Writing Wednesday – Part 3

Vlogs, Writing & Blogging

Writing Wednesday FranceHow about some writing for pure escapism? This week we look at just that as well as looking outside yourself for inspiration and the trend that is ‘nature writing.’

As promised in the vlog below, here are some pictures that I have taken during my break in France to offer you some more inspiration for your pure escapism writing – should you need it!

Have a look and let me know what inspires you and what you would write for escapism.

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Writing Wednesday Vlog – Part 1

Cancer & Me, Vlogs, Writing & Blogging

Hello all,

This is something that I have been putting together for a while and I am SO pleased to finally be uploading my first Writing Wednesday Vlog.

This series is really about the joy of writing and living more creatively. Using writing to help you through trauma or negative experiences, or just for the plain fun of it!

I really hope that you enjoy this vlog and if you do please share the love.

Happy Watching x

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I genuinely love to hear from you so come and say hi! Nx

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Sun, Sand & Septicaemia! (part one)

Cancer & Me, Health & Beauty, What's Happening?

Well that was NOT part of the plan when my family and I decided to go on a dream family holiday to Mauritius!

My husband and I worked, saved and planned for months. We were so excited to finally be going and once there, it was as close to paradise as I could have hoped. We were all having the perfect time – until…

A few days in I started to feel unwell.  There was a medical centre on site and a nurse gave me some rehydration sachets.  I did keep saying that it felt more like a bladder infection but it was considered dehydration.  I know that with a colostomy dehydration is an extreme issue, so I was furious with myself that I had become dehydrated.  But the sachets didn’t help, in fact when I tried to drink one, I instantly threw it back up again – sexy!

Back to the medical center where it was agreed – it was a bladder and possibly now a kidney infection as well but not to worry, oral antibiotics and you should feel better in a day or two.  Sorted.

Not so.  By the next day I was convulsing, vomiting and had a temperature of 40c.  The medical team sent me straight to hospital.  I can’t lie, the journey to hospital was petrifying. It was an hour and a half away. I had to go by taxi on my own because it was too far for an ambulance to come and Husband had to stay with the kids. I had no idea what to expect when I got there – a posh private clinic, or like something off an episode of panorama.  The hospital was fine, basic, but fine and the staff were really wonderful.

Arriving at hospital I was delirious and writhing in pain. The doctors wouldn’t give me any medication until they ran tests, sorted my insurance and had my passport so the next hour was pretty awful and involved a lot of tears as I played the worlds smallest violin to myself.

Quick side note: I couldn’t be admitted until my insurance was sorted and they took my passport as a guarantee of payment which I didn’t have with me, the nurse seemed to think  couldn’t be admitted (more crying/violin playing) until thankfully someone was able to come and help me be admitted without my passport.  There was security on all the doors so no one can leave and they only removed the drip and cannula once the bill has been paid.  I understand why, but I really was reminded how lucky I am to live in a country with a National Health Service.  It might not be perfect but at least you never have to fear being turned away from a hospital like I nearly was, or worry about paying the bill – that truly is amazing.  But anyway – back to the story…

I was diagnosed with a chronic bladder, kidney and blood infections – septicaemia.  It was the septicaemia that was causing the convulsing and fitting.  I had non-stop drips running for three days with antibiotics, liquid and painkillers.  Honestly I can’t explain how ill I was.

The only other time I have felt that bad was when I was having chemo and a junior doctor gave me the wrong amount of morphine and I overdosed.

Because the hospital was so far from the hotel, it wasn’t easy for my family to visit so I spent most of the three days I was in there contemplating being severely ill again. Obviously it’s not like my cancer was back but being hooked up to machines day and night, having numerous scans and tests – it all felt far too familiar and took me back to an emotionally dark place.

13007119_10156741940120153_2581753792320052315_n

Getting to sit and watch the sunset

As there was a medical centre at my hotel, my consultant (after quite a lot of negotiation) agreed to let me convalesce in the hotel with the medical team supporting me.  I couldn’t get out of bed and was on a lot of medication but who cares… I was back and with my family for the last few days of holiday.

The day I was released I saw a blog post from Consciously Healthy which seemed to sum up just how I was feeling.  The author Emma was reflecting on how after a long recovery, she stopped giving her mind, body and soul the attention it deserved, till eventually her body gave-way again.  This was exactly how  felt.  I know I didn’t have cancer again and my life is full of people and things that I love, but slowly my life had returned to crazy busy with little down time and having septicaemia made me realise it was time to have a little rethink!

