Happy Blog-aversary

Being grateful for one year of maketodayhappy.co.uk:

[WARNING: this extra long blog post contains a LOT of gushing 🙂 ]

Yay! It’s one year today that I posted my first blog post on maketodayhappy.

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I started my life as a blogger sometime last July and have been meaning to check the exact date for a few weeks now. And this morning I woke up with a strong urge to investigate and discovered it was today!

Hooray!! Love how that happens.

I’m sooooooo thankful I decided to write this blog – it has seriously done me the world of good in so many ways.

I set out to see if I could stop my gradual slide into the deep dark cess pit of self-pity and depression as I was plunging further into the complicated and misunderstood world of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

And I knew I had to find my happy again.

And fast!

I thought it might be quite a challenging task when I spend most days lying in bed too fatigued to move, too brain fogged to think straight, and too fed up to care!

But I had to try, and I’m so glad I did.

Rather than write about the negative issues my health condition brings, I wanted my blog to be a happy positive place to be – for me and for anyone visiting. So I vowed to focus on finding the happy in the everyday little things, through mindfulness, gratitude and kindness.

And to kick it off, I embarked on my 100 Days of Happy project.

I soon realised there are so many things to be happy about:

☆ Watching the wind rustle through the grand sycamore tree outside my bedroom window, listening to the birds sing their happy tunes, witnessing a magnificent sunrise or sunset. How can you not be happy when you focus on the magnificence of Mother Nature?

☆ Enjoying every single moment I get to spend with my young nephews, even though spending more than half an hour at a time with either – or both of them – wipes me out. To be able to share in their joy and wonder of life, to play mindfully with them, getting lost in their world. I’ve discovered how children are such wonderful teachers of how to live in the present moment.

☆ Focusing on all the little things that I can do rather than the things I cannot. Instead of being grumpy that I can no longer go on a weekend hike, I’m grateful that I can take short soul strolls around my neighbourhood, make friends with local dogs, admire the flowers and the scentalicious rose garden, listen to the babbling brook.

☆ I’m grateful to have found my tribe on Happier. Making like-minded friends from all around the world who always brighten my day, provide unlimited support, and inspire me to keep looking for the happy.

☆ And I’m deeply grateful for the love and support of my family and friends who have continued to be there for me, even if my condition isn’t always easy to understand – which I know can be crazily difficult and I don’t always understand it myself! My mum has been such a superstar, she is my rock and my heart is so full of gratitude for her unwavering love, care and support.

I’m so thankful that I have so much to be grateful for!

I’ve discovered how life-changing it can be to open your eyes to everything we have to be grateful for, even with a debilitating chronic health condition.

In my experience over this past year, I’ve discovered that being mindful and being grateful go hand-in-hand, they are such a powerful duo in our quest for happiness.

And kindness makes it a powerful trio.

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When I decided to start carrying out small acts of kindness, I had no idea what a huge part of my recovery journey it would become:

♡ I love hiding kindness cards around my community for people to come across. I love putting together little goody bags, hoping they bring joy to the recipients. And I love sharing inspirational kindness stories and quotes on my Facebook page ‘spreading little kindness’.

♡ I never imagined how doing one small act of kindness could have such a positive impact on another human being. While doing most of them anonymously, it’s always such a treat to hear from people who’ve found one of my Kindness Cards or Kindness Goody Bags; it really warms my heart and inspires me to keep going (for one emotional example, check out the comment in this blog post).

♡ I never imagined how passionate I would become about spreading kindness, how it has become my mission, and how the local newspaper and radio station would pick up on this mission.

♡ And I never imagined how much of a positive effect doing acts of kindness would have on me. My intention has always been to try and make other people smile, and I honestly didn’t expect to feel as happy as I do when I’m planning and carrying out kindness acts. It’s an unexpected bonus and the old adage that the giver benefits as much as the receiver is very much true in my case.

A lovely friend wisely noted that I’m healing through kindness. And I couldn’t agree more.

And to dear lovely YOU. Thank you so much for visiting and reading my blog. And extra big thanks for your comments, likes and shares. Whether this is your first visit or you’ve come along on this journey with me, I deeply appreciate you.

