Insomina:Why I Totally Identify with The Princess and The Pea & Other Tales of No Sleep

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You might be familiar with the story of ‘The Princess and The Pea‘ by Hans Christian Anderson? It was one of my favourite fairytales growing up, the story of how a prince searched the world over for a real princess and then one stormy night, a girl half drowned, turned up at the castle door claiming to be a real princess.

His mother, the Queen had a bed made up for her of twenty mattresses and many feather beds and at the very bottom placed a pea. Long story short, the poor girl didn’t sleep a wink all night and so,the next morning was proclaimed a real princess, married the prince and lived happily ever after, without any more peas in her bed to disturb her sleep…

I have spent most of my life trying to get to sleep…and have lost count of the nights I’ve tossed and turned until the red sun rises in the east…

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I have lived with the constant exhaustion, that numb feeling of unreality…when the lines between the waking world and that of sleep start to blur…

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 I cannot tell you the amount of times I almost fell asleep during school, college, work, concerts….

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At night, almost every night, my brain just wont switch off. My mind goes into overdrive and thinks about everything and I do mean EVERYTHING!!

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I’ve tried Yoga with some limited benefit. Yoga is wonderful for calming a person down, for helping you feel more present in your body and more able to live in the current moment but the ability to stay in the moment is not one of my strong suits, so something to work on!

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I’ve tried Herbs such as Valerian Root [kept me awake for days], PassionFlower, Wild Lettuce, Chamomile…you name it, I’ve probably tried it and while they all helped make me feel calmer, I still can’t sleep…

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I have never drank coffee or tea so alas, giving up those before bedtime wont help me but did you know that green tea has just as much caffeine as ordinary tea, so best to stick to herbal tea.

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A hot cup of Goats Milk [I’m lactose intolerant so grow up on goat’s milk] will sometimes help me in the winter months to put me to sleep.

A hint of cinnamon is supposed to also enhance the restful effect of hot milk.

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A warm bubble bath is a personal favourite of mine but alas where I currently live with my husband, there is no bath so that’s not a option sadly… 😦

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I have tried Aromatherapy using Lavender Oil on my pillow, my skin, in a diffuser, oil burner, rub…smells great but still no sleep!

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I have tried making our bedroom a sanctuary with gentle lights, calm colours, soothing water bubbling in a little fountain outside the window, plants, natural fabrics…and it helped a little…

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I have tried Mediation and since I have listened to Louise Hay, [first on tape, then cd, then digital]since I was very young, my brain is hard wired to relax, listen and follow her directions.

Her voice is without a doubt one of the best sleep aids  I have ever used and I can’t recommend her enough.

There are still the nights that sleep will not come, no matter how hard one tries to relax but for the nights, sleep does come…it is bliss.

Sweet Dreams Xxx

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Aiming for The Moon, Otherwise known as TTC, ‘Trying To Conceive’ Over 35

 

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Another month, another period. Yet again, not pregnant.

Nothing. Not even a flicker of hope.

Sometimes it feels like I must have been Genghis Khan in a past life, life has been such a struggle, every small victory paid for dearly, in blood, tears and heartbreak.

After the miscarriage in 2016 and a million scans, tests and being poked and prodded until I felt like a pincushion, it was a shock to hear, that since I’m 35 years old with PCOS [Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome], my chances of conceiving are slim and the older I get, the more the odds fall against me.

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Yet, there is still hope. If Bella from Twilight can conceive after marrying a vampire, who is technically undead, then surely there is hope for me??

Okay she is a fictional character in a very unlikely scenario but as even the most cynical of people, Hamlet says ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy…’

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I have struggled to be patient with myself, with life…but sometimes I’m just so tired of waiting for my life to start, of waiting for my dreams to come true.

I don’t need a big house, fancy car, or designer clothes, all I want is a child of my own. Just one is all I ask.

So we have decided, that its time to take our fate into our own hands and do everything in our power to increase our odds of having a baby.

I had no idea that trying to have a baby was so complicated…I often feel I need a Masters degree in Biology to even understand what I’m reading!

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Ive talked to my doc, bought books, researched, studied and studied some more.

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In the coming days, weeks and months, we shall be changing our diet, getting more fresh air and exercise, trying to destress more, stop drinking alcohol, detox…you name it, we shall be trying it.

