Selfish?

 

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Took me a while to realise this one…. that it’s not selfish to put yourself first. I know that if I don’t get enough down time then I’m totally useless. I now actively plan in free days so I can regroup. Since I’ve been doing this I actually feel much happier because I’m not stretching myself in every direction. I enjoy the time with other people much more because I’m more relaxed. Never feel bad for taking the time for youself … after all who will look after you if you don’t?

Solitude

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Recently I have been much more in touch with my introverted side. People always say that I can’t possibly be an introvert because I’m loud and chatty and don’t come across as shy. Well you don’t have to be shy to be an introvert. Introversion is defined as ‘the preference for  situations that are not overly stimulating. Introverts value their space and they don’t let just anyone in.’ (So if I confide in you, feel honoured!)

I love my friends and I love spending time with them, I literally wouldn’t be without them. But I prefer to socialise in small groups and find big and busy social gatherings a huge challenge. I also hate, really hate, being the centre of attention which is why I find birthdays so tricky (more about that another time) and talking to  groups of adults. Strangely though, I have no problem with groups of children – pretty lucky in job eh!

I also need and crave solitude. I love my busy life with teaching and brownies and rainbows but I spend all of my days surrounded by people who need me to interact with them. I love this, I love the strange and random conversations I have with children. I love their frankness and openness. I love catching up with my friends in the staffroom at lunchtime. I love chatting to my best friends on the phone or meeting for coffee.

However, I also love my alone time. I love to come home to my house, to kick off my shoes and chill on my bed watching whatever I want. I love long bubbly baths. I love to escape with a good book. I love to go for a walk and catch some pokemon or take my camera and practise my photography.

And what’s more I don’t just love my solitude, I need it. One thing I have learnt about myself is that in order to function and keep my mental health at its best I need to have time alone to reset. I actively now plan in days to do this as I need it so much. And I no longer feel bad about doing so and prioritising my own needs. Sometimes we have to put ourselves first. And that’s ok. It’s taken me a while to realise that but it’s ok. It really is.

Good friends

IMG_1321When I was growing up I was never in the popular group. I did have friends but they weren’t in my class or year at school. My friends were at the stables, at guides and in my street. At school I was often lonely. I was the child who was always picked last for teams and who never had a partner or group to work with. I used to dread the moment the teacher would say “Now get into groups” knowing that I would be an outsider and that no one ever actually wanted to work with me.

Depression also robs you of your friends, you desperately need and want them but end up pushing them away because you don’t believe that you are worth liking.

Its hard to pinpoint when things started to change in the friendship department. For years having a crippling social anxiety meant I hardly went out and although I desperately wanted to take up invitations I just couldn’t do it.

I think things started to change when I was around 30. A chance meeting through a mutual friend (interestingly who I am no longer in contact with!) meant that I met my best friend- my first best friend since I was 8. Someone who liked me for who I was and actually chose to spend time with me. She also stayed by my side when I was in some of my darkest paces and for that I will always be truly grateful. It still surprises me now when she says she looks forward to seeing me! But now I am lucky enough to not have just one best friend but to have lots, more than I can count on one hand unbelievably. And not only do I have best friends, I also have other close friends and lots of people who love me for who I am. It’s taken me a long time to realise that they are not going anywhere too.

One of those friends said to me the other day “you are so good at keeping in contact with people and that’s such a great quality”. Yes I suppose I am, because the one thing I will never, ever do is take my friends for granted. I know how it feels to not have friends. I love each and every one of my friends and if you know you are one of my friends please know that you mean the world to me. And just like the picture, many of my friends I don’t get to see anywhere near as often as I’d like but it’s ok as, finally, I can believe that they will always be there.

Nights are for sleeping?

Night time is for sleeping right? Wrong! At least for my body clock. You are probably thinking why on earth does insomnia make it on to a blog about happiness! Let me explain. I would prefer not to have insomnia but it does also bring me some happiness. I am actually pretty productive around 4am I have discovered! I reply to emails, do Guiding admin and sometimes even the housework!

But by far the best bit of insomnia is that grey time just before dawn when the whole world feels still and silent. You feel like the only person in the whole world. I’ve seen hundreds more amazing sunrises than most people. I’ve listened to the dawn chorus trying to identify which bird is which and listened to the world waking up. I’ve watched the mist lift to reveal a dew-covered world and seen the pair of Robins dancing on my bird feeder. Mrs Blackbird often pops in to say hello and sometimes Mr Hedgehog too.

Insomnia is definitely not all bad.

Happy?

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I don’t often talk publicly about my anxiety and depression. For one it’s often too painful but also because it irritates me when I feel like that so I’m damn sure that other people must be irritated too. (Apparently they are not, so my friends tell me, but there we go) . However, if there’s one thing it has taught me on my journey it’s that I shall never, ever take happiness for granted. I never really know how I am going to feel until I wake up in the morning and however excited I am about something, sometimes my anxiety takes over and ruins it for me. So I’ve learnt to really enjoy and treasure truly happy times. I’ve been really lucky this week, I’ve had three truly happy days in a row. Days where I can see the colours around me and enjoy the company of others. Days where I can taste what I eat and smile with my eyes as well as my mouth. Days where I appreciate the beauty of the nature as I’ve driven (clocked up 250 miles so far this week!) Days where I walk with a spring in my step and my shoulders back. Days where I feel an unburdened lightness about myself. I will never take them for granted. But equally I try not to beat myself up about a bad day. They are part of my journey, obstacles to overcome perhaps or take a diversion around. But because of those dark days I think I feel my happy days more intensely and for this, surprisingly, I am glad. Yes in a way I am glad I have experienced depression, strange as that may seem. Although yes in some ways it truly sucks, in others it’s taught me valuable lessons. It’s taught me what happiness really feels like. And for that I am glad.

