Saturday, April 02, 2016

Your Life, Your Choice

Since April is "Your Life, Your Choice" month, I felt the need to write a wee blog post about it. Actually, I didn't feel the need at all.....I chose to write it. (Big difference!)

We all go through life making choices. What time to set the alarm? Breakfast or no breakfast? Tea or coffee? Chocolate or......chocolate? Sometimes the choices are simple. Some choices might be easier to make than others.

My Mum used to tell me that I had a good attitude to life. She said that no matter what life gave me, I always tried to smile and just get on with life.

I turned fifty last month (not really by choice๐Ÿ˜ฎ), but I can look back on my life and I realise that my Mum was right. I do have a good attitude and I am quite proud to admit that.

I try to find the positives in everything. When I find only negative, I try my hardest to turn it around. I try to find something to feel happy about. Something to make me smile. Something....anything which can make a difficult situation a wee bit better. And there is always something.

☔️ Caught in the rain on way to the car - thankful we have a car.
๐Ÿ“Not a single bit of chocolate in the house - but I have fruit!
๐ŸŒŽ Can't afford to go on holiday - have you seen the views from my house?

Obviously those are trivial examples, but they are real examples. For me, it seems natural to find positives. But I know it's not the same for everyone. However, it is believed that people have the power to choose whether to live with negativity or positivity.

It has long been established that positive thinking can lead to a happier, more contented life. For people living with a chronic illness of any kind, it is believed that a positive outlook can also help them to cope with and manage their illness.

I would say that in my case, that is definitely true.

When faced with daily health issues and chronic pain, I personally believe that 'choosing' positivity is so important.

I wake up in the morning and don't know if my back will cope with getting out of bed. My husband has to help me with some of my clothes, because I can't manage myself. Am I going to be able to make myself a cup of tea, or do I need to rely on my husband to do that too. My face hurts the minute I wake up. I don't know if the pain from it will stay at that level, or if it will get worse throughout the day. Will I struggle with food? Will I be able to clean my teeth? Will I need to spend most of the day in bed because of pain in some part of my body?

I could easily wake up in the morning and think about those things and be slowly dragged down into a deep black hole. But I don't want to be in that hole and I don't have to go into it. I have a choice.

Instead, I choose to be grateful. I choose to be optimistic. I choose to smile. I choose to be happy. It's my life and I choose to focus on positivity. 

I wake up and say, thank goodness I have a rail by my bed to help me get up; I'm glad my understanding husband is here to help me throughout the day; I enjoy porridge, soup, pasta and other soft food which is easier to eat; I have a dog who laughs as he bounces through to see me when he decides I've stayed in bed too long; a cat who seems to sense when I'm having a bad day and sits by my side.

Do those things take away my pain? No, of course they don't. But those kind of things help me cope with my problems. My life's not a bed of roses, but those positive thoughts help to put a smile on my face and get on with life, just as my Mum used to say.

Everyone has choices in life and there are always positives to be found.

It's up to us to find them.


If you enjoyed reading this blog post, you may also enjoy :

Good Pain

Saturday, March 26, 2016


I hate comparisons. I think I always have. We seem to go through life being compared. Not as attractive. Not as clever. Not as sociable. Not as good....

There is probably nothing which can knock someone's confidence more than being compared to someone else in that way. And turn it around, what does it do to the other person? Make them embarrassed or do they enjoy it and become conceited?

Comparisons will always affect people in some way, which is why I hate them.

It's the same with health condition comparisons.

Most people who know me will know that I live with a lot of pain. Chronic back pain. Chronic rib pain. Chronic headaches. Chronic face pain. Throw in a few other regular aches and pains and I suppose I'd be as well changing my name to Chronic.

Trigeminal Neuralgia is known as one of the most painful afflictions. Some days I'd agree with that. But if I am in my bed, in agony, hardly able to walk to the toilet because of my back, then trigeminal neuralgia is a walk in the park on those days. I can't make a sweeping generalisation and say that one condition is worse than the other. Yes, TN might be up there in the ranks of being the worst pain in the world. But don't tell me that when my back has decided to give up on me.

A few weeks ago, I had to go to the hospital in the middle of the night. Turned out I had kidney stones. All I can say is that at 3 o'clock that morning, had someone said, "but it's not as painful as TN," I might have done something really nasty to them.

I can't even compare my own pain conditions with each other, so how can anyone ever say that one person's pain is worse than or not as bad as someone else's? We can't feel their pain. So if they think their pain is the worst pain in the world, then who are we to argue? It obviously is the worst pain in the world to them at that particular moment in time.

