Day 14: Nana milkshake song+dance

Being grateful for funtime playtime with my nephew Thomas:

Two days a week, my three-year-old nephew Thomas is with us while my sister goes to work.

He’s our little ray of sunshine.

And as much as I would LOVE to be his full-on full-time playmate, sadly CFS has other ideas: I’m usually wiped out after only half an hour and have to head upstairs for some bedrest.

Recently, I’ve started making him healthy banana milkshakes, with two ingredients: frozen banana and whole milk. Nothing else.

And I’ve found that getting him involved in the making of it usually increases the odds of him drinking it.

Today, he very carefullly held the blender jug while I put the frozen banana in and then added the milk: great team work.

Thomas is quite a sensitive soul around noise and usually runs away and hides when I switch the blender on. But today, he wanted to press the button. And so he did. A few times in fact.

As the blender roared into action, I started singing ‘Banana Milkshake’ to distract him from the noise. He joined in the singing and started dancing around; I joined in the dancing.

And thus, our Banana Milkshake, or rather our ‘Nana Milkshake’ song and dance was born. (Lyrics by Auntie Helen, choreography by nephew Thomas)

We had so much fun singing and dancing our way around the house. A joy-filled precious moment to treasure, that’s for sure.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for fun playtime with my nephew Thomas.

Day 13: Happier and friends

Being grateful for the Happier app and Happier friendships:

I joined the wonderful Happier community almost a year ago, and it’s had a hugely positive impact on my day-to-day life and wellbeing.

The iTunes blurb says, it’s like a smile in your pocket, and I couldn’t agree more.

Happier is a social media mobile app for sharing the good stuff. It’s mission: to help you find more joy in your everyday life. Happiers can share a ‘happy moment’ and also smile and comment on others’ moments, and vice versa.

It wasn’t long before I noticed how I was actively looking for more and more things to be happy about and be grateful for in my day. And that can’t be a bad thing at all! In fact, my experiences on Happier have been a huge inspiration for this blog and ‘100 days of happy’ project.

Happier has opened the door to meeting so many beautiful like-minded souls and kindred spirits. I believe finding and connecting with a community online that focuses on positivity and support has become instrumental in my recovery journey.

I feel like I’ve found my tribe.

Spending just a few minutes scrolling through Happier always makes me smile and lifts my spirits, especially when I’m feeling low.

What’s also special about Happier is seeing new friendships develop all around the globe; as fellow Happiers swap email addresses, send cards and thoughtful gifts to each other, talk on the phone, and even meet up in person for Happier get togethers.

How cool is that!

I’ve been chuffed to bits to receive my own Happier mail, including beautiful cards and thoughtful, inspirational bracelets, which I love and wear all the time.

 

Happier bracelets

And I’ve enjoyed getting creative and sending homemade cards and little gifts to a couple of Happier friends. Something I’d like to do more of.

Today, I even got the chance to have a real life chat with a lovely Happier, who’s become a good friend. We chatted excitedly and both felt cheered by our connection; it’s made me smile from ear to ear all day long.

Who knew that signing up to an app would produce such beautiful gifts of friendship, support and all round loveliness.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for the Happier app and new Happier friendships.

 

Day 12: Back on the mat

Being grateful for my first yoga class in two years:

I am so excited. I’ve just attended my first yoga class in two years. Yay!

And it felt sooooooo good.

Sadly, I haven’t felt well enough since chronic fatigue set in. My beloved practice has been one of the biggest activities I’ve missed. I used to practice yoga most days either at home or at the fantastic yoga studio I was a member of in Sydney. It had the most incredible teachers and I used to go to three 90 minute yoga classes a week.

Over the last few months I’ve been slowly easing myself back into yoga by following a couple of gentle 20 minute DVD sessions at home.

While I enjoy home practice, I do like combining it with classes.  It’s not a surprise that I find that teachers challenge me more than I’m prepared to challenge myself at home. I also appreciate the variety of asanas – poses – even those I’m not particularly fond of and tend to avoid at home. Teachers have told me it’s the ones we resist are the ones we need to focus on!! Hmmmm…

Recently I’ve been feeling ready to step up my practice by trying out a yoga class. After some searching, I’m grateful to have found one one really close to home. Like 5 mins away close. The only downside is that it’s in the evening, when my energy is usually waning, but I was keen to give it a try.

