Be kind. Even on your bad days

Quote Anon

Today’s post isn’t long and its message is simple. We all have battles that we face, both internal personal battles and external battles that we may find ourselves in through no fault of our own…so do other people.

It’s easy to be consumed by the now and even the toxicity of the past, it’s much harder to smile on days when you don’t feel like smiling and even harder to push that smile into the world towards strangers.

However, in my experience it’s the light in the darkest of moments, the kindness that comes from people that don’t need to care that is truly special.

As the Christmas season approaches and we all become consumed by…well, consumerism, perhaps in this crazy world of 2020 that we all find ourselves in, the best gift we can give ourselves and those around us is a little extra kindness. It often doesn’t cost a lot and it doesn’t always get noticed but I truly believe the future of the world depends on it (that totally sounded like a marvel film intro)

As the last few weeks of 2020 past and we step into 2021 with a little more hope and a dollop of joy, please add a gallon of kindness to those who need it. You can never be sure who needs it, so aim for everyone. Let the car out of the side road if it’s safe to do so, let the man in a rush pass you by and don’t judge him – you don’t know why he is rushing. Kindness is checking on friends with a quick phone call and knocking on vulnerable neighbours doors to check if they need anything. Open doors and smile.

Smile when people give you eye contact, increase your manners (it’s something adults generally suck at), tell people you love them and give compliments like you’re PollyAnna. Over the years I’ve written a lot about this topic, gratitude and kindness truly matter and usually I write to remind myself.

So if nobody has told you today, your hair looks fab, I love that jumper and I’d like to thank you for dropping by, it’s means the world.

Humble with a hint of Kanye

Quote Anon

This week we said hello (and then goodbye) to Friday 13th in 2020. The meme game was high and it made reflect on the year a little, was 2020 really that horrendous? For me personally we have said goodbye to loved ones (not pandemic related), we’ve been affected by the lockdown restrictions and I updated my passport unnecessarily but we’ve also had so many awesome moments. The UK had a summer that seemed to last forever and it was joyful sunny! We used our garden and lockdown gave us family time that I couldn’t have imagined possible. I stepped over fear and went for an interview on zoom (so 2020) got the job, that led to a huge lifestyle change and well…there were a lot of good moments weaved in between.

In the last few weeks of 2020 make sure you’re your own hype man, don’t get caught in only reflecting on this year in a negative manner. All years, months and days have contrast of both good and bad moments, in fact I’ve learnt from experience that sometimes laughter in the darker moments is all the more precious. Some years are a little sweeter and now as it turns out, some have memories of banging on pans with wooden spoons and not seeing extended family as much as we would have liked.

But we’re still here, unless you’re reading this from beyond the grave, which would be pretty cool. We are still here and we still have time to create more awesome memories and remember this year with some Kanye flair – he ran for president, which lets me honest is both bold and so Kanye. Imagine if the world had as much self esteem as Mr West, although as the quote suggests a little humbleness often goes a long way too and it’s a delicate balance. Here are a few quotes from the man himself.

“For me to say I wasn’t a genius would just be me lying to myself and you”

“Everything I am made me everything i am” nope I don’t understand this either?

“I feel I’m too busy writing history to read it”

Then every now and then he says something that makes me cherish 2020 a little more…

“The only luxury we have is time. The time you get to spend with your family” count your blessings as much as you count your hardships and when the New Year’s Eve bells ring you can step into 2021 with gratitude (and a dash of relief)

Of course I talk to myself, sometimes I need expert advice

Quote Anon

Before I’m certified crazy and confess all my sins, this quote inspired two thoughts that I’d like to share.

Be cautious of how you talk to yourself: That could be out loud or could be your internal voice. The universe, God, Allah – whatever you refer to it as, doesn’t know the difference between you setting intentions and meaning it, putting yourself down or being sarcastic. It often means we align with negative emotions that we don’t want to keep repeating. I’ve often said in posts that the best advice is to talk to yourself like you wouldn’t your best friend. You wouldn’t watch her/him in the mirror and call out all of their flaws, if you did you could at the very least expect the friendship to end. Instead highlight the good, thank people when they give you compliments rather than feel the need to justify how much you paid for the outfit, look in the mirror and although instinct may lead you to a negative – take a breath and then name two things you like about yourself. The great think about our brain is it’s constantly regenerating new neurone pathways, so make sure those pathways are positive and lead you towards a life you love.

