Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

Good evening!  It has been a busy day here, what with scheduling for Chronic Illness Bloggers, checking out a friend’s vicar mate to be our quiz master, trying to get on track with Chronic Pain queries on Scope…and passing out in the heat.  Hence I am only finishing this post tonight.

Monday Magic 16th July

 

One son has just returned from the Ukraine and a dose of radiation on a trip around Chernobyl (they found it fascinating and the photos show a strange dystopian type of vacant world), and now the other is about to jet off to a music festival in Barcelona.  Dad’s cab is getting very good a early morning airport runs!  We have 2 extra young men coming back to sleep on our sofas tonight before they are deposited at the airport for 7.30 flights tomorrow morning.  “Where are you staying when you get there?”  “We’re camping” “But you hate camping!  Do you have a tent?” “No, we’ve got a few hours when we get to Barcelona so we’ll get something then”!!  Nothing like being prepared.  The lovely girl is slightly better prepared for her trip to Greece next weekend as she orders shorts and bikini and has already checked in.  I mustn’t forget Mum & Dad either who have just returned from a cruise in France – Paris to Normandy, where they witnessed the jubilation at the World Cup semi final win, narrowly missing the actual final – or my sister in law and nephew, currently in Turkey.  Now I wonder where hubby might take me?

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Deserted city of Pripyat, within the Chernobyl exclusion zone

Those of you who read my post at the end of last week will know that a pain flare in the current UK heatwave has been causing me some grief and I haven’t managed as much reading as I would ordinarily.  But, I have managed to find some posts from some different bloggers and I hope you enjoy them as much as me.  Mascara warning for Hello My Name is Grief.

Sit down, grab a cuppa or a wine glass and get ready to read some great posts!

https://www.momspresso.com/parenting/the-glitterati-affair/article/learning-to-say-no

https://silencekilledthedinosaurs.com/2018/07/12/hello-my-name-is-grief/

https://diaryofapainfullyshyinterovert.wordpress.com/2018/07/11/im-totally-not-coping-right-now-but-im-extremely-frightened-of-any-mental-health-service/

http://bystarbysea.com/importance-of-rest-days/

https://teaandcakeforthesoul.wordpress.com/2018/06/15/menopausal-beach-body-blues/

https://kateonthinice.com/important-life-lessons-for-your-kids-before-they-head-off-to-university/

https://mummyhereandthere.co.uk/2018/07/10/10-best-life-tips/

https://girlinhealing.com/italian-grilled-zucchini-2/

https://veroniiiica.com/2018/07/16/fast-facts-about-plastic-straw-bans-for-people-with-disabilities/

https://www.britmums.com/2018/07/doubled-traffic-using-key-word-search/?ct=t(8_march_newsletter3_8_2016_COPY_01)

Like, comment and share these posts if you enjoy them.

Have a great week,

Claire x

Blog Tour and Book Review – “Blind Justice” by Alex Tresillian – Seeing is Deceiving #LoveBooksGroupTour

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THE NEW NIALL BURNET THRILLER!

Synopsis supplied by the publisher:

Superstar Paralympian Fiona Mackintosh Green retires from the track to set up Forward Roll, a charity helping disabled people achieve self-respect through sport. But is she all she seems? How is her charity spending its money?

Niall Burnet, visually impaired journalist, is sent in undercover to find out. What he discovers is a trail of illegal performance-enhancing drugs that leads from the charity to its major backer, global pharmaceutical giant Prince Rajkumar.

All too soon, Niall finds himself surrounded by key players who will stop at nothing to protect their interests. When a former athlete is found dead, he knows that one wrong move could be his last…

Book info:

Publication Day: 5th July 2018
Publisher: Urbane Publications
ISBN: 978-1911331117
Pages: 336
Category: Fiction, Genre: Conspiracy Thriller | Political Thriller | Action Thriller

Buying links:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2vU1bdE
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2HFMNep
Foyles: http://bit.ly/2HE6cfD
Waterstones: http://bit.ly/2HLBe1t

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Blind Justice pin

Review:

This is the sequel to Eyes of the Blind, Alex Tresillian’s first novel about journalist Niall Burnet.  I have not read the first and feel that this can easily be read as a stand alone tale, but those of you who have read my reviews in the past will know that I personally prefer to have read books from number one. Personal preference!  In this case the storyline from the first book does continue into this novel, and whilst there is sufficient explanation to be able to easily follow, I would always recommend reading book one!  However the opening scenes set in Telford draw the reader into the plot, slowly allowing a catch up on the story of Niall and Miranda before the new investigation commences.

