Tag: Fibromyalgia

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

 

 

 

The Magic of Three – and how this little number helps me in my day to day life.

Three is a magic number.  Or so I am told.

I have been having a bit of a tough time lately.  I had two bad falls which set me back a bit.  As I stumbled around the house trying to get focus and motivate myself, I realised that three really is my magic number in so many ways.

I make a commitment to tackle (at least) three things off my to do list every day.  It might seem little, but when you look back on the week, know that you have achieved 21 things.  By using this focus I know that I move forward.  Sometimes little and often, but I do achieve what I set out to do.

As someone suffering from chronic conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia it isn’t always easy.  Even if I think of keeping my home tidy – it is overwhelming.  By the 7th day of concussion and I was getting frustrated.  Three things I kept telling myself.  Put a wash on, unpack the dishwasher and wipe the counter.  Then you can sit down.  A little later I tackled three computer related tasks, and after that sent three thank you messages to friends who have helped me out.

By the time I got into bed I felt a real sense of accomplishment despite the fact that I was ‘under the weather’.

The Magic of Three – in so many ways

Every night before I go to sleep I always recall three things I am grateful for.  Sometimes it is more than three, but never less.  This really puts me into such a positive place.

The more I think about it three is a number that resonates through my life.  It is a small number but a perfect number.  It is just enough but not overwhelming.  Add a few threes together and you can really rack up some impressive personal statistics.

Imagine if we saved 3 Euro a day.  That isn’t a lot – a cup of coffee.  Over a month that is 90 Euro.  Over a year it is over a 1000 Euro – more than enough for a holiday.

Three and its multiples are also a great way of dividing up your day.  As I mentioned before I need to pace myself due to my conditions.  By dividing my day into 30 and 60 minute chunks I can ensure that I get enough rest time and also get things done.

I have followed this principle for a while now and I can honestly say that 3 is my magic number.

The internet of things

The internet is awash wish apps, blog posts, and articles confirming that by simply using a formula of three we can become happier and more effective in life.

I have downloaded the 3 Good Things app for my phone and am going to see how that goes.

Before writing this blog post I did a little bit of internet research as to why 3 is a number that seems to have magical properties.

  • As a creative person I was delighted to be reminded that there are 3 primary colours
  • Almost all religions have 3 as a sacred number
  • Mathematicians will confirm that 3 is a really cool number.  It is the first prime number and of course is the first number that forms a geometric shape – the triangle

So many things come in threes – here are a few random ones that delighted me.

  • The beginning, the middle and the end
  • The past, the present and the future
  • The three bones in the human ear
  • The three little pigs
  • The beauty of 3 dimensions
  • And of course the perfect 3  minute egg.

Frivolity aside, I am happy that I have the number three in my life.  It really helps me to pace myself, feel productive and puts me in a lovely positive mindset as I am reminded daily that we have at least three things to be grateful for.

Thank you so much for reading xx

Kerry

 

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

 

Fake it until you make it – a coping with Fibromyalgia

Fake it until you make it.  This is a mantra I find myself repeating over and over.  Especially when I wake up feeling less than fabulous.

There are mornings when I wake-up or rather get up and know that I have had little sleep, am so stiff and awkward that I walk like a puppet.  I stumble downstairs to get painkillers and put on the kettle so I can ease myself into the day. This is what it is like for me coping with fibromyalgia.

I am a very positive person so feeling less than great is hard for me.  I try to focus on the good things in life and not on fibromyalgia, arthritis and the other things that are my shadow.

It would be so easy to simply stay in my lovely fluffy gown and binge watch Netflix.  You really can 3 or 4 episodes without realising the passing of time.

Don’t wallow!

I am determined to not wallow (although there are days that I do).  My lipstick is my companion, it reminds me that you can fake it until you make it.

I recently read something that I really related to.  It was a list of things only people with chronic conditions would understand.  One of these was sitting on the bed and wondering if you really needed to shower and wash your hair.  Yes, this is a real thing.  It takes energy to do this and it causes more pain.

Fake it until you make it

I keep trying and so I wanted to share how I fake it until I make it.  How I push myself  to get going and ultimately how I normally enjoy myself once I do make it to an event.

