Tag Archives: arthritis

Sunshine!!

It’s finally here, and will hopefully stick around for a bit. It’s amazing how warmer weather can instantly boost your mood, and persuade you to sit on the patio with friends and talk the day away – with a nice cold glass of something grown-up of course! Not only this, but getting into the great outdoors is also much more enjoyable. Even if it isn’t clear blue and sunny, we can still enjoy t-shirt trekking through a forest, while the dog stops at every tree, and the kids take the more difficult route so they can clamber over rocks and logs. There is only one real downside to this enjoyable pastime… BUGS! Luckily for me, poor circulation means I’m not worth the effort. My elder son, on the other hand, is the warmest person on the planet, therefore providing a fine old feast for starving critters. The poor thing has been dropped off at school with a tube of Afterbite. Of course, this does not deter him, or us, from enjoying these mini adventures, and it’s the only time the dog gets excited about walking.

Unfortunately, though, I pay the price. An 11 km hike, that had quite a lot of steep up and down, has both mental and physical benefits for somebody like me. However, various parts of my body are now seriously protesting about its increased level of activity. I had only just recovered from the Aquafit class I took the week before. Apparently that was supposed to be good for me, but when I didn’t sleep that night because I was so uncomfortable and in pain, it can’t be good. Not only that, I had never felt so out of place in all my life. Even though I lowered the average age by about 30 years, all the older people were able to move far better than me. I’m not one to get hung up on what I must have looked like, it’s my business why I’m choosing that form of exercise, but on this occasion I felt out of place and very unfit.

This is why I’d just like to stick to walking my girl. The pain and humiliation I felt, to please the all the people who think they know what’s best for my body, just wasn’t worth it. Maybe I was too ambitious? Maybe I shouldn’t have done the full hour? Maybe I should have started with something less energetic? Doesn’t matter now; it’s still put me off. Instead, I have signed up for some one-on-one pilates. so watch this space…

Until then I shall continue to power walk and worship the sunny weather! And plan some more hiking…

Back on the blog!

I know it’s been a while, sorry but life and severe lack of sleep has left me barely functioning over the past couple of months. I don’t have a lot of reserve normally, but when I watch the clock all night it’s difficult to get through a normal day of life without adding any extra pressure to it. However, I have managed to keep my 2015 challenges going, with only a couple of days written retrospectively. I’m currently on day 83; that’s 83 quotes, both funny and serious, and 78 journal entries, about all sorts of annotations and personal paraphernalia that I need empty out of my head. I find that if I don’t write down these thoughts and musings, something else will come along and push them right out of my head forever. Often I haven’t known until the end of the day what I will write about. One day I couldn’t think of anything constructive so I wrote about salad! As for the quotes, well I have thousands of those things. I’m afraid I cheat a little when posting them by scheduling them via Hootsuite. Life is just too busy to be dropping everything to pick up ‘Thelma’ and get all philosophical, while juggling homework and vegetables.

So why am I not sleeping?

Well, chronic disease and pain is playing a large part in my insomnia. I have found myself caught in one of these vicious circles that’s difficult to break unless something changes within the cycle. Lack of exercise due to pain and discomfort… unable to get comfortable in bed… tired from everyday life, but not enough physical activity… unable to sleep… gradually coping mechanisms become more and more fragile… more pain and discomfort, less likely to exercise… and so it goes on until finally enough is enough. Yes I have meltdowns, yes I am a ratty old cow, yes I am a raging lunatic when the kids don’t listen to me… yes I am human and sometimes even the strongest people just need someone to give them a hug and tell them that it’s all going to be all right.

Thankfully I have a fantastic rheumatologist who totally understands my plight. I don’t like resorting to pills, I take enough of those as it is, but I guess it is something you just have to learn to accept when you’re in my position. I hate sleeping tablets, they make me feel fuzzy and slow, but a natural remedy such as melatonin has at least given me some more natural sleep. It’s not perfect, I still lay awake for 2 hours a couple of nights ago, but since then I found myself sleeping in – good job its spring break. Hopefully this ‘catch up’ phase will be short lived and by the time I have to drag my sorry backside out of bed even earlier than usual for the school run to do my share of ‘traffic duty’, I will feel and look a little more like me. As for the exercise part, I used to love pilates and swimming. I have agreed to give both another shot, even if it means only doing 1 length of the pool when I was used to doing 1 mile! I know initially I will suffer, but hopefully in time that benefits will outweigh the problems.