If its ‘Legs up the Wall’ yoga pose, drinking water blessed by the moon or tea brewed by monks in Tibet, I will try it! 🙂

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Here is the link to the Youtube videos I’ve saved so far on how to get pregnant naturally.

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The moon is full on Tuesday the 5th, so I shall be leaving out water for the moon to bless and hopefully in no time at all, I shall be holding my own child in my arms.

Blessed Be. Xxx

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On The Importance of Good Friends & Six Other Ways I Stay Grounded in a World that Won’t Stop Spinning

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Does anyone else feel like the world is spinning too fast, that the day is gone in an instant and you don’t remember what happened yesterday, much less today? Do you feel as if you are on a constant rollercoaster and you just want to get off? Do you feel snowed under, overwhelmed, lost or that everyday is a struggle?

I often feel this way and suspect others do also. We live in a world of 24 hour live News Coverage. We are bombarded with information every second of everyday. The world has never been smaller or more connected, you can communicate instantly with anyone anywhere and yet isolation, depression and suicide continue to rise.

It is so terribly easy to lose sight of who we are really are but if we don’t take time to reflect, to breathe, to dance, laugh or just sit still, we will all be lost.

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I have been thinking about what helps me stay grounded, brings me back to my fundamental truths, to freedom, joy and peace.

In the hopes this may help another find their way, here are

My Seven Ways to Ground Yourself

1) Friends

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I am very fortunate to have a few close friends and one BFF or Boo, as I like to call her. When things get crazy and the world becomes too much and I don’t know how I will cope or get through this, my BFF has always been there for me. She is the sister I never had.

I know, no matter what, she is at my side, my rock. She is the keeper of all of my secrets. The first person I think of when I have news to tell or need advice or just want to spend time with, whether that be on great adventures exploring foreign lands or just sitting together on the sofa at home, it doesn’t matter what we do, the main thing is we do it together.

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Countless hours talking on the phone, talking through the night, sorrows and joys shared, so many years of wonderful memories. Many of the best moments of my life have been with her.

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She helps be me more then I am, to be more me. So many times, amidst great change and dizzying turns of events, I felt uncertain & unsure but she brings me back to reality and always, always keeps me grounded.

Apart, the journey is long and often scary and confusing but together, the impossible becomes possible. I cannot express my gratitude enough for having her in my life.

2) Hugs

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One of the most wonderful and simple ways to ground yourself is to hug another, whether that be a family member, a friend, a colleague, a pet or a tree. The benefits of hugging cannot be emphasised enough.

article-2332853-1A0E4C03000005DC-283_634x418There is a lady in India called Amma The Hugging Saint, who brings joy and happiness around the world through hugs. She came to Dublin last year but unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it there but definitely next time.

Amidst all the terrorist attacks of the last few months, a young muslim man blindfolded himself and stood on a street in Paris with a sign, saying ‘I’m Muslim, I trust you, Do you Trust me, Give me a Hug’. This brave young man wanted to show the world that love is the answer, not hate and war. He was quickly surrounded by hundreds of people who wanted to give him a hug. A simple gesture with profound ripple effects throughout the world.

 

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In Ireland, we are not the best for hugging, we can tell a story, dance up a storm or bring the house down but not so good at hugs. However times are changing and I am determined to hug more, one person at a time, so remember, hug often! 🙂

3) Going on Adventures

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There is nothing like the joy of going on an adventure to remind you what its like to live fully in your skin, to remember who you really are and why you want to be.

You don’t have to climb the highest mountain or travel the seven seas or leave Earth’s orbit and step on the moon to find adventure. Adventure can be found in a turn of the road or a path you haven’t gone down before, a view never seen before, a glade never walked in before…

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The very best adventures are the ones that are unexpected, where strange and wonderful things happen and you meet people you will never forget, experiences that change you forever and all because you decided to take a slightly different path.

The heart delights in new horizons and in this case, I cannot recommend going adventuring enough, as when you come home, you will not just be refreshed and energised but you will also be grounded.

4) Take off your Shoes, your socks and Dare to walk on Bare Feet

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There is nothing like the sheer pleasure and tactical sensation of bare feet on sand, almost all my best memories are when I was up to my ankles in the cold Atlantic sea, walking across a summer meadow full of wild grasses that tickle, sinking my toes into warm sinking sand the colour of moonlight or feeling the silver cool bark of my favourite Ash Tree I used to spend countless hours in growing up.