When this book popped onto my radar I was excited to read and review something that has different types of disability at the fore and keen to understand how the author would incorporate them into the storyline.  It would have been easy to have the disability element as a token nod, but I don’t believe that this is how the author constructs this story as the visual impairment of Niall and the new sight of girlfriend Miranda are central to the plot – as they would have been in the first book too.  However this is dealt with in a very matter of fact way, allowing us into Niall’s world as a blind man but more importantly into his world as a journalist – no saccharine coating in sight (no pun intended).

The introduction of Paralympian Fiona is handled differently as she is a celebrity as a result of her disability and her sporting success, but her disability is written about sympathetically without it enveloping her whole character.  As a relatively new wheelchair user, I was able to relate to certain elements very well.  These aren’t a major part of the storyline, neither should they be, but the descriptions of the lay out of her office furniture and the adapted shower room all rang bells with me – as did her need for help to get into her evening dress!  The public face and the private face are elements that anyone with a disability/chronic illness can relate to – no one wants the lack of dignity that can come with wheelchair use being played in public.  This is demonstrated so well as Fiona explains how she manages her bladder – as a young woman she wishes to have as much control over her body functions for as long as possible, and if this means “toiletting” every hour in order to avoid accidents, but also to avoid a catheter then so be it.  Again this is something that I relate to personally, as someone with a neurogenic bladder who tries to avoid self catheterisation!

I have to applaud the author for recognising that disabled people have sex lives!  This may seem a very odd thing to draw from the book, but there does tend to be a fear and embarrassment of recognising those of us with disabilities and chronic health as being sexual beings.  I’m not going to give any spoilers about specific relationships in the book, but will say that the growing attractions and feelings are described sensitively and with the focus on the emotions of any growing relationship, not on the abilities of either party.

The characters are all really different and make for an interesting cast as their back stories and current stories start to intertwine the more that Niall investigates.  Niall himself is loved by some of this cast and yet reviled by others, particularly some who have known him many years.  I actually admire Niall for sticking to his beliefs for right and wrong – most of the time! – and for striving for justice.  He certainly doesn’t take the easy route, extending himself beyond the original journalistic brief to expose the sports charity, when he realises that he could be onto a much greater story – the involvement of a major pharmaceutical giant in doping in athletes.  As an ambitious journalist, of course he is following the bigger scoop – but his human side is shown as he refuses to write an expose on the small sports charity that he believes can still do much good.  Niall is a flawed character in so many ways, but this makes him human.  He has mixed emotions about Miranda gaining her sight – envy, guilt, fear, delight – all swirling around inside him like a pressure cooker, yet he is unable to acknowledge most of them far less verbalise them.

Miranda, in contrast,  at times is a rather pathetic figure in the way that she comes across.  I think my feelings toward her were something of disbelief and anger that she is so apathetic about the miracle of gaining her sight, but it is only as the story progresses that I realised how hard it must be to suddenly be living in the sighted world after 30 years of being “cocooned” by both her lack of sight and her family’s protectiveness.  The descriptions of managing public transport in London for the time alone are beautifully written – navigating the underground for the first time is a challenge for anyone, but for a young woman who has never been able to see before this represents a whole visual stimulus overload!  Miranda is the character who grows the most throughout the book.  She is neglected by Niall on the move to London and this pushes her to examine what she wants from her life.  She feels unskilled and at sea in the sighted world, yet she knows she wants a purpose.  Her crippling anxiety both holds her back and drives her forward.  by the time I reached the end of the book, my opinion of her had changed completely.

The backing cast include Fiona’s chauvinistic sports coach husband – described perfectly to elicit strong feelings of dislike in the reader; Zoltan, Miranda’s knight in shining armour; the men, including Miranda’s father, who form an “old boys’ network” at the centre of the other charity in the story and believe that they are untouchable; the strong Dame Hillary, brought in to overhaul the British association for the Blind yet finding herself drawn in to conspiracies and secrets; and finally the cast of workmates at the Sports Charity, all with their unique insights into the organisation.

