Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Volunteering

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Volunteering


I'm an all or nothing kind of girl. I always want to give 110%, or if I can't, I feel like I haven't achieved anything. This is something which I've really struggled with at the moment. My health hasn't been that great, so all these 'big' plans I'd made for fundraising, or just generally opportunities, have had to be put to one side. I felt for awhile that I wasn't achieving anything with my voluntary work, as I can't do any of my big + crazy ideas. But, then I realised, that a little difference can go a long way. In fact, it doesn't matter how smaller task you do, you are making a difference. And, even if you haven't managed to do it, its the fact you tried to make a difference that counts. Whether you're skydiving for charity, or simply stopping to chat to someone about mental health, know that the smallest thing can make the biggest difference. I always strive for perfection, but I've come to realise that even if one day I simply talk to my volunteers about Project Parent, that has made a difference. And if everyone does something small, together, we can make something big.

Something wonderful is ending next month. Vinspired's 'Team V' programme. I know it's very cliche, but it honestly has changed my life. I started it 2 years ago as a shy, practically friendless leader. I was 'the girl in the wheelchair' and had little self-esteem. But I knew I wanted to make a difference. Throughout the year, I grew in confidence. I sang in front of people I didn't know, I made lifelong friendships and delivered campaigns which I felt strongly about. I enjoyed it so much that I applied to mentor for the next year, which I thankfully got. Unfortunately, this year I haven't managed to support my leaders as much as I wanted, due to health reasons, but the one residential I made it too I had the most amazing time. These guys are family. We all gathered to make a difference, and each doing our own campaigns meant that together we made a huge difference to different causes. Graduation this year is going to be a sad one, as I've grown so much through the programme. But, I know the friends I've met will be there for me for the rest of my life, so I'm hoping the Team V legacy will continue. A huge thanks to everyone from Team V, you guys are amazing.

Finally, I want to talk about how many opportunities I got through volunteering. Not only did I get to meet new people, campaign for what I believe in, making a difference, I also (somehow!) got a scholarship through my hard work. Through this I got funded to do my dance teaching qualification (which has been one of the best things I've ever done!), lessons + books, pottery classes and more. I never did any of this to expect for things back in return, but this was one of the nicest surprises.

So basically, go volunteer ;) Whether its an hour a month or 40 hours a week, it's the fact you are doing something to make a difference which counts. If you're struggling for opportunities, check out the vinspired website where you can gain certificates for volunteering. You can volunteer from your bed, like I did for much of my campaigns, or get out and work with the public. I've even managed to set up my own community interest group through my voluntary work, so the possibilities are endless.

Perfectionism isn't everything. Making a difference is.

Kate x

Latest Artwork

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After finally finishing college, I have had a bit more time to be artistic. Here are a few things I've been creating :)

 Cake I made for my birthday
 Up canvas
 Peter Pan canvas
 Zebra watercolour
Flamingo watercolour

Will post more when I get on a creative streak!

Kate x

Birthday Part 1 - In Pictures

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Some of the many photos I took to remember my 21st...
One of the many balloons I recieved
 Afternoon tea & spa day at Slayley Hall
 My surprise presents
 Boyfriend who spoils me...
 Balloons!
 Gorgeous pudding
 Andrew and I
 Our view from having tea out
Bingo!

Kate x

Birthday Month - Part 1

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Birthday Month - Part 1

Having a chronic (well, more than one...) illness does have its upsides. Instead of having an actual birthday I'm having a birthmonth. I had to spend a lot of my actual birthday in hospital, so we planned little things through the month so I had something to look forward to every week. And here's how it's gone so far...

5th June - I went to Nandos with a few of my friends which was lovely. There's nothing quite like celebrating your birthday with chicken ;)

7th June - I had a Spa Day at Slayley Hall which was honestly amazing. I had a massage, exfoliation & facial as my treatments, they made me my own special almond milk milkshake with gluten free brownies, then, I had afternoon tea at the Duke's Grill. The whole day was really nice. I didn't get to make use of the spa facilities as I was too tired, but the treatment and food was divine. Also, they get extra points for making me gluten free afternoon tea! I loved spending some time with my mum and sister, so that was the icing on the cake!

8th June - My actual birthday. I spent the morning in hospital at rehab and appointments. It was ok though, we had cake! I did have some tests done which didn't come back so positive, but it didn't dampen my day. I rested in the afternoon and went to dance teaching for half an hour in the evening. They all sung happy birthday which was cute! Then, I went to Cafe 21 for my birthday meal which was amazing. The food was possibly the best food I've ever tasted and I had a lovely night with my family. I got some lovely presents for my birthday too - hello Michael Kors bag, Tiffany bracelet & Pandoras. My friends and family spoilt me rotten which was so cute. I got to the stage where I thought I had no friends, but was bombarded by presents and cards. A special mention to my friend Merryn, who got me the most gorgeous balloons delivered to my door too - so special!

13th June - Surprise weekend. Andrew came over to treat me to my late birthday weekend. I wasn't very well so it was pretty tricky and didn't quite go as planned, but hey, it was still nice! We went to Six at the Baltic for tea. We had champagne overlooking the quayside, absolutely lush food and a very nice time. I was spoilt all weekend!

14th June - Bingo! Mum, Michelle, Jennifer, Abi, Andrew and I all went to the bingo. None of us won, but it was a great night!

The next week was busy with finishing college (yey!) and dance shows! But, 27th June is my family/close friends birthday party which I'm really looking forward to. We've planned for if I'm not very well too, so I just need to relax and enjoy it.

So, overall, a very good start to the month. Bring on the 27th!

