Why do we have so many things?

Things.  We have way too many.

I have things in Australia and things in the UK.

When Tony and I moved in together, he had all his things and I had all of mine, doubling our “thing” count.  I also found out that he too had some things in Australia as well as in the UK (quadrupling our thing count).

In order to fit all our things into a small 1 br flat, we threw away a lot, gave a lot to charity, gave some away to friends and still to this day, we are inundated with an abundance of things.

Just by receiving gifts or purchasing them and living in 2 different countries, I now have a minimum of 2 of everything.

I’ve sent bags and bags of clothes to the charity bins myself in London and I did the same in Australia.

There were things I gave away through PIFfing (Pay It Forward), some I got charities to come and pick up from me and some individuals came to pick things up for free.  It included large furniture, near-new mattresses, kitchen items, books, electronics and all sorts.  Some I sold.

I actually did this in Australia as well as in the UK!!

But it seems no matter how much I let go of, I didn’t make a dent in my overcrowded cupboard and drawer space.

konmariallthethings

You know I read her book a couple of years ago?

I only managed to do it with clothes, shoes, bags and jewellery and you know what happened?  I GOT MORE!!!!!!  I didn’t even buy them.  It was all given to me.

The universe abhors a vacuum.

I learned that if you want anything, you must first create a vacuum / a space for it and because the universe abhors a vacuum, that thing you want and created space for, will fill that space.

This belief has worked so much for me that cleaning out my cupboards created a vacuum.  The problem is, I  never thought of what I wanted to fill the space so now, I just have more of what I got rid of, sitting where the old things used to be.

The cupboards I Konmaried (I can’t believe I used that as a verb) are still neat, just really, REALLY squishy.

I had a dream a couple of nights ago where I visited a neighbourhood where people hung all their unused jackets, bags and toys outside of their house like decoration (imagine a 3D version of a ginger bread house).  I wondered why when people had 2-3 story houses, they hung things outside and was told that they did this because their houses were too small to store all their things.

It made sense to them but with each house I went past, I just repeated the same questions, “Why do they have so much stuff?  Do they even need it all?”

And so now I ask myself, why do we have so many things?

I’ve recently just taken another bag of clothes to charity and some plant pots but our home is still full.

It seems, it is time for me to do some Konmari-ing once again and this time, I think I should do it properly.  ie just like the  poster says, KONMARI ALL THE THINGS.

Now THIS is going to be interesting!!

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Why Bunnies? Why Two?

When we tell people we have bunnies for pets, we actually get asked, “Why bunnies?” and when they hear about the crazy things we have to deal with, they will ask “Why did you get two boys?!”

I’m going to explain here so I don’t have to repeat myself over and over.

I had rabbits as pets when I was younger, I found them to be super intelligent, very loving and quite cheeky.  Other than the chewing and the occasional digging, they are quiet.  They can also be litter trained and they clean themselves so you don’t have to wash them, they run around themselves so you don’t have to walk them and the extra bonus is that THEY ARE SO CUTE AND FLUFFY!

Why boys?  Because boys in my experience were always nicer and more accommodating.  The girls were fiercely territorial and quite violent (lunging at and biting you and other rabbits) in comparison.

What I didn’t remember was that my experience was only of what bucks (male rabbits) were like with the does (female rabbits) and humans, not with each other – I’d never had 2 boys!!

Tony has never had pets in his life and wanted a dog so we went to Battersea Cats and Dogs Home to see if there were any suitable companions.  All the dogs were HUGE and the little ones were so energetic they might as well take up the space of a big dog.

Also the little one that was there kept pissing everywhere in its excitement and I wasn’t really looking forward to having to clean up piss from all over the floor constantly.  Little did I know I’d end up with that situation anyway with 2 boy rabbits!

Our place isn’t that big so we knew it just wouldn’t suit to have a dog cooped up inside.  I hate going outside in the freezing cold but I know if there was a dog, I’d be the one to have to walk it outside every single day for a couple of hours of play.  I’m alright for this in the summer but definitely not in the winter.  No yard means compulsory and multiple outdoors visits in the cold for me too and I wasn’t keen on that at all!

I’d settle for a cat.  Except, well, I’m allergic to cats.  On a good day, I’d get the sniffles after many hours with them.  On a bad day, I find it hard to breathe with only a tiny bit of fur (not even the cat) present.

So rabbits it was.

We picked them up and they arrived in our home on 31st December 2016.  They were 3.5 month old boys.  They are not brothers but they were kept in the same play area together and looked like they got on.  They were the only two in their play area and were snuggled up to each other.

Thinking of getting only one, we decided that 2 were better together so they could play and keep each other company and snuggle together when they needed more warmth.  We also didn’t want to split up their friendship if they’d already made one.  So, we got them both.

The advantage of having one bunny is that because they are social animals, the one bunny will want to interact and so the bond between you and the bunny will grow quite quickly.   You can then dedicate all your time to this one bunny and train them to do little tricks.  Rabbits learn very quickly!

The disadvantage is that if you are not around to give it the time and interaction and affection it needs, the bunny will get quite lonely, bored and depressed.

Rabbits are very social beings, if you think about how they live, they live in warrens of large groups.  They are used to having company.

If you keep a rabbit by itself, you have everything else in your life including it but… all it has in its life is you and you don’t even speak its’ language!

As much as we think we’ll be enough, I don’t think we are ever going to be the same as another bunny friend.

When there are two bunnies, they are great emotional support for each other and can encourage play and confidence in each other plus they get to display normal bunny behaviour with someone who understands their language perfectly.

They have each other as well as you, so psychologically and emotionally, it is much better for them.  Though, bonding and interacting between you and them can be slower.

