A few days after we launched my Kindness Advent Calendar for Kids at Edgewood Nursery and Primary School, the big-hearted folks at BBC Radio Nottingham visited to see how the children (and Sir Mr Seeley) are getting on.
Click here to listen to Part I:
Click here to listen to Part II:
A big thanks to presenter to the lovely Mark Dennison – and the BBC Radio Nottingham team – for his brilliant and entertaining chat with the children, and a big round of applause for the amazing trio – Rileyann, Jessica and Louie – for sharing their kindness experiences.
Finally a huge thanks to Mr Seeley and the teachers for embracing my Kindness Advent Calendar for Kids so warmly, and, of course, most importantly an ginormous THANK YOU to all the kind-hearted children of Edgewood School for your wonderful acts of kindness so far.
You really are AMAZING ☆
If you’re feeling inspired to join in with the Kindness Advent Calendar or the Kindness Advent Calendar for Kids, you can download them both here for free.
Being grateful for my 2 year blog-aversary:
It’s been two years since I took a big deep breath and clicked ‘publish’ on my first ever post.
The butterflies were dancing around in my tummy as I finally let myself start this exciting new chapter in my healing journey.
And I could not have imagined how brilliant a journey it’s been so far.
I started writing maketodayhappy.co.uk to do just that by finding the happy in the everyday little things.
Of course, it’s not always easy: there are times when I feel too crap to care. But I gently and kindly let myself feel whatever I’m feeling, knowing that this too shall pass. And then when I’m ready to pick myself up and start again, I look for the little things in my everyday life to be happy about – usually starting with the bed I’m lying in, the curtains that keep the light out, my lovely mum for bringing me cups of tea.
I know it may sound a bit cheesy, but writing this blog has truly been life changing.
Writing about being grateful inspires me to be more grateful. It helps me to notice all the wonderful things I have to be grateful for, even if I’ve had to spend the day in bed because of a symptom flare-up.
Writing about being mindful helps me stay in the present moment more often (it’s still a work-in-progress, but I’m getting better and better at it). It helps me to not get so caught up in my symptoms or the uncertainty around my health and future.
And writing about being kind inspires me to keep spreading a little more kindness whenever and wherever I can. I had no idea how much being a little kinder would have a positive impact on how I feel: kindness really does help the giver as much as the receiver in my experience.
I also had absolutely no idea that my Kindness Calendars would reach so many beautiful people, all around our beautiful planet. My Kindness Advent Calendar post has received an astonishing 1.3 million visitors, which is mind-blowingly fantastic! I would have been on cloud nine just to know I’ve helped inspired one person to do one extra act of kindness! Thinking about everyone who took part – and continues to do so with my monthly Kindness Calendars – fills my heart with such gratitude. You truly are AMAZING.
Some of my most popular posts over these last two years are:
1. My Kindness Calendar posts
2. Act of kindness #23: World Kindness Day Goody Bags
3. 100 Days of Happy: Day 4: Soul stroll
4. 100 Days of Happy: Day 71: Yoga every damn day!
5. 100 Days of Happy: Day 87: You’ve been RACK’ed!
6. More Days of Happy: Hello Summer, is that you?
7. More Days of Happy: ME/CFS Awareness Day
Two years on and the butterflies are still there when I click ‘publish’. And to be honest, I never want them to go away, as it shows how much I still care. I love the excitement and trepidation I feel when I write and publish a post.
I’ve really missed writing the last couple of months due to the debilating vertigo and headaches. And I really can’t wait to start writing more posts once I’m well enough.
Finally, I’d like to say a huge THANK YOU to you for reading my posts. I love hearing from you and truly, madly, deeply appreciate each and every one of your kind comments – they really do inspire me to keep going. Thank you for being the lovely person that you are.
See you soon,
Love and hugs, Helen Xxx
Feeling grateful for M.E./CFS Awareness Day:
Today – 12th May – is M.E./CFS Awareness Day, and as a sufferer of this debilitating condition, I wanted to write a little post.
I’m going to keep this short, as I much prefer to focus my limited energy on being grateful, being mindful and being kind, which is what Make Today Happy is all about.
And to be honest, I’m struggling with very fuzzy brain fog this week and am finding it hard to write and be articulate.
But I do believe it’s important to spread the word, to help raise awareness, to hopefully help more people understand this often misunderstood illness a little bit better.
The theme for this year’s Awareness Day is #GoBlueforME…
And I couldn’t resist having a little fun with it…
If you’d like to read more about this condition, here’s a few of my favourite clips and articles which are helping to spread awareness of M.E./CFS:
1. Action for M.E.’s 3 minute awareness raising video which talks about what M.E. is, the challenges people with M.E. face, and the science behind the illness. Watch it here:
2. The Huffington Post wrote a great feature on the ’10 important things people with M.E. want you to know’. Read about it here.
3. Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian talks about his long-term experience of living with M.E./CFS. Watch it here.
4. Anne Brennan writes so eloquently and informatively about what it’s like to have M.E. Read it here.
5. The Guardian asks if CFS is finally being taken seriously. Read about it here.
6. “#MillionsMissing is a movement to raise awareness for M.E., an underfunded and ignored disease. On May 12th, 2017 13 cities in seven countries will demand change. We ask for increased government funding for research, clinical trials, medical education and public awareness.” Find out more here.
Being grateful for discovering the wonderful world of yummy bed yoga:
When I’m practicing regularly, I feel its amazing benefits on my mind, body and spirit. I feel calmer and more present, I feel stronger and more flexible, my posture is better, my sleep improves, and it makes my heart smile so big.
I’ve also found that regular practice helps ward off my lower back pain. And not hearing a peep from my lower back is a great incentive to keep rolling out the mat alone!
However, one of the most frustrating aspects of this debilitating and rollercoaster of a ride called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – and of that there are many – is that it’s not always possible to practice daily or weekly, or sometimes even monthly.
As this health condition forces me to be pretty much sedentary most of the time, after a while I can feel my lower back pain starting to edge its way back.
So I try to get back on the mat, if it’s possible. But sometimes, actually most of the time, the mere thought of getting up, moving things around so I can fit my yoga mat in my bedroom, and putting on one of my yoga DVDs on makes me feel exhausted before I’ve even started!
And so I push the idea away, and hope my lower back pain goes away soon. But it never does and I usually have to wait until I feel up to a light yoga session.
Thankfully I’ve come to realise that yoga doesn’t have to be a big, long, challenging session. It can also be short and sweet and super gentle.
Especially now I’ve discovered I came across bed yoga.
WooHooooooo!! What a utterly brilliant revelation!
I found it by accident while browsing through youtube for gently yoga sessions, and discovered bed yoga was an actual thing. It’s literally gentle stretching you can do while lying on, or even in, your bed.
And so I decided to give it a go. No pressure. If it was too much, I’d thank myself for trying and put bed yoga away for another day.
Thankfully, I’m finding the short’n’sweet sessions sublimely gentle and better still, I can usually manage them.
Despite feeling exhausted and wiped out, it feels so good to gently stretch my body before bedtime, easing my back pain and easing me into sleep.
So I’ve decided to try another #YogaEveryDamnDay in May.
I loved the first one I did about 18 months ago and want to get myself back into a regular practice.
IMPORTANT NOTE TO SELF: I give myself permission to skip a day or two or three if I don’t feel well enough.
Not only this gentle practice help keep my sore back at bay, I know that it will keep my spirits high, my mind at peace, and my body nourished as I continue on this healing journey from CFS.
For anyone interested in trying some gentle bed yoga sessions, here are a few I’ve found and enjoyed so far:
1. Bed Yoga by Aroga Yoga (specially created for people living with chronic illnesses and pain)
2. 10 Minute Gentle Yoga in Bed by Candace (she has quite a few lovely videos)
3. 10 minute Bed Yoga for Beginners by Sjana Earp (I want her bed cover set!)
4. Bed Time Yoga to Help You Sleep by Dashama (she always makes me smile and also have a great session for lower back pain)
5. Bedtime Yoga for Deep Sleep by Siya Yoga (this is really soothing)
If you find know of or find any different bed yoga sessions, I’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment below…
Being mindful by meditating every single day with Insight Timer:
After the unexpected success and utter excitement around my Kindness Advent Calendar throughout December, I realised I needed to spend some quality time re-grounding myself. I have a tendency to live in my head, and really have to work hard to stay in a calm healing state rather than a stressed, or even excitable, state.
And meditation has become so crucial to this process.
I’d been trying to meditate for years and years, but was always quick to give up thinking I couldn’t do it because my monkey mind would just not settle and keep quiet. I thought meditation simply wasn’t for me.
I finally got into a regular meditation practice when I stayed in an ashram in India for a couple of months and have managed to keep up a regular practice ever since.
And then a year ago, I was introduced to the wonderful Insight Timer app which helps to inspire me to meditate every single day. My practice has grown stronger and stronger and I’m really feeling the benefit.
