One of the things I have never sought to hide here at BrocanteHome is that both my mood and energy ebb and flow. That sometimes I can. And sometimes I can’t.

It is hard to pinpoint why I can sometimes veer off course. Indeed early this morning, as Ste sat up in bed with his headphones jammed firmly in his ears, committed to his morning meditation practise, I lay next to him throbbing with tiredness after a night of waking nightmares. Knowing that today could be lost to exhaustion. To a fuzzy brain. To Hashimoto’s (Read this for an exact description of how it feels to live with this debilitating condition).

Flow is not possible. The fug, the fog, the pain, the…disconnect and hyperawareness makes it impossible. “Normally, absorption in a task – an immersive flow – can lead you to forget that you feel sick, but my fatigue made such a state impossible. “ Again, running through quicksand…it renders effortlessness forever tantalisingly out of reach. You never get traction. You’re always reaching. Just trying to get to stable ground from which you can take a certain, solid step forward.

Sarah Wilson.

Sometimes the pills work. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I am lazer focused. Sometimes I can barely remember how to boil the kettle. Always somewhere I will be aching. It is more physical than depression. More emotional than exhaustion. As Sarah Wilson so eloquently says “Contact with people hurts. Humans really are too much for me when I’m not good. Why? I don’t know. It’s the accountability, I think. I don’t want to explain myself. I can’t. How can I?”. 

Above all else it is a terrible bore. I bore myself with it and I know I bore those who cannot understand why life, work and commitment to almost everything is so very hard. How much my willingness to commit is so frequently compromised by my sheer inability to function. How utterly frustrating it is to not always be you. To be a lesser version of yourself than those around you imagine you should be. To so frequently disappoint.

As of today, and yesterday, one of the worst symptoms I experience is daytime sleepiness. I can spit out two hours of decent work and then my eyes will be closing, Drooping as if I haven’t slept for a week. So I will get on the floor and do my yoga, walk around the block or drink something energizing. But it doesn’t work. I will still need to close my eyes or risk life and limb handling domestic machinery or driving the car. Then come four o’clock I am wide awake and ready to work. And I can work and work and work until I am TOLD to stop. In-between creating meals, tidying around, organizing homework, taking a bath and watching Coronation Street.

In the evening I am as awake as I can only imagine normal people are the moment they open their eyes. So awake that when it comes to bedtime I begin my usual struggle – a series of rather dramatic sleep rituals I remain deeply suspicious about altering – in an effort to switch my mind off again.

Much of the problem with chronic illness is always about accepting it and teaching ourselves to manoeuvre around it. To accept that if we do more than our bodies can cope with in a flurry of lovely days, we will pay for it with the flare of forgotten symptoms. That in my case restless legs will drive me crackers (but the medication for them: a drug for Parkinsons Disease will make me even sleepier), I will sporadically forget to breathe, my gums will bleed, the sides of my face will swell, my whole body will throb and I will not be able to pull a decent sentence together without describing every object as a “dooberry bit“. As in “Pass me the dooberry bit please. “ (Could be the remote control, my phone, a hairbrush or a salt cellar!) or “Did you remember to pick up my dooberry bit?” (Ummm… milk? My prescription? My son??!!). It is woeful. In fact at times like these I AM woeful. Bless my stupid heart.

I am telling you this so you understood why I come and go. Why my work here at BrocanteHome happens in fits and starts. Why there can be silence after a weekend of family activity that so thoroughly wipes me out I need a day or two to recover.

Today I am trying. I am sitting here wrapped in a blanket because the shivering so familiar to those of us with Hashimoto’s has set in and I cannot shake it off. I have drank a gorgeous Packd Energy smoothie and dosed myself up to the eyeballs with vitamins and pre-biotics and pro-biotics and I am waiting it out, laptop on my knee, hopefully working through everything on my to-do list and hopefully allowing my body enough time to banish the worst of it…

Now do be a dear and pass me my dooberry bit won’t you?

