Day 100: my 100th happy day

Being grateful for reaching 100 days of happy:

I’ve made it! I’ve done it!

100 happy days!!

WooHoooo!!!

I’m so thrilled to be writing my 100th happy day (and I have to confess I’ve been stringing it out a little bit as I didn’t want it to come to an end!).

I set out “to encourage myself to look for and write about something that has made me happy every single day”. And to be honest, once I started looking I’ve found it surprisingly easy to find something to be happy about.

In fact, most days it’s hard to choose which one to write about!

And that’s not meant to sound like my life is like a bed of roses. It certainly isn’t.

What I’ve realised is that we all have things around us that can make us happy – if only we allow it to.

And it really is the everyday little things.

For me it’s a beautiful sunrise or sunset, the melodic sound of birdsong, a soul stroll in nature, a tree blowing in the wind, a delicious meal, a hug with my mum, connecting with a friend, a yummy yoga session, playtime with my nephews, getting crafty, and so many more.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learnt throughout this is that happiness is an attitude: it is a choice we make every single day.

choices

Even when I’m feeling crappy, wiped out or a little blue, or all three at once, as soon as I look for something to be grateful for, it instantly lifts my spirits.

It really is as simple as that.

Of course there are days when I’ve felt disgustingly crappy and to be completely honest, I haven’t felt like looking for something to cheer myself up. I’ve chosen to wallow in it, and that’s ok. As long as I acknowledge it and accept that it’s my choice.

I used to beat myself up for having ‘negative’ feelings, but now I’m trying to embrace both the light and the shadows. They’re all part of life and what makes me who I am, who we all are.

I know I need to honour how I’m feeling, as pushing it away can become pretty toxic. So now, when I feel awful, I try not to fight it. Instead I  try to accept it and  allow it and let myself feel it, and to trust that this too shall pass. For it will.

Of course, I’ll continue to have my blips and feel rubbish and lose my happy, and that’s ok. I can’t expect myself to be happy every single moment of every single day, so why beat myself up when I’m not? And as long as I’m aware of this and know that I can chose to be happy is the key.

Another thing I’ve learnt is that happiness isn’t a switch that once it’s on it never goes off: it’s a daily practice. It takes effort, which at times is not easy, but it’s so worth it.

So now I’ve reached the end of my 100 days of happy project, what next?

To be honest, I’m still not sure. But I’m really excited do see what’s around the corner.

I have lots of ideas floating around in my head which I can’t wait to explore and put into action. But as I’ve learnt with the rollercoaster nature of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I have to take each day, each hour, as it comes: slowly and surely.

And I completely trust that when the time is right, I will take the next step. And then the next.

In the meantime, I will continue to write about finding the happy in the everyday little things, just without the numbers as I feel I need to leave the 100 days as it is. So my new posts will be under a new heading: more happy days.

I can’t not mention the positive impact my kindness acts have had on my wellbeing. It’s been truly amazing and life-changing. Being kind really does benefit the giver as well as the receiver, and for that I’m truly grateful.

And I never expected the incredible response I’ve had from others – the reaction and feedback from some of the receivers, the interest from my local newspaper and radio station, and  all the wonderful comments from lovely you.

They’ve been a lovely bonus.

I have so many ideas on how to continue my kindness mission, and I’m really excited to be delving into this a lot more going forward. But all in good time and I will definitely be writing about them when the time is right.

And most of all, I’d like to say a huge big THANK YOU to everyone who has visited my blog, I’m so thankful and it’s always so lovely to see you. And I am ever so grateful for my lovely subscribers, THANK YOU. I get so excited when I see your comments and appreciate every single one. I always feel such a thrill and a deep sense of gratitude when a new subscriber signs up. You are all AMAZING. THANK YOU!

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being for reaching 100 days of happy.

Day 99: My kind Valentine

Being kind by leaving love-filled goodie bags on car windscreens in the hospital car park:

Happy Valentine’s Day! And Happy International Random Act of Kindness Week!

