Synergy

Euphoric!

I love a good coincidence. I love the synergies between things and finding unexpected connections.

You who know me and know my story will understand the particular significance of the word ‘euphoria’ for me. Euphoria was my most significant side effect from the immune modulating steroids that put me into remission. I wrote about that here.  Ah, such a buzz that was, and so nice to have a positive side effect from medications! It’s rare, you know, for the meds to produce something lovely!  I like the synergy, that the med that made me happy also made me well.

So, euphoria and I were an established pair.  And that bubbly happiness spread out across the joy of my remission, across the beginnings of becoming a plus size model. And then one day, I found myself in the uber cool flat of a brilliant photographer, Carolyn Haslett, who was going to do a shoot for me. She was so lovely. I felt really embarassed by my lack of knowledge about the high end plus size fashion scene. I mean, I’ve never really had budget for high end fashion, so my knowledge extended to bagging bargains and making style out of what you’ve got. And of course, when I was sick, there was very little call for fancy things.  It was all comfort and practicality, perched up in my bed looking out at the world.

Carolyn is vastly experienced in the world of fashion, here and overseas. She was a patient educator. She chatted about Georgia Pratt, a plus size model she had photographed previously. Georgia is a forerunner for plus size modelling in New Zealand and is now wildly successful in the UK. Carolyn also told me about Euphoria Design. She told me how much I would love their pieces. We went upstairs to her rooftop and she took some photos. I love all the pictures she took, but the one above feels particularly breezy and confident, it’s one of my favourites from that day.  I was wearing my beloved dress from TCD (another oustanding NZ fashion label for plus girls) and enjoying the whole experience.  It was a day for stepping into confidence and learning to move my body for the camera. I learned so much, not just from shooting with Carolyn, but from analysing the photos with her later.

I looked up Euphoria Design when I got home, and joined their facebook page. I am always keen to support local fashion houses, and I wanted to know more about them. Their clothes made me swoon. Luxurious, flowing layers and unique signature prints, I loved them all. I was thrilled when they announced an end of season sale, such a great opportunity to pick up designer delights at a fraction of the new season prices. And then, one day, Euphoria announced they were running a competition. They were looking for ten ladies who exhibited the ideal that ‘Confidence is Beautiful’.

I was beyond excited! I rifled through my photos and found the one Carolyn had taken all those months before, up on her roof. James Taylor‘s song started floating through my mind… I uploaded my pic and wrote about that experience, strutting across the rooftop terrace, totally new to modelling, a novice at confident posing. I wrote about how confidence is a choice you make, to back yourself. And then, even though I will never be comfortable asking for votes, I shared and shared and hoped and hoped.

Last night, I got an email saying I was in!  What a win for women like me, over forty, a little frumpy, a little frazzly, a little frightened about being thought ridiculous. We’re not ridiculous. We are beautiful, for all that we are, all that we do, all that we have experienced.

It made me dance up and down my hallway. I love this competition because it is all about the very thing I believe. We shine when we stand up with confidence and believe in ourselves. We are beautiful when we know ourselves and treat ourselves with kindness; we radiate positivity when we accept ourselves for all that we are and have been through. Beauty and confidence go hand in hand. It’s a feeling. It’s quite a lot like euphoria!

I sat down this morning to write this post because I knew you’d want to know how that competition went.  And as usual, I went to my online graphic program, Canva, to make the blog graphic for the beginning of the post.  I kid you not, look at the font name!

See! Synergy!

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 9.58.32 am

If you’d like to look at Euphoria Design’s beautiful clothes, you’ll find them online here.
Or join their facebook page here and follow the competition as it all unfolds.

So thank you: Carolyn, for the image that helped me place among the winners, to anyone who voted, to Monique at Euphoria & Jane at Identify Marketing for choosing me…

…and thank you ‘synergy’, for making it all feel like a kind of cosmic kismet. I like that.

The Bunny, the Book and the Blog

and a happy little side effect called euphoria

Oh it’s a buzzy world I inhabit today!  I’ve just had my monthly infusion and that makes me feel a bit manic, a bit weird (just quietly) and like I can manage anything (I think that is the euphoria side-effect, again): only I don’t. Manage anything. Because it’s just a feeling, not a practical reality.

B(3)

(it is hard to find ‘a’ words to go with that picture, so A-nother had to do! I’m not tired of them, as that word implies, I am very, very grateful for them).

