Monday, 30 January 2017

It's Too Early!

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with sleep.

I'm not sure that I have full-blown insomnia, but I definitely have some sleep issues. For a long time now I've suffered from back pain, and certain sleeping positions exacerbate it. I have difficulty 'switching off' my brain when I go to bed, hence the increased interest in planners and bullet journals and to do lists in the last couple of years, in the constant hope of trying to organise my thoughts. I probably don't go to bed as early as I should, and I do like to have a lie-in, but years of getting up early for work (and then getting up early with my son) mean that I'm an early waker, if not always an early riser. I crave sleep, but at the same time, I dread going to bed in case I have a bad night where I can't sleep. I rarely ever allow myself to sleep during the day, even when I can barely keep my eyes open and a nap would probably do me good (obviously not while I'm on childcare duties). To sleep during the day seems like a waste of precious time. I go to bed late because I feel like I have so much that I want to do, so much to cram into my evenings. Yet I know that sleep is good for me, and allowing myself to have a nap or an early night isn't self-indulgent, it's self-care. But I still don't give in to it.

I've been reading a few articles about good sleep practices, and one thing that they all advise is to get up at the same time every day. I mentioned in my last post that I'm trying to do this. For someone who likes to have a sleep in on a Saturday morning, this doesn't seem to make much sense, but apparently, in the long run, it helps you sleep better and feel more refreshed. I only work two days a week, but on those two days I have to get up at 5am. So that means that for the rest of the week, my mornings have to come in line with that, and I need to get up at 5am every day.

It's not easy! If I was having a lie-in, it would only be until about 7am, because Little Hare is usually awake by then, which means I am too. So you wouldn't think that getting up a couple of hours earlier would be that hard. But I am missing that lie-in! Getting up when you know you don't really need to is tough.

Getting out of bed is the hardest part, especially at this time of year, when the house is cold, and it's so dark outside. But actually, once I'm up and dressed, it's nice having a couple of hours of peace and quiet. I can do things like blogging, internet shopping, reading, crochet, things that I don't get chance to do during the day.

When I worked full time I used to daydream about getting up for work, but then realising that I didn't have to go, like if I'd accidentally got up on Saturday thinking it was Friday. Sometimes I'd think how lovely it would be to be able to go back to bed, but other times I'd think it would be nicer to stay up. That's how I'm trying to feel about these early mornings. For a lot of people, we only get up early because we have to, usually to go to work. So I'm trying to enjoy the feeling of being up early and not having to go to work.

As I said, it's hard at the moment because it's still so dark outside. Dark mornings have never bothered me much, but lately I've found that I'm really craving the daylight, more than I ever have before. I want to come downstairs just after 5am and see the sunrise! I want to be able to get up without having to turn any lights on. I know it will happen eventually, as it always does, it'll keep getting that tiny bit lighter a few minutes earlier each day. In the articles that I've been reading they suggest that a good way to wake yourself up on a morning is to expose yourself to daylight as soon as possible, for example, sit outside with your morning cup of coffee. That's not an option for me yet! But I'm really looking forwards to when I can do that.

Of course, it's not just about getting up at the same time every day. It's also about going to bed at a sensible time, and then hopefully falling into a deep restful sleep as quickly as possible, so that you can wake up feeling refreshed. I'm still working on this, but I feel like that might be for another post! For now, I'm just going to try and keep up with the early mornings, and look forwards to my first al fresco cup of coffee!

Do you have any sleep tips you want to share? I'd love to hear about them if you do.

Bye for now xx

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Happy Birthday To Me!

It's my birthday today!

I was hesitating to say how old I am, and then I thought, why? It's nothing to be embarrassed about, is it? I'm 38 years old, and grateful for every day that I've been alive. Not wanting to put a dampener on things, but I've had a couple of near misses, a couple of touch and go moments where it looked like it was just about all over, so I'm ecstatic to have got to 38!

