Mandy Charlton - Photographer, Writer, Blogger

Photographer of Families, Small People and Delightful Places. Travel and Lifestyle Writer and Blogger. Lives in Newcastle, Loves the North, Often Accompanied By A Beagle Named Holly Bobbins

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

A turbulent and troublesome week?


The Kelpies as a storm is coming, A turbulent and troublesome week, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

It's 7pm on an average Saturday evening, I'm watching Rocketman (because musicals make me happy) and eating a pork pie, yes, old school Ploughmans, don't worry I'm accompanying it with cucumber and some salted popcorn, I like to mix things up a little. I want to say it's been a turbulent and troublesome week but really it hasn't, mostly it's been filled with adventure and lots of walking.  Lots and lots of walking.  I saw the Kelpies, I went on the Falkirk Wheel, I took myself to the Botanic Gardens and felt happy as I walked, surrounded by nature feeling the sunshine on my skin the weather was colder than normal for this time of year.  

When I travel alone, I don't really get too many pangs of loneliness but I always wish I could share sunsets or beautiful vistas with someone special. It's taken me a long time in my life to find friends, I still struggle with the complexities of friendship, Abigail said to me, and quite rightly, that to be friends with me you have to understand that I see the world in a completely different way to everyone else.  I'd like to try and illustrate that but I can't because I've never lived that ordinary, neurotypical life.  I have wished on more than one occasion to just be like everyone else but no one has that magic wand and over the last couple of years, I've been increasingly interested in just trying to embrace all of my divergences and love myself more.

Look, this is as plainly as I can explain it but, on a good day my life is glorious technicolour, everything is vibrant, food tastes better, flowers smell amazing and I want to sing my way through the day (quite possibly why I love musicals so much).  I am confident that I have so many plans and ideas, and I can truly conquer the world.  On the good days, I am funny and great company to be with.  The flipside however is a dark and lonely place.  On the dark days, I am lonely, I am anxious, everything and everyone is grey, nothing holds any interest to me and I can't concentrate on anything or anyone.  You might assume I don't listen to people, but I'm trying so hard and failing. The flipside of me is a dark chasm, I assume everyone hates me and I'm suspicious of everything.  I have no energy, I eat everything in sight and all I want to do is sleep for days.

That paragraph is perhaps an oversimplification of how my general life works but should you have a spare half hour, please go and watch season 1, episode 3 of Modern Love, Anne Hathaway's interpretation of being a bipolar woman is my life entire.  Of course, I am medicated for that but what I'm not medicated for is the autistic part of my brain and when you put everything together, even with medication I can be a difficult and complicated person to love.

In some ways now, I think if I could just switch off that lonely part of my brain, the Achilles heel, I would do furthermore extraordinary things on my own and I would not worry that I was missing out on the things that neurotypical people enjoy so much.  Like visits to the pub and parties and crowds.  I do like occasional nights in the pub, I love to throw a good party but they all have parameters where I become exhausted and it can take me a week to recover from excessive peopling.

Look, I won't say, it's hard to be me because really, it's hard to be a human, especially this last year, sometimes it's been an emotional battle just to want to go on, to continue to not just give up completely but I am still here.  

It's now Tuesday and I went to bed very early last night because I could not deal with the day or the weekend any longer, I just wanted to sleep and forget, when I am depressed, the bed is my cocoon, sleep is the thing I love most and this morning outside it is gloomy.  The rain is falling and splashing against the window.  The cherry blossom still blooms though, it hangs heavy and abundant in the trees outside my window on the ugly urban estate on which I live, it reminds me that beautiful things still happen even on the darkest of days and as someone once said, what if things aren't falling apart? What if things are just shifting into a better place?

Thanks for reading, today and every day...


Ways to support my writing


If you have enjoyed this article or found it useful and would like to support my writing I'd love a virtual coffee

I also have a lovely Facebook group I'd love you to come and join 

You could also come and follow me on Instagram  keep up with my adventures, I really am grateful for all

of your love and support.

Oh and of course, you could just treat yourself to something lovely from Philomena's Boutique, my gift boutique

which is diverse, sustainable and totally lush!

