I had Liposuction. Here’s why.

TW: weight gain and loss, dieting, weight loss surgery.

2020 was the year I went wild with cosmetic things. I started using acids and whatnot on my face (good decision). I got my teeth whitened (very painful). I also had liposuction.

Why did I do it? Well, as so many people who have undergone hormonal treatments will know, the weight stacks on, and it doesn’t necessarily unstack when you stop. My weight gain started after a hormonal injection backfired and my pain spiked along with my dress size. Following that, I moved to the Depo-Provera shot, which didn’t do a whole lot for me on average (sometimes it worked brilliantly, sometimes it had no effect at all), and didn’t exactly slow my weight gain.

When I finally stopped getting the injections, the weight continued to come. I ate as well as I could, although cooking and meal prep was hard due to pain. Similarly, I was active whenever possible, but constant bouts of pain and illness made getting into a proper exercise schedule impossible. Whatever I was capable of doing, it wasn’t enough to successfully combat what the hormones were doing. It was as if my body thought some Frostpunk-style winter apocalypse was incoming, and it needed to shore up my fat reserves to ensure that I survived the coming terrors. Had that been the case, I’m sure I would have been appreciative. As this is pre-apocalypse Australia, I was not.

I want to be clear about a couple of things here. First, I support people having plastic surgery for any reason they want (leaving aside the issue of Bond villains trying to destroy the world). Second, I am not anti-fat. Third, I am pro body positivity.

With that in mind, let me explain why I chose surgery when it became clear that the normal methods were not working.

I don’t see my scars or my extra weight or my hormonal acne as a badge of courage or a testament to what I have been through. I’m not saying others can’t – whatever empowers you, friend – but I don’t. I would be just as brave and strong without them. Instead, they are visual reminders of the daily impacts endometriosis has had on my life. It has taken my freedom to be spontaneous and do things I love, my ability to live pain-free, and negatively impacted my career. With the weight gain, it meant I couldn’t wear the clothes I owned and loved. It took away a body that was familiar, and that I liked the shape of, and gave me a body that was strange and uncomfortable. I didn’t enjoy the sensation of my thighs rubbing together when I walked, or my tummy rolling when I sat down. I felt heavy, physically and emotionally. When I opened the wardrobe and could only wear a fraction of what was in it, I felt hopeless. When I looked in the mirror, I saw endometriosis looking back at me.

I love women in all their bodies. I don’t think beauty is determined by size or shape, and I don’t think beauty is the most important thing. But I didn’t love my body that way, and I didn’t feel beautiful. I felt sick – not because of the fat, but because of the endo.

To be extra clear: I wasn’t actually fat when I chose to get liposuction, and I don’t think fatness (or any other size or shape of human body) is inherently bad. It wasn’t my size that was bothering me. I’d gone from a very slim size 8 (prior to diagnosis) to a slim size 10, to a perfectly average size 12-14 by the time I had lipo. For context, I’m 178cm tall. My frame could carry another few dress sizes before people would start to view me as fat, I think. That wasn’t relevant to my thought process. It was the changes in my body, combined with the reasons for them, that had me so upset. The actual size and shape was not the issue.

So, left in a situation where my body was making me sad, but I couldn’t do anything about it, I chose to seek help. The doctor I saw was great (I went through Cosmos Clinic, and I will write more about my experiences in my next post). He was realistic about what we could achieve, and talked me through my options. We considered Cool Sculpting, which freezes away stubborn fat, but I wanted to lose more than Cool Sculpting would allow, and I wanted to lose it faster. I may still consider it for my arms, which I did not have liposuctioned, and which I don’t feel the same kind of heavy, anxious depression about.

I left the appointment with hope, and it made me sure – I wanted to go ahead with it. I wanted my body to change.

And I did.

In my next post, I will write about my experiences of liposuction – what the operation was like, what the recovery was like, and the thing I’m sure readers are most curious about: my results.

Note: I am very open to people commenting on this article. However, if your comment is to tell me that I’m lazy for not being able to lose weight, or that I wasn’t trying hard enough, or that I took the easy way out, I encourage you to consider whether the time making your comment could be better spent doing almost anything else. Similarly, if you want to tell me that my decision regarding my own personal body makes me a fat-shamer or a bad feminist, you have fundamentally misunderstood the post and my reasoning, and I encourage you to read it again.

2020: A Year in Books

2020 was the year all our plans got massively disrupted. You may recall my ambitious plan at the beginning of the year. Guess how that went.

Surprisingly well, in some regards! My hopes of travel and adventure were dashed, as they should be during a pandemic. I failed utterly at reading the New Testament. There was no one to bake for, working from home, so I didn’t really do much of that. The bushfires ravaged most of the places I was hoping to hike.

So what’s the perfect activity for a chronically ill gal craving mental stimulation? Reading! I read so much as a child, and this year really became the year I embraced that once again. In total, I had a goal of 32 books, and I am very proud to say that I managed it. As lockdowns continue across the globe, I thought it might be good for me to share 30 of the books I read, and maybe spark some ideas for you to add to your list.

Easiest read: ‘Midnight Sun’ by Stephanie Myer

Midnight Sun | BIG W
Image description: the cover of Stephanie Myer’s book, Midnight Sun, which features half a pomegranate with seeds dripping from it on a black background. The title and the author’s name are in white.

If you’re not a Twilight fan, this one is probably not for you. I am an unabashed fan. These books came out in my late teens, and I was the perfect age (and the perfect amount of angsty) to fall in love with them. Whilst I no longer think they’re the pinnacle of literary achievement, my nostalgia and enjoyment remains, and they even featured heavily in my honours thesis.

Accordingly, I was thrilled when Midnight Sun came out. It fills in a lot of gaps in Twilight (why does Edward pull so many weird faces? Does he realise it’s weird to watch girls sleep? How does he find Bella at the end?) and it shows a lot more of Alice’s gift, which involves some fairly clever writing by Myer. It also makes Bella more sympathetic (if not necessarily a better decision-maker). It’s a chunky book, but very easy to read.

Hardest read: ‘The Silmarillion’ by J R R Tolkein

Hard, but worth it. I actually couldn’t get through the written text and switched to the Audible version read by Martin Shaw, who does a stellar job.

The Silmarillion takes a long, long time to get going and can be hard to follow (I constantly forgot who the different subspecies of elves were), but once it picks up, it really picks up. The Lord of the Rings kind of gives the impression that Sauron ruined some nice golden age, but in reality (or canon, I suppose), Middle Earth has been a hot mess from the start. It’s a series of tragedies of Shakespearean proportions, but with Balrogs. If you like LOTR, you should give this one a whirl. Just set aside a lot of time. It’s 14 hours of listening.

