Willow Face Paint Hoo BookFest

How to get Vouchers/Adverts for your school or charity

Willow Face Paint Hoo BookFest
Cheeky Butterfly

It’s school summer fair season again!  That means I’ve been approached by a LOT of schools in the surrounding area, for either adverts in their brochures or vouchers for their raffles.

Realistically, the vouchers do not really help me with my business.  I don’t get a lot of visibility from them and I don’t get a lot of business.  However, I do like to support the local community; my kids are at a local school, and I’m very aware of how hard the PTA’s work for both the private and state schools.  Sadly at times I do feel a little ‘used’ at times by the schools that approach me (not all, just some), which I suspect makes the PTA’s job even harder.

So I thought I’d write some tips on how to get those much needed adverts or vouchers from local businesses.  Most importantly you are looking to create a relationship with the business; where they know that you don’t just want a voucher from them, you actually care that they gain from it.

  1. If you are asking for raffle tickets, have a simple brochure and list all the small businesses that gave you a voucher with a thank you and their contact details.  Or create a poster that is in a prominent position at the fair if you can’t afford brochures.  The raffle prize will cost the business money to provide the service/product and it takes a lot of return visits from that customer to cover that cost.  So this gives them increased visibility.
  2. Suggest they offer you a raffle ticket for something that can be upgraded; this gives them a chance of covering their costs at least.  For instance, if I offer a 45min massage, someone might upgrade it to 60mins.
  3. If you are asking for adverts, please consider what value for money you are providing in comparison to other local advertising options.  Some schools would like to charge me the same amount to potentially reach 300 parents that I can reach 20,000 people in for a local magazine/newspaper.  They also tell me how many children are in the school, rather than how many families, which can often be about 60% of the original number.
  4. If you are asking for adverts give them plenty of time, a deadline, explain what format you need the advert in (e.g. PDF/Jpeg) and what the dimensions of the advert will be.  Also, send them a complementary version afterwards, to show them that you definitely did do the advert.
  5. Offer them a package where they can have a stall at your fair, offer a raffle prize and advert in your brochure at a reduced rate.
  6. Do some research into the most popular stalls; my heart breaks sometimes for the small businesses sitting their all lonely with products which are just not suitable for that school.
  7. If their business doesn’t really suit a stall at your fair, they could sponsor one of the PTA stalls.  For instance we often have simple games, where the kids win sweets.  These could be sponsored by the business, and reduce the PTA’s cost in return for a sign thanking the business for their sponsorship.
  8. Keep a record of the businesses and the contact person that help you each time.  Then to save you time you can contact them directly each year.
  9. I recommend that you find out if any of your PTA or parents actually use the business – I’m much more likely to give a voucher to a client, than a stranger who contacts me once a year.
  10. Contact the most local businesses first; they are the most likely to gain from supporting you.  Whereas I’m often contacted by schools from a long way away, that probably are too far for me to realistically gain clients.  It’s worth walking up the local high street and making a list of the companies, the person to contact and which ones might be interested.  Once this list is created it can be used each year.
  11. Support the business on social media – send a thank you tweet and message on their Facebook page.  Like their Facebook page and follow them on twitter.  Mention them on your private Facebook profile as well.  All these things help with a small businesses marketing campaign, and helps to reduce their costs.
  12. During the following year, share one or two of their Facebook posts or like them to show that it’s not just at Christmas and the Summer Fair time that you are interested.

I know this probably sounds like a lot of work, and it might be a little late for this year’s fairs (sorry!).  But once you have your list of businesses, it is likely that they will automatically help each year and you’ll only be looking for 1 or 2 extras per annum.  You will stand out as so much more loyal and caring than the other schools, that the business will always be willing to help you where it can.

I’d also recommend other ways of building a relationship with the business:

  1. Invite someone in from them for careers days, and send thank you’s on social media for their time.
  2. Offer them the opportunity to put fliers in the school bags – this can be more successful than an advert in the school brochure and lucrative for the school.
  3. Proactively find out what local businesses the parents work in and specifically target them, as they have greater interest in the school.
  4. If you have railings at school, you could offer for them to make a banner and advertise there every now and again (for a fee of course).
  5. If you do other events during the year, potentially offer for these businesses to sponsor some aspect of it.
  6. For your most reliable and loyal business supporters, you could add a thank you page to the school website.

Please remember that these are small businesses.  Unless they are very lucky, the owners are probably earning as much or less than they would do if working for someone else, and they are much more stressed.  Why on earth in that case do they do it?  Well that’s a question I’m not sure of the answer for!

I really hope this helps in that rather desperate rush to compete with other schools/charities for small business support.

 

 

Older Parents – something to remember

Mum & Dad & Me

So there’s been lots of chat about ‘Older parents’ recently.  An Indian couple in their 70’s became parents for the first time.  Tessa Sanderson (60) adopted twins.  Janet Jackson is pregnant at 49.  And a good friend of mine ‘older single mum’ was asked to write an article about it for Newsweek.

Technically I was ‘geriatric’ when I fell pregnant with Curly headed boy at 36 in Peterborough and but perfectly acceptable at 40 with Little Dimples in St Albans; geography does that to you apparently.

My Mother was 43 when she had me, which was very unusual 47yrs ago; I certainly didn’t have any friends with parents that age.  She would have been the same age as the Queen this year (90), and Dad would have been a few years older.  I have 3 brothers who are 20yrs older than me (same parents).

So I can see the arguments from all angles.

Dad died when I was 21 a few days before Christmas, so I never had a ‘grown up’ relationship with him.  Mum died just after my birthday, when I was pregnant with CHB, so I never had the chance to bond with her on being a Mum; I think it might have helped me to understand her more.

Losing your parents is tough.  But we are programmed to lose them at a certain time in our lives and it is a lot tougher to lose them ‘early’.  My parents were in no way perfect, in fact they were a long way off perfect.  But I would have liked them around in any case; it’s lonely without someone.

