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My FIVE Stroke Survivor tips

Hi everyone.

I was recently invited by the Stroke Foundation, to be the guest opening presenter at a Young Stroke Survivors Positive Recovery Think Tank, held here on the Sunshine Coast, near to where I live (lucky for me not having to travel!). I love to take part in these events and get joy in sharing my story about stroke and how I recovered from my post stroke depression though poetry, exercise and positive thinking.

I was asked by the Stroke Foundation to list FIVE tips that I would share with the audience. This was not difficult to do as I live by them daily. Please let me share them with you here…

TIP NO. ONE – Awaken each day and pull on those positive pants!

original_positive-pants-good-luck-cardSometimes we awaken tired, grumpy, or with our head full of the huge list of ‘jobs’ we have to do that day. Maybe the weather outside is a little miserable, cold, and the sun isn’t shining. I have to say that sometimes I awaken like that but then I clear my mind of the negative things and work out how I will get things done with a smile on my face and not a scowl. However you decide to start the day usually means it will end like that, so pull on those positive pants and meet the day with focus and determination.

 

TIP NO. TWO – Focus on what you CAN do, not what you cannot.

can-cantAfter my stroke, over four and a half years ago now, I failed to focus on what I COULD do. I wanted my ‘old’ life back and was sad and frustrated that I could no longer do the things I once did, or that my brain would not work the same way. My personal trainer and my lovely friend Melinda taught me this tip. I know that it seems easy me sharing this with you all, but it does work! Once I stopped looking back to what I could no longer do and focus upon sharing my poetry with everyone, and using my able limbs to walk, climb and run, I soon realised there were so many things I could do. It doesn’t have to be poetry or exercise, but find something that gives you joy and focus on that. Go on..give it a go!

 

TIP NO. THREE – Be grateful

thANKFULOnce again, this sounds like a very simple tip. It actually is. Even though we may have had the worst day in our week, or feel we’ve had a terrible day for a variety of reasons, there is always something to be grateful for.  Your gratefulness could be simply for the gift of life, grateful that the sun shone and dried your washing, or that the bus arrived on time to take you to work. You may be grateful that you had movement in your limbs, that had not previously moved. Having a grateful heart makes us a better person. Go on, close your eyes and see what you are grateful for today. I bet you find something.

 

TIP NO. FOUR – Celebrate your successes, however small they may be

lets-celebrateI feel we should all celebrate our achievements and focus upon the positive and the smallest of ‘wins’ can change our mood and make us feel happy. I have a stroke friend who was recently able to tie his shoe laces. This task has taken months and we all celebrated this huge achievement with him. Can you remember when your child first walked or talked, or even tied their own laces? How excited were you for them?

Many stroke survivors have the smallest of goals to work towards so its important to celebrate these when they reach them. What’s your goal or something you have achieved recently?

 

TIP NO. FIVE – Love and live your life every single day

love_live_life_by_nikster08For those of you that follow my blogs, either on my website, on my Facebook page or on Enableme, then you will know how passionate I am about living my life to the full. Yes, I often do too much and my post stroke fatigue kicks in, but it doesn’t stop me. I love being outdoors, I love exercising by the ocean and in nature and spending time with family and friends just having fun. This year, I have added some slower, more mindfulness sessions to my life such as Tai Chi/Qi Gong and Yoga. Here on the Sunshine Coast I practice these in a beautiful environment at The Farm or with Dani. Perhaps find these slower forms of exercise that give time for just ‘you’ and share them with us.

I am not saying that you should follow these five tips, BUT they work for me and even if you haven’t had a stroke or a life changing illness, perhaps being more mindful about how you live your life isn’t such a bad thing. is it?

As always,

Stay healthy and happy.

Much love

Shelagh


Post stroke fatigue – it’s still what it is!

POST STROKE FATIGUE

It just hits me like a freight train! Little warning and BAM! I bet many of my stroke followers feel the same.

