Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A return to blogging


Hello and welcome back to my blog!

Thanks for coming back and for being so patient during the four months since my last post.

I think the blog break has been good for me and it has been nice to be free of obligation for a while. That said, I really miss the contact with everyone and I'm hoping to get back to a more regular routine of posting now.

Despite being four months since I last wrote, the work on our unit is still underway. It has started so that's great, but it's been more complicated than expected. Hence the repairs are going to cost more, and we're still living under the same conditions as we have been since February.

Brighton Pavillion


We made the decision to take ourselves out of this environment for a while and so in August, we headed overseas. We spent a month in Brighton in the south of England and one week in Paris. We chose Brighton because it gave us a seaside holiday surrounded by history in a very arty town, without the challenge of managing a foreign language. It's also only 50 minutes by train to London. The holiday worked well for us, and we came back feeling much brighter and with more energy, which is just as well, because as I said, things haven't gone entirely smoothly with the work.


Over the past months, I've also put some energy into trying to understand how I need to pace myself in order to conserve my energy. I've learnt that it's important to build up energy before I spend it, rather than being active first, letting myself become exhausted and then having to rest up and recover. That process takes a lot longer to return to zero, than if I rest before and build a reserve of energy to use. Of course this requires certain amount of planning, a certain amount of knowing what is coming up, and life doesn't always give you that warning, but where possible that's the way I'm trying to organise myself.

Beachy Head - famous "jumping off" spot in Quadrophenia

Also, using a few different assessment mechanisms I've worked out that my energy is about 25% of what might be thought of as "normal". That may seem depressing or disheartening, but in other ways it has been very freeing. Information is power, and just having that 25% figure in my head allows me to be a lot more realistic about what I can expect of myself. It allows me to rest pre-emptively and not feel guilty, which believe it or not isn't something I've really been very able to do before. I've always felt that I have to keep going until I feel exhausted and then, and only then, was it okay to stop and rest. Now I know that that's not the case.

Bex Hill

I think the other thing that it has allowed me to do is to be pretty ruthless when it comes to prioritising, and it's been a bit of a surprise to realise that I hadn't already been being ruthless in this. I have been prioritising for many, many years obviously as you have to when have a chronic  illness but now I am really getting down to that one or two, or maybe three things, that are absolutely essential and give me the most pleasure. Those are the things that I can and will choose to spend my time doing. 

For that reason, I have to say that I probably won't be blogging at the rate that I have been in the past. I've been thinking that perhaps it'll be more of a monthly update, with maybe a smaller post  in between that's mostly images if I'm being productive. I really hope that you'll understand this and that you won't feel let down, or that the blog is diminished by this. I considered actually stopping blogging all together, but I realised that I have made so many great friendships through my blog and that the exchange benefits from being mutual. I could just visit your blogs but sharing something of myself allows you to come and visit here as well and helps the relationship to develop greater depth. 

Book sculptures used in a window display in a clothes shop in Paris
 

I'm very happy to report that since I returned from overseas I have started being creative again. I've been finishing off some projects that stalled about 12 months ago, so I'll be sharing them in the next couple of posts, and I've also got some things to share with you from the trip overseas. I met up with a book artist in Brighton which was very exciting and saw some great stuff in London, so that's coming up in this space very soon. Bookmark Digg Bookmark Del.icio.us Bookmark Facebook Bookmark Twitter

25 comments:

  1. welcome back!! I'm just returned too... I wonder if it's the shift in the seasons ;) I look forward to seeing your creative adventures.

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    1. Hello Helen! Thank-you. The change of seasons always has an impact on me - hough we're shifting in opposite directions down under.

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  2. Oh...so close and yet so far again :) I love Brighton and I see you went to bexhill too so you must have visited the lovely De La Warr Pavilion...another favourite place.

    I hope the renovations are over quickly. You might remember that we had an extension built a few years back -- 7 months of hell -- so you have my sympathy x

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    1. Yes, I know! I was thinking of you! Brighton is great - I wouldn't mind living there.

      I remember your renovations. Erk! At least they were for positive reasons, this is just to get us back to where we were before the flooding. Still, it will be much better than it is right now. (It's the 7am starts I am dreading).

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  3. good to see you back

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    1. Thanks Jac. Good to be here!

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  4. Hi Amanda
    The Pavilion in Brighton is wonderful, isn't it?

    As you might know from the SC forum I am getting more focused on my energy use through scheduling my days. It is really clear that my expectations of what I should be able to do in a day, far exceed what a well balanced schedule allows! I too am wondering about the amount of blogging but I feel like i have a store of things I want to share. I have reduced my amount of online time, no more Pinterest at the moment and far less Twitter, far less email subscriptions. I notice a feel a lot better for allowing myself more time to read paper books and stare out the window :)

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    1. Yes, I admire your scheduling technique but I know it would just make me anxious if I tried it. I need loose expectations with no time limits. Then I can tune in to how I am feeling and respond. Except when I get overenthusiastic about some project of course - so it definitely helps to know how much is enough. I just find it takes an extraordinary amount of self-discipline to rest! Sounds weird, but it is true.

