Thursday, February 9, 2012

Doctors and health

 As we age, Nature is not so interested in keeping us healthy once we pass childbearing age - after all, we have either served our purpose to procreate, or else we're not going to.

However, talking about your health almost automatically labels you as an "old person".  It's on a par with talking about your diet - of riveting interest to ourselves, but not to others.  So I don't intend to bore you with details.  I shall attempt to talk about this subject from a broad perspective.

There's no denying that GPs (doctors in general practice, aka family doctors) are excellent if you have measles, influenza, high blood pressure or any generally common or straightforward medical condition.  However, complicated or difficult to diagnose conditions are another matter.

I have self-diagnosed,  after 2 doctors were unable to find a disease that fitted my symptoms - the tests were done some years apart, as Doctor #2 attempted to find what Doctor#1 had been unable to.  Although excellent GPS, the lack of a diagnosis meant they shrugged their shoulders and gave up.  The condition did not go away, of course, and I have learnt to live with it and manage it.

My current doctor must be at least 70 so will have had a long career and a lot of experience.  He has sent me for various x-rays which showed nothing specific - although I had no expectation that they would.  However, this has stymied my desire to see a back specialist, as the doctor considers I just have "wear and tear".  I do not agree.  And although I have told him of the daily random pain I experience elsewhere (sorry!), he hasn't offered any kind of diagnosis. Perhaps he thinks I just like to complain, or that I imagine things.  Not so.

Once again, I have been forced to consult Doctor Google.  I believe I have found a common condition that fits the symptoms, along with a bunch of Pilates exercises and stretches that could help, so I'll do these and see if I get relief.

Have you had any similar experiences?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Goals for 2012

Happy New Year to you all.  I have had a pretty slow start to the year as I've been feeling under the weather.  However, I've been giving some thought to goals for 2012.  Note that these aren't "New Year Resolutions".  I try to make my goals achievable, even though I'm aware that I only achieved 1 out of the 3 I set myself last year.  With my commitment to my degree and its associated low income, overseas travel is pretty much out of the question, so I've retired my goal to go to Australia for now.  Likewise, learning to rollerblade is still there but I have to practical about what I can and can't do.

So this is my list for 2012 - and hopefully, this time next year, I'll be able to say I've done them.

1. Use technology more to improve my health and fitness.  There are masses of podcasts and free apps out there that I could hook into, but I just haven't done so.  I have an iPod and an iPad, and I need to make better use of them.

2. Take up Pilates or yoga.  I have done these before, but not in this past year and I think my flexibility has suffered.  I have a chronic back problem so need all the help I can get.

3. Make an effort to complete some (at least some!) of the partly completed creative projects I have - there are several half-knitted sweaters and as many partly-made quilts.  Even though I am acquiring new interests through my studies and exposure to other arts and crafts (such as the paper clay class I'm going to do later this month), fabric and fibre remain my first loves.

What are your goals for 2012?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas (or whatever you choose to celebrate)

Life intervenes, as they say, and I have found it too hard to post on this blog as often as I originally intended.  I have completed the first year of my Visual Arts degree, and been pretty happy with the results.  In 2012, I'll be taking the Photography strand as well as picking up 1 or 2 art papers, depending on the timetable.  I'm in my new home, and working to make this as comfortable as I can.

Christmas for me is a time for being with family, and also a time for reflection.  I like to think back on the year (rather than wait till New Year) and think about what I've achieved or haven't got done, and what I want for the coming year.  Even though I'm not religious, I love Christmas, not for the crass commercialism and pressure to buy buy buy, but for the genuinely kind and selfless moments that you find, when "goodwill to all men" actually happens.  Of course, there's always tragedy and hardship and sorrow - that's part of being human, unfortunately.  However,   the decorations and lights and trees give pleasure to children (and adults), as do even small gifts.

I have friends who are deeply religious, and others who are committed atheists.  I fall somewhere in between.  Who do you thank when things go right in your life?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tortured artists

A lot has happened since my last post - I've finally sold my house in Rangiora - after a year - and now bought a little house down here in Invercargill.  Life gets in the way of blogging again!

Today I'm starting 2 weeks' holiday so have more time up my sleeve.  I thought I'd talk about emotions and art.  In Art History, we have studied, albeit briefly, many great artists over the centuries.  Some spring to mind when you talk about "tortured artists" - Vincent van Gogh is one.  While I'm not attempting to compare what I do with what he did, my interest is in the link between emotions and art.  Not simply being gripped by the beauty of a scene or similar- I mean what drives an artist to create.  We don't usually hear about artists with blissfully happy lives - in fact, many I've read about had complicated love lives, career setbacks, ill health and so on - just like the rest of us.  But while there is no doubt wonderful art produced by happy people, it seems to me that more is produced by what we would consider negative emotions - broken hearts, lost dreams, and so on.  Of course, much of the religious art of earlier centuries was about emotional scenes, but these were portraying scenes already established in the Bible so were not a reflection of what was inside the artist.

