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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Ever had a problem you were too ashamed to share?

adult alone anxious black and white

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

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.

How to Give Your Family a Christmas to Remember

advent architecture blur business

Photo by Torsten Dettlaff on Pexels.com

 

I wanted to write this week about our Christmas tradition.  I’ve been doing this for 5 years now, ever since my eldest was 1.  And it’s come to be what Christmas is all about for us.  Instead of asking how many days until Christmas Day, my kids ask all year round, “How many days until we start the gold envelopes?”  It’s our own version of an advent calendar.  Though before you fear for them, they do get their chocolate version too!

 

It involves quite a bit of planning, quite a bit of pinteresting, and the organising of buying all the materials.  But as we’ve been doing it for so long now we often get to re-use bits from the year before.  So I can say it’s getting easier and less work each year. 

 

So as of the 1st of December they open a dated golden envelope every morning with a card in containing their Christmas activity for the day.  Now this is where the planning really comes in, because once I have my list of activities it does have to be tweaked so I’m not doing some mammoth baking or craft task on a school night where we’re in and out going to after school clubs with very little spare time.  Not to mention I want my bigger activities to fall on a weekend when we’re looking for something to fill the day.  So this is my list of activities for this year:-

 

1st December     Put up the Christmas tree

This falls on the 1st every year, even if we have to get up at 5am and start it before school and finish it after.  We always put ‘The Snowman’ on in the background too, and it just sets us up for the month.

2nd December    Make snowflakes for the windows

This looks fantastic.  I give them both a piece of cotton on a needle and they thread about 5 pieces of cotton wool or polystyrene on each.  Then I space them out randomly and stick the pieces across my living room windows to give the effect of falling snow.  Any excuse to play with a sharp object and my kids are on board.  But I have to say the look is fantastic and it cheers me up all of December.  Which is mad really, as the reality of snow falling sends me into a blind panic that I won’t get my car down the hill that we live on and we’ll be cut off from society for goodness knows how long.  Yet I seem to be okay with fake snow!

3rd December    Make paper chain decorations

Another must for the living room, and so simple for a 4 and 6 year old.

4th December     Write a letter to Santa

This is the one that sends me into a frenzy when their entire list suddenly changes from what they’ve been wanting all year.  But it has to be done.  And in reality they do just make it up on the spot and forget anything they asked for a couple of weeks later.  It’s just part of the magic of Christmas to write that letter.

5th December     Make cloved oranges

Now for some reason mine always rot and go mouldy on the Christmas tree, so I’ve not quite mastered it like I did as a child, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without the smell of cloved oranges in the living room.

6th December     Make paper snowflakes

This is just a simple craft activity to further decorate the house.  In reality this falls on my street fit class night so it had to be something easy so I don’t miss my one guaranteed night of the week to socialise!

7th December     Grow candy canes

My absolute favourite activity.  We take a tub of sugar, plant tic tacs, and overnight they grow into candy canes.  Now worryingly I’ve just had to explain to a 50 year old work colleague that no, tic tacs don’t actually grow into candy canes.  So whilst I’m not assuming you are not of the same intelligence as this lady, I will point out, as I had to for her, that I in fact take out the tic tacs whilst they’re asleep and replace them with ‘grown’ candy canes.  Just wanted to be crystal clear in case anyone messages me to say their tic tacs haven’t grown!

8th December     Buy and deliver food to the food bank

Another of my children’s favourite Christmas activities because it involves them let loose in Aldi with a shopping trolley and the amount of cash contained in the envelope.  They know the drill, canned and packet foods only.  Nothing fresh.  And they get as much as they can and get to pay the till assistant like a proper grown up (much to the annoyance of the growing queue behind us!)  Then we take it all to the food bank, where they’re made an absolute fuss of.  They sometimes even get a certificate or sweets from the staff.  But either way we have lots of conversations on the way there and the way back as to who the food is going to and maybe what circumstances they may be spending Christmas in.  We get to discuss what the children think Christmas would be like without any proper food in the house, let alone the full roast and trimmings that we have.  And I just think it’s a really good lesson for them to learn.  In fact my eldest saved up in the summer time to do the same exercise because it touched her so much.  She did sell some of my stuff without me knowing to raise the money, but we’ll let that one go as she’s only 6 and therefore just using her initiative!

9th December     Christmas shopping for the boys

The girls have two cousins that they absolutely adore.  And again, they will find a small amount of cash in their envelope that day to take to the shops and pick them both a present.  It’s a great exercise in teaching them the gift of giving, and they totally get the excitement that we all get in finding that perfect gift.  In fact the secret rarely makes it to Christmas Day before they’ve told the boys what they’ve got them!  But each year we’re working on that.

