Surprises

1C6D8BEF-C6A3-48FB-BDF1-D014085FF47C.jpegJust a happy little moment when someone bothered to send me a little surprise in the post. Was such a lovely thing to come home to, nestled in amongst the circulars and bills was a package that I didn’t order. I was very confused to start with – had someone sent it to me in error?

I went through the list of people I thought it could be. No one knew anything. And I was still guessing the next morning when I got a message saying “I hope ou like your earrings” and it was none other than my lovely co-blogger. Just a happy end of January present.

And I love her even more for recognising that January is a difficult time for me and doing something amazingly lovely to celebrate me making it through.

30 for 30

Waaaaaay back in October, I turned 30 and two of my best friends organised the MOST AMAZING birthday surprise – 30 gifts for my 30th birthday. Every single gift was utterly gorgeous and so completely perfect for me. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of them all together because I put them all to use so quickly, but I have photographed a few highlights:

20180124_113713

The Spice Girls Greatest Hits CD – ahhhhh they are literally the soundtrack to my childhood. I remember being at a disco when I was 10 and hearing ‘Wannabe’ for the first time – I LOVED IT and so began my relentless collecting of anything Spice Girls related (I’m talking right down to sweet wrappers, crisp packets and drinks cans….).

20180124_112919

New stationery makes me so happy – even more so when it’s a bit wacky. The cork notebook is so squishy – we all had to give it a good squish when it came out of the bag!!

20180124_113005

This is a little book full of memories the three of us have shared – it reminded me of all the fun adventures we’ve had together and I will absolutely treasure it.

20180124_113122

Everyone already knows how much I love a good mug – and this one really tops the list! This is my new favourite because 1) it’s happy, bright and cheerful and 2) It doesn’t feel weird to drink either tea or coffee out of it – it is the perfect hybrid! This herbal tea is absolutely delicious and obviously the posh Waitrose bags make me feel very executive.

20180124_112756

A vanilla candle with the first letter of my name on – what could be more perfect??!! and so my love of candles continues…

20180124_112831

This wall hanging is so true – and boy do we have a lot of stories!!

20180124_113029

This copy of ‘Crochet’ magazine has A LOT to answer for…more on that later. Sufficed to say this has started a whole new hobby.

20180124_113218

This is my very first piece of artwork made by Rosie herself – I absolutely adore it and it is currently hanging in my kitchen right where I make my coffee every morning.

It warmed my heart to feel so loved and to realise how well my friends know me, I feel so lucky and so grateful to have both of them!

 

Fireworks

2D2BF4F1-41FD-49A3-90DF-F21F77551BB2There has always been something magical about fireworks to me. The colours, the smell, the patterns, the contrast against the dark sky and the surprise of what explodes next. There’s also something nostalgic about dressing in your warmest clothes, dusting off the hat and scarf and heading off into what is usually one of the first really dark nights of the winter. Last night I did that. I stood, in cold so intense I could see my breath and hardly feel my fingers, in eager anticipation of the display. The shooting flames of the bonfire dying away, the chatter of excited crowds and the smell of burgers and hot chocolate filled the air. Every so often there’s a blob of colour as torchlight and glow sticks appear.  There’s the waiting, for that sudden moment when the the sky fills with colour. The oohs and ahs as the showers of stars fill the sky. The bangs and whistles and the hiss as the display starts. Then the explosion of colours and patterns that sparkle and flash and spin their way through the pitch dark sky. I don’t think I will ever tire of watching fireworks!

H.A.P.P.Y.

Happy. A small word to describe a big feeling. Today I feel happy. In fact I have felt happy basically every day since June 12th. You may wonder why I know the date. Well it was the date that I took a deep breath, felt the fear and did it anyway. June 12th was when I finally came out via this blog and the post called ‘This is me.’ And you all reacted in such an amazingly positive way. You have no idea how you have changed my life.

I never realised that a blog post could have such a massive effect on my whole life. Since then it’s as if a weight has lifted. A weight that I didn’t even realise I was carrying. I feel different. I haven’t had a single anxious day since then. Not one. And I’ve struggled with anxiety since I was a teenager. That’s a whole month with no anxiety.

Several people have commented that I’m like a different person, especially at work. I went out with my work friends and danced til the early hours (took me a couple of day s to recover lol but hey) and I loved it. I chat to people at lunchtime. I no longer feel grumpy and want to snap at people in the morning. I want to be sociable. I actively seek out people to chat to at lunch time. I chat to my friends about crushes, make up, tv etc. all normal things I know but not for me til now. I even message them out of work – something I would never have previously done. I used to keep myself separate. I went to the pub with them after work and felt accepted and included. So much love for my work friends right now.

