Be kind to Each Other – You are all Beautiful.

Our house is feeling slightly more stressed than normal, and that is down to upcoming mock exams.  The loBe kindvely girl is in year 11 at school and will be taking her GCSE esams next summer – and this is the first year of the new exams  to be graded 1 – 9 with a new syllabus.  I’m not sure how widespread the stress is on a national level, but in her school the homework is being piled upon the girls as the teachers seem a little unsure of what to expect, and a meeting was held with the girls as so many of them are showing signs of extreme stress.  I know that some of the parents are also adding to the problems with pressure to revise and one is not allowing her daughter out of the house other than to go to school.

Apparently these anxiety levels are some of the highest that they have seen as a school. Our girl is usually very level headed, feted by her friends as being the most sensible one and  yet she had a melt down last weekend over her work resulting in tears.  So out of character and not what a parent wants to see.

Earlier this week she came home and told us something that I really want to share.  One of her close friends, a lovely young lady who has suffered her own share of anxiety issues since year 7 (for reasons that I will not be stating), recognised that everyone was becoming more and more wound up and she wanted to do something.  She went home and wrote by hand a letter to each of the girls in their close friendship group.  The letters were all individual – she could have written the same to each girl – and she focused on telling each one of her friends what she valued about them and their friendship.  She wanted them to remember that they are so much more than schoolwork, exams, sixth form applications and stress.  What a wonderful thing to do!

The Rules! (1)

The girls!

The lovely girl really appreciated this and was full of praise for her lovely friend.  To be able to recognise at this age, that a beautiful human is made from a rounded, balanced life and that positive, loving comments are so important,  must be a gift – for many of us it takes a lifetime to appreciate this.  This 15 year old reinforced that it is so important to be kind to each other.

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School Runs and Shopping Trolleys
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Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

Another week, time for another Magic Monday!  The events in our household really pale into insignificance compared to the natural disasters taking over so many parts of America at the moment.  The majority of us, thankfully, will never have to encounter the devastation that these natural phenomena wreak, but I want to send support and good wishes to all our American blogging pals who are living through this.  There is an additional blog post this week that my pal Cheryl at Chronic Mom blog wrote last week about what no one tells you about surviving a natural disaster with chronic illness – but I think that there are  probably aspects that apply to everyone!

 

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We had an unexpected trip over the weekend – hence no blog post – and as it was a long trip for this chronic bird to make in a day, we paid an impromptu visit to old friends to beg a bed for the night.  Panic not other old friends, we gave them 24 hours notice!!  We haven’t seen each other for about 5 years, yet we have known each other for nearly 30 years – we “girls” did our nurse training together and the blokes have always been hifi and gadget buddies. Not forgetting that this fellow hifi nut was hubby’s best man 25 years ago!  With just a few precious friendships the years roll away and it is possible to appreciate the long and deep connections that you have with each other. As two couples, we have had our fair share of traumas over the past couple of years – we decided we should form the “Happy Pill” brigade as we must have shares in antidepressant companies between us – but we have survived and it is testament to our friendship that we can come together as if it was yesterday!  How many people in your life can you call on and truly rely upon to be there for you no matter what?  Quick shout out here for our fab friends’ facebook page – check it out (chocolate brownies to die for) Keeley House Bakery 

 

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I have found some great blog reads for you this week including  becoming a real mermaid (just read it!), a fab book review, and using your imagination when putting pen to paper.  There is also a piece about the scandal currently coming to light about the use of mesh implants in surgical procedures.  So grab a cuppa, put your feet up and enjoy some fabulous writing in these inspiring blog posts!

http://www.chronicmom.com/2017/09/what-no-one-tells-you-about-surviving-a-natural-disaster-with-a-chronic-illness.html/

http://www.nataliemabbott.com/quitting-everything-to-be-a-mermaid/

http://moonglotexas.com/2017/09/10/book-review-death-at-thorburn-by-julianna-deering/

https://1stimeblogger1232.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/every-scar-tells-story.html

http://www.meaction.net/2017/09/01/reading-matters-lets-hear-it/

https://dystoniaandme.com/2017/09/10/5th-blog-birthday/

http://www.amundanelife.co.uk/2017/09/anxiety-is-not-trend.html

http://invisiblyme.com/2017/09/05/the-mesh-scandal/

https://globehousesitterx2.wordpress.com/2017/09/10/a-pen-paper-and-my-imagination/

https://mindovermetablog.wordpress.com/2017/09/06/how-to-deal-with-toxic-people/

https://ginlemonade.wordpress.com/2017/08/30/when-the-accessible-hotel-room-is-inaccessible/

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Please share this post and make a blogger’s day with a like, share, pin or comment….it makes it all worthwhile.