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It’s always lovely to see you and knowing you’re out there helps to keep me going, especially on the darker days; it’s not all sunshine and sparkles, but it’s all part of life and for that I have learnt to be grateful.

So, here I am, one year on.

I’m truly more mindful, more grateful and more passionate about kindness. I’m not sure what lies ahead, but for now I think I’ll keep on making today happy.

Much love to you,
A happier Helen Xxx

ps I hope you enjoy reading about my journey to make today happy, and if you’ve been inspired in any way to make your today happy too, I’d love to hear from you (in the comments below).

 

Act of kindness #20: Library book messages II

I had so much fun sneakily hiding kindness messages inside library books last week, that I want to do the same again (and again and again!).

And today I got my chance as I needed to go to my health food shop in a different town.

Armed with a new set of messages written on the back of my kindness cards, I sought out their library and stealthily got to work.

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Imagine my delight when I came across a book called: One Small Act of Kindness. Of course, I couldn’t resist popping one of my kindness messages inside 🙂

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I love doing this act of kindness so much,  I think I’ll seek out libraries whenever and wherever I can, and hide more kindness messages for folk to find.

I really hope the next reader of each of these books finds it a nice surprise when they come across my message.

☆♡☆

P.S. If you have found one of my messages, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below ♡

Oxygen Energy Therapy

Being ever so grateful for breathing in a little more oxygenated air:

A little while ago a friend asked if I’d like to be a case study for a natural product which is reportedly helping people with a number of conditions including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Of course, I jumped at the chance.

Expecting a new batch of supplements, I was quite surprised to find a small electronic device delivered to my door a few days later.

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And with SoeMac being “the world’s first and only home use Singlet Oxygen Energy therapy device”, I was instantly intrigued and rather excited.

All I had to do was plug it in, switch it on just before I go to sleep, and let it work its magic.

This clever little device – around the size of an external hard drive – works by producing energised oxygen and gently blows it into the air, which you breathe in while you sleep.

It reminded me of how I experienced Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy many years ago, which involved climbing into a chamber and breathing in pure oxygen at an higher than atmospheric pressure.

I remember feeling wonderfully rested, restored and refreshed afterwards and was keen to go back for more sessions, but the high price tag meant that I couldn’t.

So I couldn’t wait to try my very own oxygen therapy machine.

Being lightweight and slender, it easily fits onto my nightstand. It’s recommended that for optimal benefits, to sit the device at a higher level than your bed, so I’ve created a little tower by placing the box it came in on top of my alarm clock.

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Et voila!

Being such a light sleeper, and even more so with my CFS-induced heightened sensitivity to light and noise, I was initially concerned the red light and soft whirring noise would keep me awake. But I simply prop a pillow to block out the light and I’ve got used to the sound – but if it does bother me, I simply pop my earplugs in!

 

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I’ve been using my SoeMac for almost four months now and I have to say I’m pretty impressed with the subtle changes I’m experiencing: I’m feeling a little more rested, restored and refreshed.

I feel my quality of sleep has improved; I’m sleeping deeper than before. One of the common symptoms of CFS is awakening from sleep still feeling tired and unrefreshed, no matter how many hours you’ve been asleep.

But now, I often wake up feeling like I’ve had a proper night’s sleep. I feel much better for it and find I have a little more energy for the day ahead.

Of course, I still have the occasional crappy night’s sleep, but my sleep is restful more often than not.

I also feel that my recovery time after a crash or wipe out is lessening. As this means hours or days of complete bedrest, bouncing back even just a little bit quicker is a big deal.

And for that I am very grateful.

As I’m discovering through my own personal recovery journey from CFS, the road to recovery is long and winding, and I’ve still a long way to go. But any improvement in my condition, be it the teensiest weeniest baby step forward, is very welcome and pretty exciting.

And I’m pretty excited.

