Boo Bagging

So as we approach Halloween I am going to share with you our Halloween tradition.  Now you may wonder how on earth this is going to tie in with happiness and well-being.  And when I tell you that this is something that I do with my children you may think, “Well I don’t even have children, so it’s going to be even more irrelevant to me!”  But hear me out. 

 

So I am dead against trick or treating.  I used to judge people massively who went trick or treating or let their children trick or treat.  And I will cover judgement in a completely different blog one day, because that is something that I am really working on – to not judge anybody.  So please don’t judge me for my judgment!  And I do now have a lot more tolerance for trick or treaters.  But my reasons are genuine behind it, in that I once knew an elderly lady that had her home vandalised by trick or treaters that she didn’t answer the door to.  And I too have had my car windows put through as a result of not answering the door.  So when I say it’s a judgement, it’s more of an ingrained fear.  A fear that actually drove me to park my car in overnight car parks on Halloween many years ago because I was that terrified. 

 

But what is important to me now, as I have learnt more about judgment and re-training my anxious brain, is that I can’t tar a 3 year old walking down my street in Halloween gear with the same brush as the people that I’ve based those fears on.   

 

Now with the basis for my beliefs laid out there I just didn’t want my children doing it, because I didn’t want to inflict that same fear on someone that had experienced what I had.  So I had to find a compromise, because let’s face it, what child doesn’t want to go trick or treating? 

 

So in desperate search for a compromise I went on Pinterest and stumbled across this apparently American tradition called ‘boo bagging’.  And this is what we do now every year as a compromise.  We pick out some random friends and neighbours, and we fill bags with sweets and toys, all Halloween themed loot; black and orange balloons, glow sticks, jumping pumpkins; you name it.  And we make a little bag of gifts.  Then in the darkness of night my children approach each house like 007 and we leave these boo bags as a surprise on the child’s doorstep.  We do this about a week before Halloween.  And in that bag there is a sign for them to put up in their window to say they’ve been booed, and there’s a poem with it that reads as follows:-

 

You’ve been boo’d

This treat is for you,

I hope you enjoy,

The idea is simple,

One I hope you’ll employ!

You pass the ‘Boo’ along to two other neighbours,

Along with any Halloween favours!

If we all do our part,

And spread the good cheer,

By Halloween night,

It will be very clear…

We are a friendly bunch,

We like to share fun!

So please help us keep

‘Boo’ on the run!

 

The idea is that apparently this tradition is carried out in streets where they will ‘boo bag’ their neighbours, and once the sign goes up to say they’ve been booed, other neighbours know they’ve already received a surprise and look for a neighbour without a sign in their window to leave their gift.  So everybody, in theory, receives a boo bag, and the joy of receiving a surprise gift is passed on throughout the street.  Hence why we put ours out about a week before Halloween. 

 

And we have had such a wonderful response to this.  We don’t tell people that it is us, and I feel that I’m giving my children that amazing feeling of being able to give without needing thanks.  Which is actually a wonderful feeling, as I’m sure Santa Claus will testify to when he sees a child’s little face light up on Christmas morning!  It’s that same feeling of knowing that you’ve made somebody happy.  And that is what this blog is really about. 

 

A massive source of happiness is giving and making other people happy.  There are a lot of things, and I’ll cover as and when appropriate, that I do to give to people.  And it’s pretty much always anonymous.  And I find the thought of somebody out there thinking, “Wow, somebody’s thought of me in my hour of need, or has thought to leave a boo bag for my child on our doorstep,” just absolutely fills me with joy.  So this post is meant to inspire.  It’s meant to make us think that maybe times of the year that bring a bit of fear or bad memories can be turned into something good if we just think outside the box. 

 

My children always get boo bagged back too.  Admittedly it’s usually Mummy that comes to the rescue.  But every now and then if we’re caught on CCTV and our identities are discovered, one of the recipients may drop the girls a boo bag back.  And their little faces and screams of joy…  They forget all about knocking on people’s door to demand sweets or money because they’re so chuffed and touched and surprised by what’s in that gift, that it makes me literally cry with joy to watch.  I feel it’s just such an important lesson to teach them.  It fills me with joy and I am more than happy to put the time, effort and money into this little project each year to make all these children happy.  And it really has inspired other people.  When we’ve been caught on CCTV we have been told by other mums that they absolutely loved the idea, they think it’s brilliant, and they’ve passed it on themselves.  So the joy has carried on further into the community.  Hearing that just really makes my day. 