Most profound: ‘A Train in Winter’ by Caroline Moorhead

Look, it might be cheating to list a book about the Holocaust as the most profound, but I cannot fail to be touched by the courage, determination and intense suffering of the people who lived through it.

A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead - Penguin Books Australia
Image description: the cover of ‘A Train in Winter’, which features three women walking through snow away from the viewer. The left woman has curly brown hair, a brown fur coat, brown trousers and open-heeled brown wedge shoes. The middle woman is a blonde with hair curled at the ends, wearing a blue coat and brown lace-up shows. The right-hand woman has blonde hair, curled at the ends, and wears a red coat over olive trousers, with brown heeled shoes. The title is imposed over their backs, with the subtitle ‘A Story of Resistance, Friendship and Survival in Auschwitz.’

‘A Train in Winter’ follows the stories of the 200 or so women of the French Resistance who were sent to Auschwitz in WW2. Just 49 survived. Reading about the loss, deprivation and cruelty they endured, and the courage and unity that carried the survivors through, made a deep impact on me. Many times I felt like crying as I read. It’s not a cheerful book, but it is an important one.

Most profound (fiction): ‘The Color Purple’ by Alice Walker

This book follows the story of Cece, who has to endure some fairly horrific stuff, but grows and learns and becomes an amazing person. That sounds fairly sappy, but honestly, it’s not a sappy book. It is a tear-jerker, and trigger warning for abuse and sexual assault, but my goodness, what a rollercoaster. Highly recommend.

Most useful: ‘The Barefoot Investor’ by Scott Pape

I’m not normally one for self-help books, or for doing what people tell me to, but I switched banks because of this book. If I really thought about it, I probably knew most of the stuff in it, but I never did think about it. This got me to do that, and then to put it into action.

Most exciting: ‘Trail of Lightning’ by Rebecca Roanhorse

The actual most exciting book I read isn’t yet published, so I won’t write about it here, except to say it was an amazing steampunk spy thriller/adventure. ‘Trail of Lightning’ is a decent second place, with Navajo demon hunters, gods and magic. Lots of action scenes and some tense romance makes for a very thrilling book.

Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse
Image description: The cover of ‘Trail of Lightning’. A woman stands on top of a red car with a white roof. She has short black hair and is wearing black pants and a black leather jacket with a white top. She holds a long knife and a gun. Lightning forks around her, and the title is written in red across her. A man is driving the car.

Honourable mentions:

‘The Colour of Our Sky’ by Amita Trasi – the story of two Indian girls separated by a crime and then a continent, and their journey to find each other again. TW for sexual assault. Heart-rending but very well told. Recommend.

‘Convenience Store Woman’ by Sayaka Murata – short, funny, easy to read. Tells the story of an unusual woman who works in a convenience store and doesn’t want to change that.

‘Outlander’ by Diane Gabaldon – it’s a long one but a good one. It’s exciting, with a mostly-likeable main character and mostly-attractive love interest. I loved it, but I take points off for the very casual mentions of sexual assault, and the unnecessary frequency of them.

‘The Pearl that Broke its Shell’ by Nadia Hashimi – the story of two woman from different generations in Afghanistan, both of whom experience violence at the hands of a patriarchal society, and both of whom dress as men to survive at various points. It has some pretty heart-breaking moments, but it’s a fantastic story of strength and courage.

‘Boys will be Boys’, by Clementine Ford. I loved Ford’s first book, Fight Like a Girl, and the sequel did not disappoint. It’s a book to make you rage against injustice, and to make you want to rid the world of unfair stereotypes that harm both boys and girls.

‘The Fall of the Gas-lit Empire’ by Rod Duncan. I love me a good alternative historical fiction. This one was a Steampunk epic that follows a young woman who lives in disguise to keep away from the law during a version of Victorian Britain, whilst trying to avoid officers of the International Patent Office.

‘Daughter of Fortune’ by Isabel Allende. I couldn’t put this novel down, but I warn you: the ending is NOT cathartic. It’s great anyway, though – it follows the journey of Eliza, an adopted daughter of a rich family in the 1840s in Chile, who finds herself pregnant and ends up following her missing lover to California.

‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,’ by Maya Angelou. This remarkable woman did not have the easiest life – racism, sexual assault, and a childhood that carried her back and forth across the US. The autobiography is written in an unusual way – thematic, rather than chronological.

‘The Winter People,’ by Jennifer McMahon. This is a horror set in snowy Vermont, spanning a century. It has scary bits, but it’s really horror-lite – minimal gore, and not that much suspense. I enjoyed it, but you’ll see the twist coming.

‘Shameless’, by Nadia Bolz-Weber. Bolz-Weber is a feminist Christian pastor, and ‘Shameless’ looks at how the church treats sex, and how people of all walks of life have dealt with the sexual guilt and shame that conservative Christianity has left them with, whilst still maintaining their faith and their love of God.

‘A Wrinkle in Time’, by Madeleine L’Engle. This is a children’s book, which I didn’t realise when I added it to my to-read list, but I enjoyed it anyway! A good vs evil romp through space and time, about finding your inner courage and strength.

‘Yes Please,’ by Amy Poehler. I haven’t watched Saturday Night Live or Parks and Rec (I tried, but I don’t like Chris Pratt), so a lot of the references went over my head. She’s a good story-teller, though, willing to fess up to her mistakes, and full of a clear passion for theatre. References to her good buddy Harvey Weinstein don’t age well, though.

‘The Boundary’ by Nicole Watson. It’s a murder mystery with magical elements, alcoholism, infidelity, and gambling addition, as well as the racial and historical trauma endured by Indigenous Australians. It’s pretty dark, but I liked it.

Probably won’t read again

‘Fahrenheit 451’, by Ray Bradbury – it just feels like every other piece of 20th century dystopian fiction I’ve read. I’m sure it was revolutionary at the time, but I think I’ve read too many books that felt similar to enjoy it.

‘Great Gatsby’, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It just bored me. None of the characters were particularly interesting, and none of them really had any redeeming features.

‘Catcher in the Rye’, by JD Salinger. It’s just a teenage boy making stupid decisions for several days, and deciding all the people around him suck in the most boring, repetitive language possible. It’s not that deep.

‘Mrs Dalloway’, by Virginia Woolf. Pretty and lyrical, but not riveting. A re-read is unlikely. I had to listen to this one, because Woolf’s hatred of the full stop makes reading it on paper quite hard.

‘Call of the Wild’, by Jack London. Too sad. A dog gets kidnapped and forced to become a tough, rugged sled dog, goes through all sorts of bad things, and when good things start to happen, it gets worse again.

