Gentle Giants

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This is one of my favourite photographs from a fabulous day spent at Whipsnade Zoo last summer. Giraffes are one of my favourite animals too. There is so much about them that makes me smile. The grace as they move slowly but deliberately around, contrasting with the power and speed that they have when they need it. I have been lucky enough to hand feed a giraffe and they truly are gentle giants. It’s hard not to be in awe of something whose head completely fills your car window and whose tongue is as long as your forearm, yet whose touch is so gentle and delicate. I love everything about them: from their slightly awkward angular head, to their unique coat patterns and the fuzzy little bristly mane. They have a certain humour about them too – as if whoever created them was having a joke that day. Why else would they have a coat pattern that looks as if they are wearing knee-length socks or a funny little not quite tail with a hairy bit on the end! If you didn’t have a sense of humour, why would you create an animal that can’t reach the ground without standing like this…!

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Kindness

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It is very easy in the frantic world we live in to give a hasty response or a sharp comment. I’m guilty of that myself. However, if we all try to be that little bit kinder, perhaps that will help us on the way to happiness. Kindness costs nothing and yet it can be the difference between anger and acceptance, anxiety and happiness, a good day and a bad. A kind word, a smile, a hug, a compliment. Small gestures but with huge impact. I know that whole days have been changed for me by that person who stopped to say my hair looked good or to give me a hug or even just to say hello and smile. Its not always easy to accept a compliment and sometimes I get very strange looks when I tell someone they look nice or similar. I think they are secretly pleased and a little embarrassed!

Its actually pretty easy for me to be kind to other people. It’s being kind to myself that is the tricky bit. I’m trying to be kinder to me and not so self critical but it’s definitely a work in progress! So … in this world, where we are lucky enough to be able to be anything, be kind. Be kind to yourself and to others.

Nailed it!

Happy Humpday! It’s only the middle of what feels like a very long week, but so far my Zumba class has made me feel super happy. Last week wasn’t my best class and at the weekend I was feeling unsure about my warm-up tracks and I didn’t like the way I’d built up the choreography on my new routine. I reworked them but I was really worried about remembering all of the changes I had made and missing the cues in the music. When it was time for the class on Monday, I went through it one last time in my head, took a deep breath and just went for it! It ended up being the best class I’ve done for ages – I had a great time and I nailed the routines! Happy days.

Fancy a cuppa?

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Frankly I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to tell you how happy tea makes me.  I have yet to find a problem it can’t solve and a mood it can’t lift. It wakes me up in the morning, keeps me warm on playground duty and warms my heart when I’ve had a tough day. It’s great to catch up with friends over a good cuppa and there’s nothing more soul cheering than hearing someone say “fancy a cuppa?” (Unless it’s said by my dad, in which case it’s usually followed by “good, put the kettle on then and I’ll have one too!”).

I blooming love tea, and not just the normal kind (and by that I mean Yorkshire tea of course!). No, I love Earl Grey, peppermint and all sorts of fruity creations too – there’s a tea for all occasions and I’m not fussy! However, my ultimate tea experience comes in the form of Yorkshire tea with green top milk and one sugar. There’s nothing quite like someone offering to make you a cuppa and knowing exactly how you like it without asking – that’s true friendship right there and a good reason why I married my husband!

Now I have to say at this point that I’m not exclusively a tea drinker. I am also partial to a good coffee and a hot chocolate (but that’s a whole other conversation). The reason I mention this is because everybody knows that drinks taste better when they’re in the correct cup. I mean, you wouldn’t drink coffee out of a tea cup, right?! I don’t know about you, but I’m quite fussy about my cups and I have a favourite one depending on the drink.

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My favourite cups!

Minnie Mouse is an oversized chunky mug for hot chocolate, the flamingoes is a thin rimmed cup for tea and the piggies is a thick rimmed mug for coffee – mix them up and it’s just not the same!

