Insight Timer

Being mindful by meditating every single day with Insight Timer:

After the unexpected success and utter excitement around my Kindness Advent Calendar throughout December, I realised I needed to spend some quality time re-grounding myself. I have a tendency to live in my head, and really have to work hard to stay in a calm healing state rather than a stressed, or even excitable, state.

And meditation has become so crucial to this process.

I’d been trying to meditate for years and years, but was always quick to give up thinking I couldn’t do it because my monkey mind would just not settle and keep quiet. I thought meditation simply wasn’t for me.

monkey mind

I finally got into a regular meditation practice when I stayed in an ashram in India for a couple of months and have managed to keep up a regular practice ever since.

And then a year ago, I was introduced to the wonderful Insight Timer app which helps to inspire me to meditate every single day. My practice has grown stronger and stronger and I’m really feeling the benefit.

Insight Timer

Insight Timer is a really easy-to-use app, where you can choose from one of the thousands of guided meditations by one of the hundreds of meditation teachers from around the world – including Tara Brach, Eckhart Tolle, Mooji, davidji, Vidyamala Burch, Andrew Johnson, Elisha Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, Kristin Neff, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Sarah Blondin, Thich Nhat Hanh.…

Insight Timer Meditation Teachers

There are themed playlists – including Sleep, Sound Healing, Stress Reduction, Gratitude, Relax, Chanting+Mantras, Kids and Teens – so you can choose a meditation depending on what you need.

Insight Timer playlists

I tend to reach for a meditation depending on how I’m feeling and what I’m needing at that moment, whether it’s sleep, welcoming the morning, stress relief, present moment awareness, letting go, or a burst of positivity. There seems to be a guided meditation for most things really and lengths vary from one minute to over an hour.

Or you can also select the timer if you prefer to meditate in silence or with ambient background music. You can choose to have a beginning, interval and/or ending bells or gongs (I loooove the gong) if you wish.

Insight Timer Timer.jpg

The app logs your meditations so you can keep track of what you’ve done and for how long you’ve meditated for.

It also connects you to the other 1.5 million meditators around the world, and if you wish you can become friends, or join a group. And one of my favourite features is seeing who’s been meditating at the same time. There’s something really comforting and quite powerful knowing you’re meditating with thousands of other lovely folk all over the world, even though I’m sitting by myself in my bedroom.

Insight Timer Fellow Meditators

And you can send even them a ‘thank you for meditating with me’ message.

I absolutely love this app and what makes it even more special is their mission: to achieve the equivalent of 10,000 years of meditation.

Insight Timer Mission

Meditating daily really does helps me stay grounded, be in the present moment, and have a calmer and more focused mind.

Of course, it’s not always or often easy. I’ve discovered that some days are harder than others in my quest to quieten my monkey mind, but the simple act of gently bringing my attention back to the present moment can make all the difference to my day and how I’m feeling.

Meditation has become an integral part of my healing tool kit and I honestly can’t imagine a day without it.

☆♡☆

If you’re interested in checking it out, visit: https://insighttimer.com/

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).

 

Day 89: New Year’s ritual

Being mindful while preparing and carrying out my New Year’s ritual:

I love my New Year’s ritual.

After having given up on New Year’s resolutions a long time ago, once i realised I was just setting myself up to fail, a dear friend introduced me to the idea of this New Year’s ritual.

And it immediately became my favourite way to spend my New Year’s Eves.

Sometimes I do the ritual with a trusted friend or two. And sometimes I do it alone. Either is absolutely fine.

Between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, I grab my notebook and pen, and head to my happy place for a couple of hours.

First I write down a kind of ‘year in review’. Month-by-month, I note any events and occasions, places I’ve been, peopled I’ve seen, lessons I’ve learnt and things I’ve accomplished, struggles I’ve had, and anything else that comes to mind that I feel is important.