I will be writing more about how and ‘if’ the rethink happened in a few days so check back or sign up for part 2…

Are there any times in your life when you have had a rethink?  Or any tips for anyone else having a rethink?  Please leave a comment and share you stories with us.

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With love XX

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Book Review – One Million Lovely Letters by Jodi Ann Bickley

Any Human Heart, To Love To Read

I first heard about One Million Lovely Letters about a year ago when a friend sent me the link to the website.  I was beyond amazed by the concept – if you feel like you need a hug in an envelope, email Jodi Ann Bickley and she will handwrite you a letter to remind you how awesome you are.  See – amazing!

I looked for the website recently because I had a story idea that’s based on a similar concept.  When looking, I saw that Jodi Ann Bickley has written a book by the same name which was immediately ordered and quite literally devoured by me.

image1.JPGI think everyone should read this book.  It should be on the school syllabus.  It should be a staple in everyone’s lives, because it essentially reminds the reader that we all that have a choice to be a cloud or a ray of sunshine in someone else’s day.

Having said that, it’s not all “life is perfect, be positive and everything is completely fabulous all the time.” Jodi is beautifully honest about some pretty brutal emotional and physical difficulties and illnesses that she’s been/going through.  About how even when things are starting to go right, she still has personal hurdles to overcome.

This book reminds us that everything is not perfect – it never is – but we still have the option to be kind.

The story itself is captivating but the language used and they way the story is told is equally gorgeous.  The author is a poet (by day) and I think it really come across in the beautiful language and Bickley has an amazing way of drawing you in and expressing so much emotion through her words.

This book feeds your soul and is well and truly on my ‘favourite books of all time’ list.

My children (like me) think that getting post is the best thing ever but (again like me) they only get anything around their birthday.  About half way through the book, I decided to write my children (ages 6 and 4) letters to remind them how awesome they are.  I posted them and they were so excited finding them on the doorstep and even more excited when they realised it was from me.  It was so much fun getting to see their little faces as they read how much I love them.  They both have them under their pillows now.  Such a simple idea but it brought so much joy to all of us.  I implore you to do the same.  Write a letter to someone and let them know how awesome they are.

If you are feeling inspired by the concept, One Million Lovely Letters is currently collecting  letters from all over the globe to go into an exhibition so are asking lovely people to post lovely letters.  Here is Jodi Ann explaining all about it…

One Million Lovely Letters the book (plus Jodi and the whole One Million Lovely Letters concept) is a massive 5 out of 5 for me.

Get it, read it, share it – your life will only be inhanced by reading this wonderful book.

Happy Reading x

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month – Day 18 – Know Your Colostomy from your Ileostomy

Cancer & Me, Colosto-ME

Day 17 – My DictiOSTOMY!

This is something that is commonly confused, especially by the media, so this is basically it in my version of a dictionary – My DictiOSTOMY

STOMA

Stoma, literally translated, means ‘mouth’ or opening.  In this case referring to the opening from the colon coming through the abdomen.

COLOSTOMY

The more common, or at least the most referred too, is the colostomy.  A colostomy is formed by a stoma being made from the large intestine and brought through the abdomen wall.  A colostomy bag can then be attached to the skin to collect any waste.  A colostomy hangs on the persons left side.

ILEOSTOMY

An ileostomy is basically the same as a colostomy but it is made from the small intestine and the waste is generally still a liquid.  An ileostomy bag is then attached to the skin again to collect waste.  An ileostomy hangs on the persons right side.

OSTOMY

Keeping it general, it is referring to be both colostomy’s and ileostomy’s.

OSTOMATE

Someone who has an ostomy.

So there you have it, a little break down of the lingo so you know what we are all talking about! 🙂

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The Stupid Things People Say When You Have Cancer!

Cancer & Me

When You Find Out You Have Cancer…

I would prepare yourself for when people say (what I think) are very stupid things. The most common comment being “I knew someone who had cancer and died”, seriously, who are you helping when you say that? There is also my personal favourite, “just think positively and you’ll be fine”. Don’t get me wrong, positivity is great and positively encouraged, but cancer is a little more complicated than that. Cancer is not purely a mental test with your survival the prize. Nevertheless, people will tell you to be positive, A LOT!

