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.

You are AMAZING postcard

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 #4: Flowers for mum

Being kind by buying my mum a bunch of flowers:

My lovely mum is going through a difficult time at the moment.

And as you’ll know, it’s really hard to see someone you love upset.

So as well as keeping her in a constant supply of heartfelt hugs, I bought her this bunch of bright cheery flowers to lift her spirits a little and to remind her how much she is loved and treasured.

IMG_3210

Day 87: You’ve been RACK’ed!

Being kind by leaving festive goodie bags on car windscreens at the doctors’ surgery:

I’m so excited about this act of kindness. I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of weeks, but with my recent big CFS relapse have had to put it on hold.

But as I start to feel a little better, I made it to the shops a couple of days ago to buy some treats to make some festive goodie bags; and I was delighted to have enough to make 24 bags!

RACK loot

Alongside a few sweet treats, I added a party popper, a festive feather and a Christmas bauble.

I also included one of my brand new Kindness Cards with the message: You are AMAZING (if you forget that, please read this again).

You are AMAZING

I’ve also made a ‘you’ve been RACK’ed’ card which reads: You have been RACK’ed. You have been chosen to receive this small gift through a Random Act of Christmas Kindness. May your day be merry and bright Xxx

RACK'ed

So today I nipped out to pop a goodie bag onto the windscreen of the cars parked in my local doctors’ surgery car park. I really hope that it will be a nice surprise for those who’ve just been to see one of the doctor’s about a health issue.

Doctor's surgery RACK

A dapper gentleman dressed in a smart suit was just returning to his car as I was about to put a goodie bag on his windscreen, so I got the chance to give it to him face-to-face instead. It was really heartwarming and rewarding to see his reaction to this little act of kindness: he gave me a huge smile as he said thank you. ♡

With the rest of the goodie bags, I hope to feel well enough to head into the city one day next week and will either hand them out or will hide them for people to find. If not, I’ll work something out.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being kind by leaving festive goodie bags on car windscreens at the doctors’ surgery.

 

ps if you received one of my festive goodie bags, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below…

Day 80: Word search fun

Being kind by helping Callum with his spelling homework:

My seven-year old nephew Callum is having weekly spelling tests, and it’s not his strongest subject.

Each week he gets a list of around 14 words that will feature in the following week’s test and his mummy sits with him each day going through them.

I’m keen to help him too, especially as English was my favourite subject. If it was maths he was struggling with, I’d have no chance!

Callum comes to our house twice a week after school, and I’ve been spending some time going through the words with him. But like any other seven-year-old, he gets bored easily. Really easily.

So, I decided to try and make it fun.

Having trained in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, I truly believe that using a more active approach through games can motivate learners, and find it helps them learn and retain more.

And from my six years of experience, I have a lot of fun yet effective tricks up my sleeve –  I just need to find them!

As Callum loves the word searches I’ve been printing off for him recently, I’ve decided to make them more relevant to what he is being taught at school.

Each week using one of the thousands of fabulous online resources, I create a few different word searches using the words he needs to learn.

And he absolutely loves them. I find that his concentration span is two to three times longer than before.

His teacher also hands out a short definition for each word, which I type up in large font, print off and cut out. After I’ve mixed them up, it’s down to Callum to match each word with the correct definition. Again, it’s simple stuff, but I find the interaction makes it so much more effective.

Not only have these simple techniques made Callum’s spelling homework much more fun, I’m really enjoying polishing up my teaching skills again. And I‘m sure more ideas will come back to me as we continue on.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being kind by helping Callum with his spelling homework.

Day 71: Yoga every damn day!

Being grateful, mindful and kind as I embark on 30 days of yoga:

I LOVE LOVE LOVE yoga.

This is my third post about one of my most treasured rituals, and why not, it deserves it: yoga is an integral part of my life, my wellbeing and my healing journey.

I find stretching my body with a yoga session wonderfully delicious, and even more so with all the bed rest I currently have to take. I also find it soothing and peaceful for my mind and soul, and it’s another opportunity to practice mindfulness.

