Catherine Gracey

Living Life, One Misadventure At A Time.

See You Tuesday?

Maintaining as much physical strength as I can is important to me. If my body is strong I am less prone to injury, I have more energy, and I can recover from exertion faster. Building muscle mass is an important part of managing both of my health conditions because it helps to stabilise my blood pressure and can restore some of the particular imbalances that form my fibromyalgia.

It’s also incredibly boring to do alone.

After 18 months of living in Canberra, I finally have a gym buddy. I’m so happy and relieved that I no longer have to push myself to find motivation as well as push myself to do the work. Instead of seeing my gym sessions as rehabilitation, I can see them as an excuse to gossip with another woman for an hour. Someone will know if I skip a session, and questions will be asked.

I believe that our results come from the structure we create for ourselves. Having a great framework makes failure harder than success. If doing what you need to do is easier and more pleasurable than not doing it, success becomes an incidental reward. Why struggle against it?

The current plan is to meet at the gym twice a week. We’ll probably use this time for cardio exercise, which is something I need to do much more of and rarely do. I’ve started looking at class times to pull me through the door more often so that I can also focus on strength training. Starting is the difficult part, but expanding doesn’t take much additional effort.

It will be interesting to see how my body responds to the change. If I’m careful, I should be able to balance between moving forward and pushing too hard. Forming a new habit apparently takes 60 days, and I am looking forward to seeing how much will change in the next two months.

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My First Pregnancy Class

I recently attended my first pregnancy class. It was a morning session run at the hospital by a midwife and a physiotherapist, providing basic information about pregnancy and the changes the body goes through.

The class was a good primer, aimed at women who don’t have a clue what to expect. For a session over a single morning, this was exactly what I had hoped for. There is so much to learn and research, so covering the basics quickly was helpful.

As the class progressed, my terror at being in the hospital began to fade. I happily reassured myself that no one would push me towards anything that I was uncomfortable with, that I was in full control of my situation, and that nothing bad would happen while I was there. My pulse dropped slowly over the three hours until I came as close to normal as I can get in a medical situation.

My tranquil confidence evaporated at the end of the session. We were herded towards the admissions desk where we could provide our Medicare numbers in lieu of paying for the course. Part of this process included filling out a preadmission form and booking in for a session with a hospital midwife at 20 weeks.

Our plan is firmly cantered on a home birth with a private midwife. I was advised to book the appointment anyway, because if the hospital is our backup plan then they will need my medical information if I end up transferring. It did not occur to me in that moment that my midwife has this information with her at all times, and will bring it along if we need it.

Overwhelmed by nervousness, I booked the appointment, still protesting weakly. My heart hammered in my chest, I felt sweaty, and as I walked away from the desk I found myself wondering what had just happened. It was difficult to think clearly in the moment, and I repeated to myself “I can cancel this” as if it was a mantra to save my life.

Away from the hospital, and away from the situation, I can calmly tell myself that cancelling will be no problem. Remembering the emotional energy I found myself drowning in, I question if it will be that easy. I will have to call someone, and they will disagree with me. There will be questions about why I am doing this, offers to reschedule to a better time, and an abundance of gentle attempts to bring me around.

I am horrified by my own lack of resolve in that hospital environment. The social conditioning to do what the staff wanted won over my own intentions. While I was treated respectfully, I do not feel as if I was treated with respect. How could I be treated with respect by the staff, when I was unable to maintain my self respect?

All I need to do is pick up the phone, cancel the appointment, and put the whole thing behind me. Easy enough to do, although I might do it while my partner is around, just so I can’t flake out or be talked into something I don’t want. But first, I am going to have a stern talk with myself about how it isn’t weak to recruit my support network when I feel vulnerable.

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Is Anyone There?

Baby and I are almost at the end of the first trimester. Things seem to have gone well, and this pregnancy has lasted longer than the previous one, which is reassuring. I have the beginnings of a decent bump, and people who know I’m pregnant can see the changes in my body week to week.

My partner and I have decided to avoid any medical procedure that is either invasive for baby or not thoroughly researched, unless there are clear medical indicators that require it. Amongst other things, this means we have decided not to use any unnecessary ultrasound during the pregnancy. Since the routine 12 and 20 weeks scans are not medically necessary, we are skipping them.