10th December  Make sparkly icicles

Another Pinterest idea.  Basically we’re crafting foil into icicles, painting them in glue and dipping each icicle in glitter before hanging them around the house.  This is a new one this year so I’m yet to find out how this one goes down.  But anything they can get sticky doing is usually a hit.

11th December  Decorate the garden

A nice simple one.  A couple of pounds spent in the pound shop on Christmas decorations, then off they’re sent into the garden to hang them all around on anything with a branch or hook.  It’s usually mid-summer before we’ve taken them all down, but it does cheer up the garden while it’s looking so colour-less.

12th December  Write Christmas cards for your friends

A little pre-planning in the form of a class list, a few boxes of cards, and off they go. 

13th December  Decorate a gingerbread house

Now this activity has been off the list for a couple of years because my husband is OCD with mess and the whole living room got caked in icing.  But I’m bringing it back this year.  I got my gingerbread house from Ikea, and although I’ve got to assemble it myself with icing, I managed to get the decorations too.  So we’re all set to go.

14th December  Deliver cards to the neighbours

Hopefully this year I’ll be there to supervise this activity, as my husband was on his phone last year and they all got posted to any house they found.  I’m sure a couple of people re-posted them to the correct house, but everyone else probably just thinks I don’t know their names and it’s been too many years to correct me!  Either way, the kids love posting things, so this is always a hit!

15th December  Visit Santa

I don’t know where we’re going yet, but I’m thinking the little steam train at the local garden centre.  It’s the most random Christmas ride as it’s decorated in very non-Christmasy things like model aliens, and Disney gnomes that are missing heads or limbs.  But the kids are oblivious to the scenes and love it.  Us grown-ups call it the Chucky train and we’re convinced that anything that gets broken in the garden centre and is therefore unsellable becomes a decoration on this ride.  But it’s certainly a unique experience for all!

16th December  Buy presents for each other

This is the day I take each child out individually and we buy for the other child.  It’s just like the day we buy for the boys, except they get a little one-on-one Mummy time.  So this year I think I’ll take each for a cup of coffee and a cake while we’re at it!

17th December  Make stained glass lanterns

Another simple craft activity.  Glass jar, glue, tissue paper stuck on and some battery powered string lights from the pound shop.  And everything can be used again next year.

18th December  Make wrapping paper and wrap presents

The kids love this one.  A big roll of paper, lots of Christmas stickers, stamps, glue and glitter and they get to decorate their own paper to wrap their previously bought gifts in.  Then we can proudly display their finished product under the tree.

19th December  Make mulled wine and mince pies

My favourite activity as I get mulled wine.  As they’re 4 and 6 it’s a case of ready rolled pastry, a jar of mincemeat and some cutters.  And as for the mulled wine, I set the slow cooker going so it scents my house all day long.  Then they imagine mixing potions as they mix orange juice, cranberry juice, slices of orange, lemon, cinnamon sticks, cloves and nutmeg.  We leave it to cook for several hours and then they usually taste it, say they don’t like it, before I adopt it for myself and pour the port in.  Not your traditional mulled wine, especially as I put no actual wine in it so it can be non-alcoholic on the off-chance they like it this year, but I like it!

20th December  Drive around to see the lights

There’s many a famous street in the area that goes all out, so I can never fail to deliver on this activity.  But just being in their pyjamas in the car, with a McDonalds drive through if I’m feeling flush, is a great little activity to do.

21st December   Make a bubble wrap snowman

This is new this year on the basis I have a job lot of bubble wrap.  My plan is to roll and tape the bubble wrap into a snowman shape, then either papier mache or paint the bubble wrap before they dress him.  I’m going to wing it on the day, but I think the 3 bin bags of bubble wrap will be enough excitement before we even start the activity.  My husband is going to freak.  In my head I’m imagining something like the giant Santa that hangs on Manchester Town Hall, but we will have to see if my vision is accurate!

22nd December  Family games day

This year my kids have really got into playing things like UNO and scrabble.  And as I don’t do the big Christmas meal because we go to my mum’s, I thought I’d have all the family round with a buffet style feast, and force them to play games with my kids.  I don’t know how this will go as both the girls and their cousins are extremely competitive, but we’ll give it a try!

23rd December  Make eggnog, shortbread and watch a Christmas movie

I’ve never had eggnog, so this is a first too.  But this day falls on a Sunday, so I want some nice food, some nice drink, and to snuggle down under the duvet and watch something like ‘The Grinch’ or ‘Santa Claus the Movie’.