In reality, I’m here on the sofa, letting the weird win over, waves of bust-outta-my-skin-feeling, crazy, heat, palpitations, fuzzy vision and a yuck post-infusion taste in my mouth.  Thankfully, the flush is yet to begin, I can look forward to that joy tomorrow. So I’m riding it out, resting and hanging out with my bunny-onesie-pyjamioed daughter.  We’ve been giggling.

I like it.  So here we are while I fizz away in my slightly manic post-infusion-way and show her how I post on my blog.  Why? She wants to start her own, how cool is that?… I’ll keep you posted on how that goes!  Here she is, modelling my current reading material.  You’ll see why, soon.

 

B

 “So, Mum. How do you write a blog post?”

“I’ll show you!”

NOTES FOR MY GIRL
(and anyone else who wants to write a post someday)

STEP 1:
You find something that you want to WRITE about.   It might be a conversation that you want to discuss, a picture that inspired you, something that riled you or a moment that ‘smiled’ you.  Whatever it is, get writing. Start with some context for your blog piece.
I want to write about a great evening with you, my girl and how it relates to learning to blog.  So I start to tell the story, like this:

We’re in the lounge, my BobbyD, and me.  We’re having our special after dinner cuppa and unwinding; we’re discussing this bookDavid and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants, by Malcolm Gladwell. The kids have gone to bed (or so we think….) and I’m inspired because Gladwell’s way of pulling things together is totally brilliant. I already love his other works, and he has written here about something I am passionate about… the misfit. By the way, have you read ‘Outliers’?  I think it’s essential reading for every parent teacher and coach.  This one looks to be just as good!

…and then you SAVE DRAFT and carry on writing until your piece has a beginning, a middle (and eventually, a clear end) like this:

So anyway, I’ve always loved the story of David and Goliath.  David’s bravery, his self-assuredness, his strategic approach to what seemed like insurmountable odds. It’s a great story for the book to start on. So I’m regaling my hubby with Malcolm’s pithy, easy-to-read, yet intelligent writing style, when our tween enters the lounge. She crosses her long legs underneath her on the sofa and settles in to listen. I pause, and remind her that it is bedtime. She says, “But… it’s just…” and I wait for what usually follows. (Insert here: I’m thirsty/ I have more homework/ One more chapter/ just another hug…).  But she flashes a huge grin and continues,
“it’s just that… you’re cool when you have cuppas and talk about books.  I want to hang with you.”

Is it a cunning ploy? If so, she’s getting good. If not… oh, if not!  I am completely taken by the notion that I might, finally, after ten years, have achieved “cool” status with my girl!  And it’s connected to cups of tea and books! I don’t want to let go of that loveliness, not straight away. Maybe she could stay up. Just a little longer…
…she is clearly very astute.  Because it doesn’t stop there.

In a master stroke, she tells me I am also cool because I blog. That she would like to blog, too. She offers to get my computer, and retrieve some of my secret chocolate stash from the censored location (so much for that spot!) We settle in to write this post together.  We take some photos to use in the post. She wants to know all about how it works.
How cool, is she?!

I’m suckered right in. She’s here beside me now and we are blogging. 🙂

STEP 2:

Gather what you need.  Computer, chocolate, photos.  This is really what you do right at the very beginning, but it came up in the story now, so it will have to be step two.  Yes, Bee.  The preparation is important, it will save you time later.

STEP 3:

Click that button up there to the right that says, SAVE DRAFT.  Then, ADD LINKS to all the text which make sense for linking outside the blog (to relevant websites) and to your own (to something you’ve written before).   Links are the highlighted words in your post that will take readers to other webpages. I will link the text about Malcolm Gladwell’s book so people can find it, and then I will link the text that refers to my daughter, to a post I made last year all about her.  She adds that I should link Daddy’s name to the post I wrote about him
(see? She’s cool and clever).

STEP 4:

Source and edit and UPLOAD YOUR PHOTOS. I keep it pretty simple, I either take photos on my iPhone, or pay and use licensed pictures from Canva (an online blog graphic app). I do that to make sure I am not breaching copyright with other peoples’ pictures.

When you’ve edited them and got them looking just so, add them to your page and make sure the settings are right. I could go on about that, but my girl has to go to bed now, so showing her this bit might have to happen next time I am cool enough for her company…

I interrupt this transmission to put her, firmly and finally, to bed.