‘Wide Sargasso Sea’, by Jean Rhys. It’s a version of the events leading up to Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ from the perspective of Bertha, the mad wife. It’s barely comprehensible, and the only reason you’d know it had anything to do with ‘Jane Eyre’ is because Rochester is in it. It’s got no real plot and a bunch of unreliable narrators. I wanted to love it and was really excited to read it, but I ended up hating it.

‘Internment’, by Samira Ahmed. Another one I wanted to love – a speculative fiction about America putting its Muslim population in internment camps, and a young Muslim girl fighting back. Unfortunately, whilst topical, it just didn’t thrill me. The stakes never felt that high, even though they were (death and torture were very possible consequences in the book). Maybe I’m just too old for it?

‘Jesus Feminist’, by Sarah Bessey. This book is hailed in Christian feminist circles as something of a must-read. Unfortunately, I was hoping for something a bit more critical that engaged more heavily with the Bible; this was more of a “the vibe of thing” text. It might be useful for someone just beginning to consider whether their faith can also be feminist, but it was just overly simplistic for me (and unnecessarily wordy).

‘The Communist Manifesto’ by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. I am very sympathetic to the aims of Communism, if not necessarily the methods, but the manifesto itself makes some sweeping assumptions, and I feel like a lot of it doesn’t really hold up in today’s society.

‘The Hedge of Mist’ by Patricia Keannealy-Morrison. It’s book three of the Arthurian legends set in space. It’s very dense, very flowery, and just not that exciting. I loved the first book, ‘The Hawk’s Grey Feather,’ but unfortunately the trilogy got less awesome as it went on, I think.

‘Medea and other plays’ by Euripedes. They’re very easy to read – I got through all four plays in a couple of hours – and I’m glad I read them once, but I don’t think I’ll do it again.

Image description: A person wearing a grey jumper holds a book open on a brown duvet. There is a pair of glasses to their right, and a pair of pumpkins to their left.

That’s my thirty! I’ve got 24 on the list for this year (a new job means less time to read, I suspect), and I’m exciting to keep trying new things. What did you read this year? What did you love or hate? What’s on the list for 2021? Let me know in the comments!

It’s been a long year

First things first; I haven’t posted since 6 April. I’m sorry about that. 2020 has been a bad year for me, as it has been for so many, and I really struggled with burnout during the lockdown. I was one of the lucky people who was able to keep working during the pandemic, as it was very easy to transition to working from home. However, the isolation, combined with some other factors, made for a severe lack of energy and motivation, and this blog was the first thing to fall by the wayside.

I can’t guarantee that won’t continue to happen over time. Research has indicated a genetic link between endo, gut issues and depression (tell us something we didn’t know!), and I’ll admit my usual positive mood does tend to take a blow when my endo is flaring. However, I’m feeling not too bad at the moment, and have some new content I really want to get out in the next little bit. Expect some updates about surgery, the implanon, and some commentary on the pandemic and disability.

I’ve been really happy to see that this blog has still had views even whilst I’ve been inactive. I hope it has been useful to some people!

I also hope that people have been coping alright during the pandemic. Let me know in the comments what you’ve been up to, and how you’ve been.

Disability-friendly Policy

Nothing about us without us.

You may have heard that quote doing the rounds a few times. To me, it’s super powerful and calls out a big problem with disability policy – it is often made with only minimal or token consultation with disabled people.

I’ve had cause to think about workplace disability policy a few times this year already, and now, during Endometriosis Awareness month, I really want to write about what I think good disability policy should look like.

1) Say why you have it, and do it properly

A lot of policies are all “Woo, diversity! 20% quota for people with a disability by 2050!” or something like that, but they don’t say why. At best, there is often a vague line about “because disability gives you unique perspectives!” and that’s it. That really makes it sound like the workplace is ticking a politically correct box rather than having a genuine desire to engage – employing us just becomes an exercise in making the workplace look good. Gotta catch ’em all.

What I would love to see is engagement with some of the real reasons employing disabled people is good. Reasons like:

  • It’s good for the economy to have disabled people employed in the first place;
  • It’s good for the workplace to have disabled people employed with reasonable adjustments so that they can produce their best work;
  • We are able to provide diversity of experience and viewpoints that abled people don’t have;
  • Having robust disability policy benefits abled people who are just one broken leg, back injury, car crash, or unfortunate diagnosis away from needing to use it themselves.

2) Make sure it is accessible

When you have a policy, advertise that you have it. Hand out hard copies at inductions. Pin it to your intranet. Make sure everyone knows it is there. Maybe make it compulsory reading, just like the code of conduct and your security policy.

Further, make sure everyone can actually read it. Is it available in accessible format for screen readers or text-to-voice readers? Is the language clear and simple?

3) Make sure the policies actually work

Maybe you have this really great policy allowing disabled people to access extra paid personal/sick leave…but they can only access it if they meet a whole bunch of extremely specific criteria, or are reliant on colleagues donating it, or they must have exhausted all of their annual leave to use it.

My proposal? Many workplaces allow you to buy additional paid annual leave at a one-for-one rate (e.g. you pay one week’s salary to get one week of additional annual leave), and the cost is spread out across your pay over several months or weeks. You usually have to meet some criteria, like you need to nominate a particular time to use it within.

Why not make a similar scheme for additional paid personal leave?Those of us with chronic conditions, who quickly exhaust our paid personal leave, often have to take random, unpredictable, but sometimes length chunks of unpaid leave. We might end up only have three paid days in an entire fortnight as a result. That can be really financially difficult.

If we could buy an extra, say, two weeks paid leave at the beginning of the financial year, and have that financial burden averaged out across our pay slips for the remainder of the year, we’d be losing just a few dollars a fortnight (or month, however often you are paid) rather than the majority of a single pay packet. We’d have a large additional buffer zone against needing to access our unpaid personal leave, and we’d be less likely to come to work when we are just a bit sick with a cold and spread our germs around because we are trying to guard against not having sick days during our next paralysing flare-up.

Sure, it should come with conditions to ensure it isn’t misused. I would recommend the following:

  • A doctor’s certificate stating that you have an ongoing condition or disability that will sometimes necessitate unpredictable sick days at a higher rate than the general population;
  • A cap on the amount (say an extra 2-4 weeks per year);
  • Approval from your manager, noting that they have also ensured that you are aware of your other rights and options under the disability policy (e.g. flexible work arrangements);
  • A requirement that we still provide medical evidence for that absence as usual;
  • A requirement that we have three days or fewer of existing paid personal leave.

