Thursday, 28 August 2014

Finding my Independence.

I have been feeling rather like this old tree, long dead and decomposing, however my health is improving and I have rediscovered my need to be independent.  In the past I have jetted off to Canada, France, Portugal and America by myself, though have to confess to always having people to see when I got to those places.  However next week I am going off to Portugal by myself, to be by myself and I cannot wait!  There is a little part of me that goes eeeek what am I doing, however I am working very hard to box that feeling away, I do not want it to spoil the good stuff.

Today I decided to give myself a little practise of being independent.  For the last 12 months I have been doing a 210 mile round trip to see my niece in hospital every two weeks - that's at least 26 visits done and there are still plenty more to be done.  We took out National Trust membership a few months ago and this meant I could go and visit somewhere that I have passed the sign to on each of these visits.  That place was Stowe Landscape Gardens.  I had already had a good talk to myself about not trying to do too much, there was no reason to do this as I will be coming past this place many more times yet.  So I thought I would take a few pictures to show you my trip.

It started with a little buggy ride from the visitors entrance to the beginning of the gardens.  Here I discovered that they actually have some little golf buggies that you can book for a two hour slot to drive yourself around the gardens (I know what I shall be doing next visit!).  I asked for advice on how to spend my limited energy and everyone seemed to agree that a walk around one of both lakes was a good start.  Unfortunately I didn't take any photo's (not thinking about blogging) until rain stopped play.

My first picture was the old trunk at the top of this page (this is where my inspiration for a blog started....).  I then noticed this poor tree that had newly fallen and would in some years time go the same way as that trunk at the top.

I tried to pretend it wasn't starting to rain and in my summer short sleeve blouse and skirt I tried to continue.  However I didn't get very far, just around the corner I was forced to take shelter under one of natures umbrellas....

It wasn't too hard to stand and look at this view until the drizzle stopped.

The drizzle got lighter and so I continued until forced to take shelter under more trees right next to these beautiful hollyhocks

It was also this stop that confirmed to me that Autumn is definitely just around the corner.  You can see the leaves changing on this tree.

I should really have made my way back after the first lake, but being me, I ignored my head and my feet and let my heart take me around the next lake.  This view was drawing me in..

While walking towards this I glanced over to the hill on my right and saw this beautiful church..



As I approached this lovely ornate bridge, the rain started again....
So it was a good excuse to sit and ponder and admire and talk to some lovely folks with beautiful doggies!



And of course being a national trust place, there was the obligatory cream tea to be consumed when I got back to the visitor entrance!

So a couple of blissful hours doing something unusual all by myself, I am rather pleased with that, and of course as I got back to my car.........the sun came out!


Bye for now xxx








Friday, 15 August 2014

My healing place.

This year I have somehow managed to get into my garden again after many years of half baked attempts.  It all began because we had to have our fences replaced after they blew down in the Boxing Day storms last year.  I have spent so many hours just sitting and watching the birds, bees and butterflies over the last few months and thought I might share a little of it all with you.  If you would like to see what it was looking like back in May just after the fence was done you can see some pictures by clicking here
 I chose to fill my raised veg beds with very cheap and very cheerful geraniums this year to give them and me a rest!


This is the first year I have done pots for a long time, spurred on by having inherited many from my dear sister and mums gardens.

 Climbing Rose - High Hopes

 Shrub rose - Grace

 Shrub Rose - Valentine

 Shrub rose - Winchester Cathedral












 My lavender is so happy, it is sending out new flowers!

 That should keep the bees happy.



 This fuchsia is about 8 years old and has never looked better!




 I must pick some more rhubarb, I have already frozen several pounds.








I'm now starting to think about Autumn colour as it will be a total joy to keep some colour going.  Take care,  Jane x

Monday, 4 August 2014

The Spoon Theory and me.


I first got to hear about the spoon theory 5 years ago, in fact I did a little blog about it here.  The video shows a lady who suffers from Lupus (another autoimmune condition very similar to rheumatoid arthritis).  I do not suffer from the nausea and temperature problems that she discusses but do most of the other things.  If you have time to watch the video then it will really help put the following paragraphs into context.

