A Word About Phone-Scamming the Elderly and De-stressing Me!

1069FBA1-3F3D-438F-B4F6-FBA06F8D5F13Just a quick post to say I’ll be away from my blog for a little while. I need some time out to straighten out the kinks in my body and spend some Me time. Real life is demanding more and more of my time and energy as my elderly mum needs more support.

An example: she was scammed on the phone on Monday afternoon. She gave her card details to someone who called her by name. She knew something was wrong but she became confused because he gave his first name as that of a cousin she had been worrying about. She was too embarrassed to tell me (it’s the second time it’s happened), and wanted to try to sort it out herself. Early next morning, she swallowed her pride and called me. She was really shaken up and could barely put a sentence together, she was so angry with herself.

 I literally spent the whole of yesterday on the phone or iPad sorting it out with her, the bank, the telephone company, keeping an eye on her bank account, moving the bulk of her money elsewhere, making her ex-directory and so on. My back is still screaming at me.

But so far, so good. I think she may have inadvertently prevented him from using her card: her sight isn’t good, especially in dim light, and I think she may have misread a number or two on the card.

B44F3FD6-CC3C-4B08-BCF6-5797D6A7131EThis was the closest I got to the welcome sun – through the kitchen window this morning – as today, I spent most of my time finding out about the cousin she has been worrying about, to try to put her mind at ease. At one point I had him talking on the iPad and her on my landline on speakerphone, trying to enable them to talk to each other while I interpreted: they are both 87 and very deaf, neither is tech-savvy, so you can imagine how that went!

So please warn your elderly relatives, or anyone actually, the lady at the bank said these people are very good at what they do and they can catch out the best of us.

B1A75EB8-482D-479D-B1D7-36ED53C16536I’m off to have some osteopathy, listen to some relaxation music, an audiobook, and enjoy some new juices that We Are Juice UK, have kindly sent me to try. It will also be a relief to take a break from the juicer! My husband is on mother-in-law watch for a couple of days while I get my breath back. I have scheduled some posts for the next few weeks.

This freezing weather will not be changing any time soon (we had snow again all day yesterday), so I will be hunkered down in bed with a couple of heated wheat-bags, two hot water bottles, woolly socks and a duvet I have to fight my way out of!

See you soon.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

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Monday Meditation: Osteopathy, Rest & Recuperation in Nature

 I recently took an ebreak to have osteopathy and give my long-suffering body a welcome rest – see Taking a Break to Rest My Broken Body + Tips to Cope with Chronic Pain 

My wonderful osteopath treats me at home. In my case, she uses cranio-sacral osteopathy which is such a gentle therapy, not the bone-crunching type you see on tv! It not only realigns everything and increases the flow of blood and spinal fluid, it helps my sinus problems and blocked ear. We have become good friends. We have a catch-up chat, a laugh, and exchange book titles. I give her some of our tomatoes or apples and she brings me Scottish oatcakes from her holiday on Arran. Then I fall asleep! I spend the next two days in and out of bed, relaxing with audiobooks and this time an occasional look at The Vuelta (I can’t not watch the cycling, it’s taken over my life, I think I need a support group!)

I originally chose complementary therapies on the advice of my orthopaedic surgeon because nothing else worked; they are non-invasive and they allow me an opportunity to completely switch off and focus on myself and my health. There are no prescriptions, no potentially toxic chemicals involved, no equipment, just hands-on care and compassion. 

Sooner or later, I have enough of lying down and need to be outside. I enjoy sitting quietly in the garden, or sauntering around, absorbing the colourful surprises that have occurred while I’ve been otherwise engaged – this time, the rudbekia was positively glowing in its burnished yellow, standing to attention, facing skywards to soak up any spare rays that happened to be around that day (left of picture).

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I love the crossover of late summer and early autumn colours in our garden: all shades of yellow, orange, red and green. In September, it is warm enough to sit out but not so hot you get burned in our suntrap of a garden. The birds always treat me to some delicate twittering and whistling at this time of year, they are not showing off quite so much. It is a tranquil place, where I can sit and contemplate, take time to close my eyes and absorb the gentle sounds (having made sure my husband is not going to be tinkering away on bike repairs or talking bottom brackets and derailleurs with customers!)

Later in the week, we took a drive to the canal, we parked in a different place and walked over the small hump-backed bridge. My husband suggested we take a photo to send to our young Australian friend who had her own photo taken 23 (!) years ago (aged 18) when the two of them cycled there together.

