Tag: arthritis

Time to love my nails

I always think that it’s important to have pretty nails, especially when your hands are on display. As I teach art and craft – this is quite often.

Over the past few years I have really struggled.  My fingers have lots of lumps and bumps because of arthritis, and are often swollen.  My nails have simply been a disaster area.

Years on methotrexate (a chemotherapy based drug used for arthritis) saw them in a dreadful state.  They were so ridged they were like corduroy.  That isn’t the worst.  They split – vertically, and flaked and some of them simply stopped growing.

For someone who has always had a nail polish library this was quite distressing.  I must admit that I neglected my nails too.  It just became depressing.

There is nothing I can do about the lumps and bumps, and nothing I can do about the fact that my hands are in their fifties just like my body.  There is however quite a lot I can do about my nails.

Since I have been off methotrexate my nails have slowly started healing, but are far from fine.

Making a Nail Commitment

A couple of months ago I made a commitment to myself.  I was going to take care of my hands.  They may be arthritic but they are the only hands I have.

I set myself up with hand cream – my choice was a nourishing hand and nail treatment from Roger+Gallet – aptly called sublime.  This brand has been going for years (my granny used it) – truly standing the test of time. I placed this along with some cuticle oil next to my sofa spot and promised to nurture my hands and nails every day.  What a difference this has made.   Things have improved significantly but unfortunately the ridges are still quite prominent.

Treating myself to Mavala

I went off to the pharmacy to treat myself to a new colour.  I love Mavala – the little bottles of delicious colour remind me of paint.  They never go hard and you can build up a whole library of little pots of deliciousness.  I chose a gorgeous pearly shade called Rose.

The real find for me was the Mavala ridge filer from the Nail camouflage range.  At nearly nine euros I had to have a little think about it.  I then reminded myself that I was taking care of my body which does so much for me.

What a brilliant little pot of goodness.  I used it as an undercoat and it was brilliant.  My nail polish went on smoothly and lasted for days!

I really think it is important to give our body and in this case our hands a bit of tender loving care.  Now all I need to decide is which colour to add to my library next.

Mavala is available from most pharmacies. 

(This isn’t a sponsored post – I bought the products myself and absolutely love them)

Thanks for reading.  I hope this inspires you to love your hands too.

Kerry xx

 

Respect – my tribute to the fabulous Aretha Franklin

It took me many, many years to truly understand how important respect was as a value.  It is a word we bandy about but a couple of years ago all of a sudden I understood.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T

I was journaling and thinking about my life and my history and it came to me that part of the reason I have been bullied (and more) over many years, in many situations, is that I did not have the respect of my others.  This was a huge moment and I feel quite emotional even writing about it.  I had recently left a job where I had been gaslighted by very real horrible bosses.  This was at one of the lowest points of my life.  I was sick, struggling to come to terms with my arthritis diagnosis and also coming to terms with the fact that I could no longer work full-time.

The horrible experience I had in the workplace had brought me to a stand still.  I was good at my job, I knew this, and yet I allowed these truly wicked people to belittle me, to call me a liar and to bring me to a point where I started to question myself.

I was listening to the radio and Respect sung by the fabulous Aretha Franklin came on the radio.  It struck a chord with me.  I listened to the words and then realised I needed to listen again.  I headed over to YouTube and literally played it over and over again.  These amazing lyrics written by Otis Redding resonated with me. As I listened all of a sudden I realised something really important.

Nobody would respect me fully until I respected myself.

This was such a turning point in my life.  Once I realised this I embraced respect as a word of the year.  This word however I think will live on with me forever.

Today following the passing of a truly fabulous woman Aretha Franklin, I pay my respects to a woman who lived through decades of change and stood tall, constantly belting out an anthem that has, I am sure reminded many woman of the importance of respect.

Thank you for reading and please take a listen to this amazing song.

Kerry xx

Is Social Media a Thief of Joy? – or is it Comparison?

When I compare myself to others, I always seem to come up lacking.  I suspect that this is the same for many of us.  Is comparison the thief of joy? And what role does social media play?

Before the advent of social media (and I am old enough to remember it) we went about our world fairly oblivious of what other people were doing.  What they looked like.  What event they had attended.  How cute their kids were.  Somehow or other we managed, and I suspect that we were happier.

I actually love social media

This blog post isn’t all about slagging social media off.  Not at all.  I really value social media and can list numerous ways it has made my life better.

