19 for 2019

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my 19 for 19 goals.  Inspired by the ‘Happier with Gretchen Rubin’ podcast, I decided instead of New Years resolutions I would instead set myself some goals for the year.  These are by no means all my aims in life as I can’t afford to do everything I want to do this year.  But I have put some in there that will cost me money, some that will cost me nothing but time, some that will be hard work, and some to bond with family and friends.  So I hope there’s a good challenge that’s doable, but enough to keep me going and feel like I’ve achieved something by the end of the year.

 

So here are my 19 for 19:-

 

Night away child-free with A

We went abroad last year and I found it a massive guilt-trip to be away from the children for so long and so far away, yet I don’t want to not have a child-free break this year.  So I’ve opted for one night, maybe in the Lake District, to just relax, have a nice meal and see some sights.

 

Get the girls in their own bedrooms

The girls are desperate for their own space, but it’s going to be a massive expense and amount of work to move the boiler out of their playroom and plaster where it once was, re-lay new carpets, decorate, furnish and do all the other work involved in converting the playroom.  But it’s definitely something that HAS to happen this year, so it’s on the list to motivate me to get started.

 

Clear the loft

We’ve never used a loft until this house and having kids, and it’s quickly accumulated stuff.  I don’t want it to get to the state of my parents’ loft with a lifetime of hoarding, so I’m clearing it this year as much as I possibly can.

 

Complete my happiness project

I was so inspired by the book ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin (I know; a bit of a theme going here) that I wanted to take the 19 for 19 further and really focus on areas of my life throughout the year.  I wrote about it further in my blog post ‘Bring on 2019’, but I’m excited to get started on new ideas to improve my life as it is.

 

Have a gong bath

I can’t wait for this and it’s already booked for this Wednesday.  Now I’m not presently sure how it all works, but I know I won’t be sitting in any sort of bath, as my friends envisaged.  It’s a very relaxing experience where we lay on the floor, all comfy with pillows and blankets, whilst emersed in the sound of gongs chiming.  I’ll be able to write more after the event, but I’m totally intrigued by it.  And as the lying down under a blanket bit is my favourite bit of yoga, I thought why not do a whole session of it as a treat!

 

Get my spends out of the red

I’ve done it before but I need a little focus again, and putting it on the list may just stop me from wasting money on junk food and all the other unnecessary spends that keep me in the red.

 

Get M swimming with 1:1 lessons

Poor M has a perforated ear drum, and at 4 years old isn’t allowed to swim in case it causes further ear infections.  But at present it won’t be operated on and fixed until she’s about 11, so I want to push for an ear guard to be made to enable her to start swimming.  Once I feel her ear is a bit more protected I want to invest in 1:1 lessons so she can catch up to what stage she would have been at had this not happened to her.

 

Get the girls photographed in my wedding dress

People think I’m mad to want to get rid of my wedding dress, but it’s pointless keeping it in my eyes.  That said I want to do something special with it, so my plan is to have the girls photographed in it before I donate it to a charity that will very skillfully and careful re-sew it into burial gowns for stillborn babies.  I can’t think of a more special thing to do with my wedding dress, so my aim for this year is to get the photographs done.  Then it will be on my 20 for 20 list to get it professionally cleaned and donated. 

 

Knock down the shed

Another job I’ve been putting off, but now it’s on the list I’m more motivated to get it done!

 

Trip to London

I like to go several times a year, but for some reason we didn’t make it to London last year at all.  It’s one of my favourite places, and whether I go on my own or with friends I’m wanting to go in May and just soak up the atmosphere and revisit my favourite haunts.

 

Climb Kinder Scout

Now I really wanted to do a longer hike, something like 70 miles over 3 days, or another challenge I’ve wanted to do for ages that is 40 miles to be completed between midnight and midnight.  But for this year I will have to settle for just climbing this local mountain.  The only reason I’m not going for a bigger challenge is money and knowing I have no-one in my life right now that is up for that challenge.  But Kinder Scout is doable in a day at about 18 miles on the route I want to do.  I walk every week, but I want the kind of challenge that’s going to turn my legs to jelly for a couple of days after, and this is definitely it.

