Category: Off-Topic

Autumn is coming.

Reading back my last couple of posts have made me feel really sad. I’ve obviously not been in the greatest place in recent weeks. In spite of the amazing self love summit that I attended which really did leave me buzzing for at least a week after, things just haven’t felt right for me.

Tuesday was a bit of a turning point for me though. I had my second blood test done and it presented me with a bit of an opportunity to just “offload” a little. And I am so glad that I did. Firstly, being asked to list all of your current symptoms was quite humbling. A list of five, which aren’t really that big a deal certainly put some perspective on things. The nurse that I saw told me that there was a tablet she could ask my GP to prescribe for me that would tackle the pain in my ankle (which hasn’t let up), the itchy scalp, my up and down temperature and the thigh pain. Possibly even help to lift my mood a little.

It feels weird to accept medication. I rarely even reach for the pain killers when I have a headache, but if it can help all of those things, I’m game. Although I’m still awaiting confirmation that my GP knows to prescribe it to me, it feels like a weight off my shoulders just to know that there’s something that can give me a little relief.

Honestly though, my mind has been heading into dark places over the last week or two. It’s not being back at work. I’m happy to be back actually. No, it’s about the pain in my ankle. I recall, somewhere some years ago a similar pain. Back then, of course I didn’t know it was MS and even now I’m only just making the connection. I probably put it down to dancing the night away in cheap high heels. You know it’s no good for you. I don’t remember it ever being this painful and unrelenting though. Certainly not enough to give me an occasional limp.

I was warned that post Lemtrada, because my body has had a bit of a battering and it will take quite some time to recover, some of my old symptoms would resurface. What nobody warned me of, was that there was a chance they would come back worse than when I first had them. But that seems to be a common occurrence. I didn’t know that. Lemtrada has also made me all kinds of irrational, so obviously I started to fear all sorts. As it’s taken so long to diagnose my MS I wondered, is there a chance it’s been misdiagnosed as relapsing, and is actually secondary progressive? I feel more or less comforted that this is highly unlikely, having spoken to others that have experienced worse symptoms than the original relapse.

On top of all of that, the irrational mood? The spontaneous crying? Generally feeling pretty miserable? All comes with the territory but I’m assured, it does eventually lift.

And I’ll tell you what’s helping my mood lift. Autumn is definitely on its way! I could practically smell it yesterday morning. The slight chill in the air, dew on the cars and the sun a lot lower. All that’s missing is a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks!

Photo Credit: Starbucks UK

Thinking about how much I love Autumn, made me start reflecting on what else I love. What else fills me up? What makes my soul happy? What is it that I need from a self-care point of view? I’ve accepted that for the next couple of years things are going to be up and down. That sounds defeatist, but I see it as a pragmatic approach. I’m going to do everything in my power to keep a smile on my face and make myself feel good.

I love writing, so starting this blog has been a huge thing to keep me happy and I have some great ideas of how I can branch out with it. I’m really keen to share the stories of other MSers. I tell you time and time again that it affects us all differently, so coming soon, I plan on sharing interviews with others affected by MS.

Through this digital age we find ourselves in, I have realised that I no longer read anymore. When I was a kid, in the school holidays I’d be at the library every other day getting a new haul. I’d complete the summer reading challenge several times over. But now there’s always a Netflix series to watch, a social media notification to respond to or my lives have refilled on whatever mindless game I’m playing. So less screen time for me, in order to give me more time to get lost in a book, which is all I ever did before those distractions existed.

I’m contemplating participating in “Scroll free September”, but depriving myself seems like an extreme thing to do. I’ve realised that I’m so all or nothing about everything and because of that, it always ends up being unsustainable. I end up trying to do something positive in my life and it actually ends up making me unhappy, stressed or left feeling like a failure. What I’d rather do is set some principles around how I use my phone. I’m thinking along the lines of “no phones after 9pm”. That kind of thing. Restricting Netflix binges to a couple of episodes a night. Nobody likes to admit it, but it’s only when you really take a critical eye to yourself that you see how addicted you are to your smartphone. I want my smart phone to add to my life and be useful. Not something that takes over my life.

