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How Can You Channel Kindness? | CHANNEL KINDNESS REVIEW

This year has been one of the hardest we've had to face, collectively. I've found comfort in knowing we're all facing the same problem in unity, but struggled to find a ray of hope to clutch onto. I found that hope within this book.

Channel Kindness is a collection of stories from a diverse community of people from all around the world. Racism, sexism, harassment, ableism, homophobia - so many important issues tackled, and shows that kindness will always win. In a world where it is now so easy to be unkind, show kindness.

From overcoming bullies, young people starting their own movements, battling mental health issues, forgiveness - this book covers it all. It highlighted to me that one small act of kindness can start the change that the world needs; or can give someone else the push they need to change the world.

It's fascinating to me that one small ripple can lead to a tidal wave; and this book demonstrates that in the best way.

I think because the stories are so short, it's very easy to dip in and out of; or read out of chronological order - which is something I love in a non-fiction book. It's easy to digest, and although there's a few very heavy-hitting stories in there, it never feels hard to read - which I found quite remarkable.

I love how inclusive this book is, and I think there'll be something for everyone in there to make you feel like you're seen; and that your voice is valid. As a disabled, bisexual female who battles with mental health - I adored this book, and resonated with many stories

There's a particular story within the book called The Choose Love Movement, and there's three words I took away from that story, that sum this beautiful book up in three words - nurturing healing love.

When I put this book down, I sat and thought about ways I could channel kindness, and ways I may already have done so. There was a particular story in the book that reminded me of a time in my life that I had completely forgotten. A time where 16 year old me was visiting my sister on a Friday night. I had bought some chocolate on the walk down, and was excitedly walking down the busy road to her house. As I approached the end of the road, I could see what looked like a man lying on the ground in the distance. Cars drove past him. People walked past him. I will admit, from an outside perspective, he looked like a drunk or maybe a drug addict - but did that mean him any less deserving of kindness?

As I got closer, I looked closer at him and had a gut feeling that he was diabetic (I used to have a close family member who was). I remembered the chocolate, and felt it burning in my pocket. I was scared, and could have been wrong; but I could also save this man's life. People walked past as I made sure this man, with trembling hands, ate the chocolate bar I'd given him. It turned out I had saved this man's life. And I carried on to my sister's, and had completely forgotten about that day...until now.

Your actions, no matter how big or small, can change someone's life. Online and offline, please remember that. And let's make the world a better place.

TRIGGER WARNINGS

Triggers are defined as, "a stimulus such as smell, sound or sight, that triggers feelings of trauma". If you've experienced any kind of trauma in your life, you'll likely have your own set of triggers. I always find it odd when people say that other people's triggers aren't your problem. If someone I love has a trigger that I can easily avoid; why would I ignore that? That's not to say people can't work on their triggers to function better. If I hadn't worked on many of mine, I'd not even be able to leave the house.

DEALING WITH TRAUMA

It's funny how when you're in the middle of something traumatic, you barely acknowledge that it's happening. Surviving the trauma is your body and mind's main focus, and nothing else seems to matter. It's only after you're out the other side that you look back and think, "wow, what just happened?". And that's kind of where I'm at now.

On Friday 28th February, I'd been experiencing some central chest pain. It was more of a dull ache, so I took some painkillers and popped off to bed. I was awakened in the middle of the night with sharp chest pain and nothing I did or took was easing it at all. After several hours, it wore off and I got back into bed. I never make much of a fuss with pain, as with chronic illness you find yourself with strange aches and pains, in weird and wonderful places, daily.

I assumed it was heartburn so took some antacids the following day when the dull ache had returned. Fast forward to Saturday night, I awoke with the same pain - except this time, I couldn't move because the pain was so intense. I felt nauseous and attempted a crawl to the bathroom. Before I reached there, I woke my husband up as I felt now was the time to call an ambulance. As I woke him to tell him, at that very moment, I was spectacularly sick. Several times. I took some more painkillers and decided to go back to bed.

Reading this back now, I realise how utterly insane I must sound not having gone to the hospital, but when you live with chronic illness, it's so incredibly hard to distinguish daily pain, and life-threatening pain.

By Sunday, I had completely gone off food, and I started to feel like something wasn't right. The same thing happened Sunday night, and by this point all of my bodily fluids had changed colour, and by early Monday morning, I knew in my gut something was wrong. I told my husband to stay at home and go to work, as everything would be fine. Boy, was I wrong.

I got to A&E about 7am. I was still being sick, had no appetite, bad chest pain and was just generally unwell. I felt like a walking zombie; the Walking Dead, if you will. I'd been to A&E several times with chest pain so the nurses did an ECG and basic blood tests and said everything was fine. I was reluctant to leave, and a few hours later, my skin was yellow, and the whites of my eyes had gone yellow. After pushing for a full blood test - they said there was something wrong with my liver, and that it was shutting down.