24th December  Crib service and Christmas Eve box

I love the crib service.  The kids drag their feet until they’re given chocolate by the church as a bribe to enjoy, but in all honesty it’s what Christmas is all about.  I feel so emotional listening to carols sung in a church, so this is Christmas to me.  And they’re totally geared up for kids with low attention spans, so I can enjoy this without worrying about whether my kids are sitting on their seats or lying on the ground telling me they’re bored.  Then we all walk home to open their Christmas Eve boxes filled with new pyjamas, a Christmas story book, hot chocolate and marshmallows, a cookie making kit, the key for Santa to let himself in, some reindeer food to scatter in the garden, and the plate to put out for Santa for his mince pie, milk, and a carrot for the reindeer.

 

So that’s my very lengthy Christmas tradition of the gold envelopes.  If you follow me on Pinterest at Recipeforhappinessnow or Instagram at recipeforhappinessnow I will be sharing pictures of my Christmas activities throughout December.

 

But please don’t read this and feel overwhelmed or that this tradition isn’t for you.  Even if you don’t have kids I think it would be a fun thing to do with a partner or even on your own.  You could challenge yourself to do something Christmassy every day, or to make or bake something Christmassy every day.  Or what about a random act of kindness every day?  You could even just keep it to weekends to cut a little of the planning work out.  Maybe a Christmas get together with a different friend every Saturday and Sunday throughout December! And you can make it as simple or as complicated as you want.  Pinterest is a fantastic source for so many good ideas.  We’ve been building this up over so many years that I have all the envelopes, cards, and a lot of resources all ready in my box in the loft.  At this stage I only have to tweak the list each year and replace a few activities they’ve outgrown to add in some new fresh ideas. 

 

So let me know if you have any different traditions at Christmas, or if you do anything similar to celebrate Christmas throughout the whole of December.  I wanted to get away from the kids just thinking of Christmas as a day they get presents.  And I hope over the years we’ve managed to put a bit of Christmas magic, a bit of religion, a few random acts of kindness and thinking of the less fortunate, and lots of glue, mess and chocolate into our Christmases.  And despite the immense planning involved, I have to say for me it’s all worthwhile because I know for my kids when they look back on Christmas in adulthood they will always remember the gold envelopes and hopefully bring back a few of their favourite activities into their own family Christmases. 

Happy Memories Jar

shallow focus photograph of clear glass mason jar with fairy lights

Photo by Burak K on Pexels.com

With the New Year fast approaching I wanted to write about a little family tradition we have in the hope it inspires people and gives you time to prepare if you want to try this with me in 2019!  Wow, how did we nearly get to 2019 already?

I heard of this a few years ago and I just thought it was absolutely brilliant.  It’s a happy memory jar.  Every year I buy a big glass jar and a pad of post-it type paper.  My OCD needs everything to match so God forbid I use scraps of paper or we have more happy memories than there are sheets of paper in the pad!  But of course if you aren’t inflicted with this terrible desire to have everything match then any container and scraps of paper will do the same job!  Then anything that makes us happy gets jotted down, folded up, and put in the jar to be read by the family on New Year’s Eve.  Now this can be anything as long as it’s positive and a happy memory, from things people have done or bought for me, trips out and holidays, pleasant surprises, special events, funny things the kids have said, funny things that have happened at work or in text conversations; anything that brightened up your day.  What a good way to remember all the little things over the year and again, go to bed on a good note, literally writing a little happy memory for ourselves to re-read one day. 

 

One note that we found the other day from an old jar that really made me giggle was something my nephew came out with while sat on the toilet at about aged 4.  “Grandma, if you hear me shout “f…” it means I’ve finished but I don’t know how to say the word ‘finished’!”  Now would we ever have remembered that had it not been jotted down and popped in the jar that night?

 

And now that we have children too the prospect of making a night of New Year’s Eve has gone out the window, and to be honest if we make it past 10pm it’s a miracle.  So our tradition now involves us all ordering takeout and laughing and reminiscing over the jar.  But if you still have a social life it would make a great Christmas or New Year’s Day tradition too!  Whatever fits your family. 

 

I do also think that it would be a fantastic thing to have if you ever felt really down and overwhelmed by life.  Who cares if you cheat and dip in halfway through the year for a little pick-me-up?  If pulling out a memory of the time that friend left a couple of cans of G&T on your doorstep because she knew you were stuck in alone with the kids asleep in bed and had had a day where you desperately needed a drink (another one from my jar) reminded you of how loved you actually were, what an amazing jar of positivity to have at hand!!!!

 

You can get the kids involved too, or let them create their own jar.  Me and my nephew made one once and the things he wrote that were important memories to him were beautiful: “When Daddy reads to me at night,” “The day me and Isaac were allowed to eat our dinner on a picnic blanket on my bedroom floor was the greatest day of my life,” to remember a couple.  And when his parents read them they couldn’t believe the little things that this 6 year old counted as his most joyous moments to date! 

 

So give it a go and let me know how you get on.  Maybe next year we can all come back and share our happiest memories of the year! 

 

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!!!!