Things I am looking forward to this year

I am looking forward to the following things this year. These are just some of the things, but there is more I have planned than listed.

  • Continuing with my learning journey.
  • Visiting Bluebells at Kew.
  • See more of Newark.
  • Writing, at my other blog; Miley’s Cat Time.
  • Maintaining my health.
  • Shadowing Healthcare Assistants.
What plans do you have, for this year?

My learning

This is what my table mostly looks like, when studying.

studying books on dining table

My dining table started looking like this when I first took my GCSE English lessons. My GCSE English exam results in the summer of 2015 were not what I was originally aiming for and so I chose to re-sit my reading and writing exam paper. But the results last November remained the same grade. Many will know I was gutted the first time round, as I was feeling confident then. But the second time, I did not get my hopes up.
Although I did not get the grade C I was after, looking at the breakdown of my individual marks for my reading and writing papers, I noticed I had improved from before. So this is the positive part I remind myself of, that at least I improved.
The other positive part is the friends I made from my English class. We keep in touch and meet up when we can, which I look forward to.

I plan to hopefully one day do GCSE English again, as getting that C is a personal goal of mine. But first, I am getting the foundation levels of Maths out of the way. I have already taken my Foundation level 1 and await the results. I also have my name down for the next level, which will be starting at some point soon.

I have books I am reading in my own time that I hope will help me with my grammar and creative writing skills, as well as other things related to writing. Most, if not all, will prepare me when I one day do that GCSE English again.
I also have a GCSE Maths book. Originally, I had no intentions to go as far as GCSE level in Maths, but I have thought about it. But I shall see later on that one.

My healthy eating, continued…

To follow on from my post, ‘Do you read food labels?’ I thought I’d write this post to share what has helped me.

Understanding food labels 

To understand food labels on packets and tins, there will be times that you have to work out the salt, fat, sugar and saturates, as not all packets and tins have the red, amber and green indicators to help you quickly decide. But if you take the time to work it out, it will be all worth it in the end.

To make it easier for yourself, use the food label decoder, like the one below. I printed this off the British Heart Foundation website, by downloading the ‘Eating Well’ booklet at the end of their page. I laminated it and I have this in my purse, so it is always to hand. (I printed off two of these booklets, so I had a complete booklet to refer to, as it has useful information in there.)

food label decoder

I also signed up with ‘Change for life,’ when they started doing sugar swaps and since this, there has been other different information that I refer to from time to time, that they send via email, or from when I visit their website.

Planning what I eat 

I asked some of my Facebook friends if they planned what they eat. Most of my friends said they planned for the week ahead, in what they were going to eat. I have never done this myself, with it just being me and no one else to plan with. So tips were shared on how they planned. I thought I’d give it a go and started with a weekly menu on A4 size paper. I did not include my snacks on it, but I knew what snacks I’d have come mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

Breakfast time I mostly have cereals, as this is quick for me. I’d have something like Weetabix, porridge, or shredded wheat, which I change from one day to the next. This would follow by a piece of fruit.
I have also started recently having overnight oats, so this has made a change to what I usually eat and it is filling.

Lunch is where my meals are bigger, than dinner. This is because with me working till late and not long before I go to bed when I get home, the last thing I want is something heavy on my stomach. It also makes me last through my shift at work, so I don’t feel hungry too much.
Only meat I have is chicken, rest of time I have fish or something else, to make a meal.

I am known to snack mid afternoon, more than any other time. This can be sometimes boredom, than being peckish. I always make sure that I have fruit, or nuts to hand. Sometimes I will have carrot and cucumber sticks, to dip into houmous.

I mainly have semi-skimmed milk, but occasionally I have soya milk too. But that is a personal choice, than a reason behind it. I don’t add sugar to tea or coffee, but this is nothing new, as I have been doing this since I was a teen.

Since I have started planning my meal ahead, the only thing that has changed now, is that I don’t write the menu on A4, instead I write in a notebook. I include my snacks in this.

Your nurse is a good place to go too

Seeing your nurse about healthy eating is a good place to go, which was something I did, to make sure all I had read, I understood well and what I was personally doing, was correct.

As well as healthy eating, being active also plays a part in staying healthy. I have an exercise bike in the living room, so I can go on this while watching TV. I do 30 minutes, three times a week, along with Pilates at least once a week and I walk where I can.