Then I write down:

  1. All the things I’m grateful for in 2015 and why. I find this the easy part and thankfully the list is usually long as there’s so much to be grateful for.
  2. All the things I’m happy to let go of, particularly the behaviour, habits and beliefs I’d like to leave behind. This takes more thinking time and much more delving. Usually I like to think about this over a few days and write them down as they come to me.
  3. All the things I’d like to manifest, build on, and create in the new year ahead and how I want to live my life. I make sure these are clear, doable and can be turned into an affirmation starting with ‘I am’. Again this takes a little more time. I try not to go crazy with these as it can become too overwhelming. But as I revisit them on a monthly basis, I tend to adjust or add to if need be.
  4. I also like to think of a main intention for the year and will keep this up on my wall where I can see it every day. Again, I write it as an affirmation. For 2016 my main intention is: I am living from my heart♡

As the sun begins to go down on the last day of the year, I light a candle, burn some essential oil, and put on the soothing sounds of Deva Premal. (When I’m living by the beach, I head down to the shore and shout them into the sea!).

I then read my long list of gratitude out loud, genuinely thanking everything on my list from the bottom of my heart.

Then as the sun is setting, I write each ‘letting go’ on it’s own little piece of paper and burn each one as I speak it aloud. If that’s not possible, I tear each up into tiny pieces.

It feels fantastic to let them go like this, to watch them dissolve into the fire: it’s very gratifying, cathartic and cleansing.

I then meditate for a while.

As the sun comes up on the first day of the new year, again being mindful of speaking from my heart, I read out my list of intentions in the present tense as though they are already happening, already in motion. For example: I am living from my heart ♥︎

And that’s it!

I find this ritual so powerful, that I like to revisit my intentions and repeat this part of the ritual every New Moon. It’s like a check-in to see where I’m at, and to help keep me focused on manifesting the good stuff. Sometimes I find that my intentions have changed throughout the year. And that’s ok.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful while preparing and carrying out my New Year’s ritual. And I wish everyone a very wonderful and magical 2016.

Day 75: Meditating with Oprah and Deepak

Being grateful for Oprah and Deepak’s new 21 Day Meditation Experience:

Meditation has become a sacred part of my morning ritual: I begin each and every day with an Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra meditation, without fail!

I love love love their 21 Day Meditation Experiences, and highly recommend them to anyone interested in meditation. And I’m delighted a new one began earlier this month: Become What You Believe!

This 21 day journey is about:

“Together, we’ll take steps to tap into the power of belief – one of the most influential forces in life that leads you to the person you’re meant to be. You’ll learn how to:

  • discover your deepest beliefs and how they affect you
  • step into your highest potential by embracing your positive beliefs and dissolving the unconscious ones that are holding you back
  • connect to the innate power of your foundational beliefs to start directing the movement of your life.”

Oprah and Deepak share this beautiful gift with their growing worldwide community via a free online stream on their website or app, a few times a year.

Each guided meditation is around 20 minutes long and has a theme: for Day 11 it’s Living From Your Core. Oprah kicks off each day with a beautiful and inspiring introduction and Deepak follows by sharing more practical tips and wisdom.

Deepak then introduces the day’s centering thought: I cherish my true self in silence is today’s, and the sanskrit mantra Sampriya Hum, which means I am perfect contentment.

We are invited to silently repeat the mantra during the 10 minutes or so of unguided meditation time, accompanied by a gentle soundtrack.

BWYB Day 11

If you wish to go deeper, there’s an online journal with reflective questions, for example: “Take a moment to reflect on a time in meditation where you felt that love, self-worth, feeling secure, and feeling whole is possible, easy, and natural. Write down how this feels compared to your daily life outside of meditation.”

I’m deeply resonating with this experience. Our beliefs – conscious and unconscious – are constantly influencing our thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. And it’s encouraging me to be aware of, to think about, and to challenge my beliefs.

I find these meditations such a beautiful, gentle and enriching way to start the day. And what’s extra special about joining the online streams is connecting with over a million like-minded souls around the world.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for Oprah and Deepak’s new 21 Meditation Experience.

Day 73: Yahtzee!

