I’ve had a few low points this week when the pain from my frozen shoulder has been high and I am incredibly grateful to friends who have sent me texts, met me for coffee or just offered a hug. However if I made every blog a gratitude for them it’d get boring very quickly so I hope they take it as a given that I am always grateful for them in my life.
So this week I am mostly grateful for the British weather in all it’s predictably unpredictable glory. A couple of weeks ago every was posting pictures of snow on social media and this week there is wonderful sunshine and temperatures in double digits (Centigrade).
One Tuesday I had to go to London for a meeting. I finished at 2.00 and gave myself 90 minutes to walk back to the train station (blog for that can be found HERE ). One of the best things was not having to wear a coat. I had an hours walk with the sun on my face and soaking up the Vitamin D.
On Wednesday and Thursday I worked from home. I usually sit in the kitchen and work from the dining table. My kitchen tends to capture the sun so I got to sit with the sun on my back.
And today I had another walk – this time to the supermarket and about a mile and a half, with my playlist blaring in my ears and more Vitamin D. I’ve even managed to hang out and dry a wash load
It really is a mood booster especially when you are having a trying week. Even though I still ache and struggle the fact that I’ve had some sunshine has made my week so much the better.
I found out last week that I’ve got my third bout of frozen shoulder in 10 years. I can’t remember much about the first time beyond getting sent home from work after taking too many painkillers and getting the giggles (not good as I worked in a benefit office).
The 2nd time it happened I worked in Community Support. I had to adapt what I did to be able to carry on working. Within this job I was classed as a lone worker and would often have to travel by public transport lugging my (then) heavy laptop and notes. In the end I found my old flight bag which I could then use to pull everything around rather than carry. Regardless it all left me feeling very vulnerable. I had the constant fear that someone could grab the bag and run off with it and I’d be helpless to stop them as I only had one fully working arm. (As one of my colleagues had had their case stolen from them as they sat in their car I knew this was always a possibility being on foot).
I also had no support from my line manager. On bad days I could be in tears. I could do my stats from home but still had to go to work. And I often felt that I should try and get to work. My job involved helping vulnerable people who had far worse problems than me.
I’ve learnt several things since then. One that you shouldn’t compare problems. Yes these people are struggling but that shouldn’t diminish my issues. Secondly you can’t fully help someone when you aren’t at 100% yourself.
After a while gaining no support at all with management I moved jobs. I had to put myself first and practise the self-care that I preached.
Cut to now. While my job involves travel it’s mostly on train to places. I have a tablet rather than laptop and can access my emails via mobile so I can make my baggage as light as possible. If all else fails I can leave it all behind and find a hard drive somewhere to plug into. I try and go to the gym several times a week to exercise and the biggest thing I’ve noticed from the last few weeks is in the difference in people I’m surrounded by. Friends and family obviously are supportive but I’m talking those on the periphery (big word!). After a reshuffle I have a new manager and both her and the gym instructors have both used the same phrase….What can I do to help and support you?
I genuinely felt like crying when they’ve said this as it’s a complete 180 from before. Such a simple sentence and from it some simple results. I have the option to work from home where needed or come and go to work from where is the easiest on my joints. The gym has created a lightweight plan that allows me to practise movement in my arm while I wait for a physio appointment, taking into account doctor recommendations. This makes me feel more secure in myself and less vulnerable when movement is bad.
But the biggest change is in myself. I’m not afraid to ask for help and the rewards are worth it. Support is in place straight away and I feel like this time it won’t affect my mental health because both me and the people around me have awareness of what I can and can’t do and are working with me.
So it’s a reminder to people to ask for help because people do care and do want to make sure that you are ok. Asking for help is also self-care. Speaking up early this time was a kindness to myself and hopefully will mean a quicker resolve to the issues.
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.
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.
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
S – Seaside
T – Travel
U – Underwear (can’t beat a beautiful set of matching undies!)
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 🙂
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