Little Update!

I’ve not blogged for about ten days, which for me is quite a while! I’ve felt like there’s not been much to say over the last couple of weeks.

So what’s been happening?

Last Sunday, my lovely friend Karen ran the London Marathon for MS-UK. As she had a charity spot, she had a £2000 target to hit, which I’m pleased to say she did. She didn’t have the race she’d been planning because of the heat. But she did it! What an absolute champion!

Lou dragged me to Body Pump on Monday, then I spent the subsequent five days not being able to walk. I found this particularly amusing as I’d shared my story on our work intranet in aid of MS Awareness Week. All I could think was that people will have read my story, then seen me walking really strangely. Then put two and two together and ended up with five 😂. It certainly gave me a little chuckle!

The last couple of days, Dave and I have been glamping! When I found out about going for Lemtrada this year, I knew we’d have to get a break in sooner rather than later. We had thought about trying to get over to Athens for a couple of nights, but it’s just not going to he possible. So instead we’ve found ourselves in a “Pod” on a campsite between Blackpool and Preston.

Although the weather was abysmal, it’s been so lovely to just recharge. I actually prefer the bad weather to it having been roasting. Plus, as the weather was bad, it was nice to not feel compelled to do something just because it was nice. I think I needed to just more or less stop!

I’ve had increasingly itchy feet again – you know what I get like when I’ve not heard from my specialists for a bit. Today I came home to some fab news though.

I’VE BEEN APPROVED FOR LEMTRADA!

This is such a relief. I know I got told that the evaluation panel thing is “just a tickbox exercise” but it was still worrying me a bit. So now it’s just a case of waiting (oh there’s a change!) for a date.

On the plus side I’m still avoiding a lumbar puncture, YAY!

Finally, I’ve started reading a book called “The Unmapped Mind.” It’s written by a guy who has relapsing remitting MS, and has also had Lemtrada. It’s a combination of his memoirs along with everything he learned along the way. I’ll be giving a full review once I’ve finished!

My Big “Why”

I have been obsessively on a diet for as long as I can remember. I wouldn’t say I have an eating disorder but I’ve certainly had an unhealthy approach to food at times.

Last September I decided to put an end to that after reading “The Goddess Revolution” by Mel Wells. I highly recommend it to anyone that’s struggled on diets or has a love hate relationship with food. It’s a fantastic read and helps you to see how you can change your attitude towards food . You ditch the diet mindset and focus on intuitive eating. Trouble is, as I’ve not been banning pizza and chocolate, I’ve intuitively just eaten a lot of that stuff.

Not great!

Luckily, I’ve only put on about half a stone as a result. But it’s time to heal that.

Mel works on you finding your “BIG WHY”. Why do you want to heal? It’s got to be big and something that you emotionally connect with. It’s got to be big enough to make you want to stop and truly look after you by eating good, nourishing soul foods. And no, I want a sexy summer bod, ain’t enough!!!

For some people, it’s so that they can get a body that will give their unborn child the best start. For others, it’s so that they can lead a happier life filled with vitality and adventure – where they truly love and respect their body and don’t let it hold them back.

For me it’s something else. For me, my “why” is so that I’m strong enough to fight this battle I’ve got. My strength that I’ve built in the gym in the last four years is something I will eternally be grateful for – I seriously question if I’d still be as mobile as I am if I hadn’t built my strength as much as I have done.

This realisation is the immediate kick up the arse I need to get back to training and eating well.

In the spirit of this, I’ve spent the last hour prepping Buddha bowls and I’m off to a new gym tomorrow!

My Buddha Bowl! Wild rice, sweetcorn, edamame beans, roasted broccoli, squash and peppers, carrot and crunchy chickpeas. Topped with a nice cajun chimichurri dressing 😍

Unfortunately, the 10K that I really wanted to run for Wigan MS Therapy Centre this year, isn’t going to happen – there’s no way with going in for treatment I’d be able to be fit enough in time.

For now however – I’m just going to do me, without a diet plan and without setting myself stupid goals that I obsess over and then feel crap for because I’ve failed at them. They make me unhappy and they do not nourish my soul, never mind my body!

Here’s to strength and vitality!

Five Minutes in the Morning

A few months ago I was in Sainsbury’s and picked up a book. It’s called “Five Minutes in the Morning – A Focus Journal”.

It’s usually priced at £10 but I was chuffed that it was only £4 (oh the joy of the January sale!)

The idea is, you take five minutes in the morning (duh!) to take stock of the day. Check in with yourself and how you’re feeling. Set some intentions for the day.

I’ve not used it really – it’s such a beautiful book, that I didn’t really want to write in it. I do like “workbook” style things though. I like having something to do.

Now even though this is designed for in the morning, I think I can get so much from this at any time of day.

So this evening I completed the first activity.

An exercise to start writing.

