Christmas: pressures and perspective

So, I was ‘voluntold’ yesterday by my youngest that ‘we’ were providing the vegan gingerbread house kit for her and a friend for the class contest on Friday. Ummm… okay? 🤣

I love that she knows I love to bake so assumed I’d be happy to do it. Happier that it doesn’t occur to her that I’m carefully pacing myself at the moment so I can make it through the holidays without the MonSter rearing it’s ugly head too far. One of the perks of an invisible illness when it comes to your kids, at least when you can…

But it’s always smart to remind yourself, chronic illness or not, that it’s not worth pushing beyond your limits. Everyone owes it to themselves to take time for self-care, to take things off their plate when necessary and to ask for help sometimes.

The whole season should be about being cozy and spending low-key personal time with your people. Let go of the consumer, commercial side of it and focus on what matters. You can only do what you can do, and good enough is good enough. Otherwise, you…

The best thing I’ve started doing since I finally got decent running shoes is getting my butt out the door every weekday for a 20 minute walk. Sometimes it’s a few minutes more, but never too much because in the past I would get back into ballet or yoga and go too hard, setting myself back several steps. So now I’m the tortoise not the hare, and I find I look forward to my walk each day and it sets me up well for the day ahead. There are days when 20 minutes doesn’t get me too far…

But I’ve only missed one day, when the wind was too much for my sensory issues, and then the last couple of days when I needed to brave the crowds to finish the Christmas shopping. Now I will get out there every day if possible because I know it’s the single best thing I can do to make it through our busiest Christmas season ever, and enjoy it.

Finally, chronic illness or not…

Depending on how things go, I may post one more time about the vegan gingerbread house. If it’s a total fail, maybe not, so…

Wishing you all a restful, joyous holiday and a healthy, peaceful New Year.

❤️ Amanda


Moment of truth: Opinions?

Okay, here are two versions of our fully decorated Christmas tree, using the handmade decorations I presented in my last post. It only took six trips to the store for lights, some creative sawing and duct-taping to get the star on, and four days of decorating, undecorating then redecorating. Who says MS has screwed up my decision-making skills?! 🤣

I can’t decide whether I prefer the first, more minimal tree using just the handmade ornaments, silver wire stars and silver balls; or the second that adds a bit more sparkle and fills in the gaps. But maybe it detracts focus from the handmade – what do you think?

Exhibit A – minimalist tree

Exhibit B – more colour and sparkle

Like a true Canadian, duct tape is an integral part of our Christmas.

Next year I’ll plan things better so I can wrap the lights around the star more unobtrusively. At a certain point, you have to let things go, say good enough, and move on. That’s where I’m at.

But for next year – what do you think? A or B?

❤️ Amanda


Crafts and chronic illness: A Handmade Christmas

As I said in my last post, crafts keep me sane and help me feel productive in my spoonie lifestyle. So, together with my desire to rid our household of plastic as much as possible, I decided to make the decorations for our tree this year. Oh, an important detail: Our youngest requested that I decorate the living room tree myself this year. She’s all about matchy-matchy at the moment.

Usually we have the schmozzle of family heirlooms on the tree, which is wonderful, and they love to tease me about being Monica from Friends when I encourage them to space out the ornaments. The little twerps have been known to clump all the ornaments as close together as possible, just to get a reaction. Too bad for them, I bite my tongue and stealth redecorate later. 😏

This year, the family tree will be in the basement where we spend a lot of time together, and will wait until our son is home from university to decorate. Upstairs, we’ll have a live tree and I will fully embrace my inner Monica when I decorate. Some of the ideas here may flop, or or I’ll choose to go another way, but here’s what I have so far.

Finger-knit and finger-crocheted Garlands

I only started using garlands on our tree the last few years. When I decided to finger knit the garland, I looked up how much I would need for a 7 foot tree. Ready? 63-70 feet!!! 🤗 1-3 feet per foot of tree, so there you go.

Off I went, finger knitting and crocheting approximately 80 feet of garland. Here’s hoping it doesn’t look ridiculous, but if it does I’ll turn them into something else.

Finger knit and finger crocheted garlands

Clothes peg stars

The clothes peg stars are all over the internet and I just loved the look of them. I made five of each colour; translucent, brushed silver, and rose gold. Then I added the herpes of the craft world: glitter!


My youngest and I had fun making pompoms with super soft, chunky yarn and the same white fluffy yarn I used to finger crochet the thinner garlands. We started off wrapping them around our hands and that worked fine. Then I found a rectangular piece of cardboard with a hole in the middle and it was even easier, and the pompoms became slightly more uniform. Fun to use for indoor snowball fights too!

Diy pompoms

Borax Snowflakes

This is a craft/science experiment I used to do with my first graders. The correct formula is 3 tablespoons of borax per cup of hot water. I was doing these in a big bucket though, and could only do two of the twelve 6-inch silver snowflakes or three of the fifteen white 4-inch snowflakes at a time. This took some commitment as the water has to be reheated each time, and the crystals take overnight to form. You can tell I was free-handing the Borax because of the different degrees of crystallization. Measuring might be an idea.