Deciding to deviate from the standard model of care is socially challenging. I have rejected a hospital birth in favour of a home birth, and I’m fairly sure rejecting the ultrasounds on top of that is pushing my doctor to question my sanity.

The 12 week scan has a few purposes. Firstly, there is a check on baby’s progress compared to the standard level. Depending on this result, the due date is adjusted accordingly. We have firmly ruled out an induction simply because I am overdue, so we don’t need this information. Secondly, there is a test for several genetic defects. This scan can only provide parents with a 1 in x probability of a problem, which requires further testing to provide a definitive diagnosis. That subsequent test has a 1 in 125 risk of miscarriage, and that risk is far too high for me. Since this test is only beneficial if you would abort, and my partner is against abortion, we don’t need this information either.

The third benefit to the 12 week scan is hearing a heartbeat. This is where the decision process becomes challenging. I have already had one miscarriage, and the thought that my body might have missed aborting a baby that isn’t thriving weighs heavily on me. My dreams are plagued with terrors, filled with graphic images of waking up in a pool of blood. You try getting back to sleep at 2am after waking up like that and see how well you go.

Our midwife visited for our routine check-up last week, and the issue of hearing a heartbeat was raised. We are too early in the pregnancy to use the Pinard horn, which means a Doppler is our only option. This is also based on ultrasound technology, so we would prefer to avoid it. On the other hand, if I am able to get a full night of sleep it could be worth the risk. Checking with a Doppler is quicker than the full 12 week scan, so the unknown risk to our baby is much lower.

After a long discussion, we decided to try hearing baby’s heartbeat. It is still too early to guarantee hearing it with the Doppler, but we’re in the period where it is possible.

As I lay on the couch I felt tense and anxious. Our midwife set everything up, chatted with our baby for a few minutes, then began the test. She quickly found my heartbeat, listened to my pulse for a few seconds to memorise the pattern, then moved on to try and find baby.

Occasionally I would hear a faint something, and begin to wonder if it was a heartbeat or my imagination. Just as I became convinced it might have been a beat, there would be a solid thud and the whisper would be gone. We played this game a few times before the midwife gave up. Disappointment was the only thing drowning out my nerves. As she cleaned my belly and the machine, she explained that the thumps we had heard might have been our baby kicking or changing position. Those whispers I thought I heard probably were the heartbeat, but she couldn’t hear them clearly enough either.

Thinking back on the experience, I have to giggle; perhaps baby isn’t too keen on the ultrasound either.

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Student Clinics

In a moment of pure inspiration last week, I decided to make an appointment with the student physiotherapy clinic at the university. A student physiotherapist has a few obvious downsides, the main one being that they do not have a wealth of personal experience to draw on, but they do have a few fairly significant bonuses:

  • I was able to get an appointment that day, instead of waiting days, weeks or even months to see someone.
  • My student was enthusiastic to work with me because I’m new and exciting rather than just another patient.
  • The time spent together going through everything is almost double what a fully qualified physiotherapist would spend.
  • A specialist is there in the clinic to work through everything the student needs to consider.
  • The price was approximately one sixth of what I used to pay the fully qualified professionals.
  • Their marks depend on doing a proper job.

I cannot begin to express what an astonishing difference that last point makes to the experience. If you have ever been in the unfortunate position of being a cash cow, you will appreciate how frustrating and heart-breaking it is to pour all of your hopes, energy and money into someone who has no intention of truly helping you. You will know the cycle of seeming to improve before suffering a terrible relapse that requires a distressing increase in treatment.

During the first session together, we established that the abdominal exercises I have been diligently performing for the last two years have not been activating the correct muscles. Her techniques became increasingly basic until we finally hit the level I could accomplish.

During the second session together, we established that part of my difficulty in doing those exercises was weakness in a different part of my pelvis. We experimented some more, and established that a simple belt around my hips holds the loose joint in place. The pain I had felt walking simply vanished the moment we got the tension right.

I feel as if the sun has finally returned from behind the clouds. Not only do I have hope, but I also have a sense of validation. For years I have insisted that there must be something mechanically wrong with my body. In response I have been told by the professional community that it is a result of my “highly strung” personality, that I am feeling pain as much more severe than it is,  and that essentially there is nothing there to find. The consensus has been that I have been doing this pain to myself, and that once I stop it everything will be better.

Finally, I have found someone who thinks that following up means you actually check on the progress that is being made. If I make mistakes, she will correct them and steer me back on course. I can trust the process again, and the relief of that is enough to bring tears to my eyes.

