Un posted excuses

I am beginning to wonder what is going on. I was so inspired both during and after doing the Blogging 101 course that I planned to be posting a very realistic twice a week, or so I thought. But this hasn’t happened and I have been reflecting on what has been going on.

Putting the rest of my life aside, two things seem to have happened:

Firstly when I am inspired I start writing, maybe jotting down a few notes here and there in notebooks, on my phone or even more shockingly in WordPress itself! More often than not this happens between 3 and 4am, so whilst inspire I know that I need to get back to bed and sleep. And, that is where it ends, I have about a dozen unfinished posts, and 6 incomplete pages to add to my blog.

This is all quite fascinating for me as usually I am a list person, in fact I  get given List Books as presents. I write lists of what I need to do and buy and then work my way though them, which I love and find wonderfully satisfying and it saves my little brain from having to remember much.  But this writing lark is oh so very different, there are  ideas, topics, words, phrases, sentences, occassionally paragraphs and rarely a post. So over the next month I am going to endeavour to actually complete my unfinished posts.

Secondly, is photos. I like having a photo to go with my post, which is fine and dandy if I have taken it myself which is then super easy to upload. But trying to embed a photo has totally floored me. I have been using Getty to find images which is slow, due to my connection but is awash with fabulous photos. However despite reading and following the instructions many many times either I can’t copy the link, which I think is a device issue or if I use a regular computer I can copy the link but when I paste it I just get a sting of code and no image.  So over the next month I am either going to be taking loads of photos myself, which could be interesting, or just posting without them.

 

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Pancreatic cancer – survival rate unchanged in 40 years!

Last week on World Cancer Day, Cancer Research UK released the latest statistics showing that cancer deaths in the UK have fallen by almost 10% over the last 10 years. In addition, the 10 year survival rates from some cancers have significantly improved since 1971, all of which is positive news.

However this is not the case for pancreatic cancer where the rate of people dying from pancreatic cancer has not only increased by 8% but the 10 year survival rate still remains BELOW 1%,  the same as 40 years ago, which quite frankly is appalling.

Pancreatic Cancer has the lowest survival of all 21 common cancers

The general consensus for the poor survival rate is that it is often diagnosed too late, as there are few symptoms. However there is also another factor which is the lack of funding for research into pancreatic cancer which lags well behind that of other cancers.

“While funding for pancreatic cancer research has increased marginally over the past 10 years it still accounts for only one per cent of overall research funding and only two per cent of site-specific funding. This is despite it being the fifth largest cause of cancer death in the UK.”
Pancreatic Cancer Action.

I know that this will change, it has to, because as research into others cancers results in earlier diagnosis, treatment and longer life expectancy then at some point in time the spotlight will eventually be on the incredible low survival rate of those with pancreatic cancer.

Also I believe that the incidence of pancreatic related illness, like Acute and Chronic Pancreatitis, Cancer and Diabetes will continue to increase.  Why?  Because the pancreas is the one organ that regulates sugar levels in the blood and also the only organ that digests fats. So as our diets continue to increase in fat and sugar, namely in processed foods, so to will the stress on the pancreas.

If you want to show your pancreas some love try to moderate your consumption of sugar, fat and alcohol or at least take the time to read the label on 1 or 2 ready meals in your trolley, whilst waiting at the checkout, starting with what you buy the most. You may be surprised by their contents, I was and I had thought that I was a healthy eater.

References;
Cancer Research UK, article and stats on cancer death rates
Funding statistics for cancer research, from Pancreatic Cancer Action

 

 

 

The write time

3am awake, wide awake

no thoughts, no worries mate

fumbling darkness

slippers, pjs, glasses found

hush, hubby sleeping on

downstairs to kettle boiling

kitchen table, notebook, pen

reminiscing time pre glowing screens

connections, thoughts, ideas flowing

occassional eloquence disconcerting

hours of no consequence, weekend dawning

cats are fed so back to bed

snuggling up sleep returns

hubby still undisturbed

 

 

 

Happy feet

Feet First – I have to laugh at myself, but for some reason my feet have been gaining more of my attention over the last 12 months. I think it started when I was stressed and anxious and totally stuck in my head so, in an attempt to ground myself I tried visualising breathing through my feet, yes I do know how bizarre that sounds, but it worked.

Other people may focus on their breathe in their chest or stomach, or wiggle their toes to feel grounded and more connected with the world. But for some reason this didn’t work for me, so I combined breathing with my feet and found a new method of stress relief!

Then after surgery in March, I spent months walking round in flat shoes basically it was just easier and more comfortable. As a result my posture gradually improved and I actually had a real sense of my feet being flat on the ground.

Once I discover Tai Chi in August, I was in heaven not only was I able to begin to exercise again but I did so with bare feet and absolute joy.  There is something delightful about standing in bare feet, feeling the texture of the floor or the coolness of grass whilst being totally balanced throughout the body.