I was tasked with spending five minutes just writing about how I would introduce myself to somebody, and here’s what I wrote:

Hi, I’m Joanna, but most people call me Jo. Except Dave. He calls me Joey. Dave is my other half and he very much completes me. We’ve been together for five years and have a little boxer doggy called Poppy who’s three.

In my spare time I enjoy reading and writing (I have a blog), and going to the gym. I’m a bit of a fadder, but that just means that I never get too bored!

In my spare time, I work for a big energy company in learning and development. I’ve done it for 13 years and genuinely love it!

I’m originally from Essex, but moved to Wigan 8 years ago, which is the best thing I’ve ever done.

I love letters and I currently have six pen pals, and the list is growing.”

I reflected on what I’d written. I feel it’s a fair insight into me but I’m also shocked by what I’d missed out. My love for gin, herbal tea and coffee is missing. Happily, I don’t let my recent diagnosis define me; I felt no need to mention that in my introduction.

After my first experience with this book, I’m definitely going to start using it more. If you’re interested, I managed to get another couple of them on Amazon for £4 – they’re easy to get your hands on. I gifted one to Kate as she shares a love for writing and I got the feeling she’d enjoy using a similar kind of book.

I think it’ll be really nice to dip in and out of occasionally, and give me a little pre-blog warm up or inspiration!

Have a go at this activity yourself – I’d love to read your five minute introductions.

Hands. (Pt 4)

Week 4 of this fabulous challenge is to sum up everything over this last month, and I’m going to make some commitments to myself to help me continue with my new love for my hands.

So what have I learned?

My hands make my life. I take them waaay too much for granted and I wouldn’t be able to live the life I do without them.

I love holding hands. I love talking with my hands and I love using my hands to lift up heavy stuff in the gym!

I LOVE getting my nails done, and for the first time in ages, I’ve successfully got through a month without pinging a false nail off deliberately so I can have a good old chew (maybe a coincidence but maybe not).

I’ve found a love for making my own natural home made remedies too (yes with my bare hands) so they’ll be more of that too!

Oh – and I love rings 🙂 YAY!

So how do I keep this up?

  • Complete a weekly deep scrub and conditioning of my hands
  • Keep up the monthly manicures (I enjoy them and they relax me)
  • Make more homemade beauty products
  • At least once a week, get something hand related into my Daily Gratitude tweets
  • Buy more rings!

And I think that’s it!

I’ve really enjoyed the focus on my hands this month! I’m really looking forward to focussing on the next body part in February!

Me, Myself and I

This evening I have a rare Saturday night on my own. It’s funny how this feels like a real treat. Rewind 10 years and I’d be off out to get “on it”. Rewind 7 years and I would be crying into my ice cream in the style of Bridget Jones. Go back 5 years, in the very early days of my current relationship I would be feeling as though I had lost a right arm. Ghosts of boyfriends past haunting me, wondering what the hell is he going to be doing, or more accurately WHO the hell is he going to be doing?

Now, in a completely settled and trusting place with my partner, Dave, whilst I love him very very much, the prospect of a night in alone is “The Dream”.

I have friends that find my excitement at him going out strange. If we go back to me from 7 years ago, if asked, I’d agree. However as I’ve grown up, I’ve learned to value, and I mean REALLY value, that time where I hang out with no-one else, just me.

To be able to spend some time on my own is an absolute luxury for me; I work away a lot, and invariably I’m with colleagues. If I’m not with colleagues, sure I’m alone, but I’m not in “my space”. I’m stuck in a hotel room. Don’t get me wrong, they’re more often than not, very comfortable rooms, but it sure ain’t home! The rest of the time, Dave and I are pretty inseparable. Which is lovely, but there comes a point where I just need to be alone!

I can’t say I’ll be doing anything ground breaking. Probably just catching up on some washing, lighting a couple of candles and binge watching Grey’s Anatomy. There may be Yoga and there will definitely be meditation. Not rock ‘n’ roll, but it feels like some quality “Goddess Time” to me!

Hope you have a Saturday night which will be as fulfilling for you, as mine will be for me, whatever you do 🙂

Jxx

Hands.

Through the joy that is social media, I feel like I’m forming a friendship. Kate, like me signed up to Mel Wells’ Academy in October. But Kate, unlike me, finished all the modules!

She’s totally awesome. So awesome in fact that she’s started a 2018 challenge to teach you to love yourself that little bit more each day in 2018. And I’m all in!

The idea is that you focus on a different part of your body each month throughout 2018 with different challenges each week. You can follow the order that Kate is going through, or you pick your own. (Please, PLEASE go and subscribe to her blog and find out more about this great challenge!)

This month, the focus is hands (yep, we’re starting easy!) and the Week 1 challenge is to tell the story of your hands, and here’s mine!