You may also find that you end up consoling the person you have just told rather than the other way around. Personally didn’t mind this, I actually started becoming quite offended if people didn’t need consoling – don’t they care? Just kidding, obviously they did, presumably they were holding it together so as not to upset me – right? But seriously, I can certainly see how upsetting it could be if you are struggling with your own emotions without taking on someone else’s crushed feelings.

Generally, people love to compare your cancer to someone else they know who had cancer. Sometimes I would be told the strangest things like “at least they caught it early”, no they didn’t? Why assume that? Some people make all sorts of assumptions based on a previous experience they’ve had with someone else. This used to drive me mad and annoyingly it’s not just with diagnosis, it will be with every stage of your cancer care.

What Can You Do?

Whatever someone’s reaction, remember that most people are trying their best, they are not trying to annoy you, they are probably just at a loss for what to say and feel that they need to say something, anything. If someone does say something that offends or upsets you, remember you are in an emotionally raw place. It would be normal to take things to heart that would usually not be such a big deal to you. This is entirely natural so do not feel bad about it. If someone is comparing your cancer to someone else, you could say, there are so many variations (even within the same cancer) they really aren’t comparable. Where possible try to distance yourself from those comments and if someone is upsetting you, maybe mention that you are trying your best to handle it your way, and get them off the phone!

My Loved One Has Cancer – What Should I Be Saying?

I didn’t want to send all the non-cancer people into a spin on what they should be saying so this would be my advice…

when-it-hurts-to-look-back-and-youre-scared-to-look-ahead-you-can-look-beside-you-and-ill-be-there

In my opinion, it’s best to follow the lead of the person who has cancer.  Be led by how they are feeling and their reactions.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions, I’m sure they would rather tell you than have you assume.  Ask how they are feeling, how they are reacting to the news.  Feel free to agree that it is shite and you wish there was something you could say to make it better but you know there isn’t.  Ask if there is anything you can do to help and suggest things you could do – make dinner / take the kids to school / drop a text saying, I’m at the shops can I pick anything up for you.  Feel free to make suggestions about way’s of handling ideas but leave it as a suggestion not an instruction.  If they don’t seem keen, leave it, don’t push what your friend of a friend did down their throat.

I found an influx of offers of help and well-wishes at the beginning and then it tails off (understandably) so my biggest suggestion would be to just let them know that you are still there, thinking about and loving them and ready to respond should they need you.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to dealing with cancer.  Treating someone with love and kindness will go a long way.

Nx

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Hartwell House Hotel and Aromatherapy Associates – Anti-Bucket List 2015 Update

Health & Beauty, The Anti-Bucket List, What's Happening?

One of the best things about putting ‘visiting Spa’s’ on my Anti-Bucket List is getting to do one of my favourite things…. visit spa’s!

Last weekend I had the complete joy of visiting a new spa near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, at Hartwell House Hotel with my lovely friend L.J. Ross.

Our rather stunning room

Our rather stunning room

The old manor house has been turned into a hotel in the most beautiful way.  It has retained the feel of a house, keeping four large drawing rooms with fire places for guests to relax in (or read and write within as was the case with us – what can I say, it’s all rock n’ roll when two writers go away).  With such a number of drawing rooms and a library available to use, it never feels crowded.  There was more than one moment when I felt like I was in Downton Abbey, especially when walking down the engraved, ornate staircase.

The Spa is in the old stables and has been wonderfully converted, again very sympathetically, complete with the required beige stone and soothing music.  The Spa uses Aromatherapy Associates a product that surprisingly, I hadn’t tried before.  The smell was delicious, not as fragrant as other products but I think that is a good sign.  It shows that there aren’t high levels of chemical perfumes added.

Unknown-3I had the Aromatherapy Associates Essential Rose Facial with Back Massage.  Starting with the back massage the therapist focused on my shoulders after I told her it was my area of concern and then went into the facial, complete with an amazing head massage.  I honestly felt like a new woman and my skin looked so clean and radiant, wonderful.  My wonderful co-assistant reviewer had an Indian Head Massage which she enjoyed but would have liked more time spent on her head and less on her shoulders as her back is so ticklish.  Thank God I don’t have that problem, couldn’t imagine not liking back massages!