I will not be beaten… I will not let it win… it can do whatever it likes on the inside, but letting it show on the outside means it’s won.

You can follow my 365 Challenge on Twitter and Facebook, and check out my 5 star reviews for Bruises on Amazon and Goodreads.

Thelma & Louise – not what you think…

We are sat here, together, trying to figure out what to do. She won’t let me in; it’s driving me crazy. It doesn’t seem to matter what I do, it’s wrong. If it weren’t for the fact she is so small and fragile I would get violent, but what would that achieve? I drink my coffee, and gaze out into the sunshine; it really can’t be that difficult, I’m sure I’m right. I text hubby for some help/advice ‘Thelma has lost it again and won’t cooperate… I’m so frustrated I want to scream!’ She’s becoming my new best friend; I don’t want to hurt her…

I know what you’re thinking. I’m sat in my smart MINI convertible, roof down of course, contemplating something dramatic over the edge of a cliff. Yes, my week has not been the greatest, but there is no way I could do that to such a cool ride, ‘Mercury’ as my dream car is known. Who is Thelma then, I hear you ask, and what’s her problem? If I told you that Thelma is only 2 months old, approximately 7ins x 5ins in size, is gold in colour, with a chocolate brown exterior, and goes everywhere with me now, would you get it? Well, she’s my new iPad mini that my hubby has affectionately named Thelma – that shows our age! I have considered having a young Brad Pitt as my lock screen for the full effect, but honestly, he’s never really done it for me I’m afraid, good actor, good looking and all that, but doesn’t blow my skirt up.

So what’s her problem? Well, my very technically minded and security conscious hubby has made sure that Thelma keeps all her secrets safe under lock and key, by installing 1Password for me. All very well and good because I used to be a hacker’s dream; same password for everything, and not a very imaginative one at that. Now I can have all kinds of elaborate combinations of letters, symbols and numbers that I don’t need to remember – I only need to remember one. Now, I swear I was putting in the right combination, but could I access 1Password? No! Ok, so it wasn’t technically Thelma’s fault, and hubby came to the rescue in the end, but I will still maintain I was right!

What else have I been up to this week…

At the end of last week hubby and I had not one but two date nights. Dinner with friends while all our kids bounced around at gymnastics for 3 hours. Then, an evening at the ballet, all male drag kinda thing– hilarious! Check out Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo if you ever get the chance.

Nearly set my neck at the climbing wall when I slipped off while on auto belay, and scared the hell out of myself. Also really strained my arm that was already strained from something so long ago I can’t remember but I keep pretending it’s fine. Needles in the bicep as a result of my stupidity produced some rather choice words.

We finally tackled the playroom and had the grandmother of all hoy outs!

I gave my lovely cleaner a long overdue pay rise because I’m nice like that… sometimes.

Made two pairs of curtains for a friend, and two Valentine cards – one for me to give hubby and the other for him to give me. I know that sounds sad but the shop ones are expensive and nauseous, he likes my cards so why not?

Popped over the border to pick up a parcel and embarrassed the customs officer when he asked me my occupation, and then what I was picking up… ‘Erotic romance writer… and women’s lingerie’ hehe!

Of course all of this is between dog walking, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, school runs, after school activities, drinking wine and keeping up with Thelma!!

The joys of motherhood

All was well at the end of last week until the early hours of Saturday morning, when my elder woke us after talking to Hughie on the big white telephone. I was already aware of a stomach bug spreading through school; the gathering of Vomiting Veronicas in the school lobby when I picked the boys up on Friday afternoon might have given something away. Luckily for him it was 3 ‘conversations’ and some stomach cramps, then woke up feeling ropey but much better. So it was off to the cinema to see that well-known cuddly British institution, Paddington. I grew up with this loveable character, so I love it that my boys love him too. I can confirm that I sat craning my neck in the front row (not where we would choose to sit but we were late in), laughing, and savouring every mouthful of my favourite British chocolate bar, a Wispa Gold. I tried to make it last, just one mouthful, let it melt, wait a few minutes before another, but it was soooo good, and the pause between mouthfuls got shorter and shorter. Now I only have 7 left until I can replenish supplies in August. Urgent rationing required, only one every month now.