When it matters most, whatever I’m drinking, for whatever reason, a nice hot drink in my favourite cup puts a little smile on my face and makes me feel warm and happy inside.

Socks!

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Socks is a bit of a random thing to blog about but to me they are a happy little moment in the day. Firstly let me be clear, all of my socks come in pairs. In fact I am in deep admiration of people who can just put their hand in the sock drawer and take two random ones – I just cannot do this! I love socks, the brighter and funkier the better. A friend once asked if she could borrow some black socks when she was staying with me, I couldn’t find any! The closest I came was some mostly black ones but whose toes were covered in a big picture of ‘Elmo’ from the Muppets!  I love to choose my socks in the morning and yes I do have favourite socks. Wearing bright socks started in school when I they were one of the few ways I could personalise my uniform. A small bit of rebellion against authority. I still feel like that when I am dressed smartly but with silly socks in inside my boots! So yes believe it or not socks put a smile on my face. Now what’s shall it be tomorrow … giraffes, owls, monkeys, dinosaurs or perhaps one of the muppets 🙂

Laughter

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Laughter is generally thought to be synonymous with happiness. Certainly a good laugh can make you feel happy. And I don’t mean a half hearted chuckle. I mean a full blown belly laugh where you have tears rolling down your face, you’re not sure if you are breathing at all, your body starts to ache and you are rendered incapable of anything else at all. But how often do we actually laugh like this as an adult?  I often see children laughing with sheer joyous abandon but somehow as we grow up we lose that ability to see the sheer joy in our lives. So for my next goal I want to recapture that joy and that laughter and see the world through tears of joy rather than tears of sadness. To recapture the joy of living…

Happy new year?

 

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“New year, new me” is usually the saying that gets thrown around at this time of the year. Well it just so happens that actually, I quite like me, and I’m not sure I want a new one thank you very much. I mean, sure I have weird middle toes that bend a funny way – but that just makes me quirky right?! Surely not all of me needs to be shiny and new and perfect for me to be happy?

I totally understand that for lots of people a new year is an opportunity to push the reset button, start over and have another go at doing all of the things that they think they ought to do and “get it right”. For me though, the idea of “new year, better me” is much more appealing. When the clock struck 12 on New Year’s Eve, I definitely got the feeling of a fresh start and a renewed motivation to make 2017 a great year. But I didn’t feel like I had a gruelling list of things to do ahead of me. Instead I felt like I was ready to slowly make a few more changes so that 2017 felt happier than 2016. The first change I wanted to make was to de-clutter the flat and have a good old spring clean. We got straight to it and yesterday we were so happy to wander around our little home and feel that we had accomplished a little victory. Thanks to that little victory I am sitting at my actual desk on an actual chair, writing on my actual laptop because I can finally see them! They are no longer buried under dental check up reminders (bad girl), household bills and takeaway menus. A tidy house makes for a tidy mind and I don’t know about you but a tidy mind certainly makes me feel much happier. Other changes for this year include managing my evening and weekend workload more effectively so that I finish it earlier in the evening and therefore sleep better. I also want to go on longer walks with my dog and increase the number of Zumba classes I am teaching so that I have more opportunities to exercise. I’m sure that there will be more changes that I haven’t even thought of yet, we’ll just have to wait and see…

This certainly doesn’t mean that 2017 has been all plain sailing so far – I still stood at my front door this week trying to unlock it with the bleeper on my car key. I also tried to make a cup of tea by just pouring hot water in a cup and wondered why it was clear (seriously). This morning I nearly poured milk on the dog’s breakfast instead of mine. But that’s ok, because for me a happy new year isn’t a perfect new me, it’s a better me, and I’m getting there!