If you are an older parent, I’d like you to think about a couple of things.  In fact if you are now an ‘elderly’ parent or a hoarder, some of them are relevant to you too!

You see I’ve realised that I’m angry with my parents.  I’ve been sad, teary and stuffing myself with carbs for a few days now.  I don’t think I realised until today what the problem was though.  So I’m having a proper foot stamping strop about it in an effort to get it out!

This is what I wish I could have told them:

  • Stop smoking – it will shorten your life, and that’s not fair
  • Don’t drink lots – not enough to do damage – it shortens your life and that’s not fair
  • Exercise – is not about sport, it’s about still being able to get around when you are 70 and without it your life is cut short and that’s not fair

You get the general stroppy gyst of it?

For myself and the other ‘older parents’ out there:

Stop moaning about ‘lack of time’ – your kids won’t think that was a good excuse when you aren’t around and there is no more time to have with you.  The same counts for ‘lack of money’ – walking and press-ups don’t cost anything.  Then ‘lack of childcare’ – find a way of including them in being healthier.  Or there is the ‘I don’t know how to put myself first’ – that’s fine, don’t do it for you, do it for your kids, it’s not for you!

You can’t stop accidents from happening or illnesses.  But you can have a jolly good attempt at looking after yourself.  As long as you tried your best, that’s all your kids can ask for.  It’s not my ‘fault’ I got Lyme disease; although I suspect having children later didn’t help and I could have taken better care of myself and had a stronger immune system that fought the Lyme buggers off.  However, it is what it is and I will try my best to be as well as I can.

Kids are not a good replacement for proper medical care either.  It’s a difficult balance and I’ve not always got it right with my kids.  I actually feel that some of the potential extra responsibility that comes with an older or less well parent, can be healthy for a child.  They will learn empathy, thinking ahead, compassion, patience, gratefulness and all sorts of ‘character building stuff’.  But my parents could have afforded help, gone to hospital for proper medical care in certain circumstances or asked my brothers for help; instead I was a ‘young carer’ from about 5.  I didn’t have to do lots of cleaning, but I did lots of the care, and at one point all the cooking.  It tipped over the edge from ‘useful life skills’ to ‘too much responsibility’.  For instance, I was left with a very ill mother and had to call an ambulance for her at 5; without it she would have bled out.  I also found my father one night after he had been mugged; without it he would have died.  I spent a whole summer after GCSE’s nursing them; Mum after breaking her pelvis and my Dad after a heart attack.

Then there’s the STUFF.  Please sort your stuff out.  When decluttering, think about your kids and make sure that you’ve only left behind the stuff that will be relevant to them.  If you leave too much they won’t even be able to access it or use it to comfort themselves.

Do you know how hard it is to throw away the crap that belonged to someone who died?  Especially if you were younger when they died; you don’t know who the hell the photo is of, but there’s some weird worry that by throwing away a photo that your parents kept, that it means you didn’t care about them.  Or you are throwing away the chance that you will eventually find someone who can answer all your questions and know who the photo is of.

There are so many questions when you parents die younger; so much you forgot to ask, so much you didn’t know to ask, so much you were too bored to remember at the time.

Select your favourite things and put them together; your photos, diaries, momentoes – the things that will remind your kids of you and give an insight into you.  That’s what they need and want.  Probably about a box full, with some other bits and pieces that go elsewhere.

Decide what to do about furniture, pictures etc.  I was too young for any furniture when my grandparents died and living in too small a cottage when my mum died.  So I only have a couple of pieces.  If you’ve lost your parents, I know their stuff might not suit your house, but consider if it could be adapted or up cycled.

So what do I think about the recent news stories?  If you are too old and your body can no longer produce children, then do what Tessa did and adopt.  Maybe you can’t be as fit as her, but try!  If you happen to fall pregnant older, then that must be what’s meant to happen, but take responsibility to look after yourself.    The 70 yr old Indian parents should be ashamed of themselves, I hope that there is a large extended family.  Janet; hmm I think that family has more trouble than just her age, but at least she’ll be able to afford care.

Being ‘older’ is not bad.  It comes with lots of advantages.  But it’s important to try to counteract the disadvantages as much as you can too.

Thanks for listening, I feel a bit better now.  Still a bit sad, but not as much as before x

Far Infrared Mat from Get Fitt Review

Sunshine

I’m better!

Not fixed.  But dramatically and unbelievably better!

It’s like someone switched the lights back on in my body!

And now I look back I can see that I was degenerating badly.  It’s actually quite scary now I feel better, to see how I was on an inexorable spiral downhill.  It was obvious if you had a little look at my house or Espiritu, which had become untidy and clogged up; I’m a lover of systems and organisation and the mess was a sign of my overwhelm.

Now I’m not underestimating the general stuff I was doing, CBD oil (since Sept and crucial for getting me out of bed), and more recently a naturopath (great for support, knowledge of Lyme and starting the healing process).  But this change was sudden, has continued, and is continuing and is all down to the Far Infrared mats from Get Fitt.

Here’s a list of the majority of the current improvements:

  • Physical stamina and strength improved dramatically (I can walk the dog on the same day as Pilates and am at last up to my old weights on my legs on the Stott Reformer machines).
  • Pain reduced, even during period (normally chronic).
  • Brain fog, depression and overwhelm blown away (Business decisions are about 50times faster and life is generally much sunnier).
  • POTs symptoms: Heart palpitations and pain from lack of circulation in top half of my body from POTs improved (scary shit – I didn’t like that)

So how did this happen?

Get Fitt Far Infrared

A few weeks ago I got a message from Lisa from Get Fitt. I’d heard of Far Infrared and even tried a sauna, but I was feeling so ill it took 2 weeks before I felt I had enough stamina to ‘waste’ talking to someone for 30mins.

On Friday 18th March she turned up with Mark the founder (a very passionate guy with that endearing ‘mad professor’ way to him).  They sat me on one of their chair mats for 10 mins (I was too sick for more apparently) and explained the science behind it.

