Acts of kindness and self care – weekly gratitude

Today is Time to Talk day, a day when we talk about our mental health and support each other. For some reason I also thought it was National Kindness Day (it’s actually 17th Feb). However yesterday on the Action for Happiness calendar the instruction was to thank someone and tell them how they made a difference for you.

This blog fits all that in and is also the key thing for my gratitude this week.

I’ve posted about craft club before. One of my goals for 2019 is to make new things, create new things and learn new things – if all at once even better. Today in craft club I learnt how to zentangle. I haven’t really done much art since school and while I say I can’t draw it’s actually that I haven’t really done any drawing. Zentangle is the art of being zen and tangling which is basically fancy doodles.

One of the crafters told me in the first session they ran everyone was their usually noisy chatty selves to start, then slowly the noise levels reduced to nothing. All she could hear was people’s breathing and then she noticed everyone started breathing in sync. How wonderful is that! And it happened again today. I forgot all about work and what was going on in the world and for half an hour it was just me, a fine ink pen and my doodles.

We crafted onto a heart shaped card which we then made into a Valentine’s card but you can do it on anything. After the session my colleague sent me an email receipt for my annual membership fee and said she was looking forward to us doing more crafts. Not just because it’s a kindness I sent a reply telling her just what I had got out of joining and how much it is beginning to mean to me. She really appreciated it (and asked if she could use my comments for the newsletter – an added nice side effect).

It felt good to actually just message someone and say thank you. How often do we pay compliments? So today, I was both kind in words to them but kind to myself by taking an hour out of the day to just focus on myself and do something fun.



Weekly Gratitude: Reconnecting

This week among the usual shout out to family and friends I am grateful for 4 women I met 12 months ago on a development course. 2018 was a very chaotic bumpy year. The course was split over five 2 day modules with the first starting January 2018. We were put into peer groups of 6 to work together for various activities.

The year started great and we bonded really well, sharing stories and spent a lot of time together quite a bit to put on a workshop around better ways of working. Then I missed the 3rd module because of the health problems. This really knocked my confidence as it was just after the scare with the breast lump and subsequent panic attacks. Again they were there for me, as we are all spread around the north of England this was remotely and mostly by whatsapp but it was nice to get a few messages of support.

For module 4 I managed to get to the classroom for Day 1 but found it so stressful and hardgoing and so didn’t attend the second day where we would be just in the peer group. I wrote in an earlier blog about how my anxiety got so bad last year I lost contact with people and when I was with people struggled with the idea that they were on my side or was just weirdly angry at slights that just didn’t exist. Anxiety can be awful on friendships sometimes.

Even up until Tuesday I really didn’t want to attend the last sessions and would not be able to give the requested feedback. You know what though? It was absolute rubbish! I think this week was actually my favourite session of all. I got to really re-connect with the others and genuinely bond with them. Some of us have very similar work struggles and we had a good hour airing our grievances about jobs which was really cathartic but then after that we spent another hour trying to work out how each one of us could work around that or suggesting ideas for moving on. I came home today feeling really inspired and empowered. None of this would have happened if I’d given in to the anxiety at the beginning of the week and the chimp in my brain telling me it would be a waste of time (for chimps see The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters)

At the beginning I mentioned a group of 6 peers but a shout out to only 4 (with me making 5). Sadly one seems to have dropped out. She disappeared part way through the day I missed (I’ve been told why and it’s not relevant here) and never came back. She’s not shown much interest in staying in touch in between but that happens and on a course like this you won’t bond with everyone and you can’t please everyone.

Going forward the 5 of us are going to have monthly calls to chat about work and what our current steps are and will try and have 6 monthly meet ups somewhere. I’m so glad to have met them and grateful then when my life got chaotic they were there and supportive when I needed it most.

January Hustle review

I’ve ended my first month of side hustles and I have to say I’ve really enjoyed the little bits and pieces I’ve dipped into which have earned me £135. Of that there are some sites where I still need to earn more to reach a download limit so I haven’t accessed all of it. Then being January and a long month I’ve had to dip into the rest to pay for the dentists and some other unexpected costs but in the end today I paid off £40 towards a high interest loan I have bringing me that little bit closer to clearing it. This is the priority in my debt clearance as everything else at least has a definite end date or a lower interest rate.