What I didn’t factor in however, was that having two also means the possibility of them fighting and not getting on at all, as they got older,  which is what happened to us.

This is more painful than having one, on any given day.  Now you have 2 individual rabbits that need your time separately!  So, this is when the whinging and all my stories of fisty-cuffs comes in.

We’ve managed quite well living with them for 8+ months now.  The fights started in the beginning when their hormones kicked in so we separated them.

They fought again when we tried to make them friends (after neutering) and put them together (forced bonding) but when we realised it wasn’t going to happen and they’d rather kill each other than live together, we’ve kept them apart and it’s all been very calm and peaceful.  They’ve been quite happy binkying about in their own respective areas.

That is, until the other day when Rome got through the fence, intruded on Paris’ area and they fought, unsupervised because we were out of the house at the time.  We came home to a lounge room full of clumps of fur everywhere and drops of blood.

I think it’s fair to say, ours our now enemies for life and will fight to the death if they ever get together for long enough and especially when we’re not around.

Needless to say, we’ve been extra cautious with the fencing and have been watching them when we see them both on either side of the same fence.  They’ve still managed to inflict injury on each other that way.

SO…. if there was any advice I’d give to anyone considering getting a rabbit, I would still recommend getting 2 but I would suggest that when you get them:
a) they are already neutered
b) they are already bonded (after neutering)

I must stress that you choose bunnies who have been neutered FIRST before being bonded.  We chose rabbits that bonded before being neutered and there is a risk that the bond breaks once the hormones kick in and they start fighting for territory or dominance.

It turns out that fighting happens with any sex combination so it doesn’t matter if you get girl-girl, boy-boy or girl-boy combos, when the hormones kick in, anything can happen.  You could be lucky and they remain bonded but it’s hard to tell beforehand what will happen.

If you’re getting them young, choose siblings from the same litter otherwise, just get one rabbit, get it neutered THEN take it to a shelter to go bunny dating, so it can find its own friend/partner for life (preferably one that is already neutered as well).

If I could do it all again, that’s what I would do.

As mentioned, rabbits are quite territorial but females tend to be very protective of their territory (must be the instinct to protect their nest) so I would get a male first, get it neutered, then take it to a rabbit shelter to get a female companion.

When they meet, it will be in neutral territory at the shelter.  They’ll be introduced to several different bunnies but one at a time, to see which is the best match.  When a match is found, they usually stay overnight at the shelter together for a couple of days just to make sure that they really do get on with each other, before you bring them both home.

When you bring them home, the male will be more easy going with welcoming the female into its home territory than the other way around which is why I suggest getting the male first.

We don’t regret getting the two we have though.  Even though they’ve turned out to be more work having to do everything twice and buying 2 of everything and spending time separately with them, they are beautiful boys and it’s been a real pleasure getting to know them.

Paris is lovely and well behaved.  He doesn’t bite anything or go anywhere unless he has permission (except when he’s planning his revenge on Rome).  He will sit for ages and bunny purr when you pat him.  Sometimes however, he’s so shy he won’t let you touch him at all so he rejects all your attention and spends a lot of time by himself just lying around in his hutch.  He takes a lot of coaxing to stick around and would rather hide than play.

Rome is more outgoing so will always greet us for pats but with that personality also comes the need for a lot of attention.  He is ultra curious and will test all boundaries by chewing, pushing, biting, scratching at, jumping over, through, under anything and everything.  It is very entertaining but it also tests our boundaries and sometimes, we end up wanting to strangle him.

They are polar opposites of each other which is why it’s so hard for them to get along but how are you to know this just by seeing them at the pet store cuddling side by side?

Now that we know their personalities, we’ve pretty much realised that you can’t force them to be together if they don’t like each other.

We’re also struggling with the decision to let one go and replace him with a female.  How do you choose?  They’re pretty much family now and both have good and bad qualities about them.

So instead of choosing between them, I dream that one day they can meet their life partners and I daydream that maybe if they had partners, they’d be kinder to each other and their partners would help dissipate any bad blood between them and they could all actually get along together.

That would however, mean having 4 rabbits… like I didn’t have enough work as it is!!  For that we need a bigger place.  Ahhh… nothing like kids/furbabies to get you taking on a larger mortgage hey?   It’s either that or choosing between them!

Have you seen that clip where someone offers $100K for people’s dogs?  Every single person said no.  I feel like this is one of those decisions… hmmm I say I love them but how much do I really love them?  LOL

Journey From Periodontitis to Super Healthy Teeth and Gums Naturally (plus my tooth powder recipe)

“THIS IS THE BEST THEY’VE EVER BEEN!!!!!!!!!!”

Those were the EXACT words of my dental hygienist after she peered into my mouth, during my visit to see her this week (yesterday) and checked my teeth and gums.  Yes, she was THAT enthusiastic about it.

My teeth and gums are now officially, “… so clean, I don’t have anything to do!!”  Yes, those were her words again.

I was really happy and still am.  It’s been 6 months since the last time I saw her.

She looked so baffled for a while.  She kept saying, “I don’t understand.” while she poked and prodded my gums and teeth looking for plaque to extract.  After 6 months, she expected that I would have accumulated at least some plaque but perplexed she said, “I can’t find anything!”

She even asked me what my dental routine was and if anything had changed because she was having such a hard time finding plaque she was “questioning (her) own eyesight”.

You don’t know how happy I am, much to the dismay of my hygienist – she cheered when she found a tiny bit of plaque.  “YES!!! I got some!!! FINALLY!!!”

It’s great when someone loves their job so much that she’s slightly offended when you turn up and don’t allow her the privilege of doing it!! Hahaha

I’m sure anybody would be happy to hear this kind of news but none more so than me.  You see, this was 3 years in the making!!  It sounds like a long time but then again, how long did it take for the periodontitis to develop?