Related post:

My counselling sessions – Part 2 of 2

(Content Warning: mental health, childhood trauma I witnessed of cruelty to my dog, emotional abuse.)

This year, in February, was my next lot of counselling to focus on things from childhood.
My first appointment was assessment first, (like all counsellors do, to give you the right type of counselling.) Also, to see what I will want to talk about, how I feel, (filling in form for how I’ve been 2 weeks prior) and what I expect to get out of my counselling sessions.
At the end of my assessment, I shown my counsellor my letter to Dad, that the previous counsellor suggested to me to write. This was so the counsellor could see at a glance what I experienced and how I felt. I told her I had not read it since writing it, but I planned to at some point before burning it. It was probably because of the flashbacks I was having, for avoiding it. Counsellor checked I had a grounding technique for when I get these flashbacks, which I did, that my previous counsellor gave. She reminded me not to push myself and read it when I am ready.
The weeks to follow, I mainly talked about my Dad, how he was good with other people’s kids, but not his own and trying to understand how he could not be like that with me. There were times me and my Dad would laugh and have fun, but sometimes, something would happen to spoil it.

What I can thank my Dad for

Sense with my own money, because I had no pocket money from my parents as a kid. (Unless I drawn out the bingo ticket at the end of the night. from the barrel.)
My Mum wanted to give me pocket money, but my Dad said no, saying they could not afford it. (But he could go to the pub everyday and night.)

Christmas through to the New Year was always good. I wish the rest of the year could have been the same. (Presents need not be included.)

For Dad encouraging me to make notes from wildlife programmes I watched. He bought me a hard-backed notebook to write my notes up in neat, that I learnt from them. I thought it was a great idea he suggested and this is the only memory of encouragement I have, that he gave me.

When it came to sweets, I could only have half the amount. (This was his idea of saving money, not for health benefits.) So for example, a tube of smarties would have to last for 2 days. A Kit Kat of four fingers would also have to last 2 days. But as an adult, I thank him for that, as I probably would not have had healthy teeth as I have.

My Dad revealed he used to listen to my music while I was at school and I would show an interest in some of his. I felt with this and watching films with him, we shared an interest. I felt I knew my Dad better than my Mum because of this. It seems strange how I had this bond, yet at the same time, fear of my Dad.

What I don’t thank my Dad for

Fear is the first thing that comes to mind when talking about what my Dad was like in my childhood.

For the cruelty I witness as a kid, that he did to my dog, Brin. Naturally, I screamed and cried as a kid, telling him to stop. On one occasion he turned round to me, swearing, saying if I did not shut up, I would get it as well. (Hit me with shovel.) I really believed he would do it and my view does not change on this. It was hard trying not to scream or cry when I heard the dog yelp. Those are the flashbacks I hear, since last year. But they are getting less powerful to me now. Ground techniques help, if I get them. But should they ever get troublesome, I have been told of treatment I could get that would help.

For thinking I was a liar, when I was ill. I would have understood if I was a kid that skived from school. But I wasn’t. I would not have dared, because of my Dad.

It’s a good job he is not alive

This might sound horrible, but it is a god job he is not alive. If he had been, I would have reported him for the behaviour towards me, Mum and my dog.
After experiencing similar things in my first relationship that my Mum had with my Dad, its at that point I would not have been scared of my Dad and I would have approached him about what he had done.

Counselling has helped to get rid of anger, has made me calm and I have found I don’t react to certain things in a way I would have done. I feel at my best than I have ever been.
Although my counselling has ended, which I decided after 3 weeks was the right time for me to end it, there are a couple of things I still need to do in my own time. By the time I have done that, maybe in a later post, when that time comes, I finally can say I have let go.

Related post:

Book review: ‘A Student’s Guide to the Deaf Experience,’ by Michelle Jay.

For those that have known me for some time, either personally, or through my previous blog, you will know I had a good experience of participating in this book. This is the only thing, deaf-related personally to me, that I will share here on, ‘My Wellbeing and Learning Journey.’
      This book review I originally shared on my previous blog, which has been edited slightly to reflect the time of how long ago I did this.
Front cover of A Student's Guide to the Deaf Experience

“A Student’s Guide to the Deaf Experience,” by Michelle Jay, is a mixture of  stories from deaf and hard of hearing people.