Kate x

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

National Carers Week - Our unsung heroes

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National Carers Week - 8th-14th June 
Our unsung heroes

I wanted to do a short blog about carers. I've had my article on young carers published before, but I feel like every year I need to spread the world about how amazing carers are and how they've made a difference in my life.

Let me take you back a few years. When I was at my worst with my ME, I suffered paralysis and couldn't do any daily tasks by myself. I was totally reliant on my family and small group of carers. My sister, now 19, was classed as a young carer at the time too. They used to have to do tasks from washing me & brushing my teeth to making meals. It's not only until you have to write all these tasks down, that you realise how much they did for you. 

Now, it's a totally different picture, but I'm still very dependant on carers for many of my tasks through the day. Currently, my family cares for me most of the time. I also have a care agency who come around every day (currently hoping to increase to twice a day because of my relapse). 

My family do most of my tasks. Examples of these are cooking meals, collecting items from downstairs, making drinks, making sure I'm awake at the correct time, helping with medication, taking me out occasionally, taking my to hospital appointments, helping me communicate (I can loose this very quickly on bad days)... plus a tonne of other things. They'll look after me for as long as I'm awake, and if I'm particularly having a bad time, through the night too.

My care agency do slightly different tasks. They'll make me breakfast/lunch which they'll bring up to my bed if I'm not well, or to my recliner if I'm ok! They'll help with my meds, have a general chat and help with any little tasks they can do in the time allowed. On Mondays, my carer takes me along to weekly rehab sessions and helps me with walking, managing appointments and making my lunch. On Wednesday, Vicki (who is a star) takes me on usually my only non-hospital related outing of the week. We have to play it by ear depending how I am on the day, but it can range from lunch out to shopping trips. She's my only carer who's my age so we always have a good chat too.

There are so many carers about, a lot of them not having the recognition they deserve. All my carers do so much for me and they'll be people out there who need a lot more help. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you to all those who've helped me personally, and are helping everyone else!

Because of all the work my family especially put into me, that really egged me on to start Project Parent. Have a look here at how we're supporting carers!

Sorry it's a bit of a shorter post, I'm so exhausted today.
Kate x


Saturday, 6 June 2015

June plans & shed updates

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I'm never really excited about certain months. In fact, I'm never usually that excited for my birthday. But this year is different. I turn 21 on the 8th and due to health (as always!) we've planned a birthday month instead. Lots of little activities to spread it out. It doesn't help that I have exams around my birthday, and even better, I'm in hospital that day too!


Activities include: dinner out, spa day, garden party and finally finishing my a-levels.

Now, my main present is my shed. This has suddenly got a lot of attention, with people asking to see it on instagram and lots of visitors. Well, we had thought about it for awhile, and after a bit of a depressing hospital appointment where the outlook for my health isn't so good, we decided to go for it! I put a lot of my savings into this, but my lovely mum&dad have kitted it out for me! It's not quite finished, but, here it is!






 I have a nest of tables which I am currently up-cycling for my tea set. Oh, and I've got a light up kettle, thats a necessity. Still got blinds to go too, and a few things to put in (yes Alex, my guitar will be featured) but it's getting there! I'm hoping for it all to be done for my later birthday weekend where some of my (amazing) friends are travelling to see me. But for now, it's still perfect to me.

Kate


Lake District Adventure...

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I've neglected this blog a little bit, but I'll get back into the swing of things soon. I (just about) got away to the Lakes for a week away with my family over half term. It had it's ups & downs, but not looking at the same 4 walls was a treat...




We chose a cottage which we had been to before. We had a lovely view overlooking the marina, with a restaurant near by and a 2 minute walk into town. Because I don't get to spend much time with my family together, I really pushed myself to try get out as much as I could, which didn't end up going well.



I have a strict routine at home. I get up at a certain time, have rest breaks (and naps) though the day, eat certain foods, have my feet up nearly all the time...ect. The first problem was that when the baby was awake, I was asleep or resting, and vice versa. So, when I woke up at 11 and had an hours energy to use, the baby would be asleep so we couldn't go out. We eventually got the hang of that though, but then we had other obstacles!



As a lot of you know, I depend on my wheelchair a lot. Dad researched some flat(ish) paths to wheel around by the lake, but after a few hundred metres the wheelchair got stuck. That pretty much ruined the day as everyone was frustrated about not being able to do what we planned. However, on the way back a lovely man stopped up and gave me an offroad scooter! I think that was the only day I went properly out as we scooted round the whole tarn and I pretty much killed myself doing too much in one go... oops!





The village was only a few minutes away. Andrew, Abi, Jack & I went on a walk to the village for a little shop. But, on the way back my scooter ran out of battery and we had to push it home, which was a bit of a nightmare! I also got it wedged on a speedbump, I'm not the worlds best driver!



I also started having panic attacks again which was awful. Thankfully, everyone understands and helps me, so I had my whole family in the bathroom with me whilst I was shaking on the floor. I think I just overdid it, plus exam stress, which just tipped it over.



But, I absolutely loved spending time with my family. I love them to bits. It was lovely t get away, especially since we have so much going on, so the holiday was definitely worth it, despite the little niggles.



I've got to be so careful now I'm home. I mean, I'm always posting on instagram (I'm addicted!) positive things I've done, but I'm literally laid down flat, exhausted, for the rest of the day. I don't want to keep posting pictures of me in the dark in bed, or struggling to walk... I just like to show what I've achieved, even if people think I'm a lot better than I am from it! I have come so far though, but this relapse is taking me forever to get out of, but in 2 weeks time I'll be free!



More posts to come, keep an eye-out!

Kate x