I wrote a blog a few months ago about Post Stroke Fatigue but have rehashed it due to the fatigue I have felt this week. Nothing much has changed this year with my fatigue, but I am still glad to say that as time goes on, although the stroke fatigue comes ‘a calling’….I do seem to recover better than I did at first. Always keep positive and hope that this little video puts your stroke fatigue into perspective and helps others understand that there is little you can do about it other than deal with it when its there.

Please let me know how you cope (or not) as may be the case.

Take care.

Shelagh

 


procrastination is the fear of time

Procrastinators – read this NOW!

How many procrastinators do we have among us? I am standing tall with my hand firmly raised in the air, shouting “YES!” I am one of them. Not all the time, but certainly enough on some days where it greatly affects what I get done.Dog procrastination

It’s Monday morning and I write my list of goals/actions/intentions to get me through the week. Up until a few weeks ago, my list used to be so long, I would have never got through it in a month, let alone a week. The list seemed daunting and I chopped and changed from one task to the next. Sometimes it became so overwhelming that I found other ‘useful’ things to do. By not getting through the dreaded list meant what I had to do was even more overwhelming..and so on. This attitude also reminds me of my son’s homework schedule!

I saw a post from another network site this morning about her procrastination and although this blog isn’t stroke related, it made me realise that perhaps I was blaming my lack of focus and procrastination about blogging on my stroke fatigue, and confusing brain. I seem to have deliberated so long about what to ‘blog’ that it has been almost three months since I posted a new blog. Time to make amends!

There is a famous saying: “Procrastination is the thief of time” (Edward Young), as my younger sister Patricia quoted to me not many weeks back. This got me thinking that so many of my Facebook posts and information could easily be turned into blogs, so, from now on, I will certainly try and procrastinate less, and just get on with it! My lists are starting to feature only 3-5 major tasks in the week and I am at last getting things done.

proc 4Here are 9 tips courtesy of www.unstuck.com). Have a read and let me know how you go.

  1. Remind yourself that there’s always more to be done than can be done. Then ask yourself if you’re getting the right things done.
  2. Make a smart to-do list by including only the items that you’re avoiding, not the ones you know you’ll do anyway. Then set deadlines.
  3. Break the task down to lessen the sense of being overwhelmed. Once you start to enjoy an accomplishment or two, you’re more likely to keep going and finish.
  4. Eliminate temptation to do something else. (Facebook being a HUGE distraction for many
  5. Bargain with yourself. If you finish the business plan now, you can go to the movies later.
  6. Focus on the success you will achieve and the joy you will feel.
  7. Come up with a consequence that will deter you from avoiding the task. If you don’t make dinner at home twice a week, you can’t go out on the weekend.
  8. Ask someone to help you complete the task.
  9. Make your intentions public. This will add pressure, but for some of us, avoiding embarrassment is the mightiest motivator.

Until the next time…have a wonderful week and procrastinate no more!

Stay healthy and happy

Shelagh

 


it-is-what-it-is

Stroke fatigue – it is what it is!

I decided to publish this blog about post stroke fatigue because even though I am four years’ post stroke, I still get that feeling, quite unexpectedly, that I have been hit by a very fast freight train! For those who do not fully understand the fatigue suffered by stroke survivors, it is not like “Oh, I must close my eyes for a few minutes as I feel tired,” sort of feeling but it is an all-consuming fatigue that takes over your body and mind. Your limbs ache and throb, your migraine starts and you just cannot function and need quiet and rest. This fatigue can last for hours, days and sometimes weeks, dependent upon the person and their fatigue. To fully understand this fatigue, please watch this video prepared by the Stroke Foundation as it helps put things into perspective. Many of my close friends and family did not fully understand the fatigue I suffer until they watched this video.

As most of you know, I no longer ‘work’, as in paid employment but I am involved in a number of projects. Over recent weeks, I have been busy organising a Pop-up Book Shop, marketing my book A Stroke of Poetry, sending email information for my Stroke Safe Ambassador presentations, and conducting the presentations. I’ve been interviewed for articles in local magazines, Sunshine Coast Daily and taken part in a local radio interview. Also, as Vice President of the Vintage Calendar Girls Inc., I have been working hard helping with the administration, strategic planning, photo shoots and recently flew to Sydney with the VCG team to photograph Kochie, the Sunrise presenter, with our two lovely VCG ladies. Wow! I think I’m tired reading that! I tried to keep up with my running schedule but sadly, that fell by the wayside as I could feel my fatigue creeping in!

