Plan Rest Into Your Day

"Pace yourself. Plan rest periods into your day. Don't work so hard you are completely exhausted the next day and it takes you a week to recover." This is advice I give to my patients with congestive heart failure and COPD and other chronic illnesses on daily basis. 

It is good advice for someone with chronic fatigue as well. Especially on the good days, when I am feeling energetic and ambitious. I have learned that if I work too hard or stay up too late on days I feel good, I will pay for it the next day--or more like it, for the next week. Planning a time to just lay back and read or to take a nap is essential for me in managing fatigue even on the best days. On work days or days when I have to be out and about all day, I try to plan a bit of time to sit and shut my eyes for a for moments and breathe deeply. I often take a short nap when I get home from work before doing anything else. 

I will confess that somedays, like today, I feel like I am living life at a snail's pace. But with planning rest periods into each day and giving yourself permission to slow down on good days, things balance out, and in the long run there will be fewer really bad days. 

Somethings it is okay to go at a snail's pace.

 

This post is part of a month long series of Living Gracefully with Chronic Fagtiue. For the full series as each post is added, click on this link:

http://www.tangledbasketfarm.com/31-days-series/

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Find the Things You Love

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I think this one is pretty self explanatory. Find the things you love to do, and they will help carry you through the day and motivate you to get up, get out, and start doing something. For me, this is often gardening, nature photography, basket weaving. All three demand that I get up and go outside. 

 

This post is part of a month long series of Living Gracefully with Chronic Fagtiue. For the full series as each post is added, click on this link:

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Take the Scenic Route

Take the scenic route.

Take the scenic route. 

This bit of advice was in one of those bulleted lists of things you can do fight fatigue that I read several years ago. The list mostly included common sense things like "drink plenty of water" and "get enough sleep". 

Take the scenic route. At the time, this was not something I wanted to do. 

Let me back up a bit. I grew up in a home somewhat similar to the Amish. We didn't have a car. My parents didn't drive. I grew up never even considering that some day I might drive; much less have a job where I drive hundreds of miles each week. When I finally learned to drive at the ripe old age of 27, I saw it as an unpleasant, rather stressful activity that you did solely to get places. I didn't enjoy and in all honesty, it was exhausting. When I drove somewhere, my only concern was to get there as quickly and easily as possible. Taking the scenic route was not in my plan. 

Fast forward to having a job that takes me on many back country roads, through some of Michigan's richest farm land. I still wasn't looking to make my days longer though, so I stuck to the tried and true main roads as much as possible. 

Take the scenic route. That phrase has echoed back and forth in my mind for several years. I was afraid to put it into practice. I was already too tired, too overwhelmed. I didn't need to add anything else to my already busy days.  

Then about a year ago, I started branching out, taking different roads, exploring a bit. Checking the map to see if there was a different way I could get someplace. It may take me a few minutes longer to get someplace when I take the scenic route, but believe it or not, it does energize me and make the driving easier and much more pleasant. In fact, now driving is one of my favorite parts of my job. It can be both relaxing and energizing. 

So, yes. Do take the scenic route. For me at least, it belongs right up there with "get enough sleep" and "drink plenty of water". 

 

This post is part of a month long series of Living Gracefully with Chronic Fagtiue. For the full series as each post is added, click on this link:

http://www.tangledbasketfarm.com/31-days-series/

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Turn off the Computer

Turn off the computer and go outside.

The computer can be like the couch--it can be hard to get off once I get on it, especially on days when even washing the dishes feels like too much.  While spending some time on the internet and computer each day is relaxing, and can even be energizing, too much computer sucks away my energy and leaves me at feeling like I wasted my day. 

So for those days when I when moving sounds like too much work, here are five low energy things that I try to do instead-- 

1) Take nap (you would think that would be a no brainer, right?) 

2) Go outside and sit on the steps. (Or if it is nice out, take a blanket and go lay in a field of dandelions or under a tree). 

3) Read a book. (This is much more relaxing than being on the computer).  

4)  Move to a different room in the house and do a very simple craft or activity.  (For me, this is when I often prep for basketmaking--such as braiding corn husks and sweetgrass).

5) Snuggle up with a loved one and watch a movie.  

What would you add to this list?

 

 

This post is part of a month long series of Living Gracefully with Chronic Fagtiue. For the full series as each post is added, click on this link:

http://www.tangledbasketfarm.com/31-days-series/

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Get off the Couch

Tips for getting off the couch...

Some days it is all too easy to flop onto the couch and stay there for the rest of the day. I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with doing this occasionally. Some days I just need to relax and to rest. But often to feel more energized, I just need to start moving, even if it is doing something simple and fairly mindless.

Here are six simple things I often do to get myself moving...sometimes one thing leads to another and I end up having a productive day, even if I don't feel like having one.  

