100 Happy Days 8 – a hand written letter

Today I wrote a long-overdue letter to my friend in Portugal:

Got a long way to go

Apart from that I’ve been busy all day. Done a lot of walking, which is good. And I got my hair cut! The medication has killed my ends far too much. Now they’re gone, and I’ve dyed over the rest to make it one colour again.

I know I have a long way to go before everything’s back to normal, but every little step lights up my day.



100 Happy Days 2 – choosing a records book

This was a necessary action – as the owner of a snake it helps to keep a detailed record of the pet’s sheds and feeds. So I picked this notebook for Sheena:

Sheena’s new records book

I have no shortage of notebooks, most of which I haven’t found a good use for yet. This one just struck me when I first saw it in a shop, and I’m glad I picked it up.

Today’s been good for a few reasons. Lovely sleep, lots of snakey cuddles, a walk into town in which I got everything done I needed to, bumped into someone I’ve not seen in a while, spoke to someone else on the phone I haven’t heard from in ages, and saw quite a few members of my family. I’m feeling quite positive, all things considered. Now I’m having a chilled evening to myself with pyjamas, snacks and Black Books (which I found when I was looking for notebooks – another happy moment!)


So far, so good

There’s only so much I can do with the resolutions when I’m still in Durham until Sunday, but that doesn’t mean I’m ignoring them. I’ve just finished reading the February chapter from The Happiness Project, and enjoyed the thoughts about relationships and love.

I think it’s interesting to listen to a thoughtful account of relationships from the other side of the whole marriage and kids thing. In many ways I think Gretchen charms me, not because of her charisma, but because I see a lot of my own ways of looking at the world through her words. She seems to examine everything like I do, and that warms me to her work. I also think she was right when she told her friend she didn’t need therapy – I myself have had counseling, and love the way it taught me to understand my own behavior and influences. But Gretchen doesn’t need that. She’s very aware of herself already.

As for my own resolutions – I’ve really enjoyed her January chapter, and the way she discusses clearing out her own spaces. While having a shower earlier I was considering two very important things: first, that when myself and my partner went to the Metro Centre the other day, I bought more pairs of shoes than I ever have before in a day. I bought four: two nice pairs, and two daily-wear pairs. They are more likely to be worn than a few other pairs of shoes I have – I’m not a shoe person, I hardly have any. But if you were to ask me how many pairs of shoes I have, before this particular shopping spree, I’d have said two. I have a nice pair that’s on it’s last legs, and probably doesn’t count. I have a pair of boots that are dressy but I haven’t worn them in such a long time I don’t think they should count either. The two pairs are a nice pair of low heels that I use for nights out but can also wear to interviews – my smart shoes. And my daily ones are a pair of high-tops from last Christmas that are just beginning to leak.

But I do have other shoes. I don’t wear them. They live in a bag. Why do they live in a bag and not the bin? Or someone else’s shoe rack? This is definitely somewhere I’m going to start when I get back home. Gretchen’s made me realise that, though I am much more disciplined than I used to me, I still have a long way to go. I need to be more strict with myself.

I’m also going to look into the idea of a car boot sale (UK version of garage sale) to cleanse my unwanted belongings but also try to make some pennies back from it. When we were at the Metro Centre I did overspend a little, but not purely on things that weren’t needed. The shoes were a must-buy. I really needed those, and it’s given me the nudge I needed to realise I don’t need the rest of them. I also bought some boxes to give my kept belongings a home – I don’t have many empty boxes left for the things I do want to keep. I have a new Tai Chi DVD and book set – something I’ve always wanted to try. I enjoy Yoga already, but I like trying new things. And it all fits into my Health and Well-being box – spiritual health is important too, after all. And Tai Chi seems very spiritually as well as physically beneficial.

I am feeling really good about the progress. I know it’s only a day, and there’s not much I can do from here. But I am using my diary very intently, and I am thinking about all the things I need to do when I get home. Planning ahead, always something that makes me feel more positive.

Now I’m off to eat my dinner and watch the new episode of Sherlock. Lets see how he survived that jump… it’s only taken two years!


A project for happiness

After a sleepless night and a comfortable lie-in I was awoken in my partner’s bed by the news that my book had arrived. Gretchen Ruben’s “The Happiness Project“. I eagerly sat up, still in my pyjamas, and devoured the first 15 pages, cementing in my mind the ideas and principles she outlines while being charmed utterly by her writing style. Not that I wasn’t charmed already by her blog. But the purchase of this book was something I was pinning a lot of focus on, and that it arrived on the last day of the year couldn’t have delighted me more. I’m odd like that – I like numbers and things that fit.