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Three Years In The Game

Before I began studying architecture, my body had found an internal balance. My life still felt restricted in many areas, but I was not having dramatic flare ups of pain. Stability was a fantastic feeling, and it came with seductive ideas about trying new things and pushing my boundaries.

Within the first week of returning to university, I had a list of aches and pains nearly as long as when I first destabilised myself. It was bad – a sit down on the floor and cry level of bad – but I reduced my course load for this semester, got some treatment in Melbourne, and pushed on.

Over the last few weeks, I have been seeing a new chiropractor in Canberra. He has tried a new technique with me. I don’t entirely comprehend how it is supposed to work, but it seems to be primarily focused on teaching me to relax muscles and reduce the tension in my body.

After a few weeks of this, I am back to sitting down and crying. There must be some progress, because instead of sitting on the floor to do it, I am now making it to the couch. Sarcasm aside, I have to mark this one as a bewildering failure and try something else.

I find my various aches and pains very suspicious. People don’t just hurt without a reason, and moving her arm should not reduce a grown woman to tears. I don’t appreciate waking up in the middle of the night with large portions of my body numb and half frozen. Pain is sometimes the only thing that keeps me awake during the day after a night where no amount of sleep will provide me with proper rest.

A constant refrain from well-meaning people over the last three years has been that just I need to get my head in the game. If you have ever suffered from chronic illness or pain, you will appreciate what a singularly unhelpful and damaging statement this is. My head spends a lot of time in the game; unfortunately it tends to take my body with it, and that’s when the trouble starts.

Today is a bad day following a bad week, and I am forced to confront a demoralising question: can I afford to keep my head in this game? Architecture is a long and expensive qualification, requiring three years of full time undergraduate study followed by two years at masters level. At best, I will be 35 when I finish. Biology suggests that I also need to have my family within that time, and pregnancy is hard work. If I can’t find someone who can tell me what causes my pain, those years will probably stretch beyond my comfort level.

Is this qualification worth the risk of crashing my body again? Will architecture provide me with enough satisfaction and fulfilment to make all the tears and painkillers worthwhile? Am I likely to earn an income sufficient to pay off not only the course but the medical treatment it will probably require? Will I even be able to work at the end of this?

The problem with all of my questions is that they require crystal ball answers. Every medical professional I meet is convinced that they have the solution to my problems. I was assured that I would be strong enough to return to full time employment two years ago. Despite all the optimism and effort, I am treading water without further progress.

While the obvious game is my education, the main game is my health. This is the one where I am struggling to maintain my focus and push on. I don’t want to keep my head in this game. I want to stop playing, to just feel normal again. That might be too much to ask for, but I would sacrifice a lot if I knew how to have it.

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Spinning Around

One of my clearest memories of being a teenager is of a moment when I was at school. I was alone, walking between buildings, and felt very connected to the world around me. The wind teased my skin, the sun warmed my face, and I felt imbued with the dormant strength of winter.

I remember looking down as I walked, and noticing my legs. It was as if I saw them for the first time. Where I had always perceived my legs to be gangly, knobbly and awkward, I suddenly realised that they were curved with muscles, thick and strong. While I had been lost in my head, my legs had transformed from those of a child to those of a woman.

It was a revelation that gave me a newly discovered confidence. I reacted the way any teenager would, by launching into a wardrobe filled with miniskirts and tight pants. My legs were a connection to something stronger and enduring, and I wanted to be reminded of them.

Other people – people who should have known better – said that this change in fashion demonstrated I was turning into a whore and a slut. I didn’t care. For the first time in my life, there was a part of my body that I genuinely felt proud of. That tiny seed of confidence grew, branching into many areas of my life, and blossomed in ways I would never have dreamed were possible until it happened.

The truth of my legs and their strength remained with me until I became sick. I felt their strength fading over the months, and I settled into a firm denial of what I was losing. It was not until a physiotherapist asked me if I dislocated my knees often that I saw how deformed they had become. Once again it was as if I saw my legs for the first time.

I was horrified. I despaired. I grieved. I threw myself into a remorseless rehabilitation program, where I would sit at the gym using the leg machines and try not to sob. Pain was the only thing that I had to keep me company while I considered a life where that strength was missing. The confidence that had grown as a teenager withered and died.

