The rest cure

Do you know what? I didn’t realise the rest cure was an actual thing? I imagined it was just a generic term for enforced taking it easy, which is what’s happened to me since early January, thanks to an operation. I say thanks and I really mean thanks. And no, I haven’t got Munchausen’s Syndrome, “a psychiatric factitious disorder wherein those affected feign disease, illness, or psychological trauma to draw attention, sympathy, or reassurance to themselves.”

(Factitious? A new adjective for Donald Trump? No, too kind.)

Here’s me at the moment:

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Why the thanks for a (painful) operation? (Is there any other sort?) Because I am completely hopeless about stepping back and saying no to commitments. It’s harder for me, takes more discipline for me, to take a rest cure than it is to carry on. I’m always telling myself I should do it – but never quite seem to manage it.

I spend money on self-help books like:

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…which I never quite seem to have the time to read…

 

For years, YEARS, I have been schedule-driven in a crazy way, thinking I must adhere to a timetable in order to get everything done. My alarm is set for the following times: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday: 6.15 am. Friday – 5.15 am. Sunday – the Big Lie In – 7.15 am.

I leap out of bed (or crawl out of bed) and start on a list of tasks too many and too mundane to mention here involving family, dogs, horses, chickens, pigeons and doves, work, domestic duties, networking, writing, university, seminars, activism of various sorts. Just a normal sort of schedule really BUT…

  • I’m tired all the time
  • Joy has gone out of my life
  • Creativity? What creativity?
  • Things I enjoy doing have become a chore
  • I can’t be that pleasant to be around

Here’s something Maya Angelou wrote in Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now:

“Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” 

Here’s something I wrote:

“One day is not enough.”

So – back to the rest cure. It was devised in the late 1800s by Silas Weir Mitchell, an American neurologist, to treat hysteria, neurasthenia and other nervous illnesses. (Yes, I often descend into hysteria.) Since my operation, until recently I’ve been (mostly) confined to bed; I’m not allowed to do anything at all strenuous, like lifting a kettle (ha!) and I’m not allowed to drive. If following Weir Mitchell’s rest cure regime to the letter, I would be fed “a fatty, milk-based diet, force-fed if necessary – effectively reduced to the dependency of an infant.” Thank goodness husband Peter didn’t read that bit! He’s been absolutely tremendous.

I HAVE RESTED. What’s more, my mind has rested, for the first time in forever. It was actually quite scary at first, not being able to do all those distraction activities that kept me from…thinking too much? There was a massive hole where chaotic mind used to live.

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The Chaotic Mind by MDK-Fractal (Deviant Art)

Hello, zen-like calm. Hello creativity. Thank you, operation. Thank you, rest cure.

My final words:

“Stay alert at all times, alert to any opportunity for rest.” (As miaowed by Ulysses Brave in The Wit and Wisdom of Cats and Kittens)

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Out of clutter, find simplicity.

Said Einstein. And Wendell Berry said, ‘“Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.”

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Yes, New Year. A sort of resolution. Clear out the clutter in my study. Actually, first clear out Peter’s clutter in my study (once his) so I have more room for my own clutter…

In doing so, I came across all my university files and very, VERY nearly threw them onto the bonfire of the vanities.

But not quite.

I just couldn’t bring myself do it. Let me see, these are now forty years old or thereabouts. When am I ever going to need an essay entitled ‘Which novel seems the more prurient in attitude to sexual love, Moll Flanders or Clarissa?’ or ‘Pope’s ability to convey feeling in verse,’ or some notes on Plato’s Republic, named,  by me, ‘Ever Such A Jolly Brief Summary.’ (Plainly, I’ve hardly matured at all!)

These files are indubitably clutter but they represent three of the happiest most carefree years of my life, spent at the University of Liverpool (English and Philosophy, Joint Hons.)

I started reading the comments after the essays. Anything to avoid my self-imposed clutter-ridding exercise…

Hmmm…

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This, about William Faulkner, was from my absolute heroine, American Studies tutor, Hermione Lee. I’m blushing with unseemly pride.

But…oh look, B Minus Minus (How on earth is that extra minus designated?) on Tamburlaine… apparently I write ‘fluently – too fluently, one feels’? Hee hee hee! Whoever this tutor was…not a heroine, obviously.

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And lookie here! The cover of my D.H. Lawrence notebook…those EEEEEEEs in creep are unmistakably Peter’s writing. No-one writes an E like Peter does. Thanks, Peter. Supportive even then!

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So how can I throw all  this away?

It would be like throwing away myself.

