So another concert postponed until next year - this time Michael Buble playing in Bath Crescent (supposed to be last Friday). My 2021 calendar is already looking super full!
I am hoping to get away for the first week of September to Venice, as Italy seems to be the only country at the moment where there's no issues either end of travelling. Fingers and toes crossed! This will be a new country for me coming in at my 42nd..
I have taken some gigantic leaps in my grief journey this week and pretty monumental ones at that. I don't realise how much things are weighing me down, until I start to get moving.
I've ordered a new bed, given the last of Colin's clothes to charity and deleted all of our text messages which have been sat on my phone for the last 3 years. It felt the right time and it felt ok to do these things. In fact, I would go so far as to say these things were hindering me from moving forward. We all move at different paces whilst grieving, but I have noticed within myself recently that it can feel like I am trying to sabotage myself.
Hurray! I've finally had a haircut and new colours! Anything to help me feel more alive.
In yoga last week I learned about how we store emotions in our hips and doing lots of hip poses can release all of the negativity we're feeling. The hips and pelvis are also the centre for creativity. Aligning with the second chakra, they represent among other things, creative energy. This is what we worked on in class and it did help me focus less on my depression and more on being creative. I am fascinated by the different chakras and how they line up with the body. This is something we're going to explore more of in my 1-2-1 sessions.
I have been trying to finish my bio for work, but because I haven't had any travel inspiration this year and I've been struggling with fatigue and pain, it's been very difficult to find the energy to get motivated. Anyhoooo, after yoga, interestingly it massively helped - and I did it!
So, here goes:
My career in travel spans over 20 years and I have had some of the most wonderful and some of the most downright bizarre experiences around the world. I remember turning up in Tripoli airport (Libya) and being the only female going through Security. The authorities looked me up and down in disbelief and then started to laugh, eventually waving me through. It was 5 days into my trip before my guide explained to me that on my visa it read "Builder" - a mistake by the Libyan Embassy in London!
My dream is to visit all 190 odd countries in my lifetime. A chunk of my early experience was in adventure travel specifically within Africa and the Middle East, before I moved into a more worldwide role here at Trailfinders, tailor-making a variety of holiday experiences all over the globe. Having so much choice at my fingertips to offer my clients is amazing and being able to personally build memorable experiences for them, whatever the occasion, is a real thrill.
I've danced with the Zulus, studied ancient bush craft with the San, sat with the Maasai and wild camped with the Bedouin - but if I had to pick a favourite travel moment, I'd struggle. I've taken incredible trips to iconic cities, stayed in beautiful hotels, celebrated festivals, sampled the delights of turning left onboard the aircraft and lazed with a good book on pure white island beaches, I've soared high above Victoria Falls and got soaking wet under Niagara Falls. I've stood on top of South Africa's Table Mountain, been in the places where oceans meet, trekked up volcanoes and boarded down volcanoes in the Central Americas. Going deep inside a pyramid was a childhood dream come true, as was floating in the Dead Sea, and the Taj Mahal and Petra captivated me for hours...
Travel is education and there is still a lot of exploring to enjoy!
It is very depressing to me that I have become a person who has to judge the productivity of her day by how much pain and fatigue she is feeling. How many spoons have I got today? (I love the above tee by the way). It also gets me down when I am too exhausted and in too much discomfort to have the capability to employ my toolbox of self soothing techniques. Especially necessary after a busy day of working, or attending appointments, or of doing jobs and chores around the home and garden. I am trying my hardest to continue living a regular, ordinary life as best I can, whilst trading off, pacing and attempting to be kinder to myself, but it is a 24/7 job and there's no switching off.
So this past week, as I predicted, I ended up in a flare up and it's been horrible. And yes, as my counsellor said to me today, I stuck two fingers up to Fibromyalgia and didn't listen to my body, carrying on regardless... and a flare up will always be the outcome. Just as I struggled to accept Colin had died, I also struggle to accept this is my life now.
There is no short (or even long) answer as to how best to manage with chronic pain and extreme fatigue. This last week, I used a bad coping strategy of pills and alcohol for two days just to numb myself and make myself sleep and then I got back on track. I know I should never have got to the point of a flare up, but it's going to happen. Pulling myself round this time, I did low energy projects where I could sit down and stretch, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation before sleep, more green and colour in my diet and I've been checking in with myself throughout each day. And, I've booked to have a catch up with my Dr.
Maintaining good mental and physical health is a continuum.
Recovery is a continuum.
I wish there was an end destination to both, some glorious magic pill, but sadly there isn't.
So... I continued my "working like a crazy" streak during the last week of my 3 week staycation, albeit pacing myself a little better decorating at my mum's and sticking with my wellbeing appointments... and now I feel absolutely whacked. Commuting back to the office for work at the weekend also required a big shift in gears.
I think all in all, I accomplished a lot and I feel really good about that, but I'm interested to see how much I crash, bang and wallop this coming week. The fatigue is already kicking my butt - tiredness on top of tiredness despite trying to get to bed a little earlier and I am nervous about depression creeping up on me again.
Did I tell you Fibromyalgia is rubbish?
Just a quick post this week to say I failed miserably this past 7 days in pacing the jobs I planned and I will update next week if the trade off was worth it!
I got loads done, but will it come at a price?
In its simplest form, behavioural activation is splitting up your day into Morning, Afternoon and Evening and putting one thing in each section of your day that you would enjoy doing to motivate yourself gently out of depression. I did a lot of this part of CBT in hospital and it was really helpful. I desperately needed to get back in touch with my values and rediscover why life was worth living.