Realistically each time I do this it does make me very tired the next day, but the joy of getting up and getting glamorous is worth it.

Off to a Fashion Show – Faking it all the way!

A little while ago I was invited to a fashion show at Bellissimo in Galway as an ITWBN blogger.  The show featured fashion from the fabulous Olivia Danielle boutique.  It was one of those days when I really had to push myself.

I got dressed in my new dress from The Curvy Gurl, accessorised and put on my make-up.  Just before leaving I got my photo taken for the obligatory Instagram/Facebook post.

Details of my outfit as requested:

Dress – The Curvy Gurl – Newry (I bought my dress at the Ireland’s got Curves show but they have a fab online shop)

Cardigan: Matalan – old as the hills but a firm favourite as it is my favourite colour

Shoes: Ballet flats from Debenhams

Necklace:  A gift from my sister!

I was also extremely overwhelmed and humbled by the response to a simple social media post. Hundreds of likes, loves and comments all which made me feel better about myself.  I am struggling with weight gain at the moment due to medications and other factors and being told I look good certainly spurs me on to try even harder.

This is how I know that Faking it until you make it works for me.  Looking the best I could already put me in a brighter mood and going out distracted me from pain and tiredness.

I know that there are many people out there, and possibly reading this that are in a position where faking it isn’t always possible.  So this is my call to ask people to understand when your friend with a chronic condition like fibromyalgia says sorry she can’t make it.  I bet she tried really hard. She is coping with Fibromyalgia.

Thank you so much for reading.

Kerry xx

 

Using a bit of tech to keep me more focused on diabetic me

I am a diabetic.  Not a very well behaved one I accept. I sneak the odd cake or chocolate and justify it by saying that I will walk it off.  But, perhaps it is time to keep a closer eye on all things diabetic.

I was diagnosed as a diabetic in 2012 and I have worked hard to change my lifestyle.  For me this was the correct choice.  Rather than accept that I would be on drugs and ultimately injecting insulin, I wanted to see what I could do myself.  Using exercise and watching what I ate (and drank) I have managed to keep it under control as far as possible..

Unfortunately for many of us, despite being careful about what we eat, exercising and drinking lots of water, the disease marches on.

When I was contacted through my blog by Ascensia to ask if I would review their new Contour Next One blood meter I was intrigued.  I love tech and use apps on my phone to remind me of just about everything. There is a list app, pill reminder apps, calendar apps, shopping apps and more.  I love them, they keep me straight and also help with the brain fog (associated with Fibromyalgia). If you would like to try it you can get a free meter here.

Self Management

I have learned that with all my conditions self management is the key.  I am the only one who knows me as well as I do.  Talking the driving seat in managing my diabetes I believe is essential.

Use of mobile phones for blood glucose monitoring can help patients manage their condition: According to an editorial piece published in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, the integration of blood glucose monitoring technology with mobile phones can provide additional convenience and ease-of-use for people with diabetes by allowing blood glucose monitoring data to be automatically captured and analysed in near real time, helping people with diabetes manage their blood glucose levels.

This is true in my case.  It is exciting to think that the use of tech in the form of mobile phones can actually lead to better diabetes management, and ultimately better glycemic control.  Since being diagnosed I have always aimed to reduce my hb1ac.  I get this measured every six months and reward myself with a treat (like a manicure) if I have maintained or reduced my levels.

The Contour Next One

The Contour Next One is, at first glance similar to any other system.  The meter is really neat, but the difference is in the interface with the app on your smart phone.  I was a little intimidated about the prospect of setting up the app and getting it all synced and ready but, honestly it was so easy.  Testing is much the same as normal, but tracking them becomes so easy.

The wireless meter simply sends your reading to your phone – it’s that simple.  This is an ideal system for someone who is testing regularly and monitoring.  The system allows you to log what you eat, whether you are testing before or after food.  There is also a cool system where you can either use smart testing (set up for insulin users, and non-insulin users) or you can set up your own reminders.

At this point I am not  insulin dependent.  I do know a good few friends and family who are and I would certainly recommend this system.

Next week is my visit to the practice nurse who manages the diabetes programme. I will have my phone with me and be ready to show my trends, my readings, and hopefully get a good report card!

