Limbo.

This week has been pretty rubbish.

Actually, emotionally, I’ve been having a couple of really really naff weeks. A few blogs back, I wrote about the fact that I’m currently going through diagnosis for MS. My position hasn’t changed; I’m still going through diagnosis.

This place that they call “Limbo” isn’t really doing much for me right now. I’m not one to really dwell on stuff though. Don’t get me wrong, I have an emotional reaction to something, but it’s usually over pretty quickly and then I just get on with it. But I can’t do that at the moment. I can’t get on and “deal with it” because I don’t know what it is I’m dealing with.

As a result, I’ve found myself in the last couple of weeks being quite short tempered, emotive. Actually, I don’t even feel like me.

On Tuesday I had a full scale meltdown. Sobbed my eyes out, the lot. Because I can’t “problem solve” the energy I’d usually put into that, has nowhere to go.

So many people have told me how strong I’m being, considering what I am going through. Because people have told me that, I’ve found myself wanting to live up to that standard and not allowing myself to cry (which is crazy really because if there’s one thing I am, it’s a crier!)

I definitely feel better for allowing myself to feel my emotions but I can’t help but have this air of sadness hang over me. It feels alien to me. As a general rule, I have a naturally happy disposition.

At the advice of a colleague, I’ve contacted our employee assistance programme at work. I need someone to talk to. I’ve used it before and it’s brilliant. She correctly pointed out, I need to talk to someone before it gets worse.

Having taken a couple of positive actions (I also called my Neurologist’s secretary for an update) I feel a bit better. I feel less like I’m allowing this to “just” happen to me.

Thankfully, I’ve got an amazing bunch of people around me, from family, friends and work colleagues, to friends I’ve only met online.

You can’t ever underestimate the value of having people that really care about you around.

You’ve Got Mail…

I have always loved letters.

When I was younger I used to love, love, LOVE this book:

Image result for postman book with letters

I can’t tell you how many times I borrowed that book out of the library. I adored it, though sadly never actually owned it. I’m not sure what I loved about it so much. Perhaps there was something exciting to me about reading letters written by people and something quite naughty about reading a letter that wasn’t addressed to me!

I was obsessed with the arrival of the mail. Although there was rarely ever post for me, I’d always be the one to collect the post, everyday with the unwavering hope that there would be something for me. Even to this day, I feel a sadness when there are no letters for me.

As I grew up, my sister and I used to play what we fondly called “The Letter Game”. We rigged up all sorts of contraptions to deliver mail to each other from one bunk bed to the other (we seemed to favour a “pully-cord” method, made from scraps of our Nan’s yarn). We would spend hours writing each other letters, creating word searches and games for one another. My sister, the comedian that she is, liked to include a joke, whilst I always sent a positive thought.

“The Letter Game” developed to writing letters to close school friends at school. Back then there was no option to email your friends, keep in touch via Facebook or even chat via text or MSN Messenger. I spent hours pouring over letters from my friends and writing back to them. A friend, Katie and I had a notebook which we passed back and forth between us. I think these letters are all still in the loft at my Mum and Dad’s. Next time I’m back there, I must try and get them down. I would LOVE to see what rubbish we used to talk to each other, which obviously at the time was the most important thing on earth.

I also started writing to my cousin, Emma, around about this time. My Aunt, Uncle and cousins lived about 1.5 hours away and we didn’t really see much of each other. So we used to write to each other, creating our own magazines to send with the letters!

An actual Pen Pal though, that was something I never had the pleasure of. The closest I got was with my German Exchange partner, Daniela, at 13 years old. She was 16 though and our age gap was likely responsible for our written friendship fizzling out with just one or two letters after I visited her in Germany.

This is why the fact that I, Joanna Livermore, am about to acquire two fabulous Pen Pals is such an amazing thing. I’m so excited about making two new friends, but also have so much excitement about both writing and receiving beautiful, handwritten letters.

The art of writing a letter seems to have died a death in the face of social media and digital means of communicating, but I really want to bring it back to life!

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

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 🙂

Crying about it won’t fix me

I’ve not known whether to talk about this openly or not, but here’s the thing. I’m currently going through diagnosis for a neurological condition. They (the doctors) think it’s MS. I’m inclined to believe them.

Reflecting on my health over the past 6 years, I’ve had funny little glitches with my body, along with some serious eye problems thrown in. It was the recent blindness in my left eye, which has sorted itself out now; but triggered the diagnosis I’m going through.

I’m constantly shattered, I’ve permanently got a tingling in my legs and sometimes they feel so weak I don’t want to stand up anymore. I spend my weekends catching up on sleep and even that’s not enough sleep. And this isn’t even half of it.

It’s tough right now. All I want are answers. Unfortunately though it just doesn’t work like that. I just keep getting sent for more tests.

