Getting the balance right

I have been writing this blog for about 7 weeks now (39 posts altogether) and I am very grateful to know there are people out there actually enjoying it. Having only just scraped through an English GCSE writing wasn’t something I ever considered doing but I must admit I am enjoying it more than I thought.

Welcome to the Parallel Universe was intended as a way to share the experiences and progress into my new world and to feel I wasn’t alone on my journey. It certainly has done that and is much easier to bare knowing I have you all on board.

Looking at my statistics I am overwhelmed by the number of followers, views and comments I hope this continues to grow so please forward my blog on to any one you think may be interested.

Blog stats to date:

7,585 views
324 comments
61 blog followers
117 Facebook followers
95 Twitterer’s

The important thing to me now is to get the balance right, as this blog seems so much more than charting my space like travels. It provides me with the opportunity to share with you all the experience and knowledge I have gained throughout the years of working within mental health, training as a psychotherapist, parenting, teaching and much more.

But I do so want to get the balance right and share with you the parts that you might find useful in your own lives. My audience is varied , many of you work in similar fields, some of you are friends and family interested to know how I’m doing, some are fellow myeloma sufferers, and who knows who else is reading. ( There may be even a famous celeb or two) So I do like to mix the blogs up a bit.

Let’s have a look at some of the emotional health sort of subject matter I have shared so far and explore I few ideas that may be of further interest. I can then get my thinking hat on.

The knowledge share so far:

Different maps of the world- how we all perceive things based on our own experiences, values and beliefs
Visualisation- techniques for achieving our goals
LAMBSS – emotional and mental health balance
The BrainBox – a useful resource
Taking care of ones self- the importance of being selfish
Re-framing – looking at situations in a different light
Story telling – making use of metaphors
Pushing buttons- owning our own feelings

Possible future ideas worth sharing?

Anger management using the BrainBox
The power of hypnotherapy
More about Neuro Linguistic Programming
Human Givens Psychotherapy
Cognitive behaviour therapy
Self harm
Anxiety and phobia’s
Time lines – living in the moment
Different preferences- auditory, visual, kinesthetic
Managing today’s teens – I have some great resources I could share.
Children’s mental health
Exam stress – coping and preparing or supporting your teen
Improving self esteem
Addiction
General mental ill health
Autism

So as I have already said (several times i think), It is about getting the balance right, so these topics will be interspersed with various ramblings from every day life in the Parallel Universe. Of course I must keep you up to date with any exciting forth coming hot dates. And then there’s the a Village Secret event ( which I am also very excited about), the ‘Especially for You’ scarf donation appeal, my 50th birthday charity festival and just every day life as a cancer patient ( back down to reality!).

Let me know what interests you and I shall blog it. Funny word blog but preferable to succumb!

I have a feeling today’s going to be a good day for us all but before I go I must share something that I love receiving and you can have too for free. There are no strings attached.

It is a message from the universe that’s emailed to you daily. You just need to sign up at :

www.tut.com

Today I received this one from the universe:

Often, Deborah, simply showing up is enough.
Because the friends, abundance, and health you now dream of possessing have long been in place.
Because the coincidences, surprises, and serendipities that will transform your life already lie in wait for your passing.
And because little else could speak louder of your belief in success than physically putting yourself in a position to receive.
It’s fun to stay at the YMCA,
The Universe

How amazing is that?

X

PS. How many exclamation marks in this posting? ….Only 2 I think! 😉

Sleep…

I’ve never had much time for sleep and always considered it rather over rated. There are so many exciting things to do that I don’t want to waste my time sleeping the hours away. Now sleep is being forced upon me sucking the creative energy from my weary bones.  Yesterday I slept most of the morning and much of the later afternoon, punctuated with tea and scones with friends and family , which was lovely. Frustratingly, I open my eyes to see the canvas and paints awaiting me but my energy levels are not matching my artistic desire’s.  I must succumb ( I really don’t like that word) be patient and wait for the moment. I wonder if Luxozade would help? No perhaps a large vat of Red Bull!

