Dream Building & ME

Hello and welcome to Believe in ME with Rhona Barton. In this week’s episode I’m going to be chatting to you about Dream Building.

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Let’s jump straight in.

What do I mean by Dream Building? Well, for me this was something to do from my bed when I couldn’t do any other activities. I spent a lot of time inside my own head dream building & day dreaming. It was the one place I could go and have whatever adventure I wanted!

What do you do with yourself in between activities or visits? Other than resting that is. Finding things to pass the time can be quite challenging. The limited concentration span I had and the pain I would experience from the smallest activity, really limited what I could do.

If you’re looking for ideas, here’s some you may want to consider:

Seed gardening – you may need somebody who could help you out with this one depending on your energy levels. You may wish to start the likes of a window box and plant some seeds. You’ll be able to watch them grow and it’ll give you some interest outside your window. You may want to consider some herbs or vegetables as an alternative to flowers so that you can use them in your meals.

A much smaller version of this idea would be growing some cress from seeds. I have a vague memory of doing something like this at school using a shallow dish, wet paper towels, seeds and cling film! It took a day or two for the seeds to germinate but we could use them when they got to about 7 cms tall. Pretty sure they went on a salad or in an egg mayonnaise sandwich! And just like that, I think I’ve turned this podcast into a mix of Gardener’s Question Time and a cooking show!

Right, back to some other ideas!

Pets! They can bring so much joy and comfort but what do you do if you don’t have or can’t have a pet? Perhaps you or somebody in your house has an allergy, or your landlord doesn’t allow pets. Could you borrow a furry friend to keep you company for a short period of time?

What else can you do? Well, how about a bird feeder? Could one be placed outside your window or even attached to your window?

We have what we call our birdie spa in the garden. It’s got several feeders that hang from it and a water dish. It brings many feathered visitors to our garden and over the past couple of winters, we’ve also had a squirrel friend take up residence.

We call the squirrel Scrat and this year, we gave Scrat his own squirrel feeder. We have watched Scrat day after day as he visits the feeder and runs along the fence. This would have been a lovely thing to have seen when I was ill. Even now I like to imagine the adventures that Scrat may have had in his day.

Do you have a mobile phone or tablet nearby as you listen to this? Does it have a camera function? If so, why not try your hand at photography? You don’t need some flashy camera with all the bells and whistles. You can set up some arty shots around your room, the house or in the garden. Why not take some pictures of your visitors? Both human and animal!

Now I’m about as artistic as a carrot but you may be the next Picasso or Michelangelo, so my next suggestion is to try drawing or art. You can get some portable kits that mean you could work from wherever you set yourself up for the day!

Sewing kits were something that I enjoyed. I used to, and still do, enjoy cross stitch kits. However, I found that the very act of sewing would make my hands painful after only a few stitches. It meant that even working on something small like a bookmark, would end up being weeks of work. It did give me something to do however so don’t knock it until you try it!

If you’re struggling to sleep at night, or if your sleep pattern has been flipped on its’ head, you may wish to consider Astronomy. Gazing out of your window or through a telescope from the comfort of your own bed, can open a fascinating world of shining wonders. I’m not an expert but I do find that there is something calming about reviewing the night sky. I believe there are some good apps that can be downloaded to your device and, if you hold them up to the night sky, they will identify the constellations you see.

If you have a little more energy to play with then why not try reading? It doesn’t have to be huge novels where you risk losing the train of the plot; it could be short stories or poetry or even your favourite type of magazine.

And let’s not forget Audiobooks – I love them! They remind me of being read a bedtime story when I was little.

If the thought of concentrating on an audiobook is too much, there’s a site called Blinkist that does short summaries of non-fiction books. They last up to about 15 mins and are broken down into short blinks. I find this a useful tool for some additional learning or to give me a flavour of a non-fiction book I may be interested in reading but don’t want to invest in until I have more confidence in it.

Since we’re in listening mode – of course I’m going to recommend Podcasts! Clearly, you’ll be waiting with bated breath for my next episode but in the meantime, you may want to try some others. There are podcasts for almost every topic you could think of so don’t be shy in your searching!

Ok, back to the main topic. One that I found was an absolute must for me. Daydreaming and dream building. I was able to plan what I would do when I was better. And not just when I was 100% better but also when I was a bit better than I was on that day. I would create stories and adventures in my head. I would think through even the smallest of details until it felt right, and I could truly see it and feel it inside my mind.

I would think about going back to my original career in Hospitality but when I did and I remembered the hours I used to work, it didn’t fill me with joy. I would remember the early alarms to allow me to get in the car and drive to the hotel. Whilst I would avoid the rush hour traffic, the idea of being up early, home late and working night shifts, did not sit happily with me any longer.

I didn’t want to be working shifts again and I’d been told that shift work wouldn’t be good for my health so I had to start thinking about what I would do when I was able. I had considered working in banking but that didn’t fill me with enthusiasm. I had thought about going back to college to retrain as something else, but my concentration levels weren’t up for that and, I didn’t know how I would be able to afford to do any further training.