To touch the earth is to literally ground ourselves, to reconnect with the great earth mother, to be renewed and to instantly be in our own body again. The power of bare feet to instantly transport you into the present moment is truly wondrous. Give it a go and see how it makes you feel.

5) Dance

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One of the greatest pleasures in life surely most be locking the door, turning off the phone,  turning the music up loud and dancing your heart out. In dance, I find a place, a way of being, that allows me to express things I could not express in any other way. I lose myself in the music and it is only then that I find myself.

So many people are afraid of looking silly or feel they have two left feet but the benefits of dancing are so numerous I urge you to be brave. It is true what they say, dance like nobody is watching and you will become one with the music. In the centre of the dance floor, when you can feel the beat drumming in your chest and feeling becomes movement, let yourself go.

Two of my favourite dance videos are below if you would like some inspiration:

6) Yoga & Meditation

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I’ve talked about yoga and meditation before and all of their the wonderful health benefits but one of the most rewarding aspects of yoga & mediation is how your thoughts can be chaotic and all over the place at the beginning but gradually you become calmer, your breathing slows and you remember what it is to be in your body, to be present, how that feels and how to let it go.

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Mediation and yoga can both seem daunting or even intimidating practices to learn and even if you don’t want to go to local classes, with so many books, dvds, cds and youtube videos, there has never been a better or easier time to start.

I find it difficult to allow regular time for these things but even a 15 minute video practise can be incorporated into our hectic lives.

7) Laughter

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My last recommendation is laughter and lots of it. There is nothing like laughter to lift the spirits, to bring back joy into ones life, to share a connection with another person. I came across this video of a man laughing on a train and how quickly his joy and laughter spread to the whole carriage even though they were all strangers and did not know what the man was laughing about. It didnt matter what caused him to laugh but the infectious nature of joy and laughter can bring us all together.

So these are seven of the ways I ground myself, I hope you find them useful or at least thought provoking. There are so many ways you can ground yourself, I wish you a fabulous journey discovering them 🙂

Xx

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What it means to be a Fibromyalgia Warrior and How it Feels to Live with Constant Pain Everyday and Still Smile

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Last March in 2016, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia after four long years of constant pain, constant chest infections, constant exhaustion…The relief to finally know what was wrong with me was overwhelming.

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The relief to finally be believed, that the pain was real and not in my head. The relief to know that for the first time in four years, I had an answer to all the questions I’d tormented myself with the last four years: why I woke up every day in pain, why I couldn’t sleep, why sometimes just brushing my teeth hurt, why the idea of even leaving the house sent me into a tailspin, why my faith in the medical profession was almost totally eroded, why I didn’t feel better after trying countless combinations of pills…The relief was truly amazing.

I had never heard of Fibromyalgia until I was diagnosed with it, I knew no-one who had it and support groups in the west of Ireland were non- existent. I felt utterly alone and lost in a world of pain.

Thankfully I found support groups for fellow Fibro sufferers online, ‘Fibro Warriors’ as I learned we were called. I cannot express my gratitude for their compassion, acceptance and kindness. I learnt the beauty and necessity for ‘Soft Hugs’. I found a place where I could talk freely about how I felt and what I was going through.

Now I knew what was wrong,  I started reading everything I could find on Fibromyalgia. My doctors tried different meds, steroid injections and other therapies with some success at the beginning but unfortunately my body then started rejecting the drugs and the side effects came to drastically outweigh the benefits.

 

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In the last few months, I have been having such bad side effects that after slowly weaning me off the Fibro meds, my doctor and I had to take the decision today to stop taking the meds altogether and see what happens.

I am blessed to have one of the most remarkable and compassionate of physicians I have ever met and cannot stress how important it is to find a doctor who will listen to you.

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I know there is no cure for Fibromyalgia but I am going to do everything I can to feel better, to try to live again and not just exist. So here is what has helped me so far:

 

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Heat

I cannot emphasis how much heat can be such an effective pain killer.