I was doing a bit of a New Year clear out last week, when I came across a women’s magazine that my mother-in-law had left. Not really my thing, recipes, makeovers of 50 year olds, knitting patterns (just for the record I really have nothing against knitting, it just isn’t very me), you know the sort. Well, my first confession is that I actually thumbed it. Then, I stopped at the knitting pattern. Yes, I know, what the… but it was a really nice sweater, very much my style etc.. Here’s the bombshell… I tore it out to keep! Now just before you question my state of mind and stop following me, I just need to be clear why. My lovely mother-in-law is a very good and keen knitter, so what I thought was I would ask HER if she’d knit it for me, no not even teach me because it would be really bad for my neck. So that makes it ok, right?

All right, moving on to hubby and I having a day off together. We have been talking about replacing our wine glasses for sometime as we don’t actually have a full set that match. I guess that’s what happens when you’ve been together nearly 20 years. Of course, Crate & Barrel being an absolute dream to shop in we came away with all sorts of things one doesn’t really need but has to have, like a taco rack!! $500 and 3 sets of 8 wine glasses later we stroll out, very pleased with our purchases. Now, you should know, I am quite clumsy, I have very little idea of personal space and I should NEVER wash glasses by hand, especially when they are brand new. This in mind, I have since popped back to the store to replace the one I broke (she says sheepishly) 2 hours after buying it.

Then, just when I’d thought my younger son had dodged the bug… talk about inconvenient, why can’t everyone be sick together? It always happens when you have plans too. But, thanks to hubby being on an admin day I could still go for my weekly beating at the physio and replenish our food stocks as planned. However, I had seriously bad hair, I neeeeded to make my appointment the following day. Thankfully the boy rallied round and all was right with the world…and my hair.

The joys of motherhood!

Sleep!

When you survive on very little of the stuff normally it can be tough, but I have had one full night (Sunday) in I don’t know how long, and that was only thanks to half a sleeping pill. It didn’t help that, after the grandparents left early last week, we shot up to Whistler to take advantage of the fact our kids were not back to school until this week. Honestly, how is it you can pay for a good education but they spend less time there? Friends kindly let us use their lovely townhouse, so we had a comfortable base but – sadly for me – not a comfortable bed. I had already made the decision not to even consider skiing until the weekend, but my go-getter boys blasted around the mountain with ski school for three days while my husband disappeared off into the backcountry – always a worry, even though I used to do it myself BC (before children).

What did I do with my time? Well, every morning my girl and I had a very Baltic dog walk, but thanks to good gear and little hotties (disposable handwarmers in case you think I hooked up with a member of Thunder from Down Under; sadly not!), I was snuggly. The rest of my days were filled with crafting. I don’t often get the opportunity to spend all day sticking bits of paper together and tarting them up with expensive ink to turn them into cards. This project was Thank You cards for all the kids who attended the boys’ birthday party. I know they will be looked at and admired for all of 4 seconds and binned, but this is just something I love doing and, being a bit OCD, I have to do it right. I also kept up my 2015 challenges, and played with my new iPad mini – thanks hubby! The evenings might have involved drinking wine, but you guessed that already, right? And reading. Again, I don’t often just sit in the evening and read. I should, but I don’t, so I did!

Icy snow conditions and major fatigue made the decision for me not to ski at all, and the backcountry had broken hubby anyway. However, the conditions did not stop my 8 year old; he broke his teacher on the second day. Leaving him for dead at the top of the glacier. Poor guy didn’t look fit for a haircut when I signed out my very proud son, who looked like he’d spent the day just cruising down green runs. It didn’t stop there – tubing and some very extreme sledding at the weekend left me with my heart in my mouth several times, and I was just watching them. We then returned to the real world and a busy day before back to school. I was very proud to take my generous children to our local children’s hospital, where they presented the Foundation with $200 of their birthday money. I then spent the evening in the MRI scanner having full neck to pelvis images, and had to be helped off the VERY hard bed like an old crumbly – awkward! Thanks to that, I enjoyed another night of not very restful sleep…

A new year… a new challenge.