I read out loud my favourite parts to Adam, my boyfriend, as he massacred zombies on his Xbox One, and began thinking over what 12 things I would pick to focus on, as well as 12 commandments to try and follow.

Well, the commandments isn’t happening yet. That takes a lot of thought and effort – I have a day, not even, before the beginning of the year and my January resolutions. I also have a lot of uncertainty in the next 12 months – the move to Durham is still on the cards, but not as a definite. Money is going to play a huge part in that, for a start.

So I’ll have to pick each one as it comes. And I’m either going to have to start with the health or with the clutter.

I’ve been on the medication for a few weeks now. I’m feeling much better, but still having rough days – hence the lie-in this morning. I’ve also got a little weight behind me from the steroids, which will need shifting, of course. But there’s only so much I can do while I’m still on them and, while I’m keen to start, I can’t be beaten down if I don’t make much progress.

So exercise will be a thing – I do still have my six little boxes, and I’m going to keep using that approach in conjunction with HabitRPG to stay productive. But I’m going to have a bash at the Happiness Project method too, while reading more of Gretchen Ruben’s wonderfully engaging book.

I’ll post again tomorrow with January’s resolutions after I’ve figured them all out. Watch this space.


My six little boxes

I’m writing this post to accompany a challenge I’ve set up on an organisation website called HabitRPG. I’ll blog more about Habit another time, because it’s amazing and I love it and everyone should check it out! But for now I want to explain what I mean by my six little boxes.

We’ve all heard the spiel of the self-help guru. Sometimes it works for us, sometimes it doesn’t. When it does we rejoice that some other person has told us how to fix our lives. When it doesn’t we either change everything to someone else’s plan, change the existing plan repeatedly until it does work, or promptly give up, go home and never again speak of the whole embarrassing situation.

Basically, I made up my own. I’ve never told anyone about it, never really saw how it might work for anyone else – but it works for me. So, since I was feeling brave and made a challenge for others to try and do it on Habit, I thought I’d write a nice blog post explaining the idea more thoroughly.

I looked at my life. I looked at what I needed to do more of or pay more attention to. And I split everything into 6 categories, or my “little boxes”. I try to do something for each box as often as I can – if I’m feeling great and have lots of free time, it’s every day. If I’m busy or unwell or life gets in the way I aim for one significant thing from each box a week. That way I always feel like the plan is ticking over.

So here are the boxes:

1# Health and Wellbeing

Don’t worry, I’m not telling you to eat better or exercise more. What you do is up to you. This one’s about what ever makes your mind, body and soul feel better. It can be physically tailored, of course – go for a walk or a swim, do some dancing or yoga, even cleaning can break you out in a sweat at times. Just make sure you say to yourself – this is for my health and wellbeing box. If food is more your thing then you can cook healthy meals, do the diet logs, try to drink more water. Then there’s the mind and spirit activities, like meditation and relaxation, even prayer and bible study is something I’ve placed in this box at times. It’s about variety of choice just as much as it is about discipline and keeping the ball rolling. Never be afraid to shake it up a little, and remember that your body is more than just the vessel you live in. So experiment with different ways to take care of it.

#2 Education and Acheivement

We’re never too old to learn, and I’m a massive fan of retraining and expanding my skill base. So for this box we’re looking at new things or building on existing things. Perhaps learn a new language in preparation for a holiday abroad. Take a class for a hobby you enjoy or find a new qualification you can sit for in your local area. I use this box for learning my programming or doing research for stories I’m working on – because when the research is in-depth enough it’s still learning. I have a few history books I often read from the middle ages and medieval period because one of my stories is set in that era. I can tell you so much about 1400’s England that I didn’t know before all because of the time I’ve spent working with this box. Also, if you’re a parent or older sibling, don’t be afraid to tick this box for sharing your own knowledge, such as helping with homework. Or, as a student, doing your own. Pop down to the library for book on new skills or read up on the internet. I’ve taught myself how to do pixel art online using a handful of tutorials and a lot of patience – and every pixel I’ve placed comes under this category. And, if you really can’t think of anything you’d ever need to or want to learn because you know it all – blog about it, and show someone else. Make some tutorial videos. Be the teacher.

