Weather Changes and Autumn as a Spoonie

Welcome Autumn and my favourite time of the year. I adore September and October with their golden afternoons, the abundance of foods, and the cosier evenings. I don’t know about you but I don’t fair well in the heat, it exhausts me and the sun irritates my skin. Neither do I do well in the cold and damp, it makes my joints ache and my mood dip. Autumn, however, seems perfect. I love a crisp but sunny morning, or an afternoon wrapped up warm for a gentle walk.  But something else happens in Autumn that leaves us spoonies floored and I’m not sure quite what it is. I’ve thought through a few of my theories here to try and come up with a Spoonie’s Guide to Autumn.

Weather Changes

So every time a season changes we find ourselves having to adapt. I find at these changing points I’m forever saying ‘we’re just not used to this heat/ cold/ darker nights/ humidity/ damp’ (the list goes on). Yes us Brits like to talk/ moan incessantly about the weather, but I’m sure there’s more to it, especially for us hypersensitive beings. And it seems there is actually proof of this.

Auto Immune I remember my clinic lead, Professor Fortune, telling me that changes in season affect bodies on a cellular level and it seems there is some proof. The BBC has a couple of brilliant articles on this. The first looks at facts behind the myths such as:

  • Rain gives you rheumatism – the answer is maybe but theres no conclusive evidence, its more likely power of the mind.
  • Falling air pressure is a pain in the head – I’m migraine queen aka the human barometer so I swear this is true and one study from Japan seems to suggest its true

The second article is much more focused on an in depth study on how temperature change affects our genes and immunology. In brief an international team of researchers conducted a study, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to look at how this happens. They “found genes involved with immunity – the body’s defence against infection – were more active in cold months. And while this helps fight off viruses such as flu, it may trigger or worsen conditions, such as arthritis, where the body attacks itself, they say.” 

The study examined how this happens on a genetic level and found that when looking at genes “a quarter showed clear signs of seasonal variation”. The genes that were of most interest included ones associated with immunity and inflammation. Interestingly it wasn’t the degree of cold that was initiating the changes but the temperature changes themselves as ‘During cold, winter months – December to February for people living north of the equator and June to August for those in the southern hemisphere – these genes were more active. When they studied people living close to the equator, where the temperatures are fairly high all year round, they noticed a different pattern. Immunity and inflammation was linked to the rainy season, when diseases such as malaria are more rife.” A change is temperature is all that is needed to trigger flare ups as it directly affect the cells and ‘that increase in inflammation could now be a risk factor for diseases of modern life’ Prof John Todd, Study author. Big stuff hey?

Viruses and other factors are also linked to an increase in symptoms and flare ups for Spoonies. Many reasons have been given to why this season is prime cold and flu season. Maybe it is because we stay indoors more, have more close contact with each other or beginning of university and schools terms mean more people mixing. One thing is for certain and thats for those, like me, who take immuno-suppressants the exposure to viruses, infection and bacteria is a headache all in itself. Immuno-suppresants mean that, surprise surprise, our immune systems are suppressed and do not work as well in fighting things off. So don’t be offended if you have a cold and I  instantly grab for the hand gel. Getting a cold or virus also can trigger a flare up, even if we don’t fully develop the original cold. I get far less colds than other people but my body knows if I’ve come into contact with one. Unfortunately my immune system just cannot tell the difference between the things its supposed to be attacking and my own body. At the recent Behçets Syndrome Society conference in Bristol, Professor Fortune said that she has a date in October circled on the calendar every year for when they have to open up loads of emergency appointment slots as so many of us flare.

So how can we deal with all of this? My answer is be prepared as you can and a little acceptance.

The Nature Communications study above concluded that as well as a genetic change “diseases and other factors, such as nutrition and stress, could affect how genes function.” So lets build some of these into the survival guide.