 

Go camping with K and the boys

I desperately want to take all the kids camping.  I’ve done a few trips on my own with the girls, but this year I want to take my sister and my 2 nephews too.  They’ve never really camped further than their back yard, and I have a fabulous plan to take the kids crabbing off a pier in Anglesey and then set up camp on a site with a private beach just inland Wales overlooking the Irish sea.  The hope is we can toast marshmallows on an open fire on the beach and watch an amazing sunset.  If I only do one camping trip this year that’s the one I want to do, and I know the boys will just love it!

 

Start going for coffee on my own

This is quite daunting for me, but I like the idea of sitting in a café with my laptop and getting to the stage where I don’t feel self-conscious. 

 

Sort photos and make albums for the girls and fill frames in the house

This is a mammoth task, and just downloading the latest photos from my phone took me most of Sunday morning.  I have somewhere in the region of 35,000 photos to go through and organise.  And from those photos I want to make some photo albums of happy memories for the girls as they love flicking through photo albums, and I need a broader range of frames filled in my house as I haven’t updated most since the girls were tiny.  I’m chipping away at this task every day and am determined to keep my photos under control this year!

 

Paint the kitchen ceiling

Yawn!  Another task that needs doing that I’m hoping I’ll be motivated to do now it’s on my list

 

Read a proper book with M

I really want to get M reading more as in the past when she’s found a book she loves she can’t put it down.  But unfortunately the material school send her home with has just knocked any enthusiasm out of her.  M is a rebel child (more to follow on this in a future post) so I have to handle this carefully as buying her a book and saying I want to read it with her will make her do the opposite.  But she has dreams currently to be an author and I would love for her to find the same enjoyment and inspiration in books that I have.  Life is perfect when I have an inspirational book to read, and I’m hoping we can spark that same enjoyment in her too.

 

Clear my credit cards

A massive source of anxiety for me as we went massively over-budget on an extension 4 years ago, through an unfortunate set of circumstances, and had no choice but to put the remaining £16,000 on credit cards and loans.  We’ve been chipping away and balance transferring for all this time, but the end is in sight and this is the year I’m determined to have those credit card debts gone.  We’ve never overly lived off credit, and it’s been a really difficult way to live for us.  But it’s something that was unavoidable and has been a great lesson in gratitude for living the debt-free life we used to, and that I’m determined we can get back to.

 

Do a life coaching course

I’ve already started on this one too and have bought and started a life coaching course.  What I’ll do with it I’m not sure, but I know it will be a great skill just as a friend, parent and partner to have life coaching skills.

 

And lastly…

Book a yoga retreat

Now I may not have the money to attend this in 2019, especially if I want my spends out of the red, but all I have to do is book it for it to get ticked off the list.  I’m thinking of the Lake District again, but I know I want to meet interesting people and do lots of hiking, lots of yoga and meditation, have a complete break and eat some beautifully healthy food.  It will be a massive achievement to go on holiday on my own and put myself in that social situation, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. 

 

So that’s all my tasks for this year.  And while it seems like a lot, I think it’s all doable, but enough to keep my mind occupied and life exciting.  And that’s what’s going to distract me from all the stuff that used to weigh down on my mind.  So I’m excited and motivated to get started.

 

Have you set any resolutions for the new year?  Do we even need to start at the new year?  Surely we can just pick up a pen and paper and plan a bucket list any time we want.  And does it even work for you to have a tick list, or do you have another way to motivate yourself to do things? 

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Bring on 2019!

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Christmas has become overwhelming once again for me.  Not because I do my daily gold envelopes revealing Christmas activities for the kids, and not because I’ve stupidly succumbed to the Elf on the Shelf craze, but because of outside influences!  Christmas for me is about me and my family creating memories, so I don’t want the extra pressure from school in particular with their daily requests of donations and different activities that I need to prepare for or at least remember, work with its crazy hours so we can finish in time and all have Christmas off, except for the likes of me that have volunteered to still work over Christmas to keep the place ticking over, and the endless, “We must meet up before Christmas,” invites I’ve allowed myself to commit to.  All of these things I could have said no to, or slipped past a teacher pleading I’d not received the text, e-mail AND letter they’d sent.  But eager to please, as I always am, I’ve pushed myself too far once again! 