Right now, my husband is an extreme pain. He has an abscess on his gum. He is on antibiotics and taking strong painkillers (which he nearly always avoids taking). I absolutely hate seeing him in pain. I feel helpless. I probably feel how he feels when I'm having a bad day. The thought of comparing his pain to mine would be plain crazy. If I were to say, "but I have TN, and that's the worst pain in the world!", would mean I am actually undermining his pain. Right now, I'm sure his pain is the worst pain in the world. How uncaring would I seem if I compared his pain to mine and suggested his isn't as bad?

Flipping that comparison around the other way, I have had people say things to me like, "I had a migraine last night, but I know my pain isn't nearly as bad as yours." It's almost as if people minimise their own pain because they feel it is trivial compared to my problems. But it's not trivial. Just because I live with chronic pain, doesn't mean I can't understand other people's pain. If anything, it makes me able to understand more.

Pain is personal. It's not only about the physical pain, but how people tolerate it. So if one person is coping with it, it also doesn't mean their pain is less than someone else's. And if they are having a bad day and not coping well, it doesn't necessarily mean that their pain is worse than anyone else's.

Living with pain isn't a game and it's not a competition. But by comparing pain, it turns into precisely that. It's not a game I ever want to be part of. And certainly not a competition I'd like to win. I don't want to wear that winner's medal.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Scotland's (In)dependence Day

Today, 24th of March, 2016, could have been Scotland's Independence Day had the Scottish people chosen to vote that way.

Sadly, it didn't happen.

I could say so much more. I could mention the 'vow'. I could mention the lies people have been fed. I could mention the punishments dished out for being disabled. I could mention poverty. I could mention food banks. I could mention the billions being spent on Trident renewal. I could mention wars we shouldn't be part of. I could mention HS2, the high speed rail network which won't be in the North of England, never mind Scotland. I could mention fracking. I could mention Europe. I could mention the pretend austerity. I could mention the crumbs we get from the Westminster table. I could mention so much more. But I won't. I'll just leave it at that....

Because, sadly, people believed we were 'Better Together'.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Iain Duncan Smith

When I read this morning that Iain Duncan Smith had resigned from his cabinet position of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, I have to admit that I let out a small cheer.

IDS is the man responsible for so many cuts and changes to the benefits system in the UK. The same man who has stood in the House of Commons and cheered when announcements were made about cuts.

He proved to be heartless and cruel, tearing away a safety net for some of the most vulnerable members of society. He has pushed the poor,  the sick and the disabled to the edge. In some cases, over the edge.

His letter of resignation stated that the latest proposed cuts to the disabled were a step too far. Has he suddenly developed a conscience?

I doubt that.

One of his colleagues has admitted that he had persuaded her to vote for the latest cuts. Nadine Dorries MP used Twitter to show how annoyed she was at his resignation.

Reading that, it doesn't sound like IDS has suddenly developed a conscience.

That man is ruthless. Brutal. Merciless. He has no conscience.

He is getting out now for a reason. I don't know what that reason is, but I am sure it is not because he believes the new cuts are a step too far.

Though I cheered when I read IDS had resigned, I know that someone equally ruthless has been waiting to fill his shoes and will be determined to make the government some more savings.

This government claims we are in austerity and need to make those cuts, but it finds money when it wants to. Austerity only affects some people. Tax breaks are given to the wealthy. Huge corporations seem to get away with paying almost no tax. Money is found to fund wars which we really shouldn't be involved in. Trident will get renewed at a cost of around £100 billion. But when it comes to cuts, they choose the sick and disabled.

Why us?

The sick and disabled are an easy target. We can't go on strike to protest because we're unable to work in the first place. We can't go to protest marches because many of us are hardly able to get out of our own houses. We are often weak, tired and in so much pain that we hardly have the energy to live, never mind protest. Life is a struggle. Just normal, every day life is a struggle to us. And our current government is making that struggle even more difficult.

The Welfare State was first put in place to help people. Now, the government seems intent on punishing those of us who need that help. I am one of those who rely on that help, and I know first hand of the fear, the stress and the guilt which is placed on us by the government.

I wish I was healthy. I wish I didn't rely on those state benefits. I wish I didn't have to live with fear of an envelope coming through our letterbox asking me to fill out a 20 page booklet to explain my health issues. Then there's the waiting for the decision. Then the possible interview by a non-medically trained person to determine whether or not I am being honest about my health. Then a possible interview in front of a panel, one of whom is a judge. Yes, a judge often decides the outcome. Why should I have to stand in front of a judge to await a verdict? I am not a criminal. I am disabled.