Not being able to practice as much as I used to has been one of the frustrating things about having CFS. Due to the nature of the condition, my practice is quite sporadic as I sometimes simply don’t have the energy, or my neck is feeling too painful from when I sustained a severe whiplash injury a couple of years ago.

Over the last few months, I’ve been able to get back on the mat which has lifted my spirits no end. And recently, I’ve even managed to go to a couple of classes and would love to build up slowly to attending regularly. But all in good time.

In a good week, I’m managing to enjoy two very gentle sessions at home, alternating between my two favourite short practices on DVD. But lately I’ve been feeling a little bored with my practice as I know them off by heart.

I think it’s time to shake things up a little.

And I’m feeling optimistic that my body can handle a teeny bit more 😊.

And I’m loving the gorgeously inspiring Rachel Brathen’s mantra: “Yoga Every Damned Day”.

yoga every damn day

(And yes, I want the tee-shirt!)

Sooooo, I’ve decided to try and make November ’30 Days of Yoga’.

After some googling, I’ve found a lovely online teacher called Erin Motz who offers a free 30 day yoga challenge. It’s “30 days of yoga in 10-20 minute long online video sessions which we send you directly to your email inbox one day at a time.” Which sounds perfect for my limited energy levels.

I like that there’s a different focus for each day’s session; day 2 is for chest and shoulders, day 3 is for posture, day 4 is for abs, and so on.

I’ve signed up, I’ve pimped up my yoga mat, and I’m ready to go.

mu pimped up yoga mat

I am giving myself permission to skip a day or two if I need to – if my CFS symptoms are too intense, or if my neck is too sore. But I’m really hoping I can try and attempt each day’s session.

And if not, I will see if I can manage a sun salutation or even one little downward dog! And if not, I will at least be able to meditate.

No pressure, no worries, all is well.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for my yoga practice, being mindful as I roll out my mat every damn day this month, and being kind to my body by doing lots of yummy stretching.

Day 57: Sisterly spa

Being grateful, kind and mindful on Spa Monday:

How wonderful that today’s happy covers being kind, mindful and grateful:

Being grateful for my Spa Monday:

I love going to spas. I adore their blissful calm serenity.

For me, spending a day at a spa is a complete escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life. It’s a wonderful opportunity to take a breath or two and soak up the therapeutic benefits they can offer.

I used to treat myself to a spa day every once in a while, especially when I lived in Germany… but that’s another story!

With my current health and financial challenges, it’s something I’ve not been able to do for quite some time. So this opportunity to go with my sister was very welcome indeed.

Being kind by treating my sister (and myself!) to a spa day:

As it was a special birthday for my sister recently, I thought it would be a real treat for her to enjoy a day of pampering. With two energetic little boys, a busy husband, and a job, she doesn’t get much time to herself, so I thought a few hours away from it all would be appreciated. And I’m happy to say it was.

As well as use of the pool, steam room and sauna – and gym but we ummmm “forgot” out kits, ahem –  the package included a spa treatment and a beauty treatment. YES! We both chose a back massage and a pedicure, my sis’ tootsies were painted a rich plum, while I opted for sparkly pink.

I also thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to spend some relaxing sisterly time together. It’s something we rarely have the chance to do. And with mum and dad kindly agreeing to pick up and look after the boys from nursery and school, we could make the most of our blissful day.

Being mindful by being present during the spa time and treatments:

I really wanted to concentrate on experiencing every precious moment of this special day, and tried to keep myself in the present moment as much as possible.

As I gently swam a few laps in the pool, I noticed how my body felt and moved in the water. And in the sauna and steam room, I focused on how my body responded to the sudden changes of temperature and environment.

Interesting, it was during the first treatment, a heavenly back massage, when my mind started to wander off on its little ownsome. But as soon as I became aware of this, I gently brought my mind back to the room and my deliciously soothing massage. Ah, such bliss.

I was also mindful with my sister as we were able both to give each other our full attention, without little munchkins tugging at her sleeve or distracting iPhones at the ready. And it was also lovely to laze on the hotel bar’s squishy, comfy sofa , enjoying a relaxing cuppa and chat before setting off back home.