1) Wash the dishes

2) Fold laundry

3) Organize and clean one drawer or shelf

4) Go for a short walk 

5) Sit on the front porch and stare at the sky

6) Fill the bird feeders

What rather mindless, but productive activities would you add to this list? 

 

This post is part of a month long series of Living Gracefully with Chronic Fagtiue. For the full series as each post is added, click on this link:

http://www.tangledbasketfarm.com/31-days-series/

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Claim Your Pot of Gold

Claim your pot of gold.

All too often I find myself looking wistfully at the end of the rainbow, wishing for a pot of gold that is out of my reach. My life will start I think, when I finally figure out what exactly is making me so tired, when I finally have the energy to do all things I want to do. 

In the past year, I have made a decision to claim the pot of gold that is already mine...to live the plentiful life I already have. Whether I have lots of energy or not, my life is full of treasures. I am doing the things I want to do.

Maybe I am doing them a little more slowly than I would if I didn't have chronic fatigue.

But that's okay. Life wasn't meant to be lived in a hurry. Taking life slowly gives me more time to appreciate my very own pot of gold. 

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I'll be taking the weekend off from posting on this series. If you would like to stay up to date on what I am up to, click here to follow Tangled Basket Farm on facebook.  

 

This post is part of a month long series of Living Gracefully with Chronic Fagtiue. For the full series as each post is added, click on this link:

http://www.tangledbasketfarm.com/31-days-series/

 

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Little Goats can Help.

Little goats can help with chronic fatigue. 

Chickens can too, actually. 

Last winter several bloggers wrote posts titled, "What is saving my life right now".  I didn't write a post at the time, but I knew that it was my three little goats that were "saving my life" last winter. There is something very soothing, very comforting about having a routine of caring for and feeding animals. The smells and sounds of the barnyard, the gentle ringing of the goat bells, the fresh morning or evening air--these all lift my spirits and soothe my mind. 

Goats need to eat, and if they can't be out of the barnyard to graze, I cut them fresh branches twice a day--in the winter it is evergreens, in the summer they get to eat all the invasive roses, box alder, and autumn olives that their little hearts can possibly desire. Right now I am collecting wild apples for them each morning and evening as well. 

This all means, that whether I feel like it or not, I get outside at least twice a day. Often I take them for a walk as I am gathering their food. I get to see the sun rise and set, I get to watch the fawns and wild turkeys that tend to be most active at dusk and dawn. I also get some of my best photos at these times of the day while I am collecting food for my little goats. 

So, yes, so many days it does feel like my little goats are saving my life. 

The same with my chickens--I do feed them grain instead of collecting food, but going out and feeding the chickens, collecting the eggs, counting them all, and tucking them away for the night has been a looked forward to and soothing part of day for several years. 

I'm sure people without chronic fatigue can relate to this at least a bit. Does your pet do something similar for you?

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This post is part of a month long series of Living Gracefully with Chronic Fagtiue. For the full series as each post is added, click on this link:

http://www.tangledbasketfarm.com/31-days-series/

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It is All About Priorities

Some days with chronic fatigue, it feels like I can barely do the bare minimum of what I need to do to simply function. At the end of the day, it can be all too easy to feel as if nothing was accomplished and the entire day was wasted. On days like this, I have to remind myself what my priorities are and to focus simply on those things. On days when I am working, this means putting my 100% into caring for my homecare patients. Ultimately it is my job that keeps our mortgage paid and food on the table, and will help me attain my long term goals with our little farm—so this has to be one of my highest priorities. Having meaningful employment where I am making a difference in people's lives is one of the things that keeps me going. Having a husband who cheers me on, and who appreciates the work I do helps a lot, too.
 On work days almost everything else in my life gets ignored. This can be extremely frustrating for me--I'd like to come home and clean and cook, and work on projects, or spend time with friends. When this doesn't happen, I need to remind myself what my priorities are and be content to do those other things on days when my energy levels are higher, or on my days off.

This was an important lesson for me to learn in coping with chronic fatigue—on bad days, be content with accomplishing just those things that are high priorities.  

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 This post is part of a month long series of Living Gracefully with Chronic Fagtiue. For the full series as each post is added, click on this link:

http://www.tangledbasketfarm.com/31-days-series/

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Be Fully Present

 

Be fully present one moment at a time.

This may be the most important lesson chronic fatigue has taught me. Sometimes I feel as if chronic fatigue wraps me up in a smothering cocoon. I feel as if I am simply going through the motions of life while surrounded by a blurred fog.

This is when I have to remind myself to take a deep breath, and be fully present in the situation that I am in.

On a physical level this often means sitting up a little straighter, noticing patterns and colors, the way the light falls, and other details of my surroundings. It means feeling the wind or sun on my face.

 On the job it means leaning in a little closer to truly hear what my patient is telling is telling me and listening with both my heart and my ears.

