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.

Day 22: Child’s play

Being mindful while playing with my nephews:

Today we have my two young nephews here. Ages three and six. All day long.

While I absolutely love playing with the little munchkins, I’m usually wiped out after half an hour or so and have to go and rest. So I try to make every second I spend with them count.

The eldest Callum is really into doing mazes at the moment. I’d printed a few off for him so we could sit together and have some quiet, creative time.

Of course, little Thomas wanted to get in on the action and climbed onto my lap. And while Callum got stuck into helping the dragon find his egg, Thomas scribbled on a dot-to-dot.

It was a precious half hour spent.

I always try to make sure I am fully present when I am with them. That I am Mindful Auntie Helen instead of Distracted Auntie Helen. I listen to what they have to say and I devote my whole attention to them and what they want to do.

I truly think one of the greatest gifts you can give someone is your full attention, adults and children alike. Especially when we live in a society that is very much attached to our smart phones and bombarded with distractions from every direction.

I sense that the boys appreciate it too. So much so, that later in the day Callum excitedly burst into my room to tell me what they’d just got up to in the park, and Thomas declared me his best friend when his mummy came to collect him.

Heart melt moments.

My nephews are also my inspiring teachers. They live and play wholeheartedly in the present moment.

Like when Thomas hears music, he leaps up to dance around with unabashed freedom. Or a minute after crying uncontrollably, he is playing happily, all previous upset forgotten.

And like when Callum wants me to play with him, he means now, not “in a bit”.  Or when he plays his computer games, he completely disappears into that moment.

Unlike adults, children don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future, and this is one of the biggest lessons I am learning on my recovery journey.

It reminds me of one of my favourite quotes about living in the present moment:

“What day is it?”, asked Winnie the Pooh
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet
“My favourite day,” said Pooh.
― A.A. Milne

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

Day 17: My mum

Being grateful for my lovely mum:

My mum is such a superstar.

She is one of the most caring, thoughtful and all round loveliest people I know.

And she’s my mum. I know, what a lucky girl I am.

She’s always been there for me and we’ve always been close.

And I’ve come to appreciate her even more since I’ve been living back in the family home due to the ME/CFS.

I’ve found it incredibly hard giving up my independence and having to rely on mum to look after me. But she has made this transition much easier thanks to her kind, graceful nature.

And I appreciate that it can’t always be easy for her.

On bedrest days like today, she pops in to check on me, brings me cups of tea, and kindly prepares my meals. She has never once complained or made me feel like it’s too much.

I’m so grateful that she takes the time to understand my symptoms and triggers, and how she steps in to look after me when I’m not feeling well enough to look after myself.

She listens to me when I tell her how I’m feeling. She hugs me when I’m feeling down. She shields me from visitors when I’m too exhausted to be social.

She even helps me when I have to do something requiring some thought and my brain is too foggy.

She supports me no matter what, without judgement.

I tell her as often as possible how much I love her, how amazing she is and how grateful I am. And I do my best to help out whenever I am feeling well enough.

I hope she knows that I think she is simply the best. Because she is.

She’s my mum, my confidant, my best friend.

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