This is a sponsored post, and I was given the meter, however the reporting is totally my own and I can honestly say that I do like the system and will be using it going forward.

Thank you so much for reading, and if you are a diabetic and would like to chat about it with a fellow diabetic please feel free to get in touch.

Kerry x

Why I started wearing a Fitbit when I am probably not very fit at all?

 

I wear a blue Fitbit almost every day and have done so for the last 8 months.  My Dad asked me if I actually liked it when he saw me checking it over and again and commenting on how little or much I had walked.  Don’t let it rule your life he said.  I really love it!

fitbit fabuliciousfifty

Let me back track a little.  Regular readers to my blog will know that I came to fitness very, very late in life.  Like so late that I bought my first pair of trainers when I was on the very wrong side of forty.

I really do regret not discovering the joy of walking earlier in life, but I try to make up for it now.

One thing you must know before we get into all the statistics etc. is that I don’t walk very fast at all.  I also limp and sometimes walk like a ‘constipated tortoise’.  I have fibromyalgia and arthritis and it can all be a little painful.  Despite this however I strongly believe that the more I walk the better I feel.  Walking clears my mind and when it takes place it nature it fills my soul.  It also eases out all the creaks and actually makes me feel better.   In addition there are also all the health benefits that everyone talks about like weight loss and better muscle tone.

Last December I was visiting family in Dubai.  My big treat is a visit to an Arabic restaurant so off we went and ordered all these yummy little dishes for sharing.  I noticed my brother-in-law was wearing a bracelet.  I am very outspoken so I asked him why he was wearing a bracelet.  ‘It is a Fitbit.’   I really didn’t have a clue and as I didn’t move in fitness circles despite my love of walking I hadn’t even heard of the concept.  He patiently explained it all and told me how it worked.  He is really fit and walks, runs and plays squash.

I thought nothing of it until the next day when I was presented with a little bag and opened it to find my very own Fitbit.  I was honestly quite speechless – what a generous gift had been given to me to encourage my own fitness journey.

I strapped it on and was ready to go.  There are a number of things I learnt from wearing a Fitbit and because of these I would encourage everyone who can to try it – or any other fitness monitor.

This is what I have learnt about my Fitbit

  1. That it is possible to do under a thousand steps a day if you are in an office and don’t move around much.
  2. It takes around 2500 steps to walk from my house to the doctor – so there and back is a great way to ensure I get my steps in.
  3. I feel grumpy and disgruntled when I don’t walk.
  4. Looking at a Fitbit which shows under 2000 steps is a great motivator to get my trainers on and get moving.
  5. That it is possible to walk over 10 000 steps before breakfast when I participated in the 5km Darkness into Light walk recently.  I also exceeeded myself at the Heart of Galway walk where I logged up 14 000 steps.
  6. That my sweet place is around 6000 steps – after this I suffer quite a bit with pain. I am now trying to push my speed a little instead of going further.
  7. I have learnt to use the Fitbit to pace myself and prevent myself from getting overtired. For example if I am going into town and know I am going to be pounding the pavements I might drive or get a lift to the station.  I have no problem walking the 2000 steps to get there, but the prospect of walking 2000 steps home when I am literally crying with pain and exhaustion isn’t a good idea.

A new introduction to the Fitbit app is a little chart which shows how many hours of the day you have been active.  This is really cool and a big wake-up call.  You get a little red dot for each waking hour you do over 250 steps.  It is a really simple but important reminder to get moving.  Take a break, stretch your legs and move away from the computer.  Although it is always good to log between six and 10 000 steps a day it is better to be active throughout the day rather than doing the majority of steps in one big burst.

My Fitbit does all sorts of other things too.  It measures my sleep.  It is really interesting to see if you are in fact getting a good night.  The app – on your phone where you can view all the data from the device shows periods of restfulness and periods of being awake.  When I first started wearing it I was rarely getting a decent 8 hours.  Now I often get those restful hours so necessary to keep smiling.

I also love the little virtual rewards – badges that you get for reaching milestones.  It is always nice to get a pat on the back!

I hope I can motivate other people like me (who might be overweight, unfit and battling with pain) to get moving.

Thank you for reading – I am off to get my Fitbit off the charger and go for a walk.

Kerry x

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