  • I have met such amazing people through social media who have become firm friends. When I was moving town, a wonderful woman I had met on a group promised to bring wine and cake on the day I moved.  And she did.  I really value her friendship (you know who you are – thank you)
  • I have been able to share my blog with people all over the world. I have also used social media to meet so many other bloggers who have inspired me.
  • I have reconnected with so many people from my past. Long lost cousins, school friends and numerous other wonderful people who I might have lost touch with.  Especially as I moved from South Africa to Ireland.
  • I have been gifted this window to the world. There are times when I have been lonely and knowing that I could pop into Facebook and connect with friends has been a true gift.
  • I have gained knowledge. I have joined groups that deal with issues that I face such as arthritis and pernicious anaemia (which I knew nothing about).  In these groups I have met fellow sufferers and we have lifted each other up.  We have answered questions and explained the unexplainable.
  • I have connected with hundreds of people through my own and have had the privilege of taking these online relationships offline through meet-ups and events.
  • I have made a little money. I have sold art, found people to work with and met up with brands who wanted to work with me.

There is a big but though ….

There are two real negatives for me relating to social media.

The first is time.  When I am online – either at my laptop or gazing at my phone scrolling or chatting, I am effectively disengaged from the world around me.

I know I spend too much time online.  I know this because I scroll, and scroll and realise that I am seeing nothing new.  I know this because I have to go back and ask what is happening because I missed a vital part of the conversation.  I have literally been missing in action.

When I do ‘forget’ my phone I am far more productive.  I get things done.  I listen to music, clean the house and find my creative juices flowing.  I love the practice of daily painting and I can’t paint and scroll at the same time.

I am really trying to limit my time online.  Those that know me are chuckling and rolling their eyes and saying ‘yeah’.  I promise though – I am trying.

The main reason why is that I am finding that comparison is indeed a thief of joy for me.

Comparison is my thief of Joy

My situation is unique to me.  And let’s face it each of us has a unique situation.  I am 54 now, and I suffer from severe arthritis which limits my mobility and in fact everything I do.  Most days pain is my companion and I am always tired.

I struggle with my weight as well so I am no svelte size 10.  I have wrinkles, and rolls and that is just the start of it.  Working full-time is no longer an option – as I simply can’t.  I also struggle with overwhelm and anxiety. There are weeks when I don’t post on my blog because I haven’t been able to write, or photograph anything.

On the positive side I have wonderful friends who support me. I have a good life. Fashion and beauty inspire me.  Travel delights me and I am determined to do more (albeit on a strictly limited budget).  There is nothing I like more than sitting down with a friend drinking creamy cappuccino.  I find my true bliss with a paintbrush in my hand.

I am not writing this for sympathy, but merely to give you a true picture of where I am in my life.

Even though I am intelligent I am still drawn in to this dreadful comparison trap.  I watch through the lens of social media as others attend events, go out for gorgeous dinners I cannot afford and seem to have endless cocktails with friends.  I feel real envy when I see people progressing in their careers when mine is in a sort of standstill state.  A cruise – oh I wish I could afford a cruise.  Skinny Jeans and high heels – no chance Kerry!

I know that there are many people who are too sick to go out.  People suffering from depression who cannot comprehend the goings on of others.  Your child might be kicking and screaming and very dirty and you cannot help but compare with the angels you see on Facebook.

Real Lives versus Facebook Lives

A very wise friend and mentor once reminded me.  Beware of the difference between real lives and Facebook Lives.  We all put our best foot (or face) forward on Social Media.  If I take a selfie and I look too tired and sick I don’t post it.  Perhaps I should.

I think that there are a couple of things I need to do for myself to put social media in the right place in my life.

  1. Monitor my time spent online
  2. Remember the difference between real lives and Facebook Lives
  3. Don’t compare. Comparison is the true thief of joy.
  4. Be grateful for what I have!

Truth or Lies?

We don’t know what really lies behind those beautiful images and even if we did, do they really change anything?

If there was no social media, then I wouldn’t know about these things.  I would simply be going about my day living my life.  And perhaps being more joyful.

 

Thank you for reading

Kerry xx

How to pack fabulous into a 10kg carry-on bag!

Packing for a week in a carry-on bag is the biggest holiday challenge for me.  I want to be comfortable, feel fashionable and pretty and still not incur excess baggage costs.

It starts with shoes …

Shoes are the most important item in my holiday wardrobe.  Firstly I must be comfortable, and walking is always a huge part of the holiday.  In addition shoes are the heaviest item in your luggage and when you have 10kg for a week’s worth of style some forward planning is needed.

I was recently introduced to Hotter shoes.  These fabulous shoes have transformed my wardrobe and my foot comfort.  So stylish and super comfortable.  My pale blue Flare sandals are a dream to wear.  They are seriously stylish but are so well designed that they even have fastenings that adjust – absolutely perfect for me as my feet swell in the hot weather.

Blue is a favourite colour for me – and like denim they go with everything!.

Red shoes, in my opinion are magical.  Gorgeous soft buttery leather and a padded,shaped innersole make these Nirvana mary-janes so comfortable, while still being fashionable.  The design of this shoe is perfect with dresses, leggings or jeans.  Such a versatile choice that I know will take me through the seasons.  A great choice for travelling!

