It is enough to know, I don’t need to see as well

I am against animal cruelty.  I don’t have to be vegetarian or vegan to prove this.  I am careful about what I buy and where I buy it.  There are some things I do not eat and never will.  I studied animal science at university so have a basic understanding of farming practices and animal husbandry but even if I hadn’t some things are obvious.  I believe the farmers responsibility for an animals welfare does not end when they sell it and if they are prepared to sell their livestock to people who brutalise and torture them they are equally responsible for the pain and suffering inflicted.  Because of this, I have no sympathy for anyone who lost money when live export from Australia to Indonesia was shut down.  They may think I do not see the bigger picture, they lost a lot of money and this is how the industry goes, they may say they didn’t know – I do understand this, and I argue that it is they who do not see the bigger picture and should not be allowed to turn a blind eye as soon as they have sold their product, they should have known, they should have made it their business to know.  They are just as responsible.

I am against animal cruelty.  I support Oscar’s law.  I believe in responsible pet ownership.  I think anyone buying a pet should research into their needs and what to expect first.  I believe all puppies should be vaccinated and socialised from a young age.  I think all dogs and their owners should complete at least basic obedience training and have an understanding of (and compliance with) simple commands like; ‘no’, ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and ‘down’ and that children should be educated in interacting with animals – for example it is important to ask an owner before patting their dog.  If an owner does not train their dog or socialise it and it ends up with behavioural issues this is their own fault, not the dogs. I believe that any cat or dog that is not intended for breeding should be de-sexed and I also believe that cats should either live inside the house or in a cat run – for starters; cats kill wildlife if they are allowed to roam the streets.  If a cat owner lets their cat out and it gets injured or killed the responsibility lies with the owner, not the owner of the dog whose yard the cat got into, not the driver of the car or the person who put out bait for snails.  The pet owner is responsible. Here is a fantastic blog that says all this a lot better than I do!

I am against animal cruelty, very much against it BUT I do not require constant reminding of what humans are capable of.  I do not need to see pictures of mutilated animals, videos of puppies being skinned alive or stories of crimes against animal kind in my facebook feed.  Making me, or others who care, upset is not going to change how we feel about animals but it may change how we feel about you.  I understand you want the world to be aware of what can and is happening but you’re preaching to the choir here and surely I have a right not to see these things.  I love animals, sometimes more than people – they can be sweet, caring, kind and downright hilarious at times and it breaks my heart to see what humans do to them so I would really prefer not to if it’s all the same to you.  I have a choice of course, I could hide status updates or even un-friend people but surely that is unnecessary as I am interested in other things you have to say.  Sure you have the right to post whatever you want but please be considerate of the people who will be seeing what you post, I mean, you wouldn’t put up a picture of a child who had been tortured and mutilated and expect not to upset anyone now would you.  Put up a link by all means but it doesn’t have to be a graphic one – if I wanted to see disturbing images I could just google them.  Seeing them in my facebook feed will not possibly make me any more against animal cruelty than I already am.

I have written this post in response to a barrage of videos and images that have been appearing lately in my facebook feed not to any one post in particular.

medieval madness revisited!

I can’t believe that this time last year I was in Spain spending the day at a medieval festival in the little town of Hospital D’Orbigo.  Or that a few short days will bring the one-year anniversary of the start of my Camino in Sarria.  The first weekend in June each year is a weekend of celebration in fabulous Spanish medieval style in Hospitale and people come from miles around to participate in dressing up, shopping, dancing, traditional games, displays of medieval life, fabulous food, jousting and general merriment overlooking a bridge steeped in history (and scaffolding along with most of the rest of Spain’s wonders that have seen a lot of history) – part of that history is said to have inspired the tale of Don Quixote.

Never having been to a medieval festival before (well, Australia doesn’t date back that far so it’s not a huge tradition here) I wasn’t sure what to expect but hoped it would be marvellous and I certainly wasn’t disappointed!  Here is a picture of the roving clowns performing a tale of the Camino – I got that much out of it at least even though I couldn’t understand most of it!!

The small town evolved into a riot of colour and sound and I spent several hours happily exploring all the festival had to offer.  My biggest dilemma of the day was what, out of all the beautiful things on offer, should I buy to commemorate the occasion and my Camino that I wouldn’t mind carrying with me for the 100+ kilometres of my journey on foot through Northern Spain.

I finally settled on a beautiful copper colour enamelled scallop shell necklace on a leather chain which I then wore for every step of my journey until I returned to Paris and family where such things are not really en vogue (in Paris that is, I don’t think my family would have cared!).