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Monday, April 26, 2021

Post-lockdown trip to Edinburgh - Part 2

So here I am, in bed at 8pm at night in a tiny wee apartment 4 floors up a winding spiral stone staircase, it was very much like climbing up the Scott Monument and I wasn't sure if I'd be sleeping in Rapunzel's turret.  Suffice to say, with a heavy case, when I made it to my room I did for a moment think I'd require a defibrillator. I sent Abigail the photo and she begged me to be careful, you know I can't even bring a bin in without having an accident.  There's no light on the staircase that I could see so I shall be only attempting this bad boy during daylight hours!

post-lockdown trip to edinburgh part 2, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

I actually didn't take a photo of the apartments because I was too busy doing a TikTok video instead, click through if you'd like a nosy, it's called the Robert The Bruce Suite and it's old, really old so I hope I don't get visited by any ghosts of marauding Scotsmen!

I should add that I think for £29 a night I got an absolute bargain and you can bet that it's quadruple the price ordinarily.

Since I arrived this afternoon I've done a good 15km walk but it had no purpose and I always seem to stress myself out when I walk with no purpose.  I'll be honest because I want to always be real.  My head is all over the place.  I was too anxious to go to any shops or cafes or restaurants. I did manage a takeaway Starbucks at teatime though.   From today you can actually eat indoors in restaurants in Scotland although alcohol is only served outdoors.  I think it's going to take me some time to adjust.

Cherry Blossom in Princes Street Garden, Post Lockdown trip to edinburgh, mandy charlton photographer, writer, blogger



The good thing about today is that Edinburgh has never seemed more beautiful, it's blossom season and Princes Street Gardens were abundant with cherry blossom, I sat for a while in the shadow of the castle and enjoyed a moment of sunshine and calm.  Edinburgh is the quietest I've ever seen it and that's good and bad, good, because I'm not ready for a hectic, crazy place just yet but bad because it doesn't seem like normal Edinburgh and that in itself is a little unsettling.


Tomorrow, I haven't quite decided what to do yet, I know I want to visit the Kelpies, the Falkirk Wheel and South Queensferry to view the Forth Bridge but I also feel like where my head is at the moment I might be better off getting myself on a bus tour for the day and then I don't have to worry about anything other than getting myself to the bus! Whatever I do though, you can be sure there will be photos.

New College Edinburgh, Mandy Charlton, photographer, writer, blogger






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Sunday, April 25, 2021

Post-lockdown trip to Edinburgh part 1

Edinburgh in the fog in cherry blossom season, post lockdown trip, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

Some people craved for the shops to reopen, some people craved for a beer in their hands in a pub, not me, the one thing I wanted to do was travel again and not just travel but to Scotland.

It's funny that each time I have an existential crisis I immediately head to Scotland at the first opportunity and with everything that's gone on in the last year, it's been thoughts of Scottish trips that have kept me going.  I was lucky enough to spend 10 days in the Highlands in late August and it really helped me to find myself again.  Over this last year, I have on one hand been hyper-focused on the person who I am and the person who I want to be but at the same time with the gaslighting and coercive messages to keep us in our homes, I feel the need to break free and reclaim my independence.

The first legal day we can return to Scotland is Monday, April 26th, and so I'm booked on a train to Edinburgh for a few days.  I have a new book of walks around Edinburgh, some that I've never done before and I have a yearning to finally visit The Kelpies in Falkirk. I am vaccinated and I will be carrying a box of lateral flow tests but for the most part, I'm pretty risk-free, I live like a hermit only enjoying the outdoor life and I will not be doing any mad shopping trips or even eating out, I shall be living on whatever I can pick up at the supermarket and having packed lunches/dinners.

The great thing about opening up again was that I knew that the early bird would get the travel bargains and so I managed to book an apartment on the Royal Mile next to the castle for £29 a night.  I'm going tomorrow afternoon until Friday and I haven't been to Edinburgh since December 2019.  It's probably longer than any other gap between visits as I usually head up at least 3 or 4 times a year.

I am happiest when I am travelling or having an adventure and I know now that I have no aim to be the richest person on earth but I want to always be free, being free is my ultimate life goal.  For much of my life I have ended up in situations where I've felt trapped and I've reclaimed that freedom over and over but really, there's nothing like reclaiming your freedom from the top of a big hill and this time, finally, I am determined to climb Arthur's Seat.  Nothing is going to stop me!

Travel in a post lockdown world is actually a pleasure, generally, apartments are super clean, the trains are empty and the streets are quiet, this is my chance to see Edinburgh without the craziness of the usual flood of tourists.  Now I realise that I am technically a tourist but I have so much Scottish blood, Edinburgh is my second city and the place I feel most at home after Newcastle.  Plus my love of Scotland is so strong I have no idea why I'm not living there yet, one day when I decide exactly where in Scotland I'd like to live it will happen.

