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 54: Leaf rubbing fun

Being mindful by getting crafty with my nephews:

Today I bravely stepped into the unknown… craft time with both my young nephews, at the same time! As their mummy’s birthday is coming up, I thought it would be nice to make her birthday cards with them.

Trying to think of ideas that would engage their attention, I was inspired by photos of a dear friend leaf rubbing with her little girl. Aha I thought, the perfect idea to make craft time interactive and fun with my highly energetic nephews, and a great way to combine nature and art.

Ok, so here we go.

Step 1: Collecting leaves. Enlisting my mum as Chief Craft Assistant, we started off by taking a short stroll to find some fallen leaves. It was lovely to be outside with the boys and watch them joyfully running around looking for the “biggest leaves ever”. Needless to say, we all wandered home happily, little hands full of autumn leaves.

joyful nephews collecting leaves

So far so good.

Step 2: Leaf rubbing fun. Not having done this since childhood, I had a sneaky test-run earlier in the day and thought I’d make a batch of ready-made art in case the boys didn’t want to do it. But thankfully, I didn’t need to use them as they loved it. Callum carefully placed the leaves onto the paper and got stuck in using the rainbow of crayons. Thomas was mesmerised by what happened when he coloured on the plain sheet of paper on top of the leaves. “It’s magic” he excitedly shouted out, as the delicate shapes, textures and vein structure of the leaves came through brightly and vividly.

Callum placing leaves ready on paper

Doing really well so far.

Step 3: Drawing around hands. One of Thomas’ favourite things to do is drawing round his hands, so this was a doddle. Getting him to stop was not so easy! Callum enjoyed it too. The boys watched in wonder as Auntie Helen cut out their colourful paper hands and stuck them onto the front of the cards.

Step 4: Adding words. For three-year-old Thomas’ card, I put a crayon in his hands and guided him to write “Happy Birthday Mummy, love Thomas”. As we drew the kisses, he sweetly blew a kiss to each ’X’. He then insisted we draw around his hand again inside the card, and also around his favourite car – which I had to draw wheels. headlights, and ALL the artwork on the car, including “lots of stars” and the number 88.

Thomas writing in mummy's card

For six-year-old Callum’s card, he wanted to write the words himself. He asked me to write them out on a separate piece of paper so he could copy. When I asked what he wanted to write, he earnestly replied: “You are the best mummy.”  Heart-melt moment. He also added: ”Happy Birthday Mummy, love Callum” and “Hope you have a nice day”. He then covered the inside of the card with lots of big kisses. It was extra heart-melty as Callum usually isn’t that interested in crafts, so it was special to see him putting so much care and attention into his writing.

Callum carefullly writing in mummy's card

And we have success!

birthday cards

We agreed to keep it a big secret and give their cards to mummy after dinner. During dinner, Callum whispered to me when were we going to give his card to mummy; he was so excited to give mummy his card, bless him.

Step 5: Presenting their creations.  Carrying their artwork into the room hidden behind their little backs, they proudly gave mummy their handmade birthday cards. It was such a sweet moment and my sister seemed touched and promised to treasure them.

This crafty session with the boys turned out to be the BEST fun, not only for them but for me too. (And worth having to spend tomorrow in bed to recover!). It is one of my most favourite and most treasured times with my little nephews.

I also loved hearing that on their walk home later, as they passed the place where we’d picked the leaves, Thomas asked his daddy if they could stop and pick some more leaves… awwwww!

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful by getting crafty with my nephews.

Day 49: Autumn days

Being mindful on an early morning autumn soul stroll:

autumn soul stroll
Autumn Days

Morning shadows speckled on the ground,
Rays of sunshine warming all around.
Autumn leaves falling from the trees,
White-feathered angels blowing in the breeze.

Blades of grass glistening with the dew,
Cows all grazing, what a lovely view.
Juicy plump blackberries waiting to be eaten,
All of Mother Nature embracing this new season.


Day 46: Life’s magnificence

Being mindful on my soul stroll in between rain showers:

One of my new favourite things is going for a walking meditation in nature just after a rain shower.