So why not combine the two, me thinks!!

How about some Valentine’s Day Kindness Bags filled with love-themed goodies?

And being joined by my helpful nephew Callum, I have all the ingredients for the sweetest Valentine’s Day EVER!!

I’ve been planning this ever since my  Random Act of Christmas Kindness. One of my favourite kindness acts so far, I loved choosing what to put inside my festive goodie bags and it gave me such pleasure leaving them on car windscreens at my doctor’s surgery.

But most of all I was incredibly moved by a response I received from a lovely lady who received one of these bags (see the comments section if you’d like to read it).

So the day is finally here, hooray!.

And I’m over-the-moon that my seven-year-old nephew Callum wants to help me. I love what a big heart he has and how his teacher is always commenting on how kind and helpful he is.

So earlier this morning we spread our loot across my bed, and had fun packing our 20 kindness goodie bags.

Packing goodie bags

Into each clear bag, we popped: a red foil-wrapped chocolate heart, a mini packet of Love Heart sweeties, a mini chocolate bar, a highlighter pen, some heart stickers, a handful of heart-shaped jewels, and a feather or two.

Valentine's Goodie Bags

We wrote kindness messages on my Kindness Cards. Callum carefully writing: You are amazing, and adding his name and age on a few. So sweet. And we also included a ‘You Are Loved’ card I’d made using one of my favourite nature photos I took last year, with a little explanation about our Random Act of Kindness on the reverse.

Valentine Kindness messages

Excited and ready for action, we drove down to the City Hospital and parked up.

Although it was freezing, our hearts were warmed as together we placed our kindness bags on the car windscreens.

Callum with goodie bag

placing our goodie bags on car windscreens

We even had the chance to give someone one of our kindness bags face-to-face: we spotted a lady heading into the hospital and ran across to hand-deliver a goodie bag. She seemed really happy to receive it.

We hope that when the owner/s returned to their cars after their appointment or visit or work-shift, they will be surprised.

And we really hope our little act of kindness will make a few people smile and feel happy, especially on this love-filled day.

Last week, I told the Nottingham Post about our little Valentine’s adventure, and we were interviewed and snapped by our city’s newspaper while in the midst of our good deed. Once the feature goes out, I will post the link here:

We then celebrated with a trip to our local Costa for a well-deserved sugar-loaded treat!

my handsome valentine's date

What really warms my heart is that Callum wants to take a kindness goodie bag with him into school next week for his ‘show and tell’. My heart is so happy to think that this small act of kindness may help inspire this younger generation to continue the ripple effect of kindness.

What a brilliant way to celebrate the start of International Random Act of Kindness Week!

Now back home, I’m shaking with exhaustion and about to switch-off and have a long soak in a yummy Epsom salt bath.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being kind by leaving love-filled goodie bags on car windscreens in the hospital car park.

ps if you have received one of our Valentine’s Day Kindness Goodie Bags, we’d really LOVE to hear from you in the comments below. If you’d prefer me not to publish your comment on the blog, please let me know.

Day 98: Friends

Being grateful for my friends:

Friends.

Just thinking about them makes me smile.

I’m sure you’ll agree that friends enrich our lives. We support and inspire, console and motivate, have each other’s back, and believe in each other.

Whether it’s a giggle over something silly, or a pour-your-heart-out kind of chat, friends comfort each other during tough times, and are there to celebrate the good times.

And what’s more, they know you and still love you!

I feel so blessed to have had some amazing friends throughout my life so far. I am truly grateful for every single one: longstanding and new, young and young-at-heart, near and far, lost and found.

Friends can really feel like family: they’re the family we choose for our ourselves.

I came to realise this even more so having lived in various places around the world. Having to start from scratch quite a few times, it’s not easy and can be pretty lonely at first. But slowly and surely, friendships form and blossom.

But then it’s heartbreaking when one of us – which usually happens to be nomadic ole me – moves on and we have to say goodbye.

So that’s why I say, thank goodness for technology!