How to pack for Summer sun

Summer means colour to me.  Banish those blacks and greys and get happy.  I love summer bright dresses that you can simply slip on and be ready to go the beach or eat dinner al fresco.

I start packing by laying out the clothes I think I want to take on the bed.  Then, I count the days and consider contingencies.  Most often do a bit of editing because we often take too much.  The next items to go in are shoes.  I normally travel with three pairs.  For a summer holiday, a pair of flip flops, a pair of sandals and a pair of shoes suitable for walking and travelling.  As I wear a lot of dresses, these all need to be pretty!  My Hotter sandals and shoes in blue and red were the first items in the suitcase. A quick glance at my holiday wardrobe assured me that they were the perfect choice.

My packing checklist

I work on a little checklist for all my trips – just to make sure I have all I need and nothing extra.

This would be for a seven-day trip.

  1. Footwear – sandals, flip-flops, shoes
  2. Dresses x3 – normally a couple of maxi dresses and a shorter one. (I do wash and wear)
  3. Leggings x 1
  4. Tops (for leggings) x 2
  5. Wrap/cover-up
  6. Swimsuit
  7. Cardigan
  8. Underwear
  9. Modesty tops (Little vests to go under my dresses and protect my modesty somewhat)
  10. Capsule make-up and cosmetic collection (it all fits into a little zip lock bag)
  11. Hair – yes I take my heated rollers with me everywhere, hairbrush, hair ties and pins.
  12. Medication – I do have to take a good bit with me – so that is a second zip lock bag.
  13. Extras – travel adaptor, phone charger, my journal
  14. Accessories – a fold up beach bag, sunglasses, and a few key pieces of costume jewellery.
  15. Handbag – I checklist all the items in here too – no harm in being prepared.

Tick everything off the list and then roll pack.  This way I fit everything I need in.

Yes, it can be done!  Carry-on luggage only.

I wouldn’t have believed it could be done.  It is possible to save on checked luggage and fit whatever you need into a little suitcase.  I do think it is all about choices, and for me it definitely starts with choosing the perfect shoes.

This is a sponsored post by the fabulous Hotter Shoes.  I was gifted the shoes which have honestly become my favourites.  I wrote about choosing the shoes and the wonderful service offered by Hotter in this blog post.

Thank you for reading, and I hope I have inspired you to book that summer break – and save the cost of check-in baggage for a nice dinner out on holiday and maybe a glass of wine.

Kerry x

Tenerife – it creeps into your heart until you don’t want to leave

Everyone has different expectations of a holiday and of course different budgets too.

We were so excited to be visiting Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife.  Endless hours had been spent on YouTube looking at travel videos.  I was very curious to experience ‘black’ sand!

The holiday didn’t get off to the finest start.  Despite being excited, the trip was long.  A four and a half hour flight, plus a couple of hours drive and of course airport waiting time all added up.  It meant that we arrived late in the evening a little tired and grumpy if I am completely honest.

Travelling with a budget airline on a short trip is fine, but absolutely no frills on a longer flight is a little more challenging.   The holiday had started and were eager to get going as we had a 90 minute transfer from the airport to our destination at the north of the island.

Something went wrong and we found ourselves waiting for more than an hour.  Eventually a small group was loaded into a mini bus that was not road worthy and we set off.  This was not the way I was expecting to start my holiday.

We travel budget style

We are on a budget and more than happy to compromise on luxuries for the chance of some sun on our bones.  Resorts wouldn’t necessarily be our choice either as we enjoy walking and soaking up the local culture.

Our hotel, Travador, was in the older part of Puerto de la Cruz, and despite the website reporting a big upgrade it was a little tired.  We eventually realised that it was the public rooms that had been upgraded and that the rooms were in progress.  Never mind, it was clean (a biggy for me) and the location was absolutely perfect.

Walking our way around Puerto de la Cruz

Both my partner and I suffer from arthritis, and one of the reasons we travel is to take advantage of the dry heat which makes such a huge difference on our pain and inflammation.  There are days at home where I struggle to walk.  In Tenerife I was walking 10 0000 steps a day (with my trusty stick Stan), but walking nevertheless.

On our first morning we started exploring the town, which in a weird way reminded me of South Africa.  The beautiful gardens which were part of the city scape incorporated Bougainvillea one of my favourite childhood flowers as well as many other trees and flowers.  I took hundreds of photos that first morning.  The heat on my back and the paw paw (papaya) and guavas outside the shops were enticing.

Location is really key – especially if you want to be able to walk everywhere.  After treating ourselves to coffee in an outdoor café we found our way to the beach only a 10 minute walk from our hotel and it was at this point that I started to fall in love.