Sunday is a traditional day of rest, I shall pace myself. Colin will ring the church bells whilst I take a leisurely bath, Uncle Jack is treating us to lunch and then fingers crossed I shall get started on my masterpiece.
I shall let you know how I get on.
.
Yesterday my brother face- timed me from Jamaica, how amazing is that! I look forward to him coming home though as I would really appreciate a brotherly hug. I do hope him and Jo  have had a good rest in the glorious sunshine .
Happy Sunday
X

I would rather not …….

….have Cancer. There you go I’ve said it and I suppose its obvious really. I am trying to make the best of not such a great situation and I don’t think I am doing too bad a job but it’s not always easy to be Mrs Cheerful all the time. This said I had a sort of lovely morning yesterday as I was given the best gift of all, TIME. Mum kindly took me over to an amazing little place in Stevenage old town where some lovely kind girls just cared for me.

http://cancerhaircare.co.uk/

Cancer hair care is a charity set up to support women coping with hair loss and they do a brilliant job. I was proud of my hair and I know Kate was always a little envious of my thick locks, so it did seem pretty unfair as it started to come out. Don’t get me wrong I liked my new trendy short hairstyle but it didn’t last for long and now I am down to almost a crew cut. So there were a few tears yesterday (for both mum and me) as the full realisation of the situation hit home or rather head! It seems a bit of a marker point, something that makes me stand out and shows myself and the rest of the world that yes I really do have Cancer.

All of this was made easier though by the patience and attention I was shown by these lovely people. For free they cut my hair, trimmed my new wig, and gave me a number of hats and scarves all beautifully wrapped up in pink tissue paper. So I have found the perfect place to donate all the second hand scarves I receive so others can continue to benefit as I did. And yet again I was reminded about all that was good on the world.

Sadly though whilst we were there mum got a parking ticket, isn’t that just Sod’s law! We had carefully checked the space out and were convinced it was a genuine allowable place to park. It seemed not and as the owner of the nearby cafe said its very ambiguous so we will go to appeal and hopefully not have to pay the £35 fine!

After an afternoon enjoyed under the cosy duvet, Colin’s parents had kindly brought round earlier, our friends joined us for a light supper which looked, and I was told, was delicious. So can I recommend to you Jamie Oliver’s King Prawn Cocktail Slate with Sun Dried Tomato Pan Bread. Putting all these lovely ingredients together and making the very easy bread was a joy. as was watching my beautiful friends and husband tuck in to it, but unfortunately for me it tasted of nothing so I resorted back to the comfort of a bowl of cold refreshing ice cream.

Maybe today I shall start my painting for the curry house who don’t even know they want or need a painting. I just hope I have a large enough canvas somewhere.

Have a lovely weekend folks I think Spring is in the air.

X

Physical Health = 4
Mental Health = 4.5

0 is good 10 is bad so I am doing OK!

PS. Thank you Mummy for all your support x

Putting the fun into fundraising and spreading the love on Valentine’s Day.

It really is true fundraising can be FUN or at least I am finding it to be so. Although with us all having different maps ( if you haven’t done so you will have to read previous map postings for more info) we may have different interpretations of fun!

Please allow me to share three fundraising ideas going on that I am passionate about and encourage you to consider becoming involved if you haven’t already done so.

Firstly there is my very own brand new scarf appeal.

“Especially for You” will be providing bags of love and positive vibes in the form of gifts of new scarves and hats, to the Macmillan Centre at the University Collage London Hospital and beyond if all goes well, which I am very confident it will.

As per yesterday’s post my very first scarf arrived on Tuesday barely a few hours after I had put pen to paper or rather finger to iPad.

I shall bag all donations and include your blessings or messages I write that will pass on positive vibes and your good wishes of health, love, hope and happiness.

It is my ultimate belief that the power of language cannot be underestimated in the healing process and the brain and body connection. ( I can feel another blog topic coming on!).

I have contacted Three Counties Radio to see if I can put an appeal out through their show so hopefully will receive a reply from them shortly.