Even if I have no time to do anything else, I will stand softly, upright and still, looking out of the window for a few minutes every morning, just to connect with my body, my breath and feel balanced.

Shoes Second – Once Winter came along so did more restrictive shoes, Summer is fabulous for bare feet, flat sandals, pumps/sneakers but Winter meant the return to more structured shoes, so I went though my wardrobe taking out all the shoes and putting back only the flat ones, with the exception of one pair of gorgeous high heeled black shoes that I have had for years and totally adore but only ever get worn occassionally. The rest I put on eBay, which to my surprise did very well.

I had heard about barefoot shoes, mainly for running, the shoes with 5 toes – but really that isn’t me and certainly not for work. Fortunately the purge of my shoes had left me short of just one pair of shoes, or so l told myself!

All I was looking for was one pair of black flat shoes, how difficult could it be? Well, very – is the answer!  I found some ‘bare foot’ black pumps but not only were they expensive they didn’t actually fit that well, so no sooner had they arrived they were returned.

Then completely by accident I found a pair of flexible, in this case foldable, black pumps a bit like ballet shoes that were completely flat and also in the sale – happy days. Afterwards I realised that I could also wear them for Tai Chi too, an added bonus.

Here’s to happy feet 🙂 how do you love yours?

 

 

Nature speaking

Every now and again, something stops me in my tracks and I take a moment to observe the world. Or rather our world, our planet – earth.

 

It never ceases to amaze me what the earth provides for us; everything single items we possess, every morsel we eat, all that we wear, the places in which we live, the air we breath. Every single thing that we come into contact with, comes from this amazing planet.

And, it is not just what earth provides us now but the amazing fact that we are created from the elements of the earth, we too constitute water, air, heat, minerals etc.

We are made of, live upon, and utilise all that earth offers us.  We have the intelligence to be able to mine, meld, mould and transform all the resources around us for the benefit and profit of ourselves and others.

All that we are comes from the earth, all that we have comes from the earth, and in the blink of an eye we will return to it, not just as an individual but also as a species. We come and we will go and yet the earth will continue far beyond our comprehension as it has already done for billions of years, with or without us.

Thank you earth, where we would we be without you!!

 

2016 – Contentment & Creativity

I begin each year not with a resolution but a theme or two to focus on throughout the year.  But where do I want focus my attention in 2016?  There are just so many positive themes to choose from.

As 2015, and my year of gratitude comes to an end I have been continually surprised by what an amazing theme gratitude has been, as whatever happened I could always find something for which I was grateful and appreciative, which has helped me to focus on the positive during a difficult year.

One thing that I found, which arose from being grateful, was contentment. Contentment which I so easily overlook in my search for whatever is happening next. The one thing that illness gave me was the opportunity to be more reflective about my life and the wonderful people in it.

To me contentment is more subtle than gratitude. Gratitude is something that I can think about and then write into a diary or journal. But contentment is more elusive as it is a way of being. So I feel that my year of contentment will require the application of a bit more awareness, than normal 🙂

So, some of the things I am looking at doing are:

  1. Continuing with my daily gratitude diary.
  2. Creating space by not over committing myself – which is a habit of mine, then I wonder why I am stressed and tired.
  3. Thinking before I buy – do I really need it?  I can always leave it in the online basket for a week or two and see if I still want it!
  4. Taking time to be present, through meditation, Tai Chi and walking.
  5. Reminding myself when the going gets tough to Breath and Smile 🙂

As for the theme of Creativity, well that has spontaneously arisen from a combination of things that I enjoy and want to engage in more wholeheartedly, like:

  1. Spending more time sewing, I want to see if I can design and make one new item every month – cushion, skirt, bag or dress.
  2. Cooking, I am going to try one new recipe each week – I am fully aware that I may end up eating a lot of soup!! but seeing that I was kindly given 3 cookery books for Christmas there is no excuse really.
  3. My hurricane lamp project, each month creating a new theme.
  4. Writing this blog in an attempt to articulate my thoughts a little better and to create some pages with information about the pancreas, it’s function and the diseases that effect it.

So 2016, I am fired up and ready to roll, bring it on.

Cushions
A few of my previous projects 🙂

 

 

 

Who are you when no one else is looking?

Who are you when no one else is looking?

This was a question a friend recently asked me, which has created a thought provoking week. It was something she had contemplated for about a week too coming to the conclusion the she was JOY.

Interestingly the first thing that came to my mind was ouch, am I a different person when no one is looking. So I watched myself for a few days mainly when I was alone to see what my underlying state of being was. And it was “quietly happy” something similar to contentment as opposed to ‘party happy’.

All of which is fabulous but also disturbing at the same time, as most of the time I don’t feel happy. It’s not that I am unhappy but more that other emotions are more prominent like stress or anxiety – both of which usually relate to what is happening next.

