Don’t Give Up – ‘Try Everything’

My son came home today asking me to find a song they had played in assembly at school. My interest was piqued when he recited the words he could remember “I won’t give in until I reach the end.”

I typed those words into Google and it came up with ‘Try Everything’ by Shakira from the film Zootropolis. (Here’s the link to listen to the song) We listened and I became excited by the message in the song. These are the lyrics: 

I messed up tonight 

I lost another fight

I still mess up but I’ll just start again

I keep falling down 

I keep on hitting the ground 

I always get up now to see what’s next.

Birds don’t just fly they fall down and get up 

Nobody learns without getting it wrong

I won’t give up, no I won’t give in

Til I reach the end and then I’ll start again

No I won’t leave, I wanna try everything

I wanna try even though I could fail

I won’t give up, no I won’t give in

Til I reach the end and then I’ll start again

No I won’t leave, I wanna try everything

I wanna try even though I could fail

Look at how far you’ve come, you filled your heart with love

Baby you’ve done enough that cut your breath

Don’t beat yourself up, don’t need to run so fast

Sometimes we come last, but we did our best

This is a message I am constantly trying to teach my kids. ‘Don’t give up, nobody is good at anything straight away, it takes practise.’ They see adults do things with ease and expect to be able to do it straight away. It’s hard to see them so upset and so unforgiving of themselves when they get something wrong.

It’s not just kids that feel this way, we all feel discouraged when things go wrong, whether that be a task we want to accomplish or life in general. As I teach my kids this principle I realise I need to apply it to my own life. We will reach our end goal if we persist and never give up! 

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Enjoying Nature

Growing up I was too bothered about what my friends were enjoying or too afraid of nearby dogs to enjoy the great outdoors. It’s only as an adult I appreciated the wonders of nature, especially the green grass and rolling hills of my home in the north west of England.

My husband and friends cycling in the hills near us.

As a young adult I lived in the south-east for three years and missed those hills, but enjoyed the salty air of the sea and sand through my toes from the beaches I lived near. In my early 20’s I spent 3 months travelling the USA and Canada enjoying the tremendous landscapes they have there. Then on the plane home my heart swelled to see how green and luscious the British Isles are.

Taken when i went skiing with friends in Banff, Canada 2003?
Now that I’m pretty much housebound I appreciate the outdoors more than ever. I’m glad I had time to take advantage of the countryside before I became ill. It brings to mind what the poet James Barrie said

God gave us memories, that we might have June roses in the December of our lives.

The memories I have with my family and friends and being away from civilisation and enjoying natures beautiful scenery, are sweet roses in this time of my life.

Taken a couple of weeks ago at the bottom of Rivington, a few steps from the car park
I’m never too far from civilisation now. It’s hard for people to push a wheelchair that far off the beaten track. I do, however, love and feel very grateful for any opportunity I have to be outside, breathing fresh air and being surrounded by an expanse of nature. In the words of Fennel Hudson

The real world, in my opinion, exists in the countryside, where Nature goes about her quiet business and brings us greatest pleasure.

Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life – Fennel’s Journal – No. 1

Learning BSL

I love to read and blog, when I’m able, but then I thought I should probably use some of my brain power (when I have it) to learn a new skill. A new skill can boost confidence, widen your social circle and open up opportunities.

My sister is a qualified interpreter in British Sign Language. She taught me a bit of sign when my eldest was younger and wasn’t speaking. It worked a treat in helping us communicate with him. It also got me thinking how necessary learning sign language is to be able to communicate with a large percentage of people who use it as their only form of communication.

I started by learning the alphabet


and then found these great videos on YouTube to kick me off.

And if I needed more reasons to learn sign language, then I really like these that I found on the Deafbecomesher blog.

Are you or have you learned any new skills? Have they been of benefit? Tell me how in the comments 😊

Deciding how to spend your time

Life has felt so busy with school runs and school summer activities for the kids that writing blogs has taken a back seat. It’s been a good busy though and left me feeling that the consequences were worth it.

