Moving forward into living Younger Next Year

I had my last follow up at the centre in June and am doing great. At that appointment, I decided that I am done with the so-called new normal and living with limitations and declared myself New and Improved! I’ve been struggling with procrastination winning over exercise. I also knew it was time to kick procrastination to the curb, but how?

That same week an email arrived about a Younger Next Year (YNY) workshop presented by Blaine Mackie at Mackie Physiotherapy. I was intrigued by this workshop and what it meant to be younger next year. I signed up immediately.

While sitting at the YNY workshop at Mackie Physio clinic, I realized that this was it! This lifestyle concept was what I needed to add exercise into my life. Along with accountability and community, Blaine discussed five building blocks that contribute to your best philosophical identity:

  • decrease your stress
  • nutrition
  • state of mind
  • flexibility (ability to move)
  • strength and cardiovascular

Bells were going off in my head. I do many of these things well on my own. It was the words ‘accountability and community’ that struck me. I had been trying to exercise by myself, at home, for free, and would give up after a week every time. A pulling feeling in my chest would be the catalyst. Something in my head would get freaked out, and I would convince myself I wasn’t ready to exercise.

For the last few years, my body has felt stiff and weak, makes snapping and crunching noises when I move and has a rotating circuit of strange pains and a recurring spasm in the left hamstring. I know I’m healthy enough to feel stronger, flexible and not make funny noises when I stand up. I’m also too young to accept that these things are happening to my body!

I read the book, Younger Next Year by Chris Cowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D., to understand the full concept. Simply put, YNY is a philosophy of looking after yourself to moving into the next third feeling strong, healthy, and energetic. I could picture a few couples I admire that live this lifestyle, making it feel attainable for me.

I’ve started with an assessment with a physiotherapist. Needed a little tune-up to align my hips and am starting out slowly with walking, stretching and exercises using bands. I have to be honest, so far, I’ve not great at making time for these exercises in my daily activity.

I have many motivating factors to make exercise and nutrition a priority. Knowing that bone density loss is a possibility due to years of birth control pills, chemotherapy meds, and early menopause the importance of strength training is even more significant. If my body is making snap, crackle and pop sounds at 47, what is it going to be doing at 67?

I’ve just returned from a European holiday. I had such good intentions of beginning my exercises while on vacation. Until I arrived in Germany and the temperature was above 30C every day. There were few buildings with air conditioning, so I sure didn’t feel like exerting myself any more than necessary. I did walk more than 10,000 steps each day. I guess that was good preparation for regular exercise.

Today was my first day at the gym. I received my instructions to perform the exercises correctly and left on my own to complete the routine. I’m thrilled to say I did the sets, a little cardio, stretches and feel great! Not even a hint of a spasm from my left leg. Exercising feels promising. I will be back in the gym tomorrow.

It’s taken me longer to get started than I had hoped. Accountability and community come into play now. I’m accountable for the guidance I’ve asked for from Melissa, my physiotherapist. I’m committed to sharing this journey here on the blog to encourage others to increase their personal awareness of the five building blocks of YNY. This adventure will be fun! Ahh, finally I say goodbye to procrastination!!

I’ll share my journey into the commitment to the philosophy of living Younger Next Year. What I do to decrease stress as I embark on a career change. Nutrition is a big one, and I have tips on how to cook for one and eat well while not wasting food. Awareness of state of mind and understanding the mind-body connection as I work on the commitment to my overall health. For the flexibility and strength and cardiovascular pieces, I will consult with Blaine to share his expertise in these areas.

I’m kicking up the Sparkles a notch!

New and Improved!

Cynthia

 

Learn something new every day…

Yesterday I was in an elevator with a friend and a stranger. My friend didn’t which button was the ground or main floor. I told her it’s usually the one with the star. The stranger smiled and said, “thanks, I didn’t know that.” That was her something new for the day.

As spring has finally arrived here in Saskatoon, I feel energized by the slightly longer days. I realized something about myself and my behaviour in the dark, short days of winter. I go into a pseudo hibernation mode.

My energy levels are so low with the short days that I was ready to go to sleep most days at 6pm. I’d catch myself looking at the clock and moaning that it was only 6pm or 7pm and too early to go to bed. So did I do something constructive with my time? Nope. Instead I would hunker down and the hours would pass. Did I make any effort to socialize or leave the house after coming home from work? Not very often. Did I exercise to build my energy? In my mind I did, but physically, nope.

It’s like I disappear of the face of the earth in the winter months. Functioning in a strange mode of necessity only behaviours. I had noticed that this was my pattern in previous winters but never truly acknowledged the depth of the issue.