It is odd looking at black sand, because it’s different to what your head says it should be.  The combination from an artist’s eye however is breath-taking.  The sea reflects an exquisite turquoise shade as it brushes across the sand.  I took loads of photos and can’t wait to get into the studio to try to recapture this amazing colour combination.

A beer and a beer shandy were just what we needed after our long walk and we simply sat back and enjoyed the magnificent view.  These positions at the beachside café became a daily indulgence.  Sometimes we indulged further tasting the local cuisine or a naughty ice cream.

There is something about the sea that calms and relaxes me completely.  I can look at it, walk along the shore line dipping my toes into the waves or simply close my eyes and take in the smell of the salty waves and sun on the sand.  I did a fair bit of the above in Puerto de la Cruz.

Musings from my journal

I journal every day.  It is part of my routine and certainly something that helps me in so many ways.  When we are on holiday, journaling time has to be planned for.  Most days this took place in a little café a stone’s throw from our hotel where I could order a pot of tea and a pastry for the princely sum of 2 Euro.

During the holiday I came up with these seven realisations/lessons that I learnt from my week in Puerto de la Cruz.

  1. It really doesn’t matter what you look like.  On the beach I saw woman (and men) of every shape, size and age all wearing bikinis and other skimpy swimwear.  They were happy and sunning themselves and not beating themselves up about what they looked like.  I made a pact to give up tangling with my sarong and simply relax and enjoy.
  2. I love the coffee culture. People watching is such fun and there is nothing nicer than whiling away an hour over a delicious café con leche and perhaps a sneaky pastry.  Costing less than 2 euro – including the nibble, I can afford to indulge.
  3. My IBS is better on holiday. I realise this is a bit TMI (too much information) but it is really relevant to me.  IBS is part of my life and a side effect of fibromyalgia and other conditions not to mention the many pills that I have to pop.  I think it could be all the walking (see point 4) or simply being truly relaxed and keeping hydrated.  It could be lack of stress.  I just know that somehow I would like to hang onto this advantage when I get home.
  4. Walking! Instead of dancing all night I could walk all day.  I walk fairly slowly and use my trusty stick much of the time, but I really enjoy it.  We walked on the beach, along the paved walkways which stretch across Puerto de la Cruz and wound our way through quirky back streets.  Yes, my feet got sore, and I got tired, but it felt so good to be moving with the sun on my back and a few breaks along the way to enjoy the atmosphere.
  5. My joints – the bane of my life with arthritis are much, much better in a dry heat. It is amazing to rely less and less on pain relief over the week, and of course to be able to move more.  The sad side of this is that within 48 hours of being back in Ireland, these positive effects are gone.  (Never mind I can book another budget holiday).
  6. You can travel on very little money. Both my partner and I are on a very limited budget.  Holidays are only possible if we budget carefully before hand and afterwards.  We invest a lot of time into digging out the best deals possible.  We are fairly flexible with dates which means that we can avail of the best offers possible.  This holiday was booked through Love Holidays and was paid off on an instalment plan.  We don’t mind the lack of luxuries, but do love the warm air and the sense of excitement that travel brings.
  1. Be adventurous! In everything.  We had a giggle every morning when we came down for breakfast because it wasn’t what we are used to.  Peas, carrots, and one morning pizza.  There were some really yummy cakes and pastries too.  Everyone is different and every culture that you visit has different cuisine.  Try things – you might not like them, but then again you might be back for more.

Highlights and low notes

As with any journey there are particular highlights.  One of mine was the night we treated ourselves to dinner at a little restaurant and were in turn treated to a feast of flamenco dancing.  I am very much an off the beaten track person, and would prefer to try smaller eateries.  One of the best meals of the trip was a shared plate of the local Canarian potatoes (wrinkly potatoes) – basically salted boiled new potatoes with two mojo sauces eaten at the beachside café.

On a low note, it took us 27 hours to get home.  A technical fault on a Ryanair flight had us diverted to a different airport and drinking tea at 4am in an airport hours from our car.  It wasn’t easy and it definitely meant that we arrived home tired, rather than relaxed.

Thank you for reading about my travels.

Kerry xx

Finding Shoes for Difficult Feet

I have always wished I had different feet.  Prettier smaller, slimmer feet.  The kind of feet that Manolo Blahnik would like to grace.

Extreme Foot Make-over Fantasy

In the nineties there was a TV programme being aired called Extreme Makeover.  The participant was transformed via surgery, cosmetic dentistry, and the usual fashion, hair and make-up.  What differed on this programme was that nothing was off the menu.  I watched people undergo serious surgical procedures and what must have been extreme painful.

Every time I watched the programme I wondered if they could do a foot extreme make-over.  I could undergo surgery and come out with transformed feet.

Back to the real world where finding shoes for difficult feet isn’t easy

We are who we are and we should embrace our own unique beauty.  When it comes to shoe shopping though it isn’t easy if you don’t fit the ‘average’ shoe.