I’m really pleased with what I’ve managed to do. It’s been simple and for the most part hasn’t taken up much time. I’ve listed the websites below for anyone that wants to try some of these and also the 101 side hustles blog page that I found my inspiration. (Referral code: BTVSEXDV) (Referral code: (Referral: d2x5r)



Weekly Gratitude

This week I’ve struggled with my health with an old issue flaring up and had to deal with lots of travel disruptions so it would be easy to end the week feeling miserable however the biggest thing I’m grateful for this week are my friends. I have one on holiday in Plymouth texting me pictures of her new puppy and then tea and cake with my closest friend.

I’ve been reading a short book by author Jill Mansell that I found in my kindle where she lists an A-Z of things that make her happy. I decided to have a go. It’s very hard to think of some things for the more unusual letters but after my friend said to think outside the box I managed it. I was going to add explanation but in the end decided a simple list is enough. The review for the book can be found HERE

What would your A-Z look like?

A = Art (Galleries)

B –Bubble Baths

C – Crafting

D – (all things) Disney

E – Exercise (Gym)

F – Friends/Family

G – Genealogy

H – History

I – Ice Cream

J – Japanese Blossom Trees

K – Knitting

L – Laughing

M – Music

N – Novels

O – Ocean

P – Pizza/Pasta

Q – (Rose) Quartz crystal

R -Reading

S – Seaside

T – Travel

U – Underwear (can’t beat a beautiful set of matching undies!)

V – Vampire (stories)

W – Waves

X – X-Rated

Y – Yarn

Z – Zoos/Farms


Gratitude and Wishes

Yesterday was quite the day. I had to go over to Blackpool for a meeting. Or rather a small town within walking distance and its own train stop. Originally I’d planned to get the train to Blackpool and then a taxi to the office but was told the local train stop was practically next door so to get that. This turned out to be a BAD THING as several trains were cancelled – all of them being the rare few that stopped where I needed to be. I ended up with a 2 hour delay at both ends of the journey. On the outward journey I stopped off at a Costa Coffee to pass the time and check my emails. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself at this point as I’d been up since 5am and was a bit cold. Talking to the coffee shop staff though they were all worried about their jobs. The shop was part of the Debenhams chain and there is talk of 40 of their stores closing one of which was potentially this one. Closing the store would mean closing the coffee shop. A customer in front of me mentioned that the store was the heart of the town centre and that if it closed then you may as well close the whole town. They also mentioned that the chain of Patisserie Valerie are expected to go under at some point this week. So many jobs from all of this will be lost not to mention its impact on already struggling high streets across the country. So thinking about it, my journey was delayed which was inconvenient. I was cold but had the funds to warm up in a coffee shop and most importantly I have a job and as a civil servant will probably always have a job no matter how much it sometimes frustrates me. I think sometimes we forget these things and hearing about the struggles of others makes you appreciate what you actually have.

The second part of my story yesterday includes a walk. No trains to get home so I decided to take advantage of some fresh air and walk into Blackpool as there would be a better chance of getting home. Rather than google map the journey I walked down to the small town promenade which led to the main Blackpool one. It was so cold! I really wish I had a had my hat but it was so wonderful to have a bit of time in nature watching the sea however brisk the weather. The walk though had me thinking about the future. For over 20 years I’ve had in the back of my mind how much I would love to have my own B&B. Walking through the towns though I saw so many closed buildings. They were in a state of disrepair rather than closed for the off season so definitely an economical thing. I think a B&B just isn’t going to work in this day and age; I can’t see it being financially viable. This then took me to Plan B which is as old as the B&B idea which is the desire to retire to a coastal town.

If I can retire at 60 I have 13 years to get some cash together. If I wait to the state retirement age I have 20 years. It will come around much quicker than I expect it to. 2019 is all about paying off my debts. 2020 then will be to start working on a future that will support me financially in my old age. Me and a friend were talking about grown up thoughts and that it’s always scary doing this. Who wants to be a grown up? People keep asking me what I want to achieve at work (job roles/promotions etc) and actually all I want is the space to build my future plans. This is where putting into place this year all the side hustles will start to pay off. Once the debts are cleared they will be part of the retirement savings plan.