Any second hand scarfs or hats kindly donated I will sell on ( at my Village Secrets parties etc) 100% of the profits will go to Macmillan. My new Village Secret venture will also give a minimum of 10% of all it’s other profits to Myeloma Research.

Secondly my guardian angel space guide Janet is running the London Marathon to raise money for research into blood and bone cancers. Now I don’t consider that fun one little bit but I am very pleased she is doing this as I need these guys to find me a cure pretty quickly!

Please see her giving page here. She is attempting to raise £2,000 has 65 days to go and is up to £260 so far this has got to be doable and certainly worth all the effort.

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=JanetLyonsLewis

Thirdly the lovely wig/ scarf lady, Nicola, is shaving off her own hair to raise funds , I’m not sure I would consider that fun either but it’s a very kind and brave gesture. I haven’t got any details as to how to donate to that yet but will try and find out more when at the hospital again today.

Got them now!

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=nuttynicolasHeadshave

So Happy Valentines Day. I really don’t like all the commercialising that often surrounds these various days that pop up, but we can use the opportunity (as we should every day in my humble opinion) to spread the love between each other. So get out there and giveaway some of your valuable time by using the power of language ( body or verbal), and do it, through a simple smile, warm hug, kind word or a card left on someone’s pillow.

Have fun sharing your love around today and receiving lots back in return.

I love you all !

xxxx

PS I can’t let it go unsaid as to how delighted I am to have my sister, Kate, back in the UK and by my side ( honestly she had only been gone a week). Kate has just returned from Africa helping out with for a totally unrelated but very valuable cause, rescuing donkeys that make a huge difference to their families lives in The Gambia. Please follow the link below to their website to find out more.

http://www.gambiahorseanddonkey.org.uk

Here we go again …

Today is the beginning of cycle two, so here we go again backwards and forwards to London and my Parallel Universe, for the next four days. It really is like having a full time job. At least this time round I know what to expect as I go forward a little wiser if not quite a bit thinner on top. I must admit I’m not sure I am a great fan of hair loss. Cancer seems to be about losing things, losing taste, hair, identity, role. Maybe I could re- frame that ( I can feel another topic coming on), from losing to changing. Cognitive reframing consists of changing the way people see things and trying to find alternative ways of viewing ideas, events, situations, or a variety of other concepts. I do so love change and I am more than happy to embrace new opportunities and beginnings, it is however, quite useful to know where you are going,in order to point your ship in the right direction. Visualisation is a bit like steering your ship towards your goals, the trouble with Cancer is that it seems as if someone or thing has taken over at the helm. No worries, the good news today is I am back on the old Dexy Mid-night Runners. This should supply fuel to my rocket as I blast off with my new business venture.

I am banking on my fellow villagers, friends , family and colleagues supporting my latest entrepreneurial escapade as I am hoping it will provide an opportunity for me to raise a little spare cash (to put towards my party) and raise some money for Myeloma Research. Village Secrets is going to be the next girls night out combining fun and laughter with top end designer labels all washed down nicely with a chilled glass of Prosecco, now what is there not to like about that? The postman is delivering daily parcels which is so exciting, and I am preparing the goods for a spectacular launch There is a slight hiccup though, I seem to have ordered most of my new designer fashion delights in my size and, as I open them up and feel the soft cashmere or blink in the sparkle of the crystal on the Jimmy Choo shoes I think to myself I could just keep that one. As mentioned in yesterday’s blog I think I had better practice visualising actually making money rather than spending it!

Oh yes, there is another slight little consideration, I am hoping to launch this exciting event at my sisters house and she is still busy rescuing donkeys in Africa blissfully unaware of my intentions! I am sure she will be up for it and to tell the truth I shall just be pleased for her safe return on Wednesday. Having spoken to her briefly on the phone and hearing of her escapades about rushing into burning buildings, sleeping on a plank of wood and cold showers with mouse droppings I am sure a good wash and make over will be a desirable relief.

A few random questions for you, honesty and feedback much appreciated.

1) How helpful was the information about visualisation?!