Once again time has run away with me and suddenly it’s 2015! Since my last post the grandparents arrived from the UK; we have hosted a drinks party (attended by almost more children than adults, who proceeded to turn my living room into a movie theatre, where the popcorn machine had a nervous breakdown!); enjoyed a family treat to the ballet to see a seasonal tradition, The Nutcracker, which had both boys attempting to walk on their toes and pirouette for the following couple of days. Santa then brought MORE Lego, which neither child would let me help build, so I sulked in my craft room building my new ink caddy, which took all of five minutes then two hours to arrange the inks in colour families and make sure all the labels pointed the right way. I cooked the most enormous bird to perfection and enjoyed eating my own body weight in Christmas pud because I could, having made it flourless. Drank lots of wine and wore stretchy leggings to accommodate pudding.

There has been lots of sleeping in, due to very little nocturnal snoozing, sadly not for the reasons you might think, but my arthritis picked a very inconvenient time to flare up. After finally resorting to prescription sleeping pills just to stop the clock- watching, my physio then treated me with five thousand needles, which caused copious amounts of screaming. It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t had the bright idea to host a joint Harry Potter birthday party for the boys between Christmas and New Year. It was the ultimate crafting challenge for Steph and I. We have spent the last two months making… paper wands, felt ties, Quidditch Pong, floating candles, a ‘Have You Seen This Wizard’ photo frame, Pin the Beak on Hedwig, HP Bingo, Pass the Howler, party bags containing Bertie Botts Every Flavoured Beans and Golden Snitches, and a very cool brick wall made by painting a $5 sheet to create platform 9¾! We sorted 27 kids into the four houses and dressed as wizards and witches – I copped for Hufflepuff so, yes, I was Professor Sprout. We played games, earned house points and – according to the emails I received the following day – threw the birthday party of the year. We were knackered but we all had a lot of fun and my boys have kindly donated $200 of birthday money to the British Columbia Children’s Hospital – their choice entirely.

So, here I am beginning a new year, not sad to see the back of 2014, despite it ending on a high. It began in a dark place, a place I never thought I would visit, and hope never to visit again. From somewhere deep inside I found an inner strength that I never knew I had. It helped me pick myself, and move forward. I sometimes looked back, but as that dark hole got smaller and smaller I found I could face things that many would shy away from. And among all of that I achieved something I thought was unachievable… Bruises. What now? On January 1st I began 365 days of writing. Everyday I will write in my journal: thoughts, feelings, life events, and just whatever I need to empty out of my head. I also love quotes, and Santa was kind enough to pop a quote journal in my stocking, so I also plan to record a new quote everyday.

A new year with new challenges.

Yikes!

photo

I am officially doing this and it’s only a week away. Am I really freaking out? No. As with every other part of this whole adventure, I’m just going with the flow and having fun with it. I did briefly think about what I should say, a kind of speech, but to be honest I think I’m better off winging it. I have no idea how popular it’ll be – some fat man, with a white beard, wearing a red suit, is also parading around downtown at the same time… but he’s not giving away free wine and erotic books! I have already achieved my goal, so I’m just going to enjoy whatever comes my way and carry on being me (which requires a new frock and shoes, of course – long live Black Friday!).

As a stay-at-home mum with two kids now in full time school, you could be forgiven for thinking that I should have oodles of time to organise a book publicity event. I thought so too…but here’s a few other things that have filled up my week.

Sunday – hubby at work all day L. I split myself in two to get both boys to birthday parties at opposite end of the city at the same time. (Actually, this is not exactly true – I sweet-talked another mum into taking one of them, because she was taking her twins anyway – I’m good but not that good!) After daytime single-parent madness, I enjoyed a little something on ice that evening while catching up on my social media. Hubby returned home; I promptly announced that, after further coaching on Hootsuite, I had now learnt to schedule tweets – except I accidentally called them ‘treats’! He was just as excited about this as I was – his mind, not mine on that occasion 😉

Monday – suffering from the mother of all viruses, which meant I sounded like I should have worked on a dirty chatline! Drank wine. Slept.