Since being diagnosed with arthritis, the situation has got even worse.  My feet are sore, the joints feel swollen and fragile at the same time.

Finding shoes that are perfect isn’t easy.  For me they need to meet the following criteria:

  • Comfort
  • Fit
  • Attractiveness
  • Affordability
  • Availability

Anyone with awkward feet (and I now know there are a lot of us) will know that finding all these in one pair of shoes is very hard to find.

Most comfortable shoes are not pretty.  Finding shoes that are comfortable and that fit well is another thing.  I am a size 8, and in many brands this is the largest size available so there is no opportunity of taking a larger size to get a bigger width.  If I do go for a bigger size I find myself flopping out of the one shoe, or gripping like crazy with my toes to keep my shoes from falling off.

Pretty shoes for a fashionista

I am a real fashionista!  I love my fashion and style and adore dressing up to go out.  And then it comes to my feet.  What will I wear?  Where am I going?  How far will I have to walk?  Sometimes I simply decide that I hope nobody looks below my knees.

I don’t mind spending money on a good pair of shoes that I am going to wear. However I think we have all fallen into the trap of buying shoes on the hope that they will ‘ease up’ or for an occasion. Frankly any money spent on shoes (or anything else) that you don’t use is money wasted.

So imagine if we could find a perfect pair of shoes that fit, were comfortable, fashionable and attractive and affordable.  Well that sounds like a pipe dream because I don’t know of many high street stores that stock these dream slippers.

I was introduced to Hotter shoes via my blog.  I immediately went to the website www.hotter.com and started exploring.  It was all looking good.  This website was telling me that the perfect shoe was available.

Their slogan of comfort for the soul/sole really appealed but to be honest I was wary about buying shoes online without being able to try them on.  I imagined a series of parcels travelling back and forth trying to find the right shoe.  And then probably settling for something that wasn’t quite right.  Yet another pair of shoes gathering dust and decorating my hallway.

Introducing the personal shopper

After chatting with the Hotter team on email I was told that a personal shopper would be giving me a call.  James called and immediately put me at ease.  We had a little chat and then started talking about fit and style.  He was so knowledgeable and understood both my medical history and my difficult feet.  He advised me on width fit and on style. There are things you need to look out for with both arthritis and diabetes and he was totally up to speed and able to advise which shoes were the best choice.

After placing my order, I had this sense of confidence that the shoes would arrive and that they would not only fit but become favourites.

Shoes that make me want to dance

My summer shoe wardrobe consists of three pairs of shoes from Hotter.  A fabulous pair of pale blue sandals.  Soft buttery leather and so very pretty.  The cutest red Mary Janes which are idea for an Irish summer where it isn’t that warm.  Fabulous with both dresses and trousers I know that red shoes are going to give me my own sense of magic.  Finally I have a cute pair of floral pumps. (A fashion post will follow with lots of shoe pics)

They all fit!! And are all comfortable!  I could turn into a shoeholic after all.

Thanks Hotter!

(Although I am working with Hotter on an #ad blog post, this post is purely from me.  It is about my struggles and my excitement at finding pretty shoes for difficult feet).

Thanks for reading and if you fancy trying a pair yourself, know that you too can talk to a personal shopper.

 

Kerry xx

What is dignity?   And why is it so important?

Dignity is a complex state and something that I truly believe that everyone deserves.  Dignity is the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect

My blog is all about being fabulous despite the circumstances of your life.  Despite the curveballs that life throws at you.  Your dignity is something that is truly integral to your fabulousness no matter what age, gender or circumstance.

A little about me

Over the past five years (and a bit more perhaps) a lot of things have come across my path. I have been a victim of gaslight bullying in the work place. My health as also been a huge struggle, most especially with my arthritis, which has been stripping me of some of the things that I perhaps took for granted.  It is some of these situations that has made me realise how important dignity is.

If dignity has been stripped from you – for whatever reason, it isn’t the easiest thing to get back. Walking tall and acting confident when you are crippled with pain or humiliation is hard.  The first time I walked out with Stan, my trusty walking stick was hard.  Not simply because I thought people would be looking at me and questioning , but because I felt vulnerable.

Vulnerability is closely linked with dignity.

When I feel vulnerable, be it a situation when I had to return to the office after a humiliating dressing down, or when I had to introduce Stan to my date.  I feel vulnerable when I am faced with a plate of dinner that I know I cannot cope with (there are days when I cannot cut my food because of pain in my hands, and many days when I know I will be decorating my clothes with the food that I might spill).  I feel vulnerable when I need to ask for assistance to carry my tray in a restaurant and even on a very bad day when I cannot pick up a cup of tea.