So I thought I'd celebrate my birthday with an early morning grocery delivery - oh yes, I know how to live! Actually, it wasn't that early, between 7 and 9am, but I got up at 5.30am. I'm trying to get up early every day, even when I don't have to. Apparently, it helps you sleep better, so there is a method in my madness. I'm going to write a post about it soon.

I came downstairs and made myself a toffee nut latte and had two paracetamols for my breakfast. Did I mention that I had two wisdom teeth removed just over a couple of weeks ago? Jeez, it's been traumatic! The bruising and swelling has just about gone now, but I'm still getting quite a bit of jaw ache. Anyway, whilst sipping my coffee, I did a few puzzles. Every now and again I buy puzzle books and go a bit mad with them for a while, till I get it out of my system. My favourite puzzles are these logic problems, and also the skeleton crosswords where you fill in the answers and the black squares as well.

Once the shopping had arrived and we'd all had breakfast, Little Hare (my son) helped me open my presents - a couple of boxes of chocolates. My main present had actually arrived a couple of weeks ago, but Chris had let me see it straight away, to check if it was ok. Look at this thing of beauty:

Before Christmas, Chris asked me for a list of present ideas, and one of the things I asked for was a wooden yarn bowl. I'd had my eye on one on Etsy for ages, that was quite unique because it was one of the only ones I'd seen which had a lid, but when I finally decided to treat myself, it had sold. I managed to find a picture of it to show Chris, and wondered if he'd be able to find something similar. As it happens, Chris knows someone who does wood-turning in his spare time, as a hobby, and he showed him the photo of the Etsy one, and he made this for me! How awesome is it? It's made from sweet chestnut, and it's silky smooth. Absolutely love it!

This afternoon I made my birthday cake. I could pretend I made it from scratch, but it's actually a Betty Crocker cake mix! Even the buttercream icing is out of a tub! It's a red velvet cake, but it doesn't look very red to me.

We went for an evening meal. and when we came home Little Hare wanted to put candles on the cake, but we only had a 1 and a 3, so I briefly became 7 years younger!

The cake is delicious, I fully recommend Betty Crocker.

So another year older, but not wiser, since I'm minus two wisdom teeth! 😀


I mentioned in my last post that a relative (my partner's nephew Stephen) has been diagnosed with lymphoma. He's had various chemo treatments, but none of them have worked and he's now at the point where he needs a stem cell transplant. However, they are struggling to find a match.

So, this post is to ask you a huge favour. If you are willing and able, and if you haven't already done so, please could you consider registering to become a donor, and encourage your family and friends to do so?

Unfortunately, due to the fact that I have a congenital heart condition and am on lifelong medication for it, I'm unable to become a donor of blood or bone marrow. So the next best thing I can do is try to encourage those who are well enough, to do so.

DKMS is an international stem cell donor centre. If you are aged between 18-55, register here and if you are eligible you will be sent a swab kit. A quick swab of the inside of your cheek, send it back to them, and you've done it! You've become a potential life saver! How amazing will that make you feel?

If you are aged 16 - 30, you can register with Anthony Nolan - click here to be sent a 'spit kit' to send them some of your superhero saliva for testing!

You can also read more about blood cancer and donating stem cells/bone marrow at Bloodwise, the British Bone Marrow Registry and the Bone Marrow Donor Registry from the Welsh Blood Service.

If you can't or don't want to donate stem cells/bone marrow, perhaps you would consider making a monetary donation to any of the above charities please? The cost of registering one potential donor with DKMS is £40, and £60 with Anthony Nolan, but any amount of money that you could spare would be appreciated.

I know there are other blood cancer charities out there but it's not possible for me to list them all, and whilst I don't like choosing any one over another, at the moment our main hope lies with the specific lymphoma / stem cell charities, which is what I've focussed on in this post.

Please help, if you can.

Thank you for reading.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Charity Chat

I know, I know, it's not the done thing to talk about 'charidee', is it?

But I'm going to!