Tuedsay – Viruses exacerbate my arthritis so I felt as if I’d been put through a mangle. My physio was scared to even look at me in case it made me more uncomfortable! An evening of crafting with my bestie. Drank wine. Slept.

Wednesday – reached a new low by carrying a sample of my dog’s poop around in my handbag for most of the day until I dropped it off at the vet. I parked on a meter right outside to dive in and drop it off, intending not to pay but found an hour and 14 minutes on the clock – why does this not happen when I need to pay for that much time? Drank wine. Slept.

Thursday – cooked a meal for hubby’s potluck journal club. My bestie and I finished making all 52 wands for my boys’ Harry Potter birthday party, and we started making Quidditch pong. Made two Minion birthday cards for both boys (which look really cool, actually). Legged it to the hair salon to put up the poster between picking up monkeys from various after-school clubs. Drank wine. Slept.

Friday – BLACK! Shoes x2, leather pants x1, Christmas gifts x1. Date night at home with a curry and 24. And hubby, obviously. Drank wine. Slept.

Saturday – SNOW! Crafting class to learn how to use distress inks. Bloody freezing – minus 2 FFS. Arrived home to the glorious cooking smell of bacon and eggs, courtesy of hubby. Rearranged crafting room to accommodate new ink pads. Made mulled wine to warm up (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!) Family fondue night followed by Despicable Me 2. Good times… Drank more wine. Slept.

Sunday – Lazy morning after waking up too early from coughing myself inside out. The usual 2-hour iChat with the lovely in-laws in the UK (the marvels of modern technology). Arctic walk with the dog. Monopoly. Roast beef, Yorkshires and all the trimmings. Roaring fire. Drank wine.

Phew! Can’t believe another week has passed and it’s December already!

Music & Lyrics

We all hum the tune, we all sing along to the words, but how many of us really listen to the lyrics? It depends on my mood; when I’m in a good mood I just hear the music, but when I’m not feeling so great, for whatever reason, the lyrics become more significant somehow. It doesn’t seem to matter what the genre or artist, whether it’s something I listen to often or infrequently, I can always place some meaning on the words that seem to capture my innermost feelings at that given time. I think I have a wide taste in music, but I can hear my husband laughing and rolling his eyes at this statement! I think he’s the one that needs to branch out and get something decent to listen to. There is however, one band that we both enjoy, and have seen live several times, and that’s Train.

I got my dog a couple of years ago, a decision that wasn’t taken lightly because of the commitment animals require, and our boys were still very young. I wasn’t in a good place at that time, temporarily off medication and turning into a bit of a cripple. Despite what many people think when they see me, I don’t/can’t exercise any more like I used to. Yes, that’s right, I’m the bitch you all hate because I do nothing to maintain my size 0-2 figure! Walking is the only way I can continue some sort of low impact activity. This influenced our decision greatly, and my 40th birthday gift was an adorable Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier named Tess.

Every morning, rain hail or shine, we walk. Armed with the obligatory wad of poop bags, treats and sticks, I plug myself into whatever takes my fancy and off we go. We walk locally, exploring parks, along the beach, and around the seawall while the music puts a bounce in my step and the lyrics capture my imagination. There is, however, one minor problem with this arrangement… I appear to own the only terrier in the world that doesn’t like walking! Honestly, I know this is hard to believe, but until recently she used to hide under the table when I reached for her leash. The mere mention of the word ‘walk’ would send most dogs into an excited frenzy – not Tess! She refuses to come out of her crate, peering at me through the side window hoping I will take pity on her incredible cuteness – NOT going to wash with me, dog, we’re walking!!