A lot seems to be happening in my personal life at the moment, I am becoming more me, I am changing and evolving into a better person and I am shedding baggage and layers of things that no longer serve me, I have had a quest for many years to live a peaceful drama free life and finally, I seem to be achieving a life with the best people around me, the biggest adventures and ultimately, the freedom I so desire.


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Friday, April 23, 2021

Why the last 12 months has changed my friendships


iris the rescue, why the last 12 months has changed my friendships


Friendship has always been a little weird for me, I think when you're a "neurosuperhero" friendship can be confusing at times.  Growing up, close friendships were never encouraged and so it really took me until my twenties to make real and lasting friendships.  I'm lucky I have friends now that I met in my twenties, mostly in dark noisy nightclubs and the afterparties where we solidified those bonds.

When I was married I was definitely not encouraged to have friends in fact anything that took away attention from the marriage was destructed or people have pushed away for various reasons and the friendships I made during that time will remember the struggles that happened throughout, especially towards the end of the marriage.

Since then though, finding myself and learning to love myself more, my friendships have flourished, there are not a lot of them but the friendships I have are just gorgeous wonderful things I treasure greatly. 

I find that at the age of 47, I do not want drama, I cannot cope with drama and I never want to feel like I'm a burden, a duty call, an appointment in between two more important things or even worse, an obligation in someone's diary.  That just leads to my mental health being even worse than you can imagine.

This last year of covid and isolation has brought about so many paradigm shifts in the friendships I hold.  There are a couple of friends I've only seen very briefly in more than a year but you can bet when we're all soon fully vaccinated I'll be inviting them over.  Then though, sadly, there are the friends who have drifted, the one in a coercive relationship who I can't say anything to because they're just not ready to hear it and the one I love dearly who's taken a vast proportion of the year off the internet for the sake of their mental health, I can't wait to see them again.

There are a small circle though that I speak to every week, some every single day and without them, I would have been more of a mess than this last year!!  My mental health has been up and down, I mean, my mental health has always been up and down so throw covid into the mix and you just have a big muddle of a mess.

I am definitely not the person I was 12 months ago, I have had to learn to love and accept myself for who I am, after all, I've spent weeks on my own with only my pets for company, when the only conversation you have is with yourself you really do start to find out who you are.

My view on friendship is this, I think some people come into our lives and they stay forever, I think some people come into our lives and teach us a lesson and then leave.  I've always had a simplistic black and white view of friendship.  I either like you or I don't like you and because of my neurodiversity there's very little in between and if I don't like you, I can't pretend to like you and that can sometimes be an issue in a group situation.

If I look at myself I try to be the best friend I can be, at the end of the day all I have ever wanted is for someone to love me back in the way I love them and I still haven't found that in a relationship so I put everything I can into friendship.  I want to cocoon friends, I want to give them love, advice, and I want to entertain them with not just company but also readily available snacks and drinks and hugs.  My home, me, I'm a safe space, you can feel your feelings whatever your feelings are and there are things that I know that I will take to the grave because I am the ultimate keeper of the secrets, partially because my memory is so bad "insert winky face here".

And so as we emerge from the nightmare of continual stop/starts and lockdowns I hope that in time I can throw the parties I used to love throwing so much and I hope that the friendships I have now are the ones I hold for the rest of my life.

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Monday, April 12, 2021

Northumberland, 40 Coast and Country Walks, Part 1

There's a book called Northumberland 40 Coast and Country Walks and it's been the saviour of my mental health since the pandemic started. Last year just as restrictions were tailing off, my lovely friend Li and I started going on a weekly walk together, first, we went to Northumberlandia and then as we were talking and looking for ideas for other walks I realised I had bought the Coast and Country book years ago with the intention of doing all of the walks and blogging about it.  Life, of course had gotten in the way and I never started but now it was the perfect time and so we began.


The walks in the book are all between 2-10km and have varying degrees of difficulty, however, none are for professional level hikers and so Li and I thought we would be okay.  Now I must admit that I intended to blog about this from the start but I'd lost my motivation to write in the middle of the pandemic so bear with me as I do a bit of a catch up to where we are up to today.  We're not doing the book in any particular order, we both just take turns to pick a walk from week to week.