I am forever grateful to be able to stay in touch via Skype and FaceTime. I don’t think I’ll ever get over how incredible is it to sit and have a face-to-face catch up over a cuppa with a friend on the other side of the country or the world!

And while I’m not a huge user of Facebook, I’m glad to have it so I can have a quick scroll through friends’ pages now and again to see what they’ve been up to.

I have to confess, I used to be doubtful how you could make real true friends through social media. But thankfully my eyes, and heart, have been opened thanks to the amazing Happier app. This like-minded community filled with kind-hearted, happy souls make me smile every day and I’ve formed some truly special life-long friendships. Even though we haven’t met in person yet – and I stress the yet as I know it will happen – I know that these friendships are just as real and just as true.

While new friendships are all shiny and exciting, I’m really sad to have lost connection with friends from the past, as we both moved on or grew apart. But I’ve come to accept that this is part of life.

As with any relationship, they can be difficult and challenging at times, but hopefully you can work through it together and come out stronger.

Sadly, there are some friends we have to let go of, or they let go of us. No matter how painful it is when this happens, I try and remind myself to be grateful for all that we’ve shared together. And whenever I think of them to remember to smile and send them love ♡.

Having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome makes it frustratingly difficult to stay in touch and keep friendships going. As much as I want to connect, the nature of my symptoms make it a challenge.

It’s safe to say I’m reliably unreliable when it comes to making plans for a get-together be it in person or via technology. I find I have to reluctantly cancel planned chats at the last minute, due to not feeling well enough. And this is really upsetting and I never feel great about it.

But my friends are always in my thoughts and in my heart, and I hope they know that. I hope once I’m well enough, we can reconnect and make up for lost time.

I just love how great friendships are those where you can simply pick up where you left off, even though you haven’t spoken for a while.

And I know that we are always there for each other. After all, that’s what friendship is all about, isn’t it.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for my friends.

Day 97: Colouring in

Being mindful while colouring in:

One of the best things I added to my healing tool kit last year, was colouring in.

I even remember how I first heard about ‘art therapy’ aka colouring in for adults. It was featured on a TV show around a year ago as a way of reducing stress and anxiety.

I remember it so clearly, how it was one of those lightbulb moments, where my whole being (and inner child) shouted out: “What a brilliant idea! I want to do that.”

I couldn’t wait for the next time I was in the city, when I could pop into the book shop to buy my first adult colouring book.

A few days later I was excitedly clutching my first purchase and couldn’t wait to get back home to begin what has become one of my favourite mindfulness practices.

I am seriously hooked.

As the activity has grown in popularity and adult colouring books are still topping the best seller charts, my portfolio of colouring books and pencils has grown exponentially too.

I love the process of choosing which illustration I’m going to colour in; I get all my lovely books out and see which one I’m drawn to that day. I have such a great selection to choose from: mantras and expressions, nature-focused images, soothing mandalas, and even a book centred around one of my favourite seaside cities, Brighton.

adult colouring books

A brilliant tip I heard early on was to photocopy the picture I’m going to colour in. This means that I can enjoy colouring in my fave image again at a later date.  It also means that I can put the finished artwork on my wall, which I tend to do if it’s a mantra. And the anal part of me does it just in case I don’t like my colour choice and I can start again (which I haven’t had to do so far!).  Win! Win! Win!

Happiness is a choice

I love choosing the colours too and am mindful of not getting stressed about which colours to use, as this kind of defeats the whole object! Sometimes I like to pick a colour theme: seaside shades, the bright happy colours of India, variations on one or two colours, or a complete experimentation. I sometimes like to play lucky dip and whatever colour comes out of my tin is the one I use for the next bit.

Brighton Pavilion
I find colouring powerfully healing. It only takes a few moments before I feel myself forgetting about everything else and relaxing into it. And I just love how it helps keep my mind focused on the present moment.

harlequin snail

I’m so thankful that this fun activity with its therapeutic and soothing qualities has made such a comeback: love live adult colouring in!