I’m making note in my calendar for November 2018 as the hours of daylight begin to decrease to remind myself to be engaged in life next winter. I’m going to commit to leaving the house for more that just work and spend time with friends and be outdoors more. No excuses. Because I have become masterful with excuses.

Something else I have noticed is how my hands are arms are healing. Since November 2016 I have been wearing wrist braces nightly for carpal tunnel, and seeing much improvement. About a month ago I noticed a rash on my arms from the braces and have stopped wearing them. Yes, I do wash them.

Since I’ve stopped wearing them I’ve noticed some changes. The numb feeling in my fingers and hands has returned, along with loss of strength. Stiffness and tenderness in the joints has returned to both of my thumbs. Interesting. Looks like I will be wearing those wrist braces for some time for my hands to continue healing. Maybe I will line them with silk so they don’t irritate my skin. 😉

I really do learn something new every day.

Still Sparkling! 🙂

~ Sparkle On! the book is complete.

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Even though I know that when you create a goal for yourself, write it down, talk about it, that goal is going to be met. I’m still excitedly surprised when goals come to fruition. This was an important goal. I set out to have this book in print to celebrate 2 years on the good side, which was December 22, 2017. That was the date my order of books were in production at the printer. 🎉

This goal was to write a book about my life over the last few years, sharing the creative ways that I handle challenges life sends my way. Everything from job loss to living in a foreign country to diagnosis, treatment, and life after non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. If I can inspire even one person to find their own creative inner strength to handle life’s challenges, that’s why I am here!

It was a busy last half of 2017 for me. Writing and pulling together details from the last few years of my life. I really thought I would blog more throughout the writing process, clearly, that didn’t happen. So here is a little recap.

It was a brilliant decision to be part of a mastermind group for writing the book. The ongoing learning and support were exactly what I needed. I had good intentions of writing a little every day to make the process manageable. That felt like too great of an expectation. Instead, I made notes as things popped into my head and had quite a mess of notes by the end. Weeks would go by and I had only made notes, this scared me at times that I was in over my head. I think because it was emotionally draining to walk down memory lane, I could only work on writing in spurts.

Reviewing my personal journal was difficult yet necessary. Reading the words I had written was an interesting insight into my own protective instincts as I would note a symptom and attribute it to something that was familiar. As I read, the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place. Collectively they made sense, but individually they were just pieces. Looking back was difficult, everything was so vivid, at times I had to stop and walk away.

When the storyteller in me was awakened I ran with it! Many weekends were spent at the computer from Friday afternoon until Sunday evening. Only stepping away to let Vodka in and out of the house and to eat. At least I got a little exercise running up and down the stairs as often as Vodka desired to go outside! 😺

There were times when I wasn’t sure I had enough to say to write a book. And times when technology drove me mad, but I persevered and my book is called, I Sparkle On! One Woman’s Creative Way of Reclaiming Her Wellness & Living Life.

I also created a companion journal, Sparkle On! Creative Journal. It’s a fun place to design life strategies, colour, doodle, and write to find your way to Sparkle On! 

I also spent some time in Europe in October visiting friends, which is always lovely. Although I was distracted as Vodka had a dental issue in October. Thankfully he is doing well, every day is even more precious now. Thrilled to say I am doing well. I celebrated 2 years on the good side in December and my arms are feeling good. I am working on getting stronger and healthier every day. Life is good. 

I Sparkle On! …one day at a time.  😃

Cinzia 

Check out the books here on Amazon.ca or Amazon.com

~ working on my book…

As I review my life over the last couple of years to refresh my memory to write this book, I’d like some feedback from blog followers that shared my journey. 

Let me know what you thought about my approach to handling the illness journey. What stands out in your mind? What made you laugh? What made you cry? What topics did I discuss that you had questions about and wanted to know more? Did you share any of the things I did to help me get through with anyone dealing with a health issue? 

Thoughts for a title for the book? 

I look forward to hearing your thoughts. 

Still Sparkling 

Cinzia 🙂 

~ turning this blog into a book!

After a few months of the job search saga, I decided to stay working as a personal assistant and to focus my time on building my health and doing what my heart desires.

I have talked about it long enough, it is time for action. I am writing a BOOK! Turning this blog into a book or two or three books, who knows how many stories I have in me to tell. I am very excited. This weekend I began a journey to write and self-publish a book! My publish and launch goal in mid November 2017! I will keep you posted throughout this process! 

I am feeling great! In January I started taking yoga classes. Yoga has been exactly what I needed to relieve the pain, weakness and tingling in my arms. It has also helped me build strength, relax, focus, and shed some of the weight I gained as I ate my way through chemo. ha! It’s also a bonus to meet lovely people and make new friends in the yoga community.  🙂

Had a follow-up at the c-centre this week. Blood is doing well, I am down 3kg and the doctor is very pleased with my health overall. Next one in October. Feeling grateful! 

