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HOW TO GET THROUGH LOCK-DOWN AND BEYOND…

With us all facing another lock-down it’s easy to become quite low and despondent about the whole situation. But what if you could turn things around and make it advantageous.

I am a very positive person even with all I have gone through and have to deal with I keep a smile on my face and stay as confident as I can as there is always someone else worse off than me. But, this last month has even left me feeling pretty desperate.

My life is my family and with the lockdowns in London just before Christmas and both my children have someone in their family working in London it meant spending Christmas on our own with FaceTime as something to look forward to daily.

On Monday when then PM announced the new lockdown measures due to the new strain of COVID spreading so fast it did make you feel quite unsafe about going out at all. We are lucky enough to live in the country and can go on walks and see only a handful of people but people living in the city do not have this option which makes it even harder for them.

My son and his wife decided last year they were going to move out of London and near us and his sister in West Sussex. Just before Christmas, their contract was exchanged and the secret I had been keeping for a while ( until they had exchanged) could be shared with the rest of the family. We were ecstatic and when we saw they were only 2 miles away from his sister which is only 10 miles from us I was on cloud nine.

My husband and I were also able to celebrate together that we were to become grandparents again this July. What more could anyone ask. I had a fixed grin for some weeks. Of course, the grin isn’t so wide now as we cannot help our daughter with her 18-month-old during her second pregnancy and we cannot help our son and his wife who move into their home next week.

So, donned with my pen and writing pad I started writing a few things down over the Christmas period of what I could make to help out my family without even being with them. I have always love craft things and last year I made my granddaughter a sensory book for her first birthday. All made out of felt with lots of touchy-feely things on each page like you can see on the photo above. It took me months to make but the pictures on the faces of my daughter and her husband were enough for me to feel every hour spent on it was worth the effort. I have a lovely video which lasts quite a while of my granddaughter playing with the book and I quite often pop it on as it always puts a smile on my face. If you want to see any more of some of the craft items I make, I have a regular ‘Day in the Life of a Back Pain sufferer’ on The Bad Back Company’s blog.

Here are a few of my ideas I wrote down to start in January. I had kept my children’s nursery curtains from when they were babies as it was a lovely Sanderson nursery print and thought one of them might like them for their own nurseries but how do you split a pair of curtains? Well, one of my ideas was to make a quilt out of each curtain which is on my list for this month.

I also wrote on my ideas list that maybe we could put a hamper together for when my son and his wife move into their new home which I have immediately started putting together and I am also making a card for them. I love making cards and decided I could sketch a picture of their house onto a card for them to make it even more personal.

I decided that maybe I could help my daughter out by doing a load of batch cooking for her as my granddaughter does love my homemade fish cakes and courgette muffins. I knew it would help and make me feel more involved. I am about to make a batch today for her.

I can sit for hours looking for ideas on Pinterest that might spark another idea or something I see in a magazine. Last year I bought as many of the Christmas magazines as I could find as I love the Christmas editions and decided to put them away until Christmas Day so I had lots to read through over the Christmas period. They were a blessing in disguise and got my mind thinking of other ways to inspire me to maybe try something new that either myself, my family or someone else could benefit from.

The chances are if you are reading this then you have access to either a laptop, iPad or iPhone and the internet and so a brilliant way to find something new for you to get interested in is a magazine all about it.

Pocketmags is an online magazine company which sells subscriptions and single issues of lots of magazines for you to read on your laptop etc. We all like to feel of a magazine but with most of us not getting near a WH Smith or good newsagents for a long time I am sure you will not have seen nor heard of some of the magazines available on Pocket Mags website. The best thing is that you can buy single issues so you could read them through and see if you think it’s something you might be interested in. It might be that you want to learn more about your condition or start a new course but you are not quite sure about it. I am pretty sure you will find whatever you are looking for on the PocketMags website.

As many of you will have seen from previous posts that I have written I am an avid believer that writing helps you cope with chronic pain but that is for me personally. Reading is another of my favourite hobbies. I have always got a fiction book on the go and every afternoon when I go for my rest I read a chapter or two from my book to help me relax and give my body a rest.

I spent a full morning the other day on Pocket Mags website and went from A-Z of their Magazine Back Issues. My list is a page full so I will have to cut that right down but some on my list were Arthritis Digest, Easy Cook, Cross Stitch ( my daughter bought me a pack for Christmas) Knitting, Card Making, Family Tree and lots more. Some of which I will definitely write about on here.

It is only 6th January today and I already have a two page list of ideas on things to make, read, or help others with, to take me away from the difficult situation we are all in at the moment. If I only inspire one person to maybe start a new hobby or make a list like I have to help you over the next few months then I will feel this post was worth writing. I am of course always happy to help anyone who maybe going through a very difficult time.

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5 GREAT BOOKS TO READ DURING LOCKDOWN AND BEYOND…

With Christmas now well and truly behind us but an awful lot of us still in lockdown I thought you might enjoy a post on some good books, I have read recently.