Insight Timer is a really easy-to-use app, where you can choose from one of the thousands of guided meditations by one of the hundreds of meditation teachers from around the world – including Tara Brach, Eckhart Tolle, Mooji, davidji, Vidyamala Burch, Andrew Johnson, Elisha Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, Kristin Neff, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Sarah Blondin, Thich Nhat Hanh.…
There are themed playlists – including Sleep, Sound Healing, Stress Reduction, Gratitude, Relax, Chanting+Mantras, Kids and Teens – so you can choose a meditation depending on what you need.
I tend to reach for a meditation depending on how I’m feeling and what I’m needing at that moment, whether it’s sleep, welcoming the morning, stress relief, present moment awareness, letting go, or a burst of positivity. There seems to be a guided meditation for most things really and lengths vary from one minute to over an hour.
Or you can also select the timer if you prefer to meditate in silence or with ambient background music. You can choose to have a beginning, interval and/or ending bells or gongs (I loooove the gong) if you wish.
The app logs your meditations so you can keep track of what you’ve done and for how long you’ve meditated for.
It also connects you to the other 1.5 million meditators around the world, and if you wish you can become friends, or join a group. And one of my favourite features is seeing who’s been meditating at the same time. There’s something really comforting and quite powerful knowing you’re meditating with thousands of other lovely folk all over the world, even though I’m sitting by myself in my bedroom.
And you can send even them a ‘thank you for meditating with me’ message.
I absolutely love this app and what makes it even more special is their mission: to achieve the equivalent of 10,000 years of meditation.
Meditating daily really does helps me stay grounded, be in the present moment, and have a calmer and more focused mind.
Of course, it’s not always or often easy. I’ve discovered that some days are harder than others in my quest to quieten my monkey mind, but the simple act of gently bringing my attention back to the present moment can make all the difference to my day and how I’m feeling.
Meditation has become an integral part of my healing tool kit and I honestly can’t imagine a day without it.
If you’re interested in checking it out, visit: https://insighttimer.com/
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
And at this most magical time, I would like to say thank you.
Thank you for all your support this year, it means so much to me. I’m especially grateful to everyone who subscribes, letting me pop up in your inboxes every now and again.
Thank you for your comments. Reading your kind words always puts a huge smile on my face, boosts my spirits, and inspires me to keep going especially when my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms have flared up and I’m feeling really rubbish.
And last but definitely not least, a HUGE thank you to to everyone who’s joined in with my Kindness Advent Calendar this year and has been spreading a little more kindness throughout December. You really are AMAZING and I’m so excited that together we are making the world a kinder place.
Wishing you all a wonderfully magical Christmas and a brand new year filled with all that you wish for, and so much more.
Festive love+hugs, Helen Xxx
Being grateful for receiving kindness from big-hearted folk:
Oh boy, what a month it has been in the life of my Kindness Advent Calendar; it honestly feels like a huge ripple effect of kindness is spreading out all over the world. I’ll write more about this once I’ve got over the shock!
I also would like to acknowledge all the lovely folk who’ve recently signed up to receive my blog posts directly into your inboxes – a huge twinkly, jingle bells of a HELLO to you and I wish I could give you all a great big THANK YOU hug.
But for now, it’s back to today’s post…
All this excitement and activity has unfortunately – well, rather predictably – brought on my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms 🙁
I’ve been feeling utterly wiped out and unable to get out of bed for a few days, and last week I had to switch off from social media for a little while. This frustratingly meant I couldn’t respond to all the amazing blog messages and posts and tweets coming in, of which I’m seriously loving reading each and every one.
But I realised that I needed to be kinder to myself and take the time to rest, recover and recharge – my 3Rs.
And on one day last week, when I was feeling particularly rough and low and sorry for myself, I received a wonderful act of kindness. My folks weren’t home and my mum told that she was expecting a package (cough cough = a little white lie!!) and would I answer the door – which I normally wouldn’t do.
And I’m so glad I did.
Standing at the front door were two lovely staff members from my local Co-op delivering a bag of sweet festive treats.
You can see from the photo just how rough I was feeling that day, but it was such a magical surprise and I’m deeply grateful for their kindness.
My sleep has also taken a kicking and is being really rubbish, leaving me feeling more fatigued on top of my existing chronic fatigue.
A lovely friend suggested a massage might help, and although it’s way out of my budget, I realised that it was worth a try.
As I was trying to find an affordable practitioner through an online search (a wood-through-the-trees scenario!), I saw that I had a new message on my Facebook community page: spreading a little kindness.
It was from the big-hearted Sue Fisher, a mobile reflexologist who is doing the Kindness Advent Calendar. She saw that I lived in the same neck of the woods, and generously offered me a free session.
Seeing it as a sign, I gratefully accepted and Sue came by the following day.
