Thursday, March 30, 2017

My love of gardening and finding ways to manage it

􏰊􏰃􏰈􏰄􏰋􏰂􏰍􏰐􏰆􏰑􏰄􏰆􏰎􏰄􏰉􏰈􏰂􏰆􏰟􏰈􏰉􏰖􏰄􏰐􏰌􏰄􏰃􏰈􏰉􏰆􏰐􏰂􏰸􏰄􏰐􏰍􏰄􏰈􏰑􏰂􏰆􏰔􏰏􏰁􏰌􏰌􏰈􏰌􏰄􏰆􏰟􏰈􏰉􏰂􏰆􏰔􏰐􏰑􏰒􏰄􏰔􏰁􏰮􏰆􏰉􏰄􏰆􏰕􏰌􏰍... the fiction of recovery is heroic; it encompasses overcoming major obstacles, as if I was to be slaying dragons or climbing and conquering freezing mountainous terrain.

Helen Kendall - Shelf Life



It is raining again. 
The glorious sun of the past few days has gone to a different shore.
I am sure it will return again soon.

In those glory days I reacquainted myself with my garden, and had some wonderful peaceful moments resting in my greenhouse.
I must admit that not one seed have been planted there yet. Just me. Just me and Sally Cat have been 'planted' so far.

This year my aim is to make my garden even easier to maintain. And share the work in my small greenhouse.

Since I moved to this house in 2008 I have been creating my garden. All there was was gravel, knee high weeds and one wild marjoram plant. 
Over the years (with help) I made a variety of flowerbeds, well actually most of them were vegetables beds at the start, and paths. Planted apple trees, herbs, shrubs, and I also had a very small pond. But all needed work. All needed more from me than I was able to give. I needed to ask for help all the time. That is fine to create the garden, but not in terms of maintaining it.

The past few years there were too many days when I would sit in the garden and all I could see where the jobs that needed to be done. It was frustrating. I could not see, or enjoy the beauty of my garden. The parts that are so healing. All I could see were 'jobs'. Weeds. Overgrown paths. Bushes that needed to be cut back. Pond to be cleaned. Vegetables to attend to...

At times I'd be in tears. 
Tears of exhaustion from doing too much.
Tears from frustrations that I could do no more.

I remember one day when I was in that state when a friend stopped by. 
She said the "wrong" word to me.
The word Brave.

I didn't want to be called brave
I hated that word.

That word was uttered to me previously.
I remember one fellow artist at Annaghmakerrig telling me this too, when she walked me back to my cottage, as I had pretty much 'collapsed' from exhaustion during a shared dinner.
Brave.


It sounded like pity 

And I know one thing, I do not do very well with pity.

My friend, during that chat in my garden said, "I don't mean pity, I mean: You are amazing. You just do it, get on with it, don't give up, and don’t give in."􏰹􏰆􏰙􏰄􏰋􏰑􏰛􏰄􏰁􏰄􏰇􏰁􏰖􏰝􏰺

So I looked up the word Brave in the dictionary 
(I have a habit of consulting the dictionary to understand my world)

Brave:
ready to face and endure danger or pain, showing courage 
comes from the Latin word cor meaning heart

Ok...
I do face up with an open heart to the experience of illness

If I can open my mind to that explanation, than maybe, maybe,
I can reconsider myself brave 

Back garden in Spring

... This post took an unexpected detour- but I am going to leave this interlude in ...

So, back to my garden - or maybe we were still there.

For the past few years when my health was a little more compromised again, I decided to do away with the pond (as it needed yearly cleaning). And I had friends come over to dig up a lot of the plants for their newly established garden.
... by the way that is a VERY successful way to garden ... Invite friends who like some plants - You get rid of plants, by simply pointing at them. You're happy. The garden is happy. And friends are happy.

Every year in spring I look at what causes me too much work in the garden. What I can cope with, and what I absolutely do not want to get rid of. Some plants are just too valuable for my well being to let go of. They might attract birds, or bees and butterflies. They might bring that splash of colour I can not do without. Or give of a scent I would not swap for anything.