Perhaps I am just seeing this as I find it easier to relate to unhappiness - I have had my share of grief and misery, perhaps more than some others.  What do you think, readers?  Are you inspired to create when you're happy? Or when you're sad?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Technogeek or technophobe?

I have been remiss in posting to this blog, but my studies tend to absorb a lot of time and energy.  My plan of posting weekly was rather ambitious, so if I post monthly now, I'm happy.  Today's topic is technology.  Love it or hate it, you can't get away from it.

So are you a reluctant user?  Or do you embrace new devices with glee?  I have to confess that I'm the latter.

This sets me slightly apart from many women my age - mid-50s.  I have one dear friend who has never used a computer, though she will use text from time to time.  Another old friend emails me, but does little else on her computer, even though her sons have left home (the reason she claimed she couldn't get near the computer before).

For me, it goes back to change (see earlier post) - I find the new technologies exciting, and I love change when I'm driving it - in this case, taking it on board before I'm forced to do so.  I haven't tried to explain to my mother yet that she'll have to go digital with her TV by the end of next year - it's hard enough to get Mum using a cordless phone.  However, she can use her video recorder (she hasn't discovered DVDs yet) so that's fine for an 80 year old.

What about you?  How do you feel about smartphones, TVs that act like computers, tablets and so on?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

This'll learn ya!

You may have noticed that I've been absent from this blog for quite a while - I had intended when I started it to blog each week, but my brain has been focussed on my studies and my new life.  As a result, I just haven't been able to come up with good ideas for subjects.

Currently, there's one more week of Term 2 left before we break for a fortnight.  This coincides pretty much with the Shortest Day (in the Southern Hemisphere) although it's not considered mid-winter for another couple of weeks.  But I digress...

As a student, my world revolves around learning.  My Drawing tutor has told me that I have a negative attitude to my work, and this means I don't see good bits that I draw.  Yes, it's true that I'm very critical of my drawing, because I'm continually frustrated by my inability to reproduce what I see - have you ever tried to draw drapery?  You know, a sheet draped in bunches over a trestle.  I wrote on my effort that it was "Mutant Drapery", which elicited the tutor's comments.

Anyway, this got me thinking.  Naturally, we humans tend to spend our time, as we go through life, doing the things that we're good at.  I can't remember the last time I willingly spent time doing something that I had no experience in and did poorly at.  Until now.  And Drawing is not an elective - I have it for the whole 3 years of my degree.

This tutor insists that there is no such thing as talent, and that drawing is just a skill that can be learnt by anyone.  Maybe he's right.  The problem is that, at tertiary level, you're not actually taught to do things, like draw, because it's expected that you already know the basics at least.  If you don't, you look to your classmates to help.  I understand this, and have resolved to spend time drawing each day over the holidays as I certainly need the practice (plus I have to draw 3 portraits as an assignment - which I've never done before except for one day in class at the start of the year).  Problem is, because I don't really enjoy it, or the results, I don't look forward to doing it - in comparison, I adore photography and get totally excited about taking photographs.  But I digress again...

How do you, dear readers, feel about learning?  Do you stick pretty much with what you know you can do, or do you go out of your way to do things that you find difficult?  Tell me your stories!

Friday, April 29, 2011


It's the calm before the storm of the royal wedding in the UK.  Tonight, our TV channels will be broadcasting little else.  There'll be detailed descriptions of Kate's dress, a blow-by-blow account of who was there, what they wore, what they said, what they did...and so on.  The wedding will cost the equivalent of NZ$41 million - that's nearly 20 million British pounds or 22 million Euros or 30 million Australian dollars or nearly US$33 million.

I personally think this is a waste of money.  Not just because it's royalty - I admit I'm not a huge fan on the monarchy - I think any culture that spends excessively on weddings is just plain crazy.

Yes, I know it may be "tradition".  But that doesn't make it worth keeping.  It used to be a tradition to keep slaves, or make enormous profits from tenant farmers, or treat some people as untouchable.  That doesn't make these things right or good. Spending that kind of money when the country is suffering from a recession is not right in my book.

But money aside, how do you feel about weddings?  Yes, I've been married, but it wasn't because I was dreaming of a white knight on a steed rescuing me so we could live happily ever after.  I had no such fanciful illusions.  I married for simply pragmatic reasons and my wedding was in a registry office with staff as witnesses.

Historically, marriage was for the protection of children and I believe this is still so.  I am not concerned about whether my children marry their partners.  This doesn't mean that I don't think people should respect the partners they choose to spend their lives with - I do.  I just don't think marriage is a requirement to do that.  What do you think?