#3 Organisation and Productivity

Here’s our box for the household and all those niggly chores we don’t like doing, such as hoovering the carpets, cleaning out the bathroom, washing that mountain of clothing you wish wasn’t hiding in the corner. But it’s about so much more than just mediocre things you’d do every day – hence the organisation part. Spend a bit of time detailing your diary and making sure you know when all your appointments are for the next week. File away all those wage slips and bank statements so they don’t keep falling off your desk and all over the floor. If you’re getting cluttered up there’s always spring cleaning, emptying boxes you never open and can’t remember what’s inside, or sifting through your wardrobe and admitting to yourself at least half of those clothes never see the light of day. Whether you work from home or not, lots of little things in your career can also count under this, like clearing your desk, computer files and email inbox. Even checking your emails is organised, since it’s better not to miss anything important. And don’t forget shopping, of course! Making sure there’s enough food for any hungry mouths, products for dirty faces and everything your house needs on a weekly basis can sometimes take more organisational skills than you’d think.

#4 Creativity and Art

Some people are daunted by this one but it covers a broad spectrum so don’t be afraid. If you’re an artist, fantastic. Drawing or painting, sculpting or crafting, even decorating and DIY, building furniture and other items, knitting and crochet and quilting all counts as making something. Then there’s performance art, such as dancing, singing and drama. I count my fictional writing as creative, whether it’s short stories, poetry or even spoken word art. Video editing and, in some ways, blogging can count. Cooking or baking can be very artistic, especially when something’s made from scratch or decorated really well. Even gardening has elements of art in there. For those of you who cannot think or find or feel their way with this box, perhaps art and cultural enjoyment would be an alternative? Like a visit to a theatre, art gallery or museum. Remember the photography mentioned earlier? That’s artisitic too.

#5 Socialising and Making Connections

I know some people need no encouragement here, but others do, and I’m one of them. It can be friends, family, strangers, work colleagues – anyone you like. But try to find a way to push just a little connection here every so often. Call a relative you’ve not heard from in a while and ask how everything is. Make arrangements to have that coffee with that person you keep running into and forgetting to get back to. Meet your friends for a drink or invite them round for dinner. If your career involves a lot of social media elements this one’s a great box for your contacts and meetings. Go mad on twitter telling everyone how your new project’s going. Log into your favourite forums and spend some time bending the ears of others on things that matter to you. Even taking a walk to the shop with the dog and buying your bread and milk counts as opening the door to the outside world and another person. Assuming there’s a shop keeper. And a dog.

#6 Entertainment and Personal Space

We’ve had the time for others, now let’s have the time for me. This one is such an easy one to miss out, but it’s so important! You have to look after yourself and make sure that you do something that makes you smile, no matter how unusual or random you might think it is. Relax in a cafe with a good book and a slice of cake – you’ve done the healthy bit, now be naughty. Have a lie-in on a Sunday morning or spend a really long time soaking in a bath. If you really are the biggest extrovert ever and nothing alone makes you happy then go out on the town with your friends and get giddy, invite people round for a film night, or shut them all away and watching it on your own with a hot chocolate and your favourite pyjamas. listen to music and dance when nobody can see you – this is something I do far more than I should! But it makes me feel silly happy, and that’s the point.

So there we have it guys. My six little boxes, and a few ideas of what you can do to fill them. Everybody’s different, everybody will have contrasting tastes, and everyone will find some boxes easier than others. It’s part of life. And there are a lot of things that can fit under more than one box – I mentioned reading more than once. Reading for pleasure can be entertainment, reading aloud can be education for others or even for yourself. If it’s reading something you’ve written, that’s creative. Don’t be afraid to find your own way to fill those little boxes.

And let me know what you do! I’d love to hear how other people find this structure works for them.


Sunshine Blogger Award

I was stunned when, after a blogging break of a few weeks, I returned to find this waiting for me – the Sunshine Blogger Award, given by fellow Insecure Writer’s Support Group member Lilica from Lilicasplace:

Sunshine Blogger Award

Sunshine Blogger Award

Admittedly, I am quite shocked. I know I’ve been a blogger for a very long time, but I’ve never really made much of an impact on the wider world to my knowledge. Still, when you’re posting to something so open as the internet I guess you never know what impact you’re having.

So here are my instructions for accepting this award:

  1. Use the Award logo in your post.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  3. Share ten pieces of information about yourself.
  4. Nominate ten fellow bloggers who “positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.”
  5. Leave a comment on the nominees blogs to tell them about the award.