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One of the most beautiful pieces of music you could ever listen to

I LOVE music. Any music. But I’ve realised how much calmer and in tune with myself I am when I listen to classical piano. More of that please.

I love being crafty, and I love being warm. So I’m going to finish my patchwork blanket. I’m so close to it being completed so that has got to be an absolute priority.

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My blanket! Each patch is representative of one week in 2017, and each stripe is a day. I picked the colour based on my mood.

And finally, I love learning. I’ve had a couple of Udemy courses sat on the back burner for a while, so I’m going to pick those up once I’ve finished my blanket. I need to get better at doing one thing at a time and following through.

But most of all, I need to get better at doing more of the things that make me happy.

 We all should.

Reading in Heels – June Review

Sleep has been evading me a little of late. It could be the heat. It could be after effects of treatment. It could even just be the after effects of being off work and not having as much of a routine as I’d like. Whatever the answer, this box was on paper, everything I needed it to be.

Opening the box, it SMELT like sleep and recovery. Inside, there was two bags of Sleep Tight Tea from T2 Tea. I’m into herbal and fruit tea in a big way at the moment, so this little offering was gratefully received. The flavour is really delicate, so quite possibly not for everyone, but I really enjoyed it.

There was a balm, from Made By Coopers, which is multi functional, helping with both beauty and sleep. The pure oil relaxing candle from Hopping Hair Candles  smells beautiful as well and really helped in chilling me out and getting me to unwind.

The sweet treat this month were the yummiest little biscuits from Chins Kitchen. These little Rose and Cardamom biscuits were everything I would never choose but they were so so good!

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This month’s read was “Bad Romance” by Emily Hill. I’m afraid this one only earned itself about 1.5 stars from me. Here’s my GoodReads review:

“My attention span is struggling as of late, so although I don’t consider myself a reader of short stories, this seemed like a brilliant pick for me.

I really really wanted to like it. But I just didn’t get it. Had this been a full length book I definitely would have given up before I’d even made it halfway. The saving grace of this book was that despite the constant lack of engagement with each story, I still desperately thought that “maybe this next one will be the one.”

I guess the genre could be described as black comedy. And in fairness, I did occasionally respond to said comedy and I really found myself laughing. But not that often.

I also couldn’t connect on any level with the characters. I felt that I should have. I got the feeling I was similar in age to them. But I just didn’t like them. And that could have been because we had such few pages to get to know them.

The stories finished abruptly and I found myself having to re-read parts as I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d just read.

Overall, I kind of found this one a confusing read that I really struggled to enjoy. Having said that, I still insisted on following through to the end and finishing it so it can’t have been THAT bad.”

This is absolutely what I love about the concept of Reading in Heels though. In spite of that, I’m still glad that I got that book. I wouldn’t pick it in a month of Sunday’s so it was still so refreshing to read something that wasn’t my typical choice, even if it wasn’t for me.

More days like that please.

I’m really conscious that I’ve not posted for almost a week, and not since my meltdown.

So to confirm, I’m ok. Just about. Ironically after my hysteria of the pain never leaving me, I’ve not had bad “night time leg pain” since. I think the temperature dropping has done me the absolute world of good. I just feel more comfortable. Not all the aches and pains are gone and my ankle is giving me a quite a bit of hassle today but for the most part, I’m ok 

On late Friday afternoon I ventured down to London to attend Mel Wells’ Self Love Summit which was quite frankly the best thing I’ve done in a while. I’m experiencing a spiritual awakening of sorts and all the signs for me to attend were there. I was offered a free ticket the week prior, the Hilton Hotel opposite the venue was 41,000 points on their loyalty scheme (I had 41,086 in my account) and the money I’d claimed through my healthcare plan for staying in hospital covered the cost of the train ticket TO THE PENNY! Add to that, during a Reiki healing therapy session a couple of weeks ago, my therapist told me I just needed a lot of love. I kind of dismissed this at the time. I’m happy in my relationship and I’m happy with my friendships. I only considered at a later date that maybe it was a bit of self-love that I needed! 

The day itself was incredible, and rather than writing it all up myself, if you’re interested in knowing a bit more about these events I’d like to share the blogs of a couple of absolutely wonderful women I’ve been writing to (I mean Snail Mail!) for some time, and have now had the pleasure of meeting! 

