10 things making me happy at the moment.

17.2.17

1) Learning calligraphy.

2) Netflix. I am currently making my way through Crazy Ex Girlfriend, and last weekend I binge watched Santa Clarita Diet. I highly recommend both!

3) Self-help books (and books with Instagram worthy covers!) I can't get enough of books on the body, mind and spirituality at the moment. Send me your recommendations peeps! 

4) Fresh flowers dotted round the house.

5) Lily and Lola cuddling up with Amber the cat. Three squishy faces instead of two is a delight!

6) Making good progress with my current cross stitch project. I am hoping to finish it in the next couple of weeks and get it posted off to the recipient.

7) Feeling stronger every day; managing to get out walking and doing yoga most days and it feels fantastic. 

8) Chatting to my lovely friends on Instagram.

9) Blue skies and fluffy white clouds (finally!) I am welcoming any future temperature increases and sunshine with open warms.

10) Sainsbury's freshly baked gluten free bread. OMG. Game changer.

You?


Life lately (old mates and lunch dates).

15.2.17

There was so much love for my last blog post - thank you! It was one of the easiest and quickest posts I've ever written because the words flowed straight from my heart into my fingers, and it felt so good to get it all out there. 

It's been almost a month since my last "life lately" post and even though I have been sharing daily life over on my Instagram page, for those folks who aren't on there I thought an update was in order. 

My broken heart has slowly been gluing itself back together. I smile and find joy in my days again, and I truly feel like it was for the best even though at first I couldn't see it in that way. I have been doing a lot of "letting go" exercises; letting go of old boyfriends and living in Sheffield and my old ways of life. My focus is now on being back in Leeds, friends, family, my health and happiness, and taking one day at a time. Some days are better than others but I am finding that when I am diligent with my meditating/breathing exercises, yoga, walking in nature, writing in my diary, avoiding junk food and drinking plenty of water, etc, it is easier to feel good and stay on the right side of my chronic fatigue syndrome. 


What else have I been up to?

Last week I met up with the wonderful Kelly aka Kelanjo (her blog is here) after not seeing her since our early 2009/2010 blogging days. She only lives 15 minutes away from where I'm staying with my parents, so we popped out for a brew and a long overdue chinwag. I genuinely had such a lovely afternoon and was smiling all evening thinking of the daft stuff we had been laughing about. We had a pot of tea and browsed in the shops at Salts Mill, discussing our love for books and trying to hunt down Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur (still haven't got my hands on a copy).

A couple of days ago I met up with two old pals who go way back to high school. We met in year 7 as diddy 12 year olds and were the bestest of friends through high school and sixth form. Due to a couple of us moving away in our mid 20s we lost touch and haven't met up as a "three" in about 6 years, but I'm determined it won't happen again. It was so good to see two familiar faces and to talk about old times.

Aside from that I have been doing lots of reading (self-help books are my fave), walking along the canal most days, I sent books to some strangers with a note inside, I have been working on a new cross stitch project which I am making as a surprise for a friend, so I can't share it just yet, and I have been hanging out with my mum quite a bit. We had a lunch date at Pie Minister in Leeds a couple of Saturdays ago and it was bloody delicious.


That's all for now; have a good Wednesday people! xx


Why I am glad my life fell apart.

6.2.17

It is fair to say that the last two years have not been plain sailing for me and along the way I have wrestled with a variety of emotions, along with feeling very sorry for myself and often asking "why me!" But in the last couple of months I have had my eyes opened. I realised that I am glad my life has fallen apart because I never would have been able to become a better version of myself without those experiences. I am also kinda sorta glad I have been ill. That last part sounds like a weird thing to say but again, without the wake-up call of becoming ill through chronic stress and not taking care of myself, I never would have been shaken up enough to make massive changes in my life (changes I have wanted to make for so long).

I have spent my entire life trying to fit into boxes.

I went to university because most of my friends were going and that's what you do, isn't it? Do your A-levels and go to university. Except my heart wasn't in it. I picked a random course because I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life (still don't really) and quit after 2 weeks. 

I thought that being engaged and getting married like everyone else would fix all of my problems and make me feel on top of the world. But planning my wedding made me feel physically ill, something I found difficult to verbalise at the time and something I really wrestled with and couldn't make sense of. The wedding felt like someone elses "dream wedding", not mine. After years of pining to get married I wasn't even sure I wanted to get married at all, ever. The end result was that I ran away from it all and threw a 4.5 year relationship down the drain, and have had to deal with guilt and regret ever since. 

At school I always felt different to everyone else and I saw it as a bad thing. 

In relationships generally I have always felt that people have wanted to change me, and dull my sparkle a little. And I have let them for an easy life and to please them over pleasing myself. 