There are days like this – perhaps more than I would like.  After several attempts, trying to get my essential fix of tea, I realised that lifting the cup was not an option.  I asked for a straw which was delivered with a smile and with an attitude that didn’t make me feel vulnerable.  This kind woman understood dignity.

We are all different

No two people are alike and there are many people living with disabilities both visible and invisible.  This month is autism Awareness month and I am delighted to hear of many supermarkets introducing shopping hours where attention has been paid to decreasing light, sounds and other sensory stimuli.  I will certainly be taking note of these.  As a result of my conditions I am hypersensitive and find shopping overwhelming at the best of times.

Invisible disabilities (very like me on a good day when I don’t have my stick or hand splints)  are exactly that.  They are invisible.  These include depression, arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, and MS just as a start.  Anybody going about what seems like daily life with these conditions is fighting an uphill battle and dignity is part of that.

So how can we help people to maintain their dignity?

  • Firstly as mentioned above we don’t know who is struggling.  So why not show everyone respect.  It is old-fashioned I know but if you are sitting on a train or tube and know that you are ok to stand, offer your seat.  I promise there is someone who is struggling to stand and maintain balance.
  • Be aware.  It takes so little to hold a door open, to perhaps notice that someone needs a little help, perhaps with carrying a tray or a cup of coffee.  Perhaps allowing someone to go ahead of you in the queue.  These are all little actions that will allow someone to maintain their dignity and not feel quite so vulnerable.
  • In close relationships, family and friends who know what someone is going through it is both easier and harder.  My advice would be to again be aware, be conscious of what things might be difficult, and simply help silently.  I had visitors over the Easter weekend and every day I realised that little things had happened.  My bin had been cleaned thoroughly, the back garden was tidied, the dishwasher had been packed and unpacked.  I didn’t ask for help, but it was given.  And I am so grateful.
  • Acceptance is key.  If there is a person in your life who is disabled in any way, simply accepting them for who they are is a wonderful gift of dignity.  When I was in a new relationship, I was shy about introducing Stan the Stick.  Eventually we were going on a trip and I knew I would need the support of my stick.  I remember asking my Mom.  If he doesn’t accept Stan he isn’t the man for you.  Wise woman!  I just loved the day when he suggested bringing Stan out with us.

 

My tool kit for coping

It may seem odd, but the little things I do for myself to feel better, and to maintain my dignity are important to me.

I like looking good.  I love my fashion and style.  If I am going out (and even sometimes staying in) choosing great clothes, doing my hair and spending time on my make-up give me that added confidence boost.

I also of course rely on the old favourites of pain relief, mindfulness and rest.  A great day out feeling totally dignified has a lot of planning behind it.

Thank you to all the wonderful people who I share my life with.  My friends who know and the strangers who don’t.  Allowing me my dignity is a gift.

 

Thank you for reading

Kerry xx

 

My Holiday with Stan – in Beautiful Albufeira

I have wanted to travel more for a long time.  Most of my ‘holidays’ for the past 20 years have been about visiting family and friends and exploring Ireland prior to our big move.

Now, don’t get me wrong I am not complaining.  I love my regular trips back to South Africa (of course stopping off in Dubai as often as I can), but I longed for a holiday that was simply that.  A trip where my choices included exploring, resting and simply being present –in a beautiful place.

This January I escaped the cold and wet in Ireland and travelled to Albufeira in the Algarve along the stunning Portuguese coast.  It was a package deal from Love Holidays and I can honestly say that it was money well spent.

So who is Stan?

Well you might be thinking he is a real life man, but he isn’t.  Stan is my walking stick.  I had to start using a stick last year after having a terrible fall which resulted in concussion as well as some other complications.  I actually fell twice.  It seemed that I didn’t understand concussion and went out a couple of days later and simply crumpled like a crisp packet on the pavement.

I suffer from quite severe arthritis which affects my hands, knees and feet.  This is complicated by other auto-immune diseases that affect my fatigue levels and my balance.  Hence the addition of Stan to my life.  Stan is sexy, or so my Mom tells me.  I have chosen a beautiful paisley design and tried to inject some personality into my stick.

Onwards to Albufeira

We flew from Dublin, and chose to drive up from Galway early in the morning and park at the long-term parking.  Note to self – book this in advance it is much cheaper!   I most often fly using the passenger assist option.  As I had a companion (as well as Stan), I tried the regular way and managed fine.  I think it helped that the airports were not that busy.   Soon we were on the Aer Lingus plane drinking a cup of Barry’s tea and chatting away about all the adventures to be had in the Algarve.

Our transfer was easy enough to find and soon we were whizzing through orange groves on the way to Albufeira.  The sky was bright blue which was a stark contrast to the Irish grey we had left behind.

I was not expecting a luxury hotel, that isn’t what we booked.  What I was looking for was clean and comfortable.  At the Eirasol apartments we got exactly that.  A really friendly welcome and a sparkling clean apartment which was so well located, but more about that later.