Looking through the windows today at the miserable weather, strong wind, rain and a gloomy, never-ending white cloud cover it is not hard to wish I was back there again in the sun and heat of the Spanish spring/summer but I have those memories and I plan to go back soon and make more – probably the same time of year again so I can visit Hospitale on that first weekend in June and re-live one of my favourite festival days to date! Here’s the original post from a year ago.

Happy (belated) Blogiversary to me :)

Once again I have been neglecting my blog and now the 1 year anniversary from my first published post has been and gone – oops!  In my defence I have been rather busy doing things like study, socialise, volunteer with St John, make stuff to sell at markets and things and, of course, not being able to leave the house due to symptom flare-ups.  So all in all a productive month I think!  The dysautonomia stuff is being its usual lovely roller coaster but I am in a much better place with it than I was this time last year.  My medications seem to be helping stabilise it a bit and my cardiologist is, as always, amazing.  I have an exercise physiology session once a week with an awesome group of POTS girls which has proved to be entertaining so far – we have more classes that don’t end in hospital visits than ones that do and there is usually a fair amount of giggling and chattering during exercise.  I know the general theory is if you can talk you’re not exercising hard enough but it’s not that kind of exercise – it’s more pilates based using a reformer and other nifty machines.

But enough of now, this is the time for reflection, for looking back to 1 year ago and seeing where I was, what I was doing and how far I have come from there.  Well I think we can safely say I have travelled quite a distance.  Just over a year ago I read a book, a very inspiring book – a book that made me want to travel across the globe and walk in the footsteps of thousands upon thousands of others throughout the course of history.  In just over one month it will be a year since I got on that plane at Tullamarine bound for Europe and glory in the form of the Camino.  I had no idea what to expect, what wonderful (or otherwise) things would happen, what I would see and experience, what I would learn about both life and myself or who I would meet on the way.  I had been to Paris before so that wasn’t a huge leap, I was meeting up with family so it wasn’t really outside my comfort zone and I had a basic grasp of French (degraded over years of neglect from an intermediate grasp of French!).  The bit that came after would be the challenge.  I was so caught up with the excitement and magnitude of what I was about to attempt that I didn’t really think about what would happen when I was finally on my own – out in the world, in a foreign country whose language (beyond ‘Hola’, ‘Grazias’, ‘Buen Camino’ and ‘donde esta cajero automatico’) I didn’t know.  And how in the hell was I going to walk that far every day?

Some days now I don’t know how I did it, when I can hardly move from fatigue or when I can hardly stand because my heart runs a marathon and my blood pressure slowly gives in to the pull of gravity when I do it seems a bit surreal.  Did I imagine the whole thing?  But no, I was there, I have the mark on my arm and my name on a certificate that I can’t read to prove it.  Prove it to myself and the world so I never forget what I can do, what I have done and trust me, with something as crappy as a chronic illness like dysautonomia you need it.  And I really need to go back to the studio and get it touched up!  Oh, and I also have this picture!

The Camino was life condensed.  You could live a decade in one day – I am still not completely sure how or why but it happened.  You almost need a day of rest and reflection after every day of walking just to take it all in and do it justice.  And for anyone wanting to get a taste of the Camino without leaving home then the movie ‘The Way’ has just come to Australia.  Directed by Emilio Estevez and starring Martin Sheen it is a beautiful story about loss, grief, and really finding yourself in the most unexpected place.  I highly recommend it🙂
Even though the part that I walked doesn’t actually feature in the movie – it’s been completely skipped over which is frustrating!  And sad as Galicia was beautiful in the spring, but I guess when you have over 800km to chose from you can’t have it all in the movie!

Better get back to work – I have a stall at an awesome market tomorrow and need to get some stuff finished!  It’s ‘Worn Wild’ – the alternative fashion market that comes to Melbourne twice a year.  I am so excited to be part of it this year!  Here’s a flyer – check it out!  And if you’re interested here is the link to my facebook page for my accessories company – Cherry Pie Accessories – which will hopefully be a company soon instead of a hobby!

That’s all from me today
Buen Camino everyone🙂

Thoughts for Friday

It’s been a while since my last post, not for lack of writing material – no, quite a lot has happened lately!  But for lack of inspiration.  Now I am inspired doubly but can’t remember the second thing I was inspired to write about (stupid dysautonomia brain!).

Today I have something sad to write about, something I didn’t really think would happen to be honest but I guess I always knew the possibility was there.  Any chronic medical condition has its complications and challenges in ways mental, physical and emotional and its important to keep going despite all this but then there are the events that shake you to the core and send shivers down your spine.  Recently the dysautonomia community was shocked by the death of one of our own.  Taken way before her time by complications of a condition not generally believed to be fatal she was by all accounts a loving, generous and inspirational person.  Our thoughts go out to her family and friends.