That was nearly two years ago. It feels like a lifetime. It feels like yesterday. The earth has spun through the universe, and I have tried to hang on without falling down. Some days have been more successful than others.

Summer has brought a heat that I have struggled to adapt to. I have been wearing shorts again, to try and cope with the temperature. I was walking through the house, and I looked down. My legs were mostly bare, and I saw them properly. I saw the muscles that I knew – but had not realised – I have rebuilt. This time, it did not feel as if I saw them for the first time. Instead, it felt as if I saw them for the second time. I remember the memory of my teenage years, and I remember that feeling of strength.

I celebrated by putting on some music and letting it take me. My muscles flexed without pulling. My body flowed without pain. I twirled, kicked and swayed to the beat without weakness. My soul noticed I was once again a dancer, and the confidence I was sure had died began to pulse with a new life.

Memories, beliefs and dreams I had long pushed away crashed in around me, crowding in to be remembered and embraced. I opened my heart to all of them, determined that I will not let them fade again. They are a true part of me, just like the strength of my body is true.

Today marks the Solstice, and I am keenly aware of the many reasons I have to celebrate. This life is good and kind if we remember to let it be, and for that I am thankful in so many ways.

Blessed Be.

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NaNoWriMo and POTS

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and I have decided to participate again this year. It is a 30 day challenge, and the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel during the month. People participate from around the world, and this year has an estimated 300,000 people joining in.

On Friday I mentioned that I have sunk my blood pressure again by cutting out my Gatorade intake. My POTS symptoms are truly back with force, and my blood pressure is sitting around 90/65.

One of the worst symptoms for me with POTS is the cognitive impairment. I simply don’t get enough blood flow to my brain to think clearly or quickly. I constantly feel confused with varying degrees of distress. It is difficult for me to solve puzzles, to recall small details, and to remember how things work.

And what is NaNoWriMo? Essentially, it is 50,000 words of creative, mentally taxing problem solving.

This is the first year that I am participating since I became sick again with POTS. I would not have the courage to attempt NaNoWriMo if I had not been diagnosed. Writing is something that went from pleasurable and easy to upsetting and hard as my symptoms returned, because I did not understand what was happening to me. Something that had always been simple became difficult, and I could not work out why my novels didn’t flow. I became convinced that my ideas were terrible, that my writing was not as good as I had thought it was, and my confidence fled.

Now that I am armed with knowledge about what is going on, I feel confident enough to attempt NaNoWriMo again. This time around, I am approaching it in a very different fashion. NaNoWriMo has some unofficial rules, and I am breaking the following:

  • Do not read over what has been written. This is typically banned because it encourages writers to become critical about their work, and can interrupt the flow of storytelling. I am reading it every time I become stuck, to help orient myself in the story again.
  • Do not edit until the first draft is finished. This is typically banned for the same reason as above. I am editing every time I read through and notice that I have an error in the earlier story, or a place where I was lazy with my character development. This is adding a lot of words that I did not expect to gain, so I’m pleased with that.
  • Write 1667 words every day. This is the minimum word count required to hit 50,000 words. I have recalculated my goal to be 4000 words every five days, with the sixth day set aside for editing and outlining. It is better to fall short of a big target than a small one, and I have built in time that can be used for catching up.
  • Solve problems by writing through them. This is recommended because it forces the writer to keep writing, and often surprising solutions can be found under pressure. I am solving problems instead by getting up and doing something physical away from my novel. The movement helps my body to combat any blood pooling that is going on.
  • Write as quickly as possible. This is recommended because it adds excitement to the writing process. I am ignoring it because it just confuses me in my current state, and instead writing slowly to make sure I understand what I’m doing.

I am only a few days into the challenge, but I can already see how different this novel is to the others that I have produced during NaNoWriMo. It is better written, and I am not weighed down with the knowledge of how many mistakes I need to correct. It takes me all day to write what used to take an hour, which is annoying me, but I am forcing myself to stay calm and keep writing.

Achieving my high word count goal is just not working so far. At first I was disappointed with myself for not writing more, but then I remembered my first NaNoWriMo novel. I am writing far more per day than I did with that one. These words are better quality than my first novel could dream of being. When I wrote it I was so proud of myself because I was doing something I never thought I could do.