Don’t doubt your own expertise: Again, I often feel this comes down to confidence but so often we don’t own the room. We don’t say ‘we’ve got this’ or we hesitate and minimalise our contribution. We all have unique skills and some we are insanely awesome at – own it. The truth is you’ve probably worked extremely hard to develop that skill set over a number of years, it’s usually a passion that brings us joy. As a teacher I know the best thing I can do with my knowledge is to share it. There are also things we are ‘okay’ at, however often you may be the expert in the room with your ‘okay’ level hat on. Own it. The world would be a much more joyful place if we were keen to shine our love, share our passion and enjoy watching other people’s shadows light up under our light.

Before you head in to the world write down three things you are an expert in. It might be be geology, quantum physics or coding…it might also be cooking eggs (this is one of mine), peeling a satsuma in one go or brick laying – the skills are all neutrally awesome. If you need a wall built, someone who’s skill is ballet isn’t going to cut it. Armed with your own expertise, go out of your way to share it this week and if your skill is making the perfect cup of tea, swing by my house at some point because sharing is caring

Every storm runs out of rain eventually

Quote from Alex Banayan

Being from the UK I’m an expert in all things weather related, you see in England we don’t have a climate, we have weather. Sometimes (and often in the last few weeks) we can have torrential rain and seconds later clear sky’s and something in the sky that resembles the sun beaming down like ‘what rain?’ The key in terms of fashion if you’re ever visiting is layers. Be prepared for cold Mornings, rain, an unpredictable grey sky and if you’re lucky that orange mystical beast of a sun may come out to play…although unlikely.

Alex’s quote above related to storms, they blow over and the clouds run out of rain…a comparison to a metaphorical storm you may be in in a physical sense. Emotions are often temporary and with support, ease and flow you’ll find that emotions too run out of cloud.

However, the true surprise from me is that people strive for the sun. Looking for pure happiness and expecting to stay in it. Think tropical island for a second – too much of anything has its downsides. We think we want the sun until we get burnt, we think we want the snow until we slip on the ice or get lost in a blizzard. We are often surprised when we try new things and like them…actually the real sweet spot in the weather system is a rainbow, the prism of joy that leaps from sun and rain combined.

Don’t spend your days chasing the storm or under grey clouds of doom…it’s temporary, everything is – even you. Instead I double dare you infinity to look for the joy in all weathers, in all emotions and remember it’s only for a short moment, tomorrow may be different and different can be better or worse and if you’re truly blessed you may get a tomorrow after that and that too will be different. Enjoy the contrast in the journey and don’t spend your time looking for an end result.

Be kind. It’s gangsta

Quote Anon

#kindness matters is my favourite hashtag. Simply because it does matter, many people think it’s overlooked and unappreciated but in my experience often people have remembered the smallest of actions years later.

I asked my seven year old son what stories he knew that were about kindness, he told me one about a prince and a goose and then about a king and a mango…well actually a lot of mangoes, the more he retold the story the more mangoes seemed to appear. To the point where he wasn’t sure why the story was about kindness? He walked away and I thought the conversation had ended, he then sat back down on the sofa next to me and said that kindness in real life was like whispers. ‘You can’t always see them, sometimes you can feel them – they feel like a tickle, but mostly they’re invisible’

He of course is right. True kindness that makes an impact isn’t about large gesture (or using his metaphor tsunami winds) but usually unthought moments of love. Holding a door; staying to help pack the chairs away, making a cup of tea, buying a gift because you’re reminded of that person rather than for an occasion, taking time to say hello, sharing crisps (something I’m not great at), the list is endless.

Who’s the kindest person you know? My advice, be more like them.

It’s often free and makes a huge impact on one individual, if the world was kinder we wouldn’t have so many people who are lonely, mental health figures would reduce and there would be less judgement…sign me up for that kind of world, it’ll take a few small actions from everybody…are you in?

Did you finish the game? I finished the season.

This quote comes from an interview between Pat McAfee and AJ Hawk (American football) that the Mr shared with me earlier in the week. This quote incorporates endurance, determination and resilience.

The conversation was around an injury that AJ had sustained…well multiple injuries. Whilst this blog isn’t about ignoring pain or medical advice it is about having to push ourselves and overcome barriers in order to succeed. It’s important to remember that we can often give more than our negative mindset would let us believe, particularly when like AJ we are keen to see the ‘season’ through.

Are there any goals or accomplishments that you’ve fallen short of completing? If so, was it really important to you? Perhaps the timing was wrong, or maybe stepping back and analysing what you didn’t do might help you succeed in the future. We often miss our target due to missing one or two small steps.