Conditions I would not suggest are the following:

  • A ‘use it or lose it’ policy – some years, I might have a great year where I only need three days of personal leave (unlikely), but the next I may need three months. One good year isn’t indicative of my needs in the next year;
  • No ability to roll over unused purchased leave til the next year (see the first point for why);
  • A requirement that we have used all our annual leave – chronically ill people will rarely get to take actual holidays. Often, we’ve already exhausted our annual leave trying to ensure we don’t have large chunks of no payment due to having no paid personal leave. But holidays, breaks, mental health days – they are a right our abled colleagues all enjoy. They make people more productive, happier and healthier. Taking that away from us because we are sick means that the only time we get to spend away from the workplace is days where we are sick. Imagine if that was all abled people had too. It doesn’t make for a happy or productive workplace. Besides, if we are paying for our sick leave, we aren’t costing the workplace anything financially.

I think that the current crises highlights more than ever why the ability to acquire additional paid sick leave is vital. My wonderful workplace is providing extra sick leave to anyone who gets Covid-19, but not all workplaces will (admittedly, not all are equipped to). However, I would argue that being equipped for emergencies (not necessarily a global pandemic, but a bad flu season, perhaps) is part and parcel of running an organisations, particularly a large one. My supervisor says he banks on 1/3 of the work force being out during flu season for one reason or another; perhaps that is a good motto for anyone running an area with multiple staff.

4) Make sure your managers understand

I have been very lucky in my current workplace to have extremely understanding bosses, some of whom have very close experience with chronic illness or disability. However, not everyone is so lucky. I’ve heard nightmare stories of bosses who refuse to give disabled people opportunities, because they perceive them as:

  • inherently unreliable;
  • not entitled to ‘take up’ an opportunity that could go to an able-bodied person; or
  • not up to the demands of the opportunity.

Whether it is because the manager views the disabled employee as less capable, or is micromanaging to ensure they don’t get in trouble for pushing the disabled employee past their limits, the effect is the same – no opportunities for the disabled employee. That means no promotion, no career advancement, and a waning desire to remain in the job.

Having managers be educated, supportive, able to talk to the disabled employee about their needs, and able to strike a balance between supportive and over-protective is key. Get managers trained in having disabled staff.

5) Create visibility, opportunity and education

Finally, ensure that your disability policy doesn’t just employ disabled people and support them at their current level; make sure it allows disabled people to move through the ranks. Encouraged higher-ranking disabled people to be open about their disability by creating a culture in which doing so does not disadvantage them. For people at the bottom of the ladder, seeing that there are disabled people on the rungs above them gives them hope that they can also achieve that, which creates motivation and provides better workers for the employer.

It also normalises disability for people who aren’t used to seeing it, particularly in positions of power. That creates an all-around more inclusive and accepting workplace.

Don’t just stop at educating your managers, who will be supervising and mentoring disabled people – educate everyone. My workplace does sessions based off the ABC show “You can’t ask that” that allows non-disabled staff to ask questions about disability in an anonymous, judgement-free way, and hear answers from people living with those disabilities. It’s a great way to educate without having formal training sessions (which can be kind of weird and alienating when you are the person that the session is about!). Create days about diversity – have stalls and education campaigns explaining what it is like to have a particular disability. Send out newsletters. Educate the masses.

That’s my hot take on what larger workplaces can do to ensure they have a useful, robust disability policy. Do you have any suggestions I’ve missed? What does your workplace do well in this area? What does it do poorly? Let me know in the comments.

Sorry about the lack of posts

Hello, readers

I want to apologise for the lack of posts lately. My computer is being a bad child and giving me only five minutes of internet before deciding it’s all too hard. As a result, I’m stuck on my phone, which is fine for drafting but not great for formatting.

I’ll find a solution ASAP and get back to business as usual accordingly.

In the meantime, please stay safe.

Coronavirus

Hi all,

I want to apologise for the delay in posting. I had a post mostly ready to go, but with coronavirus doing what it’s doing, it didn’t feel right to proceed with my planned schedule without addressing the pandemic first.

This is not a fun time. It feels like half the world is taking this whole thing too seriously, and hoarding loo roll as a result. It feels like the other half is not taking it seriously enough, and refusing to take sensible measures to flatten the curve.

I know I’m not likely to die if I get coronavirus. Despite having a shockingly poor immune system, I don’t have any lung issues. I can’t say the same for my grandmother with one lung, who lives in a nursing home, which are basically disease-boxes. Nor can I say the same for my asthmatic friends. I’m worried about my uncle, who is a doctor, and my aunt and cousin, who are nurses. I’m worried about my husband, whose work exposes him to people from so many different situations that it could come at him from anywhere. I’m worried about my teacher friends, surrounded by hundreds of children every day with no way to maintain distance.

I’m worried about my friends who earn their living as casual workers or performers as businesses reliant on large groups of people gathering in small spaces close, or reduce their workers’ hours. I’m worried about small businesses I have affection for and loyalty too having to close their doors.

I’m worried about separated couples having to navigate co-parenting and quarantine. I’m worried about victims who live with their abusers, trapped in homes with them. I’m worried about people with depression, anxiety, mental illness and chronic pain becoming even more socially isolated and afraid, and the toll this will take on their mental health.

I’m worried about hospitals being put under so much pressure that doctors are forced to chose who to save, or leave people in pain and distress as a half-measure because there isn’t enough to keep everyone pain-free or healed.

I just want everyone to take sensible measures. Act pre-emptively in areas where coronavirus is not yet widespread, and take all possible precautions in areas where it is. Don’t hoard. Help your neighbours out, particularly if they are elderly, sick, disabled or isolated. Help those struggling financially if you have a little extra cash. Keep supporting local business where you can. Look after your mental health and maintain social networks as far as possible. Don’t panic. Verify your sources of information and take proper advice. Wash your hands. Understand that you being healthy doesn’t mean you aren’t a vector. Understand that health is not the same as immunity. Know the symptoms, and get tested appropriately. Just be good people, and good members of the human community.

I hope all my readers are staying safe and looking after themselves. I know many of you will be vulnerable to this disease, and are probably scared and feeling hopeless as people continue to blow it off as ‘a bad flu’. I’m sorry if you get glib responses like that to your valid concerns. I hope you don’t catch the virus, and if you do, I hope your symptoms are mild and your recovery is swift.

I wish you all the best.

xxxx

The Sexiest Stretches You’ll Ever Do

So, that title is definitely sarcasm. The stretches I am about to link you to are anything but sexy. You will look like a pretzel, like a frog, like you’re in stirrups at the gynaecologist, but I can almost guarantee you won’t look sexy (although you do you, of course).

