotionally open, I think it makes me more approachable and easier to relate to. I can’t lie, it makes me feel ridiculously guilty and I’m usually really easy to read anyway!

As a recipient for the Sunshine Award, I have to answer the following questions:

Favorite number: I always think this is a slightly bizarre question but for reasons I can’t really explain I like the numbers 3 and 7. No idea why though!

Favorite Non-alcoholic drink: This is difficult, in the winter I love hot chocolates, in the summer I like to sip on vanilla lattes 🙂

Facebook or Twitter: I prefer Twitter although I don’t post much on it, I just love it as a medium to find interesting links and articles plus it’s nice to have the instant connection and communication with people. I have a Facebook but other than the fact that I use it to organise social things I would probably delete my profile.

My Passion: I have many passions but if I had to pick an absolute top of the list it would have to be literature. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while (or have just read the little blurb on the right-hand side!) will know that I study English literature at university and I just love to read. Books are such an important part of my life, they are a lifeline when I’m struggling, they are entertainment, they are learning tools, they are escapism…

Favorite pattern: This is a bit of an odd question but I’ll roll with it. My favourite pattern to wear is either horizontal stripes (preferably in blue and white) as well as polka dots. If we’re talking numerical patterns or something like that then I really don’t know, I’ve always found the Fibonacci sequence fascinating. My room is filled with floral patterns so I clearly love those too.

Favorite Day of the Week: My favourite day of the week is either Monday which I know sounds odd but I love fresh starts and I love making goals and plans for the week ahead, or Saturday because I always have the day free and I often get to spend it doing something fun with Tom!

Favorite Flower: I love flowers so I have quite a few favourites: I really like white or pale pink roses, I love forget-me-nots and snow drops, and I really love lily of the valley because they are so delicate and they remind me of my grandmother 🙂

Okay there you have my answers, now here are the bloggers I am tagging!

Danielle 
Emily
Tessa
Alexandra
Christina
Laura
Haley

I hope you enjoyed this post 🙂

Tell me a fact about yourself or answer any of the questions you fancy!