Wednesday, January 29, 2020

What it's like to walk in fresh snow

All my life I used to think how pretty snow looked in the distance on top of the mountains.  My first experience of snow was when I lived in New Zealand.  We were fresh off the boat, so to speak, had only been in New Zealand a few weeks and decided to drive down to the Lake Taupo region to look at the snow capped Mount Ruapehu.  We were excited.  We were actually going to touch snow for the very first time.
We did not realise that you had to wear proper clothes for the snow.  So to say we were under-equipped, is a gross understatement.  My youngest daughter had a beanie and wellington boots.  My son had a beanie and a jacket.  My eldest daughter and myself didn't have anything suitable for snow.  We found out the hard way, that snow is cold and wet and not powdery dry stuff.  Jeans and sneakers are not proper snow gear.  After standing around in the snow without gloves in icy cold wind for about five minutes, my youngest started crying and wanted to go home.  So we trudged through the snow to the restaurant, had a hot chocolate, and drove the 4 hours back to our home in Pukekohe.  That was our first snow experience.  We subsequently went to Queenstown in winter wearing the correct clothing and it was a much better experience.
As a family we experienced snow in South Korea, and again when we lived in China.
But I guess as an empty-nester I have experienced the most snow - when I lived in Ukraine and now that I live in Norway.
While I love sitting next to the window watching snow gently float down to earth outside, I am not a snow fan.  I reckon it's genetic.  Although my DNA test does have me as 10% Norwegian and Swedish.  Many of my friends around the world who have not yet encountered snow as I have, often ask what it's like to walk in snow.  Well let me explain it like this.  Walking on fresh snow is like a combination of walking on bubble wrap and thick sand.  With each step the fresh snow cracks and pops as if you are stepping on bubble wrap.  But then the effort of walking on snow is the same as the effort of walking in thick sand.  I do enjoy walking on fresh snow though.  Old icy snow is a different story!
Cindy Vine is a South African author and teacher currently living and working in Norway.  She is the author of Not Telling, Hush Baby and The Freedom Club - all available on Amazon in both ebook and paperback formats.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

After battling chronic back pain for the last couple of weeks I finally went to the doctor.  The truth is, I've actually been getting bouts of back pain for the last few years, but I just pushed it aside and got on with my life.  Sometimes it was worse than other times and I couldn't move at all.  This time, I had pushed some heavy tables at school, felt my back go, and put that down as to the cause.
The fact is, pushing those tables only exasperated the problem I didn't know I had.
I knew my back was weakening and actually felt as if I was losing some of my mobility.  But I just put that down as being somehow related to the Tram Flap reconstruction surgery I had had in 2004 after being diagnosed with breast cancer, where they used my stomach muscle to create a new breast.
I had never thought that it might actually be a disease of sorts.  That had never crossed my mind.
My doctor asked lots of questions, poked and prodded my back, twisted me around and then declared that I had a classic case of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis and booked me in for an MRI to see how far it has progressed.
It turns out that various ailments I had been suffering from the last few years were all related to my lower spine.  But, myself and previous doctors had always treated them in isolation and never connected them together.  When you put them together, then you have a classic case of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis.  My advice to you, is if you are reading this and have been getting some or all of these symptoms, go and see a doctor right away and get checked for Spinal Stenosis.
These are the symptoms I have had the last few years;
1. Chronic lower back pain where I feel like I have been cut in half and not put back properly.
2. Burning pain in lower back.
3. Chronic hip pain.
4. Cramps in the calf muscles.
5. Finding it hard to walk properly and sometimes limping.
6. Completely imobilised thinking my sciatic nerve is pinched.
7. Pain and stiffness across my upper back, sometimes even my neck. Muscles go into spasm and tense up.
8. Numbness and loss of feeling in my feet.
9. Pain in feet when walking.
10.  Unsteady on feet, struggling to get balance especially when climbing stairs, stepping onto escalators and stepping over objects.
11.  Struggle to control bladder.
12. Difficulty getting up out of a chair, sometimes walking a few steps with your back bent before you can straighten it.
13.  Unable to stand for any length of time when washing dishes or hanging up washing, as your back starts hurting so badly you have to sit down.
14.  Not able to walk long distances without stopping somewhere and sitting down as your back hurts so much.
15. Needing to lean on a supermarket trolley when shopping, as your back starts to hurt if you walk around carrying a basket.
I have found, that my back hurts less when I wear a backpack as that makes me lean forward when I walk.
All these symptoms I thought was just a product of ageing, and I guess in a way it is as you tend to get this when you are over 50.
As I discover treatments and strategies to ease the back pain, I'll share them with you.
Cindy Vine is the author of Not Telling, The Case of Billy B, Defective, CU@8, Hush Baby and The Freedom Club.  All her books are available in both paperback and ebook format on