Last year left me - and the vast majority of people, I expect - feeling somewhat unsettled, to say the least. I'm not a political person, but the EU Referendum result and then the news about the successor to President Obama were undoubtedly two huge events which are going to have serious repurcussions for years to come. Then there were all the celebrity deaths, and regardless of how you felt about those people, it just seemed to be an endless barrage of bad news. Not to mention all the war and conflict going on around the world, and the horrifying terrorist attacks.

On a personal level, a family member was diagnosed with lymphoma; he's having treatment, but it isn't going as well as we would like it to and it's a constant source of worry for us all. He's very young, and doesn't deserve this (nobody does - I hate cancer!)

The New Year is always a time for reflection, and thinking about everything that had happened in 2016, I started this year with a feeling of wanting to 'do something'. It wasn't much more specific than that - I just wanted to help others, in some small way (because I can't really do it in a big way).

So I started thinking about charities, and how I could help. Obviously, I could donate money, but I'm not exactly rolling in cash - does a couple of quid really help? It just seems like such a drop in the ocean. I know that's not the right attitude - if we all thought like that then no-one would donate anything, I suppose.

I know of a couple of charities who have set up Amazon Wish Lists for items they need. I think this is a fantastic idea, and I wish more would do it, as it's such a simple way to donate, and you feel like your money is going exactly where it's needed.

I've thought about buying extra items with my grocery shopping and saving them up to deliver to certain charities at Christmas, for example, but the problem I have with that is just where to keep everything? I could take things once a month, but if I'm honest, I just probably wouldn't do that, I wouldn't be able to find the time.

I'm not an 'activist', I'm not the kind of person who gets really fired up and says "Right, let's do this!!" and then goes out and changes the world. I do want to help, but I have to be practical and find ways that suit me, because there's more of a chance that I'll do something then.

So, the first thing I've done, is to start using Ebay's Charity selling function. I'm in permanent 'declutter' mode, so whenever I list anything on Ebay, I'm going to choose a charity and make a 10% donation from my sales. I haven't actually sold anything yet since I started doing it, but I'm going to keep it up all through the year, and hopefully by December I might've made a small contribution to a few charities.

I've been thinking about what kind of charities to support, and obviously this is a very personal thing, so I won't list all the ones I've chosen. However, last year I became aware of an issue which I'm ashamed to say had never really crossed my mind before - the difficulties that homeless women face when having to deal with their periods. The Homeless Period presented a petition to parliament asking for homeless shelters to provide free sanitary products to women, as they already do with razors and condoms for men. They now have a new petition running asking Proctor and Gamble (makers of Always and Tampax) to donate a significant proportion of their products to homeless shelters. I've signed this petition. They don't have any other way of donating, but they ask you to buy sanitary products and take them to your local foodbank, which is still something I'm thinking about.

Similarly, Bloody Good Period aims to provide sanitary products and toiletries to women visiting the North London Asylum Seeker Drop In Centre. This initiative does have an Amazon Wish List, where you can purchase one or more items and have them sent directly to the centre. I've just bought some baby wipes for them.

Another website I discovered was Helping Handbags Worldwide. I like the idea of this, but I'm not sure if it's an official charity yet, and the site and Facebook group are not always up to date (for example, I don't think there is a coordinator local to me at the moment, or if there is I can't seem to contact them). I briefly thought about volunteering to become a coordinator, but again, I have to be practical and think whether I have the time and the space to give to something like this, and unfortunately the answer is that I don't.

I know some supermarkets have collection bins for foodbanks, or sometimes pet rescue centres, where you can buy things with your shopping and then put them directly into the collection bin on your way out. At the moment, we get our groceries delivered so I don't go to the supermarket all that often, but if I find out that they do a regular collection, I might start going in person again so that I can make a contribution.

Anyway, this has turned out to be quite a long post, so I'll call it a day for now. I hope you don't think I'm being 'preachy' or patronising - you may already be aware of the above charities, and you probably have ones that you donate to regularly that mean something to you, so I'm not trying to tell you what to do or anything like that. I'm writing about it for my own benefit as much as anything else, in the hope that it will keep it in my mind throughout the year, and that it won't just turn out to be a New Year resolution that I forget about in a couple of months.

Bye for now!!