Wow.  That was fun!  I think I am going to like teaching her how to blog!  If I am the admin of her site, I can keep it as safe and as private as possible.  She wants to blog about her favourite pastime, horse riding, followed by…
“horse gaming, horse pictures and horse products and horse books and favourite horse gear…” (take a breath, girl!)  I think finding her ‘niche’ will be pretty straightforward!

STEP 5:
SAVE DRAFT.  Check, EDIT, go through your post.  When you are sure it looks right (Bee, that means when Mummy is sure your post is ready, appropriate and proofed!) you can schedule it or PUBLISH it immediately.   I always check it again the minute I publish to make sure I didn’t miss things.  It’s easy to miss things in the wordpress draft format. In fact, I find editing after publishing to be highly motivational!

STEP 6:
Let people know it is there! Link your post to your blog’s facebook page. Add it to the ‘link ups’ or ‘share threads’ you are part of on any facebook groups you belong to.  If your blog has a subscription plug in, people should get an email to say it is there.

STEP 7:
…aaaand, finish with a question or two.  It lets the reader know that you would love their interaction.  It turns it into a conversation.  Much nicer.

Tada!  That is how I write a blog post.
If you are a blogger, is your process similar?
And even more important, are you COOL, too?

 

B(1)
Photograph by Bee Cox (my girl)

Ah!  I’m cool, yes I am. Maybe only for one ten year old girl who doesn’t want to go to bed.
But it counts, okay?

 

“Inappropriate Happiness”

Today was my first steroid infusion.  I don’t mind admitting that I was very nervous.  I seem to have a talent for experiencing side effects when they are on offer.  My first two drugs, fludrocortisone and midodrine both had to be stopped because the side effects were dangerous. Fludro dangerously rose my intra-ocular eye pressure.  If my optometrist hadn’t noticed the rising numbers, I could have gone blind. The midodrine (my most favourite medication of all time) caused urinary retention and hypertension.  Again, I had to stop.

As always, I had done my homework before today’s infusion.  I knew the common side effects and the less common.  I also had a moment of panic when the ward immunologist explained during her disclaimer, “…and I have to tell you, it’s rarely ever heard of, but some people do have serious allergic reactions to high dose steroids”.  See? Don’t tell a girl with a rare diagnosis that things ‘rarely’ ever happen.  It’s like putting a siren strobe light on my head, pointing at me and yelling at the universe
“That rare-side-effect-magnet-girl is HERE!  Come stuff her up some more!”.

Of course, in the interest of self protection, I always do consider the worst-case-scenario when I am embarking on a new medication.  I scan the Medsafe sheet and think ‘Can I handle that?’  If I am prepared to handle that in exchange for the benefits the drug might bring, then it’s worth the risk.

So this was the list I examined last night.  It’s from the Mayo website:

Add a little bit of body text(3)(yes, I know, the highlighting slipped on the second group of my graphic, but tonight, I don’t care about getting it just so!  Handle the jandal design minded peeps, it’s really, okay).

I scanned the list and realised that of all those side effects, most are my current symptoms anyway (highlighted in yellow). Nothing new there.  The ones highlighted  in blue are not usual for me, so would be easy to spot if they turned up.  I decided it was worth the risks.  But there were other sites I visited, too.  Ones like this one, that listed side effects I felt sure were too nice for me to ever have.  Like euphoria (apparently this ranks at #36 in all on online discussions about IV steroids).  Euphoria is a sense of ‘misplaced wellbeing’.  Or as one of the sites describes it: ‘inappropriate happiness’!  When could happiness ever be inappropriate?  Well maybe at a funeral. Or job interview.  Or in the wee small hours.

I arrived at the Immunology Daystay and we got underway.  The Immunologist who saw me was wearing killer heels and wrote with a Mont Blanc.  It was a brilliant start. I wanted to get a photo but I thought she might think me weird.  She was that sort of doctor who talks to you without any hint of superiority, too.  Taste and tact.  Smart and sensible and kind. I liked her right away. She asked me questions and explained the process.  I signed the form.  They stuck the needle in my hand, taped it down and away we went.  It’s the fastest infusion I have ever had; it only took a morning.

This is what I noticed:
First, a rising metallic taste in my mouth.  It even made my water taste brackish.  The kind lady next to met gave me a mint.  She was nice.  We talked about books we loved (she was reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour and I am in the midst of Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves).  I began to feel woozier than normal and really tired.  I noticed when I got up that my legs were weaker.