The theme of drugs in sports is very topical and the investigation at the heart of the novel is fast, gritty, at times uncovers a seedy, dark underbelly that is unpalatable yet fascinating.  The different attitudes to what constitutes “cheating” are interesting and the author indirectly asks the question “what is a level playing field?”.  Morals, greed and money, dreams and aspiration, drive and ambition – all are central to the plot.

There are loose ends at the end, and whilst this is not a criticism as real life does not come gift boxed, I do want to know what happens to certain characters……and I hope that these incomplete tales mean that Mr Tresillian is planning for a return of Niall in a third book.  I guess that this tells you how much I enjoyed it!! 4 stars

Thankyou to Kelly at Love Books Group for including me on this tour and to Urbane Publications for sending me a copy of the book.  Please note that all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

About the Author

Alex grew up in rural England with a dream to write for a living which never quite came true. He has enjoyed incarnations as a theatre publicity officer, restaurant manager, teacher, teacher trainer, and curriculum developer. Along the way Alex wrote five plays that were performed by students including one, Never Mind the Rain Forests, that was enthusiastically reviewed (3 stars) at the Edinburgh Fringe. Another, Gavin’s Kingdom, received a professional workshop production at the Birmingham Rep. Plays Into Shakespeare, a book for English and Drama teachers that introduced students to the characters in Shakespeare’s plays through short modern-English ‘additional’ scenes, was published by First and Best in Education in 2007.Alex Tresillian Author Image

Alex moved to Abu Dhabi in 2008 with a Lebanese international education company that had a contract to train English teachers and develop curriculum materials. Latterly moved to their Academic Development office in Beirut and wrote two series of books for students from ages eight to sixteen – one on grammar and one on the art of writing. He is now living with his wife of many years in Worcestershire, his children pursuing careers in education, fashion, charity fundraising and web development in places as disparate as Beijing, London and Chesterfield. Alex also enjoys writing stories for his young grandchildren.

Social Media Links for Alex

Website: https://urbanepublications.com/authors/alex-tresillian/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Alex_Tresillian

 

Be the Best Version of Yourself

I’m in the midst of a flare.

More specifically the pain from nerve root damage in my back is uncontrolled.  Driving me insane! Those of you who have been Pals for some time will know that this pain is usually tamed by my spinal cord stimulator – an implant that scrambles the pain signals to my brain – but this week there is a battle going on between my body, the stimulator and my head…..physical, psychological and emotional.  The heat and humidity is ensuring that the other pains in my joints and soft tissues are also flaring and my autonomic nervous system has frankly gone haywire.

The changes in air pressure and temperature have always affected the metal skeleton that bolts the bottom of my bony spine together.  This spinal fusion currently hurts – it hurts at the immediate vertebra level above the fusion (my EDS means the spine overextends even more due to the bones below being fixed); it hurts in the bones that have been cemented and screwed together with titanium nuts and bolts; it hurts in the surrounding muscles and soft tissues trying to hold the whole lot together.  In fact as it starts to feel more stormy, I am certain that the titanium is about to break loose and rip through my skin, which feels like it is stretched tighter than a drum.

 

 

 

I feel that I should at least be able to use this time and be useful. Write, read, catch up – but the symptoms have a way of robbing that time and creating a thick pea souper of brain fog and fatigue.  Concentration is poor and I seem to spend periods of time lying on the floor, unable to do anything – this post is taking hours to write.

I am irritable, stroppy, snapping at the family.  My patience level is zero.

I feel that I let myself and others down as I crawl between the sofa and the floor and bed.  I know that staying still is the worst thing to do, but is is tricky to keep up that physical exercise that we are told we must do when in the thick of a flare.  There is so much advice out there for coping with flares and chronic pain, the majority well intended, but there is no one size fits all or one quick fix.  We are all different.

I have made this flare worse!  Wise? Probably not.  Worth it? Definitely!  Tuesday evening we attended Prize giving at the lovely girl’s school  – she protested that I didn’t need to go,  but I was determined I would see her mount the stage!  It was hot, there were performances, there were presentations to the year groups, there were presentations and words about every girl leaving the sixth form, there was the guest speaker’s speech.  Then there was yours truly sat in my wheelchair – slap bang in the middle of the front row!  A perk of needing more space to accommodate your wheels, but a definite disadvantage for quietly creeping out.  When the dodgy shoulder slipped out of socket and the neck and whole arm started to shake with spasm, I couldn’t even have a sneaky puff on my Medipen CBD vape – best birthday present ever!! (more of that in another post). Might have raised a few eyebrows!