Being mindful while playing Farm Yatzy with Callum and the family:

As I’m still struggling with my energy levels, I’ve been trying to take today easy knowing we have a full-on afternoon with the boys and our evening family dinner.

As I was resting in my bedroom, the first little munchkin appeared wanting to play. I managed to coax him into snuggling up and watching ‘Paw Petrol’, the most my energy levels could manage. A little later, munchkin number 2 came in and the three of us watched the heroic puppies save the day over and over. Perfect. And the longest I’ve seen them sitting nice and quietly for quite a while!

Later, after our family dinner, Callum asked if we could all play Farm Yatzy, the game I’d bought him for his birthday. Although I needed to rest, how could I resist?

Yahtzee has been a firm family favourite in our house for years and years. It’s our go-to game at Christmas-time and on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

For the uninitiated, it’s a “seductive game of luck and strategy” and players have three rolls of the dice to rack up points in 12 scoring categories, including the elusive Yahtzee – rolling five of the same number.

It’s seriously addictive and oodles of fun.

Hearing through a friend about Yahtzee for kids, I searched and searched and finally found ‘Farm Yatzy’. I honestly don’t know why they spell it differently, but it took me ages to find it!. Anyway, it has farmyard animals instead of numbers and a slightly easier scoring system.

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And Callum absolutely loves it.

Especially as the first time we played, he scored two Yahtzee’s in one game which is incredibly rare. And it makes my heart so happy that now, every time he’s comes to our house, he wants to play it. Again. And again.

It’s wonderful and so much better than him being attached to his device playing computer games.

So, after dinner tonight we all sat down to play a couple of games, including his mummy and daddy.  It was priceless to see the joy on Callum’s face.

It was brilliant for all of us to enjoy this family fun time together, rather than all disperse to our different corners of the house, which usually includes the boys running around noisily getting up to all kinds of mischief!

After a couple of games – which I’d come second and then first, just saying (as I’m usually much further down the leader board) ☺️ – I wearily climbed the stairs with a huge big smile on my face and knew it was worth using up every last ounce of my energy.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful while playing Farm Yatzy with Callum and the family.

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 70: Mindfulness Summit

Being grateful for, and mindful during, the Mindfulness Summit:

For this whole month of October, I’ve felt hugely privileged to have joined over 250,000 people taking part in the Mindfulness Summit, designed to help us “learn how to live life with more peace, purpose and wisdom.”

There’s been a new online interview between the host, the very lovely Melli O’Brien, and a leading mindfulness expert every single day.

Those who have shared their insight and wisdom with use include Mark Williams, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jack Kornfield, Tami Simon, Dr Rick Hanson, Ruby Wax, Arianna Huffington, Vidyamala Burch and many many more.

There’s also been presentations and practice sessions, plus a bunch of free meditations to download and keep.

All for free.

I’m delighted that I’ve managed to watch most days, I think I’ve only missed three. And I’ve loved each and every one.

The Summit has given incredible insight into the science behind mindfulness and its clinically proven benefits, and a plethora of different mindfulness techniques on how to integrate mindfulness into everyday life and how to apply it to specific situations.

I’m looking forward to having a play with some of these techniques to see what works for me.

Here are some of my favourite learnings:

1. Mindfulness is a practice, it takes discipline and perseverance. Every day we begin again. ~ Joseph Goldstein
2. There are two wings of presence: seeing, recognising what’s happening, and allowing, asking yourself if you can be with this. ~ Tara Brach