A few hours on, and I’m still floating on cloud nine…

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful, kind and mindful on Spa Monday.

Day 55: Recuperate, recover and recharge

Being mindful of being gentle and kind with myself as I recuperate, recover and recharge:

The last few weeks have been pretty challenging for me, both physically and emotionally.

A few big social events, mixed with some emotional turbulence, and sprinkled with tensions at home, have triggered a flare up of my CFS symptoms.

It’s not surprisingly really.

I also lost my footing on my happy trail for a while. Thankfully I still looked for my happy, and have been writing in my gratitude journal and posting happy moments on Happier; but I just haven’t felt like writing my ‘100 days of happy’ blog.

I felt myself spiralling down and letting old negative thought patterns resurface.

And that’s ok because life is full of ups and downs, twists and turns, and squiggly bits. But it’s how we respond to them that’s important.

As Oprah Winfrey asks: “Do you react to an obstacle as a negative, or do you embrace it as an opportunity to respond with the open-hearted knowledge that all will be well?”

So I’m giving myself permission to take as much time as I need to gently navigate my way through this and get myself back on track.

I’m focusing on being kind and gentle with myself. I’m calling on my healing tools to help get me through. And I know that this too shall pass and that all will be well.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful of being gentle and kind with myself as I recuperate, recover and recharge.

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 20: Turtle Power

Being kind to myself by retreating into my shell:

Today I am grateful that I gave myself permission to have a few days off from writing this blog.

As much as I love writing about my ‘100 days of happy’ project, I realised I was putting too much pressure on myself to write the “perfect” posts (whatever the “perfect” post may look like!).

I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed.

And having chronic fatigue does not bode well with overwhelm.

I’m also a perfectionist.

And perfectionism is not a friend of chronic fatigue either.

So feeling overwhelmed with writing the perfect blog = crash, bang, wallop!

It was only a few weeks ago that I started easing myself back into writing, just for 20 minutes each day. But then decided to set myself this 100 day project, and write about it every day, and then turn it into a blog, and then tell all my friends what I was doing.

Yeah, I know.

I don’t do things by halves me! And it’s probably not the best idea when you need to be taking things slow and gentle.

While I really enjoyed writing it ‘off-line’, as soon as I set up the blog and put it out there, I fell to pieces. Knowing a handful of lovely people have kindly subscribed and are now getting my posts directly into their in-boxes, completely freaked me out.

Now my posts HAD to be good, I warned myself. I couldn’t post just any old crap.

I’d started writing it for me, but now I felt a responsibility to write something really fantastic and interesting every single day. Something others would enjoy reading. And keep reading.

It absolutely terrified me and I felt myself shut down.

I crumbled under the pressure.

And I know that I’m the one putting pressure on myself. No one else is doing that. I can do a perfectly good job of that all by very myself thank you very much.

When the fact is, I’ve been absolutely bowled over by all the kind lovely comments and support I’ve received so far. I really couldn’t have asked for a nicer bunch of readers.

I knew I needed to take a break from writing. I needed to gift myself with complete rest. The sky wasn’t going to fall in if I didn’t write for a few days.

I retreated back into my turtle shell, put my laptop away, and delved into my recovery tool kit. I did what I had to do to help myself recover.

I’m proud that every day, I continued to find my happy. But instead of writing about it in the blog, I wrote a short couple of lines in my gratitude journal.

As I tentatively started to emerge from my turtle shell, my thoughts slowly turned back towards my blog. I reminded myself of why I started it.

Thankfully I’ve put it all back into perspective and am feeling much better for it. For now. I realise this may crop up again, and if it does I’ll know what to do.

It’s ok that my writing isn’t perfect. It’s ok that it’s not for everyone. And it’s ok to not write for a day or so if I’m not feeling well enough.

I’m giving myself permission to be ok as I am: to be the best that I can be in this moment.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being kind to myself by retreating into my shell.

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.