Tag Archives: happiness

Share Your World – Week 5

04 Feb 16
Megan
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
No Comments

The questions this week have been very thought provoking and I’ve struggled with a few of them but here we go… Let’s Share Your World!

If you had a shelf for your three most special possessions (not including photos, electronic devices and things stored on them, people or animals), what would you put on it?

I don’t really focus much on ‘stuff’ and ‘possessions’ any more so I’ve struggled to think of 3 things that would go on the shelf.

I would definitely include my childhood teddy. He’s been through everything with me and he’s not going anywhere…

2014-12-16 18.55.58

The second thing I’d put on it is the old cigar box that currently holds my yearly letters to E. Starting from our wedding day I’ve written a letter to him each year as part of his anniversary gift.

The third thing I’d add would be my special jewellery… My engagement ring (was my great grandmothers) and wedding ring, my heart necklace (6-month dating anniversary gift from E) and my crystal necklace (also a family heirloom).

If you had a box labelled ‘happiness’, what would you put in it?

NOTHING, or a note that just says ‘Be Present’. I would use it as a reminder that happiness comes from within, not from external sources.

What do you want more of in your life?

I’m very happy (or as happy as I can be) with my life at the moment but I’d be happy if I was able to have more family time and less pain/health issues.

Daily Life List: What do you do on an average day? Make a list of your usual activities you do each day.

An average day… I was planning to do a day in my life style post like my friend Joy and Toni Bernhard anyway so I guess I’ll describe it here.

Wake Up time… Generally between 8 and 9 am (although the last few days I’ve woken earlier then fallen back to sleep). At this time I take a moment to scan my body and see what parts are hurting the most and the least (there’s never no pain so it’s more an assessment of how well the day is going to start).

While still lying in bed I do at least a 5 minute meditation before stretching and slowly sitting up. Most days I’ll take a shower (sitting on the floor to avoid falling over or making pains worse) and get dressed.

Breakfast is the next task to address. I make a cup of tea and see how much energy I have. Most days I just have a piece of fruit or something premade that’s easy to eat. When I have the energy I’ll make a cooked breakfast with veggies and eggs.

While the kettles boiling (and breakfast is cooking) I’ll do a short sun salutation. Just 5 minutes is enough to stretch out my muscles but it also wears me out again.

After eating breakfast it’s time for another rest so I’ll sit on the couch drinking my tea. I may browse Facebook on my phone.

After 10-15 minutes rest, I’ll read through some blogs for up to 30 minutes (usually closer to 15 minutes) then push the button that sends the robot vacuum on a round of the kitchen/family room and laundry.

I’ll clean the litter trays and then assess how I’m feeling.

If it’s a good day I’ll do an hour or two of work (writing blogs, working on consulting jobs) or spend some time cleaning up around the house with regular short rest breaks in between. If it’s a bad day I’ll put the tv on or listen to an audio book.

At around 11:30 I’ll start thinking about lunch. Generally this will either be left overs or a sweet potato which I throw in the oven with salt, pepper and oil and leave to bake for an hour.

After lunch I have a nap before either doing a bit more work/housework or putting the tv/audiobook back on.

Around 5 I start considering dinner. I slowly make dinner taking lots of rests and by the time E is home (generally between 6 and 7pm) dinner is ready to eat.

We eat and watch tv until around 9-9:30 when I take my medicines, floss and brush my teeth, shower and bed.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful that I’m able to live a slow life. Over the weekend E and I were able to slow down and just relax. I spent a whole morning listening to audiobooks while E was on the computer and doing things around the house, we visited family and we went for a slow walk in the local national park.

This week I’m looking forward to continue living slowly. Taking the time to enjoy the simple things like the warmth of the sun and the sound of the rain. I’m also looking forward to afternoon tea with Rach as a special mid-challenge catch up as part of our 20 week no-buy challenge.


Rest

Rest – Could you take a whole day off?

13 Apr 15
Megan
, , , , , , , , , , , ,
No Comments

Yesterday I took the day off. Not only did I not allow myself to do any work, I attempted to completely avoid technology as well. As you’ll see below I wasn’t quite successful in this second quest but the day was still worth it.