  • The days I cannot breathe without pain, a Hot Water Bottle on my chest can make all the difference.
  • A hot Shower can restore you after an exhausting night tossing and turning.
  • A hot Bath is pure luxury, toss in some epsom salts and the relief is wonderful.
  • A Hot Beverage can warm you from the inside, my personal favourite is Full fat goats milk heated to just before steaming point and then sipped slowly.
  • I have found that a Electric Blanket in the winter can do wonders for all over body pain at the end of the day and for helping me get up the next morning.
  • A Sheepskin Rug on my bed on top of my sheet gently cushions your whole body in a way that nothing, even memory foam can emulate.
  • A good Scarf to keep your throat and chest warm when outside, even in the summer, can make a huge difference to pain levels.

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Herbs

  • Chamomile: I have been drinking this tea since I was little but it is only recently, I have rediscovered how well it can help with your ability to cope with pain, to cope with stress, to sleep, to feel calmer….
  • Nettle: nettle is full of antioxidants and silica which helps repair damaged tissues and improve your immune system.It also tastes fab! 🙂
  • Lavender is super soothing, calming and has a gentle sedative effect.
  • Valerian can help with sleep and stress.

 

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Spices

  • Turmeric: I take one to two capsules of this every day and find it really helps
  • Ginger: is great for those days and weeks and months when it hurts to move

 

aa88d763e65df64de7f789be854f93dfYoga

I have found yoga to be a marvellous help, not just for de-stressing and coping better but for having less pain. Its a gentle discipline that helps the mind and the body. The key to doing yoga when you have Fibromyalgia is to stop immediately if a movement or posture gives you pain and to be kind with yourself. A little is better then nothing at all.

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Mediation

I cannot recommend Louise Hay’s books and cds on self-healing enough. Often at night, when I cannot not sleep, I go to youtube and play one of Louise Hay’s visually guided meditations and after years of listening to her, I can feel my heart slow down and my breath come easier just hearing her voice. There are so many wonderful mediation apps and videos out there.

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Nature and Sunshine

I find that if I don’t spend at least 15 minutes to half a hour outside each day, I start to suffer from S.A.D and my physical and mental health suffers. I cannot recommend enough spending time in nature, even if its just growing some herbs on your windowsill. The sound of waves breaking on a beach, the call of a curlew at dusk, the wind tugging at my hair, the trees rustling and talking in the breeze, the joy in a blackbirds song…All these things, I could not live without.

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De-Cluttering

I have talked in other posts about the importance of de-cluttering your home, your work place, your digital life…the more decluttered you feel, the more energy you will feel and new choices and opportunities will arise that would never have been possible before. If you feel stuck in your life, start with just one drawer and only keep what is useful or beautiful. If you haven’t worn it in a year, give it away. It is only by letting go that we can give ourselves room to grow.

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Music and Singing

I cannot recommend enough just taking some time each day to listen to music, to turn the volume up high, to sing out loud and clear and to dance around your kitchen. Singing, dancing and just listening to music can relax you straightaway, liberate you from your woes and rejuvenate your soul. The gentle work out from dancing can help with muscle pain, circulation, stiffness and lack of energy.

Somedays when the pain is too great to move, just listening to music can change how you feel and help aid your healing. We have only one life so live it loud! 🙂

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Other Treatments I’ve Tried

  • Reflexology: really soothing and relaxing and tried it for three months but I didnt find it helped my pain levels much.
  • Acupuncture: tried this twice and found the whole experience incredibly painful
  • Cupping: tried once, left me with horrific bruises for several weeks and even more pain then I started with.
  • Energy Healing: tried Reiki, angel therapy and crystal healing but unfortunately I didn’t notice much change after.
  • Massage: I used to love having massages but when I went for one recently, I was shocked at how much it hurt during and after. I bought a Shiatsu massage chair for home and find this helps occasionally, particularly on the heat setting but there are times its just too much stimulation.

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What I will be trying out next

I am going to look at what is in my kitchen cupboards already for what might help. I’m going to see which of the incredible natural resources around me have pain relief and healing benefits and I will be posting how making my own cider vinegar worked out and include the recipe. I will also be looking at how I can find ways to fight the pain and exhaustion everyday in every way I can and I invite you to join me on my journey. Together we are stronger, together we will make it.

Until then, sleep well and Gentle Hugs! 🙂

Xx

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