Walk 1 -  Hareshaw Linn 

Our first walk from the book wasn't actually planned from the book, it just so happens that it is actually in there but we walked to Hareshaw Linn, a beautiful waterfall in the village of Bellingham, a 5km walk through beautiful woodland, it's 10km there and back, dog-friendly but not buggy friendly and over all kinds of lumpy and bumpy terrains but well worth a trip, the book tells me that it was a big hit with the Victorians.

Hareshaw Linn, Northumberland 40 coast and country walks, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger


Walk 2 - Brizlee Tower, Alnwick


I'd seen mention of Brizlee Tower in a few books and guides about Alnwick and really wanted to find it, the walk takes you through Hulne Park, the Duke of Northumberland's Park, it's buggy friendly but there are no dogs, cars or bikes allowed and when I say buggy friendly, it's on the top of a hill and parts of the walk are quite steep, we did it on a warm day and at one point had flies flying around our head, yes, that is how fit we are!!  It's a splendid 14km round trip and honestly, I loved it although Li did curse me (she's since had her revenge though).

Brizlee Tower, Alnwick, Northumberland, 40 coast and country walks, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, Writer Blogger


Walk 3 - Black Middens and the Reivers Trail


It was upon this walk that Li and I decided we should both order walking boots, we were proper walkers now and also we'd stood in a wet field and consequently had wet feet the whole of the walk.  This one is only a 5km round trip although we got a bit lost and did 8km!! Definitely not buggy friendly but dog friendly as long as they're on leads as it's on farmland, there are sheep and partly it's owned by English Heritage.  It's a collection of 2 Bastles, the old fortified houses found all over the borders of England and Scotland.  It was a walk where it was dry when we got there and then it rained a lot, a weird walk as it's not particularly scenic and one old ruin is much like another but we enjoyed the exercise.  It's one of the walks from the book that I probably wouldn't do again but I am glad we got to check it off from our list.

Black Middens and the Border Reivers Trail, Northumberland, 40 coast and country walks, Mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

Walk 4 Lindisfarne, the Holy Island


I absolutely love Holy Island, it's such a special place and I needed no encouragement to go on this walk, it's a circular 5km walk and there's always the promise of homemade crab sandwiches at the end of the walk.  It's a joyful and easy walk, child friendly, dog friendly, no real massive hills but do bear in mind that we get 4 seasons of weather in one day in the north of England and so pack a coat. If you only do a couple of walks from the book or if you're on holiday and can only fit in a few this is one of my top recommendations, you can do it in half a day and combine it with somewhere else on the Northumbrian coast as we did and I promise you will have joy in your heart when you have completed it.  Don't forget to visit the distillery and also pick up the coffee which is made on the island.

Holy Island of Lindisfarne, 40 coast and country walks, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger


Walk 5, The Bamburgh Circular


This is a shorter walk which is why we decided to combine it on a day when we did the Holy Island walk, it's only 3.5km very little in the way of inclines except for crossing the sand dunes, great for kids, and bringing along the dog and you can always combine it with a trip to Bamburgh Castle which in my opinion is the best of the regions castle's, it's privately run and might not have the popularity of nearby Alnwick Castle but it's fun and I highly recommend going to see the implements of torture in the dungeons.

Bamburgh Castle, the Bamburgh circular, Northumberland, 40 coast and country walks, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

Walk 7 - Morpeth Loops


This is another of my favourite walks you can do in Northumberland, it's fairly low effort, a couple of inclines, especially if you want to climb to the top of Ha Hill in the park in Morpeth but just a lovely wander, a 6km circular walk which we did early one Sunday morning but combined with a meal out or a trip to the shops and you could make this a full day out.  Morpeth is one of the friendliest towns in Northumberland with regards to taking along your dog so it's the perfect place for a pooch and you day out.

Morpeth Loops, Northumberland, 40 coast and country walks, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, Writer, Blogger

So, after the Morpeth Loops walk, it all got a bit tricky, I went off to the Highlands to find myself and then Abigail took me to Poland before she started uni, I shot some weddings and got back into shooting family portraits and before we knew it we found ourselves gradually becoming more restricted again due to the second wave of the pandemic.

The winter came and we ended up back in lockdown and I didn't see Li again until the restrictions started to lift, we've started walking again and done another 2 walks from the book and if you want to read about those, you'll have to wait for part 2, coming very soon...