How to embrace and survive Autumn

Autumn Activities – Try some of these spoonie friendly adventures to help with wellbeing

  1. Get outdoors. Take a visit to somewhere you can take in all the beauty of nature and how dramatically its changing at this time of year. Do what you can, you don’t have to hike for miles across farmland and forests to appreciate the changing landscape. You could take a car ride, visit a city park or sit in the last of the warm sunny days in your garden. Boosting vitamin d levels at this time of year can really help with the impending winter blues too.
  2. Get crafty. There are so many things that are nice to make as we want to spend more time being cosy indoors.
    • This month I am making a wonderful leaf garland, inspired by Hannah at Seeds and Stitches
    • I am embroidering fabrics in preparation for Christmas presents. If you are like me and like to hand make your Christmas presents, start now so you don’t put pressure on yourself.
  3. Get Cosy and warm and hermit without guilt. Get out blankets and hot water bottles ready for colder evenings. Give them a wash and some care before they do into their full winter sofa bound days. Enjoy activities that are away from screens (save those Netflix binges for sick days). Non screen time is much better for you and there are things that can occupy you. I’ve just found a new love for jigsaw puzzles!
  4. An Autumn Feast – Wow there’s food aplenty at this time of year, especially after a long hot summer, heres how to make the most of it. Enjoy homegrown fruits and vegetables. If you’re like me and have a garden then at the moment you’re probably overrun by crops such as tomatoes. When I’ve had the energy I have been picking them in droves and jarring them as passata. A basic recipe can be found here and its easily adapted to include herbs and spices you’ve grown too.
    1. Get to a local food festival and treat yourself to something scrummy. Food festivals re great at finding a huge variety of foods and you’re more likely to come across diet friendly snacks too. Ive been to two in the past three weeks including a chilli festival!
    2. Go on a forage. From September onwards, you can pick a huge amount for free from forests and hedgerows. Pick fruits such as elderberries, blackberries, rose hips and more. I turned my elders into a vitamin c boost spiced syrup and my hips and chillies into a spiced jelly. Theres also other treasures to be found like sloes, bullaces, crab apples, cob nuts, sweet chestnuts, mushrooms and fungi… just remember to only harvest them if you are 100% sure you know what they are!

Autumn is transition, change and drama. In slow living it’s the time to prepare for what’s ahead. Don’t rush it, save your spoons, enjoy the beauty and prepare for the winter ahead.

To find out more about things mentioned in this post visit…

Happy New Year with Bullet Journaling

So last year I made New Year’s resolutions then as you may know ‘life got in the way’. I have a habit of starting things and not finishing them, I carry a lot of guilt about it. Partly it’s my personality and getting excited about the next new shiny thing that comes along, dropping the old boring thing I started. It’s also having multiple chronic illnesses which tend to dump on everything. Oh, and then that life bit, I’m not the luckiest soul and 2016 was an absolute shocker!

So this year I debated on whether I should do the whole resolutions thing again. I thought about making things realistic, or achievable. But that’s just not me, I need to be interested and excited and reach for the sky. The difference is how I react when I come thudding back down to earth.

Last year I dabbled with some Bullet Journaling and wanted to continue with a brand new journal for 2017. For various reasons I’ve always shied away from journaling ing and committing to paper. A Bullet Journal was the ideal balance between a to-do list and a diary for me. I began with a basic journal based on this article and bulletjournal.com.

So on the 1st I made an Amazon list of fancy pens and a new Moleskine notebook, and then realised I was falling into my old habit of overspending. So I raided my art materials and as predicted had lots of beautiful materials already to work with.