In the last week I made good progress with weeding a few of the small flowerbeds leading from my kitchen to my studio (11 steps). I sit on my crate, so I don't have to kneel down, and shuffle with it along the path. It works!

I have decided to do away with the strawberry bed. The ornamental grasses, which used to grow in that spot, are just not giving up on growing in between them. So I will let them be! One less job to look at. Maybe strawberries in my greenhouse- hanging baskets...
The herb garden is easy to weed, and too valuable.
I did have help tie back the rosemary bush. What a gorgeous smell when we were chopping and repositioning.

In autumn I had help with cutting back shrubs that started to take over my garden. I must say that in the beginning I missed them, but now all I see it the glorious space they left in their wake.
So... really, there is not that much to do this year. 
(famous last words).

In terms of the greenhouse, 
well, I will seed some lettuce, beans, tomatoes. Again every year I do less, but grow what I absolutely love. There is nothing better that walk into the greenhouse and pick a few small leaves of lettuce, or much later in the year, to pick a ripe cherry tomato of the plant. No shop bought will ever equal the taste
And, I have invited friends to share the growing with me. They help me with planting and re-potting, and we share the bounty from what grows.

Back to the Brave issue.
Yes, I do find ways.
But if that qualifies as brave
I make do and leave as much time and energy for the things I love.
Resting in the greenhouse and watching the birds and the bees and butterflies, and the daily growth of plants.
Nature.
The healing aspects of Nature!

greenhouse when it was just build
inside greenhouse last year

escaping tomatoes

Links and further reading.

  • top quote and exploring the word Brave came from Into the Light book
  • other photos of my garden
  • Explore other Garden related post here  (search option)



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Chronic pain and creativity BBC4 Documentary

A friend forwarded a link to this BBC 4 Documentary yesterday:
about living with chronic pain 
and the value of creativity

If you are affected by chronic pain, 
or have a family member or friend 
dealing with this crippling symptom of many illnesses, 
please make yourself make a cup of tea,
get comfortable, 
and give yourself half an hour 
to listen to this clear, 
insightful and beautiful program.




From BBC Website:
The Agony and the Ecstasy
Coronation Street actress Cherylee Houston is a chronic pain sufferer who uses creativity as a distraction from her condition. As pain is a topic rarely discussed publicly, Cherylee sets off on a journey to meet other pain sufferers in order to find out how pain impacts on their creative work. Does pain always have to be a bad thing or can it actually enable creative thought? With contributions from singer songwriter Emily Maguire, writer Jack Thorne, artistic director Elizabeth Newman, performance artist Martin O Brien and pain specialist Professor Anthony Jones.
Produced by Charlotte Riches.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The saga of the death of a smart phone




...the inconvenient truth, that I am (partly) dependent to Smart technology, and the unfortunate fact that my phone wanted to sympathies with me and got sick...


Yesterday was one of those days, in which you seem to have very little control. In which some home truths become obviously clear. One of those days that completely depleted any energy you might have had at the start of the day. (I did not have a whole lot to start with.)

Anyway.
For the past week, my 6 month old iPhone started to get signs of illness.
At times the screen got scrambled. The phone turns itself off to restart again. Asking for the password.
A mild inconvenience.
Last Thursday I contacted the shop I bought it from.
A shop I have dealt with for about 12 years, and have bought all my apple products from and have recommended to many other people looking to buy apple computer etc.
Someone from the tech department was to ring me back.
They didn't.

By Sunday my phone would switch itself off altogether. And the only way it would restart was by doing holding the top button and home button for about 15 seconds.
But it would switch itself off again...
I realized it needed to be connected to a wall socket. And set the "sleep-option" to Never.

Hours later the only way it would stay alive was if it was on life-support... ie connected to my computer.
Which obviously completely depletes the notion of having a mobile phone. I had to sit at the computer in my study.

Still. It worked.