 

Somebody remind me that buying delicious little edible or drinkable somethings from TkMaxx and Homesense is never a good plan when all too often their selection seems to include loveliness I will never have the pleasure of more than once. Tis both a pleasure and a crime.

Case in point? Charbrew Sleepy Tea. Now I do believe my sleeping issues are legendary around these parts. Heaven knows I moan about them frequently enough. So when I find something that helps me switch my overactive imagination off I find myself desperate enough to want to stock up with enough to last me in to the new millennium. And so it was with Charbrew Sleepy Tea.

For let’s face it, it is so very rare to happen across something that does exactly what it says on the pretty box. But Sleepy Tea works. The first night I was asleep within half an hour of sipping it from my cosy bedtime mug (You haven’t got a bedtime mug? Allocate one today!), and better than that, I stayed asleep all night. All night! This is something that never happens, for three o’clock in the morning and I are bosom buddies.

The second night having decided it must have been a fluke, I force-fed it to Ste and both of us slept like contented little logs. This stuff works! It really, really works and now I’m sad. Because we are nearing the end of the box and I cannot buy another because it is all sold out on Charbrew and as far as I can tell unavailable everywhere else on the planet.

Heckity pie, me and my first-world problems.

But anyway, this is a plea for help, so should you find yourself bimbling around TkMaxx or the ever rewarding delight that is HomeSense and you happen across a box or six of Charbrew Sleepy Tea, do think of me won’t you?

Sleeping well rather becomes me.

It’s that time again me darlings. Time for me to glue the zip on my purse tight shut and hop around the internets on an imaginary shopping trip. Wanna come with? Hop on board!

This month I’m all about Spring. Because we have finally strung up a washing line and I am having a fine old time watching my sheets flutter over the garden, and even Ste cannot wait to empty the washing machine and get pegging things out across our double, bubblegum pink line.

It’s quite possible we need a life. Fighting over who gets to peg the washing out isn’t quite the stuff of love’s middle-aged dream now is it??

In This Month’s Edit?

A pair of nude ballet shoes. Because once upon a time my Mum would ring me up on a Friday morning in Spring and declare it “ballet shoe time” which would mean we would head in to Southport and treat ourselves to the shoes that would see us through the Summer after a Winter spent in boots. A laundry basket lined in floral oilcloth because here at BrocanteHome we are dedicated the elevating the mundane and a set of April Cornell tea-towels in a cheery yellow because it is terribly important to scatter a little Spring around the kitchen don’t you know?

Next up the world’s most beautiful chest of drawers (good old Anthropologie!) and a chair my entire body is aching for, to live in the corner of my bedroom – though I suspect it is too lovely to throw clothes over isn’t it?  Oooh and  speaking of my bedroom I also NEED a holistic silk ANTI-AGEING  pillow case because I am wrinkling up like an old prune and it’s either that or Botox. Or maybe just constant re-hydration from a rather happy little glass water bottle because I have got it in to my head that the plastic in most water bottles is killing me and if water is the stuff of life I need a safe way to drink it and thus battle the creep of old-age…

I would like a Cath Kidston Mallory tape dispenser if you don’t mind, this candle because a little seduction never goes amiss (and the name made me laugh) and this darling Springtime wreath for my front-door because the people of Burscough look a little solemn and I feel obliged to spread a little pretty. Oooh and wouldn’t it be downright lovely to have a candle that smells of Spring at your breakfast table?

I want to go to New York so this tea-towel would make quite the loveliest representation of my dream, and I’ve got a rather charming Parish blackboard I never use, because I keep losing the chalk, so these blackboard pencils would be ideal for tying to the board with a length of velvet ribbon. I want my entire family wearing pink Easter Bunny ears at my Easter Dinner (though I’m not sure how well they are going to go down with the boys, damn them!) and before everyone I arrives I want to spritz the whole house with the scent of Prosecco because it sounds so deliciously light and celebratory – just right for our favorite Springtime meal…

Happy Spring Housekeepers.x

 

 

It has long been my belief that we know exactly what ails us and choose to pretend it doesn’t because what ails us is usually something we rather adore and cannot contemplate living without.