I have to say, that there are a few other significant factors which I feel are also contributing to my subtle health improvements:

☆ I have recently started private nutritional sessions with the Optimum Health Clinic and a big part of this is being more careful with my diet: I’ve been avoiding sugar, dairy and wheat for over two months now and have increased my protein and ‘good’ fats intake, and am feeling sooooo much better for it
☆ Following recent test results and my practitioner’s recommendations, I have changed my supplements and have added a couple of CFS-related supplements into the mix
☆ And the arrival of lighter-for-longer, warmer days. I am such a sunshine girl and my mood always lifts during the summery months of the year

So while I can’t give SoeMac full credit for my subtle health improvements, I am confident it is having a positive impact and it has become an essential tool in my healing recovery kit.

☆♡☆

The Poetry Takeaway

Being grateful for the gift of a poem:

To celebrate our connection with the Romantic poet Lord Byron – who’s buried in his family’s vault in our Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene – our town is hosting the Byron Busk mini festival.

With art, music and of course, poetry, I was feeling well enough to check it out and took a gentle walk down into my town centre.

I was looking forward to seeking out The Poetry Takeaway, described as a place where: “The poet chefs will write, perform and personalise a poem for you to wrap and take away for free.”

How fabulous.

After weaving through our town’s Friday market, I found ‘the world’s first purpose-built mobile poetry emporium’ already in full creative flow.

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During the short wait, I chatted with Michael Bolger, the creative brainpower behind The Poetry Takeaway. He described how the burger-turned-poetry van travels all around the country, its talented poets and performers gifting poetry at festivals and private functions.

I was soon paired with the effervescent Michelle Madsen. I didn’t know this at the time – only discovering her impressive credentials on her website afterwards – that Michelle has been performing her poetry around the UK and the world for almost a decade. She’s founder and host of London’s Hammer and Tongue which is part of the UK’s slam poetry network. Oh and she’s also published a selection of her poems in a book. I was in very safe hands 🙂

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I decided to ask her to write a poem for my lovely mum, who was at that very moment at the hospital bedside of her younger sister, who passed away only a few hours later.

I wanted it to be a gift for my mum, to bring her some comfort during this sad time, and to remind her how much she is loved and appreciated.

I was expecting to be asked a little about my mum, but not the in-depth questions about her life, loves and passions. Covering all things like her favourite colours, season, flowers, her sense of style, what makes her laugh, her music of choice, her ideal day out, and oodles more.

I have to confess the questions I most enjoyed were those that were deliciously thought-provoking on how to describe her laugh, what season she most resembles, her outlook on life, her presence.

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our 15-20 minutes chat, it was really wonderful to think about my mum in this way.

But I have to admit I was pretty wiped out afterwards! My CFS induced brain fog protested after so much hard thinking!!

As Michelle set to work, I was asked to return in 30 minutes so I nipped into our library. I wanted to spread a little kindness and also find a quiet corner so I could meditate and recharge a little energy.

Eager to hear the poem, I couldn’t wait to return to the creative hub.

And it definitely didn’t disappoint.

As Michelle performed her poem to me – which I really wish I’d recorded as it sounded sooooo much better when she read it out loud – I rollercoastered through emotions of delight, tears, joy, laughter, surprise, happiness and “oh no, mum’s going to kill me for telling you that” fear!

Seriously though, I absolutely love it.

This truly is the perfect poem for my lovely mum and demonstrates just how well Michelle had taken the time and the effort to get to know her through me.

And I couldn’t resist giving her a big hug as she finished.

Here’s the poem:

Happy Chrisday!

Chris, let’s make this YOUR day (as they all should be!)
And with garlands of lilacs and pinks around your neck
We’ll day trip to Whitby! And maybe Tahiti!
And write in pearls in the sand, YOU ARE LOVED!

That your kindness is spread as thick as strawberry jam
sandwiched between two freshly baked sponge cakes
Their round vanilla scent tickling bellies,
sustaining even those that can’t bite into their sweet riches

BUT FIRST! Our outfits must impress
To Debenhams – Nottingham’s magnetic fashion superstore
And from racks of lovingly stitched cotton and floaty lines
you’ll be dressed fresh as the summer breeze that you are.