 

And of course there is a great metaphor for life in this article.  We are all fearful of different things.  What excites one of us fills the next with dread.  Is jumping out of a plane on your bucket list or does the thought of even looking up at a parachute send you dizzy?  Our thoughts build our reality, so if we can change our thoughts we can change our reality.  If something fills you with dread or fear look for a way to change how you feel about it.  You may not always be able to do that, but to be aware that there’s a possibility of changing your thoughts that might actually lead you to happiness is a great place to start. 

 

So this is just a little bit of inspiration for anybody looking for something different to do at this time of year.  Let me know if you do boo bag your friends or neighbours.  And let me know what your children thought of the idea.  And for any American readers, please get in touch and let me know if this is genuinely a tradition over there, because nobody in England has ever heard of this!  And I just think it’s absolutely fantastic.  So I really am interested to know if this does go on in America.  And even if you don’t have children I think this would be lovely to do to your friends and neighbours.  There’s some great ideas on Pinterest for adult Halloweeen gifts, maybe a bottle of wine wrapped like a mummy with the same ‘boo’ sign and poem attached.  Spread some joy and see how it lifts your own spirits, because little random acts of kindness just absolutely make my day!

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GRATITUDE JOURNAL

This week I’d like to talk about gratitude journals.  I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for a while now, and I’ve even encouraged my kids to start one too, which is just the cutest thing ever!  Alright, they get a biscuit at the end if they can think of three things they’re grateful for that day.  But I figure a little bribery is just setting them up for good habits of positive thinking and recognising and giving thanks for the little things in life.

We have so many negative thoughts swirling round in our mind that half the time we don’t even know what we’re telling ourselves.  It’s just automatic.  To write down what we’re grateful for or happy about starts putting positive thoughts back into our head and eventually creates a new habit; a new way of thinking.  It can be the simplest of things.  I often write down things I’m grateful for, nice things people have done for me, nice things I’ve done for others, things that have made me happy.  It’s a good reference to look back on at a later date when the world seems like such a horrible place, as a reminder that actually it’s not.  That person that let you out at a junction when you could see people getting impatient behind you and your anxiety levels were going through the roof might just have changed your whole day for the better.  Acknowledge it!

I like to write ten things I’m grateful for every morning.  As soon as I wake up I grab a cup of tea and I start listing on my phone.  It only takes a couple of minutes, but it just sets me up for the day. But you may prefer to write things at night, maybe just before you go to bed and go to bed with happy memories of that day.  Or you could even write your list first thing and add to it at bedtime or re-read it before you go to sleep.  Whatever works best for you. 

I do often say things I’m grateful for out loud on the way to work while I’m driving.  I challenge myself to see how far I can drive on the same monotonous journey whilst giving thanks.  Even if I’m clutching at straws saying thanks for the fact I own a car, the fact I can afford petrol, the fact my car is running without needing repairs.  In reality they are all things we should be grateful for.  I can be very competitive in an attempt to beat where I got to the day before, even if it is only to outdo myself.  But if you try and fit it in wherever it best fits your schedule you’ll soon find it just becomes this amazingly uplifting habit.

Today I had a killer migraine.  My worst yet.  I could have gone to bed cursing the fact I’d lost a day of my life, been in so much pain, left my house in a mess and missed the chance to see my kids take part in activities at their school fair.  Instead my gratitude journal read:-

 

Today I am grateful for:-

  • Finally being migraine free. I feel fantastic and ready to cleanse my body and appreciate my migraine-free time.  I am also grateful for the moments my little girls massaged my head or brushed my hair in an attempt to make me feel better.
  • My husband for taking the girls to the school fair when I was too ill to get out of bed even though he was supposed to be working from home today and will have to catch up on all that work tonight.
  • Finding my motivation to blog and come up with some creative ideas.
  • That first wanting of food after a period of being sick. Food never tasted so good.
  • My mum for helping me and taking my youngest when I couldn’t cope with the noise any more, even though she had my nephews too and she’s having the girls tomorrow.