So a day of mixed feelings. Even having gratitude for having a job I couldn’t escape the fact that the British Rail infrastructure is terrible and an inconvenience. It wasn’t just my trains with issues. The weather is so cold that having to spend 35 minutes waiting in the freezing cold was horrible on the final leg of trying to get home (and I definitely know there are people far worse off than me) but I finally have a bit of an idea about the future and how I can start to build towards it. I’m a massive fan of action plans and I think at the weekend it’s time to start looking at building one and what it will take to get me where I want to be.

Saturday Gratitude

I’ve been talking and hearing a lot about gratitude lately. My son’s depression has flared up and we’ve been using it as a mood booster. At the same time my close friend is trying to keep a daily list. I am planning to do these weekly on a Friday but got a bit distracted yesterday so one day late:

  • Meals with friends: I used to be part of a circle that met monthly to go for a meal and a catch up. 9 years ago we were all working in the same office and part of it is to keep the connections going despite many of us now working in different offices and in some cases for new companies. I had so many issues last year for me this stopped happening. My anxiety was just too high for casual socialising. I actually thought the last meal I attended was late summer but when we looked at it, it was actually May! I don’t feel guilty about it though. That way lies more anxiety madness. It happened, I’m back and was welcomed back with no issues at all. It’s easy to forget how much I enjoyed this little get together.
  • Hustles: I’m grateful to the sites I read a few months back that list the many ways to make a little extra money. I’ve a few hustle blogs to do in the next week but I’ve made over £100 since Boxing Day which is amazing when I haven’t touched the big money earners. It’s £100+ that will be deducted from my debts and £100 closer to being debt free. As I mentioned in a previous blog I wish I’d known about these things years ago it would have saved a lot of negative mental health issues. It’s also totally changed my thinking about money too. I’m no longer in that negative mindset and constantly thinking I can’t.
  • Other friends: My closest friend text me on Tuesday to see if I fancied a coffee before work. We had about 45 minutes before I had to go to my job but it was nice to have that little bit of relaxation and chat before I had to tackle some major issues in the office.
  • The gym: Never thought I’d say that! But while I’ve been going completely off the rails with food the gym at least has kept me in a healthy mindset and gives me not only me time but the mindfulness practise. It’s just me, some exercise machines and whatever the PT has on the music playlist which this week has been 2000’s pop music. I’ve been happily singing along to Britney and Busted this week, again not normally something I thought I’d ever say.
  • Which leads me to the last thing and the work’s craft club and more mindfulness. This week we did some mandala colouring in. It’s like being 5 again. I took 2 people who don’t normally join in with the craft club and we had an hour away from our day jobs to sit, chat and colour and de-stress. An offshoot of this as my Tuesday coffee friend saw my pictures and went out and bought some crayons and books. I love being able to share fun stuff 🙂


Loyalty cards – #minimilism #declutter

The Marie Kondo TV show on Netflix has got lots of people looking at their homes and seeing where they can declutter and craeting lots of chatter. I’ve been a follower of her methods for a few years now (there are various blog posts if you fancy a scoll through) and I’ll be good for a while and then end up with more clutter.

When I had some couselling last summer we discussed my spending habits and debt with the intention of exploring addictive personalities and using money to fill a ‘gap’ in a persons life. I definitely get addicted to things and very easily. Having alcoholics and drug addicts in the family (sadly all deceased) makes me very conscious (possibly too much) about excess drinking so I’ve never fallen into those traps. Instead when my depression takes hold I usually find something to obsess over and spend. It fills that ‘gap’ but only for a short while and then I end up with an excess of junk that I don’t use.

It’s not only monetary items though. I started reading the free books through netgalley or on Amazon Kindle and if I total it I’ve close to 1500 books unread. I’ve got far too many bookmarks, post it notes, stationary items and so on. The other year I got on top of the clothes addiction and now have a capsule wardrobe and that works for me.
So now to clear some of the unwanted stuff. I found in a drawer a pile of loyalty cards an inch high. I don;t use them but when shops started using these I developed one of my obsessions and must have one for so many shops that I just don’t go in any more. As you can see from the pictures attached I spent today tidying them out and cutting them up. It’s a great feeling. There’s no need for them, I haven’t gone into that pile in over 6 months. So now I have a core capsule of loyalty cards of shops I’m actually loyal to and that feels so much better. Slowly I am making in roads into my clutter and filling that ‘gap’ in more healthier ways