      This book is also something that I also took part in myself, after being asked by Michelle if I would like to take part. I share my story in this book on page 111, called ‘The Highs and Lows.’ This was just over 3 years ago, but it doesn’t feel it and it was a positive experience I am proud of.
      It was also nice to see when reading this book, of finding out that some of my friends submitted their stories. As well as reading other familiar, or new blogger’s too. I had no idea my best friend Sarah, from Speak Up Librarian had taken part, till this book was published. So it was nice seeing and reading her story in there too.
This book was created to equip ASL students, but this book is a great read for anyone.
      My Mum has read this book and bought another for her Sister. She has also shown my story to her friends, as any proud Mum would. Some of them who know me well, did not realise to the extent how my hearing loss affected me, till they read my story.

This book is a great deaf awareness book for all and is available at Amazon.co.uk.

I needed to face it

Yesterday via Facebook, I seen the following words that Tiny Buddha shared.

“Whatever pain from your past you’ve tried to outrun, you can’t avoid it forever. It will follow you until you face it and work through it.” ~Celina Murillo

(See more in this link at Tiny Buddha, for the above.)

This is so true. The minute I left school, I always said I’d never look back and I didn’t. I wanted to forget the bullies at school, as well as things from home.

I have had quite a few different counselling sessions for different reasons in my adult life. But it was from the counselling sessions before last Christmas where things really got uncovered. Things that were affecting me now, from my childhood. Some things blocked, until the stone was turned and I realised that how I was in some way now, was my past affecting me.

During and since my counselling has finished, I have seen and felt how calm I am now. How I don’t let things bother me as I did before. This has been my best I have ever been.

Although my counselling has finished, there are things I still have to do. But these, I can only do myself, using the tools my counsellor gave me.

Small steps, but I am still moving forward.

Learning to have a "can-do" attitude

About two years ago, I shadowed Physiotherapy Assistants in my own time at a local hospital, to see what their job entails. I only knew what they do from a patient perspective and I wanted to find out more.
I started doing some shadowing work after first contacting the department by letter, enquiring that if I decided that this role was for me, I wanted to see that what I was currently doing and planning to do, would put me on the right path of showing interest in this work. I was advised to do some shadow work, where I could see and have a chat with the assistants. If I was interested, I was given an email where I could arrange this.

First day of shadowing

My first day of shadowing work, I spent a day seeing four areas, so some areas I had a couple of hours and some not quite. Two areas in the morning and two areas in the afternoon.

The first area I went on, I knew the area already and knew I would not cope because of it being a very busy area and noisy. It’s a situation I normally find I cannot get out quick enough in panic. As I spent a couple of hours there straining to listen, with some lipreading and feeling really tired towards the end from the concentration of listening and taking in what I was being shown, I found myself surprisingly calm.

When it was time to go to the next area, it was much calmer and so I found myself I was able to completely relax and ease up on the concentration of listening, with it being much easier to listen to the next assistant I had. She shown me the job she does on there and I started to fully enjoy what I was seeing.

The first area in the afternoon I went on, after being on there about half an hour, I really started to see myself on there. I kept saying to myself, I can do this. This surprised me., as I could not tell you the last time I had a can-do attitude, but right now, I was feeling positively strong with it.

The last area I went on in the afternoon, I enjoyed too. I did not dislike, but I wasn’t sure if I could see myself on there.

More shadow work

Later on, I arranged more shadowing work, but this time a full day shadowing two areas I was interested in. I came away still liking the one where my can-do attitude started and I also liked the other area too.

Having a full day on one particular, the assistant really worked with me, to make sure I got a good day out of it. There was time before lunch and before end of shift, so she took me to one side and we went somewhere quieter so she could tell me of a folder I could create for myself, called a CPD ( Continuing Professional Development.) With her getting to know me better for having a day shadowing her, knowing my before and now, she thought that if I created myself a CPD, it would be really interesting to do because of the transformation this shadowing work has gave me. I have certainly took up her advice and working on this folder, which she explained what to include in it and shown me where I could look this up on works intranet. I won’t explain in detail what this folder contains, as this post would be really long.

Through some shadowing days I have had so far, getting to see their roles and asking questions has really opened my eyes for me, including on a personal level.
I discussed with quite a few of the assistants where I would not manage doing this job and they all told me the same thing, of not to worry. If I am suitable for the job, they would work around me. If I can’t phone, where a phone may be used at odd times, someone else would do that part. The Trust would work around this.

I was so grateful  to be able to shadow them, as on a whole it left me with some positive feeling. If you can get the chance to do this yourself, in trying out something, or shadowing like I did, that interests you, do see if you can take it up.