It was tough sitting still for so long and I had the feeling that my head was too big and heavy for my neck to support – lollipop head, but the guest speaker, an old girl of the school, left a lasting impression.  Currently a senior figure in one of the “Big Four” accounting organisations, she spoke to the students about achieving their potential in whatever they chose to do – she said that whilst she knew she would never be saving lives, making significant discoveries or winning a peace prize, she had tried to be the best version of herself.

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“Be the best version of yourself” – isn’t this something worth striving for no matter our individual circumstances? I have been thinking this week that even with a chronic illness there still a best version of you and of me.  It may not be the same version from 20 years ago, and it sure as hell isn’t the best version that I had envisaged, but isn’t that true for everyone?  Circumstances change and so do we.  The 18 year olds who released balloons from the drinks reception after the ceremony have their lives ahead of them – exciting futures that will mould them and change them.

I won’t lie – the best version of me has not been a pretty sight nor one I particularly like this week! But it is something that I will strive for, and if my semi-adult kids can learn from this and try to be the best version of themselves, then I can be happy.

I’m in the midst of a flare – but it will end!

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Best version of yourself

 

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What do I want to become?

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Part 1: As I see the sun settle & darkness conquer the sky, the question begins to grow. It wasn’t the first time that someone insisted me to think on it. I still don’t have an answer. I have a list, list of things I would like to do, list of everything that I want. Maybe it’s supposed to be like that. Maybe we are supposed to live our lives doing things & wanting things, one at a time. Maybe we don’t have to become anything, we just need to fill in the empty spaces with all the experiences & stories.
Maybe we have to become something, but if that’s true, then what are we now?

Part 2: I say ‘I will do something!’ and put an end to it, or I say about what I am studying and hence it’s clear to the person who asked the question but…

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Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You! Henley, World Cup & Dysautonomia!

Phew…it is hot here!!  I know that I shouldn’t complain about the heat – but for me it really does make certain health issues a lot more exciting!!  All you POTSies out there will know what I mean!  This weekend has been all sport….Wimbledon tennis, Grand Prix, Henley regatta and not forgetting the World Cup football!

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Monday Magic Inspiring Blogs for You! Henley

I actually managed a trip to Henley in my role as chair of my old school’s Friends committee – we represent old boys and girls and parents.  We jointly host an annual lunchtime drinks gathering for past and present rowers from the school, but this year there was a clash with a little England football match taking place in Russia.  Henley Regatta is one of the last bastions of the old world – that is the world with a definite dress code and very limited technology.  So no smart phones, social media, electronic score boards or…..TV screens.  This year the committee actually made the announcement that gentlemen were allowed to remove jackets in the Stewards’ Enclosure due to the heat!

 

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The traditional scoreboards still in use at Henley (courtesy of Henley Royal Regatta website)

 

The day was sweltering, yet we still received many visitors to our pitch in the Henley Cricket Club – it was lovely meeting so many young people who love their sport and working within a team to represent their schools/clubs/countries.  Whilst rowing is a sport that probably is still not readily available to all, don’t be fooled by these photos of an elite occasion – the early morning starts on a freezing winter day, sitting in a boat somewhere on a river…..and the training is hard.

 

My partner in crime on Saturday, my old teacher Nick, was secretly pleased that I couldn’t cope with the heat for too long….because it meant that we skipped a trip to the Stewards’ enclosure and snuck away early.  Guess what we were home in time for?!

Hubby and the politics student were running the penalty shoot out at the primary school fete on Saturday – I have never seen hubby contact someone as quick as he did after England beat Colombia (Yes, on penalties!) to “advise” the fete organisers that they should change the opening times.  So we arrived home to a husband sitting in front of the big projector screen, unable to move after a couple of hours in goal, and 20 minutes in to the football.  I sat down and have struggled to remain upright ever since.  Something very strange with dysautonomia is that your body is unable to regulate temperature changes, so yours truly is dripping one minute and then covered in goose bumps & shivery the next!

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The excitement in England at the moment is reaching fever pitch – again we are witnessing young men who are passionate, talented and want to play as part of a team.  They seem to respect each other and respect their manager.  I bet Gareth Southgate didn’t reckon that this World Cup would send him into the stratosphere of fashion icon though – those waistcoats have apparently driven up sales across the nation!

