Day 89: New Year’s ritual

Being mindful while preparing and carrying out my New Year’s ritual:

I love my New Year’s ritual.

After having given up on New Year’s resolutions a long time ago, once i realised I was just setting myself up to fail, a dear friend introduced me to the idea of this New Year’s ritual.

And it immediately became my favourite way to spend my New Year’s Eves.

Sometimes I do the ritual with a trusted friend or two. And sometimes I do it alone. Either is absolutely fine.

Between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, I grab my notebook and pen, and head to my happy place for a couple of hours.

First I write down a kind of ‘year in review’. Month-by-month, I note any events and occasions, places I’ve been, peopled I’ve seen, lessons I’ve learnt and things I’ve accomplished, struggles I’ve had, and anything else that comes to mind that I feel is important.

Then I write down:

  1. All the things I’m grateful for in 2015 and why. I find this the easy part and thankfully the list is usually long as there’s so much to be grateful for.
  2. All the things I’m happy to let go of, particularly the behaviour, habits and beliefs I’d like to leave behind. This takes more thinking time and much more delving. Usually I like to think about this over a few days and write them down as they come to me.
  3. All the things I’d like to manifest, build on, and create in the new year ahead and how I want to live my life. I make sure these are clear, doable and can be turned into an affirmation starting with ‘I am’. Again this takes a little more time. I try not to go crazy with these as it can become too overwhelming. But as I revisit them on a monthly basis, I tend to adjust or add to if need be.
  4. I also like to think of a main intention for the year and will keep this up on my wall where I can see it every day. Again, I write it as an affirmation. For 2016 my main intention is: I am living from my heart♡

As the sun begins to go down on the last day of the year, I light a candle, burn some essential oil, and put on the soothing sounds of Deva Premal. (When I’m living by the beach, I head down to the shore and shout them into the sea!).

I then read my long list of gratitude out loud, genuinely thanking everything on my list from the bottom of my heart.

Then as the sun is setting, I write each ‘letting go’ on it’s own little piece of paper and burn each one as I speak it aloud. If that’s not possible, I tear each up into tiny pieces.

It feels fantastic to let them go like this, to watch them dissolve into the fire: it’s very gratifying, cathartic and cleansing.

I then meditate for a while.

As the sun comes up on the first day of the new year, again being mindful of speaking from my heart, I read out my list of intentions in the present tense as though they are already happening, already in motion. For example: I am living from my heart ♥︎

And that’s it!

I find this ritual so powerful, that I like to revisit my intentions and repeat this part of the ritual every New Moon. It’s like a check-in to see where I’m at, and to help keep me focused on manifesting the good stuff. Sometimes I find that my intentions have changed throughout the year. And that’s ok.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful while preparing and carrying out my New Year’s ritual. And I wish everyone a very wonderful and magical 2016.

Day 88: Christmas carols

Being grateful for a carol service for putting me in the Christmas spirit:

After weeks of being stuck inside as I recover from my relapse, it’s no surprise I’ve been feeling a little stir crazy. Needing to get out is also a good sign that I’m on the mend.

And I really want to soak up some festive cheer.

With today being the last clear day before Christmas Day (we have my nephews here the next couple of days) I discovered that a carol service was on at 1pm at my favourite church in the city.

And I couldn’t think of anything more perfect for capturing the magical spirit of Christmas.

I just love the architecture and stunning interior of St Mary’s Church: it’s the city’s oldest parish, dating back to 1377, and is even mentioned in the Doomsday Book. Even though it’s undergoing a major refurbishment at the moment, it was still a treat to go inside.

St Mary's church exterior

I was feeling a little apprehensive about going all the way into the city, as my energy levels are still so low. But as my lovely mum was joining me, I felt safe knowing that if I didn’t feel well I could get home ok.

Before the service began, we had time to brave the cold winds and heavy rain to have a little potter around the Christmas Market on the main square, watch the skaters on the outdoor ice rink, and have a festive bite to eat (which was also quite brave of us!).


We got to the church early and as it filled up, I took the time to have a meditation break.