 

It really is a beautiful place, full of trees and flowers, well-kept gardens (there is a plaque proudly pronouncing Best Kept Village 2015), and of course the boats moored alongside. They look so modern nowadays, they even have solar panels!

(I hid one of my stones by the canal – see photo of the mooring – but more about my painted rocks in another post).

The large grey geese kept their eyes on us, honking every now and then if they felt we overstepped our boundaries. I felt a little sorry for them, penned in a patch of nettles while the hens, roosters and bantams sauntered around at will, pecking at anything interesting, not paying us any mind. They lead such an uncomplicated life.

It was a cooler day and the increasingly dramatic clouds were threatening rain, I was still quite stiff and sore so we kept it a short visit. Short as the trip was, I could quickly feel my shoulders relax, my lungs fill with cool fresh air and the pain-strained muscles of my face form a beatific smile! We are so fortunate to live in a place where plants and trees grow so bountifully, in hundreds of shades of green, where we can roam at will and experience a calming freedom just a few minutes from our doorstep. If it weren’t for the rain about which so many complain, we wouldn’t have such an abundance of greenery and autumnal colours to enjoy.

In another post, I’ll share my therapeutic efforts with brush and paint, goo and glitter!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Taking a Break to Rest My Broken Body + Tips to Cope with Chronic Pain

IMG_9015As many of you know, I recently injured my back again being much too optimistic about how far I could walk. This is an ongoing problem I have had all my adult life since lifting an overloaded case of albums (as in LPs), along with subsequent whiplash injuries, surgery and medieval torture!

Periodically, I need to have osteopathy and rest up for some time. I’ve been struggling this last few weeks, so I am taking some time off to have some treatment and give my body a break. It’s been a physically demanding few months with all the house refurbishment and family birthdays, not to mention 7 weeks of watching sweaty men in lycra, cycling Les Tours de France, Spain and Britain! I need to take better care of myself.

Pain Awareness Month – a personal reflection on Chronic Pain (but don’t worry, this isn’t a moanfest and I suggest tips to help cope!)

This is Pain Awareness Month and boy, have I been aware of pain 😉 Chronic pain is a widespread but often invisible disorder, it interferes with every part of your life and affects those around you as well as those in pain. It affects mood, mobility, the ability to work or create, family relations – I have missed so many important family events, often having to let people down at the last minute – and you can lose friends very quickly.

img_6480It is difficult for people, especially the medical profession and often some family members, to understand why one day, or even hour, you can do something, but the next day it is completely impossible; why – even though you’re smiling – you are still in deep, often agonising pain. In this photo, I had had no sleep for a couple of nights due to deep persistent pain, but I was up on Christmas morning ready to join in the family gift-swap.

You are often damned if you do and damned if you don’t: over the years, I have been regularly taken to task for not trying hard enough, then berated for trying too hard and making things worse! It can be impossible to find the right balance.

I have had to spend long periods of time in bed – I’m talking months and even years at a time – unable to look after my children, but I have had people say to me: ‘you’re in the right place’, when it’s cold or wet, or ‘I wish I could lie in bed all day and not have to go to work!’ Don’t say it!

Natural Therapies

Doctors can only offer me prescriptions for pills that don’t work and make things worse with their side effects. So I choose natural therapies like craniosacral osteopathy for realignment (a gentle form, not the bone-crunching type!), music and aromatherapy oils for relaxation and meditation, herbal remedies for inflammation, homeopathic gel for bruised muscles, audiobooks for stimulation, heat pads for spasms and poor circulation, Rescue Remedy for shock and stress – and my diet helps. It includes copious amounts of raw chocolate! And laughter really is the best medicine.

(Raw cacao is a mood booster and anti-inflammatory and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise;-) It contains 40 times more antioxidants than blueberries, is a rich source of magnesium which is heart-healthy, helps relax muscles and prevent depression; it contains more calcium than cow’s milk, iron, zinc, B vitamins, omega oils and protein. And it tastes amazing).*

Gratitude

The regular giving of thanks helps prevent and reduce the onset of depression when dealing with chronic pain. Starting a gratitude journal when severely depressed saved my life. Knowing you have to write something down at the end of the day makes you look for the positive and helps to change your mindset. Nowadays, I don’t need to write it out but I express my appreciation every day, even for the little things, especially for the little things. And even when at my worst physically, I still try to perform random acts of kindness.

Thinking of others, looking outwards instead of always looking inwards at my pain, helps me cope. It is partly why I began this blog, to pass on what I have learned and researched in the realm of diet, health and wellbeing, in the hope that someone reading it might be helped just a little bit to improve their lifestyle, their health and their outlook and enjoy a happier, healthier life.