If you'd like to get your own copy of the Northumberland, 40 Coast and Country Walks book, it's available on Amazon and you can let me know which walks you've enjoyed.

Ways to support my writing


If you have enjoyed this article or found it useful and would like to support my writing I'd love a virtual coffee
I also have a lovely Facebook group I'd love you to come and join 
You could also come and follow me on Instagram or  TikTok keep up with my adventures, I really am grateful for all
of your love and support.
Oh and of course, you could just treat yourself to something lovely from Philomena's Boutique, my gift boutique
which is diverse, sustainable and totally lush!














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Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Catching up


So this is the first time I've sat at my desk catching up with blogging for the first time in, well, really, over a month.  The reality is, the lockdown has been a pretty standard and unexciting experience.  I've now earned £625 this entire year with photography so thank goodness that Philomena's Boutique has at least allowed me to pay most of my bills.  The last help from the government was in November and the halcyon days of the bounceback loan last June are well and truly over.

This month is a new month and I've decided to surrender myself to the universe, I had a chat, the universe and I and these were the things I've put out there into the universe - 

  • I want to buy a caravan on the northeast coast called Philomena's Hideaway that I can run as a, not for profit giving low-cost breaks to families who are enduring mental health issues
  • I want to find myself a bearded Scotsman with feelings
  • I want to book some weddings for the next couple of years so that I can have some certainty in my work calendar
  • I want to be able to support my daughters and me after all of the turbulence of the last year
  • I want to go to the Highlands and stand on a hill and breathe without anxiety 
So, just 5 things and I don't think I'm asking for the earth really, I continue to work hard towards all of my goals but with anxiety and the current state of my mental health, always constantly trying to plan 2 moves ahead is not without difficulty.

I have in exchange for the materialisation of my requests promised to only think positively in the next month to see where it gets me.  When you live with anxiety and depression that can be quite a challenge but it's April, it's spring and the world is opening up again.  I should get my second dose of the vaccine towards the end of May and that in itself is something that should be a game-changer for me as it will definitely help with my underlying agoraphobic thoughts.  it's hard to focus on the future when you are constantly worried about the world outside.

So, I am surrendering myself to the universe knowing it has a lot more power than me and I think back to January 2008 when I first made a vow of positivity to the universe, it really changed my life back then and every time I fall off my positive plan I act surprised when I find it again and change things around and miracles seem to occur.  I really should just keep the faith and that's a lesson I'm sure one day I'll finally learn.


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Friday, March 19, 2021

Garden makeover on a budget, how much did it cost?

On Friday night, I finally finished my garden, it was all done on a really small budget but I'm going to let you in on how much it cost and where everything came from.  The best thing about gardens of course is that they constantly evolve and there are still things I would like to add and ideas to make it even better, today, for example, I spotted an Easter Island side table which looks small enough to fit next to my grey moon chair and don't even get me started on the planting, every time I see plants I want to buy them!!

garden makeover on a budget, how much did it cost?  mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, and thrifty gardener

Here's how much the main things cost -

Arbour - £250 from Amazon, paid with vouchers I'd saved up
Chiminea - £100 from Wyevale, they had 20% off and triple points when I bought it so I got it for £80 and will get back vouchers for around another £15.
Egg Chair - £24.99 from TJ Hughes, I hadn't seen these cheap anywhere, even on Amazon it was nearly £40 for one but then I spotted them in the garden department of my local store.
Water Feature - £29.99 from TJ Hughes, again, the water feature I would love costs around £150 but this one, made from solid plastic, does the trick but it's awful, I need to refill it all the time, sometimes it does a trickle, sometimes it flows really quickly, I don't recommend!
Slate - £2.75 per bag from Home Bargains, I used 13 bags
Paving Stones - £5.99 per paving stone from Home Bargains
New Plants - £100 from various places
Trellis - £15 from Wyevale using a voucher, it should have been £17
Bark - £1.99 per bag from Aldi, we used 6 bags but I would like some more
Bricks - Free from a kind person on Facebook
Cushions for the bench, the 3 green checked ones were £5.99 each from Home Bargains, the other 2 I previously owned and used in my garden last year.

So basically it was all done for just over £500 and when you think what it was before...