I was staying in the same hotel as Laura on the night before the Summit so had the chance to get to know her, and it was so brilliant. She’s an awesome girl and I really feel that this is the start of a beautiful friendship. Read more here.

Becky also has a blog, which is raw and honest. And quite hard hitting. She is incredible. Her blog is truly worth a read as she tells her story and she does it so well. She is the bravest soul I’ve ever met. She’s gone off piste with her blog though for her latest post, and wrote about the Summit which you can find here.

My only key addition to this, is that for the first time since being diagnosed with MS, I didn’t think about the fact that I had it once. More days like that please.
N.B in case you listen to what my dear friend Clare says, no it’s not a Cult πŸ˜‚ Just a bunch of women trying to find the best version of themselves, whilst also empowering one another. 

The Authentic MeΒ 

Tomorrow night, I’m heading down to London on my own. I’m staying in a Hilton (thanks to the copious amount of points I acquire through staying away for work), and on Saturday, I am attending a Self Love Summit, hosted by Mel Wells.

If you read the “off-topic” posts on my blog, you’ll know that last year I read Mel’s book, “The Goddess Revolution.” And it was life changing. Years of yo-yo dieting ended and I started to accept me for who I am. That’s a journey that I’m still on, but as part of that journey, there was the option for me to go to the Summit.

At the time of getting tickets, I didn’t know when I was going to be getting MS treatment, or where I would be at in my recovery. I’d more or less written it off and that was that. Admittedly, I was getting a bit of FOMO, but I also knew regardless of that I needed to prioritise ME.

But on Sunday just gone, a ticket was going for free. With a quick check on train prices and seeing if I had enough hotel points to cover the cost of the hotel (London ones at short notice are generally not very cheap!) I realised that going to The Summit was something that I could make happen. I snapped up that free ticket and tomorrow my adventure begins.

The Summit is billed as “revealing the most unapologetic, untamed version of you.” Or as I like to refer to it, as the authentic version of me. 

Empowering women such as Megan Jayne Crabbe and Rebecca Campball will be guest speaking at the event, helping to motivate, inspire and teach you to love yourself that little bit more. 

Why do I just NEED to do this?

Well firstly, I deserve a treat after the year I’ve had, don’t you think? But mostly, I kind of feel like I’ve had an identity crisis of sorts. Trying to work out “who Jo is” and “who Jo is with MS” has sent me into a tail spin. Slowly realising it doesn’t actually matter and now trying to accept that, is something I’m working through. For the most part, I’ve got it sussed but I’m still having moments (albeit rarely) where it really hits like a train crash what’s happening to me. And it’s upsetting and scary.

I feel like this year has been the start of a real journey of personal growth and development, and going to the Self Love Summit will be a key part of that journey.

I’ll undoubtedly be back to share my experience after the event, but for now this is pretty much all I can tell you! 

Re-brand!

Tomorrow, 30th May, is World MS Day and it felt right for me to honour it.

I’ve decided to do this by re-branding my blog. I’ve changed the website address to something that’s a bit more reflective of what I write about. I was keen on the play on words which reflects both the fact that MS is totally misunderstood but also nods to the fact that my blog is about me making my MS, understood.

I’ve also decided to try out a new theme, although I can’t say I’m convinced by this new one. But perhaps I’m just having a bit of an aversion to change!

Either way – I’m trying out a new look!

 

Reading in Heels – April Box Review

I’ve regularly talked about my love for letters, so it’s no surprise that I love a subscription box. I’ve never quite found the right “fit” for me though.

My first subscription box was “Gin Explorer”, a gin subscription box that was sent out by the same people as those behind the “Gin Festival”. I loved this, but quickly realised that four 50ml Gins a month was hard to keep up with. I have a reasonably large collection of gin anyway as well as not being a huge drinker. This left me in a space where I had enough gin to swim in! Gin Explorer actually stopped a year ago now, which was a blessing in disguise for me. I didn’t want to cancel through fear of missing out on the “Perfect Gin”, but I knew it was getting too much.

