Day 33: Checking in

Being grateful for my happy days so far:

I can’t quite believe I’m already one third of the way through my ‘100 days of happy’ project.

Wowser.

I can honestly say that I’m glowing with happiness and gratitude from the inside out and that feels really amazing.

I’m thrilled that I’m managing to write most days, and grateful that I’ve given myself permission not to write if I don’t feel up it.

I noticed after the first couple of weeks that I was putting myself under too much pressure to post something every day; my CFS symptoms flared up and I had to take a break.

After I’d paused for a breath or two, I knew I needed to be gentler and kinder with myself. I accepted that it’s completely ok if I miss a day or two. And if I do, I’m comforted in that I still look for my happy during those days and instead of writing this blog, I write a couple of lines in my gratitude journal.

And that’s ok.

I’ve accepted that my blog doesn’t have to be perfect. I’ve accepted that I don’t have the time to edit and re-edit, again and again.  And that sometimes my energy battery has just enough in it to write a few lines. I’ve decided I can revisit certain topics I’d like to expand on, after the 100 days.

I initially worried that what I wrote was a load of rubbish and not worthy of anyone else’s eyes. But then I realised it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.

And that’s ok too.

I’ve noticed how ‘100 days of happy’ project has already had a hugely positive impact on my state of mind:

  • Being grateful helps me see there is so much to be thankful for, and helps me keep a positive mindset, even on the most difficult days.
  • Being mindful helps me stay grounded and present. It also helps to realise there is so much joy and beauty surrounding us, we only just have to take a moment and open our eyes to see it.
  • Being kind gives me such joy and a sense of purpose. It’s true what they say about the giver benefits as much as the receiver.

I love doing my anonymous acts of kindness. It’s so much fun and if I can make the recipient smile, then that’s brilliant. If the recipient then pays it forward, what more can I ask for.

What I have found more challenging is being kind to strangers face-to-face. It’s pure ‘out of my comfort zone’ stuff. As I gently, and sometimes not so gently, nudge myself to do them, I feel so happy afterwards. That’s after I’ve got over my initial embarrassment of course. But I know this will get easier the more I do.

I’m also surprised by how kindness has come back to me in terms of others’ reactions to my kindness gestures. I hadn’t considered this before, and it’s a beautiful bonus.

All in all, I’m chuffed to bits that I thought of this project and started it. And here I am, 33 days on. I’m really looking forward to see what the next 67 days of happy will bring… and beyond.

So for today, my happy is being grateful for my happy days so far.

Day 32: Homework and play

Being mindful with my nephew, Callum:

I debated whether to post today, as I have a cold and am feeling pretty yucky.

Having a compromised immune system means a flare up in my CFS symptoms whenever I catch a cold or virus. Although I can try to ward off the severity of my cold with a plethora of natural remedies, I’m also feeling incredibly drained and brain foggy today. And for that, only rest will do.

But through darkness, comes light. And my light today is six-year-old Callum.

It’s rare that I get to spend quality time with my eldest nephew. His younger brother is at our house two days a week, and Callum joins us after school on one of those days. It’s usually noisy and chaos as the brothers play and fight, and fight and play their way through those few hours.

But today it’s just Callum.

And to be able to mindful and present with just him is such a gift.

First, we tucked into his homework: telling the time. The concentration and focus on his face was just precious. But it was heart-breaking to see him get frustrated and upset when he couldn’t draw the arrow on the clock hands. I patiently encouraged him, and he seemed to cheer up.

Then it was time for fun.

We played his favourite (non-computer based!) game, Pocket Money Bingo, and it was heartwarming to see him happy and smiling again, all memories of arrow-gate forgotten. He moved onto solving a couple of mazes: I adore how much he loves doing these.

Then it was time for me to go upstairs to rest, and it was only half past nine in the morning! But I climbed into bed a happy Auntie and grateful for our precious time together.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful with my nephew Callum.

Day 31: Hidden messages

Being kind by hiding messages for people to discover:

Time for another Act of Kindness.

Yippeeeeeeee!

Inspired by hiding messages in my returned library books last week (see Day 26), I wrote some messages on the back of my Kindness Cards (see Day 3) and decided to hide them around the city for people to discover.