Why take a whole day off?

It seems counterproductive when you’re really busy and have a lot to do to just stop and do nothing for a whole day but in reality it’s anything but that. When you don’t take the time to rest and switch off your productivity drops dramatically. Although you may always be doing something it can take you longer to do it and the quality of the work you produce may not be to your best standards if you are stressed and attempting to multitask too much.

By taking a day off to allow your batteries to recharge, you come back to the work with a clear head and focused on what you want to achieve. I find after taking a break I also tend to come back with a renewed passion and interest in whatever it was I’m trying to get done.

Another benefit of taking a day off, is it allows you to reflect on what you do and identify things that you do that are actually not being helpful and could be counterproductive. For example, I tend to crash out in front of the TV or browsing the internet when my brain fog sets in. If I actually take a rest instead I can return to my productive work quicker and with a clearer head.

A sample day of rest

As I mentioned above, and on social media yesterday, I took the day off and avoided technology to focus on rest and recovery.

What did my day look like?

6:30 AM – The cats woke me up

My husband is away this week, finishing a cycling tour of the Mawson Trail so the cats woke me instead to feed them. I managed to ignore them and get back to sleep for a while though.

7:20 AM – Up and feed the animals (cats and fish) followed by a 10 minute rest

7:30 AM – Breakfast

I made a container of coconut rice the day before so had some of that with fruit and honey for breakfast.

8:00 AM – Bath with a book (Seven Little Australians)

Due to pain levels on cold days I tend to spend a lot of my time in the bath. Yesterday was one of those days.

8:30 AM – 20 minute rest

8:50 AM – Snack

Because I was up so early, my energy levels were low so I had a few snacks throughout the day.

9:00 AM – 20 minute walk

This was a short but very slow walk around the block. Just because it was a day for rest didn’t mean it was OK for me to avoid all exercise. In order to manage my pain and fatigue levels I have to maintain a certain level of activity. In my normal daily life I currently don’t do any specific walks like this because I get my target step count or higher just doing tasks around the house. However, as I wasn’t doing housework I would not have met my target without a designated walk.

9:20 AM – Pot of tea and Journal

When I’m managing well I try to write in my journal daily, however life can get in the way. I hadn’t written in my journal since January so I spent some time reflecting over the changes that have occurred in the last few months.

9:50 AM – 20 minute rest

10:15 AM – Back in the bath with my book

As I said above, when the weather is cold and my pain levels high I tend to spend a lot of time in the bath. I don’t run a completely new bath though, just top up the water to make it warm again.

At this stage I actually finished my book.

12:00 PM – Lunch

For lunch I had left over pizza (gluten and dairy free) from dinner with friends the night before. At this point I did go on my phone for a little while just to get an update from my husband as to how their trip was going.

12:50 PM – 40 minute rest

This was my big rest for the day. On any day I tend to crash in the afternoon. I normally try to hold our until at least 1 pm, usually 2 – 3 pm then put the TV on and crash on the couch.

1:30 PM – Woke up and Snack

1:50 PM – Yoga

As well as my step count I do daily yoga stretches to reduce pain levels. This is mainly the pelvic stretches discussed in my routines post last week.

2:05 PM – Hot Chocolate and a book (Kitchen Table Sustainability)

This book could technically count as doing work, as the information is useful for the development of my ideas, but it is a book I’ve been trying to read for a while and as I’d finished my fiction book I decided to read some of this one instead of starting another new book.

3:15 PM – Clean Kitchen

I know it was meant to be a complete day of rest but I had come back the day before from a night away and had bags of food and cooking appliances that had been used while we were away. To be able to make dinner I had to clear the bench space so I washed the dishes and put away the food.

By this stage I was really struggling with just wanting to crash on the couch with the TV on. I had made myself a promise to have a technology free day so I held out on myself.

3:45 PM – Visit a Neighbour

As I was struggling with a desire to crash on the couch and just rest, I decided a day off was a good opportunity to begin to foster better relationships with my neighbours. I really want to feel like I’m part of a strong knit community but in the 7+ years we’ve been in our house I only know a few of the neighbours to the extent of waving hello.

