It’s been a while…

I don’t know what it’s like for other people who write similar blogs to me, but I constantly think of things to upload on here and I just never get around to doing it.

Life has been busy for me over the last couple of months. In my role, as Operations Assistant, the end of year amps up, rather than slows down. We have our staff retreat, Christmas related events/activities and then long days of Payroll.

That doesn’t mean to say there haven’t been things I’ve wanted to share on here. For example, I went away with my mother for a week a couple of months ago and I have some beauty pics to share (like below) and I went on the previously mentioned staff retreat just recently.

I’ve also had a rheumatologist appointment and it was disappointing to say the least. I felt like I didn’t get any answers, the computer was broken so the rheumatologist who was seeing me (not my normal lady) couldn’t see my history, and the ultrasound machine was broken, so we were unable to check the inflammation in my joints properly. I felt like the lady was misunderstanding the small amount of medical history she was able to access and was not listening to me, and she couldn’t give me any advice about the side effects of the rheumatoid arthritis medication I’m on. It honestly felt pointless, and therefore disappointing. Aside from that, though, I’m doing pretty well in regards to my arthritis. I still have days were specific joints hurt more than others and I’m generally still tired a lot faster than I used to be, but overall I’m doing well.

I feel lucky to know what kind of condition I have (although they can’t 100% confirm) and I’m taking medication that seems to be working and I have a workplace that is really flexible with my hours when I have appointments to attend.

Anyway, I thought I’d pop by to say hello while I had the chance, and I look forward to my free summer days where I can share more on here.

P.S. my doggo passed away a year ago and I miss her dearly. It was a horrific evening, the night she passed, but it doesn’t reflect the absolutely wonderful life she had and the joy she brought to our family. Love you forever, Brown.

Self-care on the Road to Recovery

How self-care affects recovery

Over the past 8 months, I have come to realise that self-care is a dominant player in my Rheumatoid Arthritis recovery. I am a true believer that recovery is holistic and that overall well-being is important, not just physical improvement. During a conversation I was having with my physio about ‘pacing’ activities (I’m focusing on walking at the moment – read more about ‘pacing’ here) I realised that not only has my ‘pacing’ been helping my recovery physically but so has spending time in nature! I love a good flower find and enjoy breathing in fresh air.

Taking care of ourselves

We have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others – that can be in the context of a parent-child relationship, friend-friend relationship, with your partner or even with a stranger. This concept has been explained to me in relation to flying in an aeroplane – we have to put our oxygen mask on before we can put the mask on a child/any else that needs help. This is pointing out that if we are struggling, it becomes a lot harder for us to help other people.

So, what can we do about it? 

I truly believe that self-care is a crucial part of everyone’s health and well-being, but especially those who are recovering from something, like myself. This is when active self-care comes into play. It’s about making sure we take time out to care for ourselves. There are basic self-care aspects, such as ensuring you are feed balanced, nutritious food and have the appropriate amount of time to sleep, but there is also a deeper level of self-care that we need to take into account. We all have physical, emotional/mental and spiritual needs that we have to consider when thinking about self-care. Self-care changes from person to person, as well. It’s all about listening to your body and being aware of what you need.

How do you know what works well for you? In my experience, it’s all about trial and error. You give something a go and see whether it works for you. For example, sometimes self-care is all about spending time alone and sometimes its all about spending time with others.

Where do I start? 

Below is a list of self-care habits I personally like, which you are encouraged to try out:

  • taking a bath
  • quality time reading a book
  • eating some of my favorite food
  • ‘earthing’ – physically connecting with the earth e.g. walking on the beach barefoot or lying on the grass looking up to the sky (although my hay fever is not a fan of that one)
  • going for a walk either by myself or with friends
  • having a nice nap
  • listening to some music that makes me feel good
  • spending time trying out some new recipes
  • spending some time with my best friend
  • lighting a candle at my meal time and sitting down at the table to eat
  • watching my favorite TV show
  • asking to catch up with a friend I haven’t seen in a while
  • buying something that I usually wouldn’t buy
  • going to the movies
  • doing a face mask
  • thoroughly cleaning my teeth

Self-care can be part of your normal daily routine and it can also be a special time that you have allocated. There are some habits I tend to perform more than others, as I have learnt over the years what I need to on a regular basis and what I need when I’m feeling a certain way.