 

But next year is going to be different, because I’m going to get into healthier habits and reduce my stress.  I’m adamant it’s going to happen because I have a plan, as laid out to me in my new read ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin.

 

I first heard about this book from listening to the podcast ‘Happier with Gretchen Rubin’, a podcast that I’m sure was recommended in a book on happiness.  This is why I am such a strong believer in reading for personal development.  Every book I read leads me on a new path of discovery, and after listening to references to this book for months on the podcast I in turn went out and bought the book.

 

I am only a couple of chapters in, but already I understand the plan and have constructed my own version for me.  Gretchen’s own happiness project consisted of her splitting her year into twelve subjects to develop healthier habits in to promote happiness, and each subject to be split further into sub-projects.  So I have planned my 12 subjects for improved happiness as follows, and will update throughout next year:-

 

  • Thoughts
  • Eating and Exercise
  • Friendships
  • Marriage
  • Family Sleep and Routine
  • Life Purpose
  • Community
  • Creativity
  • Organisation
  • Adventure
  • Home
  • Meditation and Spirituality.

I don’t know what order I am going to put each subject in as yet.  I’m not ready to stop letting my adorable 4 year old climb into my bed in the middle of the night.  I do not have the energy to do the return to bed method at this stage of my life.  But I know realistically I can’t have her still doing it when she’s 18, and she shows no signs of sleeping through the night of her own accord!  I want to work on my home later in the year after some extensive work planned which will involve moving a boiler out of the playroom to become a second bedroom for my youngest so the girls no longer have to share a room.  They’ll lose their playroom in the process, but they’re desperate for their own space.  So until that work is done I don’t feel I can plan too much in my home.  But after the work I will have a lot of fun re-designing that space and planning the next stages of renovating our home.  I think community will come towards the end of the year as I am aware being part of a community is very important to mental well-being, but with the constant dramas at school between mums, and a close-knit village community that don’t always look after their own, I need to be in a different place mentally to tackle that one.  At the moment I feel the need to keep my head down and keep myself to myself, but as I build on my happiness throughout the year I hope I’ll feel ready to get back out into the community and find some projects to be involved in. 

 

But I’m going to start January with focusing on friendship, and I’ve split the subject into the following sub-projects to work on:-

 

  • EXPECTATIONS.  I know I fail massively with the expectations I put on my friends.  I think because I would do anything for them that they would do the same for me, and when they don’t it knocks my self-esteem and I question what I’m doing with these people.  As I quoted in a post recently on my Instagram ‘We all need a variety of friends with different qualities:- the friend we can ring at 2am with the drama keeping us awake, the friend that has our back no matter what, the friend that tells us the truth, the friend that makes us laugh.  No one person holds every quality, so know your tribe and value their individual qualities rather than pondering their flaws’.  So I want to start the New Year not putting those expectations on people and just taking them for who they are, and accepting whatever they want to contribute to the relationship.
  • CONTACT/ARRANGEMENTS.  I have lots of friends that I never get to see because we live far apart or we have different interests such as my football pass-holder friends that have commitments every weekend throughout the season.  And those are the people that I always intend to meet up with and then before you know it a year has gone by.  I want to really focus on having something in the diary with these friends, and if that’s not possible, to at least have regular contact.  Sometimes I avoid contact because I know I can’t see them for a good few months and I don’t want to get into that conversation of saying we can’t find a mutually convenient date.  But that shouldn’t stop me dropping them a text just to check how they are and keeping the lines of communication open.
  • PUTTING MYSELF OUT THERE.  I’ve been hurt, let down and screwed over badly by friends, and I know I’ve changed as a person and stopped being the organiser, or answering invites straight away, or just generally being the person that everyone knew of as being the one that would be up for an adventure.  It turned out that was the thing that annoyed a couple of people.  And while I know in my own mind that was down to their own jealousy and need to compare and feel inadequate because they didn’t have the time and/or money to keep up with me, I know I was doing nothing malicious, and there were people ten-fold that loved that part of me.  We all love the friend that’s not going to say no to a night out!  They build our self-esteem for a start!  So I need to go back to being that person and not questioning if someone is genuine or not, but if I like them invite them round for a coffee or a drink after the kids are in bed and build on relationships from there. 
  • SEEING THE GOOD IN PEOPLE.  This goes back to the point before.  I need to not tarnish everyone with my previous experience of one or two people.  I need to realise that not everyone has an agenda, an ulterior motive, or issues they’re going to push onto me, and just put myself back out there believing that everyone is a good, fun-loving, kind human-being until they prove me otherwise.
  • NOT BEING RELIANT ON PEOPLE.  When I had my children I fell into a very intense friendship group because we were going through the same thing at the same time, and I think we all felt our previous friends were at different stages of their lives and perhaps would be bored by our new priorities.  It was the worst thing I could have done.  I should have kept a variety of different people in my life.  Instead I was so involved with these 8 or so girls that we did everything together from daily activities with our kids, to even going on holiday.  And the conversation on our WhatsApp group was constant, to the point that everything in our lives went through that group.  The conversation did not stop all day and all night!  And when it all fell apart I was lost and realised I was now too scared to do anything on my own again.  I recently went into a bar and had a drink on my own just because I challenged myself to do it.  I was terrified, but I missed going for a quick drink while my daughter was in cheerleading class because I didn’t have those people to go with anymore.  I felt so self-conscious doing it, right up to the minute I left the bar, but I felt that once I’d done it I could do anything on my own.  And I think once I take the focus off people having to be with me to enable me to do an activity it will be a game-changer.