Brain fog has also made it a struggle to write anything that I felt was good enough to share. However, my mum has just shared a quote with me, from Chieko N. Okazaki, that I knew I wanted to save.

“Only you know your circumstances, your energy level, the needs of your children, and the emotional demands of your other obligations. Be wise during intensive seasons of your life. Cherish your agency, and don’t give it away casually. Don’t compare yourself to others — nearly always this will make you despondent. Don’t accept somebody else’s interpretation of how you should be spending your time. Make the best decision you can and then evaluate it to see how it works.”

― Chieko N. Okazaki, Lighten Up

Living with a chronic illness means I question how I spend my energy every day. I worry whether I’ve made the right choice and prioritised well. This quote has helped to remove the worry and despondency I attach to making those decisions.

Hope it helps you too 😊

Making the most of today 

One of my main coping strategies since I became ill is maintaining a hope and belief that I will get better and regain full health. My husband and I speak often about the things we will do and enjoy when I am better. I love to look forward to what lies ahead, but in doing so I sometimes feel frustrated with my ‘today’s’. We can miss out on many good things by constantly looking ahead. If we are mindful we will be able to see the gifts that each day brings and in turn we become happier and at peace with whatever situation we find ourselves in.

Image from http://www.everyday-mindfulness.org/20-beautiful-quotes-about-mindful-living/
Last week I was caught in the middle of feeling overwhelmed and bogged down by the kids loudness and mess-making and imagining us all on a family outing and myself being better, able to join them. I wasn’t happy and longed for the day my health would be better, but then I had the distinct impression that when that future came my kids would be older and I would miss this stage of their lives profoundly.

I’m reminded of the film ‘Click‘ with Adam Sandler. He is given a remote control that he can use to pause or fast forward his life. At first he enjoys being able to fast forward the boring or unpleasant parts of his life, but the remote control is clever and remembers what he forwards through and begins to fast forward more than Adam Sandler’s character would like him to. Before he knows it, huge chunks of his life have been skipped through and, now an old man, he realises how much of life he has missed – his kids have grown, his marriage has ended.

Fortunately for us we don’t have access to this kind of remote control and we can experience each day of our lives with all its joys and sorrows! When Adam Sandler went back to his normal life he was grateful for the good and the bad. Without this blessing of hindsight and doing life over again, it is up to us to make the most of each day, the good and the bad.

Some things that help me are:

Being aware – acknowledge each little moment of life. There’ll be some good in every day, even if it feels like a snippet.

Being grateful – saying/feeling thanks for  what you have. Sometimes it helps to write a list of at least 3 things that I’m thankful for.

Slowing down – when you’re busy, in thoughts or deeds, you don’t have time to appreciate what’s around you.

Meditate – meditation is a good way to slow down, clear the mind and feel peace. Through meditation we can feel calmer and more focused.

Treat everyone with kindness – being kind can uplift us, and help us think less of ourselves and our stresses.

Accomplish – have something to accomplish everyday,no matter how big or small. Ticking it off gives a good sense of purpose.

Laugh – laughing feels so good and can turn around a bad day.
What do you like to do help you make the most of each day? Leave a comment and let me know 😊

Living with M.E 

It would be remiss of me to not write a post about ME in the month of May, ME Awareness month.

I’ve lived with it for 8 years and come across people regularly who have no idea what it is or how it affects those who have it. Even people who are close to me, who have seen the impact of ME on my life, have little clue as to its true nature.

My new ‘normal’ and “I’m ok thanks” is a far cry from healthy. 8 years of living with a chronic illness and I’ve learned to adjust to a level of symptoms that would have had me in bed at the beginning. I remember having sick days from work and feeling so poorly I would wrap myself in a duvet and lay on the couch. This level of poorliness is now a very good day and I can function fairly well.