Happy Hump Day Hugs

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Hugs are fab. I love hugs! I love the spontaneity of someone rushing up and throwing their arms around you. Or the ones you ask for. And the ones where someone just scoops up your sadness and turns it into laughter. Hugs are warm, comforting, familiar, and safe. I’m lucky, I work with children and get dozens of hugs a day. What the children don’t realise is that when they come and ask for a hug and I give one, they are also doing me a favour too! However, I’m also lucky enough to work with colleagues who understand my hugging needs! And this morning I was greeted with many Happy Hump Day Hugs. So here I am passing them on. If you are in need of a hug, here is one for you … catch!

My Best Friend

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My best friend is amazing. She is one of the few people in the world who truly “gets” me. And she always seems to know exactly what to say. We laugh, at the stupidest things – and go on laughing way after it’s funny. We go on road trips and sing, badly and loudly, to the cheesiest music. We gossip over pizza. We cuddle up under a blanket and watch property shows – planning our houses for when we have money… We shop and spend more money than we have. But it’s more than that. Without my best friend I probably wouldn’t be here today. She is my absolute rock. She has seen me at my lowest of low points and still stayed by my side. She has held my hand and let me cry and patiently reassured me when my anxious paranoia kicks in. She has firmly told me that “giving up is not an option”. And I listen to her when I can’t listen to myself. She always seems to know the right words to say, when to be serious and when to have a joke. She hugs me and reassures me and loves me unconditionally. And I can never fully put into words how much she means to me. Happiness comes from spending time with people who truly love you for who you are – just like she does for me.

The kindness of children

Children can be so honestly kind in a way that I think adults struggle with because to us it all seems a bit over the top – we’ve learnt to tone it down and not show too much emotion (something I have not learnt to do very well yet!). As a teacher I have moments every day where a child says or does something with such open honesty that it knocks you back for a second while you realise that they’re not being sarcastic or manipulative or cheeky, they’re just telling you how it is from the kindness of their hearts. Examples include:

“You know how when you love someone a lot you try to show them how much you love them by making them things or writing them a card, but it’s never enough to show them just how much you love them? Well that’s how I feel about you.”

“I wish we had school at the weekends so that I could see you every day.”

“You’re like a rare, bright star – you shine brighter than the others.”

“It doesn’t matter where you are, I still love you.”

These children have so much love and kindness inside that they just want to let it out – they’re not bound by social conventions and the British stiff upper lip, they just want to tell the people that are important to them how much they love them. It makes me so happy that children are free to do that – and to hear them speaking to each other with such kindness is heart warming. I often see posts on Facebook from taken aback parents whose children have written them a kind message, done something kind or said something kind and it’s just lovely to see that it happens everywhere! There really is nothing like the kindness of a child to make you stop for a second and feel warmed by their love and compassion. I’ll leave you with one more example that put a huge smile on my face (after I had stopped crying!)

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I wore this as my ‘something blue’ for my wedding!

It’s already Wednesday!

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Happy Humpday folks! I have to say today I’m feeling a happy little boost from the fact that it’s already Wednesday! Thursday and Friday are my favourite days at work so I’m excited that they’re already on their way 😊 sometimes it’s the simple things that put a spring in your step….

Zumba – Let it move you!

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Happiness landmarks are those turning points in your life where something happens that gives you a long lasting boost of happiness. A bit like drinking a double espresso, or downing a shot of Berocca, or driving in to a turbo boost on Super Mario Kart….anyway, finding Zumba has definitely been a happiness landmark for me. I can’t even remember how I first heard about Zumba, but my friend and I decided to go along to a class one evening and we instantly loved it – the music was full of energy and while the moves definitely gave us a work out, we really enjoyed dancing along to the music and had a great time together. From that first class we ended up visiting more classes with different instructors and as time went on, we came up with our own ideals for a perfect Zumba class. I couldn’t believe it when my friend then decided to turn our ideas in to a reality and trained to be an instructor herself! I loved her classes so much – the music was perfect, the moves were perfect and we built up our own Zumba family of members. Then last year another crazy thing happened…my friend had to close the class temporarily while she was on maternity leave and in a moment of madness I decided to train as an instructor myself so that I could cover for her! I had no idea then that it would snowball the way that it has – I absolutely love being an instructor, I now have my own Zumba Kids Jr. class and I’m adding a Zumba Toning class to my timetable after my training in February. Zumba makes me feel so happy, the music, the moves and the people that I get to see every week really give me a boost and put a big smile on my face. I look forward to every class and I have so much fun every time – seeing other people enjoying the class too certainly gives me an extra boost of happiness and confidence, knowing that they have chosen to come back each week is definitely a compliment! I can’t wait for my friend to come back and teach her class because we have so much fun together, but I am also grateful for the opportunity to experience the other side of Zumba because it’s opened up a huge source of happiness that will last a long time!

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My Zumba Kids + Kids Jr. training was one of the best days ever – this photo definitely shows how fun it was!

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This was taken after my first class as an instructor – that’s happiness and relief on my face right there!

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I’m a bit addicted to Zumba clothes….