Now the reality of my day was that my husband was not at all pleased that I was ill and had actually made me feel very guilty for messing up his day by inconveniently having a migraine.  But the point of this is that he did still take the girls to the fair, and for that I am grateful.  That is the memory of today I want to acknowledge and remember.  Not anything negative that was said before that!

So you can see from that how easy it is to find even just 5 things to be grateful for on what turned out to be a day of sickness.  And I have literally not even got out of my bed all day! 

I like to also end my gratitude journal for the day with a positive affirmation.  I don’t know why, I just started doing it as a little extra thing to do.  And it felt a good time to do it when I was feeling so positive.  So I often write little things like ‘I am hopeful’, ‘I am adventurous’, ‘I am moving in positive directions with my life’.  And these affirmations are often linked to the things I’ve been grateful for that day, so I find them easy to think of at that moment.  You may want to do something more with those affirmation than just write them.  You may want to meditate on them, create some art work with them, say them repeatedly before you go to sleep, or even do yoga moves as you repeat them.  Whatever feels good for you is the way to go!  But if you’re going to think of a quick affirmation to sum up your day it is the perfect time to be inspired!

I just use my phone to quickly list, but there are lots of purposely written gratitude journals out there.  Let me know if you already use one, which one you have chosen and why! 

 

Happy gratitude journaling!!!!

 

 

Podcasts – an inspirational friend in my ear!

So a little while ago a friend told me to listen to podcasts, and like most things people suggest, you become resistant to the idea the more they harp on.  They just didn’t interest me.  Besides, when would I have time to listen to one with two small kids and a near enough full-time job?  Then one day, and I can’t even remember how or when, I started listening to one at work.  I have the type of job where we can sit with music or the radio on our headphones.  I know – amazing, huh?  And I remember quickly becoming addicted!  I soon went through every available episode and craved a new show to listen to as not only did I find I was working faster and hitting my targets more as I couldn’t chat to my colleagues whilst I had one on, but I just felt so uplifted by them!  And they were free.  Even better! 

I’d recently become interested in the law of attraction and manifesting what you want in life, and on my list constantly was, ‘Please bring inspirational people into my life’.  Now like Aladdin and his magic lamp I perhaps should have been more specific and added ‘in person as new friends’ but what ended up in my life was podcasts.  And it wasn’t long before I clicked that these were the inspirational people I’d prayed to find in my life.  They may not be friends, but they were real and they were out there doing good in the world.  They restored my faith in humanity, inspired me, gave me new ideas and different paths to follow, and most importantly were the little positive voice in my ear that I so desperately needed. 

So here are my top 3 favourite podcasts:-

Buddhist Boot Camp Podcast

I had the book and kept it by my bedside table to lift me up when life felt hard, and the podcast was no different.  In fact a lot of it is chapters from the book.  It’s just the author, Timber Hawkeye, discussing everyday situations and feelings, and ideas on how to re-think and deal with what’s thrown at us.  It’s so simple you’ll kick yourself that you never thought of analysing situations as Timber Hawkeye does.  He really is inspirational and down to earth and human.  A lot of what he talks about is situations he’s been in and how he’s dealt with them, and I just felt such calm after listening to each of his podcasts, like I could deal with absolutely anything with peace and dignity.

The Lavendaire Lifestyle

I quickly became addicted to this podcast and listened to every episode, even ticking a list off on my desk so I knew I hadn’t missed any.  She interviews a lot of very inspirational people, and I just felt so motivated by each and every one of them.  Even if I read the blurb and didn’t feel especially inspired, I often felt so different by the end of the interviews!  She’s calm, she’s authentic and she really is inspiring.  She also has a You Tube channel that I love to watch too!

Style Your Mind

This is my new latest treat of a podcast.  I love, love, LOVE this girl.  I want to go for a drink with her.  She’s a life coach, and whilst a lot of her work is aimed at female entrepreneurs I just got so much personally from listening to it.  She made me feel strong, confident and able to do anything.  In fact she’s been the person that has really kick started me to set up this blog; something I’ve thought about for ages but felt overwhelmed at the thought of.  She made me believe I could do it, and 2 days ago I didn’t even know how to set up a blog, so her words really have motivated me!  I have literally sat and cried at my desk at some of the things that she’s said that made me think, “Yes, somebody gets how I feel and understands what I see in the world!”  And she’s just so bubbly and positive you can’t help but feel amazing after listening to her. 