As the time for me to leave grew nearer, my trepidation increased: Would I find the venue ok? Would I manage the whole class? What if it was all too much? What if I felt unwell? What would teacher Hannah be like? What would the other yogini’s be like?

Ok, Helen, breathe deeply with me now….

Finally it was time to go.

Of course, I found the venue ok, the other yogini’s were lovely, and teacher Hannah was friendly and kind.

Happily I rolled out my mat and I felt I’d come home.

Starting in savasana  – corpse pose – Hannah gently led us into mindful breathing and introduced this week’s theme, Satya, the commitment to Truthfulness.

Gently guiding us through an hour long class, she threw in a couple of the more challenging poses for good measure and to a few giggles. Just as I felt myself starting to flag and was preparing to rest in balasana – child’s pose – the class began to wind down and we were back in savasana. Sigh.

I left feeling stretched, calm, and happy in my mind, body and soul.

I am really also proud of myself for going as it was a big step in my recovery journey.

Roll on next Tuesday.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for my first yoga class in two years.

Day 11: Flower power

Being kind by giving flowers to a stranger:

Today I took a big scary step into the wonderful world of being kind to a stranger: face-to-face.

As I’d taken myself into the city for a yummy brunch, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to face this fear.

I bought a pretty little bunch of orange gerbera’s and asked the flower seller to attach my kindness card to it, with the words: Enjoy the flowers… you deserve them.

Ok, that’s the easy part done.

Now to find someone to give them to…

Gulp!

Call me crazy, but I thought an older lady – in her sixties or seventies – would be a good choice for my first attempt. I felt a younger person might be suspicious of my intentions and a man may take my gesture the wrong way: especially as I was so nervous. As I grow more confident, my intention is to do face-to-face acts of kindness to all, regardless of age or gender.

With butterflies flitting and fluttering around my tummy, I walked up and down a couple of busy shopping streets. I focused my search to those sitting on benches or waiting at bus stops, as I thought it’d be easier to approach someone who wasn’t rushing off somewhere.

I then scanned the seating areas on the city’s Market Square and finally found a couple looking happy and relaxed. The man was doing a crossword, and the lady was watching people go by.

She smiled at me as I walked by, and I knew she was the one.

My heart pounding, I approached her and told her I’d like to give her the flowers. I explained that I’m doing acts of kindness and asked if she’d accept the gerbera’s from me.

She graceful accepted them without question.

Phew, I was so grateful. I’d expected a little suspicion as to why I wanted to give a stranger flowers, and was relieved to find an open and willing recipient.

The lovely lady explained how they’re just visiting the city, and so sadly didn’t have anywhere to put them. But as she was meeting her sister-in-law later, she would pass them on: spreading the kindness, she told me with a knowing smile. WooHooooo it works!

I walked away my heart feeling happy and proud of myself for putting myself out of my comfort zone.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being kind by giving flowers to a stranger.

 

Day 10: Tapping my way to health

Being mindful in my daily tapping meditations:

A very kind friend has gifted me a 7 week online tapping course and I am so grateful.

The course has been going for a week now, and I absolutely love it already.

I first became aware of tapping, also known as EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique – about 3-4 years ago, but thought it a little woo-woo even for me!

For the uninitiated, EFT is gently tapping on the body’s energy meridian points using your fingertips, to help release physical and emotional pain.

I’ve been tapping sporadically for a couple of years now, but started using it regularly just over a year ago. I had a number of sessions last year at CFS holistic recovery specialists, The Optimum Health Clinic, and EFT is recommended as a key recovery tool.

However, it’s only since this course started that I’ve been tapping every single day. There’s morning, daytime and evening tapping meditations, each being around 15 minutes long. Plus lots of other material to get stuck into: webinar’s, Q+A sessions, and bonus classes and meditations.

I find daily tapping incredibly powerful and am already starting to feel the benefits.

I’m having some real emotional releases and shifts, and it’s not unusual for me to cry during a session. But that’s ok. Sometimes I laugh, or shout, and I’m even yawn a LOT… apparently these are all signs of energy shifting.

It’s fascinating stuff, and I intend to continue for the 7 weeks and beyond. Tapping has already become a regular daily practice and a key element in my recovery tool kit.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful in my daily tapping meditations.