I was very impressed by the products and went on to buy the Rose Face Mask and Rose Facial Tonic, which I am enjoying using.

Overall, I loved Hartwell House Hotel and Spa.  So much so that I am planning on taking husband there and it is high on my list of favourite hotel.  An amazing big tick of the Anti-Bucket List 2015, but I think I will happily add it again and again! 🙂

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Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse – Book Review

To Love To Read

I haven’t posted a book review for a while.  The reason being, I have struggled to get into a book.  That was until Me Before You by Lucie Whitehouse.  This book moves at a quick pace (which I love), keeping you turning the pages as rapidly as you can.

before we met

Although it is building up to something, I was still taken by surprise by what the twist was and although I suspected the ending, its delivery was still surprising and not quite what I thought.  The narrative moves between the past and present and at some points I thought it could have been a little clearer when jumping between the two.

All in all a fantastic book that I would highly recommend – as long as you don’t mind being kept up late because you just need to read one more chapter!! 🙂

Happy reading x

Clean Cocoa Coconut Bites

Delicious Healthy Recipes, Family Matters, Health & Beauty, Journey Back to Health

This is based on a recipe from Honestly Healthy a fabulous cookbook full of healthy clean recipes that I can’t recommend enough.  What I love most, especially during my 100 Healthy Days and since giving up processed sugar is the snacks and desserts section.  Yes they can be clean and here is one of my favourite at the moment….

I made mine slightly differently to the recipe to keep a cupcake type vibe which I knew would be more appealing to my little fussy easters.

  • 10 fresh pitted Dates
  • 50g Cacao powder
  • 25g raw Almonds
  • 200g Coconut Flakes
  • 30g Agave syrup
  • 1 tbsp Xylitol (I actually didn’t use this as I wasn’t able to get any in time)
  • 2 tbsp Water (I used filtered)
  • I also added tiny Coconut Flakes for dusting

This recipe couldn’t be easier – Pre-heat the over to 180

Chuck the dates, cacao powder and almonds into the blender and blend until it becomes a sticky paste (I don’t have a high powered blender so this did take a while and a bit of digging it out from under the blades and restarting but that was fine).

Chuck in everything else and blend till its a touch choppy consistency.

I popped my mixture into small cupcake cases, as I’ve said I knew my kids would prefer it and I thought it would make transporting them easier.

Pop in the oven for 10 minutes.

I then sprinkled very fine coconut flakes over the top.

photo

Allow the bites to cool completely before eating and there you have it.  Yummy goodness to pacify any sweet tooth and no nasties.  My husband actually didn’t believe I hadn’t included any sugar they tasted so good.

Happy eating! x

Day 36 – 100 Healthy Days – Keeping Momentum High

Health & Beauty, Journey Back to Health

There is no doubt that it was easier for me to stay healthy whilst in Spain.  The heat, swimming pool and delicious salads made it easier for me to eat healthy and move more everyday.  It’s when I’m home I seem to struggle, especially with sugar and caffeine.  I just get so tired with the kids etc… so it has to be done!

photoI know I said that I wasn’t going to ‘give up’ anything but as things are going quite well and want to keep moving in the right direction I decided to give up processed sugar.  As well as wanting to be healthier I have given up sugar due to the horrible fatigue I have been feeling ever since having cancer as a way to try and help combat that.  I am on day 6 now and it is going well.  Apart from on day 4 when I accidentally had sugar in a drink I didn’t realise it was in (we will come onto hidden sugars in due course) but basically….  I have been making some ‘clean’ desserts as fab alternatives, including these delicious Cocoa Coconut Bites that are also a hit with the children – win win!

Moving wise I have taken the plunge and hired a personal trainer to make sure I keep exercising regularly and get the most out of my workouts.  I will be starting with her on Thursday so in the mean time I keep moving and getting out and about and my Davina DVD’s whenever I can.  Even when it was raining at the weekend, hubby the kids and I all got our wellies on a headed into the woods for a long country walk, heaven!

So 36 days in I would say that one thing that has been interesting is the effect I believe it is having on my children.  They are getting out and about more and their diet has definitely improved as I find healthy or clean alternatives and – if I’m honest – I don’t want to be tempted by them eating something yummy I’m not allowed so I’m not giving them things I would have on occasion before.  All in all I believe it is having a positive impact on the whole family, which is only ever good news in my eyes.