So they’re my current favourites.  And whilst I initially thought listening to podcasts would be hard to fit in, I’ve come to love them so much I’ve started playing them in the car on my drive home from work and round the house whilst I’m doing housework, on top of listening to them whilst I work.  I really do find them inspiring.  And what’s even better is that every time they interview someone on their podcast I find new people to follow and listen to.  My Facebook and Instagram accounts are no longer filled with attention seeking randomers I may have gone to school with, worked with once upon a time or are friends of friends eager to up their friends list.  I’m following authentically real positive inspiring people.  And you know what they say, “Raise your vibe, attract your tribe!”  I feel so uplifted after I’ve listened to them that I can’t help but spill that out into the relationships around me. 

There’s a podcast on every subject you could imagine, so you don’t even have to stick to self-help/life coaching-type podcasts.  Listen to something funny and have a giggle.  That’s got to make you feel great!  And if you don’t feel you have the time to listen to them, think about all the times you are bored, using public transport, walking to the shops, lying in bed waiting to go to sleep, waiting for your kids to come out of their dance class.  You’ll soon find the time when you find one you enjoy.  It’s a great way to learn and feel connected to other people, and I find myself spouting out random facts I’m learning from them when I’m with other people, so they’re great for conversation inspiration too.  So let me know what your favourite podcasts are and why.

 

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Welcome everybody!

 

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Hi Everyone.  My name is Dawn and I have suffered from depression and anxiety for most of my adult life.  But THAT is not my story.  My story is how my life, to me, fell apart 2 years ago, yet I rose from it and built myself up to the point where I am today.  I know I’ll inevitably have bad days and insecurities, but I also know I’ll never ever be in the dark place I was then.  In fact life is bloody brilliant right now!  And my only aim was to ‘fix’ myself, but I’ve found so much more joy than I ever imagined life could hold and I just have to share everything I’ve learnt.

 

Prior to this breakdown of sorts I had received counselling and been on life coaching courses.  And I am very blessed to have been offered these things through my employer and my local Children’s Sure Start Centre.  And whilst those facilities were not still available to me 2 years ago, I knew from past experience that I could work on myself and get myself better with the right tools and resources.  But what I found when I came to research it myself, was every time I looked for advice on how to deal with depression I was presented with ideas such as exercise, not cutting myself off from people, and eating good food.  Now whilst there’s no denying these things are important, I was looking for something more.  My reasons for sinking so low were an unbelievable anxiety of bumping into a group of friends that had really hurt me.  So that was exercising outside of my house and socialising with people ruled out immediately!  But I luckily knew there was more I’d been taught on my life coaching courses and I wasn’t going to give up on finding similar ideas as to what had lifted me out of depression previously.

 

So that’s what I want to share in my blog mainly; the ideas that I found through deeper research and working on myself that helped me not only to recover from depression, but that lead to a much more fulfilling and happy life than I ever imagined.  Not every idea will be for everybody, some ideas will be hip and trendy, some will be a bit spiritual.  But it’s my journey.  Things that make me feel happy will not work for everybody, and vice versa.  But I was in a place where I would give most things a try to feel any sort of happiness or even ‘normalness’, and if it wasn’t for me I usually found it led me on a path to something else.

 

So stick with me.  I’ll try and keep blogs short and sweet where I can to just guide you and inspire you, whilst sharing bits of my story where appropriate.  It will be a big part of my therapy too to be able to be vulnerable again, because during the last 2 years I’ve really had no support network, fearing that if I shared how low I was I would be ridiculed or it would be used against me.  That’s a feeling I’ve never shared until I heard someone on a podcast discuss that exact same fear the other day and I almost cried knowing it wasn’t just me that felt like that.  So I am determined to open up and be vulnerable in an attempt to help someone out there feel a little less alone and hopefully inspired to try some of the things I have.