The on-call doctor pulled me to the side and asked if I was a heavy drinker, or if I had overdosed on over-the-counter painkillers. I'd already told her in the previous observations that I didn't touch alcohol, and that I hadn't taken too many painkillers. She asked me FOUR times over the next few hours; insistent that I had caused this myself. Knowing I'd done nothing of the sort, and seeing my body change before my eyes, I was worried by this point.

After 10 hours in A&E, a consultant came round and knew instantly what was wrong. She took my hands and told me I had problems with my gallbladder and that I'd need an ultrasound, an MRI and to stay in overnight. The thing I'm most grateful for that day was her kindness. I was terrified, but she made me feel like I was going to be okay; and that I was in safe hands.
During, and post-jaundice

Anyway, after taking blood cultures, they found out I had a foreign bug - as well as the gallbladder infection. I was in hospital for 4 days, and an inpatient at home for 5 days, with a nurse visiting 3 times a day to give me two lots of IV antibiotics. I was on morphine, codeine, paracetamol; every painkiller I could get my hands on. And boy, was I ill.

After a few days, I could finally get myself out of the hospital bed and sit on the chair beside it. I was feeling a little more human and a nurse came round to have a chat. She said something along the lines of, "it took them a while to find antibiotics strong enough for your body to respond to, you're lucky you came in when you did". And the surgeon I spoke to on the phone several days later said something similar, "Please don't leave it as long as you did last time. You could have been too late".

At the time I didn't take it in. I was just focused on getting better. But now, 2 months down the line, I realise how close I was to dying. The thought that I may not be alive if I'd left it even a few hours later is horrifying. (Spoonies - please don't ignore new symptoms!) And it's left me with the greatest appreciation for life, and being alive. We may be in difficult times, but I'm here to see them. And I'll be here when they end. And that's the most important thing.

I have had four gallbladder attacks since, but thankfully they've all been managed well at home. I was due to have surgery the beginning of April, but with the current situation, it's been postponed indefinitely. I was offered open surgery, but I'd really prefer not to unless absolutely necessary. My morphine and codeine supply at home is getting me through the attacks, and I can't eat much fat as that makes symptoms worse - so I've lost a huge amount of weight!

It's taken me two months and many sessions of counselling to stop waking up at 3am every night, preparing myself for the same pain to come. It's funny what the mind can do. It's only now two months on that I can look back and realise how traumatised that left me. I think even my family thought that because I'm so used to hospitals and because I'm so "strong", I'd cope fine. But the truth is, these few months have been filled of fear and anticipation that something will happen again.

But the main thing is, I'm getting better - physically and mentally. And the best part is? I'm still here.


Family Prints | Mid-Week Motivate & Create

Hello everybody, and welcome to the final week of Mid-Week Motivate & Create. I've had the best time working on this series with designbundles. This week's activity is definitely something all members of the family can enjoy, and participate in. This week, I'm making family prints.

For this post, I used the Build a Family bundle, which is just under £10, and comes with over 600 files! Whether you have ten children, or your family is just you and your partner - you can definitely utilise this bundle. I chose to do my sister, future brother in law, and niece and nephew; as I thought it might bring a smile to their faces.

This bundle genuinely quite scared me when I opened it - it's absolutely filled with body shapes, skin tones, clothes, hairstyles; there is a lot. But what I loved about this bundle is that nothing needed resizing and everything was easy to navigate; which made playing around with this bundle a lot more fun. And a lot easier for younger children to get involved too.

I used Photofiltre (as always) to work on the print today. Photofiltre is a free editing software which you can download online. Everything I design is from Photofiltre, and I'd highly recommend it. It's a simpler version of Photoshop - but a more advanced version of paint.

I started with an A4 landscape, as it seems that the default sizes of the PNG files are made to fit that image size (Width: 3508 x Height: 2480). I did try using the mother and father, but I actually found using the Child 5 option for the mum and the dad worked much better - plus all the "adult" hairstyles still fitted perfectly onto this child option.

I found starting with the adults first was best, as then it's easier to work out what size the children should be in comparison (if you have them!). My niece is only 11, but is almost the same height as her mum...and already taller than her auntie Zo!

All you need to do is copy and paste to your heart's content, and move the PNG files around. As long as your child knows how to copy and paste - they can have fun with this designing themselves, and their family, for hours! Once I was happy with my design, I hadn't quite made the family central, so I cropped it down ever so slightly and copied it onto a fresh A4 landscape, and it looked much better.

The cropped photo on an A4 background
You can then make the background transparent using this website that does it for you, to get it printed onto anything you'd like - or you can print it yourself onto card like I did, and frame it for yourself, or a family member. I think this would really put a smile on someone's face at the moment - so it's the perfect time to do it. It really does look so lovely when it's finished.

And that is it for this series! I really hope you've enjoyed it, as I've loved creating new projects every week, and my friends and family have seemed to like them too. I hope you're all keeping safe and well; and keeping those hands, and minds busy.
Zoe x

THIS IS A SPONSORED POST IN COLLABORATION WITH DESIGNBUNDLES.