I have to be objective, and acknowledge that this month I am also doing something I feared I would not be able to do. I am sitting down, writing a new novel, and not letting my condition stop me. There are a lot of healthy people out there who have already failed because they gave up on this challenge. If you want to monitor my progress, check out the new widget on the side of this blog. Despite everything I am still in the game, and I am still holding my own.

There is a lot in this for me to be proud of.

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Month of Healthy Living Results

During October, my boyfriend and I were on a mission to live healthier lives. Part of this plan was through diet, part was through exercise. All of it was attempting to break old habits and replace them with better ones.

Exercising was the main challenge for me. I wanted to get to the gym every weekday, to get past the mental hurdle of walking through the door. My success with this was mixed; I did not get there nearly as often as I wanted to, but working out no longer leaves me feeling emotionally uncomfortable.

One of the biggest problems was not having a plan to follow while I was there. My trainer needed to be reminded several times that I wanted a program for the days I work out alone, which was especially unfortunate since I only saw her once a week. Each reminder was a significant delay in terms of the month.

Without the program I had too much to decide, and not enough skill to work things out. I am terrified of unbalancing my muscle strength again, and the memory of how much pain I used to be in daily has not faded with time. Injury is still a significant risk for me. Without clear direction, my exercise sessions primarily consisted of walking there and back again.

I was able to push the trainer to write a program last week. She drafted it during our session, but we did not have time to go through the exercises together. This made the problem worse for me, because now I had a program that I did not understand how to use. Instead of doing a few exercises that I could work out alone, I was now trying to use machines that I did not know how to set up. It was an immediate failure, and I gave up on it.

On Wednesday I switched to a different trainer. She seems much more attentive than the previous one, and I am optimistic that my progress will improve with her.

Diet was the main challenge for my boyfriend. He prepares most of the meals in our house, and finding recipes that fit our new eating plan was difficult. For the first day we were miserable at meal times, but the internet was very helpful for getting past that block. So many people have done what we tried to do, and once we worked out how to track down their blogs and websites it was simple.

The hardest part for me with nutrition has been managing my salt levels. Before this started I would drink 2L of Gatorade throughout the day. It kept my blood pressure stable, and I was able to control my POTS symptoms. It also added a lot of sugar to my diet, and I struggled to maintain my weight.

Cutting out a predictable source of salt has been a nightmare for me. There are some meals I don’t want or remember to add salt to. The foods we have been eating are naturally lower in salt, and I am struggling to find the right balance.

Despite plunging my blood pressure to 90/65, I feel healthier. A year ago I would have found it impossible to do the bare minimum during my day with levels that low. Now I am able to work if I take it slow and keep my feet up. I have lost 2kg, and moving is easier without the extra weight. My good days feel amazing, and I am proud of what I can achieve during them. All that stands between me and a week filled with good days is knowledge, and that is something I am gaining with every little mistake.

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Operationalising Getting Things Done (GTD)

I was sent this article recently about the sedentary lifestyle, and how inactivity is slowly killing a lot of us. As an information worker, I am keenly aware of the need to spend a lot of time with my butt on a seat. As someone who works from home, I am very aware of the temptation to work through lunch, and postpone other activities while I am working. The article might as well be pointing its judgmental finger directly at me, because I know I am frequently guilty of hoping that a single hour of exercise will undo the sedentary damage from the rest of my day.

From a different source, I was also sent a few other articles about the GTD method of project management. This method involves listing all of the tasks that need to be done, and then churning through them. The idea is that if you are able to relieve the brain of the burden of remembering what comes next, you are instead able to concentrate on getting things done. Sounds good to me; I have enough in my brain to keep several women stressed out and bewildered.

Seeing a brilliant opportunity to combine the lessons from both the health warning and the project management tools, I decided to work up a schedule for my week. It only took a few seconds to see that I was committing far more sins than I had realised on both fronts. After a lot of careful rearranging, I came up with the following table (boring bits have been condensed):

