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Showing posts from July, 2013

Chronic Resilience: An Interview with Danea Horn

I've had the opportunity to interview a terrific woman for who's written a book on stress and chronic illness. Lots of great tips and it's taught me a lot. I'm brewing another post. as a result, but that's for next week.

"Chronic illness adds a unique kind of stress to your life that can be hard to adjust to. In her new book Chronic Resilience: 10 Sanity-Saving Tools for Women Coping with the Stress of Illness, Danea Horn provides a blueprint for coping with the challenges of chronic illness. Each chapter includes a discussion of the issue at hand, practical and very doable suggestions for getting back in control and interviews with women who live with a variety of chronic illnesses. In order to help you make the theory real for your own life, Danea also includes journal exercises to help you think about how you deal with chronic illness and reframe this so you can live in a more stress-free way. As I was reading the book, I nodded in recognition to man…

Judging a Book by Its Cover

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This is the second post in a series about publishing my book independently.
Once I decided to publish Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis independently, the next task was to figure out exactly how to do it. That meant breaking down the process into separate tasks and to figure out what those were, I did a lot of research. Throughout my reading of numerous books — David Gaughran’s Let's Get Digital is fantastic — and more blogs than you can shake a stick at, two things became evident. One, indie authors are incredibly generous with sharing their experience and advice. And two, although you can learn to do a number of things yourself, there are two aspects of publishing a book for which you should hire a professional: cover design and editing. Both of these are essential to the first impression of your book by presenting a professional, high-quality product. Because if you plan to make a living from writing, you intend to be a professional and as such, there are things you just don&#…

Book Review: Joyland

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It's been forever since I posted a book review and I'm not quite sure why. It's not that I haven't read good books — I have and plenty of them — but every time I finished a book worthy of a review, several days would pass in a flurry of work stuff and the moment passed. It turns out that a review should be written pretty close to finishing whatever you're reviewing.

A variety of circumstances have conspired to give me some extra free time right after reading a good book and not surprisingly, the book that prompted this review is by Stephen King. I seem to recall that I often review his latest book.
Joyland is King's experiment with a fairly straightforward and old-fashioned thriller (cue the cover) 

Of course, being Stephen King, there is a teensy bit of the supernatural element. The story is a trip down memory lane, "written" by a man in his 50s about a summer job in 1973 that turned into so much more. Devon Jones — one of the things I admire about Step…

Writing to Heal: CreakyJoints Memoir Course

Combining two places that I'm proud to write for, I did a post about the new CreakyJoints memoir course for HealthCentral:

"Have you ever wanted to tell the story of your life with RA or other types of arthritis? Now you can! CreakyJoints, the arthritis community started by the nonprofit Global Healthy Living Foundation (GHLF) have created a free memoir writing course for people living with different types of arthritis."

The rest of the post is here

Why Go Indie?

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When I started writing Your Life with RA, I fully intended to publish the traditional way. Because of the vagaries of my own RA, I didn't think I could deliver a large manuscript on a deadline, so the idea was to write a book first, then shop it around to an agent or publisher. Decent plan, right?
About halfway through the writing process, a revolution happened. E-book readers and tablets took off, Amazon started their Kindle Direct Publishing program and writers started doing it themselves. I was aware of it, but still really locked into my original plan. Then on an evening in early 2012, The Boy and I had a conversation. As he is always way more ahead on technological issues than I am, he’d been nudging me for a while about publishing The Book as an e-book myself and I had been resisting. I had been doing some reading, though, and apparently, there’d been a significant degree of percolating going on in the back of my head. It all came together in that January discussion and from …

Learning from Chronic Illness

This is my CreakyJoint post for this week... Living with a chronic illness — any chronic illness — is an excellent teacher. It may not be a learning environment most of us would choose, but once there, living through the experience can teach you some important new skills.
Balancing everything that goes into living with a chronic illness is a full-time job. You're keeping track of the right amount of medication to manage your symptoms, while making sure the side effects are down to a dull roar. Added to that is paying attention to how much rest you're getting compared to your activity level. Another ingredient is balancing your diet, not just to stay healthy, but also to help with certain side effects. If you have pain, you have to pay attention to rest, medication (dose and interval), treatments to help with pain and finding the right pillow to support parts of your body when you do finally get into bed. And don't get me started on the balancing act of being a frequent flyer…

A Matter of Millimeters

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I am extremely thenthitive. Perhaps not so much emotionally, but physically? Fuggedaboutit. Decades of RA, especially the wreckage after my 2004 flare, combined with fibromyalgia has made me as sensitive as the girl in Hans Christian Andersen's The Princess and the Pea. My body works all right within my current parameters, but if you mess with my environment, even just a little, things get unhappy. This is why. I can be sent into a panic by a broken microwave, why I hold on to a pillow even though it is falling apart and my floor is littered with down every morning. And it is why I have not yet instigated getting a new power wheelchair, even though Regan is showing signs of needing replacement sometime soon. Because the last time I switched from an old chair to a new one, it took six months (and a lot of pain) of slowly transitioning between the two.
Despite my attempts to control my environment so there are no physical changes, life has a tendency to happen, and so does change. Mo…

Faces of Canada Day

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Last Monday, I went to the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association's Canada Day party. The cloudy weather actually made it more enjoyable because it wasn't too hot. A great time was had by all. , including me, and not have a lot to do with

The festivities started off with a rousing rendition of Oh, Canada (in both national languages) and This Land is Your Land


Everyone was wearing the flag in different ways




This little guy wasn't sure about it all


The requisite speeches by politicians (blessedly short). Here the president of the SLNA introduces Pam McConnell, our City Councillor


Some people brought their friends


Kids having fun with the flag


People talking to their neighbours


and laughing with them 


Faces that had done some living


new (and not impressed) faces


Time travelers from the War of 1812



Even Mother Nature showed up

Writing to Cope: A Chronic Pain Study

I recently had the opportunity to interview a very interesting woman for HealthCentral. She did a study of using writing as a coping tool for dealing with chronic pain.

"Chronic pain affects not just how you feel physically, but your emotional health, as well. Effective pain management addresses the physical symptoms, but must also help those who live with chronic pain cope emotionally on a day-to-day basis. One technique that been demonstrated to be helpful is positive writing intervention.

You may remember a call for participants for a study about chronic pain that we posted last summer. The researcher, Kathryn Lynn Ziemer has now finished the study, which was used for her dissertation for a Ph.D. in counseling psychology. A few weeks ago, I interviewed Kahryn about the background for thestudy, the results and what happens next."

You can read the rest of the interview here.

Unbound – FREE DOWNLOAD

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It's a very festive week, what with Canada Day yesterday and Independence Day on Thursday. Clearly, something needed to be done to celebrate. And I know just the thing…
A free download!
Several years ago, I entered a memoir contest held by Homemakers magazine, a terrific little magazine that I faithfully read every month for several decades. Belying its domestic title, it was one of the most progressive and feminist magazines in Canada for a really long time. Also, it had great recipes. And in 2007, a memoir contest.
Much to my delight, I won second place and for years, you could read my memoir on their website. Alas, Homemakers recently disappeared from the Canadian magazine market, much missed in my family and among many other women my age. So now that Unbound no longer has a home on the web, it was time to do something else with it.
And here it is.


Unbound is the story of my childhood with juvenile arthritis. It is a story of loss of ability, the isolation that comes with illness in…

Happy Canada Day!

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And the best ever version of our national anthem. Perhaps not the most emotionally stirring, but so wonderfully Canadian