It was while out walking my girl that Frankie and Jack’s story evolved out of nowhere. I was having a major Train blitz of all of their albums that I would just shuffle; I like the surprise of not knowing what is coming next. Over time their excellent song writing began to fit with my story, it was like some of the lyrics had been written for my book, but more likely that my book evolved because of their lyrics. I decided to somehow incorporate the band and their music into the story, and the ‘Train game’ was born. I made both my characters Train fans and used random lyrics that fitted in with parts of the story, in their dialogue. The other character would then have to guess the title track, album, track number and year with consequences if they got it wrong – something fun and usually naughty of course. Ever wondered where I got the title of the book? Bruises is one of my favourite Train songs from their California 37 album in 2012 (track 3 & a duet sung with Ashley Monroe, just to prove myself!). It has started a bit of a trend with me and book titles: I have given all three of my novels song titles. Music and lyrics will always be very influential in my writing, and maybe one day I’ll have All I wanted

Bruises is available from FriesenPress, Amazon, and other major online bookstores.

The Power of Life Experience – A Writing Tool

I sometimes wonder if she’s looking down on me and shaking her head in disapproval, while secretly admiring my achievement. I remember her reaction when I told her my dissertation was to be published in a nursing journal, full of pride and admiration. However, the relationship I had with my mum was not always a harmonious one. A long time ago I made mistakes, I am human, we all do. I eventually came clean and declared my gross error of judgment, and suffered the consequences. I decided from then on that I would always be honest with myself, and not to be afraid of living my life my way. This cost me my relationship with my parents; they were not so understanding, and we parted ways for over ten years. I’d tried on a couple of occasions during that time to build bridges, but nothing became of it, until my brother’s wedding. I didn’t want a significant family event to be awkward, so I tried once again, and that time we were all ready to move on.

If I had known then that we would have less than a year to bury our differences and re-build our mother-daughter relationship, I might have done some things differently. Yes, I still would have emigrated, I had already made that decision. I really didn’t expect to be getting that call for a long time. The saddest part was that I’d only just told her the news she had always hoped one day to hear. I was 11 weeks pregnant when I found out that she was terminally ill. Returning home to England was something I did with a second thought. It was the right thing to do, a lot of water had passed under the bridge, and we built new ones. I showed her my scans; she was the only person to know which names we’d chosen. Deep down I think I always knew she would never see her first grandchild. She died when I was 31 weeks and too sick to travel long haul to say a final goodbye. It took me a long time to have closure.

That was 8 years ago today, and a day doesn’t go by when I don’t think of her. It used to be in a sad way, but now I sometimes laugh and joke with myself about the fact that sometimes I open my mouth and she comes out. Despite our differences, we parted good friends. Anyone who reads/has read Bruises will now understand where some of my words have come from. They are the product of a very real and powerful emotional experience that I believe you can only write about if you truly know how it feels. It took me some time to write that particular chapter – sometimes I just couldn’t see through my own tears – but it was quite cathartic to use it as part of someone else’s story. Every time I re-read it I could feel the depth of Frankie’s emotional pain. I deal with physical pain all day, every day, but emotional pain is something far more excruciating.

This particular life experience has been a very powerful tool, and incorporating it into my writing has helped me enormously. Of course, I have had many very positive life events too, but oddly it seems to be the sad ones that fall naturally onto the page and make good reading. I hope she is out there somewhere, once again proud at what I’ve achieved, and I don’t just mean my book. However, there is a tiny part of me that is also glad that she can’t actually read it – there are some things a mother doesn’t need to know about, and my sexy imagination is one of them!

Bruises is available from FriesenPress, Amazon, and other major online bookstores.

Result!!

Result!

Result!

Where do you get your hair done? I’m always being asked. The truth… a training school!

Yes that’s right, students cut & colour my hair, and have done for over five years now. People very often don’t believe me, I would never go anywhere else – Future Hair Training School on Broadway @ Cambie, never once have I left disappointed (apart from the odd really bad blow dry but they all have to learn). So, when I turned up for the full monty today they were really excited to see the book. As you can see they did an awesome job once again with my slightly vibrant request in colour, and a new shorter do was also done to perfection – as always.

The highlight of the whole experience – I sold two books. They made me feel like a local celebrity by requesting a signing too – hehe! I now have happy hair and readers too… Result!!

You can get your copy from FriesenPress, Amazon and other major online bookstores.