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Breathe, Dammit!

My body has been playing some nasty tricks on me lately. By lately, I mean all of my life. But, especially lately, it seems to be really amping up the symptoms, making me imagine all sorts of diseases and physical abnormalities. I hurt my back a few weeks ago – a combination of couging, over-extending and just being a bit careless. It really scared me – the pain was horrible and I could barely stand up straight. My doctor told me it was just an acute issue and would resolve itself with rest and all the usual remedies – heat packs, anti-inflammatory gel (I can’t take the tablets) and the use of my beloved TENS machine (seriously – do you have one? They are THE BEST!). The pain did go away and I gingerly went back to my normal day-to-day routine. Until I bent over a bit weirdly and hurt it again. The pain went away much quicker this time and I thought it was all going to be ok. Until, this week, the pins and needles started in my legs and feet. Immediate meltdown from me, imagining everything from Parkinson’s disease to strokes and irreversible nerve damage. I am nothing if not a drama queen.

So, faced with these horrible imaginings, I took my doctor’s advice and went to a physio she had recommended. This morning, anxiety levels high and ability-to-cope-with-bad-news levels low, I spent an hour with said physio. She was awesome. Very thorough and kind, she talked about everything that my body is going through and how much of it is probably related to my overall anxiety and stress, combined with my really ridiculously tight muscles (brought on by stress and anxiety…you get the idea). She didn’t do the whole “it’s all in your head and you just need to relax” speech – she was very sympathetic and explained things. Because I have a history of nerve damage and neurological issues (from my meningitis), this also sets the body up to be hyper-responsive to stress and any physical sensation, especially if that sensation mirrors anything my body went through when I was really ill.

She was happy with my back and spine in general – didn’t find anything there to be concerned about (I was worrying about bulging discs) and my overall movement and range was ok. But I need to fix my breathing. This has always been an issue with me – I am a shallow breather, barely moving at all when I take a breath. The physio said she couldn’t even tell if I was actually breathing or not. So I have to learn how to breathe diaphragmatically. This is really tricky for me – I always hold my tummy in, even when supposedly relaxed – so it will take some time for me to retrain myself. I have had numerous doctors and physios tell me this. Now I HAVE to do something about it and really persevere with it (I am actually trying to do belly breathing right now as I type this). Because I don’t want to keep getting these problems.

Work has been incredibly stressful, with lots of redundancies and overall workplace anxiety.  Some days are really miserable and lonely – this does not help my mental wellbeing.  I miss my friends and the camaraderie that you get when you work together every day.  My workload has tripled and I am not always a happy camper.  Basically, I am a grumpy, stressed-out hag most days.  Having fuzzy feelings in my legs (and not just because I haven’t shaved them) is another stressor I could do without.  But I will take the pins and needles over the horrible back pain.  THAT I can live without, thank you.

I need to work on my fitness levels and stop the stress-eating (ie bingeing) that I have been doing.  My weight has crept up and that’s making me feel crummy.  I’m not exercising at all at the moment and that’s making me feel guilty AND crummy.  So I need to improve lots of things, starting with my coping mechanisms and mindfulness and the whole breathing thing.  So much work to do!

The Universe keeps telling me, in its own not-so-subtle way, that I need to chill out and calm down, stop worrying and de-stress, otherwise I will get sick or develop weird pains and other annoying bodily issues.  Pretty much every illness I’ve ever had has been stress-related, so I need to do something about it.  I don’t even know how to begin.  I don’t know HOW to stress less.  But I am going to have to learn, quick smart.

Do you have a really simple method for de-stressing?  For learning how to not worry?  All suggestions and advice gratefully received!