Home-maker, lady magician of the kitchen,
Crafting joy from ordinary things, laughing out Mama Mia hits
Smile bigger than Ronan Keating’s bank balance
as you hide clothes pegs under fern leaves

Hucknall’s queen of generosity
Let’s make every day one for you
Best friend, best mum, best you

When I gave mum the poem,  it brought tears to her eyes too. She really loves it and continues to thank me for this beautifully unique gift of words.

Thank you so much to Michael, Michelle and all at The Poetry Takeaway – you gave us the gift of a smile during such a sad time, and for that I am eternally grateful.

☆♡☆

Now, this is not intended to spoil this lovely tribute, but I feel inspired to write a little ditty of my own (apologies if anyone from the poetry world is reading this… you might want to look away now!).

Ok, here goes…

My Ode to The Poetry Takeaway

Oh Poetry Takeaway in a lovely van
created by one very clever man
My poet was the lovely Michelle
and I instantly gelled with this effervescent belle

I wanted a poem to cheer up my mum
unlike chocolates or flowers, this gift she could hum
To make her smile whenever she felt blue
a gift that says: ”Mum, I really love you”

Michelle asked me questions about my mum
all kinds of things that made my brain go numb
Mum’s life, loves and passions, her ideal day out
she got to know her well, of that there’s no doubt

The finished poem Michelle performed out loud
I enjoyed it so much, I really was wowed
My mum loved it too, it bought tears to her eyes
this gift from The Poetry Takeaway, the perfect surprise

☆♡☆

Act of kindness #19: Library book messages

My town’s lovely 150 year old library reopened yesterday after 6 months of construction work.

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I thought I’d celebrate by spreading a little kindness to strangers by sneakily hiding some kindness messages inside a few library books.

I had already written a mixture of messages on the backs of my kindness cards before I set off:

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As I chose the books to hide the messages inside, including a couple on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I couldn’t help feeling happy and excited at the thought of surprising the next readers as they turn the page and come across the message.

I really hopes it makes them smile 🙂

☆♡☆

ps If you found one of my messages, I’d love to hear from you ♡

Act of kindness #18: Kind news

I simply adore The Happy News, a newspaper dedicated to celebrating all that’s good in the world.

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The creation of graphic design graduate Emily Coxhead, this quality quarterly is jam-packed full of happy stories from all around the world, features on all things happy, and snippets of showbiz, travel, food and much more.

It also has a section to celebrate Everyday Heroes where readers can nominate a person, group or organisation for recognition and appreciation.

When I was ordering Issue #3, I saw that the very first issue was on offer and thought it’d be lovely opportunity to send a copy out to a few friends. I really wish I had the funds to send a copy to everyone I know, but I have to work with what I have.

I couldn’t wait for my Happy Newspapers to arrive through my door, so I could get them straight into the post. And when they arrived this week, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect what with all the crazy stuff going on in the world.

I wrote this message on my Kindness CardsI hope this brings you an abundance of smiley moments, and attached one to each newspaper.

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And as they wing their way around the country, I really hope it helps bring a few smiles to the receivers of The Happy News.

☆♡☆

PS If you too are tired of all the negative news and want to be reminded of all that’s good in the world, you can order yourself a copy at thehappynewspaper.com/shop

The Happy Newspaper

Being grateful for The Happy Newspaper:

I’ve been a BIG fan of The Happy News ever since a kind person sent me a copy a few months ago.

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In the words of its wonderful creator, graphic design graduate Emily Coxhead: “This is not your typical newspaper… The Happy Newspaper celebrates all that’s good in the world; a platform to share positive news and wonderful people.”

This quarterly newspaper guarantees smile after smile, page after page. And with issue #3 just out, it’s jam packed full of brilliant, positive, uplifting stories from all across the globe.

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It also has a lovely section which celebrates Everyday Heroes – where readers can nominate a person, group or organisation who make the world a little happier and, well quite frankly, deserve a little appreciation and a whole lot of love.

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Written by Emily and a host of kind contributors, there’s oodles more content around lifestyle, showbiz, travel, food and much more. All guaranteed to make you feel happy 🙂

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And as I was flicking through the latest issue, I was surprised and excited to come across an article written about little ol’ me:

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So if you too are tired of all the negative news and want to be reminded of all that’s good in the world – of which there really is an abundance –  go and order yourself a copy at www.thehappynewspaper.com/shop.