Juicing for Health

IMG_8106Juicing and adopting a vegan diet eased my aches and pains by reducing inflammation, removing extra weight from my joints, resetting my hormones, calming and relaxing me, providing energy and a positive outlook – you can read about my first juice fast and the positive effects on my health here: Juicing: How to Begin or Do As I Say, Not As I Did!

Keep Calm, Plants Have Protein!

Altering my diet has improved so many health issues: since changing to a plant-based diet I no longer use an inhaler or have asthma attacks; losing the extra weight reduced the pressure in my spine, improved my mobility, brought my cholesterol levels to normal and improved my digestion. Pain causes tension, which impedes digestion. In addition, years of pain medication has damaged my stomach lining. Dietary changes also helped cure a sudden-onset itchy scaly rash that almost drove me mad. (see How I Juiced My Skin Clear).

(There are several posts in the menu about the nutritional and environmental benefits of adopting a vegan diet).**

IMG_3797Looking and feeling better does have its drawbacks however! People sometimes think that because I look healthy, smile, study, make cards and write a health and wellness blog, everything is hunky dory in the pain department. Sometimes it is hard not to feel a bit of a fraud when I see myself through other people’s eyes. The more I do the more I am expected to do, my health improvements tend to be taken somewhat for granted. I, however, appreciate every little thing I can do, but I do have a tendency to get over-confident and my body will soon let me know how it feels about that!

I’ll be signing off on Tuesday, 12th September but I have scheduled some posts for while I’m away to keep you on the straight and narrow, so don’t be off bingeing on doughnuts and chips just because I have my back turned!

A Bientôt!

See also Brigid’s excellent and positive post on coping with Fibromyalgia & Chronic Illness, also using natural methods.

*My favourite raw chocolate is from the award-winning The Raw Chocolate Company It’s vegan, gluten-free, organic and Fairtrade.

**Some posts about changing to a plantbased diet:

Veganuary

Veganuary – results

Where Do I Get My Protein on a Vegan Diet?

Where Do I Get My Calcium On A Vegan Diet?

Environmental Benefits of Adopting a Vegan/Vegetarian Diet

Where Do I Get Iron on a Vegan Diet?

Plant Powered New Year

Please Note: these are my personal thoughts based on experience and research. Please see a doctor before reducing or stopping medication or beginning a juice-cleanse for the first time.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

In Case You Miss Me, I’m Recovering From All The Decluttering!

From today, I’m taking a break to have some osteopathy and rest my body after a hectic few weeks of Christmas, family visits and mass decluttering of cupboards and wardrobes, alongside all the normal family support and blog-writing.

I’ve done a 3 week juice plan and flooded my body with healthy nutrients to see me through the busy times, now I need to take some time to rest and give my back a chance to unknot and my mind some peace and tranquility.

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This is just one small cupboard that was still filled to the gunnels with my daughter’s school and university stuff – and the yellowing old French book on top? Mine from A Level French, a whole lifetime ago! It’s all gone now. The music books are having a new life with my daughter’s musical sons.

Dusty old classics and plays and poetry, from the 60s and 70s, all gone to the charity shop – and this scribble was inside the copy of Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Villette’, neither of my children are owning up!

It is quite daunting clearing out things you’ve loved or which belonged to people you love that have always just been there on shelves, in cupboards, on walls. But there comes a time when you just know it has to go!

I followed the advice in this post from Watching the Daisies, of placing a small bowl of salt in the rooms whch need decluttering –  it alters the chi or energy in the space, and, before you know it, things are magically winging their way out of your home to start another life elsewhere! It really worked!

I’ve scheduled some posts for while I’m away, but I won’t be able to respond to comments or questions until I return, so please forgive my silence.

Take good care of yourselves, be sure to replenish your energy stores once in a while.

A bientôt!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

In Case You Miss Me, I’ll Be Recovering From An Attack Of The Vapours…

Just a quick post to let you know I’ll be AWOL for a couple of weeks from this Wednesday, 16th November. I’m taking some personal time (as they say in American police dramas) to have some osteopathy and some rest and recuperation.

I enjoy Christmas but always feel the strain of the pre-Christmas period: I am already tired from making lists, cards, sorting out gifts and postage for overseas and trying to accommodate everyone’s visiting dates, which keep changing! However, I think I am also feeling the strain of the past year of referendum and election campaigns, of the general atmosphere pervading our world at the moment, plus concerns about family and friends who are dealing with their own challenges.