Have a great week!

Claire x

 

 

Book Review “The Girl at the End of the Road”

Disclaimer: I was fortunate to be given a copy of this book by The Book Club on Facebook in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Girl at the End of the Road by K A Hitchins

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Vincent has found himself in a situation that any self-respecting “City” boy would balk at.  He has lost his job, his rented home, possibly his high maintenance girlfriend and perhaps most humiliating of all, he is on his way home to his parents’ house in Suffolk.  Rural Suffolk.  At this point in his life, a decade or so after leaving school, he did not expect to find himself becoming reacquainted with his childhood bedroom or learning how to live with his loving, but in his eyes, staid middle aged parents.

But he is clear in his own mind that this is just a temporary glitch.  The downturn in the economy and his huge personal debts will not hold him back.  However adjusting to life in the rural village of Elmsford proves hard for Vincent, who assumes himself to be a city hotshot.  There is no immediate access to internet, the job offers that he expected to flood in are nowhere in sight and his social life is virtually non-existent – unless you count dog walks with his parents’ elderly dog.  A trip to the local library brings him face to face with a memory from the past in the shape of librarian Sarah Penny.  Having run into this old school friend once, he finds himself encountering her on dog walks and then actively seeking her out.

So begins what initially seems to be the most unlikely of friendships.  Sarah is the antithesis of friends who have featured in Vincent’s life as she is serious, quiet, slightly dowdy and happy to be in Suffolk.  She is certainly unlike the city girls who dress and make up to the nines, expecting champagne fuelled dates and expensive accessories.  Sarah, in her almost simplistic view of the world, makes Vincent accept some unpleasant truths about himself and his attitudes to life.

The story could be very clichéd, and at first Vincent is a pretty unlikeable character.  But it was with real interest that I watched his character evolve from spoilt young man to something altogether different.  Maybe there is an element of fairy tale to this, but as Vincent grows so does Sarah and the reader begins to have a glimpse into a simple world of an exceptional young lady.  I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I believe that there is enough already written about Sarah’s autism not to be giving anything away.  I am not autistic so do not pretend to have any inside knowledge about this complex condition.  But I do belong to a community of chronic illness sufferers, some of whom are on the autistic spectrum and I have recently read articles by author Laura James, who has autism and my own condition, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.  I feel that Sarah’s autism, which included her extraordinary intelligence, has been handled sensitively and with relevance to real life.  For instance, her coping mechanisms at dealing with life following her mother’s death and her growing relationship with Vincent.

This book made me think, made me sad and in parts made me laugh out loud.  Perhaps most importantly it made me examine my own attitudes to those we consider to be different to ourselves and also those closest to us.  In my disability chronic illness community we call ourselves “spoonies”, in the book Sarah and her friends call themselves “The Specials” – a fantastic name.  Of course there is a moral to the story for Vincent regarding what in life really makes you happy…..and sometimes you are unable to see it for trying too hard.

For me a great read, with a long review, but 5 stars all the way!

Empathy isn’t just for Xmas

We have been so unwell since my last post!  Duncan and I haven’t stopped coughing yet, I lost my voice completely last week – much to the delight of the kids – and have forbidden the student from coming home as I’m sleeping in his bed.  I have missed out on the various nativity productions at my primary school and have cancelled so many socials with friends I have lost count.images (7)  Panic started to kick in at the end of last week when the cupboards were bare and the fridge was empty, so we hauled ourselves coughing and wheezing to the supermarket.  As friends commented that they were busy getting everything done for Christmas, I was thinking that I hadn’t even thought about it let alone started!  Going from post operative recovery straight into flu/cough for nearly 3 weeks has not been a great seasonal prep time.