3. Let your mind be your best friend ~ Shamash Alidima
4. ‘Surf the Urge’. When you have a craving, for example if you’re checking your phone every two minutes, tune into the physical sensation and ‘surf’ on it like a wave. Bring kindness to it and it will subside, the urge will go away. ~ Shamash Alidima
5. Catch thoughts before they take hold. Thoughts arise naturally and we don’t have to attach to them or feel bad for having them. ~ Lori Deschene
6. The Diffusion Technique: 1. Think of negative self-talk, such as “I’m not _______ enough.” 2. Concentrate on that thought for 10 seconds. 3. Put in front of that thought, “I”m having the thought that I’m not _______ enough.”. 4. Add to it “I notice that I am having the thought that I’m not _______ enough.” ~ Russ Harris
7. If you’re not focused on what you’re doing, you’ll do it poorly. ~ Dan Goleman
8. When meditating, there’s a difference between thinking about your breath, and feeling your breath. Aim for the latter. ~ Dr Judson Brewer
9. When you are experiencing discomfort, note if you are blocking it, by pulling away and distracting your mind, or if you are drowning in it, by leaning into it and feeling overwhelmed. Be a warrior with a soft and open heart. ~ Vidyamala Burch
10. You can’t change stress, but you can change your relationship to stress. ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

As I’ve mentioned many times before, mindfulness has become a huge part of my healing journey. And this series of interviews and presentations has highlighted how beneficial and enriching mindfulness is to my wellbeing. I can say with hand-on-heart, that practicing mindfulness will continue to be a part of my everyday life, ongoing.

And tonight, to close this incredible month, was a live guided meditation with Jon Kabatt-Zinn. It felt incredibly powerful to be meditating with thousands of others around the world at the same time.

I shall sleep very soundly tonight!

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for, and mindful during, the Mindfulness Summit.

 

PS While the Mindfulness Summit has now finished, it’s available to purchase and 100% of profits generated from the project will be donated to mindfulness charities. Please click here for more info.

Day 69: Seaside Bliss

Being grateful, mindful and kind, while enjoying a day at the seaside:

Today was the ultimate Artist’s Date: I went to the seaside.

Since moving back in with my folks in the middle of England while I recover from CFS, the nearest coastline is sadly about 80 miles away.

And I desperately miss living by the sea, which I find so powerfully healing.

So on a good-health day not so long back, I booked myself onto a day trip to the seaside with a local coach firm.

However, due to my recent cold and CFS blip, I wasn’t really sure if I was up to going. But as the seaside towns are winding down for the winter, today was the last seaside trip the coach company was making until the spring, so I was really keen to go.

As I woke up this morning, my body craved more rest and begged me to stay in bed, but my heart skipped with joy at the thought of a day at the seaside.

Reluctant to cancel, I felt confident the healing power of being by the sea would lift my spirits and soothe my soul, and would offset the inevitable consequences of complete bed rest for the next few days.

So off I went.

As the full, chattering coach weaved its way through the countryside, I put down my book to gaze out the window. And my, how I was rewarded: blanketed in mist, my heart sang with joy at the splashes of glorious golds, flaming ambers and dazzling rubies of the stunning autumn scenery.

Arriving at the seaside just before noon, I headed straight for the beach so I could say hello to the sea. Then it was time for a spot of lunch, and of course there’s only one option when you’re at the seaside: fish, chips and mushy peas of course! My ‘regular’ sized portion beat me; convinced it was big enough for two, I was curious to see how big the ‘jumbo’ portion would be!

fish, chips and mushy peas

I wandered down the pier and spent a lovely half hour gazing out to the sea, soaking up her powerful healing energy.

beach and pier

Then it was time to whip my socks and shoes off and hit the beach. Walking barefoot in the sand is one of my all time favourite things to do, and it felt blissful getting sand and sea in-between my tootsies once again.

barefoot walking

This award-winning beach is incredibly wide and it took a while to reach the shore. I went for a quick paddle which was deliciously refreshing, with the sea temperature around 15 celsius/59 fahrenheit. I didn’t stay in long due to the sea foam: with a chocolate mousse texture  I got a little paranoid it was pollution I shouldn’t really be standing in. Urgh! (I’ve since discovered through a little research that it’s algal blooms and organic matter churned up by the surf, which isn’t usually harmful to humans, but I was taking no risks!)

I continued to walk along the beach and it was blissful having this long stretch of beach almost to myself, only passing by the occasional dog walker.