The Girls by Lori Lansens

The story is about conjoined twins, Rose and Ruby, and it’s told from each of their very different perspectives. This unusual tale of sisterhood is a wonderful read and makes you appreciate what we take for granted. In twenty-nine years, Rose Darlen has never spent a moment apart from her twin sister, Ruby. She has never gone for a solitary walk or had a private conversation. Yet, in all that time, she has never once looked into Ruby’s eyes. Joined at the head, ‘The Girls’ (as they are known in their small town) attempt to lead a normal life, but can’t help being extraordinary. Now almost thirty, Rose and Ruby are on the verge of becoming the oldest living craniopagus twins in history, but they are remarkable for a lot more than their unusual sisterly bond. I promise: you will never forget this extraordinary story. Love, connection, loyalty, raw humanity and much more are the ingredients of this most unusual novel. Lori Lansens’ blend of tragedy and comedy will touch you deeply’ Isabel Allende

Letters of Note : Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience by Shaun Usher

It’s a book to pick up and put down and lovely to have on your lounge table with letters from everyone from Churchill to Virginia Woolf. An intriguing read. A collection of over one hundred of the world’s most entertaining, inspiring and unusual letters, based on the popular website of the same name – an online museum of correspondence visited by over 70 million people. From Virginia Woolf’s heart-breaking suicide letter to Queen Elizabeth II’s recipe for drop scones sent to President Eisenhower; from the first recorded use of the expression ‘OMG’ in a letter to Winston Churchill to Gandhi’s appeal for calm to Hitler; and from Iggy Pop’s beautiful letter of advice to a troubled young fan to Leonardo da Vinci’s remarkable job application letter, Letters of Note is a celebration of the power of written correspondence which captures the humour, seriousness, sadness and brilliance that make up all of our lives.

Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison

A lively and deeply inspiring novel which shows a view into the working-class life of Mike Muñoz, a 22-year-old who mows lawns for a living and has a talent for creating topiary structures. He lives in an overcrowded, dilapidated home with his hardworking mother and handicapped brother, Nate, and only wants his chance at achieving the American dream but everything seems to be stacked against him. The author gives readers a relatable everyman who is struggling to make ends meet but knows his self-worth and is determined to overcome the difficulties in his life to succeed. It’s a roller coaster of emotions. I went from sad to happy then back to sad again but it has a great ending. A good feel book.

Create Your Own Calm : A Journal for Quieting Anxiety by Meera Lee Patel

Feeling anxious, uncertain, or overwhelmedYou’re not alone. In this empowering new tool for self-care, a popular artist and author Meera Lee Patel present a fresh approach to feeling better. Designed to help us better understand and dial down the everyday worries getting in our way, these thoughtful and beautifully illustrated journal pages are a safe space for reflection, insight, and the freedom to move forward with more clarity and joy. Bringing together inspiring quotes from great thinkers and writers throughout history with engaging journal prompts and plenty of room to capture your thoughts, the book is a calming breath of fresh air and a quiet space to reflect and recharge in a hectic and uncertain world. I popped this book in as I felt it quite appropriate at the moment and ideal for someone who may be feeling anxious. Although I do not have this actual copy a friend bought me something very similar to jot my blog posts in it. However, I am going to use it to jot down how the next year unfolds. Something I wish I had done from the very first lockdown. I always feel good after I have written things down.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

My final book which I have found hard to put down over Christmas is another fiction book but one that will keep you hooked from the beginning to the end. Power couple Jules and Will have whisked their friends and family away to a remote Irish island for their wedding. But all is not going according to plan when someone is murdered. The tension gets almost unbearable and the creepy setting really adds to the atmosphere. The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped. Need I say more.

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THREE GREAT BOOKS TO HELP YOU BRING THE ART OF MINDFULNESS HOME…

A Mindful Day – 365 Ways To Live Life by David Dillard-Wright £10.99

From the author of A Mindful Morning and A Mindful Evening comes a guide with 365 positive affirmations and short meditation exercises you can do to relax and unwind at a moment’s notice, A mindful Day.

With all the struggles of modern life, it’s easy to get lost in a whirlwind of stress, worry, and indifference. Between work, family, and day-to-day tasks, it can be hard to find a moment of peace. By taking just a few minutes a day to meditate, you can improve your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

A Mindful Day is an easy way to quiet your body and mind. With 365 affirmations as well as soothing mindfulness meditations, you can learn how to take a break from your day and find peace whenever you need it the most. Simple exercises like focusing on your breathing or listening to the sounds in nature can calm your nerves and melt away the demands of modern life.

Spending time to get in touch with your soul can help you achieve true balance and tranquility. Let A Mindful Day help release your stress and find the peace you deserve. Or, treat someone you know could really benefit from this book for Christmas.

I Am Peace – A Book of Mindfulness by Susan Verde for children, £9.01

When the world feels chaotic, find peace within through an accessible mindfulness practice from the bestselling picture-book dream team that brought us I Am Yoga. Express emotions through direct speech. Find empathy through imagination. Connect with the earth. Wonder at the beauty of the natural world. Breathe, taste, smell, touch, and be present.

Perfect for the classroom or for bedtime, Susan Verde’s gentle, concrete narration and Peter H. Reynolds’s expressive watercolor illustrations bring the tenets of mindfulness to a kid-friendly level. Featuring an author’s note about the importance of mindfulness and a guided meditation for children, I Am Peace

With our world in a difficult place at the moment this book would be perfect for any child who seems to be struggling with everything to do with the pandemic.

For the skeptic – The Mindful Geek – Secular Meditation for Smart Skeptics by Michael W Taft £9.99

The Mindful Geek details how to derive the benefits of mindfulness meditation without having to join a religion or drink metaphysical Kool-Aid. In the book, Michael Taft gives you step-by-step instructions in the powerful and reliable techniques of mindfulness meditation, and outlines the psychological and neuroscientific research underpinning these practices.

An excellent book for beginners who are atheists, agnostics, and skeptics of all stripes who want help with anxiety, depression, and to enjoy life more.