      Good luck with your scheduling. Really hope it is helpful.

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  5. Welcome back. Amanda! Quite a few bloggers seem to have suffered the same malaise, myself included. Sometimes, mental exhaustion can slow us down as much as physical limitation.
    The books as window dressing are interesting.

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    1. Thanks Di. I wasn't sure whether to feel pleased to see the books in that context or not. Does it mean they are now just "everyday"? Then again, this is a shop window in Paris, so maybe not!

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  6. Just as with the best of friends, it's not the amount of visits/blog posts undertaken, it's the enjoyment experienced by both parties when the opportunity arises to share time & thoughts :).

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  7. Welcome home and welcome back to the blog. I have absolute empathy for what you're saying. It's been over a month since I've posted at my own blog. You really do have to be ruthless. In my case, that's been meaning that I haven't been able to respond quickly to correspondences, others' blogs or tend to other obligations (sigh… BAO!) nearly as much as I'd like. I feel bad about it. However, it's also not actually a choice. I really don't have the energy to stay coherent long enough to do those things. I suspect you are in a similar place. Not everyone understands that, but, at this point, I know I'm honestly too sick and tired to worry anymore if well people think I'm a malingerer. It's sanity-promoting to accept it and to live within one's own limitations.

    I haven't been to Brighton in about 15 years. I have fond and happy memories of the place. Good choice! I'm glad you were able to have a restorative holiday! It's good to "see" you again.

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    1. Hi Ellen, Really lovely to hear from you! I'm sorry to hear you are feeling so poorly. Yes, you are right about it not being a real "choice" often. I suspect that people who aren't also sick just can't understand, but that isn't their fault. Chronic illness really has to be experienced to fully understand, like quite a lot of things. I was an occupational therapist before I became ill, working almost exclusively with people with chronic conditions, and yet I was prepared for what it's like to live your life with a chronic problem.

      Brighton was just the medicine we both needed at the time. I actually think it was the most-needed break I've had since I gave up work.

      Take care and no pressure! You are NOT a malingerer! xx

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  8. Thank-you Rob! That's really kind of you. So sorry I missed you yesterday. xx

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  9. Amanda, I'm so glad for your insights. It's an ongoing process, isn't it, as we try to come to terms both with what's possible and what's best (often two very different things). I've come to think of it as "re-calibrating." As much as I enjoy your blog, I'm happy to know that you're considering pacing yourself more, and that your break has been a good one.

    This post was interesting in another way, too. I've actually been considering spending 3 or 4 weeks in England, and Brighton keeps coming up. If you have a moment and are able to do so, I'd welcome hearing your thoughts about a stay there, and your recommendation of a place to stay. You can reach me at cboza at vna1 dot com.

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  10. I'm very happy to see you're back but, as Rob says, quality is not in the numbers. Once a month is just fine and even more so knowing that you are dedicating your energies to where they are needed most. About the renovations, I wish I could say something that would actually help with the process. I do hope they will be over sooner than expected. Be happy and creative, Amanda!

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    1. Thanks Ersi! You're very kind! And I know you understand the need to be creative and the problems that arise when circumstances conspire to keep you away from the release of self-expression. Wishing you plenty of creative time too!

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  11. It's great to see you back Amanda, and I look forward to reading your posts regardless of how regular they are.

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    1. Thanks Helen. It is good to be back and I appreciate your understanding.

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  12. Great to have your blog posts back. I'm so glad that the change of scenery got your creative juices flowing again. I just spent a week in Spain which had the exact same effect on me. I think getting away makes getting back all the more wonderful! Stay well. Good to hear that you've come up with a working strategy for handling your energy.

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    1. Hi Nancy, Yes I was surprised by how good the trip was for me. I finally managed not to overdo it while away! Spain sounds wonderful. One day I hope to get there. It's one of those places that has been on my list for a long time, but we never seem to get there. Must try harder. :-)

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  13. My son after having CFS was l reckon about 75% better eventually. :). I also FM and arthritis , so l know about pacing myself. But l find my Art really helps me to feel calm and grounded. I love Brighton and Paris. Living Pytney means l am near both ... MOSFET permitting! Glad to see you back.x Lynda

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    1. Thanks Lynda. I'm sorry to hear that your son has CFS too, but it's great he is doing so much better. Yes, art is an essential in my life too - its the best medicine of all, I find. As long as I don't overdo it!

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  14. Great to have you back, Amanda, and that you are trying to pace yourself. Your trip sounds wonderful. I'm only managing one post a month and just about everything else I do is way out of control. I somehow need to get all my e-life in order...

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  15. I am happy to see you back here! It is good to hear you made some plans for how to spent you energy. It is a constant re-thinking, isn't it, about what needs and what deserves to be done and what tasks have to be sacrificed for the sake of sanity.

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