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So here is what I did:

  1. I left a page spare at the front for my index/ contents. Every page is numbered in a bullet journal and every entry is logged on this page.IMG_3635.JPG
  2. I turned the page and thought about 2017 and brain dumped all the hopes and needs onto the page. I didn’t limit myself, I just poured my heart out…IMG_3638.JPG
  3. Next I looked at the ‘cloud of words’ and put them into categories. I wrote them as a list then made these into columns on how much time and effort I wanted to put into them. ‘Being secure’ is at the top of my list, unsurprisingly, as at the moment I feel so insecure. I colour coded them so I could later see how much time per week I was dedicating.Processed with VSCO with t1 preset
  4. I took each category and thought about how I could achieve them. Theres lots of cross overs and you’ll see in the pictures one category feeds another.Processed with VSCO with t1 preset
  5. Into my life, which is chaotic at the best of time, I wanted to introduce a routine. So I began with an easy morning routine to follow everyday. I aim to create a bedtime one soon to go with it. 
  6. I then divided the activities from earlier on into my first to-do list of 2017. This I divided into ‘one off tasks’ and ‘repetitive tasks’ that happen daily or weekly.Processed with VSCO with t1 preset
  7. I then added a year planner to be able to see the whole year month by month.Processed with VSCO with t1 preset
  8. Finally I delved into January. One page for the whole month day by day. Then I transferred items from the 2017 to-do list into the monthly one
  9. Finally I drew out the week by week journal and added a key. I also included a space for tracking my health and daily gratitude. My key is the same as the standard bullet journal key
    • X = Task Complete
    • > = Task Migrated
    • < = Task Scheduled
    • o = Event
    • – = Note
    • * = Priority
    • ! = Inspiration
    • Eye = Explore

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  10. It sounds complex and labour intensive, and in a way it is. But I think it’s worth it to have a practical journal that works for me. I already love and treasure my 2016 journal, as painful as the moments were that fed it. 

I know there are many prettier examples out there, but mine is mine and works for me!

Finally I read a chapter today about beginning a new project or learning something new:

‘In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in an experts there are few.’ Suzuki Roshi in Pema Chodron’s ‘The Places That Scare You’.

Chodron goes onto say that we all begin somewhere and at every stage of learning or activity we should  be ‘open, flexible and kind’. Resolutions should not be absolute but ever shifting guides to help us learn or steer us. Our life is an experiment and we are not born as experts. She concludes:

‘At the end of activity, whether we feel we have succeeded or failed in our intention, we seal the act by thinking of others, of those who are succeeding or failing all over the world. We wish that anything we learned in our experiment could also benefit them.’

So I’ll be doing just that, learning from the process and not judging myself on the results. I will also share this latest adventure with you…

Photography Lesson #1

You may remember that a while ago I asked for people to donate or exchange creative skills with me. I wrote a post all about the adventures I would like to go on. You can read it here.

On Saturday morning I was lucky enough to be offered a beginners lesson in using my camera with Pete Fry.

We got up early, wrapped up warm and headed off to Seasalter. I love the beach in winter with it’s washed out colours. It was a misty morning across the marshland and perfect for some beginner shots.

Pete patiently explained how to use the exposure, shutter speed and ISO on my camera. I just experimented with what worked and what didn’t. How to make changes to get more interesting shots. I still have a lot to learn!

Its just a start but here are my 6 fave shots from the morning.

crisisbreakerscloudsedith-hutgrassesdogs-and-huts

Thanks to Pete for his patience and insights. If you would like to swap or donate me a creative experience please contact me below:

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Flowers in December

Oh, oh, oh my heart. Mazzy Star so beautiful. I want to ride into the night on the back of a bike, go sit somewhere open and stare at the stars just because. I’d share an earphone, feeling the warmth of you next to me whilst listening to this. Hands, noses and lips cold, cheeks flushed pink. And I never thought I was a romantic. 

Before I let you down again
I just want to see you in your eyes
I would have taken everything out on you
I only thought you could understand

They say every man goes blind in his heart
And they say everybody steals somebody’s heart away
And I’ve got nothing more to say about it
Nothing more than you would me

Send me your flowers of your December
Send me your dreams of your candy wine
I got just one thing I can’t give you
Just one more thing of mine

They say every man goes blind in his heart
They say everybody steals somebody’s heart away
And I’ve been wondering why you let me down
And I been taking it all for granted