For 99.9% of the time there are many other symptoms added (different types of pain, headaches, nausea, fatigue, light and sound sensitivity, difficulty regulating body temperature, tingling in hands and feet – to name a few) and my body feels like it’s weighted down by lead so all movement takes Herculean effort. I can’t think like I used to either, it’s called brain fog – I forget things; I listen but can’t make out what has been said; I read but don’t take in what I’ve read; I can’t cope if too much is going on at one time. It’s like I’m dealing with all the pain and other symptoms that they make it difficult to focus on anything else.

Becoming ill was hard, my life changed completely and I grieved it’s loss. However, time is a healer and slowly you adjust to the new life and limitations. What I haven’t adjusted to is being dependant. My heart sinks when I have to ask my husband, family members or friends to add to their already busy lives. It’s only through sheer necessity that I ask for help, but that doesn’t make it easier.

8 years of living with ME has rocked the confidence that took me 20 years to gain. My mind and my body are unreliable and so I become anxious at the thought of responsibility and having to let people down. If I go out it has to be with somebody who knows and understands my limits and who I feel comfortable with  asking for and accepting their help.

Over the years I’ve made new friends and it’s hard that they don’t know the old me, the person I still feel like inside. The person who was bubbly, energetic, hard working, confident, helpful. I am that person still, even if my body won’t allow it.

Everyday I wake up and make the arduous journey out of bed ready for another day of relentless symptoms. BUT, I can’t finish the post like that…

Without ME I would never have known the greatness of the man I married. How caring, giving and selfless he is, how he chooses to be with me everyday and how he makes me feel like a blessing, not a burden. A true hero.

I would never have known the depth of the love my parents have for me, who continue to sacrifice and care for me and help with my children. And my sister who spends most of her days helping me in one form or another. 

I would never have known the depths of my love for my children and the effort and ‘spoons’ I willingly give to them.

I would never have known the kindness and generosity of friends and family.  Always willing to lend a helping hand or a sympathetic ear.

I would never have known the courage and strength I have!

5 ways to enable Positive Thinking 

You are the masterpiece of your own life … And you do it with your thoughts.

I first started blogging as an online journal. Writing my thoughts and feelings about my ill health was cathartic.

Over the years though I began to see that if I spent too long dwelling on my illness and its affects it started to wear me down emotionally and took even more of a toll on my health.

the beginning of a diary entry
I had been seeing an osteopath for the Perrin Treatment and through our sessions she would impart her wisdom on other subjects as she believes a holistic approach is needed in order to have full recovery. As the practitioner massaged my head, neck, back and chest to drain the toxins out of my lymphatic system she also gave me a strict diet plan to ensure I wasn’t adding toxins to my system and she spoke about the benefits of the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), meditation and visualisation.
The more I practised meditation, visualisation and EFT I realised the mistakes I had been unknowingly making  and how powerful the mind is. I began to see that when I focused on my symptoms life became all about my illness and I didn’t want it to define me.

It wasn’t, and still isn’t, easy to focus on positive things. The negative thoughts that come with the stresses and strains of everyday life seem to effortlessly affect me, whereas I need to make a conscious effort to change my thoughts into positive ones.

Some of the ways that help me are:

Being grateful – Think of all the things you have that you are grateful for. You’ll be surprised how many you can think of!

Surround yourself with creativity – Other people’s or your own. Art, music, books etc provide a great source of happiness, healing and a connection with our emotions.

positive affirmations
Positive affirmations and visualisation board – Focus on what you DO want, not what you don’t want.

I love this comprehensive list of affirmations, choose the ones that fit you and place them in places you’ll see every day.

Choose goals that you want to achieve in life and put a picture representing them on a board that you see daily. Imagine yourself doing those things everyday.

Laughter – There is no better stress reliever than a good laugh. My kids and husband are great for making me laugh. If I’m by myself I watch my favourite comedies, or search for funny videos on YouTube.

Change the negative thoughts – Negative thoughts will come, but when they come recognise it and quickly change it by singing a song or repeating an affirmation.

Meditation and EFT also helped me stay positive, as well as being beneficial in other areas. You can read more about meditation and Emotional Freedom Technique on MEcuperate.

Would you add to this list? What helps you to think positively? Leave a comment and let me know 😀