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Waistcoat fever is Coming Home! Photo by Royal Anwar on Pexels.com

It has taken me all day to write this so apologies for mistakes today!  I have a mixture of chronic illness posts, a great post from a student nurse (I guess I would say that) and a new blogging tag from Em at The Pickled Blogs project which you should all take a look at!  Sit back with a cuppa – or in line with Henley and Wimbledon a glass of Pimms – and enjoy!

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Who is that woman with the stick on the end of the shot?? With current and past rowers from the school sporting their boat club blazers – I did manage to jump out of the wheelchair for a few minutes!

 

https://thecounterfactualbrain.wordpress.com/2018/07/01/responding-to-the-migraine-pose/

https://youngsickinvisible.wixsite.com/blog/single-post/2018/07/09/Common-Misconceptions-About-Mental-Health

https://thefrozenmind.com/coping-chronic-illness/

https://chronicallyglutenfree.com/2017/09/organic-does-not-equal-gluten-free/

https://emlinthorpe.com/2018/07/06/pickledblogs-pickledblogproject/

https://heartofastudentnurse.wordpress.com/2018/07/06/day-6-nhs-30-day-nursebloggers-challenge-what-i-fear-in-the-future-of-nursing/

https://chissecretdiary.wordpress.com/2018/07/08/slighty-disapointed/

https://www.ajourneythroughthefog.co.uk/2018/07/a-girl-behind-dark-glasses-book-a-review-from-a-fellow-me-sufferer/

https://autonomicrn.com/2018/07/05/love-and-loss/

https://talkaboutpopmusic.com/2018/06/24/new-playlist-summer-hits-of-the-80s/

As ever please like, comment and share posts for these bloggers!

Have a great week – and if you are following enjoy the football on Wed!

Claire x

Happy 70th! Treasuring our National Health Service #NHS70Birthday

If you are British, you can’t fail to have noticed that our National Health Service celebrates 70 years since its inception today.  Aneurin Bevan, Health secretary in the Attlee government, was the champion for a healthcare service that brought together all providers under one umbrella in order to provide care for all from “the cradle to grave” and  “free at the point of delivery”.

Bevan

This is not a political piece – there will be plenty out there to read – neither do I want to focus on the woes of our health service today or the shortages of money and staff.  I have spent many years working in the service and am now find myself very much at the receiving end of it and I could write a book about the ups and downs.  But today is for celebration of all that is good about our NHS and as a nurse in my former life, I could not let it pass unnoticed.  These are just a few of my observations from personal experiences….

I spent my formative years growing up in London teaching hospitals with a group of like minded girls (and the odd chap!) who became family.  We worked hard, we played hard, we were teens and able to cope with a night out followed by an early shift.  The structures within the NHS then taught us self discipline, punctuality, reliability, pride, teamwork and respect (amongst other things!).  We had experiences and encounters with patients and colleagues that would shape our young minds and remain with us for life.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I remember my first death, my first birth, my first still birth – all before I turned 20.  I had never seen a dead body before (how many 18 year olds have?), but when an elderly patient whom I had cared for on my first ward died, she still needed to be cared for.  In more recent times whilst working as a hospice nurse, I have often looked back and thanked a third year student nurse Kevin for teaching me not only how to lay a person out, but the importance to retain empathy and kindness whilst doing so.  When I recall my first birth, I really don’t mean the birth of my first….although I do remember that, Young Engineer!! I was stood at the shoulder and then holding a leg during this labour and birth, and I can still recall the wonder when that little pink, slightly slimy being slid into the world.  Actually he wasn’t so tiny at nearly 9lbs and was named Matthew, and I was privileged to be one of the first to have a cuddle.  It has never left me.

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

The still birth came only weeks after the birth of baby Matthew.  A couple had been admitted with a labour that had commenced at 29 weeks – third baby for mum, but first for dad.  The midwife knew quickly that something was wrong and broke the heart breaking news that there was no heart beat.  I was assigned as an inexperienced 19 year old to stay with this couple whilst labour progressed during my late shift.  It is impossible to put into words all that I learnt that day.  The bond that a carer can establish with a patient and relative under such intense physical, emotional and stressful circumstances was never clearer than that night.  My shift ended at 10pm but I had to stay until that baby was born.  Another baby boy entered the world at 2am the following morning, perfect, tiny and asleep.  He was beautiful and that is the first time I have felt my heart break.  His parents bathed him and dressed him for the first and last time.  They held him, whispered to him, loved him – and whilst I felt that I was intruding on such a deeply personal experience, they were adamant I should stay.  I carried that little boy away and cried my eyes out.