There’s something really magical about the vividness of the colours and the intensity of the smells, which even has its own name: petrichor.

The air is fresher, the grass greener, the sky bluer and the vividness and fragrance of the flowers more intoxicating.

It’s pure bliss.

I loved today’s soul stroll in between the showers, my senses came alive and my spirits lifted. I immediately felt lighter and brighter.

I’m so grateful to have taken myself for this wander through such beauty: the fast-flowing brook, the red rose reaching for the sky, and my mum’s double begonia sparkling with rain drops.

fast-flowing brook

red rose reaching for the sky

double begonia

And as I gazed at the magnificent trees set against the blue sky, I took a moment to take a breath and appreciate the magnificence of life.

magnificent trees

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful on my soul stroll in between rain showers.

Day 41: Healing hugs

Being mindful when giving and receiving hugs with my family:

There’s nothing like the warm comforting embrace of a long, deep hug with a loved one.

And after being home alone for the last two weeks and following an emotional few days, I really needed a big hug.

Thankfully my family were due back from their summer holidays in the sunshine. As well as looking forward to seeing them, I was also looking forward to sharing some lovely hugs with them.

This morning, I popped round for a cuppa and chat with my sis who’d returned home late last night. And of course I wanted to sneak a few hugs in: making sure I enjoyed a few snuggly ones with my three-year-old nephew Thomas, who is becoming as good as his older brother at giving the bestest hugs ever!

(I always make sure I get a nephew hug or two whenever I see them; there’s no escaping Auntie Helen’s Mega Hugs!)

Then, early this afternoon, my folks returned from their two-week holiday. As their taxi pulled up, I ran out to welcome them home, and of course, to give my mum a big welcome home hug.

I’ve really been missing my daily love-hug with my mum and followed her around the house the rest of the day, trying to grab as many hugs as I could.

It’s funny thinking back to how I used to feel a little uncomfortable and embarrassed at anything longer than a quick embrace.

And I have a dear Sydney-based friend to thank for that.

She’s a fantastic hugger. She stopped me from breaking free after a nano second and helped me overcome my hugging awkwardness! She showed me how there’s something really special about long, deep hugs. I still miss her hugs.

I totally see how there’s so much scientific evidence on their many health benefits. A meaningful hug does wonders for my wellbeing. As well as feeling loved and protected, they make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

And there’s also incredible benefits for giving as well as receiving. Knowing that the person I’m hugging is also receiving the bountiful benefits a hug can bring, adds to the magical experience.

As I continue to make the most of daily love-hugs with my mum, I urge you to get hugging too.

Here’s my top tips for enjoying a nourishing and heartwarming hug:

1. Pick the person you’d like to share a hug with
2. For a heart-to-heart hug, put your head to your right as you look at the other person, and place your left arm over their right arm and your right arm under their left arm
3. Hug like you mean it and be mindful not to rush it. Aim for at least 20 seconds in order to release the ‘love drug’ hormone Oxytocin, which calms the nervous system and boosts positive emotions
4. Enjoy bathing in the afterglow of your love-hug

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful when giving and receiving hugs with my family.


Day 40: Getting crafty

Being mindful while making greeting cards:

I love making cards for friends and family.

It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to lose myself in the moment, creating handmade cards for people I love and care about.

Again, it’s sadly one of the activities I don’t feel up to doing very often because of my condition. But when I do feel up to it, I go for it and try to make enough to keep me going for a while.

I have a huge tub, full of delights to make my creations: coloured and textured card, patterned scrap paper, sparkly toppers, metallic charms, wooden shapes, stick-on gems, and so much more.

I have stencils, glue, sticky dots, coloured pens, stamps and ink galore.

And yet I still crave yet another visit to one of my favourite shops: Hobby Craft. Oh how I could spend a small fortune in there, as all the goodies displayed on the aisles tantalise my creative tastebuds.