Thoughtful friends

I think I may have just missed posting this on Wednesday but as I am still up and about I’ll say it anyway – Happy Humpday! This week I have a gorgeous little mid-week pick-me-up from a beautiful friend of mine. As we haven’t seen each other since before Christmas, we delayed gift swapping until this week (read: she gave me her gift while I left mine at home on the table – useless!). Before I opened it she warned me that it might seem a bit weird. Full of intrigue I quickly pulled off the paper and was utterly shocked to see that my wonderful, thoughtful friend had made a wedding album for me! You see, in the age of digital media, everything tends to be kept on computers and memory sticks – including my wedding photos. I am ashamed to admit that I have never actually collected them in to an album and it has now become one of those jobs on the ‘maybe later’ to-do list.

This is the cover of the wedding album – it’s so beautiful!

Seeing this gorgeous photo album made me feel happy for a number of reasons. Firstly, seeing photos from my wedding brought back lots of lovely memories of the day and it put a smile on my face to see them again. Secondly, the fact that I have someone in my life who not only remembered something I briefly mentioned in conversation, but also then took so much time and care to create such a thoughtful gift makes me feel very loved indeed. And feeling loved is a very happy thing!

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Courage

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My first blog post, well here goes, here are my ramblings. I came across this quote quite by chance yesterday and it made me think how courage and happiness might be linked. I fight a constant battle with anxiety and depression and am plagued my the self-negating thoughts that accompany this. The ones that say “that wasn’t good enough” or “why did you do that it was really stupid” or “I can’t believe you just said that”. These can make being happy an impossible battle some days. However, what this seemed to be saying to me was that it was ok to have days when you are not happy  as long as you don’t give up – try not to beat yourself up about it. And inevitably when you take the pressure off, happiness seems to come more readily. It takes courage to be happy but also to admit when you are not and need help. And whichever courage you have, as long as you have it there will always be an opportunity for a new day to try again. Happiness will find you.

Painted nails

This runs the risk of being a very long post – you see, I have been obsessed with all things nail related for what feels like forever. I love watching YouTube videos about nail painting (Christine from SimplyNailogical is my favourite), I love painting my nails, I love having my nails painted for me, I love painting other people’s nails and I love buying new nail polishes (read: anything nail related). I have loved all of these things for a very long time and it’s showing no sign of stopping!

I think painted nails and the process of painting nails makes me happy because there’s a beautiful art involved. I enjoy the challenge of painting my nails neatly and I feel really satisfied when I look at a finished set of nails and they are just perfect! Painted nails make me feel glamorous and posh (even though I’m sat here in my pyjamas looking like a scruffball), just watching my nails sparkle as they clack away on the keyboard makes me smile. I remember our primary school choir teacher’s nails clicking as she played the piano and deciding there and then that was what I wanted – to play the piano? NO! To have nails long enough to make them clack on things (such ambition). Since then I’ve had long nails, lots of short nails, acrylic nails, glued on nails, fibreglass nails, gel nails, nail extensions, and a weird hybrid gel/acrylic mix that nobody could get off my nails and nearly did some serious damage to them (but we won’t talk about that) – the lot! And it still makes me smile to think of my choir teacher every time I click my nails on the table.

At the moment I’ve been a very good girl and grown out my natural nails with the help of my Sensationail kit – home gel kits are amazing! Now I can paint my own nails with polishes that don’t chip which has saved me a fortune in going to the salon and it means I can change the colour whenever I fancy.

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My current Sensational gel collection – sooooooo pretty!

I am loving glittery polishes at the moment and have just ordered a few more in the Christmas sales*. My current set are gold glitter basically poured over my nails and fixed in place with a tangerine glitter polish. I love watching them sparkle in the light and the running joke in the family at the moment is “Have you done your nails Annie?” due to the number of times I have stopped everyone to make them look and appreciate their loveliness.

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Look at all the glitter!!

In short, I blooming love feeling pretty with my posh nails and when I catch them in the corner of my eye I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Simple things, eh?

*They arrived as I was writing this – crazy timing!

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Introducing my latest additions: berry nice, shimmering spruce and feeling guilty.