So to find that I am happy in my own company, is great but how can I bring that more into the rest of my life? Well that is something for me to think about over the next week or two. I have, and still do, love “Happy” by Will Pharrell so I have included one of my favourite versions by Walk off the Earth, below.  (more…)

Calm before the big Ho Ho Ho

It’s 2 days before Christmas and I have been feeling very relaxed this week, so relaxed that I am beginning to think I must have forgotten something. I have double checked my various lists. I love lists so much that last Birthday both my hubby and sister bought me different List books as presents, and sadly I couldn’t have been happier 🙂

Anyway back to the present so the few last minute things I have to do are:

  1. Make a cracker, I am one short and have no intention of buying a whole box, so I have saved a party hat from the works Christmas party and with hindsight I should have saved the joke and gift too, but hey.
  2. Decorate the cake which I made in September and that hubby has been feeding with brandy ever since, which is less cake and more fruit stuck together with alcohol.
  3. Collect a tray of outrageously delicious chocolate brownies and antibiotics, ooh written like that I could be on to the next best thing – antibiotic chocolate brownies – that just has to be a winner!!
  4. Consider table decorations, I say consider because what would actually fit on the table with all the food – absolutely nothing!! As it is the vegetables are usually balanced on the window cill. Really who has space for table decs?
  5. Find all the presents that I have wrapped; last time I found one in March that I had forgotten. Already I have managed to buy hubby 2 Christmas cards because I forgot I had bought one in October. Need to write another list 🙂

Dad is bringing the turkey, stuffing, gravy, sausages in bacon and a nut roast which will all be fantastic if he remembers. At a family reunion he forgot the meat but bought extra cheese instead. Which if combined with any ‘substitutions’ to the grocery order I placed in October for delivery Christmas eve, could mean that we will be having the most creative Christmas lunch ever 🙂

 

2015 gratitude and compliments

At the end of 2014 I decided that instead if having a New Years resolution I would have a theme to focus on, and for 2015 that theme would be gratitude. It was a theme that has proved to be somewhat challenging especially as on the 2nd January I was dignosed with a rare tumour (IPMN) in my pancreas. So literally 40 hours into 2015 I was thinking why me, and gratitude was the furthest thing from my mind.

Whilst my tumour didn’t seem something to be grateful for, I soon realised without having an astute consultant and the latest diagnostic technology it wouldn’t have been diagnosed at all! And that was definately something to be grateful for as without an early diagnosis the outcome could have been very different.

So as the year unfolded, it was by trying to find ways of being grateful despite pain, uncertainty, surgery and depression that helped to keep me positively focused and began to give me a wider perspective on life.

The initial biopsy proved inconclusive so I wouldn’t know if the tumour was malignant or benign until after surgery. Surgery wasn’t optional as IPMN tend to progress from benign to malignant, so it was all about timing. During this period of uncertainty I spent a lot of time thinking about life, illness and death, not the most cheery of times it does have to be said!  But it gave me time to realised how easy it is for me to live lost in the activity of day to day life without appreciation and gratitude for life itself and all the opportunities it offers.

My next major hurdle was the surgery itself, which had to be done in a specialist hospital as the pancreas is a difficult organ to operate on, and I was incredibly fortunate to be living 40 minutes from just such a hospital. Which was so new, that the futuristic ICU resembled the inside of a space ship, bearing in mind that I was on morphine when I saw it!!! I soon appreciated how lucky I was to be living in a country with an amazing health care system, well qualified medical personnel and access to pain relief!

I up-cycled (I just love that word) an old notebook into a gratitude diary to ensure that I wrote at least one different thing each day that I was grateful for. Which ranged from; finding a delicious new ground coffee; expressing my gratitude by sending compliments instead of complaints to the various NHS hospitals who took care of me; to being grateful that my wonderful sister didn’t make me laugh when she took care of me (as sneezing, coughing and laughing really really hurt after abdominal surgery!)

I am grateful that I found forums which helped me to realise that I wasn’t alone, there were others going through the same uncertainty, the same surgery, the same pain, the same frustrations and we could share our experiences.

As we near the end of 2015, I find myself more appreciative of all that I have in my life including the most amazing family and friends. Also I am making a concertive effort not to overcommit myself and instead allowing myself more time to experience those individual moments and people that bring a smile to my face and warmth into my heart.

As for 2016, the themes that I have shortlisted so far are laughter, contentment and simplicity so if you have any other suggestions for my 2016 theme, I look forward to hearing from you 🙂

Hello from the other side…

I just had an awful nights sleep, it took me ages to get to sleep and then I woke up 5 times during the night 😦
Each time I woke up there was a single lyric going though my head “hello from the other side”. The first couple of times I thought to myself I have been listening to too much Adele but by the 5th time I was being to think that someone was actually trying to contact me from ‘the other side’ whereever that is I have no idea! And at 5am I didn’t want to speak to anyone from any side!  Needless to say I woke up grumpy, not wanting to say ‘hello’ to anyone all day and removed Hello temporarily from my playlist.
I will be watching football tonight before I go to bed because there is absolutely no chance of that keeping me awake 😉