grayscale photo of baby feet with father and mother hands in heart signs

Photo by Andreas Wohlfahrt on Pexels.com

I have written about our experience as young nurses in a hospital in the 80s with an HIV and Aids unit here – a really challenging time for the NHS but rewarding, life affirming and so challenging for this bunch of young nurses.  As a slightly more mature group some 30 years on we revisited our old stomping ground recently (read about it here) and it brought back so many memories – both from time as a student, and then as a young staff nurse in other London hospitals.  During my time in palliative care I met some amazing patients, had the good fortune to have wonderful colleagues and learnt to appreciate life.   I still miss being a nurse, I still feel like a nurse and I am still proud to have been a nurse in our NHS.

In recent years I have been in need of the NHS for friends, family and myself.  From a dear friend dying from cancer, to the deaths of all my grandparents, to the middle child slamming a door on his sister’s hand that then required reconstructive surgery – the NHS has been there.  A&E visits for broken bones, kidney stones and dislocations.  The time when the lovely girl was taken seriously ill – “Mum, should she look like a zombie?” – and rushed in with a highly contagious gastroenteritis aged 6(Rota virus), and when dad showed all the symptoms of a brain tumour days before a holiday in Canada.

My experiences haven’t all been positive – particularly some of my own surgeries over the years – and I am now classed as chronically ill and at the mercy of our health service.  I been on the receiving end of some dire care and have also had some fantastic care too (Medical professional to Professional Patient). But I do appreciate how far the NHS has come over the years, the technological & pharmaceutical advances that have been made, and the public interest in health.  I have been inspired by some wonderful people over the years – Dr Joe Ford,  a pioneer of breast cancer treatment in the 70s and wonderful teacher & colleague in palliative care: the staff nurse who cared for my great grandmother – she suggested to me, aged 17, that I had the makings of a good nurse; Julia Fabricius our nurse tutor; Paul Reeves, Charge Nurse at the Middlesex hospital who believed in me after my first back surgery and his friend Karen Aubrey who became my first ward Sister at Charing Cross Hospital and a great mentor;  Geoff, my physiotherapist who worked with me as we both learnt about my condition; my pal Caroline who became a staff nurse on the first teen cancer ward in London – we laughed when she left our flat in her stripy leggings and purple Dr Martens boots as they didn’t wear uniform; and wonderful Cathryn, also in my set, who having fought for her registration now helps other nurses who face unfair dismissal or have been made scape goats.  This list could honestly go on and on…..but must include everyone in my set, March ’88!

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The National Health Service is a sum of all its parts – at times it is brilliant, other times it fails; there are the cutting edge treatments and the failing, understaffed departments.  But today it turned 70 and there are some fantastic people who still strive to deliver health care for all, from cradle to grave, free to all; people who over the years have made it the institution, for better or for worse, that it is today – Happy Birthday!

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The Sadness of My Notes on Social Isolation & Loneliness

REBLOG FROM RIE LOPEZ

Rising Inside the Embers

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Dear Friends,

On Tuesday, May 29, I had the honor of presenting at a webinar hosted by the Society for Participatory Medicine.  As my very first online webinar, I admit that I was nervous.  I have presented before, but in a far different capacity and with less technology involved.  I wanted to provide my notes on the presentation for any of those who are interested.  I had slides, so you will find everything numbered.  This should also help with easier navigation and increase accessibility.

Beside myself, there were three other presenters, including Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Ph.D., Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH, and Gabe Howard, who were absolutely outstanding.  I say this from my unique position as a health professional and a patient.  I highly recommend listening to the entire webinar, which is available here, especially if you know or treat an individual with chronic illness.  So many dismiss social isolation and…

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Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

We continue to have our own mini heat wave here in the UK and it really feels like summer.  The queues of fans gathered overnight for the opening day of the tennis tournament at Wimbledon, and the rowing regatta at Henley takes place later this week – sales of strawberries and Pimms will be at a high as the sun continues to shine.  Who needs the Med?  I know it is all likely to go wrong as soon as the children break up for their summer holidays, but it is lovely whilst it lasts!