 

Day 9: On a shopping high

Being grateful for my local-ish health food shop:

I am on a shopping high.

I’ve just got back from visiting my favourite local-ish health food shop called ‘Out of this World’ (OOTW), and it really is!

I only discovered this little gem a few months ago: it was a joyous moment indeed. Up until then, I’d been ordering everything online from various places which, let’s face it, was a bit of pain.

OOTW is a 30 minute drive away, but it stocks everything I need. Now I visit every couple of months to stock up on my favourite goodies, all from under one roof:

Bread:  It’s the only place I’ve found that sells a Spelt Sourdough loaf that actually resembles bread. Now, sliced and in the freezer.

Coconut heaven: They offer great value, quality Coconut Oil which I use a LOT of, and tinned Coconut Milk without all the crap. It’s also where I discovered CoYo yoghurt, heavenly creamy and dairy/sugar-free.

Choccies: Having ploughed through many raw chocolate bars since my return home, my firm favourite is  ‘Dark Vanoffee’  by The Raw Chocolate Company. I find it doesn’t have the weird aftertaste I usually find with some of the ‘alternative’ sweeteners.

TREAT: OOTW has just earned itself a big hooray and gold star for selling my latest obsession, Booja Booja Alternative Ice Cream.

Plus, they have the most loveliest staff, so it makes the drive all worth it. And when I’m not feeling well enough to make the drive, they’ll deliver it all for a fiver.

How fabulous.

Today I took my sis along, who has become the Queen of Juicing since joining the juicing revolution a couple of months ago, and a convert to the wonders of Coconut Oil.

I love taking my time to peruse the shelves and feel like a kid in a sweetshop. I could spend a fortune in there, that’s for sure. I really have to hold myself back and stick to my list and tight budget.

I always leave feeling happy for my loot, excited to try new finds, and content that I have my healthy supplies for another few weeks. And I can’t wait to get stuck into my Booja Booja…

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for my local-ish health food shop.

Day 8: My 4-legged friend

Being grateful for my new 4-legged friend Molly:

I have a new friend.

Her name is Molly and she’s gorgeous. She has the cutest face, soulful brown eyes, shaggy black hair, oh and four legs and a wagging tail.

We met on my walking meditation yesterday. I’ve seen Molly and her owner (now known as Molly’s Mum) a few times and we’ve smiled. Today, they stopped to let me go by. I hesitated, and Molly’s Mum took that for me being weary.

Which as much I hate to admit it, I was a little.

I love dogs. I am definitely a dog girl. But I was chased a few times by neighbours dogs when I was a little girl. I remember one chasing me across the road, jumping up at me and ripping my favourite dress. I was devastated and terrified. As an adult I can now see it’s playtime for them, but as a small child, I thought they were aiming to bite me.

Add to the mix my auntie and uncle having two huge alsatians. Did I mention they were HUGE? Whenever we visited they used to snarl at me and bark violently (or so it seemed to my little scared self) through the living room window as I perched on the settee, absolutely terrified they’d get into the house and rip me to shreds!

It’s no wonder I grew up a tad afraid.

Over the years, various friends’ dogs have calmed my fear and released my deep love. My favourite being Angus, the gentle shiatsu/poodle of a dear friend in Australia. We hung out loads, shared oodles of joyous cuddles, and I even looked after him one weekend – all by myself; a big step for me.

I do still have a slight hesitation and weariness when I first meet a dog, until I know it’s friendly. Then I’m all cuddles and kisses and belly rubs.

When Molly’s Mum assured me Molly is friendly, I asked if I could give her a fuss. We shared a few lovely minutes together and it was love at first cuddle.

Today I went for my soul stroll a little later, and saw them walking back on the other side of the brook. I shouted over hello to Molly’s Mum and then to Molly. She bounded towards to me, straining her lead so much that Molly’s mum had to let go of it, and leapt over the narrow brook towards me, her tail joyfully wagging.

I couldn’t believe she remembered me. I responded by giving her lots of love and fuss, including Helen’s infamous belly rub, which Angus adored and would instantly roll onto his back at first sight of me.

I walked away feeling really happy and uplifted. There really is something therapeutic about stroking and cuddling a dog.