After all, I suffered from severe “toothache” for at least 2 years before it became completely unbearable and by that point, the gum infection was so bad it was almost eating away at my jaw and I had a big cyst growing in my gum too.  Yup, that was my point of unbearable that made me go see the dentist.

There was nothing wrong with my tooth but the gum around it was pretty much infected and so swollen that the tooth had to be extracted so that the area with the biggest infection (and the cyst) could be cleaned out and given room to heal.

I was in a lot of pain, my gums bled all the time, they were very inflamed and they had receded to a point where I now have a huge gap between my two front teeth and slightly smaller gaps between all my teeth, when I didn’t have gaps before.

Initially, thinking it was gingivitis, the dentist told me to use Corsodyl for my toothpaste and mouthwash to help heal the gums.  I used it for as long as I could, to no avail.  Not only did my gum problems remain, my whole tongue went black!!!  Literally, black and the periodontist had to be called in.

This gum problem didn’t happen overnight.  This was years and years of poor dental hygiene.  Oh I brushed my teeth, thank you very much but for all my good intentions, I wasn’t doing it properly.

Not until after I lost my tooth, did my mum tell me that we have a family history of bad gums so I was “genetically prone” to gum disease.  Someone like me needs to take extra care when dealing with their gums!!

Thanks mum for telling me AFTER the fact!!  So, the outlook for my gums to ever be healthy, were not good.  I was told that it was going to take a lot of work.

After that entire ordeal and given my age (too young to be losing teeth), I was put on the dental surgery watch list and had to visit the periodontist and the hygienist, every 3 months, each for an entire year (They would call me and send me letters to make sure I booked in!).  That’s 8 visits to the dental surgery in the year after my tooth extraction!

In the second year, I had to visit the hygienist every 4 months and the dentist every 6 months.  I didn’t have to see the periodontist anymore.

Now in the third year, I’m back to normal and off the watch list and back in the good books, with only the normal half yearly visits.  With each visit, I got better and better feedback and it seems, my teeth and gums are now the best they’ve ever been!! YES!!!

So what’s the routine?  How did I do it naturally?   Here’s everything you need to know:

The Routine
Morning – Oil pull
Evening – Brush, Floss, Tongue Scrape

That’s it.  The hygienist looked at me funny when I said I only brushed once a day which made me think I should up it to twice but after seeing my teeth and how clean they were, she said, “Well, if you’re doing it thoroughly, I guess once a day is enough!”

So, here’s how you do it all (thoroughly):

Oil Pull
You will need 1 x spoon (we use a teaspoon) and coconut oil.

Get a spoon  full of coconut oil and swish it around your mouth for 20 mins and then spit it out.

You can read up on it elsewhere for more detail (there are books on this process) and I think you’re supposed to use a tablespoon of oil but my mouth ain’t that big, so 1 tsp is enough for me.  Also, you can use different types of oil but we like to keep it simple and use coconut oil for EVERYTHING.

The long and short of it is, the oil is supposed to pick up all the toxins and bacteria in your morning-breath mouth and then you expel it all when you spit it out.

The bacteria collected by the oil will be the type that likes to infect your gums and sit in/make your cavities, plus the toxins you’ve been emitting during your sleep. ie all the stuff you don’t want in your mouth!

We oil pull first thing in the morning, every morning.

Brush
You will need 1 x electric toothbrush and my special homemade toothpowder 😉

I used to use normal/manual toothbrushes but when you have bad gums, you’re just not going to do as good a job as the electric brush and you need all the help you can get!

This is the one thing that made a huge difference to my gum health so if you don’t have one and you have bad gums, get an electric toothbrush NOW!!!  It’s worth the investment – it will be a lot cheaper than the cost of tooth extraction!  Believe me, I know!!

To brush your teeth, simply wet the brush head, dab it quickly into the toothpowder and you’re ready to brush.

The trick here is to BRUSH YOUR GUMS and not your teeth.  Angle the brush so it’s brushing that section where your gums hold onto your teeth.  The brush will massage / vibrate / jiggle the gum so anything (no matter how small) that’s sitting between the gum and tooth will come out.

You don’t want ANYTHING to sit between gum and tooth, the relationship between your gum and tooth must be tight!!!  If you let anything get in between there, it festers and it’s all over red rover –  the hygienist will have a field day.  That festering is what causes your gums to bleed.

The periodontist told  me to concentrate all the time brushing, on the gums and if I want to, I can use the last few seconds to go over my teeth but it wasn’t necessary.

How many years had I spent doing it all wrong by spending all my brushing time on my teeth?!! I wish someone told me this a long time ago.  I really do.  Now, you’ve been told!

Another thing to note is that if you have a small mouth like me, you must find a toothbrush head that is small enough to fit all the way to reach behind the very back teeth!

As for the toothpaste / powder.  We don’t use store bought toothpastes anymore because after my tongue turned black and I couldn’t taste anything for a week, I decided to opt for a more natural approach to my gum health.

I’ve been changing and tweaking my toothpowder / toothpaste recipes for the last 3 years and we’ve been using a certain recipe which I thought was awesome for about 6 months prior to this one but it has caused staining / yellowing of our teeth over time, so since it turned out not so awesome, I’ve tweaked it again.

This one I’m sharing with you now is the one that’s got the best result so far (as per my hygienist’s comments above), minus the two ingredients which I suspect were most likely to cause staining.

Toothpowder** Recipe
Put all of the following ingredients into a pestle and mortar and grind until it becomes a fine powder and mixes evenly, then put the powder into an air tight container.  I use an old lip balm container that has a screw top lid.