Now my depression is lifting and I feel as if my grief is getting under control, I want to revisit ba, but in a slightly different way. I find I get too absorbed in having to get everything done at once, starting many jobs and never being able to finish them because of time, lack of experience, energy.. This hamster on a wheel thing gets me down. I drove for 5 days straight this past week due to family commitments and then instead of resting, over the weekend I worked solidly in the garden pushing myself because I always feel like I'm trying to catch up with jobs just to stay level (not even ahead of the game!) I drive myself barmey.
In the pain management program, I learned that this type of yo-yo of activity is not great for Fibro and we covered a lot of groundwork on pacing. I think this is something I will be continually working on! But not just with pacing. I often cram my day with chores upon chores and then have little time for creativity and relaxing my mind. Since my last post, I haven't once used my new creative space to chill out.
Over the coming week, I'm going to use the ba method and see if I can add some fun into my week so I don't feel constantly overwhelmed at being a home owner and having to manage everything on my own. I can't promise any change in my behaviour, but let's see..
As I said to a friend this week, that's why I take holidays so I can escape! Not that I'm bitter about not being in Canada right now..
The pain in my back has been challenging so I was so thankful to finally be able to have a myofascial release massage for two wonderful hours on Tuesday afternoon. How I have missed this treatment! Prior to that I really pushed myself in PT in the morning (we can now have outside sessions) and I kept moving for a whole 12 minutes doing the Coopers Test. It was wonderful to jog/run and not care about anyone or anything. This is something I'd love to have the confidence to do on a regular basis, but with weight gain thanks to medication, I don't feel ready yet.
Thursday early morning (the first time I have got up at 6am for a 7am start in ages) I had a wonderful two hour yoga 1-2-1 session over Zoom. It really set me up for the day. I have forgotten that feeling of being energised ready for a new day since the fatigue of Fibro now clouds most of my mornings / days.
I would love more of this!
And finally, on Friday I was able to have face to face acupuncture and even some little magnets in my ears, which I've kept in so far. Plus more myofascial treatment on my sometimes numb, sometimes weird tingling thigh - again, thanks Fibro. My physio said my chi was really low, not surprisingly. I am having trouble moving emotions through my body at the moment and I've been feeling "stuck". This in turn keeps my mind whirring when I really need to sleep!
So, despite the social distancing, the face masks that steam up my glasses and the not being able to hug friends and family, it is great to be getting back to seeing people face to face as restrictions lift.
but weren't - lots of adventure such as Wind in the Willows, Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe, some of the Classics such as Wuthering Heights and Sense and Sensibility, and books that I remember reading as a teenager and being deeply moved such as Judy Blume's Forever and Robert Swindells's Daz4Zoe. Now I just need a lovely bookcase to put them all in!
Continuing with the retrospective book reviews, I think I purchased this one for South Africa, early summer 2017. I had begun a trend of buying books at WH Smiths at Heathrow to distract myself from my grief because I was acutely aware I wasn't enjoying travel as much, even though I continued to travel and had further trips planned for the year (Canada and Prague). It was on my flight to Canada later that summer when I watched the film and was disappointed to see it had been Americanized. I'd had in my mind that they would keep the English backdrop. What I'd loved about the setting for the book was that it was familiar to me; the names of the places and the stations along the train route. To me, that does make a subtle difference when I'm reading a storyline; something that's only become noticeable to me in recent years.
So, to the story! It really is full of twists and turns and again, like my previous review, I did not see the ending coming. I whipped through it because I quite literally couldn't put it down. I think it's incredibly clever writing when you reveal pieces of information bit by bit and timed to perfection. Hawkins is controlling the narrative superbly through a drunken, unreliable spokesperson. "Suburban Noir" - I love that description. Taking ordinary, potentially boring lives and twisting it into something thrilling and suspenseful. Extremely good psychological fiction.
So I should be in Beirut now looking at beautiful architecture and enjoying the Paris of the Middle East, and then the plan was to fly on to Istanbul for more of the same with a cheeky side trip to Cappadocia - a place that has forever fascinated me.
Boo to Coronavirus!
However, on the plus side, the sun is shining here.. and with the lack of travel to distract me, I have been making serious progress with the Corona clear out, in order to have a blank canvas to work with for the next chapter in my life. I finally ordered a man with a van, well, actually a very nice couple with a van and they took the big pile of stuff outside the house to the tip and recycling centre for me. I never thought I could get excited about seeing rubbish being cleared! I've got 3 big boxes of books to send to Africa, half the loft is now empty and I've almost put everything I want to sell on eBay. I even have some empty shelves and drawers!
I'm not going to lie, it is exhausting work and difficult doing it all by myself, as the house and garden still need looking after on a daily basis and often it seems that the work just never stops. I battle with my fibro daily and often find myself "trading off". One thing I have been trying this last week is to actually rest when I'm resting and I want to introduce some play and fun into my weekly schedule because I know that's when I really switch my mind off from racing and my whole body will relax. I tried this Wednesday evening. It wasn't a particularly inspiring day at work, so I decided to see if my barbecue would fire up so I could cook some kebabs. I got completely engrossed in cleaning the thing, which hasn't been used for about 4-5 years, cooking my dinner and then scrubbing off the grate afterwards. Let me be clear, that's not my usual definition of fun and play, but just knowing the barbecue still worked - and I could actually use it without Colin's help! - was empowering enough to feel like fun and play.
Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.