Two weeks ago, that all familiar freight train decided to stop at my station and linger a little too long for my liking, so I made the decision to cancel some arrangements and take a few days rest and now, seem to have bounced back. My husband, David, commented that a couple of years ago, I could only keep going at a moderate pace for 3 to 4 days before I crashed, and it would take a week at least to get me back on my feet. When you put it into perspective, then clearly my fatigue is improving, it’s just perhaps poor management on my behalf.

Many stroke survivors ask me how to manage fatigue and will it ever leave me? Having read this blog, I don’t think I am the best role model and believe it is something I have to live with and limit the number of projects I become involved with. As someone who likes to be on the go constantly, this is very hard for me and learning to say ‘No’ I find difficult. As David succinctly put it…”We need you too so please take care of yourself” and self-management is utterly important  to avoid crashing and having to rest for days after. I take the view “It is what it is” and although it provides such limitations, it is here to stay. 

For further advice from the Stroke Foundation, hop onto Enableme, as they have a host of amazing tips, blogs from other stroke survivors and some podcast information.

Please let me know what your advice is and how you manage your own fatigue and maybe I can share it around. Perhaps I can learn a few things myself. So, if you see me in an exhausted heap, just give me a hug, buy me a coffee and that will be the start to feeling better.

As always, stay healthy and happy.

Much love

Shelagh

 


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Happy New ‘Stroke’ Year

2017 is here! Tomorrow will already be the month of February, so I thought it about time that I wished all my followers a Happy New ‘Stroke’ Year. My last blog was October 2016 and the lack of posting was due to being busy and illness and fatigue towards the latter part of last year. I had a very busy 2016 and I needed rest to regain my health and fitness.IMG_0278

Saying that, after a superb Christmas, we sailed on the ‘Ovation of the Seas’ to New Zealand where I had a wonderful relaxing time with my family and lots of friends. We enjoyed the New Year at sea and upon our return, I spent some valuable, quality time with my 15 year old son Patrick (photo taken on one of our stops in NZ). I can honestly say that I am now raring to go (perhaps at a slower pace than last year!) for what I am certain will be an interesting and successful 2017.

The last major event of last year was the Pop up Book Shop, co-organised with my good friend Mary Barber, Tamarind Book Club. It was held at Caloundra Power Boat Club, on 6 November 2016, and we hosted 32 self published author tables. There was excellent feedback from those that attended in addition to our wonderful local authors who had the opportunity to sell their books.

Joan BenbowThis photo is of myself at the Pop up Book shop and the delightful, sprightly author, Joan Benbow, who was our oldest author at the event. I have provisionally booked an ‘Author Talk’ at the residential complex where Joan resides and very much look forward to meeting her and her friends once again. Although the Pop up Book Shop was a tremendous success, not only for the authors, but for the local community, it was immensely time consuming and we have decided that we will not host another Pop up Book Shop this year.  I have recently created a Facebook group; Self-Published Authors, Sunshine Coast which I hope will bring together current self-published authors who reside on the Sunshine Coast, and also welcome new authors, where we can share our successes, our events and other helpful advice to help us in our writing journeys. If you are a Sunshine Coast self-published author, please ask to join our group. I may be involved in other Pop up Book events on the Coast so please ‘Like’ my Facebook page to stay in touch with what’s happening this year.

During December last year, I visited Brisbane and undertook some ‘Stroke Safe’ training with the Stroke Foundation, but due to illness, I was unable to complete the course. In early February, I am delighted to say that I will be returning to Brisbane to complete the necessary training and then be a fully fledged Stroke Ambassador. This title will then qualify me to not only speak about my stroke, my book, A Stroke of Poetry but I will be delivering the ‘stroke safe’ message to community groups on the Sunshine Coast and further afield if required. This is a purely volunteer role and I am once again delighted to assist the Stroke Foundation in educating everyone about Stroke. If you would like me to visit your health organisation, stroke group, school or any association on the Sunshine Coast, please email me at shelagh@astrokeofpoetry.com.