Just a quick update from my sparkly world. Much more to come soon. 

Still Sparkling!!  😉

~ my job search saga…

As I think about what to do next with my life, I think about wanting to start an online business being able to work from anywhere until the fear of the unknown grabs me and I go online to search for the false sense of security in a traditional job. I have to admit the job search process is more stressful than dealing with my illness was! That may seem strange but think about it. With illness I was able to make decisions and had a say in what happened. A job search takes a whole different path. 

The path begins with searching for a posting that appeals to me and fits my skill set. Then it turns to reviewing the posting and highlighting the keywords that seem important to the role and ensuring my resume and cover letter include those special words in hopes that my writing skills get noticed. Then I submit my specially crafted cover letter and resume into cyber space and hand off my fate to the hands of an algorithm behind something known as an Applicant Tracking System, ATS, yes another bloody acronym!!!

Now the waiting part. How long do I wait? What am I waiting for? A phone call, an email? Your guess is as good as mine. This part seems odd since most postings have comments along these lines, ‘no phone calls please’ or ‘only short listed candidates will be contacted’. Great! If you are fortunate enough to be contacted for an interview, you are doing well. So be prepared to answer questions intelligently and not be a total dork, like I recently was on a telephone interview. Oh well, live and learn. The alternative is silence in all forms or perhaps an impersonal email addressed to ‘dear sir or madam’ telling you that you didn’t make the short list. It’s an icy cold email yet at least it is communication. Hmmm…I think I have to step up my game! 

This new world of online networking, creatively writing cover letters and the quest to write resumes using adjectives which describe ones accomplishments not just list job duties, not to mention searching online for ways to beat the applicant tracking systems…now one has to be smarter than the software application! Ugh!  All this while checking ones ego in this competitive job market. The articles that come up when I search anything job or career related are amusing, I enjoyed seeing this title – resume optimizing techniques! Buzzwords abound! All of this leaves me wondering, where has the human element gone from Human Resources???? 

While searching and finding new postings that interest me, I go back into my resume to review and amend it for the next application. My heart sinks as I come across a typo! NO!!!! I am crushed!! After spending so much time on this document I can’t even read it clearly anymore. So much for the spelling and grammar check function!?!?! Damn! Back to my tracking spreadsheet to note my flawed resume and kiss those opportunities goodbye. Back to my old school style of reviewing a document by reading it aloud while tracing each word with my opposite hand! All is good now! 

Having a profile on LinkedIn I receive job search threads where people post their concerns and comment on others questions. A repeat topic that turns up is titled ‘how to explain away a medical issue’… What?? No one asks to have a health issue! Why on earth is a person supposed to cover up a fact in their life! Unbelievable! Again I wonder, where is the human element hiding in Human Resources? 

I may be dating myself here, but I miss the days when you could walk into a business, talk to a person and hand them your resume. At the very least make a first impression instead of having an algorithm assess the first impression of you as nothing more than an ‘applicant’. Perhaps technology has not changed the hiring process for the better. 

I remain optimistic and am sure that things will work out just fine. In the meantime I will try to keep my sanity amongst the acronyms and algorithms. 😳

Still sparkling…one day at a time.   😊

~ new normal, new year…

It has now been one year since I rang the bell! Yay! Sparkles worked!! ✨ One year post treatment and I am doing well! Today I had a follow-up appointment and my hematologist is pleased with how well I am doing. It’s always a relief to hear good health news! Now I will shift to three appointments per year. 

Over the last three months I have seen a neurologist and a physiatrist, had nerve test done on my arms and hands, which left me with a different diagnosis of carpal tunnel in both hands not neuropathy. So I have been wearing braces every night for three months now. Some days I feel like things are improving, then I do housework and my hands and wrists are miserable again. From speaking with my doctor today she has no other options to suggest as they have no idea what is causing my issue. It seems like my only option is sparkles! So I will grab the medical encyclopedias and look for detailed images of the bones, nerves and tissues inside of wrists and hands to visualize sparkles healing! ✨ 

My biggest issue these days is, truthfully, being lazy! With 24 hours in the day it is incredible how much time I waste, doing what you ask? well that is even a mystery to me most days. I would like to think I would exercise and eat well daily, this happens for about a week and then I make excuses and procrastinate. If I can admit this then why don’t I do something about it? That is a darn good question. I am human, that’s about all I can say. 

Another observation about my new normal is that I am still quite forgetful. I can be looking at someone while having a conversation and be totally blank, not recalling at all what I have just been told. This is so hard. I used to feel mentally sharp, process things quickly and retain information easily. Now I write things down and still forget. I guess it’s time to apply sparkle healers to my brain and memory. ✨😳

I sparkle on…one day at a time.   😊