Friday, 21 November 2014

VW BUG

I loved my car.  My VW Beetle.  My Bug.  My Platinum Grey Bug.
I say 'loved', I speak in the past tense, as the other week I was forced to sell her.  I say 'her' as I had named her.  I named her 'Scout'.  I named her after the narrator in 'To Kill A Mockingbird'.  I had to sell her as I hadn't driven her.  I hadn't driven her in the last c. six months due to my poor balance and poor spatial awareness, which are only getting worse.  My poor balance and my poor spatial awareness due to my MS.
The DVLA returned my driving licence the other week, I'd had to send it off to be reviewed (my licence is only issued for a fixed period of three years), and after about three months I had it returned and renewed for another three years.  So technically I am legal and road worthy.  I had a driving test about a year ago at work to enable me to drive the fleet vehicles, and I passed that and they didn't raise any concerns about my ability to drive.  But, so much has happened in a year, and I know in my heart of hearts that although I have my licence that I am at an increased risk of having an accident and this is a risk that I cannot take.
The decision to sell my car, to sell 'Scout' however was not a decision that I took lightly; and was not a decision that I wanted to make at all.  I didn't want to sell her.  I really didn't want to sell her.  It broke my heart; it really honestly, absolutely broke my heart.  To watch someone drive away in Scout, knowing that she was no longer mine and wasn't coming back, was utterly utterly heart-breaking. and Yes, I did I sobbed.  I sobbed for about three days.  I have tears welling now just thinking about it.  It seems so fucking unfair.
But, as much as I loved the car, it isn't so much the car, as the car is an inanimate object, but it is everything that she represented.  My Freedom.  My Independence.  They are gone.  So, now as well as 'mourning' the loss of my health, I am 'mourning' the loss of 'Scout; and am 'mourning' the loss of the Freedom and the loss of my Independence that Scout afforded me.
And we had some adventures.  Blimey did we have some adventures.  Up to Newcastle.  Over to Wales.  Down to Southampton.  Up to Liverpool.  Up and down the Country.  We went to visit a friend in AMAZINGstoke.  We went to Oxford.  We went to Cambridge.  We navigated Milton Keynes.  And even with my TERRIBLE sense of direction and inability to Map Read and No SatNav; we still always managed to navigate our way wherever we were going.  Adventures aplenty.
I did, I loved my car and I hope that she brings as much joy and as much pleasure to her new owner that she bought to me.  She enriched my life immeasurably and I will always look back on happy memories of owning my bug.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

LONELY

There is a simply wonderful quote by Paul TILLICH:
"Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone."
And that seems to sum it up rather neatly really. I hate the loneliness of being alone. It is hateful. An awful feeling. The longing for company. For affection. For chat. For love. For conversation. For ... For ... Something ... Rather than nothing, rather than the nothingness, the silence of loneliness. When you yearn for someone else to share the nothingness with you. Someone to be there. The physical presence of someone. Or even something. The Cat. The Dog.
But then, yes, the glory, the absolute glory, the absolute joy of solitude. The luxury of time spent alone in your own space, with your own company and your own thoughts. I love, I do absolutely love sitting and organising my thoughts. Perhaps with a cup of tea and a biscuit. How heavenly?
And I have become very adept at hiding my lonely. I can appear happy and cheerful and independent and the least lonely person on the planet. And I'm not lonely. I revel in the glory of solitude and appreciate that I can enjoy that time alone; really enjoy time to think and think and over-think. And to get lost in my thoughts and ideas. But then when I have ordered them and organised them, I want to share them and that is when I feel lonely.
I have got Albion, my cat, and she is marvellous. She listens intently and offers affection, but she never seems particularly interested and never offers an opinion. Never either agrees not disagrees.
And I have some of the most tremendous friends that as girl could ever even hope to have. And I know that they would hate to think that I feel so wretched. They will ask what they can do to help. And that is the thing. There isn't anything that they can do. I know that I am loved, and that is a tremendous help. But I still have that empty feeling of being alone.
They say it is better to be alone than to be with someone and still feel alone. And I am sure that that is absolutely true. I think it was Marilyn Monroe who said, "It's better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone."
So perhaps that it the thing. The thing that loneliness relates so closely to unhappiness. Perhaps that empty feeling of feeling lonely is actually unhappiness manifesting itself in another form? 
And loneliness is one hell of an epidemic.  Anne Hathaway said; "Loneliness is my least favorite thing about life. The thing that I'm most worried about is just being alone without anybody to care for or someone who will care for me."
But you are never alone with books and ideas and tea. I can amuse myself for days ... But then I realise that perhaps it would be nice to share it all. Sometimes I do think that. That it would be nice to share ideas and thoughts and dreams ... To share all of that with someone who would like to share. 
I mean even Pooh Bear, the intellect and philosopher, Pooh Bear or was it Piglet who exclaimed that; "it is so much friendlier with two." And I am sure that it is.