2) Would you like to know more about re-framing?

3) What do you think about my new business venture Village Secrets ?

As you start a new week just consider this:

image

Happy Monday

Space dust and the power of visualisation.

Yesterday was pretty explosive.

Firstly a very kind friend thoughtfully sent me 2 packets of space dust. Now, when you can’t taste anything, having popping sensations exploding on your tongue is quite a treat, as crazy as it may sound.

Secondly, I received some pretty mind blowing explosive results. My space guide rang with the very welcome news that my para proteins had gone down from 53 to ……… 11. That was much more than even I had dared to hope for so it looks like I am on the right trajectory for returning to planet earth.

This brings me to the very serious matter of visualisation and the power that I truly believe it brings.

Visualization has helped millions of people achieve goals. It can be the most powerful tool for achievement you have ever used, giving you the power to identify and obliterate roadblocks to progress. It has the ability to make your path to success so real that you can almost feel it, hear it, smell it, as well as see it in the mind’s eye.

I have personally used the power of visualisation to create and realise my dream job, perfect country home and other lifetime desires. Now I am putting it to the test in reducing my numbers and fighting off my myeloma invaders.

It is a well-known fact that we stimulate the same brain regions when we visualise something and when we actually do it.

Basically, your sub-conscious mind does not know the difference between something that is real and something that is not, so, when your mind’s eye percieves a very vivid mental picture, your mind accepts it as reality.

Your body responds to the way you think, feel and act. This is often called the mind/body connection. Just for a moment think of a juicy orange. Already you may notice saliva producing in your mouth., an immediate physiological response to a thought. How powerful is that!

Using visualisation with many clients over the years I have been able to witness for myself some amazing results. I just love Henry Fords quote “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right. Honestly it’s true you just need to believe in it, yourself and the power of the universe. But please don’t think it’s all hokey pokey, it is a little bit more scientific than that.

A very simple example might be that if the doctors and researchers didn’t think it would be possible to find a cure for cancer would they be focusing their attention on it? Probably not, but they do believe it, they visualise a world without cancer and together their brains will bring forth solutions and answers. I just have to visualise them coming up with the answers pretty quickly.

When you believe something, even marginally, you begin to do a thousand little things differently. You talk to people you’d normally avoid, you ask questions you’d have been too shy to ask, you dress a little better, you interact with more confidence. You invest time, and energy in yourself and others without really noticing how differently you are presenting yourself to the world. To those who come in contact with you, you are different and because of this the external world around you responds and changes.

None of this is new. Writing over 2,000 years ago, Aristotle described the process as “First, have a definite, clear, practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends: wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.”

Before we can believe in a goal, we first must have an idea of what it looks like. To paraphrase the old adage: we must see it before we can believe it.

This is where visualization comes in, it is simply a technique for creating a mental image of a future event. When we visualize our desired outcome, we begin to “see” the possibility of achieving it.

Visualization should not be confused with the “think it and you will be it” advice peddled by some popular self-help gurus. It is not a gimmick, nor does it involve simply dreaming or hoping for a better future. Rather, visualization is a well-developed method of performance improvement supported by substantial scientific evidence and used by successful people across a range of disciplines.

Take athletes, for example. Studies show that visualization increases athletic performance by improving motivation, coordination and concentration. It also aids in relaxation and helps reduce fear and anxiety.

According to research, using brain imagery, visualization works because neurons in our brains, those electrically excitable cells that transmit information, interpret imagery as equivalent to a real-life action. When we visualize an act, the brain generates an impulse that tells our neurons to “perform” the movement. This creates a new neural pathway — clusters of cells in our brain that work together to create memories or learned behaviors — that primes our body to act in a way consistent to what we imagined. All of this occurs without actually performing the physical activity, yet it achieves a similar result.

So visualisation is pretty powerful stuff.

The next blog could provide me with the opportunity to share some tips and ideas of how to make it work for you if I have any takers out there what do you think?

Fancy giving it a go?

Food obsession, allergic reaction and designer gear.

