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.

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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 🙂

I have confidence in me!

Over the past few days I have had several conversations with a close friend on the issue of confidence – or more specifically a lack thereof and how to improve it.  That got me thinking; there are a lot of people out there similarly afflicted who have no idea how to go about boosting their confidence.  So I thought I would write about it and my journey from the quiet, shy, self-loathing child I was to the (reasonably) confident and happy person I am today.  That being said I still have my moments of self-doubt and fear but I am better able to manage or ignore them and get on with my life!  One of the best songs ever written about confidence would have to be ‘I have confidence’ by Rodgers and Hammerstein in The Sound of Music particularly when performed by Julie Andrews (hence the title of this post).

In the beginning of a journey to confidence courage and confidence are paired, after that stage courage is more linked to happiness – happiness with your life, where you are in it and who you are as a person.  Courage is so much more than becoming a superhero – risking your life for others, doing something dangerous.  Courage is different for everyone.  It takes courage to try something new whether that is sky diving or changing your hair colour.  It takes courage to stand up for what you believe in whether that means being arrested fighting your cause or telling someone you care about that they are smothering you (in some ways this takes more courage). There is a lot out there about courage ranging from Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote; ‘Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgement that something is more important than fear’ to the song ‘I whistle a happy tune’ from the Rodgers and Hammerstein production of The King and I.  Then there is always Strictly Ballroom’s ‘A life lived in fear is a life half lived’.

Thinking through what I’ve learned over the years showed a number of steps and I have tried to write them down as succinctly as possible.  Here are the first 5 with 5 more to follow in a future post – all together would make a mammoth post and it is also a lot to take in at once!

1.  Know you’re awesome.  Make a list titled ‘why I’m awesome’ and fill it with all the things you like about yourself, all the things that make you an individual, all the things that make you awesome.  It can be anything from ‘I have green eyes’ to ‘I told Paul Smith to piss off in primary school when he was being mean to me’ to ‘I got an A on my English work in year 5’ or ‘I have perfect teeth’, ‘I mastered turn-around toe stops in one day’, ‘I speak more than one language’, ‘I travelled overseas’, ‘I am a safe driver’, ‘I have amazing friends who love me for who I am’ and ‘I cook a mean lasagne’.  It doesn’t matter what is on that list as long as it’s something you feel good about.  If you need help ask your friends and family, I’m sure they’ll be happy to oblige.  Here’s some inspiring music

2.  Act confident.  I know it sounds cheesy (don’t we all love a good dose of cheese?) but if you act more confident than you feel on the inside people will begin to think you are confident and will treat you accordingly.  After a while you will begin to believe it too.  This works in the short term but after a while you will need something more solid to work with which is where the rest of the points come in!

3.  Be comfortable in your skin.  If you are happy with the way you look you are more likely to feel confident about yourself.  No, really!  Remember that time you wore that outfit that you weren’t sure about that someone talked you into wearing and you spent the whole event feeling self-conscious and hiding near the wall watching that person in the amazing outfit that oozed confidence and looked like they were having the time of their life?  Yeah, see?!  It is highly unlikely that everyone will ever be completely happy with every part of his or her appearance so work with what you are happy with.  You may have a gorgeous smile, lovely legs, nice arms, beautiful hair, pretty dainty feet that can fit any shoe, a graceful neck that flatters any jewellery, fabulous taste in clothes, a left elbow that people come from miles around to see or a right shoulder blade that is the talk of the town.  Whatever it is it is yours so be proud of it.  If you feel you need a bit of help there are wonderful books out there on how to dress to flatter your figure – try Trinny and Susanna’s what you wear can change your life or similar books.  If you’re concerned about not being able to do makeup properly to enhance the right features book a makeover with a respected salon or makeup company.  Or if you really want a complete overhaul there are always image consultants and image development courses that can teach you all that and more.  Everyone is different so find what works for you.  When you’re happy with how you look on the outside you’ll feel more confident on the inside and always remember the words of Lady Gaga – ‘I’m beautiful in my way ‘cause god makes no mistakes, I’m on the right track baby I was born this way’.  Whether you believe in God or not or enjoy her music or not is beside the point really, the words are good!

4.  Stop second-guessing yourself.  Make a decision and stick to it, don’t agonise over it for days afterwards and beat yourself up for making the wrong choice.  Once you’ve made it that’s it, there’s no going back.  Not to say you can’t consider it properly but set aside a certain amount of time to do it, think clearly; weigh up the pros and cons and how your choice makes you feel.  If you feel you have made the wrong decision, make a different one next time but stop stressing about it now!  The saying ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ if very appropriate but I prefer ‘don’t stress about the things you can’t change and focus on what you can’.

5.  Look out for number one.  Ok so it might seem a little selfish to some people but you are important.  One of the most important things I learned from my Camino is that nobody can walk it for you, just like nobody can live your life for you so you have to be in a position to do that – you have to be well enough and happy enough.  If that means just dropping by a gathering instead of staying for hours because you feel you should when you’re exhausted and stressed then so be it.  If it means picking up a cake from a bakery instead of making it yourself cause you ran out of time then so be it. If you’re stressed, run down, unhappy and exhausted by your life then make some changes – you can’t be happy that way and happiness affects confidence.

I hope this has been helpful to anyone seeking some hints on boosting their confidence.  It’s not an overnight change and takes some work but at least this is a start!  The 5 remaining steps will follow shortly 🙂

Life is a gravitron

It can be hard sometimes to keep moving when your life feels like being stuck inside a gravitron at a fun park. You know; always moving in circles really fast, beyond your control and making it hard to move forwards (or backwards for that matter or even sideways but occasionally upside down can happen) – then someone vomits and it flies back and hits them in the face. Ok maybe apart from the last bit but you get what I mean.

It’s been an interesting few weeks and I’ve been thinking about the Camino a lot. It has now been 4 months since I started walking (give or take a few days) and I have come full circle – back to where I was before I decided to go, in a place that I don’t care to visit often. But it’s ok; I think I’m out the other side of that now. It was tough for a while but something changed that. I had no hope, I couldn’t see a future I could enjoy and I was falling down the spiral again to a place in my mind that I haven’t been for a while.

Then I had my first session of Mickel therapy and it changed. Mickel therapy is a new treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ME and Fibromyalgia. It works on the theory that these three conditions are caused by a dysfunction of the Hypothalamus gland in the brain that is responsible for all sorts of things including sleep, fatigue levels and the autonomic nervous system. I noticed a change after my first session, not a huge one but I do have more energy, a bit less brain fog and my heart rate which for months has been a little unpredictable and ridiculous is now between 75-80bpm at rest and hopefully wont jump so high when I do outrageously energetic things like standing and walking short distances.

In other news I have been occupying my pathetic time by making fascinators to add to my collection of other stuff I’ve made over the years to keep me from going insane while I couldn’t work and plan to sell soon. I will hopefully be having a stall at the South Melbourne Market’s ‘Style By Night’ series of night markets starting October 20th – unfortunately a few days late for Caulfield cup but in plenty of time for Melbourne Cup, Derby day, Oaks day, Stakes day and Cox plate! Here’s an example of what I’ve been making and to see more check out my accessories page on facebook.

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