And it sounds miserable. And it is ... And yet ... And yet ... It isn't ... It really isn't ..  It isn't at all ... It is marvellous ... Simply marvellous. 

Friday, 31 October 2014

HAPPY2

Well I have just completed the 100 Happy Days Challenge.  This is an initiative of the Random Acts of Kindness (#RAK) Foundation.  It has been great fun.  It really has been great fun.
We are reminded that, "We live in times when super-busy schedules have become something to boast about. While the speed of life increases, there is less and less time to enjoy the moment that you are in.  The ability to appreciate the moment, the environment and yourself in it is the base for the bridge towards long-term happiness of any human being.  We need to be reminded to take joy and take pleasure from the small things.  And in doing so, we may discover that these things are not so small after all.  These are in fact the big things."
So, "The idea is simple.  The idea is to every day submit a picture of what made you happy!"
A snap-shot, of a moment, that captures; that truly captures the 'happy'.
You are reminded that "It is important to remember that the #100happyday challenge is for you - not for anyone else".  It is not a happiness competition or a showing off contest.  If you try to please / make others jealous via your pictures - you lose without even starting.  Same goes for cheating."  It is important to remember that happiness is not a competition.  Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.
This reminds me of the quote by Henry David Thoreau, (the American author, poet, philosopher, historian, and leading various other things) which was on a card sent to me by a dear friend, “Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder...”

Visitwww.100happydays.com/foundationfor more information. 
Apparently, "71% of people tried to complete this challenge, but failed quoting lack of time as the main reason". These people simply did not have time to be happy.  How can you not have time to be happy?  Surely you are doing something wrong if you can't find the time; make the time, to be happy.  
So, you take a photo of something that has made you happy.  "It can be anything from a meet-up with a friend to a very tasty cake in the nearby coffee place, from a feeling of being at home after a hard day to a favor you did to a stranger."  Your favourite beer; or favourite fabric softner on special offer at the SuperMarket.  A cuddle with the cat, or watching your favourite TV Show or a piece of music played on the radio; a photo that captures and represents that moment.
I have enjoyed it.  I have really enjoyed it.  I have enjoyed the discipline and challenge of taking a daily photo.  I do already want to do it again.  I am sure that at some point I will do it again.

Friday, 24 October 2014

SILENCE MS


Yes!  I am going to Shut Up.  Well I am going to shut up for 48 hours at least (on 20-22 November, 2014).  Well, I am going to try.  I am going to try and shut-up, be quiet, stay silent.  I am not denying it is going to be rather a big challenge.  It is going to be a huge challenge. It is going to be a massive challenge.  Quite a big ask; as yes, I do rather like a chat.  I am rather a chatterer.  In fact, I don't really very often shut up.  But, I am going to give it a go.  I am up for the challenge.  Well-Done me.




MS is a silent and often isolating disease.  We at 'Shift.ms' and I say 'we' as I am delighted to be included as one of the team, as I run the 'BLOG Post of the Week' feature on the Shift.ms Social Media sites.  Shift.ms are hoping to 'break the silence' by staying silent in order to raise funds. Raise fund and raise awareness.




So, I am going to be silent for 48 hours for Shift.ms because MS Awareness needs a voice and needs to be heard.  And I can really think of no better reason than that.


You can find out more information at the following address: http://silence.ms/

At that address you can find out more and you can sign up to take part yourself.  Are you up for the challenge?








Thank You for your support.  Thank You for reading this.  Thank You for your sponsorship.  Thank You very much indeed.  It really is very much appreciated.  My Just Giving Page is at the following address:
https://www.justgiving.com/Hanya-Gordon


Thank You x

Friday, 26 September 2014

RELAXATION

It is argued that relaxation is one of the most effective self-help strategies for a healthy body and healthy mind.  It can help to prevent the development of stress and anxiety and depression, and can help you sleep.

Relaxation exercises and techniques are used to combat the signs and symptoms of stress and anxiety, to relax the body and clear the mind - that sounds ACE.  I thought that I would give it a go.

Of course any exercises or guided relaxation won't magically make the cause of your anxiety disappear; but what they can and will do is provide you with the necessary skills so that you will probably feel more able to deal with whatever is/was that was/is once the source of your anxiety; and it will do this by releasing you of any fear or tension that you may feel, and by clearing your thoughts. Right, OK. I'm ready to give that a go.

Most relaxation techniques combine breathing more deeply, and combine this with relaxing the muscles.  As with most things, this is learnt behavior. Relaxation is a skill that needs to be learned, and it will come with practice and become easier.  Both Yoga and Tai Chi (see previous TAI CHI BLOG) have been found to be good forms of exercise that help to improve posture and breathing and relaxation.