 It means holding my loved one a little tighter, being aware of scents and sounds and just being there.

At home it means tackling one task at time (Sometimes I wonder if the inability to multitask well is part of chronic fatigue?). It means doing one job well before moving on to the next.

Simply being present—fully present—one moment at a time, helps me break out of the smothering cocoon, even on my worst days. 

So many of the things I am going to share in the coming month that help me cope with chronic fatigue have to with this--just being present. 

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This post is part of a month long series of Living Gracefully with Chronic Fagtiue. For the full series as each post is added, click on this link:

http://www.tangledbasketfarm.com/31-days-series/

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Living Gracefully with Chronic Fatigue--A 31 Days Series

Chronic fatigue has been my constant companion for more than a decade. I am a home care nurse with a full and busy work schedule, a wife, a homemaker, and am quietly building my dream of running a small organic farm.

Mind numbing exhaustion, achy joints and sore muscles are challenges I face almost daily. Some days the fatigue knocks me flat on my face, and there is nothing graceful about it. But over the years I’ve learned to work with it, to find those little things in my everyday life that lift me up and carry me through the day.

I invite you to walk through the month of October with me, while I share those little things that inspire me and help me to get through each day. If chronic fatigue is something you live with as well, I would love to hear from you, and learn what helps you to get through each day. 

 

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You can follow along here:  31 Days Series


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Study in Purple

Flower arrangement by Mother Nature--Echinacea, peppermint, and red clover blossoms.  

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Golden Sunset

Sherlock enjoys a stroll through a golden sunset.  

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Mama Blackbirds Aren't Black


Female Redwing blackbird 

Female Brewer's Blackbird

(At least I am pretty sure the second bird is a female Brewer's Blackbird. If someone knows differently, please let me know.)

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Tiny Miracle


There are only two ways to live your life. One--as though nothing is a miracle. The other--as if everything is a miracle. (Albert Einstein)

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Upset Robin

When I took my quick walk around the yard and garden this morning, I came across this very upset robin, chattering away on a fence post. 



It took me a minute to realize that the reason for his dismay was that a starling was in the tip top of the spruce tree that the robin's nest and babies are in. 


I think everything worked out okay in the end though, because later in the day, the robin was busy back at work finding grubs and flying back up to the nest with them. 



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Scent of Lilacs

Every morning, they are sitting there--holding hands--on the garden bench, near the fragrant lilac bush. She is wrapped up in a thick brown sweater, despite the already warm, sun drenched air.

I wave and they wave back. He helps her up, guiding her up the steps on to the back porch as she awkwardly maneuvers her walker. I follow them inside and fill a basin with warm water then gently unwrap her bandaged hand while he hovers behind me.

"Is it looking better?" he asks anxiously peering at the wound on the back of her hand.

"Yes," I have to say this as loud as I can, for he has lost most of his hearing. "It is looking better. It is healing well.  It is a beautiful wound."

He smiles, relieved, and goes back outside.

She looks at me and frowns. "It looks ugly," she says looking at the back of her hand.

"You know," I tell her, "It looked ugly when I first started seeing you." That was only 14 days ago. The wound had covered the entire back of her swollen and discolored  hand and was filled with  with yellow slough, and purulent gray drainage. Now it is beefy red and filled with healthy granulation tissue and is healing rapidly. Her fingers are no longer swollen and their color is normal. "Now it is a healthy wound. It is healing well. Nurses think the oddest things are beautiful--and to a nurse, a healthy healing wound is truly a thing of beauty."

She laughs every time I say that. I clean and dress the wound.

He comes back in, with fresh lilacs he has cut for the kitchen table and gently pats her freshly bandaged hand.

The tiny kitchen is filled with the scent of lilacs and of tender love.

They have been married for 57 years. She is standing on the brink of that immense chasm of dementia. He is losing his strength, and can barely hear. Yet, there is a breathtaking beauty  in their togetherness.

In a few short days the wound will be healed, and I will be seeing a different patient at 9:00 in the morning.  I am blessed that I have the privilege to have had a tiny part in their lives.
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Shades of Pink



Trillium Grandiflorum in her many shades of pink. 

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Evening Tulips


Tulips in the evening light. 

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Tree Swallows

I got to watch this pair of tree swallows build their nest this afternoon. Or rather, I should say, I watched the female build the nest. She was busy all day flying back and and forth, carrying bits of straw, moss, and pine needles for the nest, while her partner sat on the fence and preened and sang all day long. I just hope that he'll be bringing her breakfast, lunch, and dinner while she is sitting on those eggs later on!







Edited to add--I some how labled these birds as barn swallows. They are tree swallows. Barn swallows have orange throats and buiild their nests in rafters and under the eves of buildings. Tree swallows are cavity nesters. 

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Homemaking

It has been pretty busy around here in the homemaking department. 

House Wren
Bluebirds

Tree Swallow


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