My Hands

When my Nan passed away in 2015, I was given her engagement ring, and her Nans’ wedding ring. All I wanted to do was put them both straight on my finger. Not unusual you might say, but for me it was. I’d never worn a ring in my 29 years before that day, not even just a “junk jewellery” one.

Why?

I hated my hands. I hate them a little less these days but historically I’ve never exactly liked them. The last thing I’d ever wanted to do was fill them with jewellery and draw attention to them. I was a nail biter. Like, as far down as you can go, and the skin around them. The lot! In fact I still am a nail biter but I get my nails done every three weeks now and have done for the last 2.5 years, but that doesn’t stop me. I relish the opportunity for a good old chew if one of my nails ping off!

Reflecting on my childhood, I was always busy with my hands! I’d always turn my hand (‘scuse the pun), to something crafty and hands on (bloody terrible at drawing though!) I loved to experiment with origami, I enjoyed making dolls out of wooden pegs and the aforementioned Nan taught me to knit and French knit. I learned to cross stitch too. I also loved to write, and before the digital age, of course that was all done with a pen in hand.

I remember my excitement when I finally received the much sought after calligraphy pen at primary school at the ripe old age of roughly 7. What I didn’t tell Mum and Dad at the time was that I was the last in the class to get it. My handwriting was terrible, and I couldn’t hold a pen correctly, which I still can’t do to this day!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been quite a “touchy-feely” individual. Probably less so now than when I was younger, but I love holding hands with people or having a good cuddle!

As I’ve grown into adulthood, I’ve continued that “busy-ness” with my hands. I work in Learning and Development so I’m often stood at the front of a group of people, chatting away. And you’ve guessed it, I’m one of those people that likes to talk with their hands gesticulating all over the place!

A few years back I got real pleasure from baking, and more recently found a love for power lifiting – in particular deadlifting. This really took it’s toll on my hands for a while – that is until I discovered The Body Shop hand cream, and now I usually have at least two tubes residing in my handbag!

In 2017, I took up my old hobby of knitting again. Throughout the course of the year I knit patches, picking the colour to reflect my mood. These are yet to be knit together as I’m a couple of weeks behind on the patches still (I’ll blog more about this in another post!)

Finally, there’s my beautiful fur-baby Poppy. Without hands I wouldn’t be able to stroke her, hug her or throw a ball for her.

As I write this blog, I realise that so many of the things that I love to do are possible because of my fully functioning hands! Sure I think the freckles all over them make them look older, and sure they’re slightly battered from years of nail biting and weight lifting. But right now, they also bear a reminder of my nan. One day, I hope they will carry a symbol of mine and Dave’s love for one another.

My hands aren’t to be taken for granted, and neither are yours. We should love them. Because hands make so much possible.

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018!

In my last blog post, I talked about my hatred for New Years Eve and the focus on self improvement seeming to come from more of a “beat myself up” place than a move towards personal growth.

The back end of 2017 was very much about self-love and connecting with myself for me, and this shifted my mindset as to how I perceive New Year. It is a great opportunity to think about the upcoming year, and give yourself some goals and something to work on for the next year.

In order to help me create my “Vision Board” for 2018, really understand what I want out of life, and to set me a clear plan of how to make my dreams become a reality, I sponsored a KickStarter project, from the girls behind “Project Love“.

The “Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018″ workbook is a tool to help you take stock of the year you’ve just been through and set some intention and focus for 2018. The audio guide that comes with it coaches you through the workbook and really helps you to answer some all important questions for how you want the year to look.

After reflecting on 2017 you are asked to think about what you want to do with you life in 2018. What I really found was that the fact that I’m still awaiting a diagnosis for my ongoing health worries, was that I was really letting that define (or rather stopping me from defining) my 2018. It was quite eye opening, and it really took some work for me to break that barrier down and see past what is currently unknown.

Finally, you are challenged to answer questions that will shape your 2018. Read on to see my answers…

2018 is my year of: self-love and me!

In my commitment to making 2018 my year of self-love and me I will:

  1. Complete Mel Wells’ Academy
  2. Buy a house so that I have my own space and spend less time living out of a suitcase
  3. Make time to blog, meditate, read and do all the other things that I love to do
  4. Give ME time – I’m constantly rushing around like a mad woman, trying to please others. I will schedule time in for me to hang out with me
  5. Say No!
  6. Learn not to worry about what I have no control over

Declare this commitment to someone who cares about you and wants you to live a life that you love: This person will be Lucy. She doesn’t know it yet, but no-one has my back like her, and she’ll definitely hold me to account if I don’t do what I’m supposed to do!

I’m excited to see what 2018 brings, and I’m excited to look back on this workbook throughout 2018 to see how I’m getting on. I really enjoyed doing this project and can’t wait to see how it works for me!

I’d love to know how you would answer the above questions in the comments below 🙂