I truly believe that things have to fall apart sometimes in order to get better beyond what you thought they could be. I truly believe that my future is going to be so much better for the experiences I have had with my last couple of relationships and the struggles I have had with my health and wellbeing. 

Before I got poorly I was stressed and on edge all the time. I always felt like I wasn't where I should be in life but I had no idea how to change it. I was impatient and angry about way too much for someone who had a really good life. I didn't do anything to relax or anything for me. My world revolved around what my boyfriends were doing. I was unhappy in every job I had. I was depressed often, and hated myself and my body. I had problems with binge eating and restricting food which I couldn't seem to escape from. 

Being ill has introduced me to meditation, emotional freedom technique (EFT) and has forced me to read a whole host of books which have increased my knowledge about my mind, body and emotions immensely. This has allowed me to uncover hidden emotions and put them to rest. 

Being dumped a couple of months ago has forced me to spot unhealthy patterns in my relationships and, for the first time ever, I want to be single. I don't want a relationship, apart from having one with myself. I want to learn to love myself instead of throwing all my love in someone elses direction.

It feels amazing to have realised so many things about myself and to be able to blossom into a new person. I've still got a long way to go but I know I will always look back on these troubled times with a grateful heart.

Books I have read in 2017 (5-7).

2.2.17

#5 Living a Life Less Toxic by Faith Canter - 4.5/5 

Faith Canter is a wonderful woman I stumbled across on You Tube who has recovered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome after suffering for many years following a bout of glandular fever, which as you may know is what has happened to me. I purchased Faith's first book on my Kindle, keen to find out more about her recovery story and what changes I could make to my life to make it less "toxic".

I have watched pretty much all of Faith's videos and I am already fairly strict with my CFS recovery "plan" (daily meditation, positive affirmations, positive mindset, detox baths, dietary changes, getting out in nature, good sleep routine, yada yada yada) so a few of the areas covered in the book were already familiar to me. That being said it was a further reinforcement of why I need to continue with these things, and I was inspired to make further changes to detoxing my mind and body. For example, she talks about swapping chemical products for natural ones complete with "how to" guides and this is something I'm going to do in the future. 

If you're newly diagnosed with CFS/ME and don't know where to start, I highly recommend Faith's book and You Tube videos to set yourself on the right path. Don't spend months waiting for help from the NHS like I did. Get cracking with your own research right now! 

I really like the chapter on EFT (Emotional Freedom Tapping) and I have found some good results from incorporating that into my routine. I wish this book was longer and a little cheaper, hence knocking half a point off from full marks. 

#6 The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck 5/5

This book was recommended to me by my beautiful friend Alix. Boy oh boy, it's a good'un! It has opened my eyes to life and love, patterns I have fallen into with relationships and people, unhealthy habits and why they have formed, and has given me the ability to process why past relationships have failed. I hate to be such a cliche but this book has changed my life! I wish I had read it 10 years ago.


#7 A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness 4/5

From self help to a short fiction book, A Monster Calls was recommended to me by my sister and I read it across the space of a couple of evenings. It's a fantasy novel aimed at children/YA about a boy faced with the imminent death of his mother. It is written by Patrick Ness based on ideas by author Siobhan Dowd who sadly passed away before she could write the story.

It's easy to read and I was absorbed in the story immediately. I felt every emotion the young boy was feeling, and the "monster" provides a number of stories that really resonated with me and can be applied to helping in every day life. I wanted the story to go on longer. I am also really keen to see the film now!

What have you finished reading lately?

Things that have definitely NOT helped my recovery from glandular fever and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

28.1.17

In the early days when I was feeling run down and experiencing flu-like symptoms, but I didn't know why, my crucial mistake was not resting and sleeping enough. I pushed myself for the sake of my job, and that got me nowhere. I stayed up late to see my boyfriend after his shift work, and that got me nowhere either. I tried to exercise because I hated the thought of not doing anything physical, and that made me more poorly. My body was struggling to keep going and I didn't keep still or sleep for long enough to give it chance to fight off the virus. My self-care routine was non existent. My stress levels were what can only be described as chronic, after the 6 months previous which had involved moving house twice, calling off my wedding, moving to a new city and starting a qualification on top of a full time job. This was the IDEAL time for me to start taking care of myself but I did the opposite; pushing myself further and further into a black hole of doom! 

Then when I got my blood test results which showed I had the Epstein Barr virus I made the mistake of relying on information from the NHS website which says most people get over it in a few weeks. In the last two years I have come across a dozen people who have had glandular fever and not one of them got over it in a matter of weeks. It was more like years of recovery. My GP didn't advise me to rest or explain that other aspects of my life (stress) could prevent me from getting better, but I really believe that if I had fully rested and relaxed my body and mind in those early stages of the virus I could have potentially saved myself from developing CFS. Seriously, if you're reading this and you've got the flu or GF then just get yourself to bed immediately. Drink 3 litres of water a day, force smoothies and soups down you, have lots of bubble baths, listen to audio books, meditate, stick your head into any patches of sun that appear, and be kind to yourself. I wish I could go back in time and show the old me this blog post. 