The service began with the Nottingham Girls’ High School Junior Choir, and the haunting beauty of their harmonising voices brought tears to my eyes.

carol service full pic

The service included traditional readings, more moving musical pieces from the young choir, and we all joined in for the festive favourites: O, Come All Ye Faithful; Once in Royal David’s City; Silent Night; O Little town of Bethlehem; and Hark, the Herald-Angels Sing.

Order of service

Although the key was way too high for my vocal chords (why do they do that?) and I found it a tad difficult to sing my heart out, I did my very best and thoroughly enjoyed it. And I got tingles at the soaring voices of the choral members dotted around the congregation.

It was a beautiful, touching, magical, moving, and inspirational service – all rolled into one.

Now I’m feeling fabulously festive. Bring on Christmas!

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for a carol service for putting me in the Christmas spirit.

Day 87: You’ve been RACK’ed!

Being kind by leaving festive goodie bags on car windscreens at the doctors’ surgery:

I’m so excited about this act of kindness. I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of weeks, but with my recent big CFS relapse have had to put it on hold.

But as I start to feel a little better, I made it to the shops a couple of days ago to buy some treats to make some festive goodie bags; and I was delighted to have enough to make 24 bags!

RACK loot

Alongside a few sweet treats, I added a party popper, a festive feather and a Christmas bauble.

I also included one of my brand new Kindness Cards with the message: You are AMAZING (if you forget that, please read this again).


I’ve also made a ‘you’ve been RACK’ed’ card which reads: You have been RACK’ed. You have been chosen to receive this small gift through a Random Act of Christmas Kindness. May your day be merry and bright Xxx


So today I nipped out to pop a goodie bag onto the windscreen of the cars parked in my local doctors’ surgery car park. I really hope that it will be a nice surprise for those who’ve just been to see one of the doctor’s about a health issue.

Doctor's surgery RACK

A dapper gentleman dressed in a smart suit was just returning to his car as I was about to put a goodie bag on his windscreen, so I got the chance to give it to him face-to-face instead. It was really heartwarming and rewarding to see his reaction to this little act of kindness: he gave me a huge smile as he said thank you. ♡

With the rest of the goodie bags, I hope to feel well enough to head into the city one day next week and will either hand them out or will hide them for people to find. If not, I’ll work something out.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being kind by leaving festive goodie bags on car windscreens at the doctors’ surgery.


ps if you received one of my festive goodie bags, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below…

Day 86: Carrot and squash soup

Being grateful for warming winter soups:

One of my favourite things about winter – and there’s not too many things on the list, to be honest – is a bowl of hot comforting soup.

It really is happiness in a bowl.

And I love how easy they are to make. And how little energy goes into making one. And how you can make a few portions to freeze and enjoy over the coming weeks. Result!

As my energy levels are still so very low at the mo, a soup was the perfect thing to make today.

As I peered into the fridge, I spotted a lonely looking butternut squash and big bag of juicy carrots just waiting to be used. So I decided to freestyle and make something up, which is another reason why I love making soups – you can play with the ingredients and it’s hard to go wrong really.

I roasted the squash and carrots in coconut oil, with a sprinkling of dried chillies, garlic, salt and pepper. Once cooked, I popped them into the blender along with some stock and fresh coriander. And after a minute or two, I was rewarded a thick, tasty soup.

How easy is that!

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for warming winter soups.

Carrot and Squash Soup with a kick

1 butternut squash
6 carrots
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp dried chillies
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 litre stock (I used half chicken, half vegetable)
big handful of fresh coriander (I used 15-20g)
salt and pepper

1. Cut squash in half (with the skin still on) and chop the carrots into chucks and rub with coconut oil
2. Put onto baking tray and sprinkle with chillies, garlic, salt and pepper
3. Roast in oven at Gas Mark 4 for 90 mins, or until cooked
4. When cooled a little, scoop out the cooked squash and put into blender along with the carrots and coriander
5. Add half the stock and blend until nice and smooth
6. Slowly add more stock until you have the desired consistency, I prefer my soups on the thicker side so used 1 litre, you may want to add more if you prefer
7. Pour into a bowl and enjoy

NB This made 5 portions and I popped the rest in the freezer to enjoy over the next few weeks

Day 85: Relapse

Being grateful for the lovely Katie Manning’s words on relapses:

Relapse, crash, setback, flare up, blip. Whatever I’ve called them in the past, there’s no sugar-coating this one.