By Monday morning I rang the shop again, and after going through many options, finally got to talk to someone.
The only way they could help me was that I call into the shop - one hour away- and they either fix my phone there and then, or give me a temporary replacement.
to Cork. That I need my phone as a safety tool. It is my "panic button" in a sense. Being without a phone would make me housebound. I can not safely leave the house without it.
I asked if a replacement phone be posted out to me, and I return this one straight away.
NO.

He understood my predicament, but could not help me.

I rang the Apple Store directly - in agreement with the shop-man I had talked with- in the hope that they could help me.

NO.
I rang the shop again.
I rang Apple Store again and asked to talk with a supervisor.

In fairness that worked well.
The supervisor George was extremely understanding. Helpful. Kind. Cooperative. But I still could not get a replacement phone.

Apple used to have an Express Service - George explained to me- but it was abused so often that Apple cancelled this option.
The only way now is that a courier delivers a 'brown-box'- I put my phone in- courier picks it up- Apple will look at the phone- fix or replace- and post it back to me.
10 days in total.

So ten days of no mobile phone.

I queried was there no special option for people with disabilities, who use their phone as a communication tool, some even use it to open doors, turn on lights, and all those other amazing features the iPhones have.

Apple so much encourages and promotes these accessibility tools on their products but when the phone is sick- there is no support.

This is Really Disappointing.

George talked me through various ways to restart the phone.
The phone got even more sick.

We later tried to completely restored the phone back to factory settings.
Twice.
It got more and more sick again.

We talked many times, and at great length. He would call me on my land line. Very kind indeed.
But when is a phone declared dead...?

I am no expert, but this looks pretty messed up to me...




 



I am awaiting the Brown Box, and hopefully a New Phone.

What all this did as well as questioning the policy of Apple and the Shop, is the realization on how important the phone is for me.

I used to have a lovely little old nokia phone. It fitted in my pocket and I had it with me ALL the time. This way I did not need a panic button. Help was always just a phone call away.

A Very Safe Feeling.

It took me a year of research, and thinking, and talking, and deciding the buy a smart phone.
The main reason was that I wanted to make short films and I was having great difficulty holding my SLR Camera steady. The iPhone was recommend as a very good alternative. Maybe even better than my camera.

And so there it came.
And I must say I did get to love my smart phone.

This new (for me new) technology also meant more ways to be connected to my friends abroad via what's app.

The phone is my way to be part of the world.
It allows me to explore the world outside of my gate. I can bring the phone when I go for my short walks. Knowing that I can ring someone if my legs give up, or if I stumble, or feel unwell.
I can go out on my scooter, and if it malfunctions, I can call for help.
I can bring the phone into the bathroom when I am having a shower, knowing that if I stumble, I can call for help.
I bring the phone into the bedroom at night- turned off- but I can turn it on if I feel unwell and need to call for help.

The phone is a hugely important piece of equipment in my life. Almost as important as my wheelchair. And I know I am not the only one who thinks and feels like this.

Another lady with ME wrote this on my facebook page  "Hi Corina, dreadful situation. I ended up with two mobiles for similar reasons & 'cos of poor signal one or other letting me down - but one Apple & one Android makes them totally separate - but at least one usually works. One day the electricity was off & my phone was low & I couldn't charge it so I had no way of contacting the outside world - so I got the second phone so one is always charged. We rely on them so much for our safety - hope you get situation sorted."


Today a friend is coming with a little adapter thingy that might make it possible to put the SIM from my smart phone back into my trusted little nokia.
I do have my land line too.

Just a very inconvenient truth, that I am partly dependent to Smart technology, and the unfortunate fact that my phone wanted to sympathies with me and get sick...