I did like the idea of trying something new however and I love reading. This led to me skimming through a brochure for my local college. I came across something that I thought would interest me. It was an attendance class so if I had times when I couldn’t attend, it wouldn’t impact any form of qualification. I had found an evening class! It would give me something different to do and it fitted in with Mum’s availability to help me get there of an evening, wheelchair and all! It was 2hrs a week for about 6 weeks. I was concerned about being involved with a group of people, the nerves that go with something new and my ability to cope with a sudden influx of new stimulation; but I wanted to try.

I signed up for an Aromatherapy evening class and hoped for the best. When I arrived on the first evening, I was pleased that the college was set up to allow for wheelchairs and I didn’t have use up energy trying to get upstairs to the classroom. My tutor was brilliant. I explained that I had ME and was getting ready to explain what that meant, when she told me that her sister had had ME so she had a good understanding of it. What a relief! A little bit of energy saved there too!

As that first evening went on, we were encouraged to write out a list of symptoms or issues we had. The tutor was looking for the likes of “I suffer from headaches” or, “I have a bad back”. She did not expect almost 2 pages of issues from me! But she took it like a trooper. Whilst everybody else had a unique blend of oils created for the following week for them to use in class; my blend took a little longer. Over the coming weeks I used my uniquely blended oil to receive massage from my fellow students. Some weeks I was hypersensitive to the bright lights in the classroom, so we all worked by the light of a couple of lamps which added to the relaxation of the evening. One thing, I have been very grateful for, was learning how to massage from my wheelchair. I didn’t know it at the time, but it stood me in very good stead in the coming years.

Here's why. I discovered that I had quite the knack for massage. As my health improved, I went on to train fully in a number of massage disciplines including Swedish massage, Indian Head massage, Acupressure, Reflexology, Medical Acupuncture and more. All of which I could carry out from a seat! I had found a new dream. I was going to start my own business as a massage therapist and I was going to name my own hours. Whilst I was waiting (more and more impatiently!) to get my health to a point where I could carry out a massage for somebody without knocking myself back, I spent time in my head dreaming about my new job and how I could begin to earn my own money again.

I became quite content in my own company knowing that my imagination could take me anywhere I wanted at any point in time.

I’m still like that now. I have no problem being with myself. I certainly learned how to keep myself entertained when I had my ME. Sometimes that meant being comfortable with being bored. And being bored is boring! It’s hard to deal with. The saving grace is that time continues to tick by and whether you are bored or have things to entertain yourself, the world keeps turning and time keeps moving on. Sometimes being bored would tire me out and I’d doze off for a short while. I look at that as a bonus as my body was resting when it was able.

I remember the first time I was able to carry out a massage treatment for somebody who was not a member of my immediate family. She very kindly came to the house for the Indian Head Massage. I managed a 30 mins treatment and I was paid £10 for it! I was over-the-moon. I was thrilled to have achieved such a milestone. I very slowly took time to build up how many treatments I could carry out in a week and over a few months (almost a year actually) I found that I was getting myself back on track. It was almost everything I had imagined. I mean I’d also imagined being whisked off to the US to join Oprah Winfrey on her talk show to discuss ME and how to massage from a chair as well as how much benefit I’d found from having regular treatments. Hey, it was my imagination and I’ve already said it could take me anywhere I wanted at any point in time! I suppose my key message here is that I found something that worked for me with my ME and my abilities at that point in time.

I would go on to set up A-Rhona-Therapy as my business and it was the first main job I had once I was “well” again. There have been a number of incarnations since then depending on where life has taken me but it doesn’t stop me day dreaming or dream building.

That brings me to a few points from today that I’d like you to take away from this:

1. If you have an active imagination, great! Make use of it! Take yourself on adventures, fight villains, be the hero in your own head for as long as it takes to get back on your feet and be the hero in your own life!

2. You don’t have to be physically active to keep yourself occupied and plan for your future.

3. If you’re original plan isn’t working out for you, come up with a plan B … or a plan C … or even a plan D! There are 26 letters in our alphabet and you can go through as many as you wish!

4. Sometimes a new hobby or interest can turn into a dream job.

So that’s it for today everybody. I’ve touched on my love of day dreaming and dream building. In doing so, I’ve chatted about how I used it to keep myself occupied and entertained when I was at my worst. I’ve shared some ideas for low energy activities and I’ve also spoken about how finding a local college evening class gave me a new interest and a business idea.

Thank you for listening. Please review, share and follow Believe in ME with Rhona Barton via Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you are listening now. Please remember that you can sign up to my mailing list by visiting my website at www.rhonabarton.co.uk

My Facebook group, Believe in ME Community, can be found by searching for the Believe in ME Community (https://www.facebook.com/groups/716634186122640/about) and if you’d like to leave me a voice message about anything that I’ve discussed, please head to speakpipe.com/BiME

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