Sometimes (a poem)

Sometimes the bravest thing I can do is to walk down the stairs.

You probably don’t realise that,

as you charge down behind me,

only to be slowed by this healthy-looking woman hugging the handrail as if her life depends on it.

“What was with her?” you might ask

as I reach the ground and hit my stride, taking off across the safe flat land.

You can’t see inside me

You don’t know what’s in my head

Six years ago it happened

A momentary lapse

A sudden change of life

Six years ago

I slipped on the stairs.

I bruised my butt

And I bruised my brain.

They call it post-concussion syndrome

Fancy words for what happens when your brain bounces inside your skull

Officially, I have fully recovered.

I am  healthy and normal

All my readings are fine

(as if I were ‘normal’ before)

When they assess your brain after a concussion there is no benchmark to who you were before… that was never tested. You’re ‘normal’ and ‘healthy’ if you fit the medically proven range…

(it doesn’t matter who you were before

you’ll never be that person again anyway)

Six years have passed, and I have apparently healed.

I function well.

You might never guess I’ve been severely concussed

(some scars can’t be seen)

Just

don’t ask me to ceilidh dance, or lie down flat on the floor, or spin around a lot

And

 (please)

don’t ask me to rush down the stairs.

PC66

Slowing to heal

Thanks to a nasty sinus infection, it’s been a long week already…

Thanks to that sinus infection, I have had to learn to delegate and let go of things at work (in this day and age, a week away from the office is a long time).

Thanks to that sinus infection, I have had to take a good hard look at my activities and priorities and figure out what is genuinely important just now (complicated by the pounding headache affecting my brainwaves).

Thanks to that sinus infection, I’ve spent more time resting and reposing than I am comfortable with.

Thanks to that sinus infection, I am having to admit to my humanity and frailty and learn to ask for help.

Thanks to that sinus infection, I am having to slow myself down so my body can heal.

It’s not being an easy learning nor a comfortable one – and it’s certainly not how I planned to spend my birthday – but it is most definitely a useful learning.

Now to heal (hurrah for antibiotics and decongestants!) and retain the learning as the busyness of life descends again…

Pondering mind, body and wellness

I’ve been reminded recently about how closely connected our minds and bodies are.

I’m not sure how the traditional dualistic approach of (good) mind vs (bad) body came about, but I’ve seen no evidence for its truth in my own life…

Instead it becomes increasingly clear every bug, every Spring (hello, hay fever 😦 ), and every morning I don’t ‘feel’ like moving, that my mind is most definitely connected to my body, and that my body’s state affects my mind.

When I don’t ‘feel’ well, I don’t think well or ‘do’ well (and sometimes I don’t ‘do’ at all!)

But then when I do feel well, I can do almost anything 🙂

So, how to promote one’s wellness?

There’s all the usual suspects: leafy greens, exercise, sleep (all those things annoying bright-eyed people tell you to do)…

But if I’m starting from a point of being not well, these are harder to do, which can then become a downward spiral (and why is it so hard to generate an upwards spiral?!)

Time, then, for the ‘unusual’ suspects:

#1 Be kind to yourself

It’s okay to not be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. It’s okay to spend the day in bed if that’s what your mind or body crave. It’s okay to phone in sick when you’re sick.

#2 Be gentle with yourself

You are precious – but may also be fragile. That’s okay. You can nurture yourself and coax yourself gently. You don’t have to do bootcamp everyday, unless that’s what you want. There’s no rule that says you have to ‘go hard’ all the time (or, in fact, any time!)

#3 Listen to your body, as well as your mind

Despite their close connections, our minds sometimes get rather grandiose plans about what our bodies can do. If your body says ‘rest’, then rest. You can play hard later… (see #1 and #2) Of course, if your body says ‘play’, then you can rest later 😉

And if you want to eat more leafy greens, do more yoga, eat paleo, inhale multi-vitamins, or whatever – go for it. But remember the unusual suspects, too ❤

Is ‘busy’ the new ‘fine’?

Please read this most excellent post by Damh the Bard, and then ponder whether you could take five minutes a day off from being busy…

BTW did you know that some deep breathing can switch off your ‘fight or flight’  instinct and turn your creative, thinking brain back on? Read more here and here.

It’s worth taking five minutes to breathe 😉

We apologise for the break in transmission…

As the title says…

I’m afraid bronchitis and sinusitis got the better of me last week.

Turns out coughing and creative flow don’t work so well together – who’d’ve thunk it?!

Anyway, the good news is that the antibiotics are working, so normal service will resume shortly.

In the meantime, please enjoy this lovely picture of what a bronchitis bacteria might look like close-up:

https://i0.wp.com/www.sophisticatededge.com/assets/images/Health/Respitory%20Conditions/is-bronchitis-a-viral-infection.jpg

Health & well-being

I’ve been doing  a lot of work in recent months around goal-setting, prioritising and life clarity (as mentioned in this post).