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful while colouring in.

Day 96: Highly Sensitive Person

Being grateful for realising that it’s ok to be a highly sensitive person:

Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with everything and knew I needed to switch off from the world and retreat into my shell for a few days.

And I’ve been doing some thinking about how and why I got to this point, yet again.

I love how things come into our lives when they’re supposed to, and during these last few difficult days I came across an article about the connection between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and being a sensitive person.

As I delved into this a little further, I discovered there’s a new documentary about being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) titled: “Sensitive – The Untold Story”.

I found another article in the Huffington Post which asks: Do you cry easily? Do you often get accused of over-reacting or being too sensitive? Do you have a high degree of empathy? Do you find that good and bad things affect you more deeply than those around you?

As I answered yes to all of the above, I knew I needed to watch this film.

So I did.

And I have to admit I watched it with tears in my eyes as I realised that some of the things I’ve felt and thought since childhood, others feel and think the same.

Oh, what a relief it is to find out that I’m not alone (in fact, 1 in 5 of us is a HSP). What a relief to realise that I’m not “too sensitive” after all, I am perfectly ok as I am. What a relief to realise that I am simply a highly sensitive person.

And I’m ok with that.

In fact, it’s something to celebrate as there are so many beautiful blessings with being a sensitive person. And I’m going to focus on these from now on.

After all, I can’t change who I am, so why not embrace it.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for realising that it’s ok to be a highly sensitive person.

 

ps if you’re interested to see if you are a Highly Sensitive Person too, the force behind the documentary Dr Elaine Aron has devised a self-test, please click here.

Day 95: Kindness trail

Being kind by leaving kindness messages on windows and mirrors around the city:

Time for another Random Act of Kindness me thinks.

I wrote out a kindness message on the back of my new Kindness Cards with the intention of sprinkling some magical kindness around my city on this freezing cold January Tuesday.

The message was simple and true of ALL of us: You are beautiful ~ inside and out.

I set off for my Artist’s Date in the city of brunch and a movie, clutching my Kindness Cards and blu-tack ready for action.

As I was a little short of time and am still slowly building up my energy levels, I decided to leave a trail of Kindness Cards in my wake.

First up was the window of my local connect bus:

local connect bus

Followed by the window of my tram which took me into the city:

tram kindness card

After eating a delicious brunch in my favourite café, I nipped to the bathroom to pop a card on the mirror:

cafe loo mirror kindness card

As I walked through the shopping centre, I stuck a couple on the mirrors in the main public toilets:

shopping centre loo 2 kindness card
shopping centre loo 1 kindness card

After arriving at the cinema and before my screening, I popped one on the bathroom mirror:

kindness card cinema loo 1

And after seeing my film, I stuck my last card to the mirror in the main bathroom.

Kindness card cinema loo 2

And that’s it. My job as Kindness Fairy for today is done! I really hope I’ve made at least one person smile today after seeing one of my kindness messages.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being kind by leaving kindness messages on windows and mirrors around the city

ps if you happened to see one of my kindness messages, thank you so much for visiting my blog! I’d love to hear from you in the comments below…

Day 94: Weekend guest

Being mindful when spending time with my nephew:

This weekend, we have the littlest munchkin – three-year old Thomas – come to stay with us while his mummy and daddy are away on a birthday celebration.  Callum, the other munchkin, went to stay with his other mamma and granddad.

And there are two special highlights from this weekend that I will always treasure:

The first, is singing him to sleep. This is the first time I’ve had this pleasure, and it was such a joy.  A pretty precious moment for me.

He was wide awake when my mum first took him up to bed, so it was no surprise to hear a knock on my bedroom door a few minutes after mum had gone back downstairs.

I took him back to bed and read him the story about a little bear who went BOO! (a brilliant children’s book by David Walliams).