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Tidy bedroom Tidy bedroom Tidy bedroom Tidy bedroom Tidy bedroom
Eat breakfast Eat breakfast Eat breakfast Eat breakfast Eat breakfast
Gym Gym Gym Gym Gym
Buy groceries Buy groceries Buy groceries Buy groceries Buy groceries
Write blog post Write blog post Write blog post Write blog post Write blog post
Tidy lounge Tidy lounge Tidy lounge Tidy lounge Tidy lounge
Paperwork Market research Business email Paperwork Read IMM subs
Eat lunch Eat lunch Eat lunch Eat lunch Eat lunch
Tidy kitchen Tidy kitchen Tidy kitchen Tidy kitchen Tidy kitchen
Project 1 Project 1 Project 1 Project 1 Project 1
Tidy bathroom Tidy bathroom Tidy bathroom Tidy bathroom Tidy bathroom
Project 2 Project 3 Study Project 4 Project 5
Eat dinner Eat dinner Eat dinner Eat dinner Eat dinner
Wash dishes Wash dishes Wash dishes Wash dishes Wash dishes
Relax Relax Relax Relax Relax

The sections that require my body to move are in bold, and the sections where I can work are in italics. I have listed the gym as both work and physical activity because I can use the exercise equipment while reading articles or books.

One of the best parts about this system for me is that it is not time dependent. I do not have a sense of needing to drop something that is working well to move onto the next task. Things will take more time in some weeks than in others, and this method provides that flexibility. I can do what I need to do without watching the clock. Because I am less distracted, things are quicker to do than they used to be.

I am nearly a week into the new schedule. Results are mixed so far. The house is far cleaner than it normally is, and because the chores are spaced out over the day I am not becoming stressed by them. Once I got on top of a particular room, maintenance has been simple.  I hope that this pattern will continue as I progress over the coming weeks.

Trying to fit into this schedule has highlighted a few problems that I had not previously identified. By forcing things into a certain timeframe, I have confronted the obstacles that have stopped me from making them a habit them earlier. Some of these are obstacles that I have been able to find a solution for, but others remain.

Each of my main projects is now progressing again. My actual working hours have dropped considerably, and my output has risen. This is a significant departure from the 9-5 workday that I had been trying to maintain. I am much happier in the work that I am doing, and it is certainly easier than it used to be to maintain the load.

Overall, I am calling the new schedule a success. There are a lot of bumps that need to be ironed out, but at least I know where I need to focus my attention.

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Returning Vitality

This week I had one of my first genuinely good days for a very long time. I breezed through the day in a fabulous mood, accomplished an impressive amount of things, and felt vibrant throughout. It was startling to realise just how easy the day was for me.

I am confident that this is the result of several factors. The first has to be the amount of muscle I built while I was in Germany. Backpacking for two months was hard physical work, and I am reaping the benefits of all that exhaustion. Individual tasks are now easier to do, because my body is better conditioned to do them. I don’t have to push myself as hard to get through the day.

The second obvious factor is the change to our diet that we began last week. I began to pick up as soon as we made the change. While we were in Melbourne over the weekend our diet slipped, and I felt worse. We went back onto the diet, and that sluggish feeling vanished again. It is difficult to determine exactly which foods are slowing me down, but I am happy to get rid of the whole list of suspects if it keeps me feeling this good.

To support the dietary change, we have begun to take probiotics. The idea is that they will help to build the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut, while crowding out the bad. I am not sure how I would evaluate this one, but I have a few theories.

My water intake has increased. I am making sure I drink two litres of water a day, occasionally more. I still feel dehydrated, but that sensation is reducing each day. I have set a reminder on my phone at regular intervals, and when it goes off I make sure I catch up on my water quota if I have fallen behind. It is much easier to drink two litres when I break it down into glasses.

Salt is an important part of my diet, because it helps to raise my blood pressure. I had been drinking Gatorade, but have now cut that out. Instead I am liberally sprinkling my food with Himalayan rock salt. It has an impressive number of minerals, and it tastes a lot better.

Several people have suggested over the last few years that I might be low in magnesium. I found a website that recommended Epsom Salt baths. The theory is that the skin is able to absorb the minerals where the digestive system might be unable to absorb enough. I have had a few of those now, and I think they might be helping. My skin certainly feels different afterwards.

I have also listened to the subtle hints from my body and tried to obey them. When I have felt stiff I have stood up and moved around. When I felt physically tired I sat down and did something mental. This might be crazy obvious but, after years of being told that my life would be improved if I learned to keep my butt in the chair, listening to my body can still be a challenge.

Most importantly, I am starting to feel empowered again. This sensation is boosting my mood, and it is so much harder to have a bad day when I feel great in myself and my capabilities. I am giving myself permission to shine, and it is impossible to resist the invitation. One good thing is building on another, and more good days don’t seem so far in the distance any more.

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