In my case it is gluten. I am positively gluttonous about gluten. Oh gluten how I love thee! A french stick still warm from the oven dripping in salty butter? Yes please! Iced donut? Why I don’t mind if I do! What’s that you say? Marks and Spencers are stocking their oh so delicious chocolate and toffee hot cross buns? Get me a trolley full!

When it comes to gluten my gluttony knows no bounds. And it is killing me.

A few weeks ago I got a letter through calling me to an appointment with an endocrinologist I don’t remember asking for and I took it to my GP and said and what would this be for and she said well frankly I have no idea but do go won’t you because appointments with that consultant are terribly hard to come by. And so I had my blood taken and trotted off to the appointment and there he was, a giant of a man who boomed as I sat down, well it’s no bloody wonder you don’t feel well! (Men do seem to boom around these parts.)

And I felt puzzled and he muttered on about various thyroid related numbers and as it turns out I am one of the 15% of thyroid patients for whom the usual treatment is useless as my (frankly awkward) body cannot convert it into anything worth having and thus I have been popping pills for a good few years now that have been doing nothing at all and I wasn’t going mad: I would still feel yukky and tired and fat because the issue was going unaddressed.

And I listened and said well now what can I do about it? And he said I can prescribe nothing at all on the NHS but you can buy some pills from America and take those instead and I have seen some excellent results with them and all shall be well IF you stop eating gluten too. For you m’dear have raised antibodies to gluten and it isn’t doing you any good at all and it will make you feel like death warmed up on a permanent basis and in the long run make you very ill and are you completely mad? You have a son with Coeliac Disease! You have an auto-immune illness! You KNOW gluten doesn’t agree with you and I cannot help you if you will not help yourself!!

Readers I considered myself suitably chastened by this shouty man. Chastened good and proper.

For I did know. I knew my fuzzy head and relentless lethargy weren’t normal. Of course I did. But I have been shuffling backwards and forwards to the GP for ever such a long time while she declared my results normal. Because GP’s do not order the comprehensive set of tests that reveal the truth so obviously to those consultants that do. So I thought my abnormalness was just a fact of life: I wasn’t normal and that was that. And yes, for sure gluten didn’t agree with me but heavens to Betsey, it was yummy and it couldn’t be the whole story now could it?

Well ummm…. possibly. So two weeks ago I gave up gluten and since then I have lost seven inches from my person. An inch off my over-inflated bust. Two inches off my once bloated stomach. An inch here and another inch there. Seven inches! And all I did was cut out gluten and replace it with more veg and protein. It wasn’t hard because I have had the most outrageous flu, but still no gluten for two weeks and the results are pinned inside my wardrobe where I have stuck a chart to measure my Monday morning inch-loss week on week.

Heck, self-deception should be a crime punishable in the Crown Court shouldn’t it? So if you take only one thing away from this post make it that self-deception is a crime against your person and YOU are supposed to be your persons greatest advocate.

You see I KNOW that you KNOW what ails you too. And if I can do it you can do it too. 

 

Happy Saturday Honeybuns. Who fancies a teeny bit of ever so restorative retail therapy today?

I am longing for Spring and swinging a basket over my arm as I make my way in to the village, peeking at the heads of tulips, snowdrops and daffodils forcing their lovely way through the last vestiges of Winter strikes me as quite the most soothing way to celebrate this cheery little sunny morning…

Of course my village is good for little more than fresh bread, a newspaper or a roll of carpet, which is why indulging in a little hop around the internets is always just the thing when a person has a retail itch that just will not be scratched by a pint of milk…

And so, once a month I will be gathering a collection of needful things here on BrocanteHome. A fantasy shopping list of sorts, to reflect the seasons of both home and heart.

In My First Edit?