 

So they’re my challenges for January, the idea being that once I get used to these as the norm I start new challenges on new subjects each month.

 

So wish me luck because

hopefully 2019 is going to be the positive change I’ve been building up to all my life!

 

 

Give me a Break From my Thoughts!

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Have you ever felt like everywhere you turned you were being given a message?  And that message was so relevant to your life right now that it couldn’t possibly be a coincidence?

 

Many years ago I read a book called ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle.  At the time I wasn’t in any way open to the type of wisdom and understanding of the universe that I am now.  It was just recommended to me by someone that knew I was feeling a bit down and said it had changed her life.  I remember starting to read it, climbing into bed straight from work, and reading for about 3 hours straight.  I was totally absorbed in it and really understood the concept.  I thought it was going to change my life.  But I soon forgot all about living that way.  And many years later when I tried to read it again in an attempt to feel the same way, that this was the answer to all my problems, I just couldn’t get into it.  Yet it’s an international bestseller, often on people’s ‘must read’ lists.  I think at that point I was just at a place in my life where I needed minimum effort to feel better; not too much thinking!

 

But since my second try with this book I’ve spent literally the last 2 years all consumed in my thoughts.  They drive me absolutely crazy.  I explained to someone I trusted only 2 weeks ago that 98 per cent of my waking day is spent thinking about a string of incidents that just felt like it had destroyed me.  They call it ruminating: going over and over AND OVER something in your mind.  And it’s totally overwhelming to live like that.  I spoke to another friend who has had an awful life in comparison to mine about it a while ago, and she admitted she barely thought about the events of her life.  She just switches her TV on at night and basically forgets all about what has happened to her.  She admits she is depressed, but she just wasn’t constantly thinking about the reasons why like I was.  She told me my biggest problem was that I think too much.  And as true as that was it made me feel like I was the only person feeling absolutely tormented by my thoughts.  Yes, her way of living wasn’t alleviating her depression, but at least she wasn’t re-living events over and over again, years after they had happened.  And I fell into more feelings of despair as I felt my ruminating was absolutely incurable and that nobody else was dealing with it like I was.  I tried meditating, but I just couldn’t concentrate.  I tried keeping busy, but I just ended up busy whilst in a daze, distracted by my thoughts.  I just wanted a break from it all.  To sum up the extent of what I was living with, I would drive to work and not even remember how I got there, totally lost in my thoughts.  I do a mundane job, and I found my day consumed with re-living events.  And worse still I’d be so lost in my thoughts that some time later I’d realise I had taken those thoughts, imagined future scenarios, and I was now having imaginary arguments in my head with these people over things that had never even happened.  And I would only stop myself when I got so angry and thought, “Hang on a second, this hasn’t even happened and may never happen.  So why am I preparing for it, and in doing so feeling all the emotions that go with that?”  Can anybody else relate to this? 