I decided to get creative and have some fun creating some artwork in the sand using my tootsies:

beach art
I was feeling quite tired and as I came upon some rocks, I decided to buy a herbal tea and come back and watch the waves for a little bit longer. Oh boy, finding a herbal tea in the many beachside huts was almost impossible. Ten stalls and 30 mins later, I rejoiced at finding a place offering lemon and ginger tea, and went back to sit on the rocks.

I tuned into my senses and fully appreciated the delights surrounding me: the sound of the crashing waves and squawking of the gulls; the sight of the muted watercolour tones, as the sand merged with the sea, and the sea with the sky; the smell and taste of the salty sea air; and the kiss of the gentle breeze on my skin. Pure bliss.

I was delighted to see two kite surfers glide into view. I was utterly mesmerised. I used to love watching the surfers when I lived in Australia, I find it so soothing and meditative. I was also transfixed by the icy blue eyes in the sky, gazing out of the clouds.

kite surfers and eyes in the sky

Then it was time to make my way back to the coach station for my return journey home. As we arrived back, I gave the coach driver one of my kindness cards with the message: “Thank you for being a good, considerate driver” to show him how much he is appreciated.

Kindness Cards

After my long but blissful day at the seaside, my spirits are lifted, my soul is soothed, and my body and energy levels are kaput!

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful, mindful and kind, while enjoying a day at the seaside.

 

 

 

Day 67: Callum’s 7th birthday

Being mindful of being a good Auntie to Callum on his birthday, and beyond:

My mum always spoils us on our birthdays. My sister and I grew up feeling extra special on our birthdays as mum showered us with her love and kindness, and she still does.

And I still love being a birthday princess a few decades on 🙂

I also like to spoil my loved ones on their birthdays too.

Today is my nephew Callum’s 7th birthday and even though I’m unable to shower him with extravagant gifts, I can shower him with my love and attention, and try to be the best Auntie I can be.

We FaceTimed him this morning before school to sing Happy Birthday, and it was lovely to see him looking so happy and excited.

Later, after Mum had picked the birthday boy up from school, he excitedly tore open our pressies. I’d also made him a special birthday card, creating a number 7 filled with lots of photos of him. I was over the moon at his reaction when he first saw the card: “WOW” he exclaimed wide-eyed and open-mouthed. And I got another WOW when he turned over to see more photos of him I’d printed on the back. Bless.

Callum 7th birthday card

As the rest of the family arrived, we played a variety of games, being mindful to let the birthday boy choose which ones, and I even attempted a game of ping-pong with his new table tennis kit. He proudly showed us his main pressie, an amazing robot. The remote-controlled Robosapien dances, burps, does karate, kicks and speaks fluent caveman among other things. It was especially funny to see his younger brother Thomas dancing along.

Callum's robot

We ordered a Chinese meal as Callum adores Chicken Chow Mein and Prawn Toast. As we all went to sit at the table, I asked Callum where he wanted to sit: “Next to you” came his reply. Heart-melt moment. Then, as Thomas arrived, he had a tantrum as he wanted to sit next to me. So after a bit of shuffling, I was the proud Auntie sandwiched between my two munchkin nephews.

After dinner it was time to blow out the candles on his birthday cake: a fabulous Ninja Turtle cake with candles shaped in the number ‘7’.

Ninja Turle cake

Soon after, it was time for Auntie Helen to go home and rest up, as I was feeling exhausted and also still suffering with my cold symptoms.  I feel really happy that Callum has enjoyed his birthday celebrations and is looking forward to going bowling with some friends on Sunday.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful of being a good Auntie to Callum on his birthday, and beyond.

Day 58: Tango-ing trees

Being mindful while watching the trees dancing in the wind:

As today is a bed rest day, I find myself looking out of my bedroom window, watching the wild weather.

As the magnificent trees sway to the back and forth in the furious wind, it looks like they are performing the most incredible dance. I think it’s the Tango: vibrant, dramatic, full of passion, and playful.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful while watching the trees dancing in the wind.