I’ve done the first and second already, so here’s to part three:

10 Pieces of Information About Myself

  1. I really don’t like toasters – refuse to use them and if anyone ever makes me anything using a toaster they have to pretend they haven’t or I wont eat it.
  2. I sleep with stand-up comedy playing next to my bed almost every night to help me drop off – my favourite comedian being Eddie Izzard, but at the moment I keep alternating between Michael McIntyre and Dylan Moran.
  3. I don’t tend to enjoy watching apocalypse-style films because thinking about the end of the world kind of makes me anxious – the worst film for this was The Knowing; it really disturbed me and I haven’t watched it again since.
  4. I have a tattoo of a frog on my right shoulder blade – I really want to save up and get it finished.
  5. When I’m writing I like making playlists of songs to represent each step of the story, reflecting the situations and moods of the characters with my choices.
  6. I am very addicted to Pinterest, and I can spend hours at a time updating my boards. I recently wiped my account to start from scratch because I couldn’t find a website that fulfilled what I needed to make my wish lists for my birthday. My Pinterest account became my new wish list hub, and those boards are still there.
  7. I am allergic to plasters, dust, pollen, horse bedding and bin liners. None of these are severe enough for death or hospitalisation, though they do cause some uncomfortable reactions with my skin and sinuses. I only know about the bin liners from when I stripped and re-dyed my hair 6 months ago – having one over my shoulders to protect my clothes gave me a rash for a week that looked like shingles.
  8. My guilty pleasure is Pokemon, and I’m not embarrassed to admit it – I still play some of the games, and I have a fanfic on my DeviantArt account. I haven’t worked on it for a while, but every so often I go back and proofread some of the chapters. It helps me to write when I can’t write about anything else.
  9. I love playing computer games and I get quite competitive. I love getting achievements on my Xbox 360 for doing certain things, and when I really enjoy a game I can spend hours doing all the side quests and collectibles. In the past year my most-loved games for keeping me engaged outside the main storyline are the Assassin’s Creed series (I and II), the Batman series (Arkham Asylum and Arkham City) and L.A. Noire.
  10. Last week I rode a bike for the first time in about 10 years. I’ve never been taught how to signal with one hand and, when the instructor was trying to teach me, I got so anxious I nearly cried! I was convinced I was going to fall off.

That was tricky but fun. Now for my 10 nominees, and a little note on why I’ve picked them.

10 Bloggers I Think Deserve The Sunshine Blogger Award

  1. Write Like No One’s Watching – A fantastic blog which has always inspired me. She’s a wonderful writer, and a wonderful person. I can’t think of anyone who deserves recognition for their blogging more.
  2. Well I Guess This Is Growing Up – Another really inspiring person I know, with a charming way of writing about her journey into adulthood and all the “grown up” things that come with it.
  3. Cultivating Habits – A new year’s challenge that really struck a chord with me because it’s similar to my own approach on gentle changes that stack rather than a huge change that doesn’t stick. Such a nice person to talk to, and a great blogger.
  4. Glosswatch – One of my first  steps on a path of feminist discovery, and one of the most entertaining and engaging blogs I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Definitely on my list.
  5. Back To The Sutra – A blog about Yoga and so much more. I love the poems and the playlists and all the random little things she posts that link into her passion. Definitely worth a read.
  6. Indie Gamer Chick – I know at first glance this is primarily a review site, but it’s much more than that. Some of the articles she writes about the games industry show a true passion for it, as well as how engaged she is with the developers of the titles she plays. I can always find time to read her work, and if anything it’s these other pieces more than the reviews that keep me coming back.
  7. Marc and Angel Hack Life – A brilliant inspirational blog that everyone could draw something from. The lists are a great read, but the more in-depth articles really hook my attention.
  8. A Girl Called Jack – Like it says on the box, this is much more than a food blog. Some writers with a little too much attention can let their work slide, but this blog has always been wonderfully eloquent and very inspiring to read.
  9. I’m an Organizing Junkie – Very witty and fresh, with tonnes of great ideas that always leave me feeling like getting up and doing or making something.
  10. Keli Has A Blog – Some great inspirational words and pictures in this one, definitely deserves a little sunshine for her work.

Okay, now all there’s left to do is go and tell the lucky nominees. Thanks again to Lilica for the award – really has left me feeling quite special.


IWSG: An introduction and an edit

This post is part of a monthly blogging forum called Insecure Writer’s Support Group. For more details and a link see the end of this post.

Okay, I couldn’t leave what I wrote originally up. It really needed fixing!

This is my first IWSG post, so I’ll give those of you who aren’t familiar with me some information. I’m 25, British and have been inventing elaborate fiction since I was a child. Growing up without siblings only served to fuel my imagination.

But the addiction to writing I once had didn’t last forever. My writing is much more refined than it was, but the words don’t flow as easily. I’m hoping to use this monthly drop-in to motivate myself into finishing some of the work I’ve started.

So I’m not sure where to start, all this is very new. I’ll see where it leads.


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