I do hope that all will be sorted out soon. And with satisfaction.
I also hope that Apple might see the light some day and make an exception in their policy for people with disabilities

Monday, March 27, 2017

One with nature


My left side is tree - the right side is me - I am partly putting down roots ...
Kate Firth - Venus Reborn



As time with illness progressed 
I became one with nature

I am part of my garden
The garden is part of me

An overgrown path 
makes me feel 
restricted
A pot-bound plant 
stops me 
from growing

􏰥􏰁􏰆􏰅􏰟􏰃􏰋􏰄􏰅􏰋􏰁􏰂􏰂􏰄􏰋􏰅􏰂􏰙􏰅􏰋􏰌􏰃
The first shoots of spring
make me come alive

The birds 
make me sing 






quote and words from Into the Light


Page from Into the Light by Corina Duyn with image of root sculpture in nature
Page from Into the Light

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spring in my garden - a whistle stop tour


After the day of snow on Tuesday, we were granted Real Sunshine for the past few days.
Rejuvenated, it makes one (me) want to tackle the garden. Take out all the weeds, move plants, start seed trays, re-pot pot-bound plants, sweep the path, take moss of the paths, play in my studio, write, start a trial film for my animation project, create a backdrop for my animation project which is accessible for me...

Ahh, so many possibilities.
So little energy.

I did walk around to choose the best filming spot.
I did move a few forget-me-not's to that spot.
And then I joined Sally in the greenhouse for a much needed rest.

Bliss!
To be resting in the greenhouse. First time this year.
Plants can wait.

Later on I walked around my small garden, which has so much to offer, to take a few snapshots to share the Spring in my Garden with you all.
(Not quite the spring in my step)

Sit back, and enjoy.
The last remainging daffodils
(studio in the background)
The promise of Large Poppies
in the making

No idea what this is called, but isn't it a beauty

front garden view
Just love this pot of grasses
one of the many primroses.
Love this spring flower so much
Forget me not's
I won't, as they are Everywhere.
Sally, having taken ownership of my lettuce-tray
"Not this year"- she says
look at those legs.
Cool - or what
The pod for my animation project...
Ahhhh... more about that some other day
chocolate crocosmia
Just gorgeous
The first Rhubarb
Robert Cat's graveside
First apple blossoms
blue grape hyacinths under the apple trees
my 'Forest'
Tulips from Amsterdam.
I only wanted RED ones.
I have my doubt, but might be pleasantly surprised
first shoots of leaves of the
Japanese maple
The scent... oh my goodness

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Raw Energy Balls with roasted seeds

Raw Energy Balls

 Dairy, sugar & gluten free, made with cocao, date paste and roasted seeds.
Raw energy balls with roasted seeds

To make the date paste, soak:
  • 12 dates in about 40 ml of water for about ten minutes
Add:
  • 3 unsulphured apricots 
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
Blend in a food processor- (or nutribullet which is what I used)  into a smooth paste

Mix together in a bowl:
  • 60 grams of the  Date paste (which might not be all the paste you made...)
  • 70 grams of ground seeds
    • I roasted Hemp, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds in a dry pan heavy bottomed pan- separately - until they start to pop. It gives a nicer nutty flavour. Watch out that they don't burn though!
    • I used the nutribullet to grind them into a "flour"
    • You can just use raw ground seeds too, if you prefer
  • 20 grams of pumping seeds
  • 15 grams of chia seeds
  • 18 grams of raw cocoa
  • Add a little more paste it the dough is too dry - or
    •  you can add a tablespoon of melted coconut oil

Take a generous teaspoon of dough and roll it with your hands into small balls. 
I made 13, but it is up to you what size you like to make them.

I rolled some in ground almond seeds. Just to have a choice of two varieties.

Put them on a sheet of baking paper and store in the fridge.


And then ... I scraped the deliciously sticky mixture of my hands with my teeth.
A new version of "licking the cake-spoon'!

Enjoy!

I certainly did.

Further reading
  • Other wheat, sugar and dairy free recipes, see here  Bread, cakes, muffins...



Friday, March 24, 2017

Launch of the CAP Awards 2017


What a 'goosebump-creating' combination: Writing and mental health awareness.


One day last September I turned on my computer and saw an email coming in with the shortlist of the first ever CAP Awards for self published authors. 

In short, the Carousel Aware Prize is a competition is to celebrate writers who self publish their books. All proceeds go to Aware, an Irish Charity who educates and empowers people to look after their mental health.