Caroline’s Awfully Big Adventure

An Awfully Big Adventure.

Not starring Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman.

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But ME.

Flying on my own…

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Image by Maia Fiore

 

Well, not quite on my own, I hope,  as I’ll be in an aeroplane…

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Like this one, only going in the opposite direction. Left, that is. Towards Canada.

My Big Adventure will take me to beautiful Vancouver Airport (and how many airports can have beautiful in the same sentence, unless accompanied by the word NOT?)

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Along the Sea-Sky Highway…

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To Whistler

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Sublime place (I was going to say beautiful again!)

To see my lovely little family…Laurie, Irene and Tilly.

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At the top of the Shard, January 2014

 

and my fantastic daughter-in-law, Breanna.

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I shall be in Mummy and Granny heaven!

I’m blessed.

One Awfully Big Adventure for one Awfully Excited Caroline.

Must remember passport, must remember which terminal, must get to Gatwick Very Early because of the security alerts…very early for me is RIDICULOUSLY early for anyone else…in fact, I should probably set out right now…

 

May be or May be not…

“And a bird overhead sang Follow,
And a bird to the right sang Here;
And the arch of the leaves was hollow,
And the meaning of May was clear.” 

Not clear to me, Algernon Swinburne. Not clear to me.

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“Hebe’s here, May is here! The air is fresh and sunny; And the miser-bees are busy Hoarding golden honey.
Thomas Bailey

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That was yesterday. We were blessed. My dear friend Tessa’s 60th birthday garden party. Outside. In the garden. In the sunshine. With no rain.

And today?

“But winter lingering chills the lap of May.” Oliver Goldsmith

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It’s very British, isn’t it? Changeable weather, and also talking about the changeable weather, but…

May, PLEASE. I’m talking to you…

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Thank you.

Thou hast had thy day, old dame

 Yes, I’m feeling a bit on the old (er) side lately, thank you very much, Sir Walter Scott.

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“…but thy sun has long been set. Thou art now the very emblem of an old warhorse turned out on the barren heath; thou hast had thy paces in thy time, but now a broken amble is the best of them.”

Well, cheers. That made me feel a whole lot better. Old warhorse, my arse.  Broken amble indeed!

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(Even if he’s right.)

The thing is, I’m not as young as I used to be. And isn’t that the most ridiculous, trite statement in the world? I’m not as young as I used to be ten seconds ago. Three seconds ago.

I ache from top to toe.

Why am I surprised?

On Tuesday, we climbed up and down four mountains. It took eight and a half hours. I already had a damaged lateral collateral ligament from skiing. I knew before I set out that even to attempt it was A Bad Idea.

Snowdon Horseshoe from the south by David Barnes

Snowdon Horseshoe from the south by David Barnes

 

I say ‘Bad Idea’ – it was a Bad Idea for my old(ish) body but a completely stunning and wonderful idea for my Very Young Spirit.

As Peter said, I’m stubborn to the point of insanity. And for that, I’m glad. Apart from the after-math.

On top of Snowdon, mountain number three, it would have been sensible to come down the easy way and forget about Y Lliwedd.

We’d said we’d do the whole horseshoe on Peter’s sixtieth birthday. I wasn’t going to give up. We were having such fun, anyway! (Knees excepted)

“From the foot of Y Lliwedd looking up at the route ahead it does look like quite foreboding but the path zigzags its way up the ridge with ease through the boulders and scree and reaches the summit sooner than you would expect.”

WRONG!

But oh, the sense of achievement when we’d finished!

And now, I should stop moaning and whinging about all the aches and pains and getting old and…

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I AM SO VERY LUCKY TO BE ALIVE AND HEALTHY

 

Life without electronic gadgets.

North Wales scoffs at electronic gadgets! (Well, the part I was staying in certainly did.)

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Here, for three days,  I had no phone signal at all – even on top of mountains where I’d have thought the little phone signal birds could have flown freely.

Here, at the hotel, there was a computer in the games room, with a satellite connection, I was told – but the hoops to jump through to get it all together, and the service speed (lack of) made the effort hardly seem worthwhile.

Other electronic gadgets usually present in a hotel these days were conspicuous by their absence. No kettle or teasmade in the bedrooms. (You could order early morning tea.) No hair dryer. (There were towels.) No fancy little safe with electronic keypad for your valuables – in fact, most rooms don’t even have a lock and key. (It didn’t seem risky leaving anything lying about.) No flat screen TV. No TV at all, actually. (We talked. Read. Listened to the radio, sometimes, which is a tiny bit electronic, I admit, though we did have to wiggle the aerial constantly to get decent-ish reception.)