 

It’s like my narcissistic friend that spread false rumours about me.  I started ruminating on what I knew as a fact that she’d said; the text messages mutual friends showed me.  That did in fact happen; there was no denying the evidence.  But then I took my anger from that and fell into daydreams day in, day out, where I would start to imagine how those mutual friend may have responded; “Oh, I know what you mean about Dawn!”  “Has she really done that?  Just goes to show you never know a person!”  “That’s awful!  I can’t believe we’ve been friends with Dawn all these years and not seen it in her!”  Conversations that may never ever have happened!  I imagined what they did after they showed me those messages, “Of course I’ll never show Dawn what you text me!”  The anger would build in me!  I imagined the thoughts going on in their head, “If I side with Dawn that’s only one friend I save.  If I pretend I agree with these things about Dawn I won’t lose a whole bunch of friends!”  I painted a picture in my own mind that may never ever have been true.  Yes, nobody was showing me anything to the contrary.  But my imagination made me re-live that situation ten times worse.  I guess my brain felt it was protecting me, imagining all the worst case scenarios that hadn’t happened yet and what I could do when they did inevitably happen!

 

And then in our women’s networking group 2 weeks ago it was discussed about our thoughts and not just letting them dictate our emotions to us.  We were told about being the observer of them and realising that they are in actual fact just thoughts.  They talked about how we can just watch our thoughts roll on by, like they were flowing past in a river, and not to get attached to them.  This prompted me to think again about ‘The Power of Now’ and I knew that the message in that book was very similar to what I was being told and that I needed to investigate this way of thinking again.  Then almost by chance I ordered some books and chose ‘The Untethered Soul’ by Michael A Singer, which is a book I’ve seen people talk about before but never rushed out to buy.  It’s always been on my wish list, but in all honesty if I’d have picked it up in the shop I would have been put off by the small writing.  I needed it simple!  I ironically didn’t want to have to think too much about my thoughts!  But once I bought this book I started reading a sample on the kindle and I was hooked.  I’m only a few chapters in and the parts I’ve read are, to me, all about watching your thoughts and being the consciousness behind those thoughts; the observer of those thoughts.

 

I’ve in no way grasped it yet, nor am I any sort of expert.  But I do know that this is the next stage in my journey.  I’ve spent many years trying to distract myself from these thoughts, thinking that other people don’t have them, that I need to master ignoring them, that I need to think of other things.   But it’s like pushing a balloon under water.  They just spring back up with a vengeance.  And I know now that I need to accept I am always going to have these thoughts.  I will always catastrophise a situation.  That’s just me!  I am always going to question every conversation I have with people and think, “What were they really thinking?  Were they just agreeing with me to my face?  What if they go and do this, this and this now?  Oh my goodness, what if this happens now?  How am I going to deal with that?”  But if I can recognise these thoughts and let them pass without attaching myself to them and forming an emotion from them, I will be so much closer to happiness than I ever have been. 

 

Please let me know if anyone else out there feels this way.   Have you mastered your thoughts or found a way to do so?  Or can anyone recommend any further books to read on the subject?  I’m finding ‘The Untethered Soul’ so easy to read and relate to, but I don’t want to go back to it in the future and find it doesn’t have the same effect like I have with ‘The Power of Now’.  I love learning, and especially all about life, so I’d love to hear any recommendations you all have.

 

 

 

Ever had a problem you were too ashamed to share?

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I keep trying to write this post, but every time I do it just doesn’t feel right to put out there.  It feels petty to talk about.  I can’t condense the story enough to explain it properly, or express how deeply the events actually impacted me.  And I keep questioning why this is such an important part of my life, yet I cannot write on it.  So today I’m biting the bullet and just putting out whatever comes.  And maybe I’ll expand on the whole story in the future if it’s relevant to do so.  In fact it’s too big a subject in my life for me not expand at some point, as it’s impacted me in so many ways.  And that subject is friendships; or rather, broken friendships.