It’s a biggie.

The biggest one I’ve had for months and months.

One where I can barely get out of bed. Where behind my eyes hurts so much I can’t have the big light on once it gets dark at 4pm, I can’t read or watch TV for very long, I can barely look at my phone or laptop screen. Where I can’t tolerate noise, the neighbourhood’s barking dogs and car alarms go right through me, I have to ask my parents to speak quietly, and when I can watch a bit of telly the volume is barely audible.

Where my brain is so foggy I can’t think straight, I can’t remember anything, and I can’t cope with any conversation. Where I can’t make the simplest of decisions, like when mum asks me what kind of tea I’d like, or what I fancy for dinner. Where the slightest thing makes me cry, a hug from my nephews, a supportive text from a friend, a kind comment on my blog.

And as a friend and fellow CFS sufferer tells me, when we’re feeling wiped out our body struggles to produce natural energy, and our fight or flight mode kicks in. Which means that any slight stress, worry or concern is blown up to epic proportions, and wipes me out even more.

It’s no wonder my spirits have spiralled downwards and feelings of frustration, disappointment, panic and fear start to show up.

I’ve been kindly reminded by a dear friend that it’s ok to let my world stop for a while. And this is what I’ve been doing for a few days now.

As I slowly start to build up a little energy, I reached into my healing tool kit and pulled out the lovely Katie Manning. Not literally of course, but the tools I’ve gathered from her fabulous website Conquering Fear Spiritually.

Having fully recovered from CFS, Katie has created a positive and inspiring place for sufferers to dip into: blog posts, vlogs, e:books, and she’s even recently published a book on her story.

LIttle Book of relapse

As I reread her wonderfully helpful The Little CFS Book of Relapse e:book and watched her vlog Can Relapsing Really Be A Good Thing?, Katie gently and lovingly reminded me of the following:

1. To understand that this relapse is what I needed for my body to tell me to slow down, that I was going a little too fast, pushing myself a little too much – and this is very true with the build up of all the kindness activity I’ve been doing recently, especially with my Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar and my fun but exhausting afternoon with BBC Radio Nottingham.

2. To remember I have two choices: I can let myself be sucked under or I can accept that it’s happened and use this relapse as a lesson to optimise my wellbeing. I need to be careful not to dwell on it or fight it or beat myself up about it, but to gently accept it and let it be. Much easier said than done, but I get there in the end! And I keep this fabulous cartoon by my bed to remind me of this:


3. To accept that this is just a small setback on my road to recovery. While it feels like I’ve taken two steps forward and one step back, it’s the two steps forward that count. That it’s actually a measure of progress and is here to teach me something. To now look back with curiousity at what I did before the relapse and learn from it. And to keep moving forward.

My short time spent refamiliarising myself with lovely Katie’s words was like a injection of positivity directly in my bloodstream.

My spirits are instantly lifted, my hope is restored, and I have renewed faith that I am making progress, be it teeny weeny baby step style progress but it’s progress and I’ll take it thank you very much.

Thankfully my symptoms are slowly easing little by little, day by day. I’m now managing to read a little bit more, sit through a film in one sitting, and write this post, even though it’s taken me a few days.

I have a couple of fun things planned for this week, that I have been really looking forward to and am reluctant to cancel. But if I don’t feel well enough to go, then I have to accept it and let go of the disappointment, anger and frustration. It’s not going to be easy, but I have to be gentle and kind to myself and take the necessary time and space to heal and recover.

As I continue to gently ride this wave, I am in complete trust that this too shall pass. I accept that getting back to where I was before this relapse may take a while. But I’ll get there. I  know I will.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for the lovely Katie Manning’s words on relapses.