It’s like a treasure hunt, but they don’t know there’s any treasure until they find it! Or something like that…

Anyway…

I set off into the city excited about my mission and began to think of all the places I could hide my messages. Here’s where I settled on:

Message 1: “Make the leap… it could be amazing 😊 Have a lovely day Xx”
Hid behind the sugar bowl on my table in a café.

Message 2: “You have a beautiful smile 😊 Have a lovely day Xx”
Stuck on the bathroom mirror in a café.

Message 3: “You are perfect, just as you are 😊 Have a lovely day Xx”
Popped inside the front pocket of a beautiful bag in a shop.

Message 4: “You are an incredible person 😊 Have a lovely day Xx”
Left on a bench in the city centre.

Message 5: “Everything will always be ok 😊 Have a lovely day Xx”
Placed inside the local paper on an article about Good Deeds!

Good Deeds article

Message 6: “You are truly loved, just as you are 😊 Have a lovely day Xx”
Also placed inside the local paper on an article about Good Deeds!

Message 7: “You don’t ever have to worry, it will be ok 😊 Have a lovely day Xx”
Left on the bus.

WooHooooooo!

I also wrote this blog address on the card, just in case the finder wants to have a peek. Wouldn’t it be cool if they did, and even wrote a comment, oh my!

It’s true what they say about the giver benefits as much as the receiver. I hope I’ve helped to make a couple of people smile today, as much as I have while doing this fun Act of Kindness.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being kind by hiding messages for people to discover.

Day 30: Birdsong and birdsplash

Being mindful by listening to and watching the birds in the garden:

I’ve always found the great outdoors to be a great healer.

Having to spend most of my time lying on my bed in my childhood bedroom, it’s such a blessing to be outside. And if it’s warm enough and dry enough, and I’m feeling well enough, you can usually find me sitting in the garden.

We are lucky to have a chorus of birdsong in our garden from dawn til dusk (although a 4:30am start is a little too early for me, take note feathered friends!).

Today, I felt privileged to be privy to a conversation between two blackbirds. One was perched on a branch, the other I couldn’t see but I could hear.

The birdsong went back and forth for a good 10 minutes or so. It sounded like they were having a good old chin wag and I thought how wonderful it would be if I could understand them.

Later this afternoon, a pigeon flew down to take a dip in our birdbath under 3 metres away from where I was sitting. It was a real delight to watch my feathered friend having such a great time. Splish, splash, splosh! I loved that he didn’t seem bothered by our close proximity.

Before I started practicing mindfulness, I was usually so wrapped up in my thoughts, I’d be completely unaware of these delightful sights and sounds.

Now, I have come to deeply appreciate the many benefits of being fully present with nature: it helps still my mind and brings me such joy.

So with that in mind, my happy for today is being mindful by listening to and watching the birds.

 

Day 29: Jolly Cauli

Being grateful for cauliflower pizza:

Thank golly for cauli.

I would never in a million years have believed that cauliflower would become one of my favourite veggies.

Up until quite recently, my experience of cauliflower was boiled or steamed and, to put it quite frankly, pretty bland.

Well, no more.

Now, I can’t get enough and even have bags of frozen grated cauliflower in the freezer for whenever it takes my fancy.

These flowery florets have recently had a makeover. A healthy, alternative to grain and gluten, it can seriously tantalise those taste buds. And getting creative with this cruciferous is the key to making all the difference.

I now replace rice with rice-size cauliflower pieces for veggie-powered fried rice, risotto or paella on a regular basis.

And I was amazed to hear you could use it as a pizza crust. The first time I made it, I was pretty sceptical and fully prepared to chuck it and settle for some toast.

But oh my, how my taste buds jumped for joy at the result.

And it’s quick and easy to make too.

Simply grate some cauli, a food processor can do the job in seconds, stir in ground almonds – although I’ve also made it to great success without – mix in an egg, salt and pepper. Good to go.

Grease some grease-proof paper with coconut oil, as I find the base can stick. Flatten the ‘dough’ mixture into a pizza shape of your choice. I make it pretty thin, around 5mm, and bake until it starts to go brown.

Now comes the fun and creative part. Spread your choice of sauce – I prefer pesto – over the base, top with cheese and whatever toppings take your fancy.

Pop back in the oven until the cheese has melted and there you have it: a grain and gluten-free pizza that tastes sensational.

half cauli pizza

I know for anyone that hasn’t yet tried this yet, it sounds pretty crazy. But trust me, try it and see.