Basically the mats improve your circulation.  By the blood moving around better it:

  1. Reduces pain
  2. Helps improving the immune system, thus with battling the bugs in funky illnesses like mine
  3. Gives energy, a bit like that ‘summer holiday’ feeling
  4. Has a detox effect without the sweat of a sauna
  5. Speeds up recovery from exercise
  6. Helps regain energy from over doing life.

Who can’t go on it?  Pregnant women and haemophiliacs, that’s all.

Off they went, and I was left with the feeling that they were really lovely people.  Then the magic started to happen.  Myself and one of my stylists reorganised the whole of the colour area at work, which required puzzle solving skills I’d been completely lacking for weeks and physical graft.  I should have been dead that night, but I was ok.  I was fine on Saturday too.

Sunday morning and it went PFFT (technical term!). OMG it was gone and suddenly I felt like I did before – it was a shock to remember how bad I had accepted feeling.  So I cheekily messaged them saying I needed another demo; after all it could have been coincidence.

This time they popped me in their Professional Sol Cocoon.  Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday were amazing – I spent time with the kids, solved business problems in 5 mins that had been troubling me for a week and started to sort through the mess at home and the salon.  There was NO way I was going without it anymore – it was definitely my new addiction.

By Thursday, less than a week after first trying the mats, I had booked another ‘meeting’ and built my business case to buy 2 mats:

  1. A beautiful Amethyst Chair mat (the earth pad) as a lovely upgrade to blow drys, manicures & pedicures and help clients with back pain, tiredness and PMT.
  2. The Professional Cocoon Sol for those needing it therapeutically like me, pain relief and clients who had pushed themselves too far; basically more of a relaxing and healing experience, all on it’s own or following a Spa treatment.

BUT I took the cocoon home and the continued improvement was so good, that I decided to keep it home during the Easter holidays.  I’d at last learnt the lesson to put myself first.  When faced with a week in a caravan and no mat I realised it was never going to be enough for me to just use the mats at work, so I bought myself a chair mat (the Super 7 body mat with 7 different crystals and minerals) for home.

So what have I achieved that is so extraordinary?

Fun

  1. I ran a 3hr training course, standing up the whole time, that I’d prepared for late into the evening for 4 nights running as it was the Easter holidays.  With no fall out the next day in pain levels or exhaustion.
  2. I went to Ikea with 2 children; a 4hr round trip, including lugging boxes and an amount of walking that would normally have killed me.
  3. I went to a wedding; normally a nightmare for noise and people overload.  I didn’t rest the day before, and just had a quiet day afterwards.  I had FUN!  And I DANCED for an hour!
  4. I’ve reorganised the whole of the downstairs kitchen, utility and playroom, and my bedroom, which required a lot of physical graft and organisation skills, I’d been lacking for months.
  5. I took the kids on holiday for 5 days ALONE to Park Resorts at Camber Sands, and although I was tired (what parent wouldn’t be), I had a wonderful time, as I was able to actually BE present with the kids properly.  We played on the beach (so I didn’t just sit and watch them play like normal), went swimming in the pool every day, and I just needed a couple of gentle days on our return to recuperate.
  6. Within a couple of weeks I was back up to my original pre-June 2015 leg weights/strings on the Stott Reformer machines at Applied Pilates.  My upper body, is still weak, but the constant feeling of constriction, like my arms were in bandages has gone.
  7. I’m not having to constantly ‘count spoons’ as us Fibro/Lyme people do, worrying that I’ve taken too many steps in a day.
  8. Work wise, I’ve been back ‘on the ball’.  It’s actually really scary to think how much I’d degenerated, I was really scared that the Lyme had gone to my brain, but it looks like it was just lack of oxygen.

And it’s not just me!

Willow FIR

So far my kids go on it once-twice a day especially little dimples; it helps when they are tired and reduces tantrums.  The big hairy northerner has used it to recover from migraines and exercise, and his Dad was a big fan (he’s not the type to be easily persuaded about anything).  It’s helped several friends with their backpain, but I want to investigate further to see how long the improvement lasts for.  It definitely dramatically reduces the pain and grumpiness of PMT in a couple of my girls at Espiritu.  The Amethyst Chair mat (or earth pad) has been in regular use, as much by my girls as clients over the last couple of weeks, so I’m really excited to catch up with everyone to see what happened during my holiday.

So tomorrow the Cocoon goes to the salon (boohoo!) and I’m very excited to see what magic it can create for my clients on it’s own as an experience, or as an upgrade to Facials.  I hope to see just as dramatic differences as it seems able to help a massive list of problems.  I’ll be offering it out for free for the first week and contacting as many friends and clients as possible.  Then it will be at a reduced price for the second week for those who couldn’t make it.  But I’m also thinking of permanently having a day where it’s heavily discounted, to help those who need regular treatments.

I’ll write more soon, but I want to let you know that I’m better, and it’s been a month, so it’s definitely lasting and continuing to improve even more.

Update: Read my second review here.

If I was better what would I change?

Mum with energy

So let’s say the combo of naturopath, CBD oil and Far Infrared mats (my newest investigation) didn’t just help me manage my Lyme/Fibro but actually returned me to full health.

What would I change?  What would I go back to doing?  What lessons have I learnt?

I think that it’s an important question to answer.  I’m NOT saying I want to be ill, or that anyone wants to be ill.  But I think that the possibility of health can seem so unlikely that we don’t aim for it or plan for it.

Would I put a pair of jeans back on?  Probably not as they never suited my short legs and Wildbangarang leggings add some fun to my life.

WildBangarangEvilEric

Jewelry? I’d be sparkly and jingly again in a heart beat!

Running?  Nah walking the dogs is more fun, but I’d go back to Zumba or take up dance classes for sure.