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Talking of the Med, hubby is looking like he has been abroad from his deepening tan.  He may have had a week in and around Paris with the school, but he has built up most of his suntan from the rounds of different sports tournaments that he has accompanied the children to – golf, athletics, rounders, football, cricket – and not forgetting the dog walks with our surrogate boys, Chester and Prince. IMG_1740 Four years ago we would never have dreamt that life would have changed so much as hubby was driving miles to work six days per week.  Yet here we are, hubby at home as my full time carer, a house husband (he hasn’t quite got the hang of housework – cleaner to be engaged!) and a sports teacher.  We may be considerably poorer in a monetary sense – but I have never known him to be so relaxed or fulfilled!  The dogs and the kids adore him and rumour has it that he scored a goal in the staff v year 6 football match this morning.  He probably won’t be able to walk this evening…..

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The lovely girl was there to witness her dad playing football as she starts her second week of work experience at her old primary school! She spent last week at an architecture firm in London and spent some time working on a float that is set to grace the streets of London during the Pride weekend.  My eldest has turned down my invitation to accompany me to the Henley regatta in favour of a weekend at London Pride with his mates….mum or mates….hmmm, tricky decision!!  The middle one is currently in Glasgow at a music festival – his sister has evidence from some badly shot videos and photos sent to her on Snapchat.  Meanwhile I have managed to spend a couple of hours with just the dog…..bliss!!

This weekend saw the end to a wonderful bloggers group that I am proud to have been a part of for 18 months.  We have been a tight knit group, small  and very supportive of each other and I have made some great online friends, some whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the Bloggers’ Bash.  This week’s Monday Magic is dedicated to the Big Up Your Blog group – particularly Suzie and Em – thank you!  These are some of the lovely people I have been in touch with regularly….enjoy!

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https://suzie81speaks.com/2018/04/02/props-under-20-for-creating-beautiful-blog-instagram-images/

https://emlinthorpe.com/2018/06/20/dont-know-my-number/

https://wheelescapades.com/2018/06/16/disneyland-paris-in-a-wheelchair-part-one-the-take-off/

https://rachaelstray.blog/2018/06/26/the-first-weekend-of-summer/

https://losingtheplotweb.wordpress.com/2018/06/30/growing-my-own-fruit-and-veg

https://thatblogwherecheriemovestogermany.wordpress.com/2018/06/29/a-one-week-follow-up-no-one-has-died-yet/

https://butismileanyway.com/2018/06/29/13-thoughts-for-my-newly-teenage-son-happybirthdaylilman-and-birthday-thoughts-for-my-mum-happybirthdaymum/

https://ellenbest24.wordpress.com/2018/06/27/1371/

http://www.youcanalwaysstartnow.com/2018/05/28/feeding-my-soul-blogging/

https://shailajav.com/power-of-silence-parents-kids-empowering/

https://blondewritemore.com/2017/01/19/things-you-do-not-see-when-you-read-a-blog-post-bloggers-blogginggals-writer/

https://moderngypsy.in/2018/06/25/31-lessons-from-31-days-of-painting/

https://jaipurthrumylens.com/2018/02/26/nahargarh-biological-zoological-park-jaipur-zoo/

https://justanotherblogfromawoman.blog/2018/06/25/george-michael-top-15/

https://thewanderingdarlings.com/2018/06/26/38-photos-visit-iceland/

https://fancypaperblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/26/starting-school-and-social-media/

https://notebooksandglasses.com/2018/06/17/10-ways-to-use-distraction-as-a-pain-relief/

https://globehousesitterx2.com/2018/06/30/serendipitous-pavement-art/

http://angelanoelauthor.com/inspiration-motivation/be-awesome-in-real-life/awesome-nuggets-summertime-edition/

https://anhistorianabouttown.com/2018/06/10/why-you-should-get-involved-with-your-community/

https://susielindau.com/2018/06/29/your-personal-brand-and-how-to-improve-it/

https://www.unboundroots.com/bird-feathers/

https://fictionisfood.com/2018/06/30/__trashed/#more-4865

https://ruthdalyauthor.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-calgary-stampede.html

https://www.musthikemusteat.com/when-the-world-is-black-and-white/

https://esmesalon.com/interview-with-sally-cronin-from-smorgasbord-variety-is-the-spice-of-life/

https://debs-world.com/2018/06/23/how-to-save-a-sheep-and-other-useful-cycling-tour-tips/

http://www.theressomethingaboutkm.com/blog/from-my-bookshelf/

https://www.awalkandalark.com/lynn-canyon-park-sea-to-sky-trail/

https://hotmessmemoir.com/2018/06/18/purple-teeth-club/

https://ginlemonade.com/2018/07/02/blogging-a-beverage/

https://orianasnotes.com/2018/04/29/diy-faux-marble-vase/

https://thephilfactor.com/2018/07/01/canada-has-a-day/

Please comment, like and share!