So why am I talking about unsexy stretches? Because they can really help when you’re having a flare-up of endometriosis, or even on a good day when you want to try and put off the next flare. They aren’t a painkiller, of course; they won’t get rid of the agony. However, if you can do them, they will help relax your body and stretch out the pelvis. This may relieve some of the cramping. Relaxing the body can also help you deal with the pain better – holding tension in the body makes pain feel worse. Trying not to tense up during a painful flare is SUPER hard, but these stretches can force you into it.

Worst case, they’ll make you break wind, which might be embarrassing but can also be a relief, given the common connection between endo and the bowels.

I admit this post is short and really isn’t my work – I want this to be a collation of resources for fellow sufferers who are looking for some good ways to ease a tense pelvis. Please feel free to drop some other poses, stretches or gentle movements that help you in the comments – these ones help me the most but other people may have found some alternative amazing ones.

As with all exercise, if this makes things worse for your endo, stop!

I now present to you the best stretches I have encountered for my pain:

EIGHT STRETCHES ROUTINE

Image description: a person doing child’s pose on a pink yoga mat. They are kneeling down, and have leaned forward so that there chest is close to the floor and their arms are stretched out in front of them.

These eight positions from the Pelvic Pain Foundation vary from, “yes, normal people do that stretch” to “please don’t do that in public, you weirdo.” However, they all help relax the pelvis and open the hips. Relaxed Goddess (the sixth one) is my favourite. It can be very painful to ease into but it provides the most relief for me. I also love Child’s Pose because it helps the pain I get in my lower back.

For an alternative routine, check out this collection of six stretches. There’s some overlap, but this routine uses a supported spinal twist and cobra.

PIGEON POSE

Image description: a pigeon

Pigeon pose is another hip opener. More open hips = a more relaxed pelvic floor. It also makes sitting down more comfortable, especially cross-legged. This handy guide gives you a warm-up on how to get there using a position from the eight-stretch routine above.

Image description: a person doing a variant of pigeon pose. Their right leg is folded in front of them, and their left leg is extended behind them. Their arms are stretched up to the sky.

CAT-COW

Image description: a cat stretching

Cat-cow is more for the back than the last pelvis. The gentle movements help stretch out cramped back muscles and elongate the torso front and back. This guide is a good read as it contains some modifications for people with neck injuries.

Image description: a person doing cat-cow pose. They are on all fours with their head lowered and their shoulders rounded upwards.

CORPSE POSE

Image description: a person lying on their back, arms above their head, in a grassy field.

I know this looks like just lying on your back like a ninny, but honestly, lying out flat and focusing on relaxing is as much of a challenge sometimes as twisting yourself into bizarre shapes – particularly when you’re in a lot of pain. This pose is worthless if you don’t work at it. Pair it with structured breathing and focus on each part of your body at a time, taking the time to notice and feel each part, and releasing the tension piece by piece. Unclenching the jaw, smoothing out the brow, lowering the shoulders, unlocking the joints. If lying flat hurts too much, try tucking a pillow under your knees or neck to create some natural, supported bends in the body. Lying flat on my back puts a lot of strain on my lower back, but putting a pillow under my knees or even lying on the floor with my lower legs up on a chair has the same effect without the strain.

I like to end a series of stretches with corpse pose, particularly if I do them before bed.

Try this guide for a detailed step-by-step and video.

The Magic of Music, Part 2

Back in 2019, I wrote a post on some songs I keep in my endometriosis playlist to listen to when I’m having a bad day. Today, I want to list 5 more.

I know there are way more amazing songs out there than I can possibly list here, so please go ahead and drop some more recommendations in the comments. What do you listen to when you are having a bad day? Do you have a favourite song about chronic illness?

1) Fight Song, by Rachel Platten

This song isn’t just about fighting; it’s about fighting when you don’t have anything left, when you don’t have any sleep or anyone left on your side.

Lyrics:

Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosionAnd all those things I didn’t say
Wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time?This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in meLosing friends and I’m chasing sleep
Everybody’s worried about me
In too deep
Say I’m in too deep (in too deep)
And it’s been two years I miss my home
But there’s a fire burning in my bones
Still believe
Yeah, I still believeAnd all those things I didn’t say
Wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time?This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in meA lot of fight left in meLike a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosionThis is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong (I’ll be strong)
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

Know I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

Favourite line: I might only have one match, but I can make an explosion.

Listen when: You need the inspiration to go just one step further

2) I Can’t Feel, by Yours Truly

‘I Can’t Feel’ was written by a fellow spoonie, singer Mikaila Delgado, who has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). EDS is a connective tissue disorder that causes hyper-mobility and tissue fragility. Just like those with endo, people with EDS often suffer pain with no obvious cause. Delgado shares her frustration, exhaustion, and loneliness in a world where pain wears us down, people don’t believe us and we so often go without answers.

Lyrics:

I don’t know if I’m feeling right
Like this is something that’s in my mind now
There’s no signs, there’s no symptoms here
I’m aching in my bones, it’s getting out of handBut I’m not afraid of this
If only I could put this mind to rest
My days blend into one another see
Give me a moment to step back and breatheI always feel like giving up
Feeling tired out of luck
Let me tell you that I’ve had enough
I wish that I could sleep at night
Close my eyes and feel alright
But my conscience, it has other plans and II don’t know if I’m feeling right
They tried to tell me it was in my mind and I’ve
Been sleeping for days on end
Getting told to get out of my bed and move forwardI can’t explain the pain
I’m fucking over itI feel like giving up
Feeling tired out of luck
Let me tell you that I’ve had enough
I wish that I could sleep at night
Close my eyes and feel alright
But my conscience, it has other plans and II can’t feel
Anything else
But my heartbeat soaring
I always feel like giving up
Feeling tired out of luck
Let me tell you that I’ve had enough
Yeah, I’ve had enoughI’m not afraid
If only I could put this mind to restI always feel like giving up
Feeling tired out of luck
Let me tell you that I’ve had enough
Wish that I could sleep at night
Close my eyes and feel alright
But my conscience, it has other plansAnd I can’t feel
Anything else
But my heartbeat soaring
I always feel like giving up
Feeling tired out of luck
Let me tell you that I’ve had enough
Yeah, I’ve had enoughI’m sick of waiting for a change
That will never come my way
When I tell you that I’ve had enough
Yeah, I’ve had enough

Favourite line: They tried to tell me it was in my mind and I’ve been sleeping for days on end, getting told to get out of my bed and move forward

Listen when: you need to feel like someone else gets it.