She explained how she specialises in lymphatic drainage reflexology which has been shown to help people with auto-immune conditions, including CFS.
[image: In The Zone Reflexology]
It was pure heaven and I’m deeply grateful to Sue for her kindness. I’ve since invested in a further two sessions, and am feeling the benefits as well as it all being rather blissful.
I am so thankful for the kindness I’ve received, although I have to confess I find it so much easier to give kindness than it is to receive. Hmmmm.. a poignant lesson for me to be learning right now.
Being grateful to local media for helping me spread a little more kindness:
I am absolutely astounded by how many people my Kindness Advent Calendar is reaching. In just 11 days, over 220,000 people from 172 countries have visited my blog post… and an incredible 68,000 have already downloaded the calendar.
That’s 68,000 downloads!!!
I’m absolutely blown away, over-the-moon, stunned, overwhelmed, excited, thankful… you name it, I feel it.
But mostly I am deeply heartened at the thought of this huge ripple effect of kindness reaching out all over the world, from Namibia to Nicaragua, Azerbaijan to Antigua, Mauritius to Malaysia, China to Cambodia, Saudi Arabia to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh to Bermuda, and so many more wonderful countries full of kind-hearted folk.
I’d like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who’s downloaded the calendar and are joining me spreading a little festive kindness. It’s going to be so much fun.
I know from my own personal experience how just one small act of kindness can really brighten someone’s day, and also help remind our loved ones, our friends, our colleagues, our neighbours, our children, and people we haven’t yet met, that there is still good in the world.
And there really is LOTS of good in the world.
I’m really grateful to everyone who’s helping me spread the kindness message by sharing my Kindness Advent Calendar. You really are amazing ☆
A big thank to you the Nottingham Post for publishing this article about my kindness mission. A few days after it appeared on the website, the reporter told me that they usually get between 1-2,000 views per article, but the one featuring my Kindness Advent Calendar had received over 10,000 views.
And another big thank you to BBC Radio Nottingham who invited me to have a live chat with the lovely Mark Dennison on their morning show.
Did you hear me say ‘LIVE’ – gulp!
Despite talking ten to the dozen (well, I had a LOT to say!) and dwelling on what I did or didn’t say, I enjoyed our chat and was delighted when Mark said he would join in (and I think it is legally binding Mark 😊). I especially love that after we’d finished, Mark commented how: “…it’s given [him] that warm glow.”
This is what it’s all about.
I’m really excited about starting spreading a little Christmas cheer with you all and would like to invite you to join my Facebook community, Spreading a little kindness, to share our ideas and experiences throughout December.
And if you do post about your kindness acts on Facebook or Twitter (come and say hello: @HelenCGreenUK), please use the hashtag #KindnessAdventCalendar so we can all enjoy this wonderful kindness ripple we are creating.
I’d like to sign off with this rather apt Howard Zinn quote: “We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”
ps If you’d like to read the Nottingham Post article, please click here.
or if you fancy a listen to my chat with Radio Nottingham’s Mark Dennison:
Feeling grateful for autumn splendour:
To shake up my daily gratitude journal writing a little, I thought I’d go through the alphabet. So let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…
And while I could sit here all day long coming up with the longest list of A’s to be grateful for – of which there are oh so very many – I’m choosing the first A that comes into my mind.
And today, that A is autumn.
Mother Nature’s glorious palette of golds, reds and oranges is a treat for the eyes…
… the crunch crunch crunching of the leaves underfoot makes my spirits soar…
… and the craft of leaf rubbing delights my inner child.
I appreciate how this season’s stunning beauty softens the blow of summer ending. Of course I’m not keen on the colder climate, the shorter days, and the approach of winter, but autumn’s stunning leaf art outshines all the other seasons.
I just love those glorious blue sky days when the sun illuminates the trees. I especially love my tree, the one I can see from my bed. And on those dark and dreary days when the sun pops out to say hello, I can’t take my eyes off its gorgeous golden glow.
Thank you autumn, you truly are one of Mother Nature’s best shows.
I’d also like to give an honourable mention to my altar. Since I spend most of my time in my bedroom, I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to transform a little part of it into my very own personal altar.
My spiritual space is calming, peaceful and safe; like a warm, comforting embrace. It’s full of beautiful positive energy, with things to lift my spirits and fill my heart: my buddha, candles, cards, singing bowl and chimes, sage smudge stick, and my sleeping cherub, mini Ganesha and Shiva statues.
I could go on and on with A’s I’m grateful for, but I’ll stop right now 🙂
I’d love to hear what ‘A’ you are grateful for today…