Recently a friend’s parents moved in 2 houses up from us so I decided to visit them yesterday and introduce myself properly.

I spent 2 hours at their house having a cup of tea and a chat. I found out that my friend’s mother has fibromyalgia as well so it was great to chat to her about what she does to manage her symptoms.

** Confession time: The TV was on in the background while I was there.

6:00 PM – Dinner

I threw a few vegetables (onion, baby spinach, mushroom, capsicum, chilli and garlic)  in a pan to saute and gluten free gnocchi in a pot.

6:30 PM – Bath and book

By this stage I really just wanted to collapse in front of the TV or go to bed. I decided it was too early for bed and I was still attempting to avoid TV so I made myself read a bit more of my book in the bath. I found myself struggling to read though so I wasn’t in there very long.

7:00 PM – Attempt to go to bed

I was exhausted and thought I would fall straight to sleep but as usual I just couldn’t get comfy.

7:10 PM – TV ON!!!

After attempting to get to sleep for 10 minutes I realised it just wasn’t going to happen. Not only was it a little early but my husband wasn’t home. Normally when he’s not home I have the TV on for noise in the background when I attempt to fall asleep. I gave in and put it on.

I also ended up taking a sleeping tablet as I didn’t manage to get to sleep until after 1 AM.

As you can see, even a rest day can be busy. The idea though is to do activities that recharge your batteries, not ones that drain them further.

Although I didn’t quite manage the whole day technology free, limiting my exposure to technology did maintain my energy levels slightly higher than on a normal day filled with the internet, tv and phone.

Yesterday was the first day in many, many months that could be classified as an OK day for me (not bad or crash) so obviously I need to do this type of thing more often.

What do you do to rest?

Do you ever take a whole day to just relax and do nothing?

Happiness

Happiness – Enough and random acts of kindness

03 Apr 15
Megan
, , , , , , ,
2 comments

As those of you who follow us on social media would be aware, I’m participating in WEGO Health‘s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge.

Here at LiveKen we are on a journey to discover what a simple, sustainable and meaningful life is for us.  On this journey we have discovered that recognising that we are enough and we have enough is one of the key steps towards being happy with your life.

Yesterday’s prompt for the challenge was to answer the question

What is the key to happiness?

My key to happiness is to be grateful for what I have. To recognise that Enough is all that is needed to be happy with life. I may have several chronic illnesses which impact on my ability to live what is considered a normal life, but I have enough health to do the things which matter the most to me. I have enough health to spend time with my family and friends, to read a good book, write this blog, and make a contribution to the world. I am enough just the way I am.

Today’s prompt for the challenge is

Random Acts of Kindness

To me, these two prompts are linked. The random acts of kindness I observe and participate day to day are the things that remind me of the fact that I am, and have, enough.

When I do a random act of kindness, whether that is to make a meal for someone I love or give someone a big hug, I feel that I am making someone else’s life better. I am enough as I am to make a difference.

When I am the recipient of a random act of kindness, I am reminded that I have enough people who love and care for me to make my life special.

For example, the other week we were at a friends house for drinks. The host had made lasagna for dinner. 2 large ones full of dairy and gluten. We had only RSVP’d that day, as I’m usually unable to be sure of whether I can commit until the last moment, and I can’t eat dairy or gluten. Even though we RSVP’d so late, they went to a lot of effort making me a separate, smaller heart shaped lasagna with gluten free pasta sheets and a potato topping instead of the cheese sauce.

I am so grateful that they had made such a special effort to make sure I had enough to eat. In fact, the special heart shaped lasagna was so big I could only eat half, and shared the rest with others around the table.

To me, the key to happiness is being grateful for what you do have. It is recognising that you are, and you have, enough and celebrating every achievement no matter how small.

Random Acts of Kindness act as a reminder of how important it is to be a part of a community and to contribute to that community to help everyone find their key to happiness.

What is your key to happiness?

Have you been a recipient of a random act of kindness?

3 Lifestyle Choices for a Happy and Fulfilling Life

26 Jun 14
Megan
, ,
No Comments

Everyone wants to be happy and enjoy the life they’re living but so many of us are spending most of our time doing tasks and activities we don’t want to do. We’re unhappy with how our life is going and often complain about not being where we thought we would be. Within my group of friends there are several people that stand out as being (or at least appearing to be) happy with their lives as they are and although they live completely different lifestyles there are three things they have in common. They live their lives in a way that is simple, sustainable and meaningful.

Simple

Each of the people I’ve met who live their lives happy, seemingly carefree and fulfilled live their lives in a way that everything they have and do is simple. The term ‘less is more’ is key to their lifestyles. These people have taken the time to identify what is important to them and eliminate the rest. They don’t have tonnes of useless ‘stuff’ around the house and they only do things that they want to or need to do to live by their own values and priorities. What does this mean for the rest of us who are wanting to live a happier, more fulfilling life? It means we need to do a stock take on our lives and our belongings and identify what it is that is most important to us and eliminate the things we don’t need, love or use regularly. I’ve begun this process myself and I’m slowly working my way through the house identifying the items I never or no longer use. I’m being tough on myself and not holding on to things just because they have sentimental value. Certain sentimental items are staying but most I’m passing on to new homes where they will be used and loved. I try hard not to schedule too many things into my day so that there is space in there for me to rest and reflect on how my life is going. This allows me to pick up on the negative things before they blow out of proportion so that I can try and solve them. Using this technique, which I’ve picked up from my friends, I’m beginning to feel happier about where my life is at. I can now see all the positive things I do have. By removing all the clutter and noise and being more mindful about your actions and possessions you too can begin to identify the happiness you already have in your life. Once you do that you can begin to focus on the activities and items that increase that happiness for you.

Sustainable

Sustainability means so many different things to so many different people! When I’m talking about a sustainable lifestyle here, I’m talking about it in two different ways:

  1. A sustainable lifestyle is one that can be maintained and continued through all the ups and downs of life. It is not a fad or a one off thing, it is constant and ongoing.
  2. A sustainable lifestyle is one that takes into account the effect each action or purchase done as part of that lifestyle has on others and the environment.

I’m not saying that everyone has to be a ‘greenie’ or a ‘hippie’ or whatever other term you’d like to use. These terms have very negative connotations but the reality is this planet is the only one we have and so we all need to do our bit (no matter how small to look after it). I’m also not saying that you can’t spend money on things you like. What I am saying though is that the people around me who are living these happy fulfilling lives generally consider the impact of their decisions and don’t make impulse purchases or decisions regularly. A sustainable lifestyle is one where you are financially secure and have all your basic needs taken care of (food, shelter, love, etc). It is one where you still get to have fun and purchase new and exciting items, but you do so within your means. You avoid bad debt (such as credit cards) and negative relationships so that you aren’t tied down by these. You also consider whether your actions are having a positive or negative impact on your own life, the life of those around you, and the environment that you live in. How can you incorporate Sustainability into your lifestyle? I know that most people have extremely busy lifestyles, and not everyone will want to go all out and do everything in a way that is completely sustainable, so the following tips are some simple and easy ways to incorporate a sustainable mindset into your day to day life. [checklist style=”green”]

  • Buy Less. When you first think you want something new, consider whether it is a ‘need’ or a ‘want’. If it’s a ‘need’ get it, but if it’s a ‘want’ write it down somewhere and wait at least a week (preferably a month) and see if you still want it. If you still want it then, get it.
  • Buy Local. I know there is a lot of hype about organic products being the best thing for you but I believe this can be cost restrictive for some. Instead, consider whenever possible if there is a local option available. Buy fruit and veg from your local farmers market, and if you need new furniture try and find a local designer/maker.
  • Be mindful of your budget. Aim to keep spending under what you earn and save money for large purchases or emergencies in the future. If you use credit cards (like we do), pay them off in full monthly. Whenever possible don’t go into debt and don’t pay interest (mortgages are OK though).
  • Recycle. Most local Councils offer some sort of kerbside recycling program. Make sure you know how it works and utilise it properly. By doing this you reduce the amount of waste actually going to landfill. Some items shouldn’t go to landfill at all but can’t be recycled through the kerbside program (such as batteries and light globes), again check with your local Council for the most appropriate way to dispose of these items in your area.
  • Make it. When you have birthdays, housewarmings and other celebrations try making gifts and cards yourself. If this isn’t possible due to time constraints, buy people experiences instead of stuff.

[/checklist] Recycle - Sustainable Life

Meaningful

An overarching theme in the lives of happy and fulfilled individuals is that the activities that they undertake are meaningful for them. As I mentioned above, in order to simplify their lives these people have identified what is most important to them. By doing this, and simplifying their lives so that everything they do aligns with at least one of the things that are important to them, they know that each and every thing they do is meaningful and has a purpose. Using my own life as an example, I have identified 6 key areas that are important to me:

  • Family and Friends
  • Simplifying
  • Mindfulness
  • Health
  • Continual Learning
  • Work – meaningful and purposeful

Since identifying these areas I now assess my actions and activities to check that I’m doing something towards each of these every day. By doing this I know that what I’m doing is meaningful. It is helping me fulfill a need or helping me help others through meaningful and purposeful work. LiveKen has been set up as a result of me searching for a way to do meaningful and purposeful work while dealing with debilitating chronic illnesses that have interfered with my ability to live the life I had before. Since attempting to live my life by these three principles (simple, sustainable and meaningful) I have begun to feel happy and fulfilled despite my conditions. They help me maintain a positive outlook on life even through the tough times. Yes, I still have my ups and downs but overall I’m feeling good about life. By living by these principles, you too can begin to feel happy and content with your life instead of stressed out and negative. Give it a try!

The Top 5 things I’ve learnt in a year of chronic illness

27 May 14
Megan
, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
No Comments

I have so many posts I need to write and share with you over the next few weeks including book reviews, guidance for setting and achieving goals with a chronic illness, and requests for help and feedback on a couple of big projects I’m working on. I look forward to sharing all of these with you and with setting some little challenges to help us all move towards being the best we can be starting with today’s post: Lessons learnt in a year of chronic illness.

The last year has been very stressful and busy for me but through all of this I feel I’ve learnt a few things about myself and how I can accept and live with my chronic illnesses.

 

Photo (c) E. S. January, 2014

Photo (c) E. S. January, 2014

The Top 5 Things I’ve learnt from my chronic illnesses

  1. Everyone’s experiences are different. Each and every person who suffers from a chronic illness (even the same illness) has different symptoms and reacts differently to different treatments. For example my main symptoms are extreme brain fog, constant pain and constant exhaustion. A friend of mine who also has ME/CFS doesn’t have the constant pain, instead her worst symptom is sensory sensitivity (I struggle with this but not as much). For some people antidepressants such as Amitriptyline (Endep) help with pain and sleep issues, over the last 2 months I’ve found it doesn’t help me. I have found though that a TENS machine helps with some of my pain and that meditation and being mindful is the best thing I can do to help me be able to focus better and actually achieve the things I want to do within my limits.

    2014-05-15 07.36.00

    Found on Facebook

  2. I’m stronger than I thought. Many people around me, including my husband, doctors and close friends, have commented on how well I have been coping with this illness. I’ve had a few people actually tell me it’s OK to share my negative thoughts, as if I was just hiding them away. Somehow I have managed to stay mainly positive about my situation. Yes I’ve had a few bad days spent crying and feeling sorry for myself, but overall I’ve seen the benefits of having more time to do the things I need to do to feel better, to relax and to reassess my life.

    Celebrating the success of the Foggy Frog Kickstarter Campaign

    Celebrating the success of the Foggy Frog Kickstarter Campaign

  3. Family and community are the most important thing. Having a strong relationship with my husband and both our families, as well as our close friends, has meant that I’ve had ongoing support since I first became ill. I think this has been a major factor in my ability to stay positive. However, sometimes I’ve found that although they try to understand (and I do love you all for it) they don’t always really get what I’m going through and why I’m making certain decisions. This is where my new found group of friends, here and on Facebook and Twitter, has really helped. I’ve made connections with others who are going through the same things as me, I’ve been able to help them and they’ve been able to help me.

    My husband and I with our closest friends on our wedding day. Photo (c) Doug Quine Photography, November 2011

    My husband and I with our closest friends on our wedding day.
    Photo (c) Doug Quine Photography, November 2011

  4. It’s important to have something you’re passionate about. The first 6 months of being ill were the most difficult for me. During this time I had quite a few negative pity days and I struggled to find ways in which I could feel useful and purposeful in my life. Then I began blogging, I made new friends and I started working on the Foggy Frog Campaign. I realised that even if I did not have the enery to work fulltime, be out in the world talking to people or researching and developing key sustainability strategies and projects I could still be useful. I just had to find a way to work within my limits on a project that I felt passionate about and that I could engage others in as well. I’m still passionate about the environment and sustainability but at the moment my strongest passion is raising awareness and advocating for the chronically ill using Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang as a tool.

    Foggy Frog (c) Megan S, January 2014

    Foggy Frog (c) Megan S, January 2014

  5. Being ill opens up new and exciting opportunities. Before falling ill I was working fulltime in a job I enjoyed. It wasn’t completely my dream job (half was, the other half was necessary work in the position but not what I really enjoyed) but I was fully engaged, enthusiastic and passionate about the work I was doing. Then I got sick. I still wanted to do the work, but I didn’t have the energy or strength to keep it up. Slowly, as my health has improved and stabilised slightly, I have found new passions in chronic illness awareness and advocacy, mindfulness, meditation and sewing. I have also reignited a passion for yoga and a desire to run my own business. I have previously tried working for my self doing consultancy work with people I had worked with in the past. I really enjoyed the flexibility and variety this work gave me but I had not been making enough money for us to live off. Once again, the desire to work for myself has come to the surface. There are pros and cons to this and I will assess those in a future post but it is something to seriously consider at this point in time.

    Found on Facebook

    Found on Facebook

Overall, having a chronic illness has made me realise the importance of a great support network, a positive and flexible view on life, and keeping yourself passionate and engaged in what you do.

Chronic illness takes away so much and can make it difficult to be dependable and spontaneous but there is also so much you can learn and do when you accept that a chronic illness is for life and you have to learn to live with it. Consider your options and make the right decisions for you right now. When living with a chronic illness I believe it’s important to live in the moment, don’t compare what you’re able to do now to what you used to be able to do and don’t spend all your time worrying and stressing about the future.

Found on Facebook

Found on Facebook

How do you want to feel now?

What can you do to feel that way?

These are the questions I’ve started asking myself daily. Try it, think of one thing you can do today to make you feel happy, loved, accomplished or whatever feeling it is you need to feel right now.

If you focus on what you can do and take action every day (no matter how small that action is) you will keep moving forward.

My challenge for you today is to ask yourself the questions above and let us know what one thing you’re going to do today to get closer to how you want to feel.

Discovering my inner peace

21 Nov 13
Megan
, , ,
No Comments

OK, I said I was going to be out today but I was too excited about letting you know about the new award I’ve received and I’ve got a little energy right now so here it is…

Yesterday the lovely Jenn from My Fibrotastic Life nominated me for the Inner Peace Award. Thank you Jenn!

inner-peace-award

This award has very simple rules for accepting (as written from DonCharisma.org):

The only “rule” for the inner peace award is that you write a short piece on why you are accepting it. I would suggest that you forward on to other bloggers who you think would like it, 3-10 up to you:)

SO… without further ado (because I’m having a bad day and don’t know how long this clarity will last),

I’m accepting this award because ‘inner peace’ is a very important part of my life. I have always avoided arguments whenever possible and I try to find peace in everything I do. Some of the activities I do that help me find my inner peace are meditation, walking, yoga, creating things by sewing or card making, being out in nature, and spending time with the people and animals I love. ‘Inner peace’ is something I believe everyone is always searching for because it leads to happiness and joy in life. It can mean different things to different people and can be found in many different outlets.

The following blogs are the ones that I feel encapsulate what inner peace is or show that they are searching for inner peace through their posts.

  1. The Snail of Happiness
  2. The Girl in Yoga Pants
  3. noonegetsflowersforchronicpain
  4. Baking, Butter & Happiness

Congratulations to each of you for showing us what inner peace is or what steps are need to discover our inner peace.

Brain fog is setting in again so I’m going to sign off here.