Awareness of ourselves and the world around us – is now often called, or is referred to as 'mindfulness' – and it is felt participating in 'mindfulness' and practicing 'mindfulness' that this can improve our mental wellbeing.  Mindfulness is advocated by the Mental Health Foundation.  Mindfulness therefore is a "mind-body based approach that helps people change the way they think and feel about their experiences, especially stressful experiences." 

This is sometimes referred to as Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).  "Mindfulness training helps us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, we're better able to manage them."  Mindfulness is felt to be a valuable tool in restoring people's quality of life: "Mindfulness therefore is a mind-body approach to well-being that can help you change the way you think about experiences and reduce stress and anxiety."

Research has found; and there is growing evidence that 'Mindfulness' can help with: 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress 
  • Chronic Pain 
  • Chronic Fatigue Symptom
  • Insomnia 

All of these are symptoms that can be experienced with MS.

It is important to remember that relaxation or meditation or mindfulness won't make the cause of the anxiety disappear, it won't alleviate the source of your anxiety; what it will do is it will equip you so that you will probably feel more able to deal with whatever it was that was causing your stress.  Surely that has got to be a good thing?

While Mindfulness can be practiced quite well without Buddhism, Buddhism cannot be practiced without Mindfulness.  In its Buddhist context, mindfulness meditation has three overarching purposes: 'knowing the mind'; 'training the mind'; and 'freeing the mind'.

Relaxation and Meditation and Mindfulness are each concerned with developing techniques that enable us to live in the 'here' and 'now'.  They are about living in the present, about learning to live in the present.  About enjoying the moment.  About enjoying this moment.  I have slowing been trying to re-educate myself, to ensure that I live in the present.  This isn't easy.  This is not an easy thing to learn.  But, I am learning.

I love Audrey Hepburn, I adore Audrey Hepburn, everything about Audrey.  Her grace and her beauty, obviously; but she radiated other qualities of kindness and goodness.  She was kind and thoughtful in her actions, she took time and was appreciative of the good things that she had in her life.  She knew hardship and sorrow and heart-break, but she appeared to deal with everything effortlessly with style and grace.  She appeared to know the importance of living in the moment and taking pleasure from the simple things in life.  This is something that I have always admired tremendously.  Therefore an approach that I have taken to life is: 'What would Audrey do?'  That is my mantra in trying to be a better person.  What would Audrey do?



Friday, 19 September 2014

UNHAPPY

You know that feeling, when you feel fed-up?  You feel sad.  You feel a little bit flat and a little bit miserable.  You are upset.  And you don't know why you are upset.  You just are. You are just sad. You are unhappy.

You know that there is no reason, no justification.  You have no right to be miserable.  But, nevertheless you are, and there is nothing that you or anybody else can do about it.  Do you know that feeling?

Horrible isn't it?

I've had that feeling, on and off, this week and for the last few weeks, on and off.  And I know it is unfair and I know that it is irrational, and it is silly but it still feels very real.

I feel unloved.  I feel stupid.  I feel scared.  I feel lonely, and hopeless, and I guess I feel unhappy.

There is no reason why I should feel any of these things.  I am loved.  I have wonderful family and amazing, really amazing friends.  And while I may be a bit daft, I am certainly not stupid.  There is nothing for me to be scared of.  "The only thing to fear is fear itself." as Franklin D. Roosevelt famously exclaimed.  And I have no reason to be lonely.  So why then this feeling?  This feeling of feeling unhappy?

And if I try and quantify it I realise that I am being a little bit ridiculous, a little bit of a 'drama queen', a little bit 'attention seeking'.  But I am not, and actually I can't stop it.

I guess a have a 'Black Dog', as Winston Churchill famously called his depression.  But, my 'Black Dog', while it is still black, is small and cute, and with a very waggy tail.  I am not 'depressed', I am just a little bit 'anxious' and a little bit in a low mood, and a little bit unhappy.


I feel 'unworthy'.  I have a tremendous sense of 'unworthiness', of feeling 'not good enough', of feeling . . . of just feeling 'unloved', 'unlovable' . . . and just feeling 'sad'.

But, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Nothing can bring peace but yourself."


So, you have to learn . . . I have to learn . . . to love yourself, to learn to like yourself, to be accepting of who you are and what you are doing, and just be OK with that.  I do have to learn this.

Perhaps I need to learn to be grateful. To be grateful for the things that I do have. to focus on what I do have and learn to be grateful, learn to be so grateful that I don't have room for 'sad'.  I don't have time to be miserable, that I banish the unhappy.

I am not saying that this will be easy, but on those days where I feel a little bit sad and a little bit unhappy, I can perhaps learn to change my mind, I can change my mind and choose to be a little bit happy.