1/4 tsp bentonite clay
1/2 tsp himalyan salt
1/2 tsp bicarb
1/8 tsp stevia (leaf powder)
2 drops clove essential oil*
3 drops peppermint essential oil*

*I made sure to find ones that were food grade and FDA approved for ingestion.  Even though we’re not swallowing it, we’re putting it into our mouths!  If at any point you do accidentally swallow, then all the  ingredients are edible.

** Note this is a POWDER not a paste so it won’t bubble in your mouth or even be the consistency or taste of your normal toothpaste in the slightest.  If using for the first time, expect something very different.  It will taste salty (I put the stevia just to mellow the salty taste), a little grainy until it melts, with a hint of mint.  You get used to it after a while.

This powder will last 1-2 months (maybe more) because you don’t need much at all.  As mentioned, just dab a wet toothbrush head onto it and whatever sticks to the toothbrush is all you need.

While I was researching different ingredients I noticed people would get all crazy about using bicarb because it’s harsh on the tooth enamel.  When you see how little is used on the brush and the fact that we’ve been doing this for 3 years and our dentists have told us both we have zero cavities and healthy teeth and gums, from personal experience, I wouldn’t worry about it.

Floss
I use interdental brushes.  They look like tiny bottle brushes and are what you need to use if the gaps between your teeth are too wide for floss.

Tips – Use a back and forth  motion approx. 10 times per gap.

Use a mixture of floss and different sized interdental brushes depending on the size of the gaps between your teeth.  There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to interdental brushes.  For myself, I have 4 different sized interdental brushes!!

You seriously need to test all the different sizes and use the size that fits perfectly.  How do you know which that is?  Try one size and if it’s too big (it bends when you try to push it through the gap), use the size just below.  If you push the brush and it easily slides through your tooth gap, you need a bigger size.  You push the interdental brush into the base of the gap (at the gum line).

Make sure you brush (interdental) / floss YOUR GUMS.  The goal is to get any bits out from between your gum and teeth that the toothbrush missed (as per my comments on brushing).  The interdental brush must fit snuggly into the gap so it brushes your gum and the bases of both teeth, on each side of the gap, all at the same time.  The floss must slide between your gum and the tooth you’re cleaning.

My dentist recommends dental tape over floss, I can’t say from experience because as mentioned, I use interdental brushes.  If you try to use the smallest interdental brush and it just bends because it doesn’t fit in the gap, then use floss/tape.

Tongue Scrape
We use a tongue brush to get rid of any residue left on the tongue before a final rinse.  This doesn’t contribute to healthy gums but I mention it because it’s part of our oral health routine.

These days, if I’ve ever been naughty and lax in my dental hygiene and my gums start bleeding (eg. several late nights falling asleep without brushing, sleeping over at other people’s places without your toothbrush, eating lots of chips and sugar and not brushing for whatever reason like that time when Rome rabbit chewed through and severed our toothbrush charger wire so our toothbrush ran out of batteries), I pretty much can stop the bleeding and get them back to healthy and normal within 24-48 hours just  by doing what I mentioned above.

I’ve been considering making a mouthwash but after you’ve cleaned your tongue and when you feel how clean your teeth are, a mouthwash really is not that necessary.   All you’ll really need it for is to get a burst of minty fresh!

Perhaps I’ll make one just for fun.

A note if you’re just starting out / need to get back on track:
I’ve noticed that the gum bleeding and pain reduces faster, if you add a drop of clove oil into the coconut oil you use for oil pulling and oil pull using that mixture, twice a day.

For severe gum pain, rub a drop of clove oil directly onto the gum before you go to bed (as mentioned, use food grade/ingestible essential oil that is safe to put directly onto skin) and the inflammation and pain dies down / is gone by morning.

Perform all the above dental routine twice a day until your gums stop bleeding (usually 24-48hrs for me) and then you can reduce to once a day.

Note that at the beginning, the gums will hurt and they will bleed so the feeling will be to avoid rubbing them with brushes but you must persist with it.  When I brush or floss (interdental brush) and the gum bleeds or is painful, to encourage myself to continue, I imagine that the blood is pushing the gunk out with it which is a good thing!

Just know that if you continue to oil pull, brush and floss (interdental brush), every day, twice a day, the gums will be a little less inflamed each time and eventually, they will have no more gunk to push out and they will stop hurting/bleeding.

Lastly, if it doesn’t work within 24-48hrs, visit the dentist/periodontist so they can monitor your current state and progress.

I used to hate seeing the dentist because it hurt every time they prodded in my mouth, I thought I had sensitive teeth/gums but that’s the whole point, it’s actually not supposed to hurt at all.

When your gums are healthy, they won’t bleed and the dentist prodding with their sharp metal tools, doesn’t feel like anything but pressure!

So if you’ve been struggling with your gum health, I really hope this helps you get it back to healthy and if you’re currently experiencing gingivitis or periodontitis, it takes work but you can fix it.  There is hope!!

All you need are the right tools and technique!  I might have taken close to 3 years but that’s because I was experimenting with various oils and recipes for toothpastes and toothpowders and getting tooth brushing lessons from my periodontist and feedback from my hygienist on whether my tooth paste was working!

You now have all of the information, for the things that worked, in one spot so should be sorted within days/weeks!

I’ve specifically  not put any brand names, sizes or types of brushes that we use (as you need to work out the sizes for yourself), or brands of ingredients used but if you want that information as a point of reference or if you just want to use the same stuff we do, feel free to ask.

If you do try this, let me know how it works for you.  I’d be really keen to hear how you get on and how slow/quick it takes.