Can you recognise what self-care habits that you do on a regular basis? If you have any self-care tips, let me know!

The KeepCup that’s here to stay

In the lead up to #PlasticFreeJuly, I thought it was an appropriate time to finally purchase a KeepCup. I had been given a reusable cup from my mum, which she got for free after shopping at Farmers. I appreciated the gift and used it a few times, but soon realised it didn’t vibe with me very well. I ended up passing it on to someone who really enjoyed it.

I don’t buy a lot of takeaway coffees, so was in no rush to find a reusable cup that I liked and for those that know me, know that it’s not often I buy things like this when full price. I kept an eye out on places that sold KeepCups, checking out their colour combos and looking out for any sales. Last weekend, when I was at St Lukes Mall, I walked into Stevens and finally found one that I liked. As someone at work said to me, the cup you choose can potentially say a lot about you, so picking a colour combination that suited me was important. I also happened to get 15% off – bonus!!

Have you got a KeepCup, or something similar?

Pink Ribbon Brunch

For those of you who follow my blog, you’ll know that I’ve already done a Pink Ribbon Afternoon Tea at my workplace. Seeing as I was already doing one Pink Ribbon event, I thought I might as well do another!

What are Pink Ribbon events? They are events that help raise funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation. They typically involve food – usually, breakfast, but this time around I did a brunch instead.

In 2017 over 3,600 kiwis hosted a pink ribbon breakfast and collectively raised over 1.8 million dollars for breast cancer research and support. – Pink Ribbon website

I got up early Saturday morning and moved all of my pink decorations into my lounge. I spent a little while putting things on the tables away and replacing them with pink items. I then began making a grazing table. I thoroughly enjoy setting up (and eating) grazing tables, and this was the most epic one I’ve ever made! To check out a video of it, click here.

DSC_4821

My sister and her husband turned up to help with the finishing touches and then my guests started to arrive. I had asked everyone to bring food, expecting that most people wouldn’t, but I was wrong! There was soo much food and I ended up having lots of leftovers to take to church and work. I also asked people to dress up, but there wasn’t a lot of effort put into that… mostly because people didn’t own anything pink. However, my sister won some chocolate for being ‘Best Dressed’ (see below). I also provided a few bits and bobs that everyone could put on to brighten the room up.

While we were waiting for people to roll on in, we nibbled away at all the delicious food and caught up with each other. A few friends were able to catch up with old friends, some of whom hadn’t seen each other in years! Once everyone had arrived, I asked people to get into groups so we could do some NZBCF quizzes. On the Pink Ribbon website, they provide us with some quiz questions and I thought it would be fun to participate. Some of the questions were quite hard, but it was all a good laugh… and we all learnt a thing or two! If you’d like to check them out, click here. The winners got some chocolate – delish! We then continued catching up and nibbling away. I had turned an old Pic’s jar into a coin jar for cash donations and then reminded everyone that they could donate via the online link I had provided them. As a bonus, the donations put people into the draw to win a raffle I had organised.

Everyone got a thank you bag when they left, and most people took a cake-pop  (as seen in the feature image) that my sister made, too! The NZBCF sends you a mixture of pens, keychains and badges to give to those who donated, so I put one of these and an information pamphlet into a bag, along with a homemade cookie as a thank you. The cookies were super easy to make (find the recipe here) and I then got them sealed and placed an ingredients sticker on the outside.

After the great success of two Pink Ribbon events and getting a few extra donations for the leftover food, we raised $545.50 and with that, I am rather proud. People asked me why I hosted the events and the answer is simple… why not! I don’t have time to volunteer for awesome charities like @bcfnz on a regular basis, so I try and help out with one off events when I can. Doing street appeals are a great one-off option (but not in my current health state). Have a think about how you could potentially help out when you’ve got some free time!

Pink Ribbon Afternoon Tea

As mentioned in my previous blog, this year I am hosting two Pink Ribbon events.

What are Pink Ribbon events? They are events that help raise funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation. They typically involve food – usually, breakfast, but this time around I did an afternoon tea instead.