Sugar – I love a bit of cake, but I’m alright without biscuits.  I’m not that restricted diet wise.  Although diet may be coming up as a potential target at some point – I wonder what I’m willing to give up for full health?  It might sounds weird, but ‘we’ often do struggle with giving up food that makes our problems worse.

Work – would I make the most of it and start working 60hr weeks, like they say you should when running your own business?  It would be a huge relief to be back up to speed.  It would be wonderful to be cognitively fast again.  But I don’t plan on regretting missing another summer with my kids or dropping the ball at school because I never do drop off or pick up.  I would like to be able to do more and quicker, but not work every hour that god sends.

My cleaner?  I know some people think this is a huge luxury, but it is not one I’m willing to give up.  Even if I’m better, it’s still a juggle with work and kids

Just So Festival

My kids – wow it would be wonderful to be able to play physically more, not worry how much energy is left for the chores & to do’s and eek it out.  I love all the creative stuff I do with them, but I deserve more memories than that.  Starting to go back to Festivals with them would be a good start.  Heh, when we can afford it again we could take the kids snowboarding, I’d love that.  Oh and when you are tired, patience is soooo difficult!

Friends – they’ve been very patient, I’d have a long list of catching up to do and I owe a lot of relatives Christmas cards.  But obviously my list shortened over time – not everyone was as patient.  I’d definitely like to go out.  Not lots, as I prefer the way we spend our money.  But just to have some girly fun every now and again at a birthday party or to go to wedding receptions.

Planning my energy? – At the moment I plan my energy usage.  A visit to London requires a rest the next day.  A busy week finishes with a couple of hours on the sofa as the big hairy northern one takes the kids to tap class.  I’d love to have the freedom to go to any conferences or events I want to.  But not overloading our calendar or over stimulating the kids is definitely a good plan.  I wonder if I can trust myself to keep that lesson?

To do list
To do list

Sleep– I’ll stick to my early bed time, but not spend so long trying to get to sleep would be fabulous.  Having a more of a life in the evenings would be great.

Financial – if I was really truly better I’d save a fortune on supplements, but I reckon I’d keep seeing my naturopath every now and again.  I’m so not going to just put what I’d saved in the bank though – this girl needs to be a bit more frivolous and high maintenance 😉

Hobbies – wow would I have energy for something other than chores, kids & work?  Probably not until Espiritu was a little older, but the prospect would be good.

There’s not lots I’d change.  I would just live life to the fullest possible and enjoy my energy.  I must remember to spend that energy on the kids first before work/chores and leave some downtime for me.

It would be lovely not to be scared and overwhelmed.

So I’ve decided I’m going to aim for total health recovery.  Hey, if I fail, I’ll probably still have improved.  But if I don’t hold it as a possibility, then it’s very unlikely.  So I’m going to make a plan for how life will change when I succeed.  Just in case 😉

Progress

When Fibromyalgia is actually Lyme Disease

Exhausted Mums

I’m sorry, it has all been a little bit about sickness recently hasn’t it?  Bit boring really, so I’m going to make this post succinct, and then move onto more interesting subjects for a while 😉

Some background: since June last year, I got really sick.  I’m better, but I can’t work full time, find it difficult standing up and haven’t regained my stamina or my cognitive ability.  I am managing to juggle the mum-kids thing better and the CBD oil is a big help.  But I am very up and down, and the only solution seems to be lying flat.  The girls at Espiritu are getting stronger and stronger, and taking more and more work off me; I’m very lucky.

I felt there was more to it than ‘stress’, I felt ‘wrong’ inside, and eventually shouted enough to get referred to a Rheumatologist.  I was really excited – someone who would actually know about Fibro etc and be able to help!   Hmmmm.  Not so much.  I saw her in November after waiting 5 months.  She was really grumpy that a Dr had dared to diagnose me without a specialists help, told me I didn’t have Fibromyalgia, did some auto-immune tests, and said if they came back clear then she didn’t want to see me again.

I don’t agree with her – my initial symptoms for the 4yrs previously were very Fibro, and I’m grateful I had a Dr who was aware of what they meant.

I do agree with her that the new symptoms weren’t – and actually I’d made the mistake of seeing a different Dr (you know how difficult it is to get appointments), who wouldn’t listen to me about that.  The good news was she referred me to a neurologist (I’m still waiting) and a physio (I’m still waiting).

I was very upset and down about it.  Why do we hope for help from the medical system so much, when we know how limited they can be as well?

I had been googling my new symptoms over and over.  Over and over one thing came up: Lyme Disease.  I was hoping that I was just jumping on the bandwagon – you know how we see an advert on the TV about stomach pains and immediately worry that we have cancer?  That’s what I was hoping.

Eventually I pulled myself together and went back to see my ‘right’ Dr rather than the first appointment available.  I felt silly.  But went through my symptoms with him again and asked if he thought that I might have something different.  Much to my surprise he agreed and said he wanted to do some research and would call me.  The call came with a recommendation to read Dr Horowitz’s book ‘Why can’t I get better’ (Warning: it’s a LONG, complicated book).

I filled out the questionnaire and was worried to find that I came out strongly as Lyme.  Then when I had a flare next I went back to the Dr, who was unusually down.  He confirmed that I have a ‘clinical diagnosis’ of Lyme – i.e. from my symptoms.  I’ve had the blood tests – they don’t point to any other weird illnesses.  They also don’t show positive for Lyme, but that’s a whole other story and political mess as ‘google says’ that they only work 20-50% of the time.

Bless him, I felt sorry for him – there isn’t anything he can do.  The NHS doesn’t officially recognise chronic Lyme, even though people die from it.  The official treatment is 2 weeks of antibiotics (I had 4 before Christmas and felt amazing, but the bleugh returned as soon as I came off).  The ‘Dr risks getting struck off’ treatment is 2yrs of double antibiotics, some intravenously.  I can’t afford the german blood tests that would prove I have Lyme (which the NHS would still ignore), or the £60k to be treated in Texas.  I didn’t have any ideas on what to do because the alternative options are so overwhelming, confusing and complicated.