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

Day 28: Melty heart

Being grateful for melty heart moments:

I’m pretty wiped out after the last couple of days and my brain fog is in full swing.

But this moment made my heart almost burst, and I just had to post today’s happy.

As my three-year-old nephew arrived this morning to spend the day with us, he came up to me to say hello and show me his new hair cut.

Then he looked at me, his little face full of earnest, and said:

“Auntie Helen, you’re my best friend.”

A gorgeously sweet moment to treasure.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for melty heart moments.

Day 26: Kindness bookmarks

Being kind by hiding a message inside library books:

Today’s happy is short and sweet and happy.

I wanted to leave messages inside a couple of library books I was returning for the next reader to find.

On the back of my Kindness Cards, I wrote: You are in incredible person. Have a lovely day.

Kindness CardsKindness Card Library Book

I decided to write my blog address on the back too, just in case the finder is intrigued to visit. Wouldn’t that be the cherry on the cake.

But again, I let go of all attachment to the outcome. My intention is what counts: to make someone smile.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being kind by hiding a message inside a library book.

Day 25: Sunrise splendour

Being mindful by watching the sun as it rises:

Today I woke up at 5am. Feeling tired but too wired to go back to sleep, I climbed out of bed to open the curtains.

And was treated to the most magnificent sunrise.

sunrise splendour

So this is what I woke up at ridiculous o’clock for, I mused.

I love a good sunrise, and a good sunset too. I can sit and stare at them all day long as each changing moment brings new beauty to admire.

Sadly, I haven’t seen either for a good while. In the midst of British summertime, with a very early sunrise and a very late sunset, I’m usually in bed for both.

And while I am absolutely delighted summer is here, I do miss seeing those awe-inspiring skies.

So this morning was a very special treat for me.

As I observed the wonder of this morning’s fiery sky, I felt reflective.

I thought about how uncertain life can sometimes be. But we can always be certain that the sun will rise and that the sun will set. Even if it is hiding away behind those infamous British grey clouds.

I was reminded of how today is a new day, as Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield wrote:

“Each morning we are born again.
What we do today is what matters most.”

Today is a beautiful new day. And I choose to make a good one.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful by watching the sun as it rises.

 

Day 23: Booja Booja

Being grateful for making raw vegan ice-cream:

A few weeks ago I lost my heart to Booja Booja.

Booja BoojaA dear friend introduced me to their Hunky Punky Chocolate Ice Cream Alternative. My taste buds jumped for joy as I tucked into this heavenly bowl containing only four ingredients: water, agave syrup, cashews and cacao.

I’m not kidding when I say it tastes like a high quality Belgian chocolate ice-cream. Creamy deliciousness in every spoonful.

In fact, I would go as far to say this is one of the best ice-creams I have ever tasted: healthy or non-healthy. And I don’t usually go for chocolate ice-cream either!

I couldn’t wait to visit my local health food store and was over-the-moon to see they stocked it. But alas it’s a tad too pricey for my present budget.

So I had the great idea to try and make my own.

After lots of trawling online, I finally found a recipe that was right up my street. Most recipes use bananas as the base, my least favourite food in the whole wide world (the only exception I make is for  Banana Bread, toasted with butter please. A staple treat for me when I lived in Sydney). Thankfully I found an alternative that uses cashews and coconut milk.

It’s so simple to make: pop some soaked cashews, coconut milk, vanilla essence and rice malt syrup (my choice of sweetener) into a blender and blend away.

But then comes the tricky part.

Pour into a shallow dish, cover well and freeze. Every 30 minutes, take out of the freezer and whisk with a small whisk or mix with a fork. For six hours. That’s twelve times. Twelve times! Then leave for a further eight hours and it’s ready to eat.

And you know what, it tastes mind-glowingly delicious.

I am so impressed with myself that I’ve actually made ice cream. By hand.

Even my mum is impressed. We sampled it this afternoon – although it hadn’t had its full proper freezing time, I mean who can wait overnight, seriously!

I added a scoop to my previously made Chocolate Cup Cakes (dairy, sugar and wheat-free too) and the ultimate afternoon snack was born.

Although, it’s pretty labour intensive and pretty expensive to make, there is a huge satisfaction of knowing I’ve made this bowl of deliciousness all by myself.

Booja Booja who?!

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for making raw vegan ice-cream.