 

And the reason why I’m ashamed to share how this has affected me so much, is because I’m nearly 40 and this shouldn’t happen at my age, surely?  I’ve googled it many a lonely night for advice, and all I seem to find is websites telling me to talk to a teacher or adult.  And that just reconfirms it to me, that this is something a child would get upset about, not a grown adult; a Mum with far bigger responsibilities to be thinking about!  But it did happen to me, and I’m just going to put it out there; it’s one of the most difficult experiences I have ever gone through in my life.  And I feel ashamed even saying those words when there’s people out there that have gone through really awful events in their life.  So maybe I have led a blessed existence for this to be the worst thing to ever happen to me.  Except I haven’t had a perfect life.  I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety all my adult life; probably even before; I just didn’t know how to label it as a child.  And maybe that’s the reason why it has affected me so traumatically, because I do feel deeply and I do analyse everything and think the worst as I catastrophise and get overwhelmed by my thoughts.  But on talking to another friend last week whose best friend of nearly 40 years has just completely changed, disowned her, and is actually quite nasty to her now, I realised we do grieve when friendships break down and it’s not been our choice for them to end or for things to change.  We do take it to heart and ask ourselves where we went wrong.  And it does affect our self-esteem as we fear it will happen again and put our guard up.  As my friend quoted to me, “One of the hardest things you will ever have to do is grieve the loss of a person who is still alive,” a quote she’d actually just re-posted to facebook that day in an attempt to grab her ex-best friend’s attention!

 

I’ve recently joined a women’s networking group, which on paper should have filled me with fear, but something guided me to go.  And in the first week we were asked what our experience of other women was.  I started the discussion, which is very unlike me, and shared my hurt over a group of friends that had believed one narcissistical friend’s lies about me.  Or rather I should be more accurate in saying they didn’t believe her at all, but they told me they knew what she was doing and didn’t want her to do it to them, so all but said they were abandoning me to save themselves.  I told this group of strangers how it had led to my children having their own friends distance themselves as guided by their mothers, and as 4 and 6 year olds they had no comprehension as to why everyone they’d known their whole lives had just gone all of a sudden.  And I couldn’t explain it to them either, because I couldn’t explain it to myself!  I told of my anxiety of doing anything within our close knit village in case I bumped into any of them, or even worse the whole gang of them out together, carrying on like I’d never existed.  And I told of how it had put this fear in me of women and how I must in future tone down my personality so as not to rub someone up the wrong way and inflict all this hurt on myself again.  It had fundamentally changed me to the core.  And what followed was other women in this networking group sharing their own fears of women, and similar experiences of maybe being too happy or being too friendly or kind, and just triggering someone to feel threatened by that, and the dramas that followed.  And I felt immense relief at not feeling alone, and yet fascinated that we’d all still felt drawn to come to a group that was essentially about meeting other women and opening ourselves up and feeling vulnerable in front of each other.

 

This week I shared a new story with the group on how someone I thought was a friend had let me down badly.  I said that I couldn’t carry on feeling like this with people, not knowing how to stop it happening to me.  And the girl who ran the group, who is some kind of spiritual energy guru, just stared at me intently and told me I’d done absolutely nothing wrong to invite the kind of hurt I was feeling.  Then she said that I was unbelievably strong.  And I realised in that moment that yes, I am bloody strong.  I’ve felt the loneliest I’ve ever felt in my life these last 2 years.  And yet here I was, sat with a bunch of strangers, crying and telling them all my innermost fears.  And this woman was looking at me and literally reading me as unbelievably strong.  And she really meant it.  She wasn’t saying it just to make me feel better and be supportive.  She could see it in my aura.  She told me I was such a big energy that I will always attract this sort of thing because some people just can’t handle that type of energy and feel threatened by it, and that made sense to me and resonated with what I’d felt myself.  I felt immense relief that someone understood me finally, and someone that barely knew me at all.  And that’s when I realised we can have day to day people, and people we’ve known all our lives that just fill a space and do nothing more, and maybe eventually let us down and abandon us when we need them.  Then you can meet your true tribe in the most unexpected of places.  And you know, even if they’re not the sort of friends you’ll go on holiday with, you’ll grab a coffee with, that you’ll exchange Christmas presents with or ask to babysit your kids; you know that they get you more than anyone you’ve ever met.  And they’re the people you need to meet to know there are good people in this world.  They may only be in your life for a few weeks, months, or even years.  But the impact they make, and the memories they leave your life with makes you realise it’s not women that are your problem at all, it’s just you haven’t found your true tribe yet.  And I can guarantee that it’s totally worth continuing your search.

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!

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.

 

woman in white jacket holding silver iphone

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