My counselling sessions – Part 1 of 2

(Content Warning: mental health, childhood trauma I witnessed of cruelty to my dog, emotional abuse.)

Last year, I had six sessions of counselling. I referred myself to this, because I was feeling really low through stressful situations at work.
These work situations I was trying to deal with head on, only to find I was getting nowhere. My stress and frustrations increased and my confidence in the end, disappeared. Whenever I was at work, I just did not feel myself. I also dreaded going in, having panic attacks prior, or while I was there.

Outside of work, I was losing motivation, feeling depressed and I had trouble sleeping, so I knew I had to refer myself for some counselling.
By the time I started counselling, I was already on antidepressants for my depression and anxiety. My doctor monitored me closely to start with, because the antidepressants I was on would take some weeks to work its way around my system.

In my counselling sessions I started to talk about work and how the situations there were making me feel. I also spoke about what was going on with my Mum, as I was getting concerned with her mental health, which then led to how my Mum was in my childhood. (She is a good Mum I’d like to add and still is. It was her mental health, how it was then.)
I then started talking about my Dad, what he was like when I was a child and how I was fearful of him. The way he treated me and my dog at times was very wrong. Wrong when I look back now, but very scary and traumatic as a kid. My counsellor gave me coping skills to try for flashbacks I was getting.

The rest of my counselling session was mainly about my Dad, but because I was only just scratching the surface and my counselling was coming to an end, my counsellor recommended I seek further counselling. Seeking further counselling meant that it could be approached slowly, as this needed to be tackled carefully without rushing. She felt that my past situations were now affecting my present, so if I felt comfortable for extra counselling, then to visit my doctors again. Which I did. My doctor gave me details of two counsellors I could refer myself to. This counselling session started this year. But I will talk about it in another post, so look out for part 2.

Related post:

My counselling sessions – Part 2 of 2

Do you read food labels?

Until last year in February, when I started my healthy eating plan, I did not look at food labels. Instead I would go about picking up my shopping, looking at the front of the packet and if I liked what I seen, I would then pop it into my shopping basket.
If I did look a little deeper, then it was just do look at the ingredients, to rule anything out that I did not want to eat. That was it! I did not look at salt content, etc…

I am not on a diet 

Now don’t get me wrong. This healthy eating I am doing is no way a diet. What I am doing, is a change for life and I care more about what I eat. I am not being to strict with myself, as I still have what I want, but in moderation. So sweets like chocolate and puddings, I only allow myself to have three times a week. Occasionally I had four sweets a week, but I now don’t do this.

The other change I have made is, I only mainly have Greek or natural yoghurt now, with sometimes Alpro plain yoghurt in between. When I have the Greek or natural style yoghurt, I have fruit mixed in with flaxseed and sometimes I will add sunflower seeds to it.

I also don’t drink alcohol anymore. It will be 2 years on 17th August, since I chose not to drink.

Before I changed the way I ate, I started off at 12 stone and as I write this, I am now 10½ stone.

Willpower 

My eating is much healthier than it has ever been, by making sure I do stick to having a cooked dinner that contains veg, even if I cannot be bothered to cook. I managed to mentally stick to this by creating a meal plan for the week. So on some down days I had, where I could not be bothered, by looking at that meal planner on my fridge every time I went into the kitchen, I was mentally telling myself, I am having that dinner. This worked for me.
This year, instead of having a meal planner on my fridge for the week, I now use a note pad to plan my weekly meals. I have it visible on my kitchen worktop, so it is still close to hand and visible.

I have always loved eating fruit, so having fruit in the home is no problem. But there is no point me buying sweet treats in advance, as I find I cannot resist. (With exception of chocolate wafers.

Some things are not healthy as they seem 

While paying attention to the food I eat, I have learnt that there is some food that is not as healthy as it seems. Food I have had, like a particular brand of yogurt for example, that I won’t name here, had too much sugar.
Another food I had for dinner, which was a ready prepared Chinese meal, had too much salt. Not good for me, for someone who at one time took medication for high blood pressure.