I seem to have become rather obsessed with food which is rather odd as everything tastes like cardboard. I was hoping that one of the positive sides of having cancer would be a little weight loss as quite frankly, losing a stone wouldn’t be a bad thing, but I have a feeling I may be going in the other direction. I seek out sweet and sour tastes, and icy cold or crispy textures so that usually consists of sweets, ice cream and quavers. I cook meals my memory tricks me into believing will taste great but alas Colin benefits but I am left disappointed and wanting.

To help combat this I did my own little bit of research and found out that taking Nystan, an oral suspension used to treat fungal infections, may help. Unfortunately for me though it seems to have led to a rare allergic reaction. My face has started to blow up a little (not a great look) and I have become very itchy all over my body. On reading the medicine blurb it would appear that this happens very rarely but can result in a serious reaction including developing Stevens-Johnson syndrome!

Having just taken a 5 min break from writing this, I have discovered that I should seek immediate emergency aid if I do notice any symptoms of face swelling, body hives, itching and the list goes on. Oh dear here I lie, Colin purring like a cat beside me, it’s 3am and I have a bit of a quandary…….just how seriously should I take this?

I do think the swelling has gone down and I ‘m not as itchy as I was yesterday but could other things be happening inside my body? This is all such a bore and another added complication I could quite frankly do without. And all this just so I could hope to taste all the lovely delights I feel I have been missing out on. Honestly why can’t I just accept that there are some down-sides to this cancer malarkey!

I think I shall wait a few more hours and re-assess the situation but my mental health scores are starting to shoot up a little.

Meanwhile my sister is rescuing donkeys in The Gambia , my brother is on a luxury holiday in Ghana ( or is it the other way round) and I expect you are all enjoying a good nights sleep before arising for another hard days work.

If all pans out well today I will probably just chill out sit and await my resent eBay purchases to arrive. I am coming back down off the steroids now and have frighteningly added up the cost of my recent episode of mania, lets just hope this new business idea is going to work.

This is the plan….

I am still trying to come up with a catchy name so any ideas will be most appreciated. So far we will call it Village Secrets which I think has quite a good ring to it.

Village secrets will hold regular girls nights out with wine, nibbles and laughter, (we seem to do this anyway) and I will have on hand, rails and boxes of top end designer gear to be bought at knockdown prices. I have been researching all the latest trends by leafing through the numbers of Vogue, Elle and other classy magazines purchased from the hospital foyer. I will keep some of the profit, to re- invest of course, and give a percentage to the Myeloma Cancer Research charity.

Well it sounded a good idea at the time…..what do you think?

The good news is most of the items I have bought so far are in my size so if all else fails I have a wardrobe full of designer gear, now I just need the right places and energy to get out and party.

So far I have new and practically new Karen Millen, Russell and Bromley, Prada, and other top names, bags, shoes and dresses and my collection is building. It’s all very exciting and I am enjoying the process so it can’t be too much of a bad thing. I just have to hope the bank manager isn’t watching!

A day trip out with good news!

Yesterday our very good friends Sue and Angela accompanied us on a trip to the Parallel Universe, for a date with my consultant Professor Kwee Yong and her research assistant, Janet. Professor Yong is the amazing captain of my new universe and has a ship full of excellent crew on board steering my life on a path to recovery and back down to earth. Janet is my guide, and in my eyes my guardian angel, I am not really sure how I would make the journey without her, and I am sure she is probably quite unaware of the difference she makes to my life.

One round of Chemo completed (another 2-6 to go), today was first results day, and we are delighted to report it’s looking GOOD!

HB levels are up to 11 and other blood results are looking positive. The magic para-protein numbers (number of cancer cells) are yet to be counted and we will await with great trepidation but positivity to receive these from Janet on Friday.

The nasty little foreign bodies mutating in my bone marrow are currently around the 50 mark. Ideally after all my treatments there won’t be any at all, but if we leave one of the little buggers behind and he decides to mutate again then it’s back on the old fight. It would appear for some reason my bone marrow is a good host for these invaders. But like I said in the beginning they picked the wrong body and definitely the wrong girl to play around with!

