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:

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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….).

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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!!

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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!

 

Being organised

The more posts I write for this blog, the more aware I am becoming of how happy I feel when I am organised. All aspects of organisation make me feel better, whether I have cleaned and tidied the flat, made a list, sorted through the post or made a phone-call, it all brings me a feeling of happiness. Thinking about it more carefully, I think the happiness comes from a sense of pride, a sense of accomplishment that I have achieved something positive and a sense of relief that I don’t need to worry about it anymore. I also get to enjoy the results of being organised, whether that’s living in a tidy space or knowing that I have made the necessary arrangements for something good to happen.

The reduction in mental stress is huge – I think everyone knows the feeling of brain-ache, when you are using so much energy to simultaneously remember, organise and arrange 101 things and you are worried that you might forget something. I often describe this as having 72 tabs open on Google and trying to work on them all at the same time. I’m sure you can relate to that!

To help me be more organised I have many resources and routines in place:

  • Every morning I check all of the places that I receive messages – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email, texts and WhatsApp and make sure that I have replied to anything I have received (and even then I miss some – as Karen will be able to tell you!).
  • I have a calendar on my phone that is automatically set to give me reminders of events. I am also able to use it to set myself reminders for jobs that need doing on specific days.
  • I have a magnetic whiteboard on the fridge to write down my shopping list – I can add items as I go so that I don’t have to remember them and I can wipe items off as I buy them.
  • I have a calendar on the wall so that my husband and I can write down any major events we’re attending so that we don’t double book ourselves (it has happened many, many times in the past…).
  • I keep pens and post-its near the calendar so that I can write myself any reminders and stick them in an appropriate place.
  • I keep a toast rack in the kitchen to store any unopened post from the letter box – this stops any post being missed and reminds me to open it!
  • I have pretty bulldog clips hanging on the wall in my office to hold any paperwork I am currently using – this stops it getting lost and stops my desk getting cluttered (they also look very cute!).
  • I have a book (yes, a book) of to-do lists. I have different lists for different areas of my life (such as home, work, Guides, Zumba) and when I have time, I work through the lists as much as I can. This helps me to allocate my time more effectively so that jobs don’t get forgotten or left languishing too long. It also stops my lists getting lost!
  • Everything has a home – nothing is allowed to live in the flat without having a place to belong. This stops the place being constantly untidy because of random items that have nowhere to go.

I could probably think of more things that I do, but we’ll leave it there for now! What do you do to help yourself be organised? How does it make you feel?

Helpful washing

Following on from my cringe-worthy admission in my last post, I have another housework related source of happiness…I know, I need to get a life. But seriously, being the resident washing fairy is made so much easier when washing is already turned the correct way round. It makes me so happy when I’m pairing up socks and I find one that is already turned the right way round – I can’t tell you how many hours of my life have been wasted turning socks! And when I’m doing the ironing and a t-shirt hops out of the basket already turned inside out, it practically flies off the ironing board with the time I’ve saved having to wrestle with it to get it in a fit state to be ironed. Now, although you might think this is weird, I bet there are lots of you out there who have just read this and smiled because you know exactly what I’m talking about…

Housework

I can’t believe I’m actually admitting this….but I love housework! Making things neat and tidy makes me so happy – tidy house, tidy mind! I feel so much better when everything is clean and tidy and I like feeling like I have been productive and accomplished something. I also find it quite therapeutic doing my cleaning while I’m watching something on the telly, just having time to myself and pottering around. I like being busy and I’m not very good at sitting still for too long so I have no problem wandering around the flat having a little tidy up while I watch my programmes! Also, from a very stereotypical and sexist point of view (now I really can’t believe I’m admitting this!), doing the housework makes me feel like I’m being a good wife. My husband does an equal share of everything at home and would never suggest that doing the housework is my responsibility, but it makes me happy to feel like I’m looking after our little home and keeping it looking nice for us (I know, send me back to the 1950’s with my pinny and my vacuum and just tell me to stop talking….). There you have it, a genuine source of happiness found in an unlikely place!

Sundays

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I love Sundays.

Well that was a short post! 🙂 I really do love Sundays and I think I love them so much now because in the past they have been a day of the week that filled me with dread. In my previous jobs I always worked weekends so it didn’t really register as anything special, and as a teacher they were a day that put a knot in my stomach and made me want to hide under the covers in denial. You see, I always chose to leave my ‘home’ work (see what I did there? :D) for Sundays which I know is a terrible habit, but by Friday evening I was so exhausted that I couldn’t wait to have a break. By Sunday, the work couldn’t wait any longer so my day was always filled with planning, marking, making resources, writing emails and an endless list of other jobs that I had neglected to do. I always missed out on anything fun that happened on a Sunday and by the evening I was usually tired, grumpy and not ready for Monday. Now not all teachers live like that I am pleased to say, but that was my experience and I hated it. Since I have changed my job, Sundays have become a day that I adore, and it’s not because I’m having the time of my life on endless adventures…nope, instead I love Sundays because I have time to cook a nice breakfast, take the dog for a lovely walk, go to my mum and dad’s for Sunday lunch and stay an extra hour to play board games. I love having time to sort out the washing and do the ironing because these are all the seemingly normal activities I never had time to do before. Today is the 40th Sunday that I have been able to enjoy and the novelty has still not worn off.