Currently only available online, Emily’s happy to post to anywhere in the world, and fingers crossed it soon rolls out into our newsagents so everyone can enjoy a quarterly dose of Happy News.

You could also, like me, buy a few copies to give to your friends (Issue #1 is currently only £1) and help spread a little happiness.

As negativity tends to dominate our news stands, it’s utterly refreshing and uplifting to read about the good things that are happening in the world.

And The Happy News really is a big beautiful breath of fresh, happy and positive air.

☆♡☆

Act of kindness #17: Mirror messages

Having recharged enough energy to take myself into the city for a brunch date this morning, I couldn’t resist planting some kindness messages I’d written on my Kindness Cards around the city.

First up was in the bathroom of the delicious deli I had brunch in:

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Next was on the mirror in the changing rooms while I tried on some pjs:

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Then I popped one on the mirror of the bathroom in my fave café which makes the best coffee in the city:

Mirror message cafe

And finally I stuck one on the wing mirror of a car parked in the city centre:

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I really hope my mirror kindness messages have made a few folk smile on this the first day of summer; especially as people are feeling a tad fed up as it’s been raining cats and dogs for days and days.

☆♡☆

Act of kindness #16: Sweet Dreams

Today I sent a kindness package off to a beautiful 10 year old bright light.

Eva sometimes feels a little anxious and doesn’t sleep so well because of it. But when she tried some of my Sweet Dreams essential oil blend I’d sent to a friend, she slept all the way through the night.

She was so happy, she sent me a heart melty video saying: “Thank you Helen, you are a miracle worker”, which made me smile and smile and smile.

I thought I’d make Eva a special blend of my Sweet Dreams potion and popped it into a goody bag, along with a handmade Wish-Upon-A-Star Bracelet, a handmade You Are Amazing postcard and one of my Kindness Cards.

Sweet dreams goody bag

I hope it’s a nice surprise and welcome gift for this lovely ray of light and that the oil blend continues to help her enjoy many more blissful night’s sleep.

☆♡☆

Being grateful for the opportunity to explore lovely Chester

When I heard I had to go to Chester for an early Monday morning legal/medico assessment, I wasn’t relishing the idea of a journey consisting of either 4 trains or a 2+ hour solo drive through Monday morning rush hour.

So I was really happy when my folks said they’ll join me and suggested we stay overnight stay to make it into a little getaway.

I have so many happys from these two days, I thought I’d write them in a gratitude list:

1. I am grateful for a positive and encouraging legal/medico assessment

2. I am grateful for my mum and dad coming with me as it was nice to have the support and spend time with them away from the normal daily routine of home

3. I am grateful for dad doing all the driving so I could conserve my energy on the way there, and rest and recharge on the way back

4. I am grateful to the hotel for moving me to a quieter room without any fuss

5. I am grateful for doing a forward roll on my deliciously comfy and humongous king-sized bed (even though it made me feel really dizzy and made my neck a little sore!)

6. I am grateful for the messages of support from dear friends and a thoughtful card from a cherished soul sister

7. I am grateful for getting a little taste of lovely Chester. As well as having to rest lots, we were able to: walk on part of the 2000 year old wall which surrounds the city boundaries; witness the jaw dropping beauty of the cathedral and ornate prettiness of the 1897 Eastgate clock; meander along the cobbled lanes seeing gorgeous Tudor buildings at every turn; stroll through the Roman Gardens and Amphitheatre; see the beauty of the raindrops on lusciously green leaves; and be by the water as we walked alongside the canal and river.

Chester

8. I am grateful for yummy, healthy meals in fab restaurants with exceptionally friendly service

9. I am grateful for finding the only cafe open after a burst water pipe stopped all running water in the city centre on Monday morning

10. I am grateful for the kindness of a fellow driver signalling that one of our tyres was near flat on the 2hr drive home

And all this is worth feeling like this…

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… for a few days. Now it’s time to rest, recuperate and recharge.

☆♡☆