Coming off my blood pressure medication 

Back in April, last year, I went to see a Nurse at my doctors to discuss my healthy eating and blood pressure. I wanted to check that what I was doing, it was ok and to discuss my concerns, as I was 2 weeks into my healthy eating and I had a very bad dizzy spell. I had some before my healthy eating started, but none as bad as particular as on this occasion, which scared me.
Everything I was doing, turned out to be fine and she was impressed with my knowledge. (I am still learning.) But she did point out to me, that I could eat everything in moderation, when I talked about what yogurt I will only eating from now on. But I explained to her why I would only eat Greek, or natural style yogurt, which was because I did not want to have extra sugar than I really needed. Especially, if I will treat myself to a sweet now and again. Why have yogurt in a morning, that has more sugar than Greek, or natural yogurt, to then have that sugar loaded pudding treat later?

With all the notes added on my record, that we spoke about that day, along with my blood pressure check and looking at my own record keeping of blood pressure taken, this would then be passed along to my doctor to look at. The nurse would then inform me later, if my doctor wanted me on a lower dose of blood pressure medication. It turned out that I could come off them. So it was a lovely, unexpected surprise to hear, as I had been on them for years.

I was told it would take up to a month for my blood pressure medication to come out of my system. In the meantime, I was to carry on checking my blood pressure once a week and go to see the nurse, for her to check, as instructed for so many weeks. If it was 140 over 90, then I would have to go straight back to my doctors.
When I had my last check with the nurse, she advised me to see my doctor, to check he was still happy for me to be off my blood pressure medication. Which he was and to this day, I am still off my blood pressure medication. My doctor is happy for me to come and have my blood pressure taken once a year, when I go and see the nurse for my asthma review and I continue to take my own readings at home. But if there is to ever be any problems, then to go back.

My benefits

So as well as me coming off my blood pressure medication and I am still off them as this post airs, the other benefits I have found:

  • is not feeling tired as I was
  • losing weight, as I mentioned earlier in this post
  • my hair does not shed in clumps, when I wash or brush it
  • and I feel mentally better.

 

It is true what they say, you are what you eat. A book I started reading and learning more from has also helped me. This book, I will share in a book review later.

I am still learning, as I have mentioned earlier in this post with regards to my healthy eating. But I am interested in what I have learnt so far.
The food I used to eat, but no more, due to high salt or sugar, has been a shock. But I have learnt I must read those labels so I do not get caught out again. If they are colour coded, it does make shopping easier and quicker. But if they don’t, I still look at the necessary information on the back of the tin or packet and work it out, using a guide I laminated.

Please note: If you are reading this and thinking of coming off your medication. Do not come off it without first seeing your doctor.

Your nurse is a good place for healthy eating advice, as well as the NHS website and Change4life. British Heart Foundation has helpful advice too. All the links are at the bottom of the page.

Useful links:

http://www.nhs.uk/change4life/Pages/change-for-life.aspx
http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/healthy-eating/Pages/Healthyeating.aspx
https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/preventing-heart-disease/healthy-eating

Related post:

My healthy eating, continued…

Hello world

Hello and welcome to, ‘My Wellbeing and Learning Journey.’ My name is Elizabeth, (but I don’t mind being called Liz.)

I decided to write this blog, to share some personal wellbeing and learning journeys. Hence the name of this blog.
At times, some of what I may write will be therapeutic for me and these may be distressing for some people who read them, so these posts will have a “Content Warning,” at the beginning of the post.
I hope that these posts I share, if you have experienced something similar, that they help you in some way.
From last year, I also started observing food labels and watching what I eat. I started off at 12 stone and now I am down to a healthy weight of 10.5 stone. I will talk about this in a future post.

What I won’t be discussing, is deaf-related posts, with the exception of a book review I will post later at some point. This book I participated in and it was a positive experience I am proud of. Not that I wasn’t proud of writing my deaf blog, as I have enjoyed the experience and friends made from it. I chose to end it because I felt I needed to get away from it. It’s me first and who I am, what I like etc… Not deaf, then who am I, etc… There is more to me than just my deafness.
I hope you understand this part, as to why I choose to no longer write deaf topics, as I feel at this point in my life I have to do this, to kind of keep moving forward. I have found many have been supportive and they have understood the reasons why behind it. (Thank you, if you are one of those reading this now.) But if I have friends that are reading it and are wondering if they can ask me a deaf related question. No, I don’t mind, I just don’t want to blog about it.

You can get involved, by leaving appropriate comments in post/s you have read. You can also sign up by email, to receive the latest posts directly to your email inbox.

For blog queries, there is an email to the right of this blog, but I cannot give you personal advice.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I do hope you stay and read further posts to come.