In 2017 over 3,600 kiwis hosted a pink ribbon breakfast and collectively raised over 1.8 million dollars for breast cancer research and support. – Pink Ribbon website

The first one was hosted at my workplace. I asked a few ladies, who I knew were into this sort of thing, to bring along some treats to eat. There were vegan nipple cakes, pink meringues with raspberries, beetroot dip with cheese and crackers, gluten-free triple chocolate brownies and lots more! I honestly couldn’t have asked for a more delicious selection of foods to eat.

I decorated the table with an assortment of pink things and when the time came, called everyone over. We had a lovely work colleague who spoke to us for 5 minutes about her experience with breast cancer and how it affected her family. Her advice to us was that if we know anyone going through cancer, or those who have family members going through cancer, remember to reach out; to ask how they are going, because it could mean a lot to them.

Then, we dug right in! I was stoked to have a pleasant buzz of chatter going on during the event, as this was not only a fundraiser but also a chance for work colleagues to connect.

Overall, we made $257 for the foundation, and I am rather proud of it! It was so simple to host – I asked a few people to bring some food (and I provided some myself), I set up a pink-themed table, I organised a speaker and let people know where to donate! I definitely recommend doing a Pink ribbon event next year, if you are able to.


There were two things that I enjoyed making for this event. First, were the ‘thank you’ bags. The NZBCF sends you a mixture of pens, keychains and badges to give to those who donated. I put one of these and an information pamphlet into a bag, along with a homemade cookie as a thank you. The cookies were super easy to make (find the recipe here). And the icing? Well, let’s just say I need a bit of practice! After a few mishaps, they eventually did turn out well.  I then got them sealed and placed an ingredients sticker on the outside.

The other thing I enjoyed making for the event were some gluten-free chocolate covered pretzels (you can check out a picture of them above). I got the pretzels from the supermarket and all I did was dip half of the pretzel into melted white chocolate that was mixed with some Misty Day Pitaya powder.

A Quiet Reflection

During the first month of being ill, the pain was unbearable and the hospital visits became extremely tedious, so I’m rather grateful for the position I’m currently in. I can walk more freely with my crutches, spend at least 9 hours of the day out of bed and can put my clothes on without having to sit down (well, most of the time). It really is the small things that count!

My arthritis is still very much alive, however, and I’m having to battle the physical and emotional consequences of that daily. I’m taking an average of 18 pills per day and I’m seriously over it. The medication I’m on causes horrible side effects, where it becomes harder to function and I’m currently living every day as it comes, not knowing what part of my body will hurt next or whether or not I’ll wake up with a headache and feeling nauseous.

Becoming ill has certainly changed my life. With the surplus hours I’ve spent lying in bed, I’ve had time to reflect on my life, thinking about who and what is important to me. I’m having to live life at a slower pace as well and take things as they come. This illness has certainly tested my patience and the patience of those around me.

I recently asked to change roles at my work. It’s a decision I didn’t make lightly, but one that I think is best for my health and best for those who work with me (especially the ones who have been helping out with tasks I’m unable to perform at the moment). I am so grateful for my workplace. The organisation I work for, along with those I work with, are amazing. Everyone has been immeasurably compassionate and flexible with me, making sure I put my health first where needed, being understanding of my shortened hours and finally, my request for a role change has been accepted.

I am also so grateful for my friends. ‘Hard times will always reveal true friends’ is a saying that rings quite true at the moment. It’s funny how something like this would shed so much light on the relationships that I have, making some stronger and some not so much. I’m so grateful for having friends who check up on me, pick me up because I still can’t drive yet, make plans with me even though I’m limited in what I can do and generally show that they care about my wellbeing.

And finally, I am so grateful for my family. I wouldn’t know what to do without them! They have been so supportive, especially my mum who drives me everywhere, rubs my sore joints and cooks me delicious food. It’s hard to live with someone who is unable to function completely without help and I appreciate all the extra effort my family make to help make my life a bit easier.

My hope is that as these negative side effects are emerging, that underneath, slowly the life-changing positive side effects are working their magic too. I’ll be seeing my rheumatologist in about a month, and she’ll be able to tell me whether or not things are truly improving!

I’ll finish with this:

You just do it. You force yourself to get up. You force yourself to put one foot before the other, and God damn it, you refuse to let it get to you. You fight. You cry. You curse. Then you go about the business of living. That’s how I’ve done it. There’s no other way. – Elizabeth Taylor