Reading through the email I saw that my Into the Light book was shortlisted under the non-fiction category.

If you could have seen me you would have laughed out loud.

To paint the picture:
I was sitting in my wheelchair at my desk.
As I got so excited to see my name on the list, I was literary jumping out of my chair, and landing back in it... if that makes sense.
I had to put the brakes on as I was afraid the chair- and me in it- would wheel itself out of the room, or out the window.

You know, it is Very Exciting Stuff to have one's book shortlisted!

The Gala Evening to announce the winners was held at the Teachers Club in Dublin. I made the journey down. Most of the shortlisted authors were present, as where a lot of their supporters and others interested in the written word.
The room was packed and buzzing with the excitement, and nervous anticipation by the short listed authors, as well as from the thought provoking speeches about mental health.  It was quite amazing to hear how many people are in some way touched by mental health issues.

Of course there was lots of talk about books too. And about publishing. And announcing the winners of each of the categories.

Although I was not the winner in my category, I am immensely proud to have been part of this exciting new journey for independent authors. 

We are all winners.

The writers - the committee- the judges and Aware!




Since that time it is quite hearth warming to have made so many new contacts with the other short listed writers, and also with editors, and others who were involved with the event, and to have been contacted by publishers of book and writing magazines.
Thank you all!  It is wonderful to have been acknowledged into this world of publishing.

The launch of the CAP Awards 201 is this Saturday  25th March 14.00 to 17.00 at Club Na Muinteoiri  36 Parnell Square West, Dublin. See HERE for a list of speakers and activities for the day.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to travel down, but I am certainly there in spirit.


Links and further reading


Thursday, March 23, 2017

A broken spirit level

Page from HATCHED re-hatched


This kind of sums up how I feel this morning.
After a few disappointing, bewildering, frustrating emails yesterday.
I spend way too much energy on trying to find my way within it all.
I will find my way in it all.

For today I will focus on finding my balance -
my spirit level
again.

Be well everyone!

(Will most likely tell you about what brought my spirit and energy down, as I think it is an important standpoint - but need to sort it out first with the organization in question)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Boxes, and more boxes ...

This ...
box full of Into the Light boxes by Corina Duyn


And all this...

has to become this.
Into the Light book in a box by Corina Duyn - a wooden box with paper sleeve


The next delivery of empty boxes for Into the Light arrived yesterday.
To make them truly into a book in a box, I am getting help to open each box; glue in the ribbon and sticker in the back to lift the pages out; add the pack of pages; close the box; and put the wrapper around it.
Done!
Next...

To celebrate the arrival of these boxes, there is no postage charge for orders placed between now and Sunday 26th March, using the Buy Now Button
Into the Light €30



Further reading and links

  • For more about the book, including a short video see HERE
  • For the first batch of boxes and books, see HERE

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

those beautiful moments when all is well

Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.
Buddha


Following from yesterday's creative-suggestions-blog, this thought came to mind...

Those moments you are doing something that totally absorbs you.
When you forget your body.
You forget the pain, the exhaustion.
You are completely in the "zone".
Life is good, for that one moment.
Maybe even more than one moment.
Savour it.
Enjoy it.
Let it happen.
Page from Into the Light




When the 
mind
fully enters
the creative space 

an exquisite moment
can occur
of
knowing
that what
you are doing
is exactly
right
for you 

Monday, March 20, 2017

There are many ways to be creative

Creativity: The use of imagination or original ideas to create something
Oxford Dictionary 

 

I know I hammer on about the amazing power of creativity. But...

It does not mean that you have to be- or become an artist or a writer...

my greenhouse-
with Plenty of Creative space for me!