Progress

But there is some good news.  It looks like Mr Taxman owes me some money, yay!  So I saw a Naturopath this week, who does know what to do.  I’m going to spend my money on her, rather than blood tests, as I’m more interested in getting better than proving to people who still think I’m stressed or need to ‘just get up and keep on going’ like they do.

I’m crossing fingers that you’ll see a much more positive post in about 6 months time.  When I get my head around understanding Lyme, I’ll write up about it too.

But for now, I think we’ll move onto more interesting subjects shall we?

CBD oil for Pain Relief & Sleep Problems

CBDoil FibromyalgiaI apologise, I’ve been promising this post for months, and really it’s pretty easy to write, I just didn’t get round to it.

If you have a weird funky illness that gives you pain and sleep problems, the I really recommend CBD oil made from Cannabis oil.

There is no ‘hit’.  Just pain relief and a good 6hrs sleep, sometimes more.  Potentially a slight anxiety reduction as well.

I buy mine from CBD Brothers (The white label cheaper version).  Now I’ve been told that lots of CBD oil sold online is from Hemp oil.  I can’t be sure, but the results are great and they assure everyone that it’s from Cannabis oil.

I’m not fixed.  But I’m functioning, and I’m sure it’s the oil that’s doing it.  I’ve been taking it since September and I get through a bottle about once every 5 weeks.

I have better sleep than I’ve had in years, without any other supplements/herbs (I used to have a huge selection).  I take it 1-2hrs before sleep (it can have a stimulating effect if taken too close to bed time). (I drop under my tongue, held there for about 3 mins).

Then I take it in the morning and I can feel the pain relief within about 10mins.  The couple of times that I’ve forgotten to take it, have really proved how much it reduces my pain levels.

I also have the balm, which I can apply straight to any shooting pains or chronic pain that I get – this is amazing, because those sorts of pains would normally cause me problems for days (shooting pains in my head or arms in particular).  I’ve only bought one lot of the balm and it still has loads left.

How does it work?  Put very simply the theory goes that the CBD oil helps the existing Cannaboid cells in our body that are struggling to get rid of all the nasty stuff (technical term!), as they are already overloaded with Pollution and rubbish diets.  So it’s helping the body to help itself.

What can it work for?  I think anything that is brain or stomach based (where there happen to be lots of these Cannaboid cells.  It’s is suggested that it can therefore help Fibromyalgia, M.E. CFS, Epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Cancer etc.  Although I have a friend who is a nurse, who has found that some epileptic children who tried it had fevers and sickness (I don’t know where that CBD oil came from) – so as with all things it may not work for everyone.

I don’t know if it can help you, but I think it’s worth trying if you are struggling.  Please let me know in the comments how it goes.
*Gentle hugs*

Why my body suddenly crashes

Target

This is how my body works …..

“Right then, we have a target, all hands on deck we have a target”

“We estimate that this project will take <xyz> amount of energy over <abc> number of days: initiate gradual send out of energy per day”

“Oh shit, we estimated wrong”

“Initiate borrow of energy from ‘Bank of Energy’ to reach end of target”

“Yay target reached!”

“Warning, warning, insufficient energy creation ability to pay back energy debt, the bank is pulling the plug”

“Warning, warning, the plug is being pulled, the plug is being pulled”

 

Cue my body literally feeling like someone let the energy plug out, differing degrees of pain and numerous other symptoms slumped on sofa for <efg> no of days.  And no, I couldn’t just keep going anyway.

Targets so far were – a 2 month project working until midnight every night to work out the necessary price changes at Espiritu.  It was the right choice, and I felt confident and sure that I’d been as fair as possible to everyone – clients, staff and the business.  I was so amazed how my body did, and really thought I’d stopped in time.  However 5 days later at the end of June I was hit by the worst pay back I’ve ever experienced and those 2 months cost me nearly 4 months (read my post about silent illness here).

I started to feel human again 3 weeks ago.  There was a project (a client Christmas party and some new recruits).  I worked hard (until 11pm this time, not midnight).  It was really successful and the new girls are wonderful.  I crashed for 4 days.

So I took it easy this week.  But I spent too long at the salon yesterday, and suddenly the plug was pulled.

Do I get a warning?

Not really, and sometimes I’m too committed to the project with little option (yes I delegate and make sure we do as few projects as possible, but it’s a new business and there are always unexpected eventualities).  But the pain during the Christmas party was a pretty good hint there was going to be payback.  Yesterday I think that it was the over riding urge to get home, which I listened to – but I still felt guilty when leaving work.

The problem is that my estimations are all wrong.  Then once committed to a project, the determination inside of me will always get me to the end.

This must be why people get sick on holiday – so they get sick once they are done.

I need to learn how to leave enough space for ‘new business type unexpected crap‘ to show up, whilst fitting in projects and not using my [determination of an ox] button to ensure successful completion.  Oh and don’t forget the ‘has 2 young children‘ factor.

If I find the answer, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, do as I say, don’t do as I do, because I’m really not a good example!  Take care of yourselves, give yourself time to fill up your energy savings.

p.s. I have found something that has been helpful with the pain & fibro sleep issues.  I’ll blog in a week or so.

p.p.s The rheumatologist doesn’t think I have Fibro – hmmmm – I’m awaiting blood tests and a referral to the neurologist.

p.p.p.s Why did I write a blog post if I’m tired – tbh I type quick and it feels good to do something very ‘me’ – I love writing.

The face of silent illnesses

This is the face of illness ……

Silent Illnesses

 

It doesn’t look particularly ill does it?

Honestly I don’t mind.  If I looked like I felt, it would be pretty catastrophic, and at least I don’t have that to worry about.  I don’t need lots of sympathy all the time either.  Although, I suppose it might be a helpful reminder to people that I’m not up to scratch.

I also have a big habit of ‘putting a good face on’ – one of my weaknesses/strengths who knows!