I did not know her personally but the messages of love and grief from people whose lives she touched around the world are heart-breakingly beautiful and help portray the image of a strong and caring woman who refused to let her illness rule the way she lived her life.  She will be greatly missed.

I was further saddened to hear that she is by no means the first to pass away from complications related to dysautonomia, not even the first this year.  There are different types of dysautonomia that stem from different causes and have a variety of symptoms but the common trend is that the heart’s function is affected in some way.  Whatever the diagnosis is, POTS, NCS, OI, IST – whether it is low or high blood pressure, tachycardia or other irregular heart rate the heart is involved as part of the dysfunctioning autonomic nervous system response and has to work harder than normal.  Our hearts were not made to run marathons without the rest of our bodies participating – it’s no wonder we feel dreadful when it happens.  Don’t get me wrong, I would actually love to be able to run a marathon but I would like my entire body to actively participate at once – imagine if your legs did it by themselves, or your lungs, that would be a bit odd right?  Well why do so many people, health professional and lay-person alike, think it can’t be such a bad thing for our hearts to do it?

Now this condition (or group of conditions) is becoming a bit more widely acknowledged we are starting to see more results; new studies into causes and treatments, new treatments made available, word of mouth from others in the same position but for some this is, sadly, too late.  Who knows how many people have died from dysautonomia-related causes, we will probably never know.  We’re told repeatedly that it could be worse, we could have cancer, we could be terminal – all we ask is to be taken seriously.  It doesn’t take much out of your busy day to look up what dysautonomia is or be a little sympathetic, a little insight and compassion goes a long way.

And here’s a little something to help with the insight🙂

Raising awareness and bringing joy with a pair of sparkly, red shoes

As soon as I saw the ruby red, satin and sequin, kitten-heeled sandals in the store I knew I HAD to have them.  They were perfect for my year 12 formal and I had desperately wanted a pair of sparkly ruby shoes for as long as I could remember after seeing them over and over again on my favourite childhood movie; The Wizard of Oz.  That movie never failed to bring me toe-tapping, heel-clicking, fuzzy-warm-feeling joy and my desire to have my own pair of dorothy shoes never went away even as my movie collection expanded.  That movie is special to me in so many ways.  The song, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ was my favourite song growing up.  For years my grandmother would play it on the piano and I would sing.  Even when her fingers were too painfully arthritic to play anything else she would still play that song for me and now, whenever I hear it, it never fails to bring back those memories.  For a long time after she passed away I couldn’t listen to it and it still makes me cry, it was our special song and while I can never sing it with her again I still have the memories.

The Wizard of Oz (and that song in particular) made me believe as a child that there actually was another world over the rainbow full of magic, music and mystery.  That good will always triumph over evil, that tin men and scarecrows can come to life and sing and dance, that courage, love and intelligence are in all of us even if it doesn’t appear that way at first, and that there will never, ever be any place like home and all we have to do to get there is believe and click our heels together 3 times (that part still gives me goosebumps!).  That pair of shoes is the embodiment of all those messages.  They are love, joy, laughter and carefree innocence and I have a sneaking suspicion that this movie may be the origin of my shoe obsession – well really, everyone wants them and they’re just too darn cute!

So my pretty red shoes didn’t last forever – they were satin, somewhere along the way something got spilled on them and eventually the sequins started to fall off.  They also weren’t the most comfortable or practical shoes in the world but that was really beside the point.  The point is how they made me feel and that is where the joy and awareness part of this post comes in.  A fellow dysautonomia sufferer (and owner of a fabulous, home-made pair of dorothy shoes) had an insomnia-fuelled brainwave.  In her muddled, sleep-deprived state very early one morning she thought to herself, ‘what is missing from the lives of most dysautonomia sufferers?’ AND (even more impressively for 3am), found the answer to that question was; Joy!  And the obvious vessel is dorothy shoes.  She then took it a little bit further and thought about how dorothy shoes could be used to bring joy AND promote awareness of dysautonomia and came up with; The Dorothy Shoe Project.  Which is a stroke of genius really, for any time of the day!

So, what does the Dorothy Shoe Project involve? you ask.  Well, the idea is to post a few pairs of Dorothy shoes to Dysautonomia sufferers around the world – so far she has had expressions of interest from Australia, the UK, USA, Canada and New Zealand (I believe) and take photos wearing them.  Wearing them anywhere doing anything (well, you know what I mean, let’s keep it PG please people!) particularly anything silly that involves copious amounts of joy and laughter AND the person wearing them has to have dysautonomia of any type.  I am so excited about this project, it gives me another chance to wear sparkly red shoes and, lets face it, there can never be too many chances for that!

If you or anyone you know might be interested in participating in the Dorothy Shoe Project, raising awareness about the project or even sponsoring the project, check out ‘Living With Bob (Dysautonomia)‘.

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