Right now, all Tones and I have had is each other and our periodontist, dentist and hygienist and 3 years of experimenting on ourselves experience for feedback but since it’s worked for us, I really think it can help others which is why I’m sharing the info.

May you now have naturally healthy teeth and gums!! ❤

Summer Bunnies Drive Me Crazy

Do you remember that R. Kelly song?  I’m referring to it because I’ve started my Hip Hop classes 😉  and all the Old School songs are starting to flit in and out of my mind.

I had a grand old time doing warm up stretches to “S-Double-Double-U-to the V-V”.

Tones joined me for moral support in the first class and enjoyed it so much, he’s now continuing along with me.  Can you believe it?  Someone who doesn’t dance and doesn’t like to dance is enjoying Hip Hop classes!!

Then the second week, a friend of ours joined after I told her about it, she then told someone else after she did her class and that person came along for a class too.

Though I think this sort of thing for beginners, requires some commitment.  So far, we’ve committed and gone for 10+ weeks.  That’s 2 week chunks of the same choreography, with 3 different teachers and their different styles.

That means we’ve learned chroeo for the beginning of at least 5 different songs.  Unsure if I’ll remember them all, would be a miracle if I did!!

I must admit I felt completely retarded and un-co for the entire first class and most of my second class.  I think it took me 6 goes (ie 6 weeks because we only go once a week) to finally get comfortable with some of the movements.

Even after 10 goes, I still forget moves and step on the wrong leg which just throws everything out of whack.

On the first day, my brain would say one thing and my body wouldn’t comply and would do something else.  I was definitely having learning difficulties.

Teacher:  Let’s do arms first.
(We learn actions for the arms for 8 beats which involves pointing forward with the right hand and then placing the right hand in front of the left shoulder.  That is it.  I can do that.  I am happy.)

Teacher:  Now let’s do feet.
(This involves walking forward but stepping or sweeping the foot out to the side before placing it in front of the other.  OK all good, 8 beats and only one step per foot.  Awesome, I could do that.)

Teacher:  Now let’s do it altogether.
This is when I had a brain fart.  It’s like learning to pat my head with one hand and rub my stomach with the other, for the first time.  It was evident I was missing a huge chunk out of my corpus callosum.

If my brain was sending off signals, they weren’t going anywhere.  I could actually feel and see the synapse in that moment – a blank space where the neurotransmitters failed to exist or transfer.  It was just one massive, dark, abyss.  Meanwhile, in the mirror, I didn’t just look like I couldn’t dance, I looked like I was having trouble walking.

The amount of concentration required to remember such simple choreography is intense but anyway, I eventually figured it out, about three quarters of the way through class!!

The teachers actually film the class and post it on Facebook (in a private group) so we can see how we did and watch our own progress.

It is so funny.  Having them just hold the camera is enough to put everyone off, well, me anyway!  It wasn’t even filming but once we saw the camera come out, we completely forgot what we were supposed to be doing.  I know I just froze.

I’ll tell you what, it’s definitely teaching us to stop being so self conscious – it teaches us to dance like nobody’s watching!

The thing is, one of the teachers actually says, “Imagine you’re performing for people you love.”  He then lists people you know like family and friends and how you’d make them proud.

Umm…. yeah…. way to put the pressure on there mate.  If I were dancing a performance, I would have made sure I remembered the ENTIRE choreo and been practicing it over and over until I was doing it in my sleep!!!  At my current skill level, performing after just learning some choreo and still not being able to remember it all, would mean running and hiding backstage!

Nevermind, it’s all fun and just like with Bikram Yoga (where at the beginning it was so uncomfortable but we knew it was good for us), we’ve committed to going regularly and long term because it’s the only way we will see improvement.

Now back to the title of this blog, I thought the title apt for a number of reasons:
1.  As mentioned above, I’ve started Hip Hop dance classes and we dance to RnB.

2.  It sure feels like summer here in London.  I can’t believe the number of sunny days and blue skies that we’ve had.  I mean, I’ve even complained that it’s too hot!! How is this possible?

3.  The bunnies are starting to moult, AGAIN.  I think I’ve already written a blog about all the chores that come with just that event.  I can’t believe they’re doing it again!

Summer seems to bring about other extra chores with regards to looking after the bunnies, such as
a.  changing their litters out more often to prevent stink and fly larvae.
b.  checking that their butts are clean and dry and that flies, which hover around their litters a lot, haven’t laid eggs/maggots on them (apparently it’s a big thing for rabbits in summer and is called flystrike).  I just peek every now and again as the bunnies run around to see if their butts are dirty but the boys have been very good.
c.  freezing water bottles so the bunnies can lay on them to keep cool and checking on the bunnies regularly to make sure they aren’t suffering from heatstroke.
d. feeding them less but more often because they seem to not eat their hay if it’s been left out (it becomes too dry and they don’t like it and then they don’t eat at all).
e.  a whole host of other things (such as dealing with spiders and moths) which if I mentioned would turn this into 2 blogs.

4.  Add all the above to the fact that I get irritable when I’m hot and..  “Summer Bunnies Drive Me Crazy”.

Technically it’s not really the bunnies or the summer that will drive me crazy.  Rather all the added chores and Anthropod management involved with the season.  Thank God the terribly hot weather only lasts for a couple of weeks in London hahaha!!  There’s got to be some advantage to it always being cold!!!

Anyway, after an entire year of winter (I spent London summer time in Sydney last year, where it was winter), I’m glad to have had some heat!!

I Think I’m Having a Midlife Crisis

I’m a dancer.  Not in the performing or professional sense.  Just that I am a person who likes to dance.

I had ballet classes when I was about 9, for a couple of months and I loved them.  My mum stopped my classes on account of the teacher moving away but truth be told, I reckon it was because we just couldn’t afford it.