To those who know me well, there are dark rings under my eyes, a slight tightness to them due to the pain, I look a bit drawn, and my skin on my hands and feet is a mess – no sores or injuries are healing.  (Good news though, the hair on my legs isn’t growing either, so no need to shave – result!).

So what’s the matter?  Some form of Fibromyalgia flare up, brought on by a shock at work last summer, a years worth of stress, a lot of changes at Espiritu, a significant shock and concern over one of my children, and over work.  Apparently I then got an ear infection at the end of June and my whole body went haywire.  It’s the worst ‘flare’ I’ve ever had, with totally different symptoms from what I’m used to.

I knew I’d worked too hard.  So as soon as the project was finished, I took some time out and had a pamper at work.  But it was too late.  It started with feeling really tired for a couple of days – the kind of tired when there is nothing left in the tank.  Then I had some pain in my upper back.  Then it went into my head, down my arms and 111 had me rushing off to hospital with a suspected heart attack/stroke (I was shitting myself).  I was bedridden for 3 weeks, half of that pretty comatose.  The rest of the time I was in so much pain I couldn’t lift my head off the mattress.

WildBangarangEvilEric

I haven’t been able to wear Jeans all summer – that would hurt too much on my skin.  It’s either maxi-skirts, or leggings; thank goodness for the Big Hairy Northern one’s new business Wildbangarang – at least the leggings weren’t boring!  I can’t wear a watch or my normal heavy, sparkly jewellery because it would hurt too much (not a big deal I know, but it’s like a part of me has gone).  There are days when a bra is a big no no.  Glasses can be really heavy too – so for the first couple of months I was very limited as to how long I could wear mine.  I couldn’t even hold a phone to use Facebook – tragedy!

It’s amazing the difference between lying flat, lying leaning on a pillow, sitting with your legs up, sitting, standing and walking – I never understood that there was such a difference in how much energy it takes to do these things.  I love the ‘Spoon Theory‘ as a description of how forward thinking us Fibro-Peeps have to be – but seriously, to have to consider how long I can sit/stand is bizarre!

Did you know it’s tiring to watch TV or a film?  Although less tiring than Facebook, which I had a good break from.  And reading – wow it was a big day when I was well enough to read a book!
The Dr’s have been pretty pants tbh.  Eventually I was persuaded to go back on some pills (a light Nortriptyline dose, as I hated Amytriptyline last time) to give me a deeper level of sleep.  But when I went back for help, they just want me to wait to see the specialist.  In November.  Thanks for that – I couldn’t work, play with my kids or do anything.

Pilates and Fibromyalgia

The best help I had was from Teejay and Susan at Applied Pilates.  Teejay did some Osteolates on me and explained that I had some form of physical post-traumatic stress reaction.  Basically my body had shut down, there was no circulation in it, and the cells just had no energy whatsoever.  The remedy – no stress (slightly tricky as a new business owner!), lots of rest, and gentle sessions with himself or my girls at work to try to get the circulation and lymph system going.  It was a big relief to talk to someone who had so much experience of these sorts of weird physical reactions.  I think that what we always need is a plan – some form of hope is the first step to getting better.  Susan has been a constant source of support every week in the Pilates classes (using Stott Pilates machines, not mat work).  I’m not really ‘doing Pilates’, I’m just going through the motions to keep my body moving – it’s been more being there that has helped.

Most of the summer holidays was a massive juggle – rather than the normal holiday juggle of mine and the hairy one’s work, we also had to fit in my resting, or find things I could do with the kids whilst horizontal.  I am getting better.  But it is slow.  Oh so bloody slow – I’m not the most patient person in the world 😉

But it’s not all bad news:Hair Beauty Salon & Spa

It’s was a very busy 6 months at Espiritu, but we achieved a mammoth load of change, and it is definitely on the right track now.  It wasn’t a bad thing for us to have a quiet 3 months with little change.  It’s definitely taught me how to slow down and plan ahead to make the changes more manageable in future.

The girls have been incredible.  To be able to be sick for this period of time and only manage a couple of hours a week is amazing.  I can’t thank them enough.  If it had been last year, we just wouldn’t have survived.  I know that I’m really, really lucky to have a team like them behind me.

Every now and again I do something a bit daft, that I know I’m not really up to, but feel that if I can’t then what’s the point.  So we had a couple of trips into London to see some shows.  I pay for these moments of madness, but do love the memories they give.

Par Sands Beach

We had a lovely week in Cornwall thanks to my brothers cabin, which was wonderful – can’t beat a British beach – and I’m sure that all the sea air through the sinuses and freezing cold sea (it’s good for pain) really helped.  I can’t wait to go back there next year!

Curly Headed Boy initially reacted pretty badly – it had been a tough 6 months with me working loads, and he was there when 111 told me to go to hospital.  He got scared.  He got angry.  He wasn’t really pleasant.  But over time he has calmed, and we have spent much more time together.  He has learnt to not be quite as scared of weakness, and we have had some much needed chats and cuddles.  Although there are some things coming up this year that he is worried about, I feel that we are on a much even keel; cross fingers.

Little Dimples is still a little spooked by it all and clingy at times.  Also angry at times.  And being only 5, she isn’t managing to process it as easily as CHB.  So she is my next focus.  But she has learnt to cycle without her stabilisers, yay!

I don’t have the excruciating pain any more.  I can manage a couple of hours at work, and am OK in meetings now, as they are sitting down.  I’m not good at standing up – I still get pressure in my head, neck, shoulders and arms, and I feel generally ‘wrong’.  I’ve got constant heart palpitations, but apparently it’s not dangerous.  My brain isn’t working quite right, but my sleep has improved.  And I get tired real fast.  There are not a lot of spoons left in my drawer!

And I have a plan ……  I’ll tell you more about it over the next couple of weeks.