He was still pretty wide awake after that and as it was getting quite late,  I suggested I sing him a lullaby if he lay down and closed his eyes. He readily agreed, snuggled up with his Teddy, and I sang my favourite: Baby Beluga.

baby beluga

A dear Canadian friend introduced me to this delightful song a few years ago, and these beautiful creatures are quite close to my heart after spending hours sitting watching them in Vancouver’s Aquarium.

Anyway, I couldn’t quite remember all the words but sang what I could and made up the rest.

Over and over. And over and over.

Eventually I could sense he’d dropped off.  But as I came back up the stairs after telling my folks he was asleep, he was waiting for me at the top saying: Auntie Helen, you said you’d stay with me.

So I took him back to bed, and kicked off Baby Beluga again.

And again. And again.

Mum eventually came and took over as I was flagging, and losing my voice. But I’m happy that at least I did sing him to sleep, even if he was asleep for only a few minutes: I’ll take it.

And today we woke up to a sprinkling of snow. How exciting! We don’t really get much snow here, not as much as some parts of the country, so any we get is a real treat.

And having a nephew here to enjoy it with was a real bonus.

So after brekkie we wrapped up warm with many layers and headed out into the garden. We had snow much fun (get it? snow much fun, snow?) making footprints, brushing the snow off the garden plants and bushes, making a snowman (which he wanted to take home with him later, bless!), and of course, the obligatory snowball fight – which Thomas won, of course.

brushing snow

snow angel

snowball fight

snowman

We both came back inside with rosy cheeks and big smiles on our faces, ready for a hot drink to warm us up.

To be honest, I’m not sure who had the best time. Well actually, I do have an inkling…

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful when spending time with my nephew.

Day 93: My happy tree

Being mindful as I follow our tree’s autumn glory:

I started taking daily photos of this beautiful Liquidambar styraciflua (sweet gum) tree in our front garden in October; its final leaves fell on Christmas Eve.

While it wasn’t quite as magnificent as previous years, I’ll let the photo collage tell its beautiful story:

autumn tree

I also wrote this silly little ditty in homage to our lovely tree:

Oh tree you make me happy
As I follow your life-cycle with joy
With abundant fullness throughout the summer
Your maple-like leaves so many and so green
But your brilliant glory days come in autumn
When you really give us such a treat
As your leaves turn from yellow, orange and red
And hold their lavish colour all season long
Then as they fall and gather upon the ground
Baring your branches for the winter months
You become a different work of art
As you stand strong ready to face the elements
Now I patiently await the arrival
Of your first buds of spring to begin your life-cycle once again

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful as I follow our tree’s autumn glory.

Day 92: Banishing winter blues

Being mindful when exploring a local park on my soul stroll:

Needing to banish my January blues and hormonal grumps, I practically forced myself out of the house this morning.

With the perfect winter’s day of crisp blue sky and smiling sunshine, I borrowed dad’s car and went on a mission to find some soothing nature to lift my spirits.

I decided to go and explore a nearby park which I’ve never been to before. The crazy thing is that the edge of the park is probably only a 5 minute drive from the house, but the main entrance and car park is right over the other side of the park. But still, is only around 15 mins drive.

I’ve also felt a little apprehensive about visiting on my own as it’s near a rather unsavoury area, but today I was feeling brave and courageous.

And it was the best decision ever!

Immediately after driving through the park gates, I felt soothed by my surroundings of lush green fields and trees galore.

After parking up, my inner water magnet pulled me towards the fishing lake and I set off down a magical tree-lined pathway, with the glorious sun dappling through the trees:

magical pathway.jpg

As the pathway ended, I crossed the empty football fields, and with the early morning frost crunching underfoot, I spied my shadow and fulfilled my curiosity to see how I’d look with longer legs:

long legs

I reached the two fishing lakes and was heartened to see them filled with ducks and a couple of magnificent swans. As I wandered down to where they were to say hello, they glided over to me to make friends. I gently explained I didn’t have any yummy treats with me today, but promised to bring some swan-friendly fodder with me next time. They seemed ok with that…

swan friends.JPG

Well maybe not so much as they immediately ducked into the water to show me their behinds!

ducking swans.jpg

Enough said!