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Musings from a Train

For someone who enjoys writing, it never ceases to amaze me how little I do of it.  To be sure, I spend all of my work week writing but that doesn't count as it isn't fun. It's work.  As I walk to work in the mornings, I often write blog posts in my head.  The problem is, is that is where they stay.  Buried somewhere in my head, shelved for another day, another time.  A time that never seems to come and that is sad.
This morning I am on a train to Oslo to go and pick up my passport from the Japanese Embassy.  It is almost holiday time again and I realised with horror I might add, that the last time I updated my blog was the last time I was on holiday.  Each time I update my blog I promise to keep up and update it weekly.  Then work happens, new TV series happen and I get so distracted writing doesn't happen.
I have to be better.
I have to be more disciplined.
This train journey is good for me.  It's giving me time to refocus.  I sit here in a crowded train, everybody in their own bubble, and I'm desperately trying to dig into my subconscious to retireve those good blog ideas.  Alas, they are buried in a trash heap of half-baked thoughts and plans for the future.  They are as good as lost.  Sad but true.  At the time some of those ideas seemed brilliant.
I know I am waffling on.  I guess that's what happenes when you start your day with a 2 hour train journey just to collect a passport from an embassy.
Amazing how may people travel through to Oslo for work each day.  Who would have thought.  Standing room is even full.  Thank goodness the train was relatively empty when I boarded.
Death is on my mind quite a lot lately as people I know are dying.  There's so much I still want to do, I am so afraid my time will come and I won't have done it.  Like the rest of this blog post.
As a train rushes by stopping briefly at the odd station, so our life rushes by.  Before we know it we are at the end of our journey, our final destination.  Sobering thoughts on a train trip.
Next stop is Oslo Central Station.  My stop.
Cindy Vine is the author of The Freedom Club, Hush Baby, Not Telling and Defective.  All her books are available on Amazon in both ebook and paperback format.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

When Social Media takes control of Your Life

Yeah Social Media…love it or hate it but it is everywhere.  Despite our best intentions, we can’t seem to live without it.  Social Media enables procrastinators to…well, procrastinate.  Okay, let’s rephrase that.  Social Media enables me to procrastinate.  And how do I know this?  Well…
Holed up in Havana, Cuba, without any WIFI, I am actually writing a blog post.  Today I’ve written TWO book reviews, a blog post for my blog and this blog post.  That’s more than I achieve in an average weekend!
It’s not that I have writer’s block.
It’s not that I don’t have a myriad of things to write about.
It’s not that I don’t have the time.
It’s that…I sort of get distracted.  I have to check my Twitter for any notifications and status updates of those in the Writing Community I belong to.  And then I have to check Facebook to see if anybody commented on my post, anybody posted something exciting that I want to comment on, anybody in either one of my Youtube FB groups, or FB writing groups or one of the Travel FB groups I belong to posted anything interesting, or asked a question I can answer.  Then I have to go on Youtube to watch the news and any new videos uploaded from my subscriptions.  In between I might make myself a coffee, or breakfast or lunch and before I know it, it’s dinner and I am WTF where did the day go?
I think I have a problem.
There is no point in having creative genes if social media stops you from wearing them.  (That was a pun!)
I love to write so why the hell don’t I do more of it?  What about the novel and cookbook I have to finish?  Okay, long story cut short.  I was nearly finished with Diary of a Dancer and the cookbook.  Both unfinished manuscripts were on my laptop that was stolen out of the principal’s office while I was doing a school visit.  True story.  To start from the beginning again on both projects that were close to completion has sort of demotivated me.  I did write The Freedom Club last year, I managed to break away from social media to do that!  However, I couldn’t break away enough to do marketing.  Yep, marketing books, t-shirts, it’s a real schlep and I’ll eagerly jump onto social media to avoid doing it.
I admit it.  Social media has control of my life.  Oh, did I forget to mention Instagram?  I did, didn’t I? And Pinterest.  I am doomed.
So, what am I going to do about it?  I guess that is the logical question.
I think I need to structure my weekends and my life a little more.  I need to block time to do my social media things, and make sure that it doesn’t encroach on my writing time.  I need to, shall I say it, become more disciplined.
I’m not going to remove social media from my life.  That would just be counter-productive.  I do need it for my marketing, and I do need to be a part of the different communities I belong to.  But, I need to restrict my access to certain times so that I can still create and not stagnate.
I can’t let it dictate how I spend my day.
And I can’t let it be the reason that I don’t have time to write.
I have the time, I just need to set little boundaries for my social media time.
Thank you Havana for no WIFI! (And I’m not being sarcastic!)
I can do this!
I will do this!
I will take back my life!
Cindy Vine is a South African author and teacher currently living in Norway.  She is the author of numerous novels including Not Telling, Defective, Hush Baby, CU@8 and The Freedom Club.  All her books are available on in both ebook and paperback format.  The Freedom Club is available in Spanish and Portuguese.  You can find out about her novels
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