I have to admit that I have struggled with my back – coughing is rough at the best of times, isn’t it, putting stress on the abs, causing headaches and stress incontinence for us girls.  So the added stress on a not quite healed operation site has been tough.  My implant site (right butt!) and right leg has been so sore that some mornings I’ve woken up feeling like I’ve been beaten up and even resorted to my post op naproxen again.  The stimulation has actually made my nerve pain worse whilst I’ve been ill – I wonder why?  After nearly 3 weeks I am so fed up!  But on the up side, I have managed to get into the hairdresser’s seat this week and it is official – I am no longer grey.  Thanks to my lovely friend Bev, I now look and nearly feel 10 years younger!  Duncan and I got out to a carol service for the other school where I sit on the alumni association – I sang the carols beautifully.  Really easy to do when, as you open your mouth, no sound comes out!  It was here that I was given a piece of advice from an old school friend who has lots of remedies from his Indian grandmother.  We do lemon and honey hot drinks (unless like my brother and I, you can’t stand the smell of honey – long story going back to our childhood, our great grandmother and pots of coffee “thickened” with honey!!) whereas he recommended turmeric in hot water…..mmmm, delicious!  But I have been that desperate that I would give anything a go and, sweetened with a spot of brown sugar, it has proven oddly soothing.  Duncan has been well enough to drive to his parents today, we have shipped the teenage daughter off to stay with my brother and sister in law (thanks, Sandra!), and the boys are still at school/uni……so I am enjoying a glorious couple of days in an empty house.  Just me and my dog and rubbish Christmas movies……

For this is the season for goodwill, over indulgence, sentimental tv and bonhomie, isn’t it?  How many of us struggle to maintain the cheerful face as everyone around us appears to be having such a fantastic time?  Whether it is loneliness, grief, poverty or illness, there are a myriad of reasons out there that actually make this time of year very difficult for some of us.  Guilt is another emotion that gets in the way.  Guilt that you aren’t feeling jolly; guilt that your condition is keeping your loved ones from the activities that you feel they should be a part of; guilt that others feel that they must tiptoe around you; guilt that you can’t do for your friends and family what you would want to; guilt for feeling jealous of them.

It really is so true that when the chips are down, we find out who our friends are.  Over the twenty or so years since I have had my back problems, I have been surprised more than once by both the friends who have stepped up with support and those who have not!  This old adage is even more true with a chronic condition.  I am well aware that for some people my disability makes me a bloody nuisance these days, but it can still be hurtful.  I don’t want to have to constantly ask for a lift for instance, but when “friends” just no longer even think to ask or offer it is tough.  I was listening to the fantastic Adele’s song “Million Years Ago” and she seemed to be singing my song when she describes “not being able to stand the reflection I see; my life flashing by; missing my friends, when my life was a party to be thrown; but that was a million years ago”. images (8) I can see my friends’ lives moving on, careers unfurling, travels taking them far and wide, and I do feel that mine has come to a stand still.  Self pity?  I hope not.  More being realistic and understanding my limitations.  Note to self – New Year, new pain relief with the scs, new stage in my life!

I received a text today from a very supportive friend apologising for being a “rubbish” friend for not being in touch recently.  Yet her teenage daughter, who has an Asperger’s diagnosis, had tried to commit suicide.  Have you noticed that it is often the people who are in the most difficult situations themselves, who are also the very people who do make the time for their friends in need? I guess this goes back to the “when the chips are down” again – when we have been there maybe we develop a heightened empathy.  A friend who has been particularly supportive of me and of Duncan since his  mental health breakdown last year, has undergone her own battle with breast cancer, including extensive reconstructive surgery earlier this year.  Kylie Minogue took the time to surprise a young woman in her home, with a party live on a BBC show last night to “thank” her for the work that she has done for a breast cancer organisation.  What marks her out is that she was undergoing her own treatment for breast cancer, diagnosed in her late twenties, looking at the possibility of infertility, and yet pushed herself to run marathons, fund raise and praise the bravery of other women around her.  Of course Kylie had her own personal experience to drive her to want to do something for this young lady.

download (1)Christmas!  Looking on the bright side, Star Wars is back in our cinemas, the X Factor has finished and Jose Mourinho has been sacked……sorry, Duncan!