Other than those few months of ballet, I’ve never had professional training in any dance but I loved dancing anyway and would dance in front of my mirror and copy video clips like most teenagers do.

As an adult, I never pursued a dancing career because I figured I was too old, too inflexible and it was just too late for me.

Besides, as a teenager, dancing in front of your dressing table mirror and then having your dad see you through the window and fall over laughing at you because of what he saw you doing was mortifying enough to ensure I never did that again unless I was sure that NOBODY could see me.

I didn’t go to my first clubbing experience until I was already at University.  I loved it.  I’d be the first person on the dance floor and the last one standing.

I’d go to the club not for the alcohol or the picking up, not for the conversation I mean, you couldn’t really talk in a night club since the music was so loud.  Nope… I went there to dance.  It just made me happy.

One of my fondest memories was going to a club packed full of people.  It was supposedly the biggest nightclub in the Southern Hemisphere back in those days.  3 floors of the same music, each level being like a mezzanine able to look down onto the floors below, right to the bottom centre where the DJ was.

I was a 90’s R’n’B and Hip Hop girl.  That’s all they played in that club.

So here I was walking through the ground level, a completely packed crowd full of strangers as tight as a mosh pit except dancing to RnB, attempting to get to my friends upstairs when Snoop’s Ain’t No Fun comes on.

Everybody screams “oooooh!!” like you do when you’re thinking “This is my JAM!”, puts their hands in the air and starts bopping back and forth to the beat, including me.

I stop in my tracks and just bop along with everyone.  I was now part of the sea of people bopping in the same direction.

Kind of like a concert where everyone is clapping and singing their lungs out to their favourite song except with the hip hop hooray movement going on at the same time to the beat.

Then the first line starts, “When I met you last night baby..”  DJ stops the track and everyone yells the next line.  “Before you opened up your gap!”

And that was it, we all lost it… you see, this song was not on the radio but everyone in the club knew the song and were completely chuffed to hear that everyone else knew it too.

Can you imagine?  Thousands of people bopping to the rhythm all at the same time with huge smiles on their faces doing this call and response with the DJ and anyone you made eye contact with would be singing along with you while giving you the hugest grin.  Unity.

We were all having a great time.  It was the best!  I wasn’t with anyone I knew but we all connected in that moment and the feeling was blissful.

That’s why I like dancing because even when you can’t talk, you can still connect with others through music, movement and rhythm.  It really puts all the senses together – auditory, visual and kinaesthetic and it’s absolutely magic when everyone is in the moment together.

It really does make me happy.

So here I am at 40, having a midlife crisis.  Why?

Because Tony doesn’t dance and ever since being with him, I have completely stopped dancing.  This year would mark 9 years of us being together.  And it is therefore 9 years of zero dancing for me.

We also liked very different music in our youth so any time I start singing a song, he has no idea what I’m referring to.

I attempted to get him to come to attend beginners Salsa classes with me as some middle ground but it ended up being like torture for him.  He would finish the classes feeling completely frustrated, angry or incompetent.

None of the feelings that I would ever associate with dancing.  Since it was so horrible for him, we stopped going and I never went dancing again.   Even dancing at clubs or parties is a bit crap because he can’t dance.  It becomes very awkward and not fun, so even if I want to dance I just sit instead.

We just go to yoga now because he’s good at that.

It’s taken 9 years of slowly eating away at me and I had no idea until I had a conversation with a friend who I hadn’t seen in 10 years and he mentioned that his impression of seeing me after all that time was that I was subdued and almost withdrawn.

I always figured I’d become the way I am now because I was a) older b) more mature c) more at peace with myself d) experienced some pretty harrowing emotional events in the last 10 years that I haven’t completely gotten over and so needed some time to chill.

Part of that is true but something inside me just said, “No, that’s not it.”

I always told myself that I would dance my way through life and 10 years is a long time to not do that.  It’s almost like I paused myself mid-movement and said yup, I’m fine right here.

But it turns out, I’m not.  I’ve been feeling this for a while but it took someone outside of me who hasn’t seen me since before I was with Tony, to say, “You know what?  I think you’ve forgotten just how cool you are.”

As usual, it made me think.  “Have I forgotten?  If so, what have I forgotten?  What was I like?  Did I like that me?  What did I do then that I’m not doing now?”

Dancing was one of the things that came up.  Dancing.  I gave up something that made me happy.  I stopped doing something that lit me up inside… for 10 years.  How could I possibly not be subdued after doing something like that?

So this week I’ve been completely obsessed with finding an adult dance class to attend.  I want to get my groove back even if just a little.

I’m choosing a class because I really think I’m too old and tired to go to a nightclub, I have no room (and no one) to dance with at home and the yoga studio is an inappropriate place to bust a move.

I’m rather embarrassed to say that I feel weird going to classes that are being run by and attended by 20 year olds.  Hence feeling like I’m having a midlife crisis.

It seems that people my age prefer to tango, salsa or swing and here I am thinking I’d like to go do Hip Hop.  Yes, this is why I’m having a midlife crisis because I’m choosing a type of dance that I liked to do in my teens and 20’s.

I figure, if that’s where I paused then that’s where I have to pick up from before I can move on.

Actually Hip Hop doesn’t exist as a dance class anymore.  It’s so ancient, I think it’s evolved to Street Dance or something and the movements look a little more violent to me – you know with all the krumping and the popping?  I’m a bit scared.

I’m so out of it I have no idea plus my older joints may not like so many quick snappy movements but I can’t talk myself out of this before I even attempt it just because I think it’s inappropriate or crazy for my age.