Pain and Portugal

I am in pain most of the time.  My arthritis means that life is a game where you get different pills and potions and try them to relieve the pain.  I had heard that the weather could make a difference, but I was sceptical.  Very hot weather makes my joints swell.

The Portuguese winter was just right.  Like Goldilocks I felt that I had found a temperature that worked for me.  Within 12 hours I could feel a difference and within 24 I realised that I hadn’t taken a pain-killer for a whole day!

Simply having lower pain levels gave me more energy and also made me feel brave enough to get out and do things.

The simple things – travel on a budget

Our trip was a budget trip.  We didn’t have the funds for expensive tours or lots of eating out, but we were determined to enjoy ourselves.

The beach was a top priority so we set out to find our way to the see walking though cobbled streets (with Stan to ensure that there was no chance of falling).  The beach when we found it was sublime.  Blue sky, a long stretch of golden sand as far as the eye could see and turquoise glistening sea with frothy white waves.  As I was a bit tired from the walk, we simply sat and gazed.  Eventually the call of the sand and sea was enough and we started walking.

Dodging in and out of the surf, with my dress hitched up into my knickers we ambled along.  Picking up shells to admire, we chatted with other fellow beach walkers.  If you told me when we set off that I would be able to walk from our starting point to the old town I would have laughed.  I did though, I plodded along and was very grateful to Stan for his help.

Albufeira is very hilly, but the clever people who have developed this town have taken everything into account.  There are escalators that take you up or down to the beach!  How cool is that?

After our long walk we treated ourselves to and ice-cold beer at the seafront.  We then wandered through the old town before taking the escalators up the hill and taking a tuk tuk ride back to the apartment.  I felt giddy speeding down hills with my hair tangled behind me.

Taking time to be present and enjoy the special moments in Albufeira

Every day was special.  I like the idea of the open-topped buses as I think it is a great way of getting to know a place.  Our tour was two hours long, but definitely gave us a sense of what we wanted to see for the rest of the week.

This included some great foody moments, a visit to the local market, shopping in the old town, breakfast on ‘the strip’, and of course many more walks along the beach.  We found a fabulous restaurant where the young man kissing me below promised that if we sat down we would be happy!  His natural exuberance was contagious.

The apartment we had chosen was really conveniently located and in easy walking distance to bus stops (great service at a great price).  The beaches and the local supermarket – Pingo Doce, where you could get everything and at really good prices were an easy walk.  Self-catering certainly helped on the budget side.  It was also fun as we explored new foods and figured out that butter was the block with a cow on it – not the other one!

A perfect holiday

If I could describe a perfect holiday for me it would have to be great weather, good company, yummy food and lots of rest, not in any particular order.  In Albufeira I certainly had that.

Although I was a bit embarrassed at taking my walking stick Stan, I realised that many people have sticks.  Truthfully Stan allowed me to do so much more, to walk with confidence.  I am simply content as I am, a 53-year-old fabulous woman who walks with a stick!

Thank you for reading about my trip.  Lots more travel to come on the blog this year.

Kerry xx

What would it feel like to be content?  My word of the year for 2018

What is contentment?  Is it that elusive feeling on simply being myself?

If in doubt consult the dictionary about your Word of the Year

I love the dictionary – in years gone by I always had a battered, dog-eared copy at my desk and although use the computer these days, I miss the habit of leafing through wafer thin pages to find a word I was looking for and then getting lost finding other new words to add to my vocabulary.

When I looked up the definition of content – it really resonated with how I feel right now, but more importantly how I want to feel in the next year.

Content as an adjective is described as being in a state of peaceful happiness. Synonyms included contented, satisfied, pleased.  Pretty good so far.

Content as a verb means to satisfy (someone) – “nothing would content her apart from going off to Barcelona”.  I kind of like that one too, although I may alter that to the Algarve, Tuscany or elsewhere.

The synonyms for the verb content are soothe, pacify, placate, appease, please, mollify, make happy, satisfy, still, quieten, silence.  There are some positive words here, but some have little red flags.  One thing that always happens when you choose a word is unexpected consequences. After reading these verbs, I will be quite wary.  I have learnt over the years that it is important to be content yourself before trying to placate others.

Content as a noun is simply a state of satisfaction, and that is really what I am after.  I am grateful and satisfied with what beautiful abundance that I have in my life.

Why I choose a Word of the Year every year.

Choosing a word of the year is something that has become so integral to my life.  I am so grateful for the moment many years ago that I said to myself, “Kerry, things must change”.  I chose the word balance and started the change that has given me the life I have today.

2018 will be a year in which I relax into myself and let myself be content.  I will remind myself that  I am ok just as I am and that I can take joy in being satisfied.