After I had been ill on a daily basis for 6 months (think of it like having the flu and a hangover simultaneously, not knowing when it will clear off, never feeling rejuvenated by sleep, and having to battle through a 35 hour working week) I was going out of my mind with worry. I took to the internet to find out if anyone was in the same boat as me. Instead of finding motivational stories of recovery I found forums full of people who had been experiencing CFS for 10 years+. I would spend hours and hours reading about these people and how they were in wheelchairs, stuck in bed, and felt like prisoners in their own bodies, and it made me massively depressed. In those delicate early days of my CFS diagnosis I should not have been reading those forums, but they have a way of sucking you in. I became obsessed with googling my different symptoms and each search I made pushed me further and further from my path of hope and recovery.

When I was living with my ex partner I felt like such a burden to him and a let down in general. We should have been going on holidays and days out, saving up for our next house and all the things that you do in your early 30s. My illness meant everything was on hold until I got better. This meant that I was constantly heaping massive amounts of pressure onto my shoulders to speed up my recovery. I would go to bed each night, praying that I would wake up and feel human again. Then each morning when I woke and my symptoms were still there I would feel upset, and so the cycle went round and round. As my mum frequently and quite rightly reminds me, I didn't get into this pickle overnight so I'm not going to get out of it overnight. It's going to take time, patience, and avoiding additional stress by not worrying about things that are out of my control.

For a long time I hated my body. I would literally tell it that I hated it. It had let me down by failing to function like everyone else and I felt trapped. It took me a long time to realise that actually I had let my body down by not taking good enough care of it. And even though I felt poorly, my body was doing everything in its power to recover, fix itself, build up energy, and I had to be thankful for that. Once I changed my way of thinking I started to love my body. I even love all my lumpy bumpy un-toned bits, because it's the only body I have got and I am never going to take it for granted again. Everything I eat and drink and do for my body now is to serve it, and not to abuse it. 

When you're bed bound, housebound or spending more time resting you suddenly have a lot more free time on your hands and it's incredibly boring doing nothing. So the temptation to browse the internet, read the news, check Facebook and spend hours looking at different hashtags on Instagram becomes rather great. When you're not in a good place mentally and physically it's definitely a good idea not to check Facebook where you will be confronted with people doing things you can't. Reading the doom and gloom of the news will also slowly chip away at any reserves of energy you have so it's a good idea to temporarily swap the type of news you stay up to date with. I found that reading about animal cruelty cases and watching graphic videos that were popping up on my news feed, and getting upset about them, would make me feel physically unwell. So I vowed that I would get back on my crusade to make the world a better place when I am fighting fit again. Deleting my Facebook recently has been one of the best things I've ever done. Instead fill your time by doing things that fill you with joy; reading or listening to audiobooks, crafts, watching a box set, baking or cooking (if you can manage it), pampering, colouring, all that good stuff. Even if you feel like you're at deaths door, try to do something that makes you feel happy.

I used to focus on all the things I couldn't do. I can't work. I can't go for long walks or exercise. I can't hold a book up for longer than 15 minutes. I can't do anything strenuous unless I schedule a full 48 hours of rest afterwards. Negative Nancy, that was me. Now I focus on all the things I CAN do. I can manage gentle yoga sequences and that also makes me feel relaxed, double whammy! I can do as much meditation as I want from the comfort of my bed and that makes me feel fantastic. I can go on short walks with the dogs and, because they're so slow, stop to take in my surroundings as often as I want to. I can do jobs around the house which I definitely couldn't manage this time last year. Progress is progress, no matter how slow. 

Whether you're long term ill, post viral or maybe you're just feeling run down I really hope this helps you to make some positive changes. 

Life lately (breaking up and re-building).

24.1.17

We broke up...

I have tried to write this blog post several times and I'm only just in the frame of mind where I can sit down and share it with you guys. Excuse the blunt delivery but there's no other way to say it really, is there. 

A couple of weeks before Christmas my boyfriend asked me for some space. I turned up on my parents doorstep with a suitcase, the dogs, and an ugly crying face, but I was 90% sure we would sort things out after a bit of time apart. Our 18 month relationship had faced some rough rides with my health problems and losing my job, and the pressures he felt as a result of that, along with disappointment after disappointment of not being able to carry out plans/holidays/special occasions as we wanted to. But we were madly in love and made each other happy, and we were both on the same page that we were going to be together forever so this was just a small bump in the road, so everything was going to be alright, right? Wrong. I guess we all have a limit and his had been reached. So it wasn't true love for ever and ever, as I thought it was.