That's all the major bits, most of the lighting was already in the garden or in the house and a lot of the objects are repurposed like the butlers tray table and the fire bucket but what I have now is a space I can truly relax in, not just that though, it's a place I can record video's, take photographs, it's a restful environment an Instagram worthy space,  for years I've looked at gardening magazines and wanted a space like they have and yes, it's not the size of Monty Don's back garden or indeed his front one but I live 20 minutes walk from the city centre, when you are so urban space is a premium.  I've also realised I couldn't afford a bigger garden in terms of time, money or the energy because even a small space takes up so much of all of that.

This coming Sunday, May 12th is Garden day, a day to celebrate the spaces we live outdoors in and I shall be having my own little garden party in honour, not just of Garden Day but also Abigail's, Harriet and Ron's birthdays, all which truly are worth celebrating.

I've always loved gardening and so I hope this is just the start and I hope in 6 months or a year I'll add so many extra pieces to it, it becomes something more special than even I could have ever imagined when I first pictured the space in my mind and wondered what on earth I could do with it.


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Why I'll never give up, no matter what life throws at me



This week has not been the best week with regards to my health, if ageing is the cause then I'd quite like a refund, please!  After several more conversations with doctors, my lovely longterm doctor thinks it's probably I have Fibromyalgia, basically, it's a pain syndrome, yes, I know, you're sitting there thinking, "oh that does not sound fun" and you would be right.  It's actually quite possible that I've had it for quite some time as I've had all of the symptoms but they've always been looked at in exclusion rather than as a whole and it's only now because of me going through agony with my neck, head and arms that we finally seem to be coming to the same agreement.  it's a genetic thing and my mother has it and I'll be honest, I think there's a good chance (or actually not good at all) that Iain and Abigail have it as they already have symptoms.

My next step is to see a specialist physiotherapist who'll test my pain points and then depending on the outcome they'll refer me to a rheumatologist and possibly the pain clinic because currently, the neck pain is off the scale and I can't currently find the £600 it would take to make it better with Chiropractic or massage which is what I've done in the past. I'm also thinking of visiting Auris Ear Care.

The point of this blog post isn't to whine or complain though, I mean, I rock a disorder and I'm amazing at syndromes, yes it's another hurdle to get over but you know what?  No one has ever died from Fibromyalgia or Bi-polar or indeed Reynauds (that's all my disorders and syndromes right there, although I think Reynauds may well be a phenomenon).

Yesterday I went to my very first TEDX at Newcastle College, the theme was life finds a way and pretty much it was about health, life, death and mental health, it was one of the most inspiring events I have ever been to and it's only reinforced my ambition to one day give a TED talk.

Death, cancer, mental illness and suicidal ideations, all things which are the end of some and you know what, that is to be completely forgiven.  I have had times in my life where I could have crawled into a corner and never come out or where I thought those dark thoughts and nearly ended everything but in every case, just as in mine, the decision to fight onward, to choose life and to accept the things you can't change, it's those things which were paramount in all of the speakers lives just as in mine.

You see, if you fight against something you can't change, you are just using energy pointlessly, it's the fighting for the things you can change and moving onwards despite the situations, finding some kind of inner strength that you're not sure where it came from, those are the things which inspire other people.  Not only that, those are the things that define you as a person for the rest of your life.

So here I am, some days, the pain is so bad, even the good drugs won't take it away, the searing, burning pain at the base of my neck and feeling like my shoulders are like a giant breeze block because everything is in spasm.  the migraines I wake up with every day, the tingling and pins and needles in my hands, the pains in the centre of my hands which made me question if I was about to experience stigmata...  but am I about to give up?  Hell no, I've come too far for that.  I do have 2 companies to run and I've had to make a few adjustments to my work calendar just until it settles down again, the good thing about flare-ups is that they are exactly that and so I should be back to tip-top form soon enough.

Yes, it's tough that I can only work 1 day at weekends currently but if I look for the positive in that, it's actually pretty lush doing photography one day at weekends and then on a Wednesday because I am absolutely loving what I'm doing, I have the best work-life balance I've ever had and every week I can't wait to get out there again with my camera.

It's funny how things happen I think, I did not know that when I started my garden that I would end up with a haven where I might not be able to do lots of heavy stuff but I can enjoy it, it's reached that point where it's lovely just to sit in and listen to the trickling water fountain and watch the birds as they come and grab some food from our all you can eat bird buffet.

There are so many things to enjoy in life, so many things to be positive about that I refuse to let another disorder, a syndrome or pain destroy the happiness I've worked so hard to find within myself.
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