art is the soul made visible

art is the soul made visible

Friday, January 29, 2016

Life Overhaul in 2016

I'm giving up coffee. And a whole bunch of other shit. And I'm sharing my big plans for the year.

I'm drinking my coffee this morning and noticing the date. Just a couple more mornings of caffeinated bliss left. Unfortunately I ran out of my usual coffee and am drinking the last of some old coffee from the back of the cupboard and it is kinda funky and unsatisfying. I might not wait til Feb 1st and make this my last cup. Anyway...

The past year and a half or so was very stressful (internally and circumstantially). It was a very rough stretch there for me. Like the level of stress that I KNOW took a couple years off my life span. Fortunately things started to ease up toward the end of 2015. I started to feel empowered to tackle some of the things in my life which I had been too stressed to deal with, which helped that shift that was already happening really take hold. At the end of last year I posted a video and shared that I had some ideas/plans for 2016 and that I would share about it later. So, now is later.

I'm not really a "New Year's Resolution" person. If something needs changing in my life I don't wait for a special occasion, but this year the readiness to make some changes just happened to coincide with the changing of the year. There are a number of things I want to work on this year. Too many things to tackle at once, so I'm dedicating a month to each change. For example, I am working on sleep this month. I have the whole month to focus on sleep before adding in the next thing. I think that this approach will afford the greatest possibility of success as I won't be too overwhelmed. Here's what I'm working on this year:

1. Sleep. This is the first thing I'm tackling as I really can't do anything else while severely sleep deprived. While I may not be able to totally resolve the medical condition of insomnia with home remedies, I KNOW that I CAN make an impact. I'm keeping a sleep diary to track my sleep habits and the hours I'm getting. This alone is having a little bit of an impact. I'm aiming to get to sleep earlier and just generally practice good sleep hygeine but finding it much harder than expected. That is okay...I'm not aiming for perfection, just improvement. And...I don't have a deadline, it takes as long as it takes to make these improvements.

2. Dietary Changes. In February I will continue to work on my sleep hygeine and I will start working on diet. Again, I'm not aiming for perfection-just improvement. I plan to cut out coffee/caffeine, sugar, and wine. Basically all the enjoyable stuff right? ha! While those things are enjoyable...they aren't doing me any favors. Cutting caffeine will have an impact on my anxiety and sleep (at least I hope). Sugar is has no redeeming nutritional features and the occasional glass of wine triggers my autoimmune overheating symptom. So, these are all good things for me to cut out. The coffee and wine will be easy. The sugar will not be as easy. It's my kryptonite. But...I've done it in the past more than once and I know I can do it again.

I've not yet determined the order of the rest of the changes. I'll decide as I go based on what makes most sense at the time.

3. Stress Level. I want to focus on bringing my stress/anxiety level down. I will spend more time daily practicing relaxation. Right now I relax with art-which is AWESOME, but...I think I also need a little time of non-doing type of relaxation every day. I also want to get back into some sort of daily mindfulness or meditation practice. I will decide what fits best in my life when it comes time to focus on this, but it could be doing a mindful meal every day or doing a free online MBSR class I found awhile back.

4. Saying No. I've already been working on this, but it is something that still needs attention. I am a helper by nature. If someone needs something or needs help my knee jerk reaction is "I can help you!". That's a lovely quality, but I'm just not in a position (being chronically ill) to give to others without it depleting me. So, I want to get into the habit of saying "no" to pretty much EVERYTHING. I need to change my knee jerk reaction from signing myself on as helper to making "let me get back to you on that" my mantra, so that I can give myself the time to really consider if I can do something for someone else without it depleting me. This will be a hard one as it's such a long standing habit and saying "no" is really kind of stressful for me. But, I know it will have a good payoff for my health and well being, so it's worth it.

5. Unplug. Facebook is my big time sucker. While there is a lot of positive benefit for me there (art groups, friends, etc) is also stressful feeling I've wasted time and not being present in my life by being "plugged in". I plan to limit my Facebook time to 30 minutes daily. I am considering removing the app from my phone, but it's the most time saving way to upload pics. So, I might set a boundary around the app that I only use it to upload photos. Making FB less convenient will definitely help to reduce time spent there.  

6. Physical Activity. This one will be REALLY hard as my physical abilities change daily (and even hour to hour, minute to minute). I've tried in the past (since getting ill) and found that exercise increases my pain level. I gave it a solid shot...3 months is enough time to learn whether the benefits outweigh the extra pain. They did not. Also with my abilities being so's impossible to get into a routine. So, I'm going to focus on very tiny changes. Even if I just rolled my shoulders and other joints every day or did the tiniest amount of stretching...that would be an improvement. So, I'm going to focus on making a habit of doing some tiny movement every day (or every day I am able). This probably would not count as "exercise" to anyone else, but...I'm not "anyone else".

7. Less Medication. This is a really exciting one for me. This one won't get a special month of focus. I'm already working on it. I'm at a point in my treatment that it's time to re-evaluate my treatment plan. Now that my condition is better managed it's time to see if I can discontinue or reduce some medications. The reality is that I might try reducing or discontinuing some only to find that-yup, they are totally necessary. That's okay. At least I will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I'm on the right treatment plan. And I can always revisit the idea of reducing/discontinuing again in the future. I've been able to discontinue two of my daily medications already. Yay!! I'm hoping to discontinue a third (which would mean adding back in one of the ones I've already discontinued...but I'd be swapping a med with more side effects for one with less side effects, so I'm cool with that). Taking less medication will mean I will need to take more time to rest in bed and will need to rely more on things like my TENS unit (when's not always an option I can use) to help with pain management, so this is not a decision I take lightly. But...I think the benefits make it worth trying.  

So...those are my big plans for this year. There are a couple things I'm leaving off this list as they are too personal to share, but this is most of it. It's a lot. But I have a whole year to work on it. Well, really I have my whole life to work on it, there is no real deadline. Even though some of these things will be really hard-it's worth trying. Even if I don't make these aspirations realities...even if I make only a little progress-it's a win. Feeling very positive and empowered and ready to make some changes to improve my health and well being.

As usual...I don't want unsolicited advice. All decisions have been carefully considered based on information that no-one but me has access to. In other words, you are not qualified to give me matter how qualified you think you are-you really are *not* qualified to tell me how to live. Besides-you should be so busy tending to your own life that you don't have time to judge how anyone else is living! And don't worry, I've consulted with my doctor(s) where appropriate. Of course I talk to my doctor about medical you think I'm an idiot? Wait! Don't answer that! haha!! xo

Sunday, January 3, 2016

52 Weeks, 52 Hand Carved Stamps

I recently came across a blog post in which the author shared her plan to carve 52 stamps in a year.  You can see the post by clicking HERE. Well, I thought this was a fabulous idea!  I LOVE the idea that by this time next year I could have 52 hand carved stamps to use in my art projects.  So...Here is my first stamp-a citrus slice.  Depending on what color ink I use it could be a lime, a lemon, or an orange.  I'm happy with how it turned out! I've been carving stamps for years now, but only every once in a blue moon-so I don't have a huge collection.  Excited to start my next stamp and build up my collection!!  Care to join me?  Would you like to carve 52 stamps too?  Or maybe you'd like to create something else over the next 52 weeks...?  Feel free to share in the comments.  xo