There are many ways to be creative

  • be playful with your day
    • plan little things that make you happy and you can achieve within your energy/pain limits
  • make Sundays different from the rest of the week
    • for example have a different breakfast from the norm
  • do some colouring
    • there are many adult colouring books out there now.  Colouring from early on in the illness has helped me regain my finer motor skills, and I love it too.
  • play to create a garden, or plant a few seed in a pot on the window sill. Growing things will bring joy
  • find a craft you liked as a child, or something you always wanted to do
    • I learned to weave, a long held dream fulfilled.
  • enhance the immediate lived-in environment with thing you love
    • hang pictures or photos of things you like
    • the photo is of my greenhouse, I made a bed to rest on during spring days, and have a sculpture and some gifts from friends in there too
  • collect different plates and cups to make each day special
    • on days when I was bed bound my homehelp brought in snack and and drinks on a tray using a different set of plates and cups each day. It brought a smile to my face
  • "Pimp" your mobility aids- to make them more fun
  • Create a MEme - ME-me to get out an about for you
  • buy the loveliest notebook and best pen you can afford to do some writing or drawing 
  •  ... You get the idea... Now have Fun and Be Creative!

Being creative is also the ability to adapt to your circumstances. There is almost always a way ... If we can give it time and thought 



Further reading and links

Sunday, March 19, 2017

We learn from many life events. Including illness


I am not what happened to me. 
I am what I choose to become.
Carl Jung 



I am not up to much writing today, so I will leave you with a page from Into the Light  to ponder about. (Kind of like "here is one I made earlier...")




(My words on the page)

We learn from many life events
Including illness

Reconstructing our lives 
we find new ways of
Living
Understanding

We find new 
Interests 
Passions 
Projects

The experience 
of illness
can
become meaningful 
by the creation
of a new
sense of self 

Links and furhter reading 

  • Into the Light is a book with loose sheets, with reflections on life, and is available form the web-shop, in various version. (The image above is showing both sides of the page)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The power of creativity


"Using creativity to cope during poor health is a positive response to a difficult situation." 

Tobi Zausner




The space clearing of my studio is continuing. 
All of the older work I had put up for adoption are going to new homes, where they will be loved once again.
The big jobs for which I needed help are done. 
I would like over the next week or so, to sort materials, and other collections of "stuff".
(every creative person will know what I mean by that...)

I feel lighter.
I like going into my studio again.
I feel a sense of ease.
A sense of overall well being.
Even though my body is in pain, and I am tired, I am actually feeling well.
My mind is filling up with creative possibilities.

This feeling made me think about the power of creativity.
And this book When walls become doorways – creativity and the transforming illness, by Tobi Zausner, came to mind.
I read, and used this book for my own Into the Light Artist book.
Throughout the writing of my book, I had great support from Tobi. She had given me permission to use quotes from her book, and emailed me often to follow my process. It is unlikely we will ever meet in person, but she was hugely helpful in encouraging me to keep going with my project, when I was very close to giving up.

Corina has a great capacity to help others with her work.
Tobi Zausner PhD, Author, Research Psychologist and Clinician 

Creativity is such an important part of my life. My life with illness.
I strongly believe that if I did not have my creative mind, I would not be as well as I am today.
Maybe I would not even be alive anymore. It is that important.

Creativity helped me to understand my new life. 
Helped me to explore the boundaries dictated by illness.
It allowed me to experience freedom.
Nobody could curtail the freedom of my mind.
I played with possibilities.
I was able to free on paper.
I could fly that kite.
I could fly.
I learnt so much.
And creativity became my way to still be part of the world beyond my walls.
"when walls become doorways..."


Some quotes from When walls become doorways – creativity and the transforming illness. 
By Tobi Zausner, Ph.D. 2006 Harmony book US

“In artists, the passion to create generates a will power strong enough to defy the worst disease."
(Surgeon Philip Sandblom)


"Artistic projection is a powerful experience because the work of art 
becomes a kind of virtual reality for artists." 

“Turning to creativity in response to illness gives us an enormous return on our time and effort. 
By taking our minds off distress and redirecting our attention to work in front of us, 
we lessen the experience of pain." 


"By compensating for what is lost due to illness, creativity restores a sense of wholeness 
that can produce a feeling of well-being comparable to restoring wholeness in life."


Be well.
Be creative.
In whatever way is doable, and interesting for your own personal circumstances 

Links and further reading