3) Get Better, by Leslie Mosier

Leslie Mosier actually has endometriosis, so she definitely understands how it feels. ‘Get Better’ really encapsulates the struggle. The video also includes a lot of things we would be familiar with – TENS machines, endo belly, curling up in a little ball in bed. Of all the songs on this list, this one is definitely hits the closest to home.

Content warning: the video does contain needles, drugs and surgical procedures. It also contains a cute cat and a pug.

Lyrics:

Who was I before this?
Will I make it through?
The pain is slowly creeping
Till there’s nothing I can do

My body in a circle
Clouds fill up my eyes
I wait for it to kick in
So the hurt can be disguised

Breathing just feels harder
Down I go again

Wake up, put on the makeup
And smile for the camera
Work hard, make money
Maybe that will make me feel alright

No one really knows what you’re going through
But they pretend to say they’re thinking about you
I’m fine, I’ll be alright
I just wanna get better, I feel like I’m a burden
A liability
But who am I to give a damn
When my own body turned on me

Keep pushing on to see better days
Even when it hurts
I’m not defined by the times I’ve cried
Or fallen to the dirt

Breathing just feels harder
Down I go againWake up, put on the makeup
And smile for the camera
Work hard, make money
Maybe that will make me feel alright

No one really knows what you’re going through
But they pretend to say they’re thinking about you
I’m fine, I’ll be alright
I just wanna get better

Here I go, here I go, here I go again
I’m at war with my body, my closest friend
I’ve been broken, I’ve been down got up in the end
Here I go, here I go, here I go again

Wake up, put on the makeup
And smile for the camera
Work hard, make money
Maybe that will make me feel alright

No one really knows what you’re going through
But they pretend to say they’re thinking about you
I’m fine, I’ll be alright
I just wanna get better

Favourite line: Who was I before this?

Listen when: you want the endo experience captured in a single song

4) Have It All, by Jason Mraz

‘Have It All’ has nothing to do with chronic illness, but I’m including it nonetheless because it always helps me. I sing it in my head and dedicate to a different person each time whose life I want to be beautiful and lovely even when mine isn’t, whether it be my sister, my best friend, or all the people out that also suffering from chronic pain.It’s just so nice.

It also reminds me of the good things in my life – my friends and family, whom I deeply love – even when I’m in a lot of pain and can’t do much stuff. During those times they can still bring me fun and happiness.

Lyrics:

May you have auspiciousness and causes of success
May you have the confidence to always do your best
May you take no effort in your being generous
Sharing what you can, nothing more nothing less
May you know the meaning of the word happiness
May you always lead from the beating in your chest
May you be treated like an esteemed guest
May you get to rest, may you catch your breath

And may the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows
And may the road less paved be the road that you follow

Well here’s to the hearts that you’re gonna break
Here’s to the lives that you’re gonna change
Here’s to the infinite possible ways to love you
I want you to have it
Here’s to the good times we’re gonna have
You don’t need money, you got a free pass
Here’s to the fact that I’ll be sad without you
I want you to have it all

Oh! I want you to have it all
I want you to have it
I want you to have it all

May you be as fascinating as a slap bracelet
May you keep the chaos and the clutter off your desk
May you have unquestionable health and less stress
Having no possessions though immeasurable wealth
May you get a gold star on your next test
May your educated guesses always be correct
And may you win prizes shining like diamonds
May you really own it each moment to the next

And may the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows
And may the road less paved be the road that you follow

Well here’s to the hearts that you’re gonna break
Here’s to the lives that you’re gonna change
Here’s to the infinite possible ways to love you
I want you to have it
Here’s to the good times we’re gonna have
You don’t need money, you got a free pass
Here’s to the fact that I’ll be sad without you
I want you to have it all

Oh, I want you to have it all
I want you to have it
I want you to have it all

Oh, I want you to have it all
All you can imagine
All, no matter what your path is
If you believe it then anything can happen
Go, go, go raise your glasses
Go, go, go you can have it all
I toast you

Here’s to the hearts that you’re gonna break
Here’s to the lives that you’re gonna change
Here’s to the infinite possible ways to love you
I want you to have it
Here’s to the good times we’re gonna have
You don’t need money, you got a free pass
Here’s to the fact that I’ll be sad without you
I want you to have it all

Oh, I want you to have it all
I want you to have it
I want you to have it all

Here’s to the good times we’re gonna have
Here’s to you always making me laugh
Here’s to the fact that I’ll be sad without you
I want you to have it all

Favourite line: May you get to rest, may you catch your breath

Listen when: You really want to think about someone else instead of your pain.

5) Skyscraper, by Demi Lovato

‘Skyscraper’ is about a relationship rather than a chronic illness, but just imagine, if you will, that she is singing to your endo. It’s a song of defiance even in the pain and desolation.

Lyrics:

Skies are crying, I am watching
Catching teardrops in my hands
Only silence, as it’s ending
Like we never had a chance
Do you have to make me feel like
There’s nothing left of me?

You can take everything I have
You can break everything I am
Like I’m made of glass
Like I’m made of paper
Go on and try to tear me down
I will be rising from the ground
Like a skyscraper, like a skyscraper

As the smoke clears, I awaken
And untangle you from me
Would it make you, feel better
To watch me while I bleed?
All my windows still are broken
But I’m standing on my feet

You can take everything I have
You can break everything I am
Like I’m made of glass
Like I’m made of paper
Go on and try to tear me down
I will be rising from the ground
Like a skyscraper, like a skyscraper

Go run, run, run
I’m gonna stay right here,
Watch you disappear
Yeah-oh, go run, run, run
Yeah, it’s a long way down
But I am closer to the clouds up here

You can take everything I have
You can break everything I am
Like I’m made of glass
Like I’m made of paper, oh-oh
Go on and try to tear me down
I will be rising from the ground

Like a skyscraper, like a skyscraper
(Like a skyscraper)
Like a skyscraper, like a skyscraper

Favourite line: Do you have to make me feel like there’s nothing left of me?

Listen when: You need to feel a bit more defiant.

Disability and Disasters

By now, the world has heard of the horrific bushfires that have been ravaging Australia for the past few months. People have died, hundreds of homes have been destroyed, and our beautiful bushland has been absolutely devastated.

Living in a country with a climate as volatile as this one – if we aren’t on fire, we are probably flooding, in drought, or feeling the impacts of a cyclone – it is vital that Australians remain disaster aware and know what to do if we get early warning of a natural disaster heading through our area.

Today I want to talk about what additional steps those of us with a chronic illness or disability should take, and what we should have in our go-bags. I’m not going to recap the basics; disabled or not, everyone should be carrying water, first aid kits and food. Those of us with health issues unfortunately have extra things to worry about.