After a recent very serious and prolonged flare up of my rheumatoid arthritis I have decided to see how many spoons I generally have on a 'normal' day, so here goes......
  1. Wake up in my own time, go to the loo, get dressed = 1 spoon
  2. Go down stairs = 1 spoon
  3. make breakfast and cup of tea = 1 spoon
  4. brush teeth and hair, wash face = 1 spoon
  5. catch up on paperwork/emails = 1 spoon
  6. make and eat lunch = 1 spoon
  7. go for a swim, shower and get dressed = 3 spoons
  8. make tea for the family = 2 spoons
  9. go upstairs and get into bed = 1 spoon 
So there you go my basic day also has about 12 spoons in it.  At the moment the only way I can do other activities is by swapping it with another, for example, when my husband is home, he will make my breakfast, lunch and often tea - that gives me a whole 4 spoons to use on other activities.  Here are some of the other things that I like to do:

  1. Drive to church, stay sitting in an upright chair and drive home= 3 spoons.
  2. Sit and crochet for a couple of hours (only possible when hands are not to sore) = 1 spoon.
  3. Water my garden = 1 spoon
  4. Walk my dog = 2 spoons
  5. drive to a friends for a coffee = 2 spoons
  6. go shopping for an hour = 3 spoons
  7. drive to the beach for a few hours with a sea swim = 4 spoons.
  8. have a friend round for coffee = 1 spoon
  9. do some sewing with my machine = 2 spoons
So to do any of these at the moment, I have to not do some of things in that first list of 9 activities.  And I'm afraid it doesn't end there, life is messy and so there are other things that come in and demand spoons from me........
  1. An unexpected emotional telephone conversation = 2 spoons.
  2. Tackling the ironing mountain = 3 spoons.
  3.  An extra car journey to take something to school for one of the children if they have forgotten something = 1 spoon.
  4. Parents evenings at school = 3 spoons.
  5. doctor/hospital appointments for me or the children = 2 spoons
  6. A trip to the shops for something for tea = 1 spoon
  7. Taking/ fetching the children from after school activities = 1 spoon for each journey.
  8. Bumping into a friend whist out and standing chatting for 10 minutes = 1 spoon.
  9. Getting petrol for the car = 1 spoon
Now the thing about that third list is that any of these always have to take priority over the second list, and problems really occur when I have got to do all the things in the first list and then some of things in the third list.  This will inevitably mean that I end up borrowing spoons from other days which means it is highly likely that I will end up extra fatigued, which makes me vulnerable to become ill or have another flare up.

On top of having to think about all these lists all the time, in order to be able to get done the things that need to get done in a day (and sometimes the things I WANT to do in a day), I also have to acknowledge that there is a spoon thief out there.  My thief comes in the guise of fatigue,illness and flare ups.  Like a thief, I never really know when they are going to strike.  Sometimes as I mentioned before I leave a window open by doing too much, which allows the thief easy access to my spoons.  So what do I do when the thief strikes?

If my husband is at work it means not doing some of the things in list one, so I might not get dressed or go downstairs, this is okay as long as one of my children is happy to bring me a cup of tea and maybe a bit of breakfast.  Phone calls and emails have to wait.  The children may have to make their own tea if dad is at work.  The one activity that I will try all out to do is my swimming as the benefit to my joints of moving them in water is proven to be positive.  However I have to be content not to even swim if I'm bad and just move in the water, have a quick shower and not dry my hair.

On the whole I seem to get through my days okay.  I am however human and I do sometimes feel sorry for myself.  This happened to me yesterday when I went to church and heard all about the holiday club that had been on for children - just 3 years ago this was part of my job.  Now even just getting to the service was an effort.  I know that I shouldn't look back and compare then to now, but sometimes you just can't help it, it just suddenly slaps you in the face.  I nearly didn't go to church because I knew it might make me sad, but then I feel bad and selfish for not supporting the great work that is going on.

In a world where everyone seems to be defined by who they are and what they do for a living it can be very difficult to continually have to make an excuse for not fitting into that definition.  Not that I think the definition is correct, but going against the grain is difficult at the best of times!!!

So there you go, you now know a little more about what goes on in my head.  It's a good job God blessed me with a reasonably organised nature otherwise I don't know how I would manage!

Take care for now,    Jane x.

Monday, 9 June 2014

What a difference a week makes.