A pair of Moroccan slippers because the terracotta tiles in my kitchen are a little (a lot) chilly first thing in the morning and I am resolving here and now to always wear something pretty on my feet. Girl Boss because its time to get serious and extend my tiny little empire and I do believe Sophie Amoruso knows what she is talking about. The much heralded Blue Tansy Clarity Mask because Winter has laid a blanket of dust upon my skin and it needs banishing pronto. One perfect candle for my bedside chest now that my bedroom is almost finished. The prettiest blanket in the world for snuggles and tears. Divinely scented, deliciously old-fashioned bath salts in a glass decanter because afternoon baths are still my favorite thing in the world, second only to midnight, candlelit baths in salts blessed with abundance and intention. Two reminders…. Be Happy, Be Bright, Be You (because sometimes I shove the most authentic me under worry and anxiety) and Home Sweet Home, because above all else home matters to me. A set of rose gold stacking letter trays because I have got paperwork coming out of my ears, and a quirky lampshade for the laundry room because it so very much reminds me of being a kid in the seventies. Marvis Jasmine toothpaste because it is JASMINE and really, if we cannot elevate the mundanity of brushing our teeth, then pray tell what is the point of this life?? Oh and I am obsessed by my teeth. OBSESSED I tell you. Obsessed! Finally, the perfect hemp shopping basket for wandering up to the village, a pretty something for around my neck,  a pretty something else for displaying my little collection of vintage perfume bottles (currently living in the loft!) and a pair of fancy embroidery scissors, not because I have ever really embroidered anything in my entire life, but simply because sometimes a person gets to needing something she doesn’t need at all…

Enjoy the rest of February won’t you?

Once upon a time family portraits were a rare and exquisite thing, requiring the wearing of one’s finest stuffy dowdery and a solemn, or mystified expression. Nowadays most of us have at our disposal, the ability and opportunity to take a dozen snaps aday, letting them live forever in the cloud and stripping from the memorization of precious moments, every last ounce of ceremony, purpose and formality…

While there is no doubt that there is some kind of wonderful about instagramming every fleeting, aesthetic moment and I for one would dash back into a burning house to save my darling phone and the much treasured memories locked inside it, the fact that I very rarely go to the trouble of printing any of the myriad of photographs I take, so I can pop them into an envelope and send them to a friend, or frame them so that something cherished could live on my bedside table, really saddens me.

All too often we take the time to take a billion photographs of our babies, but do not take thoughtful portraits of our own father, so we can long treasure the wisdom in his ageing eyes. We avoid having our own picture taken as much as possible and at the end of each year look back on a family apparently without a mistress of the house. We snap a hundred photo’s in the garden, but never think to photograph the ordinary: the changing fashions in our own living rooms: each sofa with a tale to tell, each table the scene of much family magic..

Today I want to suggest a new ritual: the taking of a family portrait on a particular day each week, an informal gathering of each family member taken in the same room every time so that you can mark the children growing up, see the changing shape of the family and the house and reflect upon the ravages or delights of time…

And then (and this is the important bit), once a month you go and get your weekly portraits printed out and put them inside a large album, creating for yourselves, a true family album you will come to treasure for always..

This then is a ritual you should adopt today. For one day you will look back and be truly grateful that all those moments of ordinary are captured in your hearts and hands for always…

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american housewife abc

Oooh people I want to watch this! Mostly because I relate a little too closely to the plight of a not so perfect housewife in a sea of small town perfection…

“Katie Otto, a confident, unapologetic wife and mother of three, raises her flawed family in the wealthy town of Westport, Connecticut, filled with “perfect” mommies and their “perfect” offspring…”  

 

Apparently an “insanely accurate reflection” of life in Westport, Connecticut, and I suspect, an insanely accurate reflection of what it is to have a bottom the size of a mini-bus in a land peopled by bodies honed by yoga, money and plastic surgery, looks set to be the perfect replacement to Modern Family now we have reached the end of the series available on Box Sets…

Coming very soon in America and sure to follow twenty-five years later in the UK, I am rather looking forward to this one, aren’t you?