The sad truth is that people with disabilities are twice as likely to be impacted by a natural disaster as those without. In the 2011 Japanese tsunami, the mortality rate for disabled people was twice that of the non-disabled population. We are statistically less able to evacuate, or require assistance to do so, and often shelters and disaster management plans don’t take disability into account. Even once safely evacuated, we often require greater levels of health care and access to services and vital supplies such as medication. We are often not consulted by governments, local or large, when making these plans.

This is why I don’t like writing this article. For sure, disaster-preparedness is on the individual, insofar as the individual can be prepared. But disabled individuals can run into hurdles so quickly. It’s all very well to say “have a go-bag and a method of escape”, but what if you literally can’t? That’s why I want non-disabled people to read the questions below too, and think what you can do to help. If the disabled person asking themselves these questions below has to say no to everything, they may well die when disaster hits. You could be the person that steps in and changes on of the ‘no’ answers to a ‘yes’. You could be their way out of the disaster zone.

In the meantime, fellow disabled and sickly friends, these are the questions we need to consider.

1) Before it happens

Stay in the loop! Studies suggest people with disabilities are often the last to know when disaster is approaching. If you have a smart phone or internet access, sign up for notifications from your local emergency services. If you don’t, know your local emergency news channel and tune in, via radio or tv.

If you are not an electronics person, then forge relationships with people around you so that they think to alert you when trouble is coming.

2) How are you going to get away?

Not everyone with a disability is fortunate enough to be able to drive. Plenty of people who can drive can’t afford to buy or run a car. If you can’t drive or don’t have a vehicle, have you put thought into how you might evacuate in the case of a natural disaster? Do you have family, friends or neighbours whom you can rely on for transport out of there? If not, is there a support network for disabled or sick people that you can reach out to? If not, does your city or town provide any services you can utilise?

If you have limited options, you need to consider those options much earlier than able-bodied people, as it is much harder to leverage the people around you when they are also at the point of scrambling for an escape.

You also need to think about where to go. Often, public shelters are not set up to accommodate those with disability or serious illness. It is a failing of the governments providing these shelters and it sucks that we are disadvantaged by it, but if there are better alternatives out there, you may wish to consider utilising them if you can.

3) If you cannot leave, or do not want to, what is your plan?

Is your home defensible in the case of fire? If you are looking at an earthquake, flood or cyclone instead, do you have a safe place within your home you can shelter? Will you be able to fend for yourself when the power goes out? If you are physically disabled or suffer painful flare-ups and you have to climb stairs or move around obstacles to get to a safe spot, are you able to do so unassisted?

If you know you will struggle alone, do you have a friend, neighbour or carer who will be able to stay with you? If they cannot or will not stay, see if you can organise for them to check on you as soon as they are able to return to the area, or alert emergency services. See if you can get their help in getting to a safe place within your home, and ensuring you have what you need close to hand.

4) Ensure you have all your medical stuff ready

If you have to leave your area or your normal doctor is not available, it can be very hard to get the medications you need. I know of too many people with endo who have seen a new GP whilst their usual GP is on leave and been told that the new GP will not dispense their normal pain medications. If you become aware of a disaster approaching your area, consider asking your GP to give you your next batch of pain meds sooner (explaining why, of course!), or to provide you with a letter to show a new GP to encourage them to write a new script for you. Have crucial numbers – GP, specialists, family, carer and employer – written down, in case you have no internet access to look them up.

If you can, get your most important medical documents together – Medicare card, healthcare or pension card if you have one, private insurance documents if you have insurance, notes from recent procedures, etc. If you use an aid or device, whether it’s a wheelchair, hearing aid, colostomy bag, catheter, or alternative pain management  devices such as TENS machines or chargeable heat-packs, have them accessible. Make sure you also have spares, or necessary supplies like batteries or a charger.

If you have a service animal, ensure that you also have their medical stuff together, along with spare food (particularly if they need a special diet).

If you are evacuating with someone (the ideal), ensure that they are aware of your basic needs and know how to operate your equipment or help administer your medication.

5) Consider the extras

For those with endo or other diseases causing random, prolonged bleeding from the crotch, make sure you have plenty of pads or period-underpants. (You can get the Love Luna brand from Woolworths now.) If access to fresh water may be limited, look for wipes that are safe to use for the vulva so that you can keep yourself clean and help reduce the chance of infections such as thrush.

If you are prone to flare-ups, ensure that the clothes you are wearing and the clothes in your go-bag are soft, comfortable and won’t irritate sore pelvises, joints, or other pressure points. Go for quick and easy – maxi dresses, tracksuit or pjs bottoms, and t-shirts. Pack your softest, comfiest bra.

If you have a speech impairment or are deaf/hard of hearing and usually communicate through sign language, pack pen or paper – there’s a good chance evacuation may result in you being surrounded by people who have no AusLan skills and won’t be able to communicate with you properly.

If you are going to be staying, consider devices that can attract attention easily with minimal effort from you – bright torches (a good idea anyway for when power goes down) and a loud whistle or air-horn.

 

These are the five major things that I think we need to consider above and beyond the things an able-bodied person might. Some of them may not be issues for you; there may be many things I have no mentioned here that are vital considerations for you. You know yourself best and are in the best position to plan.

If you would like a more detailed resource, check out this guide by FEMA and the American Red Cross. It covers a lot of stuff and I found it a bit overwhelming, but it is much more comprehensive that what I’ve written here.

If anyone who has been evacuated or impacted by the Australian bushfires, or by any other natural disaster, would like to share their experiences and insight, please do so. This is such an important area of advocacy – lives are literally at stake – and the more information and tips we all have, the better.

2020: Hopes for the Future

Buckle in, friends. This is a long one!

I’ve written before about how the new year is always a time of hope for me – even though it is really just a Tuesday turning to a Wednesday, divided by the fairly arbitrary line of 31 December and 1 January, it always feels like a clean slate. I’ve also written about the importance of people with endo being realistic in their goal-setting. Today, I want to talk about my goals for 2020, and hear yours.

First, a brief note on my 2019 goals. I achieved two of them. They were to improve my Arabic, get my scuba qualification, and read the Old Testament of the Bible. Well, I succeeded in my scuba qualification (a few months later than planned) and will be getting my advanced qualification later this year. I managed the Old Testament with time to spare, and I’ll crack on with the New Testament in 2020. As for Arabic – turns out that is really hard to learn yourself, because trying to get any two courses, youtubers or Arabic-speaking friends to agree on the way to say something is impossible. There are too many dialects, and trying to find a consistent source for Modern Standard Arabic was a wild goose chase. However, I did start Mandarin lessons, and I can now tell you ‘Wo mao feichang shuai,’ (my cat is very handsome), although apparently you should only say ‘shuai’ about people, not cats, even though Max is a very handsome cat indeed.