Thanks for dropping by – take care of yourselves x

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Pain in the Neck, Cake & The Joy of Thrifting Videos

Pain in the Neck, Cake & The Joy of Thrifting Videos

I am off work at the moment with a painful neck.  After all the stress of the last couple of weeks at work, with all the heavy lifting and long days, my neck decides to spaz out on me when I am doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to aggravate it.  Maybe it got used to the stress and heavy lifting…maybe it got confused on the weekend when I was no longer working long hours… Who knows?  All I know is that on Sunday morning, after a reasonably long country drive, down to my Dad’s for Father’s Day, I got out of the car, my neck went “ping” and I went “ouch”.  I also went into immediate meltdown because my neck and back have been good for ages and to have this happen made me panic and start seeing visions of a yet-again painful and debilitating future.  But I have been to the physio, been strapped up and pummelled and am now at home, resting up, trying to keep my muscles warm and un-stressed, so I can hopefully go back to work tomorrow.  Because being at work is way better than being at home, unable to do anything but watch TV and drink endless cups of tea.  I desperately want to craft or go op-shoppping but can do neither due to having the neck pain and no money (have over-spent a little bit this month, need to reel it in a little) and also being in my pyjamas with no bra.  Ok, you didn’t need to know that last bit…but bra straps do dig in to sore neck and shoulder muscles so going about sans bra is essential.  Essential maybe, but not very attractive.  Ahem, moving on…

So, I’ve baked a cake (my stand-by Gingerbread Cake).  I don’t know who for, because there’s only me here and I’m supposed to be lowering my sugar and fat intake.  I can’t take it to work because the new digs are supposed to be sugar free and a haven of good eating and healthy snacks.  So, I will most likely eat a piece (or two) and freeze the rest, so I have something to offer unexpected guests.  Which I never have because everyone knows I hate the “pop in”.  At the end of the day, I know the cake will be entirely scoffed by me, over a period of time.

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Besides baking a cake, I have made a couple of necklaces for my niece – really quick, simple ones that only took a couple of minutes and wouldn’t hurt my neck (i.e. with sitting and hunching over for a long period, fiddling about with tiny beads and whatnot) – she likes the simple “surfy” style chokers that just have a black cord with one little charm on them.  I looked through some craft magazines, watched Dr Phil (some lady boo-hooing about her “famous” baseball-playing husband treating her badly…I don’t know these people and although any kind of spousal abuse is wrong and not to be joked about, I couldn’t quite figure out if the lady was crazy, lying or just wanting attention from the media…I got bored and didn’t watch to the end so I’m gonna go with crazy.  And possibly on drugs) and, surprisingly, did some dishes.  I also have been watching lots of YouTube videos about thrifting.  There is something strangely addictive about watching other people shopping.  Not normal shopping, in department stores of whatever, but thrift store shopping (op-shopping as we call it here in Oz).  Seeing someone pick up some vintage dresses for under $5 is exciting.  Watching another YouTuber collecting some fabulous homewares from charity shops and then giving them a makeover?  Enthralling.  But then I am home bored and unable to do much myself so watching other people go shopping is about as exciting as it gets for me.  Here are some YouTube channels I recommend, if you’re interested:

Hermione LillaRosa – Lovely English lassie with ever-changing hair colours, fabulous non-fashion sense, quirky decorating style.

Thrifters Anonymous – A couple of thrifting buddies shop up a storm in some of the most-amazing-looking op-shops in the U.S.  One of these shops is apparently 34’000 sq feet in size.  Swoon.

Grav3yard Girl – If you haven’t watched Bunny’s channel before, do stop by and watch a couple of her “Thrift Hurl” videos.  Seriously, she is just so entertaining and I have watched her for a couple of years now.  I do tut when she is promoting products that are not cruelty-free…but then I skip over to one of her thrifting videos and then I’m happier.  She just makes me laugh.

Haul or Nothing : Thrift Store Shopping (on FAWN) – I wish someone would challenge me to a thrifting spend-up

Riannstar – She makes me laugh.  Mostly because I don’t think she actually gets the whole thrifting/op-shopping thing.  I think if you’re looking for “in-season” pieces or anything “on-trend” you should probably go to different shops.  The whole point of op-shopping is that you don’t look like everybody else and don’t have to spend a fortune.
But that’s just my opinion.  Maybe I’m wrong… (I’m in pain and cranky so it’s likely I am just being picky for nothing).