Wire hanger Star

No wire hangers! Sorry, Mommie Dearest.

I got the inspiration for the star from here but did my own take by adding the yarn around the star macrame-like, a craft I learned from my Great Aunt Ede. Then I added cylindrical glass beads as well as regular round ones. I also kept the pompoms small, more because that’s what I had and I was determined not to spend more money.

How to attach? Not sure. I’ll have to Handy Mandy it. 🤓

So, my version of Santa’s workshop has kept me busy for the past few weeks. Getting crafty allows me to indulge in my Christmas obsession early, without buying into the commercialism.

We have the tree, the lights are on (that’s a whole other story), so I’m off to decorate. After a cup of tea – with a healthy shot of rum. Cheers!

❤️ Amanda

Have you gotten crafty for Christmas? Let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for new things to try!

chronic illness, life, mental health, MS

Happy New Year: sponsored by gnomes, ogres and a wise ass

Here we are at the beginning of another year. 2018 was supposed to be a stellar year for me because of my birthday magic – I turned 48 on 8/8/18. Bought my 8 lottery tickets and everything but alas, no millions here. Overall, it was a great year, though.

I have so much to celebrate and be grateful for, the most important of all being the health, happiness and success of my three children. They continually boggle my mind with their kindness, insight and focus on developing their individual talents. Pride in one’s children is the best gift of all.

I took a Hiatus for the Holidays, hoping the creative genies would reappear but instead those nasty black gnomes of depression showed up again. Not until Boxing Day at least, so I enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with my family. But they showed up with a vengeance, planting their little fish hooks all over me and pulling me down into their abyss.

Depression is a vicious predator. It doesn’t just affect the person suffering but emanates throughout a household. You can ‘fake it til you make it’ as much as you wish but everyone feels the cloud. Then, of course, you can add depression’s nasty cousin, guilt, to the mix as well.

Even knowing intellectually that the depression is either hormonal (perimenopause is a freaking blast, isn’t it? If I tear up at one more stupid commercial…😭🙄) or MS-related, thereby completely out of my control, doesn’t alleviate the guilt.

However, brooding on either isn’t going to help anything. So, I’m allowing myself the space to feel whatever I’m going to feel and trying to keep to myself as much as possible, without being a total hermit. I do one thing a day to feel productive, and call it good.

Depression, grief, mental health

One day, one minute at a time

The black gnomes of depression

pierce me all over

Their fish hooks tug me down

Snarling and giggling gleefully

with the ogres of fatigue

Pulling from the depths

with their leaden anchors

They all swirl together toward

The dark pit in the centre

Nauseating boiling ice

Numbing everything

But despair and guilt

Waking me in the night

Marrying the pain

The soles of my feet peeled like carrots

The tops shrieking, spasming

The ankles stabbing

Praying for sleep

Praying for release

Praying for me

I’m still struggling but I’m thinking of the parable of the mule in the well that I read the other day. Hmmm…should I be worried that I’m relating to a jackass? 😜 This article from Patch does a much better job of telling it than I can right now.

Shake it off and step up : THE WISE OLD MULE – An Inspiring Parable That Can Improve Your Life!

Shake it off and step upThe Mule in the Well parable – Shake it off and step up

I hope 2019 has gotten off to great start for you. If not, take those small steps up out of the darkness every day. It may not feel like it, but things will get better if you keep fighting the fight.

I send you all my best wishes for a happy, healthy and pain-free new year.

❤️ Amanda

Other mental health posts I’ve written:

Not so sunshiny days- Depression and awareness

Anxiety : Depression’s partner-in-crime

Pain and anxiety

life, mental health

Hiatus for the holidays

It’s December!! I hope this time of year brings you peace, hope and happiness.

The holidays can be difficult and even traumatic for many people. If you struggle to find the joy in the season, my wish for you is that you can find some small joy in each day, and take it one day at a time.

Often the best way to help yourself is in helping someone else. That doesn’t have to mean financially or even physically. A smile or a helping hand, a kind comment on social media, tiny acts of kindness can have massive positive repercussions.

Ultimately, I wish for everyone to stay focussed on the feelings of love, peace, and kindness and let those infuse the public – and private – spaces as we near the big day, rather than turn into harried balls of stress (haha-see what I did there?) Don’t be a hairy scrotum.

I’m late in posting this week and wasn’t even going to bother. I’m feeling a bit drained creatively after NaNoWriMo. I won – yay! I need to take this time to enjoy all the things I love about this season, without feeling stressed about blogging. So unless the blogging fairies crack me on the head with inspiration, this will be my last post until 2019. I’ll still be reading posts though!

My very best wishes to everyone through the holiday season. May the new year bring health, happiness, laughter and love to your lives.

Lots of love,

❤️ Amanda