Three magnets for your Word of the Year

Part of the process that I have developed while following the Word of the Year programme,  which I now share with others is that I try to identify three areas in my life as ‘ magnets’ for ensuring that my word works towards my overall vision for my life.

For my year of content I have identified these three areas in no particular order.

  • To be content with what I have – especially in relation to food. When I feel content with what I have eaten I will stop, relish the taste and know that being content is enough.
  • To learn that I am ok as I am. I don’t need to push myself beyond my limitations.  Suffering from arthritis and fibromyalgia amongst other things means that pain is my constant companion and that I get very tired.  I have always been the person that pushes myself beyond, believing that there is something left in the reservoir.  I learnt the hard way last year that isn’t always the case.  Giving myself a serious concussion as well as other injuries was a big wake up call.
  • I will be open to new opportunities and then choose to be content with what life offers me. If we open our eyes, ears and hearts to what the world has to offer and simply accept, we stand a far greater chance of happiness than if we are continually looking for something better.

I am ready to embark on a wonderful year of contentment.

If you would like to know more about the Word of the Year programme I run (which is free!) join our group on Facebook.  You can also look into how choosing a single word for each year has changed my life by reading some of the other posts I have written.

http://fabuliciousfifty.com/my-word-of-the-year-idea-balance/

http://fabuliciousfifty.com/new-year-new-way/

http://fabuliciousfifty.com/writing-my-first-book-and-how-words-changed-my-life/

 

Thank you once again for reading my ramblings, and would love to hear your feedback.

I wish you a happy and contented new year.

 

Kerry xx

 

 

 

Where have I been? A little life update

Why I neglected my blog

I love my blog, but between one thing and another, I have found myself neglecting www.fabuliciousfifty.com.  Here is a little life update.

At first I felt guilty and then I felt upset.  I then sat down to figure out why I wasn’t blogging. And gave myself a free pass for a few weeks while I got a few things in order.

A little bit about my work life

Followers of my blog will know that I had to give up full-time work a while ago.  I don’t mind saying that I found this hard.  Hard not to be doing what I was passionate about, and hard to complete a working day when it was required.

I am delighted to say that I have re-organised my life, retrained and am now combining my years of experience with new skills.

As part of this ‘new me’ I now have my own dedicated website built for me by the talented Sinead from Mini Media.  Have a look at www.kerrymanning.net, where you can read all about how I keep myself busy when I am not blogging or crafting.

You will notice that there is a section on speaking. It is a wonderful privilege to stand up in front of people and share my story and my philosophy of life.

You will also find some links to podcasts and other exciting collaborations.

Writing my book

I have also been working away at my book  I am so excited that I have now reached the milestone of 20 thousand words.  Quite a bit more to go, and it is only a first draft, but it feels good to put words on paper (in a digital version).  This is a very personal book, and it isn’t easy to write.  It is coming along and I believe that I will make my goal of finishing before the end of 2017.

I am the manager of my own health

My health continues to be a soundtrack in my life.  I wish it wasn’t so, but it is.  Perhaps I was hoping for a magic pill which would take all the pain away.

The result was quite the opposite and I felt down and despondent when I was simply told I was getting worse and the arthritis was spreading.  No magic bullet, no cure and only painkillers on offer.

My normal positivity deserted me for a little while.  Thankfully it returned and I realised that the only person who could help me was me.  I have the freedom to try different treatments, experiment with mindfulness, creativity and pacing.

It isn’t easy, and I think this contributed to me not writing much for a while.  I have no choice really but to accept that this is my journey and it is up to me how I travel.

There will always be days when I dig deep and find the energy to throw myself into exciting things with abandon.  And, yes these will be followed by days when rest will be a requirement, as will medication.

I am determined to live life to the fullest.  Why shouldn’t I?

Being Creative

Being creative is, for me as essential as my favourite liquid, tea.  I strongly believe that when you are being creative you are in a state of flow, and it is when you are in this beautiful place you fill yourself up.  So many of us are always giving and sharing and we need to fill our own cup in order to continue.

With this in mind I have been very busy with my creative endeavours.  I have been teaching my class in Spiddal every month.  This is so enjoyable, both the creativity of coming up with the projects and the special time spend sharing laughs with other creative souls.

Another highlight over the past weeks has been teaching An Grianan – the Irish Country Woman’s Association adult education centre.  What a beautiful place, I can’t wait to go back again.

I have also just completed a big batch of handmade cards for the lovely Filippa of Harvest Breeze in Westport.  Her gift shop is a true treasure trove for all the senses.  If you are in Westport, please do pop in.

A new look to my blog

I am back blogging so expect posts to become regular again.  I am also working on a little blog make-over with a little more structure to highlight the areas I love blogging about.

This is a sincere thank you for your support and for reading my blog.

Kerry xx

 

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