Act of kindness #24: Kindness Advent Calendar (2016)

It’s almost that time of year again… time to spread a little festive kindness.

My Kindness Advent Calendar works just like a normal advent calendar but instead of the usual chocolate countdown, we are embracing the true spirit of Christmas by doing 25 random acts of Christmas kindness.

How cool is that 🙂

I was wonderfully surprised and deeply thrilled that last year’s Kindness Advent Calendar (2015) was so well received.With just over 200 downloads, I’d like to give a huge, heartfelt thank you to everyone who took part.

I guarantee that your acts of kindness made a difference and brightened someone else’s day.

☆ You are AMAZING ☆

So again, I’d like to invite lovely you and yours to join me spreading a little kindness by doing small acts kindness leading up to Christmas Day.

Here’s this year’s Kindness Advent Calendar:

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To download your free copy, please click on this link Kindness-Advent-Calendar-2016-PDF.pdf (450245 downloads) .

Now, I know December is an extra busy month for most of us, and we can find ourselves rushing around trying to get everything ready in time for the Christmas holidays.

So with that in mind, I’ve made each kindness act:
1. Quick
2. Easy
3. Cheap (or mostly free!)

This way, anyone and everyone can take part.

You may want to mix it up and swap the acts around, or even create your own kindness acts. And don’t worry if you can’t do an act of kindness every single day, sometimes it’s just not possible as I know too well with the nature of my CFS flare ups.

But even if every one of us manages to do just one kindness act on one day – imagine how amazing that would be!

It’s such a wonderful way to spread some festive cheer and boost our own spirits at the same time.

But I really need your help.

Please help me spread the word by encouraging family, friends, colleagues and neighbours to take part in this kindness extravaganza as we countdown to Christmas.

I’d be ever so grateful if you could share this blog post with others – simply click on one of the ‘share’ buttons below, or share it however works best for you – and let’s get the kindness ripple effect reaching out far and wide over the festive season.

I’d also love it if we all share our Random Acts of Christmas Kindness experiences with others on my Spreading a little kindness Facebook page.

JUST ADDED: A few clever folk have suggested I get onto Twitter to help keep the kindness ripple effect spreading further and further. I’m a complete novice, but have set up the hashtags #KindnessAdventCalendar and #ChristmasKindness so we can share our festive kindness fun. You can find me on Twitter here.

But most of all, remember to HAVE FUN and enjoy creating a kindness ripple effect in your community.

Thank you so very much.

☆♡☆

To download your free copy of my Kindness Advent Calendar, please click on this link: Kindness-Advent-Calendar-2016-PDF.pdf (450245 downloads)

☆♡☆

p.s. I’d love to hear about your kindness experiences in the comments below…

 

Act of kindness #23: World Kindness Day Goody Bags

Sunday 13th November is World Kindness Day, and wouldn’t it be truly wonderful if we all could spread a little more kindness around our homes and communities on this day. Especially with all this unrest we are currently facing.

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I’d hoped to do a really big kindness act to celebrate this special day, like walk around my home city offering free hugs, or something where I could invite the local media to get involved.

But sadly it’s not possible this year as I’m still struggling a little from my recent CFS relapse and also have family commitments on Sunday.

So I see this as a fantastic excuse to get in early by digging out my fabulous kindness goody bags, filling them with fun and yummy goodies, and giving them to unsuspecting strangers.

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Yippeeeee!

This will be my fourth RAOK featuring these little bags of joy (the others were at Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter). These bags are filled with a fun ‘noise-maker’ toy, a ‘you are AMAZING’ postcard, a few stickers, a mini chocolate bar, and a couple of sweeties.

World Kindness Day Goody Bag contents

I also added one of my Kindness Cards with a simple message to celebrate World Kindness Day.

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Today, I headed down to our local hospital and popped my World Kindness Day Goody Bags onto the windscreens of cars parked in the hospital car park. I’m thinking that the recipients will have been visiting a friend or loved one, have had a hospital appointment or even a hospital stay.

World Kindness Day Goody Bags

I even made my first RAOK video if you fancy a giggle…

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It’s my first try so please be kind 🙂

I really really love doing these kinds of ROAK, they bring me huge joy.  And I hope with all my heart that the recipients of my goody bags smile as much as I’m smiling right now.

☆♡☆

p.s If you found a World Kindness Day Goody Bag on your car, I’d really love to hear from you in the comments below…

Alphabet Gratitude: A

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…

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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.