As part of this process, I’ve decided to make improving my health and well-being one of my main priorities for this year.

One of the drivers for this was my unexpected summer weight gain. It became rather obvious to me that my old habits weren’t working in my favour!

Another consideration was my dancing. I want to become a better dancer (always!) To do this I need to become a better ‘live-er’ (no, not the body organ!): more movement as part of my living, more good foods as part of my living, more understanding of my body mechanics and so on…

For me, this is not just about my physical health, but about my overall ‘well-being’ – body, mind, spirit and community. I do want to be the best me I can be, and make the most of this life. I can’t do that if I’m unwell, lacking in energy, depressed or injured.

Thanks to my decision to make well-being  a priority, there are many small changes I am making to my way of life. All of these are adding up to a big difference for me.

So what I am doing/changing?

Eating

  • I’m chewing every mouthful thoroughly
  • I’m savouring flavours
  • I’m thinking about whether I’m actually hungry or not
  • I’m stocking my fridge with yummy fresh fruit and veg
  • Because of all this, I’m finding processed foods a lot less yummy
  • I’m trying new foods: for example, thinly sliced swede is beautiful in a stir fry; whole amaranth cooked up then adorned with honey, cinnamon and all-spice is scrumptious!

Moving

  • I’ve joined a Pilates class
  • I’m playing with my hoop regularly
  • I’m paying attention to my posture and movement patterns (this could take a while!)

Thinking

  • I’m paying attention to my sources of energy (as an introvert, I need quiet solitude to recharge. Extroverts need people time)
  • I’m journalling
  • I’m reading things that inspire me
  • I’m seeking out sources of inspiration and wonder (thank you, Pinterest and Pataka)

The results are showing: I have lost weight, toned up and have way more energy. I am aware this is an ongoing journey of discovery. I can have fun with this for my whole life 🙂

There are many resources I am drawing on for information and inspiration (thank you, library and internet!):

Eating

You are what you eat by Dr Gillian Keith – this is loaded with well-presented and easily digested information. It would be hard to not make some changes after reading this.

French women don’t get fat by Mireille Guiliano – part guidance, part memoir, this book looks not so much at what you eat as how you eat. Paying attention to my food and savouring every mouthful is slowly changing my relationship with food. It’s amazing how much you appreciate fresh veg over processed crap when you pay attention to what’s in your mouth! The emphasis is on pleasure rather than denial, which makes a refreshing change.

I did start reading The omnivore’s dilemma by Michael Pollan, but got too depressed! I have cut down on the amount of corn I eat though…

Moving

The Feel Good Body by Anna-Louise Bouvier and Jennifer Fleming – useful tips for day by day changes to your posture and movement patterns.

The Katy says blog is an often hilarious and always informative blog about body mechanics for normal people.

Thinking

Positive balance is a thought-provoking but gentle blog written by a life coach and yoga practitioner.

Space2live provides useful inspiration and encouragement for my introvert soul.

24 hours without sugar

Last night I set myself the challenge of going for 24 hours without sugar: 6pm yesterday to 6pm today.

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot on health and diet. The idea arose from that. I was also curious, as someone wanting to be a more conscious consumer, to see how easy it would or wouldn’t be.

The actual eating (or not eating?) wasn’t too much of a hardship – one day isn’t really a very long time. Main meals weren’t much of an issue: I normally have scrambled eggs for breakfast and savoury foods for lunch and dinner. I allowed myself to eat fruit (including dried fruit).

Where it became hard was with my snacking habits: I habitually reach for biscuits and the like to satisfy those between-meals food urges. I hadn’t realised how strong this habit was until this afternoon (I managed the morning on fruit and rice crackers). What do you eat when you don’t want to risk eating too much fruit and your fridge is running out of veges?!

I didn’t notice any particular physical effects. I suspect the time period was too short for that. I did find myself getting very hungry this afternoon and there was some desperate cupboard-rummaging. With hindsight, I’m not sure whether that was real hunger or carb/sugar cravings.

Since 6pm, I have let myself go back to more normal habits (i.e. biscuits for supper) and I now have a touch of heartburn (which I don’t normally get). Hmmm…

Conclusions:

  1. I think I could live without eating much sugar, as long as I can eat honey and fruit (I’m not sure I could give it up entirely – cake!!)
  2. If I do cut back hard on my sugar intake, or go for a longer fast, I need to stock up on fresh veges and other healthy nibbles.
  3. Sugar turns up in some surprising places – even in chippies!?! It’s probably best to avoid factory-processed foods as much as possible.

Which I guess all comes back to Michael Pollan’s advice: