Nudge, Nudge, Say No More . . .

Today I received a gentle nudge to remind me about doing video blogs. How I should consider doing them more often.

And reminding me that short videos are probably the most powerful way to communicate these days. 

Point taken. (Thank you.)

nudge-python

I do find it a lot easier to just write something and then find a complimentary image to accompany the post – using Google.

Perhaps it’s time to step up my game?

I have a good post topic lined up to explore, in a video, later this week. I even went and looked at standing camera tripods today. (I am taking this seriously, people.) :)

Look for a video blog (vlog) from me later on this week.

I appreciate the feedback.

* Hope someone appreciates my Monty Python skit reference in the photo. It’s “funny to me”.

** Disclaimer: Please do not hold my self-produced videos to the standard of the “Video Intro” on the home page of this blog. That video was professionally produced – using multiple cameras, sound and light kits. My videos will be a little more low tech. *sarcasm* 

It’s about the message – not so much about the medium. (Although, I will try my best.)

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When You’re Ready to Receive the Lesson, the TEACHER will appear . . .

I should start by thanking you – the people who care enough to read my blog – for the accountability you’ve represented for me. Your accountability has been huge for me and given me a boost to really work on my writing. Thank You!!

Because I know that you’re reading these posts, I have worked hard to keep up with my schedule, as best as possible. I haven’t been perfect with my goal of two blog posts a week but I’ve tried my best under the circumstances.

This blog originally began as a way for me to write and share my experience – as a person living with chronic illnesses and waiting for a kidney transplant. In that way it’s been very important for me.

It’s helped me to be more confident as a writer.

It’s helped me to begin to find my voice as a writer.

It’s helped me to understand how to begin to tell my story.

Writing this blog and getting the beautiful feedback from you (in the form of likes and personal emails) as shown me that there is, in fact, a “place” for me as a writer. And that what I am writing is appreciated and needed.

Thank you so much for that reassurance. Your support. Your kind words. Your presences.

Thank you.

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Eventually it became time for me to step my writing “game up” a little, so to speak. But I wasn’t sure how that was going to happen?

Et Voila!

Someone has come into my life and volunteered to be my accountability “coach” in my writing – towards writing my book. Telling my story.

It couldn’t have happened more perfectly.

We met through mutual friends and he immediately offered to work with me – informally – to help me make some progress on my writing goals.

And it’s not even one-sided . . . I am also holding him accountable in writing his second book – a novel. Here is a link to his first novel, which I read and loved. (I definitely recommend reading it.)  www.piousbook.com 

pious_ebook_cover2 

I will still continue to write my blog but now I am also writing a series of experiences that will culminate in a book – eventually.

It’s an interesting experience for me because I simply have a schedule of writing sessions to accomplish in a week. I am making a commitment to sit down at the computer and just write . . . express what I went through in my “sick to fit” journey.

Once I write an “experience” I simply email it to Kenn. I get some general feedback from him. And I keep going.

I am not yet thinking about structure or the whole journey of my experience – in written form. For now it’s a simple process of getting the experiences down.

I am so thankful that Kenn, was able to help me think of this book in a less intimidating and manageable way too. I knew what I had to do but he helped me by breaking this process down into small, less intimidating steps.

Once a body of work has been built up I can think about structure and order and what works and what doesn’t. I’m not there yet.

It’s like the creation of a huge bouquet. I am simply picking flowers for now.

I can’t overstate how thankful I am to have this guidance in my life right now. And the experience of working with someone who is very bright, thoughtful and accomplished. His presence makes me step up my game. Stick to my goals – so far. And I am learning a lot from reading his work and talking with him about the process of writing.

I have to say, this is a “when you’re ready for the lesson the teacher will appear” moment for me.

I am very thankful for these teachers appearing in my life . . . and working hard to show that I am appreciative of the opportunities they give me.

I will keep you posted on the progress I am making . . . toward my first book. *yikes*

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My review of “Pious” by Kenn Bivins:

This book is written in keeping with of an economy of words and yet it expresses a lot. Carefully chosen words will remind you of the brush strokes of an experienced artist. Deliberate, simple yet powerful in conveying much.

With masterful story telling we are privy to a whole complex world. This world exposes a series of morally gray-scaled lives and life experiences. Bivins is able to show the “whole picture” in a way that makes each character relatable in a brutally honest, human sense. Making sense of the acts of a murderer and the acts of a sex offender through the humble, impious honesty of telling their whole stories. Granting them more than just being one-dimensional stereotypes. Helping us to see the “every man” in them and thus in ourselves too.

The writing is smooth and slick where it needs to be and vulgar and harsh where that is necessary too.

“Pious” is the best of real life, caught in microcosm, and retold in novel form. A walk through a city like NY where fives minutes is aptly represented by a flash of a cream-coloured Bentley – cream-coloured fur-clad patron inside. Quickly followed by the sight (and sound) of a vagrant vomiting painfully in an alley.

www.kennbivins.com

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In Praise of Snow Pants . . .

Part of being well, at this time in my life, is the work of keeping sane. Sounds so simple. *sarcasm*

I really don’t take my sanity for granted.

It is a lot to stick to an independent dialysis schedule and fitness schedule that’s as taxing as work. And then to work and volunteer too.

Part of what this chapter in my life is teaching me is a higher level of self-awareness and self-love. I have to know what I can handle and what is too much for me. I have to be kind and loving with myself.

Juggling the challenges of a chronic illness – mentally, psychologically and even socio-economically – is depleting. The good thing is that I’m aware of that. I am not blinding moving forward in life believing that everything is “cool”. I am consciously doing the things that will keep me on as even a keel as possible at this time.

Many times this action of keeping an even keel does look selfish.

I’m purposely not around a lot of chaos.

I am very selective about the people and energy I associate with – and in what amounts.

I do not compromise on my “me time” . . . meditation, yoga, gym, spiritual study.

I am working deliberately to do the things that keep me at peace and strong enough to handle what I’m facing.

But on the horizon I see a a big one for me . . . WINTER. *sad, long face*

I find the cold exhausting.

I find the layers of clothes and boots and mitts and hats a pain in the butt.

The short days – little sunlight – wear on me.

The wind. Even just the sound of the wind, strikes fear in me like the anticipation of a slap. (Yes, that sounds dramatic.)

Should I continue? (Need I continue??)

Every year (so far) I have faced winter unprepared.

When winter comes I grit my teeth and get through it, but I suffer for it.

Is there the possibility of learning another lesson here? (As I wait for my transplant and likely endure another winter in frosty Canada.)

HOW CAN I MAKE PEACE WITH WINTER??

I think I can get through this winter if I can come to terms with the cold. If I can begin to enjoy being outside during winter – instead of hiding inside between November and April.

I think snow pants will be my solution.

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Simplistic as this seems, snow pants will keep me warm and dry. Warm and dry will keep me happy.

This winter I am tentatively looking forward to tobogganing, snow-showing, skating, hikes and skiing. I will continue my riding-lessons through winter too. And the gym – as usual. These are all experiences to have outside during winter.

A friend of mine mentioned going snow-shoeing for New Year’s Eve one year. Walking through the forrest in the moonlight. Trees and ground blanketed in crisp, white snow. The quiet, insulated sound of winter in the forrest. The night ended with hot chocolate around a fire. That sounds like an amazing way to bring in the new year? (I can wear my snow pants.)

Ambitious plan, I know.

Going from hibernation to snow-bunny??

We’ll see.

The first step in me taking responsibility for this up-coming winter going differently is by changing my perception of what this winter will be like. And you know I’m being conscious and preparing (taking responsibility) . . . as I am writing this in summer. Long before those short, cold winter days will appear.

I think I’m going to be fine.

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10 WAYS of helping you STAY at the GYM even when you’re feeling OFF . . .

I think there is a misconception that I always feel well so it’s easy to get to the gym.

NOPE.

I’m here to set the record straight. I am not at 100% at least twice out of the 4 to 6 classes I do on a weekly basis. Most times it’s feeling physically tired. Or feeling slightly unwell – in a Chronic Kidney Failure kind of way. (Difficult to describe.)

Not seeking any sympathy about it either . . . Just sharing my reality so you can understand what really goes on. In case you’re curious. *smile*

Recently I witnessed my newly pregnant BFF struggle through a yoga class despite on-going morning sickness. At one point I saw her rubbing her belly and thought, “Aaaaaaw, Mommy and baby are yoga bonding”. Later I found it she was appeasing the baby, so she wouldn’t projectile vomit in the class. (Poor thing.)

Here again we see an example of someone still getting to the gym. Despite constant nausea and the chance of throwing up she pushed through it. Kudos.

Here are 10 points that get me through the tough days to still get to (and stay) at the gym. The days where I don’t want to do it:

1. Know yourself and your limits.In my case I have to be in touch with how I’m feeling physically. I have to listen closely to what my body is telling me. On rough days I show a little compassion for myself and heed what I hear.

2. Tell your instructor that you’re feeling off. A quick, discrete mention of my status, to my instructor, is good. For one, the instructor will understand when they see I’m not my usual self . . . and not try to unnecessarily “encourage me”. And secondly, he or she can keep in eye out for any adverse effects. (A recent short fainting spell in yoga reminded me that I needed to be more mindful of the up and down motions during episodes of low-blood pressure. I’m pretty unpredictable in yoga anyway, so as usual my instructor and I had a laugh about it. My balance is not great but I have a lot of heart!)

3. Hydrate. On the days you’re not 100% make sure you’re water bottle is close. I can’t give a scientific reason why but some water seems to help.

4. Do you. On my off-days I am doing my own thing. I may still do burpees but my pace is slower than the class. If the instructor manages to get 20 repetitions of a exercise done in a 60 second sequence and I get in 10 repetitions. I’m fine with that.

5. Do an ALTERNATIVE MOVE. (This is an extension of the “Do You” point.) I’ll do side-jacks instead of jumping jacks. I’ll hold a simple plank instead of “mountain climber” or a more advanced exercise. My motto on those days is “Do Something.” And I’m in good company because these classes are full of people with old injuries, range of motion issues, etc. Everyone is doing “a variation” – being mindful of their challenges – including the instructors.

6. Take breaks. Full on stops, aren’t a good idea when working out, (because they can cause heart issues) but quick breaks, to grab a sip of water or to catch a second wind, are okay.

7. Mind Your Own Business. In every class there is someone who appears to be “invincible”. They don’t seem to be taking any breaks. They never complain. They’re doing more than what’s asked of them. On days I’m feeling off I just keep my blinders on and ignore them. I ignore everyone, actually. I just stay in my lane and work hard at doing what I am capable of that day. As an “A Type” personality, I am very proud of myself for being capable of this. To me it’s a sign of being more self-aware and self-compassionate than my inclination to give in to my drive to be competitive.

8. Chose to use lower weights. The days I’m at the gym despite feeling off, I consider just getting there a triumph. In which case, I make it easier for myself. I set myself up for success. So, if I would normally use a 8 pound free-weight for a particular sequence, in body sculpt, I will humble myself and grab a 3 pound weight. Sometimes I’ll even complete a sequence without a weight in my hands – keeping up with the class and using my body’s weight instead. Again, I am making the best of a bad situation.

9. Stop. It’s not easy to admit defeat at the gym but sometimes it has to be done. Recently I excused myself from a “Hard-Core” class 15 minutes in because my body was just too physically exhausted to complete it. I tried. I didn’t succeed. So be it.

10.  Pat yourself on the back for making the commitment to the gym . . . and trying your best to stick to it. Getting to the gym consistently is hard work. If you’re even halfway consistent with it you should be proud of yourself.

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* Bonus Point

The Back-up Plan: On days where I absolutely cannot make the gym, during my usual group class sessions, I figure out something to do at home. I do have free-weights at home. YouTube is a blessing. I’ve got yoga and Zumba favourites bookmarked. I live in a high-rise so stairs are always an option. And, or course, there is always the possibility of a good brisk walk outside.

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“The Tomatoes in the Geranium pot” Lesson . . .

Very few points in my life go unnoticed or without some type of reflection. My life philosophy orients me towards looking for lessons everywhere.

Of course, if you look you will find. :)

So, todays blog is a reflection on the tomatoes growing in my balcony flower pots. Tomato plants growing with with geraniums.

I just find it so amazing because . . . I DIDN’T PLANT THEM!!

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(They’re a little hard to see in the photos because the tomatoes are small and green.)

I’ve heard a few theories about “bird poop seeds” and “old soil” but I just find it amazing because I am reaping a little harvest that I didn’t plant.

I feel like it’s a reminder, that for all the seeds we plant ourselves – with expectations of harvests – we can also be open to reaping rewards from seeds we didn’t plant too. 

Right now as I set goals and work to bring projects to manifestation I am reminded – with my tomato plants – that my efforts are the tip of the iceberg. I can’t even fathom the good that life has in store for me.

I am also resisting my impulse to control what’s happening in the flower pots. The tomatoes are definitely overpowering the geraniums – which I could fight. Instead I am simply observing and having peace with what is organically happening. (It’s actually pretty interesting to watch this all unfold.)

And when my tomatoes are ripe I will enjoy them with a sense of the magic of their existence. Each tomato a simple gift that I didn’t expect.

We should be open to amazing surprises.

Things we didn’t expect.

Things we couldn’t imagine for ourselves.

And whoever and/or whatever makes these “surprises” possible??

We DON’T NEED TO UNDERSTAND all that. We just need to be thankful and to move forward with an air of miraculous expectancy.

And why not??? *wink*

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Information Project Announcement . . .

Embarking on the biggest and most important project of my life, thus far.

Working with Dr. Trisha Parsons of the Canadian Renal Rehabilitation Network to create an information package that will show and explain the benefits of fitness for dialysis patients.

As we’ve envisioned it, the package will consist of a patient and clinician perspective video (with regards to the benefits), 3 video fitness demonstrations that dialysis patients can follow along with and a short booklet to tie everything together. We hope to include some doctor and nurse perspectives in the booklet too.

So far I’ve assembled a project team. Dr. Parsons who is the big brains – the research and clinical perspective. A production/design company. A certified fitness instruction with experience with dialysis patients and special populations. A glam squad. A wardrobe stylist. And even an amazing location to shoot the video. A translation service is even in place so this package can be captioned and translated into French!

Pretty exciting prospects.

And because it feels so personal . . . and the message and benefit feels so profound, I feel very confident that this project will get completed. To use an overused phrase, this project feels like my “life’s work” or part of my “calling”. It means a lot to me.

Being me – someone pretty contemplative – I am thinking about the people I hope to impact with my part of this video . . . fellow patients and clinicians. My prayer is that they will get what we’re trying to convey.

My hope is that fellow patients, doctors and nurses will understand how powerful fitness is to the lives of people living with chronic kidney disease.

I hope that I am able to convey how powerfully fitness touched my life. I will go as far as telling them that fitness saved my life – because it’s true. I don’t think that I can overstate it.

I want every dialysis patient to wonder if their lives could be improved like mine was? I want them to be so curious to see if they will have benefit in their quality of life too. I want them to lose sleep wondering if their lives can be improved.

I want doctors and nurses to wonder if fitness will improve the lives of the people they treat? I want them to be moved to the point of feeling compelled to TRY – to see the difference fitness can make for their patients. Dr. Parsons has amazing information to share to bring this message home.

Throughout my part of the project, I will be honest. I will mention that adding fitness to your life isn’t all sunshine and roses. It is hard work. It does require some stick-to-it-ness . . . especially on the days when the couch feels extra good. Or feeling sorry for yourself seems like an easy out.

Bigger than the difficulties, I will mentions the perks.

Perks that have kept me fit for years now.

Perks that have gotten me over the hurdles and through brick walls.

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- confidence in myself as a fit person

- confidence in my body as it became strong and fit

- confidence to think of myself as healthy and whole as a person – despite being sick

- the physical benefit of fitness to my dialysis regiment and chronically ill body, e.g. increased appetite

- the psychological benefits of fitness as an anti-depressive and “good-chemicals-in-the-body” agent

- the social benefit of fitness (I’ve made a lot of great friends at the gym and I get a boost from our camaraderie in the group classes I take)

If I could send an open letter to all the people I hope this project will reach it would simply say . . .

“TRY fitness for yourself or for the benefit of your patients. Let go of all your pre-conceived notions about what having kidney failure means or what being a person with a chronic illness means. Give fitness a serious try and if you don’t see or feel any benefit then stop. But . . . I bet you’ll see benefit. You owe it to yourself to see how good your life can be, even with kidney failure”.

Wish me luck with this project. I am working to get the financials organized and then it will be time to execute.

I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, you know where my heart and energy is.

*big smile*

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