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Mother Nature’s glorious palette of golds, reds and oranges is a treat for the eyes…

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… the crunch crunch crunching of the leaves underfoot makes my spirits soar…

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… and the craft of leaf rubbing delights my inner child.

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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.

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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.

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Thank you autumn, you truly are one of Mother Nature’s best shows.

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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.

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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…

☆♡☆

Act of kindness #22: Thank you, Teacher!

As part of my kindness mission, I wanted to write a thank you note to the teacher who made the biggest impression on me.

And I immediately thought of Dr Anna Powell.

Anna was one of my lecturers at uni and made a huge impression on me. I always really looked forward to her classes and found her enthusiasm, knowledge and content, inspiring, engaging and hugely enjoyable.

In fact, I wish I could still attend her lectures today, over 20 years on!

She believed in me and encouraged me, and for that I will always be deeply grateful.

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So, I wrote a thank you message on the back of one of my ‘You are AMAZING’ postcards and sent it off today. Thankfully she’s still at the same university, so was really easy to find.

I hope it’s a nice surprise and a reminder of how much what she does matters.

☆♡☆

Act of kindness #21: Rosey smiles

Due to my recent CFS relapse, it’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to post about my kindness acts. But I’m happy to say that I’ve still been doing whatever I can, I just haven’t the energy to write about them.

Sooooooo, I’m really excited about today’s – especially as it’s a new kindness act for me.

Hooray!

One of my favourite kindness acts is making up and leaving goody bags on cars parked at my local GP surgery (Christmas) or hospital (Valentine’s), and this time I thought I’d mix it up a little and leave a flower.

As my budget is really tight, I bought this gorgeous bunch of bright orange roses and decided to spread the love even further by splitting them. That way I can make 10 people smile instead of just the one.

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I made up this little ditty to write on the back of my kindness cards:

“I hope you enjoy this flower,
as a gift from me to you.
I hope it makes you smile,
and makes your day happy too!”

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(I know it’ll never make the The TS Eliot Prize shortlist, but hopefully it’s cheesy enough to make the recipient smile 🙂 )

I tied a kindness card to each flower, and tucked each stem neatly through the door handle of the cars – in the past I’ve placed the bags on the windscreen, but just in case the driver doesn’t see it before driving off, I don’t want it to cause an accident! So this way the driver will see the flower straight away!

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I also gave one to a lovely elderly gentlemen who was leaving the surgery. As I handed him a ‘kindness flower’ he gave me a cheeky smile and asked: “Do I get a kiss as well?” Of course, I obliged 🙂 It was a touching and heartwarming moment.

As I’d written 7 Kindness Cards, I had 3 roses left, the perfect number to be able to drop one off at my sister’s, give one to my mum for helping me, and keep one for myself as it’ll be a lovely reminder and also, it’s important to be kind to ourselves ♡

Here’s really hoping the flowers made a few folk smile today as much as I am smiling right now.

☆♡☆

p.s If you found a flower on your car, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below…

Hello again!

Being grateful to be back!

Hello lovely. It’s been a long time since I last wrote a blog post. Well, it’s been almost three months, but it feels a lot longer.

After my one year blog-aversary post, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and thought I’d take a break for a week or two. But then I had a big CFS relapse, which turned out to be the biggest crash I’ve had in a long time.

On top of feeling utterly wiped out and physically like I was back at square one, I was feeling disheartened, frustrated and deeply worried that I wasn’t making any progress in my recovery.

So I took the time I needed to rest, recuperate and recharge. And I took the time to sit with my more unhelpful feelings and gently work through them, trusting that when the time was right I would feel brighter and more positive again.

And I’m getting there. Slowly but surely. Turtle Power Style 🐢

Even though I’ve still been writing in my daily gratitude journal, I’ve recently found myself thinking how I’d like to write a blog post about something that’s made me happy that day. But I couldn’t because I hadn’t written that first post back yet.

I’ve been apprehensive about writing this first post because I felt it had to be something special, really special.

So I put it off for a day, and then another, and then another. And here we are.

Isn’t it crazy the amount of pressure we can put on ourselves sometimes?

But today, about half an hour ago, I suddenly realised that my first post in 3 months doesn’t have to be anything special at all. It can be just like all the others: just a little blog post about a little something that’s made me happy today.

And actually, I think that’s pretty special enough.

So here I am, just me, continuing to write about the everyday little things that make me happy. And today I’m happy that I’ve realised this!

Phew, what a relief.

And hooray! I’ve just taken that oh so difficult first step, which is always the hardest isn’t it. And it feels good. It feels really good 😊

☆♡☆

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

☆♡☆