Being disabled is not a life choice.

Punishing the disabled is.

And the government is choosing to do that.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Stormy Weather

Well, we've certainly had more than our fair share of storms this past few weeks. Surely we must be due an early Spring?   ☔️


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Burn's Night

Haggis, neeps and tatties was probably the most popular meal in Scotland last night. Actually, haggis is eaten quite a lot in our house. It's not just reserved for Burn's night.

And of course, poetry isn't just reserved for Burn's Night either, but in honour of the Bard, I wrote a few wee lines...

One of the new discoveries which came after I had to take early retirement from work was a love of writing.  I believe writing can be quite therapeutic, as well as being a brilliant distraction technique. Sometimes nobody else gets to read what I write. Sometimes my writing is specifically about a friend or relative, so it wouldn't mean the same to other people. Sometimes I publish work here on my blog or on Facebook where other people can read them. Occasionally, I have entered poems and stories into competitions.

The first poetry competition I entered had to be based on the national lottery. The lottery had just started here in the UK and nearly everyone was playing it and nearly everyone was believing they could win it. So it was an easy subject to write about. A few weeks later, I received a congratulatory letter to tell me I was a lucky winner and my poem was going to be published in an anthology beside other winning entries. I'd never won anything in my life, so that was pretty amazing for me. Once I'd stopped doing a happy dance (just an imaginary happy dance, not real dancing), I read the rest of the letter. 'To purchase a copy of the book, please fill in the attached form and return to us along with a cheque....'

So, my poem was to be included in a book. But I had to buy a copy. And of course I did buy a copy. So did my parents.

I started sending other poems to other competitions. A few weeks later, I received another congratulatory letter about another poem. Another winner. Another book to buy. And yes, my Mum and Dad wanted to buy that one too.

A few weeks later, yet another winning poem. Yet another book to buy. I didn't buy it. And I didn't let my Mum and Dad buy it either. I think I threw that letter into the fire.

It could be an expensive hobby entering competitions. Many of them charge an entry fee. Then if they deem the poem good enough to be published in their anthology, they want you to buy said anthology. And of course, they are very happy when the writer's parents are so proud that they also want to buy a copy.

To be quite honest, I don't think talent is required for some of those competitions. I could have sent them a shopping list and they would have possibly deemed it suitable to publish as long as I was prepared to buy their book.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Unite in Kindness

I keep hearing myself say the folowing six words - this is such a sad world. And without a doubt, it really is.

Where is all this going to end? Countless atrocities are happening daily all over the world. That is all we hear on the news. It can become so depressing. But we need to hear those stories. We need to know about them. We need to feel bad enough so that we are compelled enough to say, "This isn't right, and something needs to change."

It might seem an impossible task, but something DOES need to change.

I don't know what the correct answer is. But I believe it needs to be thought out thoroughly. It can't be a decision made in haste in retaliation to last week's terrorist attacks in Paris.

Governments talk about war. I'm no expert, but from what I've seen over the last several years, war doesn't cure the problem. It creates a bigger problem, with thousands of innocent lives lost as collateral damage. Strikes by air missiles cause untold damage to vital buildings like hospitals and schools, road networks etc.

But could air strikes actually get to the root of ISIS and extinguish there leaders? Somehow I doubt it, but if successful, there will probably be men just as evil, waiting to fill their shoes.

Besides, to bomb ISIS, we would also be bombing innocent people. Is that ok with you? It's not ok with me. To them, we become the enemy, bombing their world into pieces.

To them, we are the terrorists. Then they also want to retaliate. And it goes on. And on....

The media plays a huge role in society and especially when it comes to events like this. They tell us what is happening, but give us the slant which suits them and their politics. So they are not simply telling us the 'news', they are telling us what they want us to know. They decide what we should know, and how we should feel about it.

Social media can work in the same way, but often social media can bring together like minded people who can share thoughts and ideas. And just now, there is an overwhelming amount of positive posts which is heartwarming. People who care. People seeking peace, rather than war. People wanting to find better solutions to the problems. People wanting to change the world to make it a better place.

Most of us probably feel pretty helpless about the state the world is in. We feel like we are powerless to help. But we are not powerless. Each one of us can change this world.

We can and we need to make this planet which we call home a better place. We can start by bringing more kindness to the world. A small act of kindness can bring about a change in mood, it could even change someone's life. With more kindness, the world can change. We can make a difference. And we don't need politicians or their favourite newspapers to tell us how to do that.

Just now, especially, we need to Unite in kindness.

Other posts you may want to read :

Rremembrance Day

Smile....spread some happiness