As I walked around the lake, I was excited to hear some gushing water and went to explore: I found a brilliant waterfall and climbed down the slippery, muddy slope to get a little closer. The sound was music to my soul; hypnotic and deeply soothing:

waterfall.jpg

I continued my journey onwards around the lake, and up alongside the adjoining lake. I inadvertently disturbed two little ducks hiding in the reeds (doing what, I do not know!), and they zoomed across the water in an attempt to escape:

escaping ducks.JPG

As I followed the stream, the path took me into the woodland area to find more peace and tranquility:

peaceful stream

Leaving the woods behind, I began my walk back towards the carpark, pausing to reflect on the magnificence of this tree:

magnificent tree

And taking in the brilliance of this blue sky:

crisp blue sky.JPG

Before heading back home, I enjoyed a cuppa in the park’s clubhouse and vowed that I would return again, very very soon.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful when exploring a local park on my soul stroll.

Day 91: My bedroom, my sanctuary

Being grateful for making my bedroom my sanctuary:

I spend a LOT of time in my bedroom. Well actually, I spend most of my time in my bedroom. Some days, I only leave it to go downstairs for dinner and some days when my CFS is particularly bad, I don’t leave it at all (except for the necessary bathroom visits of course!).

I’ve spent most of the weekend in here after overdoing it on my mum’s birthday (which was worth it to be able to make her day so special), and in fact, I’ve spent most of the last six weeks in here, following my big relapse and then my festive tonsillitis and heavy cold.

I’m back in my old childhood bedroom while I’m living back with my parents as I recover from CFS. But it’s changed a lot since then – new additions include fitted wardrobes, lilac walls and carpet, and a yummy double bed.

I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to transform it into my own little sanctuary.

I find it calming, peaceful and safe; like a comforting embrace, and full of beautiful positive energy, with things to lift my spirits and fill my heart.

I am such an outdoor girl and when I lived in Sydney, if I was resting at home I’d usually be on the outdoor sofa on my verandah . So I find being cooped up really tough, but it is what it is and as long as I can get out for a gentle soul stroll or artist’s date now and again, I can manage. And knowing that this too shall pass.

I love my sacred spiritual space I’ve created: my altar. With my beautiful Buddha, oodles of candles, my precious singing bowl and chimes, spiritual carvings from my travels in India and Peru, and other bits and bobs that feed my soul.

photo 2

I love my window as it’s the place that holds my gaze the most. I love to look out at the ever-changing sky, especially to witness the majestic sunrises at certain times of the year, to watch the life-cycle of my magnificent trees as they change through the seasons, and to try and spot the birds who are singing their tuneful birdsong.

IMG_2299
On my windowsill of inspiration, I’ve placed my Love Notes by Kris Carr and Doreen Virtue’s Angel Cards, treasured greeting cards from kind, thoughtful friends, my fave cartoon to remind me that ‘Every single day you make a choice’, and of course some flowers.

photo(1)

Bright, colourful flowers make me so happy, and wherever I live, I always try to have fresh flowers around. Here I have a couple of giant orange faux gerbras, but I also try to have fresh flowers in my room. Today, it’s a bright burst of colourful roses.

photo

Dotted around my room, I’ve put up photos of sunrises and sunsets I’ve taken around the world, a huge beautiful close up of a Buddha face that makes me feel instantly calm and at peace, and various others that make me smile, including artwork by my young nephews.

I’ve also stuck up some of my favourite affirmations to help inspire and motivate me. They remind me that everything is ok, to live in the moment, ride the waves of my life, and let my light shine. I occasionally replace some of the affirmations with those that are more relevant to what I need to hear at this moment in time.

Looking around my bedroom as I write, I’m so very grateful for every little detail. Each one tells a story, contains treasured memories, or inspires or motivates me. All make me happy.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for making my bedroom my sanctuary.