Xpurr – Welcome to the crazy world of dumpster diving.  Crazy because people THROW AWAY SO MUCH STUFF IT IS CRAZY!!!  I find it fascinating that all this stuff (most of it brand new) gets thrown away by shops etc.  This videos for me are like watching those makeover shows or American Pickers or something.  I wish I was brave enough to go dumpster diving.  But I know if I was brave enough, I would probably just end up finding a load of rubbish.  And catch the plague or something.  It amazes me that so many people and businesses can throw all that stuff away and I have trouble tossing empty rolls in the bin, recycling or otherwise.

Anyway, that’s a few that I like to watch.  Mostly, they’re just fun distractions.  I get the guilts when watching anyone buy lots of new stuff (the world has enough landfill in it thank you) and really, there is enough second hand stuff in the world to clothe and decorate us and our homes into the next millennium.

Well, I’m sore and achey from sitting here in front of the computer for even this short length of time so I will retire to the lounge room, make another cup of tea (I’ll go crazy and make it a proper cup – no more herbal for today) and heat up yet another heat pack for my neck.  Hopefully I will get my bum into gear this weekend and make some stuff to show you.  I have a business idea I may or may not share with you at some stage…still working out the logistics (i.e. whether I can be brave enough to do it).

Have a happy, thrifty week – let me know if you find any 2nd hand treasures (but only if they won’t make me jealous) 🙂

Walkies, kitties and ring-a-ding-dings…

Walkies, kitties and ring-a-ding-dings…

Very short post today.  I am at home with a horribly sore neck.  It was bad all weekend and when I woke up yesterday I could barely move my head.  I went for a long walk with some friends of mine to see if I could get some of the stiffness out and get some sun-warmth on it.  We walked all the way around the Swan River and the weather was just beautiful (where has Winter gone?) – lots of people and their dogs out walking and jogging and enjoying the fresh air.  We walked for about three hours and caught up on each other’s gossip, love lives and issues.  Didn’t help my neck but I was happy to get some exercise and be out in the glorious sunshine.

On Saturday I managed to make a few little rings as I had received some glass dome cabochons that I’d ordered and wanted to put them to use straight away.  I wasn’t up for anything too detailed or labour-intensive.  My neck was too painful for me to sit crafting for any length of time.  So I made what I could and gave up. It took me a couple of goes to get the glue-ing technique down pat as I hadn’t used these domes before.  So, word to the wise, glue the paper to the cabochon first so it sticks flush to the base.  Then stick the cabochon to the ring blank.  That’s what worked for me anyhow…

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Much of the weekend was spent with cats, thinking about cats or hanging out with cats.  I stayed at my Mum’s on Friday night so got to have cuddles with Alexander (Boyo) who was in a cheerful, purring mood (despite what these pictures looks like):

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Then at home I got to spend some time with next door’s cat, Fatty.  We’ve just called him that – I have no idea what his real name is.  But he is fat!  Very handsome though:

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I also spend time worrying about my brother’s cats, Terence and Oscar.  They have to be rehomed and I’ve been stressing about getting them a new home quickly.  They’re such lovely boys and deserve a forever home with someone who will love them and take good care of them.

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My walk on Sunday produced some lovely shots as the day was spectacularly sunny and bright and blue sky-wonderful.

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This beautiful cormorant posed for a pic very graciously…

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Then we had mondo-major excitement when a small pod of dolphins decided to come in to do some fishing.  I didn’t think I had managed to get any shots but then, when I edited them at home, they came out ok.  It’s funny how we’ve all seen dolphins before but still get excited about them.  EVERY TIME.  I’m even the same with kangaroos and I’ve seen, been near and touched a bazillion of them in my life time.  They just all seem so magical in their wild states.  I dunno…

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This perky pelican was doing a spot of fishing too.  He was being followed around by a squad of pesky seagulls, eager to scoop up anything he left behind.  I thought one of them was going to climb inside the pelican’s bill at one stage…

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There was a couple of black swans out for a paddle too…

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We went back to my friend’s flat for a nice cup of tea and a cool down.  She lives so close to the water – look at the view from her lounge room!  We plan on doing lots of walking around her place now that the weather is improving!

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So, despite the yucky pain I’m in, I had a pretty good weekend.  Time with friends and animals, a little bit of crafting and a whole lots of sunshine – I can’t complain 🙂