Not that a swimming pool is an electronic gadget – but there was none. (There was a lake, with handy life-belt on the side.)

Dinner was announced with a gong.

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Something like this.

Even the sat nav in Peter’s car went a little weird, convinced we were driving through the middle of a lake – Lyn Gerrionyd – at one point. (We weren’t!)

Did I suffer from electronic gadgets withdrawal symptoms?

No, actually, I didn’t. This surprised even me. I would have anticipated at least a nervous tic or possibly a full-blown panic attack with accompanying hyperventilation.

The only thing I would have liked was the knowledge, beforehand, that I’d be out of contact with the known world for three days, then I could have warned everyone. (I honestly thought that even if there were no wifi, I’d get emails and messages on my smart-phone – but I didn’t.)

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Being without these electronic gadgets was FINE. I find it far more distressing having them available and then they don’t work.

I read a lot. We talked to each other, me and Peter.

‘Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards,’ said Aldous Huxley.

I had the BEST of times.

Off to deepest darkest Wales

Burning question:

Does Wales have internet facilities?

(Only joking!)

But it might not EVERYWHERE what with the hills and so on.

First, we’re going to Bodnant Welsh Food Centre…

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To look at the bee-keeping and learn to cook daffodils Welsh food…

Then on to our beloved Pen-Y-Gwryd Hotel.

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And from there, we’ll climb the Snowdon Horsehoe…

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Weather in Wales permitting…

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Because 60 is too young to die, eh, Peter?

Hello, Wales.

Only one shopping day left ’til tomorrow

Well, at least today’s not Good Friday or Easter Sunday…

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“In an article about Tesco on the BBC news, Easter was described as ‘an important date in the shopping calendar’. In the context, I understand why – but purlease! Easter is an important date in the Christian calendar. Rant over.”  Yes, Libby, I share your opinion, even though I’m more of a humanist than a church-attending Christian, these days.

So – today Peter and I went shopping to Brighton, to purchase a new pair of walking boots for him, ready for the Great Expedition to Snowdownia. Peter’s old walking boots, circa 1903, were something like this:

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And do you know how many outdoor clothing and footwear shops there are in Brighton?

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I think it’s about three hundred.

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And do you know how many we visited? (Some of them more than once)

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I think it was three hundred and two.

And do you know how many pairs of walking boots Peter tried on?

I think it was ninety seven.

And do you know how many pairs of walking boots Peter bought?

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And do you know how much the parking in Brighton cost?

£18.20

Yes, EIGHTEEN POUNDS AND TWENTY PENCE for between 3 and 4 hours.

Peter might go shopping again on Monday.

This time.

Without me.

What’s the difference between a day off and an off day?

I say, I say! What IS the difference between a day off and an off day?

Nothing at all except brain patterns and attitude.

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Fiona Flap has spoken…

It’s funny. Not funny as in a joke. Funny how very easily the two can be transposed. A day off into an off day, when there’s no structure to keep you focused.

Here’s a real joke to make up for the last non-joke:

Me: “I say, I say! I’ve been studying marine science in the Indian Ocean.”

You: Seychelles?

Me: “Well, all the molluscs, really.”

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Don’t let your day off be an off day!

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With love from me.

“Good resolutions are like babies crying in church.”

“They should be carried out immediately.” ― Charles M. Sheldon

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Actually, I only semi-agree. Babies should be welcomed in church as far as possible – but resolutions SHOULD be carried out immediately.

SO – back from a wonderful holiday and that always seems like a good time to make resolutions – a natural interruption in daily life routines, a chance to reflect and share with friends, and opportunity to garner support.

There were ten of us in our skiing party and we have (already) formed a private Facebook group called Cervinia 5-2

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HOORAH!

…with the intention of taking on the 5-2 diet – either to lose weight, or regain more stamina and muscle tone.

We’ll also commit to whatever we decide in the area of a healthy lifestyle – exercise, for example.

It’s going to be such FUN to do it together – and so much more chance of success.

Work resolutions?

Well – today will be spent invoicing!

Before the holiday, I was so busy that I didn’t think I could afford the time to stop to write out, still less send,  invoices. This is Not Good. A time management problem, letting myself get into overwhelm, not valuing myself, brain patterns talking, not a reality.

Invoicing, then. That’s a good start.

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I often make vague resolutions like – “I want to spend more time on creative writing.” That’s too vague and wishy-washy so it never really happens.  I’m going to think about it and make SMART resolutions.

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And now I must get on!