Blast from the past!

Happy Humpday everyone! This week I have been made super happy by a discovery I made in the loft at my parent’s house. Many moons ago I went to lace making classes and I loved it but after they ended I just put my kit in the loft and forgot all about it. I have recently been enjoying watching Katie’s podcast Inside number 23 and it has done nothing but fuel my love of craft making and remind me of the lace making that I enjoyed so long ago! So on Sunday I ventured in to the spider-filled loft and found my lace kit tucked away. I couldn’t believe it when I got the pillow out and found an unfinished pattern still on the pins – I hadn’t even bothered to finish it or unpin it! After 15 years on the pins I decided it was probably ready to come off, so I have removed it ready to start a new project. So far I have given the bag and my bobbin roll a good wash, redone all of the spangles on my bobbins so that they look shiny and new and I have ordered myself some new yarns and a book of bobbin lace for beginners. My plan is to back to the beginning and re-teach myself the stitches so that I can build up my knowledge again. I am really excited to find some Christmas patterns and some sparkly yarns so that I can make some Christmas decorations. I used to really enjoy making stars and snowflakes and I thought that they would be a lovely item to donate to the craft shop in Rural Care – thank goodness I have such a good excuse for crafting!!

Bagging feed

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Bagging feed – simple but relaxing!

I find it hilarious that I get so much happiness from simple things – I think it’s because it provides a bit of a brain break and there’s usually a quick return on progress! Bagging animal feed basically involves putting one scoop of feed in to a paper bag, then rolling the top of the bag down, so simple but my goodness do I enjoy it!! I find it really relaxing digging the scoop in to the food, watching it pour out in to the bag and listening to it hit the paper. Seeing all of the bags of food lined up neatly in the box brings me great joy – there’s just so much happiness to be found in tidy organisation!! Bagging feed is also a great opportunity to sit down with other members of the group and have a chat and a bit of banter which always puts a smile on my face 🙂

Next time you go to a farm and buy some bags of feed, just think about how much enjoyment went in to preparing them for you!

My new job!

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Me walking Patti the goat!

I very much believe in fate and that everything happens for a reason. After ‘the horrific thing that happened’ and I had left teaching (and had spent the week on the sofa in my pyjamas), an advert popped up on Facebook advertising a job working in Rural Care at the farm where I got married. I only saw the advert in the first place because I ‘like’ the farm on Facebook so there was my first twist of fate! When I went to visit Rural Care, I went to meet the manager and it turned out that she lives on the same road as me and knows my husband because they have bumped in to each other on dog walks – while this didn’t qualify me for the job, it did help to break the ice when I first met her and there we have a second twist of fate! Going for the job interview was a bit of a gamble because at the time there was only two days of work available per week. Luckily this is where my third twist of fate came in to play. Because I have a teaching background, the opportunity came up for two additional days of work per week working with school children. This made the job up to four days per week so I was in  much better position to go for it!!

I am so SO happy to say that I got the job and I couldn’t be more happy – it is a job that I could never have dreamed actually existed and I feel so lucky to be part such an incredible service. Rural Care is a service that provides adults with learning difficulties and mental health issues the opportunity to work on the farm, learn new skills and make friends. I spend two days a week working with some of the adults and we have a great time together mucking out the animals, feeding them and giving them health checks. We also work on our allotment, go for long walks to litter pick around the farm and use our craft studio to make lots of products that we can sell in the shop to raise money for new equipment. We also have schools and colleges for teenagers with learning difficulties who come to the farm on a weekly basis to complete qualifications for skills in working life. I spend two days a week supporting two classes to complete units of work on animal care, poultry farming, working in a team and following instructions. It is lovely to work in a group with students and see them progress in their skills and confidence.

I personally get so much joy from my new job – I absolutely love the people that I work with and we always have a lot of fun, I feel confident in what I am doing and I know that my managers will always support me when I need it, and I love being outdoors every day working with the animals. I have already found lots of little pockets of happiness to share and I am sure there will be many more to come!

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.

New Hobbies

My latest happy thing is my photography. I’ve slowly been taking more and more photos over the past few years. And I have plenty of subjects with all the Brownies and Rainbows! I’ve recently graduated from my bridging camera to a DSLR with different lenses and I’m loving it!

I love the challenge of taking really good photographs and capturing moments and expressions. At the moment I’m really into the wildlife, flowers and animals and nature photography and I’m really just experimenting with different effects etc. It makes me proud as I’ve found something that I truly believe that I’m good at – and that doesn’t happen very often.

I also love the pleasure that other people get from seeing my photos – I’m basically a people pleaser! I’m intending to keep improving and getting better until I get to a standard where I might even be able to use my hobby as a job!

Here are a few of my favourites from my day out today.