Following another drug run, honestly I’m sure I could make a fortune on all these pills and potionsI am being supplied with, we set out starving to find a spot of lunch. Following my daughters recommendation we searched out an EAT cafe. A supposedly trendy hotspot delivering hotpots in a cardboard tubs. Certainly NOT to be revisited, recommended or repeated unless in a real hurry and desperate for glutinous substances. I can’t taste anything anyway but my fellow diners were not impressed and it wasn’t the leisurely sit down lunch we were hoping for. We followed this is up with a trip to the nearby McDonalds, another place I vowed never to visit again, but I have developed a craving for salty chips and icy cold milk shakes that needed satisfying.

Despite all this, our day was filled with laughter and joy, as it always is when we all get together and we returned home shattered and ready for a good old cup of char.

Last day of steroids today so I will make good use of my energy levels despite my 4 hours sleep, and prepare for the 3 day crash period that seems to follow. Colin is intending on chopping wood today but I fear he appears a little apprehensive at my recent addiction to eBay. Like i said you have to invest to…impress/dress/ make money? Hmm I was never a great business entrepreneur but I have a feeling that is all about to change! I just can’t wait for the postman to bring me all my prizes, I think I had better sort out a stock room.

Happy day to you all. X

Call for help … I may be losing a few marbles!

The large amount of steroids I am taking, and loving by the way, are certainly having an effect on my mental health and sleep. I am not yet sure if this is a good thing or not. I think Colin is also debating that one. Energy levels are certainly high, fridges defrosted and previously ignored cupboards are being cleaned out but…..so is our bank account! I am not sure I dare to admit this, with fear of comment reprisals and friends still working in psychiatric services (never mind my dear patient husband reading this), but I have just bid on 63, YES, 63 ebay items! I probably won’t win them all and I do have a sort of plan but just maybe……I may just be losing a few glass balls!

What will the girls say, and what will I do with all the designer shoes and clothes I am about to purchase? (Good job Kate is in Gambia rescuing donkeys right now) Why, well to set up a village, nearly new, designer girls party events sort of thing of course! Well it seemed like a good idea about an hour ago. And don’t fear too much dear reader as most of the items are in my size so I will have plenty of choices for all the parties and celebrity events I am intending to attend. I have my book signing do, for the book that’s not quite stated yet. My private exhibition, for the half finished pieces of artwork stacked up in the spare room and then of course there is my very own Hinxworth Festival birthday bash to consider plus I have heard on the grapevine that another invite as V.I.P’s to a celebrity concert is on the cards.

So you will have to make your own minds up dear readers.

I only hope that at my hospital review appointment today, the results from my first round of chemo and steroid super blastings will be enough to convince my dear consultant and team, that a continuation of the energy driving drugs is the way forward.

Wish me luck!

PH scores = 3
MH = 2 but that may be contrary to opinion!

O = brilliant 10 = serious health issues going on

I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world!

This might appear a strange thing to say having recently been diagnosed with an incurable cancer….but it’s true!

I have a loving husband who is my lover, best friend and soul mate.

Two beautiful children of whom I am intensely proud, and an adorable grandson.

Family that love and care for me including a very special globe trotting sister who has just on impulse headed off to the Gambia today to help with this charity: http://www.gambiahorseanddonkey.org.uk/
Kate isn’t usually known for her impulsivity so I am really proud of her for grasping the opportunity presented to her on Saturday.

And……the most amazing friends and colleagues who have showered me with flowers, cards, chocolates and gifts. I love prizes as my dear friend Jaqui would call them.

Just look at what I received today from the team of school nurses, health visitors, nursery nurses , admin workers and the rest of the lovely people at the Hitchin office. I couldn’t have wished for a more perfect gift!
http://www.ediblebouquets.co.uk
There really are some lovely people in the world.

image

Not only that I live in paradise looking out on open skies , trees and fields.

image

Some people never have even one of these things so I am sure you can agree that I really am very, very lucky!