Have a great week,

Claire x

 

 

 

A Summer Holiday Read! Blog Tour and Book Review : The Heat is On by Helen Bridgett #LoveBooksGroupTours

Heat is On (1)

I am delighted to be a part of another LoveBooksGroup Blog Tour!  Just right for summer.

The wonderful middle aged ladies Angie and Patty, along with their best friend Charlie are back to add some sparkle to the summer.  Angie and Charlie are running their successful travel agency, the Mercury Travel Club, their friend Patty has just returned from performing on cruise ships and all three are in new relationships.

Angie has bought her first home since her divorce; her daughter Zoe is living in New York and she has a wonderful new man in her life.  She has won a local Business Entrepreneur Award and the travel agency has been going from strength to strength.  Life is good!  But this is all to change when Lorenzo enters their world with his new brand of travel agency that he opens in a shop directly opposite The Mercury Travel Club.  Suddenly the friends find themselves desperately fighting for their business as they are undercut and thwarted at every turn by the devious Lorenzo – can they find ways to remain one step ahead with innovative and fun ideas, to maintain their loyal customer base and to woo new clients?

A unique opportunity presents itself in the shape of a beautiful island retreat, which could give the friends the USP that they need for the survival of the Mercury Travel Club.  Add maintaining their personal relationships and growing new ones into the mix – what could possibly go wrong?

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Heat is On Pin

This is the second book in the series, and whilst I always recommend reading a series from the start, The Heat is On can definitely be read as a stand-alone – there really is enough explanation to understand the back stories.  The antics of the pals make this the perfect light, romantic comedy to pack in your suitcase and read on the beach!  The book is fun, witty and easy to read – maybe not a great literary novel, but certainly a very enjoyable one!

Angie, Patty and Charlie are funny, lovable and in possession of real human traits.  For me some of their most endearing qualities are those that are reflective of real life and not some magazine styled ideal – failed relationships, insecurities, less than perfect bodies, inability to cook, embarrassing parents, turbulent love lives and a love of life.  They show that it is possible to be middle aged and still have a sense of adventure and joie de vivre.  The friends are loyal, protective and love each other – this gives the book a real feel good factor.

The characters are funny, scatty and seem to invite disaster at every turn.  But they are also lovable, believable and it felt joyful to be a part of their story.  I love a well written classic piece of literature, but I equally love a well written, contemporary, light hearted tale and would definitely describe this book in this category.  Angie is a great character and I can easily both laugh with her and cry with her – this woman has soul!  Patty is larger than life and just makes me smile every time she enters the room.  Charlie provides the balance to his female friends – the voice of reason yet also passionate and driven.  Perhaps my favourite character is Angie’s mum – so funny and always there at just the wrong moment to make an entrance.

A joy to read, this is a light hearted, romantic comedy that doesn’t pretend to be anything else – a perfect, unpretentious read for the summer!  4 stars

With thanks to Kelly at LoveBooksGroup for including me on this blog tour.

Available from:

Amazon:

Book 1 –

Book 2 –

 

Waterstones

WHSmith

 

About the Author

Helen has always loved books and always loved writing. One year she decided her New Year’s resolution would be “Write a novel to give as a Christmas present”. She spent the year writing and The Mercury Travel Club was born.

Helen hails from the North East but now lives in Manchester. bridgett
Following a career in Marketing, Helen took an MA in TV and Radio Scriptwriting and created short films before writing her first novel. She loves nothing more than a glass of wine and witty banter with friends; her love of dialogue feeds into her work and has given her the perfect excuse to eavesdrop on conversations. Helen lives with her husband and their chocolate Labrador, Angus; all three can often be found wandering the Cumbrian hills or in country pubs.

Like many people, Helen believes that the music you grow up with as a teenager stays with you for the whole of your life. Being a child of 80’s rock, when she hears the opening riff to Sweet Child of Mine, she cannot be held responsible for her actions!

Find Helen:

Website: Helen Bridgett.com

Twitter: @Helen_Bridgett

Goodreads

Publisher: Red Door Publishing