Back at home, I propped myself up in the armchair and drank a cup of bitter tea.  Then the hunger hit.  I was a ravenous creature! Thankfully, an entire pomelo was on the bench (pomelo are giant fruit from my childhood in the tropics, kind of a cross between a huge grapefruit and a mandarin).  I ate a whole one.  What? They’re only the size of a human head! And then (shhhh) a few other things besides! Aunty Dee’s tua tua fritters with wasabi mayonnaise,  a salted caramel and date cupcake.  There goes my liquid diet!  BAM. Delicious.  By late afternoon I felt really odd.  Just wrong, weak and dizzy, but different to my normal weak and dizzy.  Who knew that weak and dizzy had so many different presentations? I lay and marvelled about that.  All the different dizzies.  I was sleepy, but I didn’t couldn’t stay asleep.  I got ready for bed, hoping sleep would claim me for the night.`But there in the back of my head, there was a shiny little secret twinkling.  I pulled it closer so I could see what it was.

Every little thing is gonna be alright.

‘That’s odd.  So not true!’   I thought.  ‘But it is true, come see’ was the thought that came back at me.  I closed my eyes and this is what I saw…

Earth, from space, like you see in the movies, all that blue and green with wispy scuds of clouds.  Breathtaking.  But as I looked I saw that in some places there were burnt patches.  I knew; those patches were the horror scenes we see on the news, we read about in books, we worry about as we hold our babies close. And then, from the back of my tiny brain, somewhere down there in New Zealand, that twinkly little thought rose up and burst through the atmosphere.  I saw it climbing up.  Then millions of starbursts of thoughts, from everyone else too, everywhere else, cutting vertical lines upward through the atmosphere across the entire planet.  Then they bent and arced around the earth, forming a web of light that shone down over everything, even the burnt places.  And there was regeneration.  But new burnt patches appeared, pinpricks and vast stretches.  And the arcs of light kept shining. And the world kept healing itself.  One patch at a time.  Links of light shining down in the dark spaces.

I opened my eyes then.  Looked around my room and thought:  
‘There is more good than bad’. And that little epiphany made me happy.  And the happiness just sort of filled me up.  Just like that.  I haven’t felt happy like that for a long long time.  I’ve felt content, but not so completely happy.  Better than being able to hike up to a good view, even.  Better than being deliriously tipsy in the kitchen, lost in the sway of your man’s arms and a good song.  Better than floating on your back in a sapphire sea. A better buzz than most of life’s joys.  Better than baby feet! So nice to feel that every little thing is going to be alright.  So good to feel it in my bones.

And then it occurred to me.  HAPPY DAYS! Far out, Rachel.  I’m experiencing euphoria!  For once in my life, a nice side effect!  Huzzah!

And then I chatted with my dear friend, Nettie, and I rocked around the internet marvelling at it’s extraordinary wonders.  I felt a growing sense of Eudaimonia (there’s a word to make you happy); human flourishing.  Another thought twinkled away: this illness, this experience, it’s a process.  It’s not the opposite of good, it’s just a process, like any other biological process.  I can flourish from it just as well, or maybe more, even, than I could have if I were well.  And I am, I will.  I’m a quick study. And that thought made me even happier.

The Bobby D came into the bedroom to go to sleep then, it was already late and he was concerned.  I don’t do well with poor sleep, so he suggested with that lovely man-kindness, that I call it a night.  But you know what?  I JUST COULDN’T.  I am happy!!!  I want to squeeze every last drop of this euphoria out.  I told him I needed to write (that look lasered over at me) and that I would come to bed as soon as I possibly could.  I repaired to the living room and lay on our lovely long velvet sofa.  It makes me happy too. The feeling of my feet brushing across the nap, smooth, rough, smooth.  Life.

And I wrote this down.  Well, in fits and starts.  I’m a bit distractable tonight!  Flitting here there and everywhere in my laptop world! Loving all of the world, the light and the dark. The shiny thoughts that are gonna make everything all right. It’s all probably a bit wuwu.  I hope it won’t be so nutty I will have to delete it tomorrow.  Because I want to capture this feeling.  Can you feel this joy?  It’s so nice. It’s like one of those big round papasan chairs but instead of a cushion there is lots of sunshiney light, and I am coccooned in it; euphoric!

Goodness!  it is nearly 2am already.  How did that happen?

May euphoria find you some time in your lifetime too.  And may it not be via drugs.
It’s wow.

EUPHORIA