To get into the card-making zone, I get everything out on the table and spend some time thinking about who I’m making the cards for, and working out what theme I’m going for this time.

Then I set to work, and can happily spend a couple of hours engrossed in my task.

I always feel a great sense of satisfaction and achievement once I’ve finished, and can’t wait to send the completed cards to friends and family.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful while making greeting cards.

Day 37: Soul nourishing nature

Being mindful during a visit to Attenborough Nature Reserve:

Today I am so happy to have visited one of my favourite localish places for nature: Attenborough Nature Reserve.

An award-winning eco-friendly visitor attraction managed by the wildlife trust, it covers 165 hectares and offers 9 miles of trails: it’s a very special place.

It feeds and nourishes my soul whenever I visit.

I’d love to be a regular visitor, but as it’s a half hour drive and over an hour to walk around the shortest trail, I haven’t felt well enough to go for a long time.

But today was the day.

Feeling truly grateful and blessed, I strolled along the Tufted Duck Nature Trail soaking up all the gorgeousness that Mother Nature has to offer.

It was such a treat to see a gathering of the webbed-feet variety, including an army of frolicking ducks, and swans gliding on the water with their growing cygnets. And it was another treat to witness the magnitude of a few hundred geese flying overhead.

The webbed feet brigade

As I wandered along the peace-filled open pathways, I breathed in the fresh air and soaked up the peekaboo playing sun from behind the dark, threatening clouds.

I marvelled at the sparkling sunshine dancing on the water, and wild heather bowing in the breeze as the wind rustled through the trees.

Experiencing a change of scenery, I meandered through the magical forest with the sporadic sunshine dappling through the trees.

magical forest

As I paused on a little jetty at the waters’ edge, a pluto-esque puppy bounded towards me to say hello. Jumping up and almost knocking me into the water, the adorable pup left a giant footprint on my skirt and another one on my heart.

Along today’s soul stroll, I couldn’t help but leave a few of my Kindness Cards with messages for people to find: a couple on benches, a couple on the gate posts, and a couple in the cafe. Here’s hoping they brought a smile to other soul strollers.

kindness messages at attenborough

I completed my visit the way I’d started: with a tea inside the Nature House, winner of the Gold award for eco-tourism. As I nosed around the shop, I managed to limit myself to an eco pen, for today anyway!

As I headed back to the car, I took a parting pause for reflection, for love, for gratitude: “Bye Bye Attenborough Nature Reserve and all your glorious beauty. I hope to see you again soon.”

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful during a visit to Attenborough Nature Reserve.

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.


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 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 27: Gracious acceptance

Being mindful of accepting gifts with grace:

I am a very lucky girl.

I’ve recently received some really wonderful gifts from big-hearted friends; inspiring bracelets, Tibetan Cymbals and Mindfulness Book, audio healing resources and online e:courses.

And today I received a big surprise in the post.

A dear friend has generously sent me a box full of books by one of my favourite authors.

Just because.

A whole heap of emotions pulsed through me from feeling gobsmacked, disbelief, tearful, excited, and over-the-moon.

And if I’m being completely honest, overwhelm and panic has set in.

Sounds crazy, I know.

I don’t know about you, but it’s all too easy for me to feel awkward when being the recipient of a generous gift. Feelings of “I don’t deserve this”, “This is too much”, or “I feel bad I can’t reciprocate at the moment” surface.

But I’ve come to realise that saying this can completely deflate the giver: it can deny them the pleasure of giving. I realise it’s about being grateful for how someone has taken the time to think about you and given you something you’d enjoy.

I recall an article that had a big impact on me. In it, Ellen Langer, a psychology professor at Harvard, said: “Receiving with grace isn’t about taking. You should see it as offering someone else the joy of giving.”

It’s about accepting gifts with grace.

It’s not easy, but I’m working on it.

So instead of feeling bad about the lovely gifts I’ve received, I choose to think : Look what magic and kindness my Fairy Godmothers have sprinkled on me, I am so blessed.

And I smile and say: Thank you dear friends.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful of accepting gifts with grace.