Jo MaleChristina MI was thrilled with the results of the Christmas competition (and judging by the photos my recipients were thrilled too!) as two lovely, very worthy ladies, were the lucky winners of a signed copy of my book and a hand made Christmas card. Lovely Jo Male, who I recently got to know during 2016, whilst involved with the 2016 Vintage Calendar Girls Calendar and Christina Malfitana, one of my ‘on line’ stroke friends from Queensland were very happy when my book popped through their letterbox just before Christmas.

As always, I will continue with the marketing and sales of my book, which can be purchased on line, or at some local book stores on the Coast and I can still post out signed copies if required. Following the success of my Christmas Special last year, and as Easter eggs are already in the supermarkets, I am offering an Easter Special which includes a reduced price, signed and gift wrapped book and a hand made Easter card, so order early. Please hop onto my website for the various ways you can purchase a book.

As I sign off until next months blog, as always, please stay healthy and happy.

Much love

Shelagh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Just keep swimming

The Rotary Club support ‘A Stroke of Poetry’

    “Inspiring”

                   “Motivating”

                                      “I was truly enthralled with your story”

                                                                                          “I love that you want to make a difference”

Inspiring 2These were all wonderful comments made to me after my stroke presentation to The Rotary Club of Caloundra last week.

For those of you that have met me or heard me talk, you will know that I LOVE to talk. I love to talk about anything and everything. Since my stroke, I am still troubled with ‘sensory overload’ and talking for too long, in busy, noisy places, with too many people and other such factors, affect my brain and give me headaches and bring on my fatigue. However, talking about my stroke, my book and presenting to groups of people who are interested in listening to my story, I seem to do OK and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

When I presented to my son’s school, as part of the Womens International Breakfast event in March this year, one mum, the lovely Julianna was so inspired by my stroke story, that she wanted me to present to her local Rotary Club at one of their weekly breakfast meetings. I was extremely honoured to do so, to a gathering of around 35 people who greeted me with such warmth and positivity.Rotary Club of Caloundra - With Chairman for the day

What a superb group of people who, themselves, inspire me with their motivation to do such good in our community. I sold ten books and although I donate $2 of all book sales to the Stroke Foundation, I matched that for the Rotary Club and they were certainly thrilled with that! This photo is of myself and Rotary Chairman for the day, Arnoldo Mendez, who gave me a very warm and kind introduction.

So…that takes me to this last week…following on from my presentation last week, I have been quite ill.

I do suffer with fatigue but having not been able to shift the horrid feeling of weakness, aching and lacking in energy, I decided to visit the Doctors who advised I may also have some sort of virus. Blood test results await! It made me seriously think about all the stroke survivors who suffer each and every day with chronic post stroke fatigue and are unable to function. I feel lucky enough to have only this temporary feeling but it was not until my friends watched a video that they truly understood how fatigue can be so disabling. The Stroke Foundation regularly publish literature and videos to assist those stroke survivors, carers, family and friends to help them understand about stroke. This video about fatigue hits the spot. Please take time to watch it and it may provide an insight into fatigue. As my ‘Dory’ featured image shows, we just have to keep ‘swimming’ when things just don;t go to plan.

What’s in store for the weeks ahead?….

Being nominated as a finalist in the Creative Stroke Category of the 2016 Stroke Foundation Awards means I have been invited to a gathering next week of the finalists from Queensland and hope to meet other such inspiring people who have made a difference to others. Also, as National Stroke Week beckons (12-18 September), I have my ‘Fight Stroke’ pack and I am planning book signings at local book stores, presentations and hope to raise awareness about stroke and health. October brings not only Breast Cancer month, but World Stroke Day is on 29 October and there may be a little something being planned for that. I shall keep you posted on events as they happen.

As always, please stay healthy and happy.

Shelagh