I need some time to refresh my spirit and prepare for the season ahead.

Besides all the above, HB is putting up shelves. This may not be earth-shattering news or normally require one to take to one’s bed with the exhaustion of it all, but it is Monday and this one shelf has been going up since Thursday! Battens are up and have undercoat on them, shelf has undercoat but is not up. It took 3 days of measuring and re-measuring before a hole was drilled.

We discussed and disagreed at every point because my eyes told me the shelf slopes down to the right, but his spirit level said it was straight. My eyes are always right. The battens went up, the shelf was laid on top. HB’s reaction? ‘It slopes to the right, doesn’t it?!’

So, all in all, a long road ahead before 4 shelves are in place and I’m going to need all my strength to cope!

I’ve scheduled some posts for while I’m away, but won’t be able to respond to comments for a while.

Take care of yourselves, I’ll be back!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

I Was On A Break, But I’m Back! I Feel Great! Here’s What I Did On My Holiday…

I’ve been on an Ebreak. No iPad or iPhone for 8 days. No blogging or blog-reading for 9 days. No Social Media for 10 days. I didn’t take one photo. No texts.

I needed the break because I was exhausted. I wasn’t sleeping, my mind was racing all the time, coming up with ideas for posts, getting up in the night to write them up.

Blogging was beginning to feel like a full-time job. I was constantly taking photos for the blog, for Instagram etc. Every mealtime, my husband would have to wait to eat while I took photos, ususally asking him to move something that was in the background, even the furniture!

My family and friends needed support, which I’m always happy to give. But the phone was always ringing. Messages kept pinging. I felt stressed, my digestion was shot and I felt on edge. My back, neck and shoulders were so painful, I felt permanently hunched over, all my muscles were in a spasm.

Action was needed. So I had osteopathy and my Ebreak.

The first two days were easy. I regularly have osteopathy and always take the opportunity to have a break from electronic devices and to rest afterwards. For one reason or another, I hadn’t been able to fit in an appointment for some time and that’s why everything had built up.

After treatment, I naturally don’t want to start typing and scrolling – I don’t want to undo all the benefits by immediately returning to behaviour that had got me to that state. But after a couple of days, I get bored and twitchy. I want to know what’s going on.

Fortunately, this time the weather was mostly good and I was able to spend time outside, just relaxing, contemplating, watching the birds etc. My husband did a tidy-up of the garden while I supervised as he has a tendency to dig up the plants and leave the weeds!

I began to unwind.

I found I was going to bed earlier. I listened to relaxation tapes and audiobooks.

imageSoon, I got out my craft box and began making cards. I hadn’t made any since the start of the year and I’d missed it, but I could never tear myself away from the iPad long enough to change focus and concentrate on something else. It felt good to do something creative again. I became engrossed and time passed more constructively.

I really began to feel calmer. I could feel myself slowing down, my muscles relaxing. I was giving full attention to everything and everyone instead of reluctantly giving half an ear to what was being said while I continued to write a blogpost. I was more patient. I was taking note.

So much more was attended to. All those little things you keep meaning to do but never get around to. I sorted out the drawers of my desk. Decluttered my wardrobe. My bookshelves. The (grown-up) kids’ books. Dvds. I sent a lot of things to the charity shop, others went on Ebay (I had to rely on my husband for that, I was on a break!). I sorted through the dreaded paperwork.

Most importantly, healthwise, I also did a Raw Island One Day Juice Cleanse – more on that next time.

I would have managed a longer holiday, but on the eighth day I had to contact a company and the only way was by email. Unfortunately, this meant that I also saw I had 125 emails waiting in my inbox and I began to panic about how I was going to cope if they kept on coming. So I started to scroll through, deleting those that were just notifications, telling myself I would only do so many and then stop. But you know how it goes, one or two were from people who really needed the support of a full reply and before you know it, you’re back! But I’m trying to be more disciplined.

All in all, I thoroughly recommend taking a break from all the electronic chatter. Everything and everyone will still be there when you come back. I feel refreshed. I feel like I can be a little more disciplined about my iPad use and not quite so obsessive about checking up on everything and everyone.

I was a little anxious that people might have moved on, that out of sight might mean out of mind, but not at all. I had some lovely messages and comments awaiting my return which are much-appreciated, thank you.

Oh, and if you see me here after midnight, tell me to go to bed! (I now have 10 minutes to log off and make tracks!)

Enjoy the Friends Clip! (You’ll need to click onto the blog if you’re reading this via email).

Copyright: Chris McGowan