I’ve got to give it a go, even if only once and if I don’t like it, I can always stop and find something else right?

Right.

Hell, maybe I can be the only 80 year old doing hip hop in the future.  Break social norms, why not eh?

Normally I wouldn’t be this scared to go dancing but I guess this is what happens when you spend 10 years training yourself not to do something.

So, here’s to being 40 and reliving your 20’s eh?  Wish me luck.

Skin Disease Grossness

I have contracted a skin disease and am totally grossed out by it.  Not much of a blog though… so let me tell you a story.

Chapter 1:  The Discovery
About 5 or 6 weeks ago while having a shower I felt a sting on the side of my calf, near my knee.  I thought a bug had bitten me so I reached down, dug my nail into the area that hurt/itched and started scratching.

I completed my shower and looked down at my leg to see a round, red mark where I scratched.  I never thought anything of it.  I thought it was a mosquito or insect bite.

I didn’t look at it again until 3 days later when it itched.  This red mosquito bite wasn’t swollen but was a deeper, uglier red colour.  “GROSS” I thought.  So I put some all-purpose ointment on it.  The kind you put on any insect bite to soothe and stop it from itching so I wouldn’t scratch it.

I also make a comment to Tones.  “Ewww look at my leg!  I’ve got a skin disease!!”  I’m joking of course.  I still think it’s an insect bite that just looks worse than normal.

A week after, it was STILL THERE and to the same intensity redness as when it started.  That’s when I realised that it wasn’t an insect bite.

Chapter 2:  The History
When I was young I had eczema, who didn’t?

I also had these weird blister things on my hand.  Check Dyshidrosis on Wiki so you kind of understand.  I never got it diagnosed but that’s pretty much what my fingers looked like when I was a kid.  They were constantly itchy and would form blister bubbles which I would then pop.  The liquid inside them would be clear and runny like water but sometimes sticky.

I also had similar things happen on my legs, usually the shins except the bubbles would connect with each other and the liquid would collect and I would end up with giant bubbles like burn blisters on my shins.  Don’t ask, I have no idea what they were.

Eventually the bubbles would get so big they’d pop and then over time new ones would form.

No, nobody helped me, explained what they were to me or took me to the doctor for this.  I lived in a poor household, with my grandmother, on a little island that was designated as a leper colony so I would suspect given the circumstances, that blister bubbles on legs weren’t really a thing of concern.

Fast forward to my future and my mum never let me forget how wonderful my skin was.  She was very jealous of it.  Why?  Because despite all the blister bubbles, burns, cuts and scrapes I got as a kid,  I never got a scar.

At one point I had a giant burn blister (from an actual burn) balancing on my forearm for at least a week which busted in my sleep and I was constantly digging at pimples on my face during my teenage years.

I even fell in a manhole in the Philippines and scraped all the skin off my shin from just above my ankle to my knee, when I was 10.  On London Underground escalators in my 30’s I tripped and fell tearing my trousers, stockings and scraping skin off the front of my shin again too.  Those metal escalators have sharp teeth!

I must admit that the older I get, the longer it takes for the scars to disappear.  Normally the scars are gone in weeks but now it’s taking years.  The point is, whatever scars I have accumulated from some quite severe abrasions are barely noticeable.

So why did I mention all that?  Because good skin is normal to me.  Skin that is disease free and repairs itself to its original condition is normal.

Skin disease is actually the one thing that makes me cringe and back away.  I think it’s because my grandma taught me from a very young age, given where I grew up, that leprosy is not contagious unless you see weeping sores then you MUST NOT TOUCH that person or get any of it on your skin or else you’ll catch the disease too and it will eat at you until you lose your limbs.

Pretty scary thought for a kid so now it’s instinctual.  As soon as I see someone with weird red, sore type things on their skin, I really do start backing away.

I don’t know how I got over the bubbles on my fingers and legs but I have never actually ever had a skin disease since.  That is, until now.

Chapter 3:  Diagnosis and Cause
After seeing this non-changing red patch on my skin still there after a week, I went on Google and self diagnosed.  I concluded that what I had, was Ringworm.  Tinea.  On my leg.  Fungus.  Skin Fungus.

Where do you catch it?  Dirty, sweaty mats at gyms or from infected animals.

I checked the bunnies and they do not have any bald patches or red exposed areas of skin.  Nope, the bunnies are fine and I don’t go to the gym but guess where I go that has  DIRTY SWEATY MATS?

I am now completely icked out every time I go to the yoga studio.  I caught a skin disease and I didn’t even rub my skin against a weeping sore!!!  This grossness just attached itself onto me when my leg came into contact with an infected mat.

Thing is, it takes days for the sore to manifest so I have no idea when contact happened.  All I see is the result on my leg.  Guess who didn’t go to yoga for more than a week after finding out it was ringworm?

You see, this disgustingness is contagious.  So I could be spreading this to others. GROSS!!!  How completely inconsiderate of people to turn up to the studio, rub their disease all over the mat so someone else can have it too.  YUK!

Chapter 4:  The DIY Natural Cure
Apparently the natural way to cure this is by rubbing teatree oil and eucalyptus oil onto the fungus.  Oregano oil is also anti fungal and so is Clove oil.  I didn’t have any Eucalyptus but I had the others.  Apple Cider Vinegar is supposed to work too.

So I rubbed apple cider vinegar all over the infected area.  It stung like acid poured on an open wound, bits of dead skin rubbed off onto the cotton ball and little blister bubbles started to form on the sore itself.  I then rubbed coconut oil laced with teatree, oregano and clove essential oils.  I did this twice a day every day for a  week and you know what happened?  It got BIGGER.

On top of that, I felt a similar sting and itch on the back of my other calf, closer to the ankle.  It seems this contagious disease had spread onto another limb!