For 30 days straight I cried pretty much all day, every day. I didn't eat or sleep. I felt like I would never be able to smile or be happy again. But time is a great healer and 6 weeks on I feel a little better and brighter, and I know things will fall into place for me because bad things lead to good, always.

The hardest thing is not being able to move on because of my health. Break ups are usually the time to get stuck into your job or a new qualification, get your hair cut, get a new place to live, go to the gym and get fit, channel your energy into new hobbies and go out on the town with your girl friends. So to have chronic fatigue syndrome which has limited my ability to exercise, work, see friends, live independently, and do normal things like everyone else, has been quite frustrating. But I have to accept that this is where I am right now, and I have to build up my health, mind, strength and confidence before launching back into the real world again. For now I will be taking things steady and giving myself a break.


Books I have read in 2017 (1-4).

22.1.17

#1 The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart by Anna Bell - 2.5/5

I ended 2016 and started 2017 with something I thought would be easy to read and familiar, to ease me into my year of reading more; a good old "chick lit" book. I used to devour this genre of books but they just don't seem to hit the spot with me anymore. Perhaps because I'm older, wiser and a bit cynical to the "happy after ever" storyline ;)

The clue is in the title; the storyline follows Abi who is dumped and, upon finding her ex boyfriend's bucket list, decides to tackle each item on his list in an attempt to win him back. I really enjoyed the concept of the bucket list; it was motivating to show how you can reinvent yourself after a break up and use the time to try new things but, honestly, I disliked the main character too much to be interested in what happened to her. "Don't Tell The Groom" by the same author is a much more enjoyable read which I would recommend over this one.

#2 The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey - 4/5


The Snow Child was recommended to me by my sister and I didn't really know what to expect, but I loved it. It's the story of Jack and Mabel, an elderly childless couple living in a remote cabin in Alaska in the 1920s. This book is so descriptive that it's incredibly easy to imagine every little detail of the story, from the changes in the seasons and how bitterly cold and bleak the winters are, to the array of wild animals living in the forest, and the snow child herself.

I won't spoil the storyline but I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the way it was written and I suggest you pop it on your reading list. 


#3 The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan 3.5/5

I was drawn to this book firstly because it was 99p on my Kindle and secondly because I am really interested in gratitude and how we can change our outlook by seeing everything with a positive twist. I keep my own gratitude diary as part of my recovery from chronic fatigue syndrome and in an attempt to reprogram the way I look at life in general, so I wondered how it can have an impact on people's lives.

When I first started this book I struggled with it. I couldn't identify with the writer at all, with her happy marriage, smart kids, and a comfortable lifestyle, it seemed so far removed from where I am in life at this moment in time. She certainly has a lot more to be grateful for than I do. However as I persevered I found the book really interesting, especially the parts where Janice meets up with different professors and people who have researched and done studies using gratitude, and they can prove that it does make people happier, more productive, healthier, and so on.

The book is split into chapters with topics on health, relationships, children, and work, each one being a real eye-opener into how Janice's new found gratitude (even when things were going badly) could improve her life.

#4 How To Be Good by Nick Hornby - 1/5

This is the first Nick Hornby book I've read, plucked from my book stash at the last minute before the boxes went off to the charity shop. I expected good things and I was sorely let down! The storyline was so random, the characters were irritating and the ending was disappointing. I only persevered as I don't like to be a quitter. 

It's annoying when that happens isn't it? But onwards and upwards, I have a massive pile of books to get through! 

5 good things (new friends and old favourites).

12.1.17

It would be a fair statement to say that December and January have been far from "good" but I am trying this new thing where I focus on the positives instead of the negatives so with that being said, here are 5 good things from recent weeks.

1) A cup of tea and a good chat with an online-turned-real-life friend (hi Lauren!) We have been in touch for a while now, keeping each other up to date with the ups and downs of our lives/love lives and we finally met on Tuesday. I had such a lovely time; I could have chatted all afternoon! 

2) Moving to a house right next to a canal. This means my walks have become a lot more visually pleasing! Tonight I went for a quick stroll and the sky was the most beautiful colour, the ducks were out, I was wrapped up warm but the wind wasn't too cold on my nose, and I felt really grateful that I had somewhere like that on the doorstep to lift my spirits.


3) The return of the Undateables on the telly. Without a doubt one of my all time favourite things to watch! 

4) Finally getting round to seeing Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. I took myself off for a cinema date for one, and left with a new appreciation of Eddie Redmayne. He's rather lovely isn't it? Aside from enjoying him I also really enjoyed the film.

5) Getting back into reading. This time last year I could barely find the energy to hold a book up or the space in my brain to process the words. I might not be where I want to be health-wise but I am getting through books at a fast pace and that is amazing progress. Also I forgot how much I love reading!