I can't quite believe that I was writing such a happy up beat post this time last week!  After writing that the following day I woke up with very sore joints,  this happens some times with my rheumatoid arthritis, but often wears off over the day.  However Weds it was still just as bad, so was Thursday and Friday - grrrrrr.  It is so easy to be pulled down by pain.  I suddenly become aware of all the things I cannot do, rather than thinking about the things I can do.

It took me until yesterday to put a plea out for prayers from my friends for healing and today I think God has answered in a gentle way.  The first thing is I managed to have a telephone conversation with my GP and so now have some stronger pain killers - which are already working better than my other ones!  The second thing was that because I had to go to the chemist to pick up my prescription, I had to use the car, which spurred me on to drive just a little further to the gym and go for a swim.  I had to use the indoor pool because it is the only one with gentle steps down into the water rather than a ladder.  However it really was bliss.  I guess I was more floating than swimming.  When I am floating my arms feel so supported and weightless, I so wish I could bottle that feeling it is just bliss.  It reminds me of years ago using a floatation tank, where you get into a coffin like piece of equipment that has salty water in it and you lie in the darkness.  They were all the rage back then, I wonder if they still exist.  Anyway the pool is definitely as good a place as any to capture that beautiful floating feeling.

The bonus of getting to the gym means I could shower as well, at home I have to go upstairs to do this, so when everything is as painful as it is now, I can only shower either first thing in the morning or last thing before bed.  The gym is great as I am able to stay all on the ground floor all the way from my car.  So though I cannot say there has been a lot of physical healing take place since the prayers of yesterday, I do know that God is here with me and am very grateful for the moments of relief, medication and water have given me.

Have a good week xxxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, 2 June 2014

Finding Joy on the Journey



A week last Sunday my husband and I had the pleasure of leading our all together service at church.  We could choose anything we liked as the subject!  I had originally intended to rehash something I had done when I was working for the church as a youth and children's pastor.  I never got round to doing it as my father died the night before, it was still used but someone else did it for me.  Then I had been given the title Admiring the View and had to come up with an interactive slot for newly confirmed Christians at our local Cathedral.  It's funny how God works though, as when I looked back on my computer the only thing I could find (I thought I had all sorts of stuff) was a power point which now looked very dated.

Admiring the View had ended up being all about remembering to stop on our Christian/life's journey and look around us and see the good stuff that God is always up to around us.

I set about writing some notes, looking through google at posts about similar topics and eventually I heard God loud and clear and the title had to be Finding Joy on the Journey.

The verse I was drawn to was this one

Philippians 4 4 - 11

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learnt or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practise. And the God of peace will be with you.

I felt able to speak about this because it was something I had first hand experience of and just felt God prompting me to tell others about my experience.  The last 5 1/2 years of my life could be described as a journey through grief.  Not only did I lose my younger sister at the age of 36 after a brief  3 week illness,  I then suddenly and unexpectedly lost my dad from a heart attack and then found my mum after she had taken an overdose and had already fallen into a state of unconsciousness, though she didn't die for another 30 hours.

As well as this my health deteriorated after a knee operation left me in a worse state than I had been prior to it.  I had to give up my job.  I became a full time carer of my niece who was 12 when she joined our family and then after two years had to hand over full time care for her to the health service, where she remains to this day, though I still have daily contact with her.

These are just all the surface issues that you could see, there was a whole lot more emotional stuff that was going on.  So life hasn't been easy.  There have been many comments made to me over the years about getting on with the good stuff that has still been left in my life, but somehow this has just made me feel discounted.  However this one bit of scripture from the Bible has been the thing that has shown me how to appreciate and find JOY on this journey.

It is so easy to only focus on negative stuff when it is surrounding you.  I truly believe that one of the things that excites Satan most is when he can see us drowning in a whirlpool of negativity.  

The whatever's in the verses start to point us towards the joy - we just have to choose to go and look for it.  I find also find it helpful to think about what this verse doesn't say:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is UNTRUE, whatever is IGNOBLE, whatever is WRONG , whatever is DIRTY, whatever is UNLOVED, whatever is UGLY – if anything is negative or not praiseworthy – DON'T think about such things. 

My own experience has led me to praise God for the small joys in life - the first cup of tea in the morning, - the sound of my children getting on, - my dog always so happy to see me.  And when you Praise and rejoice with God - then the peace is there for your taking. 


Choose Joy!  God Bless,  Jane x.