I’m already hoping to see my new friend on my next soul stroll.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for my new 4-legged friend Molly.

Day 7: A heavenly soak

Being grateful for my Epsom salt baths:

I never used to be a bath girl. It’s always been showers all the way.

That is until I tried an Epsom salt bath about 18 months ago.

And I haven’t looked back.

Now I love nothing more than a long soak in a hot bath: it’s absolute bliss.

They’ve become an essential part of my recovery tool kit and I take 3-4 baths a week, sometimes more if I feel I need to.

Made from a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate, the health benefits of adding a  couple of cups of Epsom salts are too numerous to mention here, but my favourites are: helping to ease stress and relax the body, relieving sore muscles, and eliminating toxins from the body.

For me, they help soothe my body, mind and spirit. I find it one of THE best ways to relax.

I usually take myself off for a long yummy soak after dinner. I even find myself craving one if I’ve had a busy or stressful day, or am feeling extra fatigued.

From the moment I turn on the taps, my worries start to evaporate, and it’s guaranteed I let out a blissful sigh as soon as I sink into the hot steamy bath of goodness.

My recipe for creating the ultimate relaxing bath experience:
1. lock the bathroom door so I’m not disturbed
2. add 2 cups of Epsom salts to a running bath
3. add a tbsp of Coconut Oil to soften the skin
4. add 15-20 drops of Lavender Essential Oil or my own relaxing oil blend
5. light a few candles & pop on some gentle, relaxing music
6. lie back, enjoy and soak for at least 20 mins, maximum 40 mins

I’ve come to love my baths so much, I can’t imagine living anywhere that doesn’t have a bath. It’s one of the things I miss when I’m away.

So with that in mind, my happy today is being grateful for my yummy Epsom salt bath.

Day 6: A cheery note or two

Being kind by sending a cheerful postcard to a friend or two:

A couple of friends are having a tough time at the moment, and I wanted to do something to make them smile.

I thought I’d send them both this gorgeous ‘Hello Sunshine’ postcard. I have the same one on my bedroom mirror, and never fails to cheer me up whenever I look at it.

After writing a little message on the back, I posted them with heartfelt love and smiles. Hopefully it will be a nice surprise when the postie delivers them in a couple of days.

I think that’s such a shame that sending someone a hand-written letter is practically non-existent these days. As we have become a technology-based society and a increasing number of our social connections are conducted online.

I used to LOVE handwriting letters to my childhood penfriends. At one point I was firing off letters to friends in the US, Canada and Germany. Plus an old schoolfriend who moved down south when we were 8 yrs old. I remember the absolute excitement of receiving a letter through the postbox and devouring it many times, word by word.

Nowadays, we can have instant connections with friends all over the world through emails, texts and social media, and that still blows my mind.

I’m forever grateful to be able to keep in touch so easily with the friends I’ve made on my travels. But nothing beats receiving a hand-written letter or card in the post.

So, with that in mind, my happy today is to make a couple of friends smile by sending each a cheerful postcard.

Day 5: Riding the CFS wave

Being grateful that I’m learning to accept my condition with love and grace:

Today I woke up feeling utterly and completely wiped out.

I guess it’s no surprise really as I’ve overdone it the last couple of days.

Following my recent ‘blip’, after some stress and a nasty ear infection, my recovery has taken a couple of steps back and I need to take things much more slowly.

Accepting CFS has not been an easy journey. At all. It’s still a work-in-progress but I feel I am definitely getting there. I’ve fought this condition long and hard for too long. Which is no surprise as it’s been completely debilitating and has changed my life drastically.

Progress is painfully slow. Just when I think I’ve taken a small step forward, I have a ‘blip’ (my positive word for ‘crash’) and take a few steps back. But rather than react like it’s blooming frustrating, which it is, I’m trying to ride the wave.

It also reminds me of the advice for when caught in a riptide – if you panic you use up all your energy and it gets you nowhere, but if you stay calm and go with it, you will eventually end up where you’re supposed to be: to safety.

I’m learning to trust the process and go with the flow. I’ve learnt to listen to my body and know when I need to have a bedrest day. And that’s perfectly ok.

This too shall pass.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is accepting my CFS condition and today’s ‘blip’ with love and grace.