IMG_0023.jpg
Image description: A ginger striped cat with green eyes is lying on his side on a concrete floor, looking just below the camera. There is a garage roller door behind him.

Ultimately, I think I took the lessons from my own post to heart, and the Arabic failure was because I lacked resources (which I should have researched more) rather than because my goal-setting process was flawed.

This year, my goals are a little different. I still want to finish off the Bible by reading the New Testament, which is fairly easy to plan out and achieve; it just requires a bit of commitment. My other two are more projects than goals.

Project 20 in 2020

My first project is very involved. Have you heard of the ’20 in 2020′ craze that’s sweeping the bullet-journalling community? Basically, you set 20 goals to complete in the year 2020 – bonus points if they somehow incorporate the number 20 (e.g. 20 days with no social media, 20 days of walking 20k steps or more, etc). Now, trying to do 20 sets of 20 things isn’t realistic for me, so some (most) of my goals are per month instead. I’ll be trying the following:

  1. Publish 20 posts on this blog!
  2. Reading 12 types of books I don’t normally read (e.g. I’m a fantasy/sci-fi girl, and rarely read autobiographies);
  3. Reading 20 books by women (my first list was a little male-heavy; this list is also diverse in terms of ethnicity and genre);
  4. Watching 12 movies I don’t normally watch (I’ve committed myself to such cinematic horrors as a gangster film and a sports film – two genres I would never normally touch);
  5. Listen to 20 new artists (I felt like 20 works for this category as it is pretty easy to listen to music – please leave some recommendations in the comments!);
  6. Go on 12 walks around the local region;
  7. Go on 12 adventures (a coast trip, more scuba, a day at a museum, laser tag – anything fun and different);
  8. Go on 12 dates with my husband;
  9. Run 20km per month (or swim 4km, if running isn’t possible);
  10. Go to the gym twice a week;
  11. Save 20% of my income;
  12. Write monthly emails or letters to my grandparents;
  13. Write monthly notes to my sponsor child;
  14. Bake 12 new things;
  15. Cook 12 new meals;
  16. Complete 12 art projects;
  17. Do 12 pieces of calligraphy;
  18. Complete 12 pages in my beautiful Citrus Book Bindery journal that my wonderful parents bought me for Christmas;
  19. Get rid of 20 items of clothing (that is a net reduction – if I buy 20 new things and get rid of 20 old things, that doesn’t count – I’d have to get rid of 40 old things. Getting rid of can mean selling, donating, re-purposing, or binning only if it is beyond salvation, as a way of trying to live green).
  20. Finish one computer game per quarter (I’m terrible for buying a bunch of games and then just not finishing them, unless they are Batman or Tomb Raider).

Now, this may be an epic failure, because on the face of it, it breaks a lot of the rules I set out in my goal-setting post. However, take this list with a pinch of salt, because it has two important rules.

  1. My health comes first. If trying to complete these things starts to cause my health to decline, everything else takes a backburner, no guilt, until things are back where they should be.
  2. Even if I remain in perfect health all year, this is a list to try, not a list I will berate myself for not completing. The aim of this list is to be open-minded, try new things, have adventures, and see if I can be a more well-rounded, better-educated person with more experiences at the end of it. I want it to make me into someone who doesn’t put things off for another day (which tends to result in them not getting done ever). If I manage that, this is a success, even if I don’t complete a single category on this list.

I want to do it all, but if I can’t, I’m not going to be unhappy with myself. I will only be unhappy with myself if I don’t even try.

You’ll notice I haven’t put traditional New Year’s guilt goals in there (lose 20 kilos, for example). This list is about making me better and happier through new experiences and good habits, not about guilt.

Project Better Life

My second project is to take control of my life again. Last year, my goals related to singular events that I wanted to achieve, and once achieved (or abandoned) I kind of just drifted along a bit. This year, my focus is broader.

What does reclaiming my life look like? Well, it involves the following:

  1. Using my time productively: instead of mindlessly scrolling the internets or watching something on Netflix I’ve seen a hundred times before, I’m going to use the time in furtherance of my other goals. That might mean reading one of the books from the above list, using my commute to listen to Audible or a new artists,, spending time with my husband, or going to a gym class. My time is valuable and could be used for so many good things. I don’t want to waste it any more.
  2. Follow the two-minute rule: if a task can be done in two minutes, do it. That means no more floordrobe, breakfasts prepped ahead of time, etc.
  3. Being consistent and persevering until I have good habits: I’m going to set myself tasks  and schedules(flexible and subject to illness) to see what sticks and what I can keep up with. For instance, I wake up earlier than my husband, so if I can get a load of laundry into the machine on Saturday mornings before he does, I’ll actually have my favourite undies clean and ready to go each week instead of having to resort to the Emergency Knickers (you know, the ones that aren’t that comfy and maybe give you a wedgie but you just can’t justify throwing them out so you shove them into the back of the drawer and wear them when the other ones aren’t available. I’m sure I’m not the only person with this sort of underpants division). Once things are automatic, they’ll be easier to keep up.
  4. Acting mindfully, deliberately, in pursuit of my long- and short-term goals, and in support of my mental and physical health. I want the choices of what I eat, what I use my time for, what I do at work, to be deliberate and take me in a specific direction. I am going to check back in with my goals regularly to make sure I stay on track.

The reason for this project is simple: endo – any chronic illness, really – robs you of control. I already know that when I have a habit, it is easier to keep it up when I’m lacking in spoons and just want to collapse. I know I sound like a self-help book right now, but I’m feeling positive. I want to ride this wave of energy through the first quarter of the new year and into new, good habits. Once I hit the quarter-year crisis, hopefully I’ll be fore-armed and be able to keep things up on a more long-term basis.

You’ll notice none of the above relate to my endometriosis specifically. You just can’t plan for or control chronic illness. All you can do is deal with it as it happens and keep your mental health strong.

Once again, I’m using my Leaders in Heels ‘Make It Happen‘ planner as a goal-setting tool. I’m not sponsored by LIH or anything; I just really love this planner. It has a great layout and devotes a heap of space to breaking your goals down and referring back to them.

What are your goals and plans, dear readers? What do you want to change this year, if anything? Do you set goals? Once again, please drop recommendations for new music in the comments – new adventures too! I’d also love to hear your thoughts on what you want to see in Bubbles in the Brain this year. Do you have questions about endo you want answered? Topics you wish I’d write about? Let me know.