Chapter 5:  The Natural Cure Made By Professionals
I freak out about my crappy results and do some more research.

This time, I find out about DEFENCE soap.  I order it.  You can’t get it in the UK.  It’s from America and so I have to wait for it to be delivered.  It’s soap with tea tree and eucalyptus oil in it.

Since I have to wait another week for delivery of the Defence Soap, I buy some teatree and eucalyptus soap from a health food store and use that while I’m waiting.  It does nothing.  The sore is still there but at least it didn’t get any bigger.

The disease has now been eating at my skin for 3-4 weeks before the Defence Soap arrives.  I wash myself with this soap for 3 days.  Apparently you’re supposed to use it every day for a week but people on YouTube swear it works and the ringworm disappears within 2 days.

NOPE.  Not mine.  3 days goes by and although it looks duller and more grey than it is red, the surface area of this disease is now even bigger because I’ve been scrubbing it with a loofah.

Not just that, the soap is drying out my skin and since I’ve used it all over my body to clear any further infection, my stomach, arms and neck all hurt/itch when I move because the skin is ripping / breaking from the dryness.  Kind of like breaking a face mask when you move your face after it dries.

Chapter 6:  The Chemical Cure
By this stage I’ve had enough and am starting to worry.  This fungus is happily enjoying and eating away at my skin and growing exponentially with each day even after using supposedly effective natural remedies.

So I do some more research.  According to what I’d read, Tinea is Tinea is Tinea.  It just gets called different things depending on where on your body it’s growing.  If it’s on your foot, it’s called athlete’s foot but if it’s on your leg or arm, it’s called ringworm.

I go to the supermarket and buy some athlete’s foot cream.  I figure if this doesn’t work THEN I’ll take myself to the doctor.

I’m a little worried that by the time I end up seeing the doctor my leg would have been eaten up – what if I didn’t do a proper self diagnosis and had something else?  But I refrain from panic and promise myself that this would be my last attempt at self help before seeking professional assistance.

Each application makes my skin red and super itchy.  It’s not a good start but the instructions say this is one of the side effects and that you  had to use it daily and go to the doctor if symptoms persist after 7 days.

Chapter 7:  The last remaining remnants
This is where I’m at.  It took longer than a week and I was about to book myself to see the doctor but the disease seems to be subsiding.

On day 7 my leg became super itchy and red.  More than normal.  I guess it was the fungus’ last hoorah attempt at fighting to stay.

I think I’m on day 10 today and it’s no longer red or itchy and the skin is starting to look normal again albeit a little darker than my normal skin.

Application of this cream must be maintained for 3 weeks but I think it’s safe to say the fungus is dead or dying and I don’t have to go and see a doctor (thank God.  I really hate going to see the doctor).

I’ve also continued to use the Defence Soap every single day since it arrived and I’ve even brought it to the yoga studio so I can wash with it straight after a class.

Not only does it kill anything I might have contracted in that yoga session, any grossness that comes off my body is dead before it goes down the drain.

Chapter 8:  The Final Chapter – The Morals of The Story
I don’t really want to jump the gun here as it’s still not completely gone but I think it’s all sorted.   I’ll be complaining about it in a future blog if it’s not.

For the meantime, lessons learned are as follows:
1.  Just because you start life off with shitty skin doesn’t mean your skin can never be beautiful.

2.  If you have it, do not take beautiful skin for granted.  I love my skin now more than ever before and will be protecting it from now on!!

3.  I always will go for the natural cure first but if it doesn’t work, that’s what we have chemicals for!

4.  Who needs a GP (other than for referrals to a specialist) when Google and YouTube can tell you so much!

5.  It’s taken me 5 years of attending sweaty yoga studios for this to happen.  Perhaps my immune system has been a little compromised lately, I didn’t have a shower soon enough after being in contact, or this was a particularly strong strain of grossness but whatever the case, I’m warning you now:  Anywhere sweaty people with skin disease exist and your skin will/can come into contact with something their skin touched, make sure to wash yourself and your clothes with tea tree and eucalyptus oil before it manifests into something gross.

Lastly, if you do have a skin disease and you know it and you haven’t put anything on it that would be killing it… for God’s sake cover it with something so it doesn’t touch and infest mats, floors, towels etc that OTHER people use!!!

Avoiding Bikram Yoga and now Starting to miss it

It’s a short one today just to say that I’ve been avoiding Bikram Yoga and people are noticing.

“We don’t see you in the classes anymore!”

Well, it’s simple, I’ve probably done all of 3 Bikram classes in the last 5 months.

I actually lose less hair by staying away.  That is, I now have much more hair remaining on my head because I’m not exposing myself to the heat – I drop hair like crazy in the hot room.

But there are disadvantages like I don’t get to do toe stand anymore and camels are just as non-existent.  Not that I liked camels, I hated them.  And, I’m getting fat around my belly again.  Hey ho.  You win some you lose some.

So what am I doing instead?  Yin and the occasional Vinyasa.  On the upside my hips are opening up and my crow is getting better.  I’m hating the chaturanga dandasanas but hey… you win some, you lose some!

I’m loving the yin though.  Yesterday I fell asleep and only woke up to switch postures.  Ahhhh my life feels so much more balanced when I do yin.  Being a very yang person within my entire being, the yin actually helps a lot.

So yes, I’m starting to miss Bikram yoga.  I don’t miss the heat, I miss the postures and feel like I’ve forgotten how to move my body in those ways (eg holding awkward pose).  I probably won’t be able to do any of the postures when I go to a class.

Methinks it’s time to start looking at my posture progress again to see if having spent time away has made a difference.  Curious to find out.

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