I’ll try to keep my blog posts short and sweet, so that they don’t overload me.  But writing is an important ‘coming back to me’ thing and if the ideas I’m trying work, then it’s important I share them.  Sadly I’ve had to step down from my Radio Verulam gig though – it’s just not possible at the moment.  It kept me posting through these last 2 years, and I loved every minute of it.

How to invest in yourself!

So back at Radio Verulam today with the Gorgeous Danny Smith and I was inspired to chat about ‘investments’ by Curly Headed Boy.

It’s spring time, maybe you need a fresh look at your life and a bit of an overhaul?

The question is how to invest in yourself?

Money Saving.

Money Saving Tips
Money

We are quite strict that even from pocket money, our kids have to put something aside.  It’s just so that it becomes second nature to them and eventually when they start to earn money, they naturally expect to be putting a minimum of 10% away.  Otherwise, his head will be automatically working out how he can spend every penny.  Instead, he will automatically assume that some money goes into savings.

It’s not about how much money you earn.

Its about the amount of value that you get from it.

And how much money is left at the end of your month!

As he looks like he would prefer a creative career, he is going to definitely have to manage his money really well to weather the highs and lows, as it’s unlikely to be consistent.

Yes, he might be really successful, but it might not be long term, or he might get one big windfall, that he could blow through really quickly.  In fact we had an award system, where he earn’t quite a lot of money, and what inspired this post was that he agreed to put 50% of it away into savings.

Imagine if you’d put aside all that money since you were a kid?  At 45, I’d have a lot more going on!  Women need to be especially aware of the fact that we have a tendency to not prioritise our pensions ahead of the needs of our relationships or families.

If you would like to start, but can’t afford 10%, just work towards it.  £5 is enough, as it’s a step in the right direction.

Try to create 2 different savings options:

1) Savings forever (not to be touched apart from investing in houses/education)

2) Savings for fun (don’t pay for Christmas and holidays afterwards when the fun is over)

Check out the rest of my money saving tips here.  I have no doubt that they’ll help you out of a financial hole, make sure that you have more value from the money that you spend, and help you to be financially healthier.

 

Your Health

green and red healthy food

This should actually come first in my opinion.  There’s no point in saving money if you don’t have a good quality or long enough life.

I know that things happen, and we can’t plan for everything.  But there is no doubt that your quality of life will be better if you drink water, eat healthily, and exercise.

I like to focus on being HEALTHY, then FIT (no point in being fit without health), and STRONG (which means toned and tends towards slimmer).  Check out all my tips on how to get healthy without dieting or killing yourself with exercise.  It’s so easy to try to go for a quick fix, but we all know THEY DON’T WORK!

Then you need to remember that everyone needs downtime, otherwise the levels of cortisol (stress) just get higher and higher and higher.  That affects your immune system and leaves you open to illnesses and diseases, like my Fibromyalgia.  I know you will get stressed again.  But there will have been a dip, and that is what is important.

Remember, that it’s not selfish to take care of yourself!

 

Your Mind

Great books for mums
Books, books, books …

Have you heard the theory that if you spend 15mins extra a day learning something, then you will overtake your 99% of your peers within a couple of years?

That’s how I did so well in IT.  I wasn’t a natural at it, but I studied every night, and within a few years they’d forgotten my initial struggles.  Eventually I became a global guru – crazy!

You see it at school every day with kids.  The teachers nag parents to read once a night with their children, just for 5-10 mins.  It sounds like so little, that it’s easy to drop.  However, 3-4 years down the line, it’s really obvious which children did or didn’t get that time.  (I know that parents are often busy and it’s not always easy to fit in time with the kids).

However, as old readers will know, I’m not sure about the idea of pushing yourself to pay for a private education, as I’m not convinced it always pays off.  Hence we moved Curly Headed Boy from private back into the state sector.  So don’t assume that education has to cost lots.  Mind you, him being so keen on dancing is a bit of an investment!

I see it as an employer all the time.  Those in my team with a passion for learning are on Youtube and keeping up to date and improving constantly.  The others are just fine, but they don’t do as well and naturally don’t attract as many customers.

It doesn’t have to be a huge amount of time.  Just lots of little consistent bits, is what adds up eventually.

 

Your Community

Charity Shop Finds
Butterfly Sparkles!

I must admit that I believe that what you give out you get back.  If I smile at people, I tend to mainly get smiles back.  There are a few grumpy people, but the smiles I get back cheer me up.  It’s not any extra pressure on my day to make this little effort, and I get rewarded in bucket loads.

The same goes for ‘paying it forward’.  I don’t believe it’s right to be a martyr, or give so much of yourself that you damage your health and family.  But our community is important, and there are always things that you can do , however little.

Maybe it’s in helping to spread the word about a new small business on Facebook?  A simple share of one of my posts for Espiritu, is amazingly helpful.  I have lovely clients who regularly mention us whenever someone asks for a local hair/beauty salon or Spa.  I’m really lucky, so I like to help out other businesses where I can.

Perhaps you support the local charity shop where you can by buying from there and giving them things that you are finished with.  I’ve made amazing purchases in charity shops in the past, and my kids love them.  There was a really interesting post though over on a friend of mine’s blog, where she was feeling guilty about wanting to sell some more expensive items.  No you should never feel guilty – it’s not right to put yourself in trouble.

Or maybe it’s helping out at your kids school a couple of hours a week if you have the flexibility?

Remember, you don’t have to solve a WHOLE problem – that’s what often stops people from helping out, donating or volunteering.  Just help a little – and all the little bits add up.

 

What else?

What do you think that you should invest in?
What have I missed out?
Friendships? – I kind of fit that in with community, but many invest much more in their friendships.
Clothes? – I recently bought some clothes, as there is an expectation that I look a certain way for work, but I’ve never bought anything outrageously expensive, as I’m way too tight fisted.
Relationships? – So difficult to juggle with a family and kids, but they can last a lifetime, so worth investing in.
Houses? – With all the changes in our economy, maybe it isn’t a priority anymore to invest in bricks and mortar?
Watching TV – there is social side to this, where you can feel left out if you don’t know what’s going on!
Is it possible to have romance and kids?