I crack jokes, sure I’ve had frustrating times too but nothing really seems to bother me too much or for too long. And I’ve been sleeping – not perfectly but a damn sight better than before. I even ordered myself some make-up. I will confess I’ve rarely bought myself make-up before. Most of what I have has been presents.

And the biggest thing of all for me. I don’t dislike myself anymore. Sure I could do with losing some weight but hey so can most of us! I went out and felt good about how I looked. I feel comfortable with who I am and what I am. I’m happy. IMG_1345

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.

Simple Pleasures

Today I had coffee with a friend. Well to be exact several coffees and some slightly crispy pizza which the kids didn’t finish! But I feel happier than I have for a few days. We talked, we talked, we laughed, we talked some more and laughed a bit more. We weren’t in some fancy coffee shop we were in her kitchen with the children running in and out of the garden and interrupting every few minutes as children do! Our conversation was most definitely not about all happy topics in fact we both had our turns to moan and set the world to rights. But it was just a perfect happy moment. And before we knew it four and a half hours had passed!

Coffee with friends- a simple but very happy pleasure

Fire!

I have loved camp fires for as long as I can remember. I love the challenge of laying a superb fire, of finding just the right wood to make it perfect, of making it symmetrical, of deciding whether to go for a square or a pyramid. Then there’s the challenge of getting it to light with as few matches as possible. And yes I have done one with no ‘artificial kindling’ just dried grass which was lit with only one match! I love the tending of the fire, adding just the right amount of wood to make the fire as hot as is needed, the raking it out to form embers. And then there’s cooking on the fire. I am proud to say that I have, on many occasions, cooked an entire meal on fire. Not just the obvious things like marshmallows but camp pizzas, jacket potatoes, chips, eggy bread, chocolate cake, stuffed bananas, sausages, bacon, full English, stews, soups and dampers(which are delicious eaten with jam!)

But nothing beats a toasted marshmallow. I like them once they have ignited and sizzled for a bit so the outside is crunchy and the inside is oozy and sticky and coats your entire face and fingers! I love that I have introduced literally hundreds of children to this delight (often sandwiched between two chocolate digestives for them) However, I am ashamed to admit that my own niece does not like marshmallows! Hey ho, all the more for Auntie Karen – and Ruby is a champion toaster now as although she does not eat them she always takes her turn toasting one for me!

Then comes the camp fire songs. They come in phases just like any craze but many a child I have babysat for has been regaled with my full repertoire. The words are never written down, just passed on as children learn them. Old favourites such as ‘camp fire’s burning’ never go out of fashion. And then there are regional variations! My guiding family come from all parts of the country, it has been known that there are four versions of the same song all being sung at the same time around the fire. Each one of us sticking to the words we’ve grown up with, all blending together. The great thing about camp fire singing is that is does not matter if you cannot hold a tune (just as well in my case!) enthusiasm and volume are all that are required!

And then after the songs have been sung and the marshmallows toasted you can sit around the embers watching the sun go down from underneath your blanket and just chat and laugh. Before you know it, it’s too dark to see and you’re wishing that you’d brought a torch with you ( thank goodness for smart phones!).

And the camp fire doesn’t just last that night, that beautiful woodsmoke smell lingers, sometimes for days. Personally I do not mind that at all!

Ive lost count of the number of camp fires I’ve done. There’ve been daytime ones, nighttime ones, evening ones, ones that started out as a barbecue but then we decided wood cooks better ones I could go on. But some stick out in my memory more than others.

There was the one at guide camp where we ended up cooking frozen chips over a very dodgy fire in the rain! The one where it was so hot the marshmallows melted in the car before we even got to the fire. Several where brownies, and leaders have made their promise to me and many more where they’ve said goodbye. But the one that stands out for me is my last night at guides. I was fifteen, I had been presented, along with three of my best friends, with my Baden-Powell award. And, as was my unit’s tradition, we left the fire while the others sang. The song ‘Go well and safely’. It still brings a lump to my throat now.

Camp fires are definitely one of life’s happy little moments – thnaks to everyone who has shared them with me.

Today I feel happy

IMG_0914

Today I feel happy. I don’t know why and to be honest I don’t care why. Despite having lots of reasons to not be happy, I am. I woke up feeling contented and full of energy. I’ve already crossed three things off my to-do list. I’m about to get ready to go and meet one of my best friends. Life is good today and I will savour it .

New friends

IMG_0892One unexpected, but really positive,  consequenceof this blog is the new friends I have made. It’s funny how you can work with someone for years and not really ever get to know them but then something like this brings us together. Since January we have shared much laughter and chats, and I really appreciate her.  Definitely a happy little moment 🙂

Happy Hump Day Hugs

IMG_0797.GIF

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!