The positives that are already coming out of this for me though is a desire to be happier with who I am, and loving myself more. If things don’t fill me with happiness, why are they in my life?

I’m amazed at my own strength. Sure I spent the first three days of my holiday flinging myself about and crying my eyes out, but I’m through that now.

It’s one of those things that’s just shit. There’s no other way about it. But the fact is, something is up with me and there’s no point wallowing in it. Crying about it isn’t going to fix me. But being strong both physically and mentally will at least put me in the best possible situation to deal with what lies ahead.

Get a little head space. ..

Recently I’ve been reflecting on my mental wellbeing. I am blessed with sound mental health. Having seen so many people I care about, of varying degrees of closeness to me, really find life difficult at times, I’ve come to realise that this is something that I should not take for granted under any circumstances. I’ve realised that if I do, I may start to neglect it and damage my mental health. And it’s so important that I don’t do that.

My favourite way to chill out is to whack on some Zero 7, or The XX. Then hand me a pen and paper and let me write with a candle burning, and some fluffy socks.

I’ve also started to meditate.

It’s one of those things that I always thought I should do. You know the stuff. If I eat clean, if I do yoga and if I meditate, it makes me a better person who is adulting well.

***NEWSFLASH*** none of that last sentence is true.

Having said that, I do feel that my little forage into meditating is having nothing but positive impacts on my life.

Historically when I’ve attempted meditation I’ve thrown the towel in because in my eyes, I’ve failed. Pretty strong belief, huh. See the thing is, I always felt that not being able to switch off and focus on “nothing” was failing. And believe me. I DO NOT switch off with ease. It takes A LOT of gin to make that happen.

I’ve now returned to it (meditation, not gin) and I cannot begin to express how differently I now perceive it.

A week or so ago I downloaded the head space app. Go and download it now. Don’t bother reading the rest of this. Just download it. It’s a subscribed service but there’s lots of free content too.

Now the first thing that struck me about this app when I downloaded it was that it very much talks about meditation as a practice that you need to, and can, get better at. YAY! It doesn’t matter that I suck at it!
The second thing I noticed was that the meditations in the basic course were no more than 10 minutes, and even then you can choose between 3, 5 or 10 minutes. This was news to me. It’s something I’d always believed you had to spend at least half an hour on. No wonder it had repeatedly been going so badly for me!

When I then played the first meditation session, I found it so easy. As a beginner, 3 minutes was more than enough. And guess what. No-one yells at you if your mind wanders. In fact it’s even encouraged at points.

My favourite thing about this app though, is the guide’s voice. He has a voice that is so easy, and in fact a pleasure to listen to. There’s no gimmicks. There’s none of this “fake soft meditation voice thing” that so many people insist on and fail to realise how distracting and annoying it is for the rest of us.

I’m enjoying my little wander into the world of mindfulness so much, I found myself agreeing to go to a meditation class on Sunday night with a friend. The class was in a dimly lit room at the back of a beauty salon, filled with comfy chairs and candles. I’d been told it was an hour long which seemed pretty daunting at first, but actually the structure of the class made that quite comfortable.

The first thing we did after a little round up of how everyone was feeling and finding out about people’s experience of meditation, was a short “warm-up” meditation. This was just a simple 10 minutes to bring you into a more relaxed state for the rest of the class.

I’ll be honest – this felt weird at first. Being sat in a room, with your eyes closed with a bunch of strangers is weird. You feel so vulnerable. But it wasn’t too bad and the 10 minutes flew past!

After that we were about to do a body scan. This is a meditation where you focus on your body.  You work from your head down and focus on any aches, and then try to work through any niggles.

We started at the top of our head, and although by this point I was used to breathing deeply with my eyes closed in a room full of strangers, I couldn’t help but feel that this was weird!

We were told to focus on the top of our head and be aware of any sensations. Well, I couldn’t feel a thing. I’m sat there wondering what the hell I was doing and desperately trying not to laugh! As I was told to draw my attention down through my body, I still wasn’t getting anything, although I could feel myself getting heavier and heavier in my chair.  They were either trying to hypnotise me, or I was getting attention bloody good sleep for a fiver!

And then we hit the lower back.  Nothing major, but I’d been feeling a little ache throughout that day. And as I continued to breathe deeply and focused my energy on breathing away the pain it went.we carried further down. The next bit for me was my left leg. I suffer from unexplained tingling in it regularly so it would be interesting to see what would happen now.

Once again, I focused on breathing the sensation away and out of my body. And it worked. Now I’m not saying I’ve found the secret of healing, but it sorted out a tiny niggle in my back, and my tingling subsided until the next morning. It’s nice to get a little respite.

After the body scan we were asked how we felt. I could pretty much sum the experience up as, powerful and better than a glass of wine!

I will definitely be returning and I will definitely be keeping up the work I’m doing with the head space app.

Whatever your mental wellbeing looks like, look after it. I really believe that meditation can help with that.