When it ended, there was a gaping hole. I needed that little treat through the post every month. I tried out Birchbox, the Look Fantastic Beauty Box and Glossy Box. Again, none of these ever really grabbed me. I liked the packaging more than the contents! I’m not mad keen on beauty products. My “going out” make up is exactly the same as my work look!

Then just a month or two back, I saw on Instagram, “Reading in Heels”. Now this sounded RIGHT up my street. I’ve found myself reading less and less in our era of Netflix and social media. Maybe this was the thing to get me back into reading!

I subscribed on the 4th March – so I had to wait until the beginning of April for my first box. And I couldn’t wait! They promise that you will not receive a book that’s a chick lit or a crime novel.

After a slight delay due to the 1st of the month falling over the Easter bank holiday, my box arrived and it didn’t disappoint!

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So what’s in the box?

The first thing I found was a guide to what’s in the box. This covered a bit about the different products, plus instructions on how to win your next box (post on social media!) and the hashtag for that month’s box. There was also a postcard asking me some questions about the book which served as a mini review card. This was SUCH a nice touch!

I’d not even into the contents and so far, so good! Once, I opened the tissue wrapping, here’s what I found:

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There’s not much to say about the raspberry marshmallow bar. That got devoured whilst I perused the rest of the contents! It tasted really good and I’ve since found them in Starbucks (and may or may not have purchased one). I’d highly recommend if you want a sweet treat that’s a little lighter.

Next up is the tea. The tea comes from “Lola’s Apothecary”. It just sounds cute doesn’t it?This one was called Clementine Calamity and is billed as a “relaxing wellness tea.” Now if you know me well, you’ll know that any kind of herbal or fruit tea is right up my street. Whilst I love a regular brew, it gives me the worst stomach cramps, so I tend to avoid them. I can’t say it particularly calmed me, or relaxed me. But I drank it with a book in hand which usually means I’m feeling pretty chilled out anyway. It tasted really good – if you like a tea that packs a fruity punch, this one is definitely for you.

So onto the fragrances. These Miller Harris fragrance samples are both lovely, but I definitely have a preference for “Rose Silence” over “Tender”. Tender is a unisex, oriental floral fragrance, whereas Rose Silence is also a unisex scent but has more floral tones.

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The last “treat” before I get on to what this whole box was about, was the face masks, from Opitat. Both are sustainable, vegan and organic. You know the “buzz” words. Today I have finally gotten around to trying out the marshmallow root, english hemp and activated charcoal one. These facemasks are a powder which you have to mix with water to form a paste. I definitely made this more watery than paste like. There was no real instructions though around quantities of water. I added about 10ml in the bottom of a cup, when really it probably only called for a drop or two. The smell is lovely, and I did somehow manage to get it on. You only need to leave it on for ten minutes (so brilliant for impatient souls like me). Watch this space for whether it was worth the effort. Initial reaction suggests it was, but we’ll see how my face feels tomorrow!

Finally, the book. This is not a book I would have picked up in the shop. “The Party” by Elizabeth Day is a book that kept me in suspense. It was one of the quickest reads for me in a while as it kept me on the edge of my seat!

The book centres around Martin and Ben, two best friends. One is from a privileged background whilst the other is not. We first meet Martin as he is being questioned by police following events at a party. We later go on to meet his wife, Lucy. As the tale unfolds, we find out exactly what happened at this party, with lots of reminiscing on Martin and Lucy’s part. We learn how Martin’s friendship with Ben began and then evolved to what it is now, along with what lead to the events at the party. It’s a compelling read and I did not see the twist coming (although that doesn’t say much – the only thing I can predict happening, is the events in Coronation Street and that’s never exactly subtle is it?!)

I gave the book 3.5 stars. I was most disappointed that I didn’t really “connect” with any of the characters and I didn’t feel as though I got “closure” from the book. Something in the ending was missing for me. Having said that, I would consider it a recommended read and have already passed my copy on.

I’ve already received this month’s Reading in Heels, and I will definitely review that once I’ve made it through the contents!

Overall, I highly recommend this box to any book worm πŸ™‚

If you fancy it yourself, Just stick “Reading in Heels UK” into Google – you’ll find them!