Birthday Treats and Never Growing Up

This weekend was my birthday weekend and it proved, despite being another year past 40, I have never grown up. I doubt I ever will and no one expects me too.

The jingle from the box would have given him away, even if I didn’t know who was inside. Anticipation had grown this week as my birthday crept closer. I felt the tell-tale sign of excitement deep in my stomach when I thought of holding him, feeling him and seeing him. It only increased when I saw the box. Finally, my very own Iggy.

 

IMG_20180516_065048_375
Introducing Iggy

 

Iggy came to life when I wrote about Amber’s early childhood. He was her beloved toy, her imaginary friend, confidante and though his role in this book is minimal he is important to her character development. Imagine my delight in seeing this cloth toy dragon in a shop window. It was if the toymaker had seen into my mind and created him just for me, for Amber.

Now he is mine. He may not be as bedraggled, threadbare or floppy as Amber’s Iggy but he is an inspiration and the kick up the bum reminder I need to stop procrastinating and finish this and other projects.  He can glower at me over my laptop when I slack at writing.

I had other pressies to remind me my true age. Room on the Broom from WW. He took the fact I wanted a book to heart and knows I love witches so he had to buy it as “it is the most perfect book ever”. He isn’t a book lover but he is right – it is a perfect book in its prose, plot, characters, and illustrations. No one is too old to enjoy Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson.

 

IMG_20180516_065413_643

 

Finally, I was given Winnie-the-Pooh Exploring a Classic by Annemarie Bilclough and Emma Laws book.  I missed the exhibition at the V and A but my daughter and best friend didn’t. This was a surprise gift and it looks amazing.

 

20180513_140829726676430.jpg

 

I only hope Iggy can work his magic like Christopher Robin’s bear did for A.A Milne.

Time to write.

Dystonia: The Curse of Writer’s Cramp

Dystonia; a writer's curse

Everyone has heard or felt ‘writer’s cramp’. The constant moans of it were prevalent in exam season when I was growing up after writing streams of revision notes and hours worth of exams. The pain, cramp, and stiffness from clutching the pen too tight through fear of running out of time; the overwhelming desire to stretch the muscles from their clenched position to relieve the tense muscles. What many do not know is writer’s cramp is a form of dystonia and for a writer, it is a curse with no cure.

I have a rare form of dystonia which has become generalised and affects every muscle it can think of, including my hands.  In honour of  Dystonia Awareness Week here in the UK, I am coming out of hiding to highlight the debilitating condition of writers cramp because as its name suggests it affect writers.

 What is dystonia?

Mention dystonia and many people will scratch their heads because they have never heard of it affects 70,000 people in the UK. It is a neurological condition that causes muscles to spasm uncontrollably.

How does writers cramp fit in?

Writers cramp is a form of focal dystonia affecting the hands and is task-specific so it only happens when writing. Musicians can also suffer from focal hand dystonia because of the long periods they practice and play their musical instrument.

Writing becomes difficult because the pen is gripped too hard, the hand clenches tight or the fingers extend so a pen cannot be held properly or the wrist twists in ways you do not think possible. The more you write the worse it gets and the words become illegible. My writing can turn from relatively normal to a scrawl worthy of any doctor in a paragraph or sentence. It conflicts with my love of stationery and beautiful notebooks; I have endless notebooks I will never fill and pens I will hardly use.

It can be caused by

  • overuse of the hand
  • poor posture when writing
  • holding the pen incorrectly
  • or like in my case, part of a more generalised dystonia.

 

Awareness is key to get prompt diagnosis and treatment. There is no cure for writer’s cramp but it can be helped by retraining the brain to write, botox injections or medication.

Luckily we live in a world where technology is readily available so we have access to keyboards and if all else fails, voice recognition. My experience with that can be read here. Writer’s can continue practicing their craft but for me, there is nothing quite as free as letting creativity flow through the use of a pen on paper.

More information can be found on Writer’s cramp here

Happy writing, however, you do it!

Information from my own experience and The Dystonia Society UK.

 

Sunshine and Scarecrows

Scarecrows and Sunshine: The Annual Scarecrow Festiva;

This weekend will be a mad flurry of pillow stuffing, head-scratching and requests for straw in our village. Households will be frantically building scarecrows. Some will be built with the help of children, others will be undoubtedly left to a hassled and overworked Mum (or Dad) but others will have been meticulously planned and in the process of creation for months if not since last year.

It is nearly time for the Annual Scarecrow Festival.

scarecrow-472403_1920
Every year scarecrows are hung, sat or stood outside ready to be admired and judged. Throngs of people traipse around the village with their trusty maps, admiring or laughing at the households efforts. Some are cobbled together with the traditional ‘I need something to scare the birds or people’ charm, others are made with love of a family and some are spectacular. There are stalls, face painting, and crafts and ended with music and drink. It is an event where, even on soggy days, the village buzzes with excitement and chatter; it makes the groups of houses become a community. We need more of that in this world – projects to connect neighbours, find friends and get people to work together. Loneliness is a horrid place. Humans need others, even if we think we don’t.

Last years entries

Our creation will not be spectacular: it has not been well thought out and by the end of it, with the amount of swearing it will provoke, I doubt it will contain much love but hopefully, it will look like Peter Pan. It will be in aid of The Dystonia Society UK a charity close to my heart.

Watch this space

Happy long weekend!