How, why and what on earth is ‘Loving yourself’?

I was on the radio tonight with the ‘Gorgeous Danny Smith’ on his Drivetime show on Radio Verulam (you can listen again for a week here – monday 5.30-6pm), talking about ‘Self Love’.  It’s a bit cliched maybe, but also really important, and something I’ve been thinking about and wishing a few of my friends would practice more this month.

Why Bother?

Is it possible to have romance and kids?
A hug
First off, I need to explain to you why it is so important to you and to the ones you care for, and your success that you love yourself.
1) Healthy relationships – when you don’t love yourself, you will attract people looking for someone damaged.  Not being nasty, but they are either a hero type looking to rescue you (not always healthy, as it creates co-dependence) or take advantage of you (which can turn really abusive).
2) Your Vulnerability – This means that you will be much more vulnerable in your relationships, and often rather than considering your opinion of yourself to be really important, you can prioritise that of the person taking advantage of you, who is unlikely to give you a balanced view.  This could be someone tending towards the abusive side of the behaviour spectrum, or someone definitely that way, so the temptation to make you feel small and reduce your confidence will be too big for them to ignore.  I’m not suggesting that you become an arrogant person who only considers themselves – I’m just suggesting that ‘To thine own self be true’ is an old and wise adage (Danny being much younger than me, hadn’t heard this one!).
3) You Loved Ones – Meanwhile your ability to give the people you love what they deserve will be severely effected if you don’t rate yourself and take care or nurture yourself.  You won’t have enough energy to show them you love them or confidence to go out and achieve success and follow through of your purpose.

How To Do It?

Time for Change
So hopefully you have heard all this ‘put yourself first’ and ‘love yourself’ malarkey enough, for this post to be pointing you in the right direction.  The problem is, how to convince yourself you are worth it and keep at it.
1) Time: Honestly, this is something that takes a time.  For some it could be 6 months, but for many of us, it’s more of a ‘journey’.  The good news is, that once enroute, you will start to get immediate rewards; you don’t have to wait for the end when you totally love yourself unconditionally.
2) Compare like for like: You need to start comparing like for like.  That is, YOU ARE NOT LIKE ANYONE ELSE, so stop feeling guilty because you need more support than Mrs X or you aren’t as brilliant as Mr N!  No you are not as brilliant at that, but there will be SOMETHING ELSE that you are better at.  Yes, you might need more help or support than her, but you are in a DIFFERENT situation.  Plus you don’t know the whole situation they are in, as people always lie and keep stuff quiet!
3) Stop Aiming For Perfection: All this stuff you judge yourself for; what are your expectations, are they possible?  Maybe there is something that you could improve.  Great.  Go do it, and don’t worry about it anymore.  But I bet you a huge amount of stuff is things that aren’t that important, or aren’t you at all, or aren’t possible.  I have an issue where I don’t judge other people for their standard of living at all, but for some reason I have very high expectations on myself; ridiculous!  The true me is happy wherever she is, as long as she has access to fresh air, a few pretty things (gotta love some vintage pretties!) and happy kids.
4) Think about your loved ones: When you are struggling, think how will it help your loved ones for you to love yourself more.  You’ll be so much more able to be present with them, plus you’ll be mentoring a healthier way of living to your children.
5) Your Goals and dreams:  In order to achieve, we need to feel that we are worth it, and deserve the success and abundance.  So remember your biggest dream the next time you are mean to yourself!
6) Make mistakes:  Allow yourself the right to make mistakes, take responsibility for them and gain the confidence to accept them.  It is HUGE to be able to feel confident enough to accept when we didn’t get something perfect, or could improve something, or made a mistake.  It’s actually a lovely feeling to be able to put your hands up and accept responsibility for it.  Only then can you actually move forward and improve things as well.  This will ensure you are much better at your job as well; as an employer I can tell you it’s not the mistakes that bother me, but the backstabbing and trying to cover their butts that is the issue (don’t ever try that with me, I always know!).

What is it

Chance for a cuppa
Cup Of Tea and a chat is good for the soul
So you want to learn to love yourself?  How will you know you are doing it?  When you naturally act as though you have:
1) The right to the basics: Many mums refuse themselves tea, flossing and peeing, but we deserve those 2 minutes!
2) The right to health: We all deserve refresh air, exercise, fruit & veg, water, rest and sleep.  Yes, I know it may not be viable for you to get everything you would like (e.g. Mums), but we all deserve some time every week to nurture ourselves and look after our health.
3) Your thoughts:  Think kind thoughts about yourself and stop saying horrible things to yourself.
4) Friends: Busy lives are a given, but we all have the right to see/talk to  friends sometimes.  I’ve just seen a friend who I haven’t seen in 2yrs.  Yes, I would have loved to have seen her more, and no it wasn’t possible.  But I took the whole 2.5hrs available when I did get the chance, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  (Move soon please hun!).
5) Pamper: It might only be once a year, but we all deserve to have a haircut sometimes, or a treat.  I wrote lots of ideas in this previous post about pampering.
6) Hobbies:  Again I know that time is restricted, especially if you have a baby.  But life comes back to some form of normality (ish!) eventually, and everyone has some kind of creative urge or favourite hobby that is a break from every day life and expresses themselves.  I’m not good at it, but I love to draw, and have even made a few things with my sewing machine.
7) Good Boundaries: We all have the right to refuse to be treated badly.  I’m not suggesting you start an argument, or create conflict, or try to change your partner.  Just that it’s Ok to be clear on what behaviour you can and can’t accept.  How to explain to people and teach them how to treat you, is one of my most popular blog posts here

I hope that this blog post is the one that kicks you into action to show yourself more compassion, love, and appreciation!  If not, I hope that it’s not far off and the next time someone mentions it, you decide it is time.  Remember that everyone wants to be loved, but the most important person to love you is yourself.