Sometimes we aim too small. As an adult life can unfold on you, pushing your dreams to the back of the airing cupboard where you swear to totally look at them another day, week, year…after the kids go to school, leave school, move out…too late? I should say I also believe our dreams can shift and alter, what was once important is often laughable as we age, but for dreams that make you still feel sparkle in your toes it is never to late.

Take some time this week to jot down your dreams, goals and things you’ve generally never completed. Laugh at the ones that make you cringe, work out where you’ve gone wrong if you’ve tried before and finish the season.

A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle

Quote from James Keller

Another week whisks past and many are still finding their feet, understandably.

This quote from James Keller reminded me to pause and reflect on how I can serve others. Sometimes it might be just a smile or making someone a cup of tea, a hug or perhaps picking up the phone and checking on a loved one.

If your cup isn’t full then I suggest you top your own cup up (and add sugar) first. However, if you have some to spare I often find the smallest gestures can enhance others and like the quote suggests it won’t dim your light.

In fact often, spreading the light can raise happiness levels in teams, families or tribes. Perhaps making some cakes and taking them into the office might bring some joy to others, maybe leaving a post-it on someone’s desk to show you appreciate them is all they need, the small flickers of light, like the night sky make for a beautiful night sky over all. Today I sold some houseplants on Facebook and a lady was delayed as she has locked her keys in her car, the RAC were out but she was clearly distressed. I told her there was no rush and I’d hold the plant for her, but when she arrived I gave her a bonus mini plant as well, her smile was enough to make it worth while. When we feel like the world is against us, it often only take a small connection to relight our energy again so that we can shine. Constellations create wonderful images when we join together, in this crazy universe beauty can be found when we do just that.

This week make time to give a little, love a lot and sleep with gratitude as your base – it’s the recipe for success for you and the universe.

Don’t be eye candy, be soul food

Quote by…

This quote makes me overflow, it makes me excited and I feel the need to put this in neon lights (* adds that to my to do list).

Physical appearances are subjective, they change with and like the seasons. Also, different people are attractive to different people. Now, before you stop reading this because you feel I’m stating the obvious, Im writing this because there are multi billion pound corporations preaching to us what is assethitically pleasing? That I find odd. 

I don’t need a chef to tell me if I like the food I’m eating, but it would seem humanity likes to be told what’s fashionable, what’s acceptable – the eyebrows are in and they are huge. Working in an all girl school for over a decade I can tell you that they can look gorgeous or absolutely terrifying. 

I once had to collect a girl from a lesson as she took the ‘natural’ make up policy to a new level. She began to cry, her reaction to me offering wipes and the time to ‘tone it down’ devastated her. So we spoke it through and she explained that she’d woke up early to apply the ‘many’ layers as she was meeting a boy after school and clearly she really liked him. As I helped her wipe away the ‘concealer’ we spoke about what she liked about him. I asked her what his eyebrows were like, she wasn’t sure. I altered the conversation and highlighted why I thought she was soul food, her assets. On the Monday morning she came to tell me something I already knew – he prefered her without the make up. For a 14 yr old girl this was a revelation, for anyone that’s actually spoken to member of the male population its common news that they aren’t a fan of excessive make up. Whilst they lived happily ever after for a handful of weeks until she moved on to someone ‘even fitter’ it made me reflect on what she had learnt about herself, that said full on make up can be fun to in the right setting and I think its essential that we try to keep judgements on peoples appearances to ourselves, comments that are often meant with love can shatter hearts and leave our confidence in a puddle at our feet. 

Perhaps your soul food is wearing bright colours or expressing yourself through tattoo’s or maybe you feel your best in comfy pjs and rocking a messy bun….the look is irrelevant, its how you use that look to fuel your soul that matters. When we know we look good, a giddy smile beams out of us like a search light and it highlights other peoples joy too. When we receive a compliment we are much more likely to see that energy reflected back to us.

Sometimes the tiniest things shine brightest in our lives.

Quote Anon.

I’m a fan of the small twinkles of joy that I find in my life. I’m hardwired to see them, breath them and appreciate them. It’s true I’m one of the happy, cheerful sorts that you don’t want to meet on a bad day, but you’d be wrong in thinking that this outward joy comes naturally to me. So what keeps me on the sunny side of life?

My thoughts:

I consciously make positive choices asking my internal self ‘Does this feel good?’ or ‘Do I need to let go of this?’

I also read positive literature and online only follow accounts that make me feel good as I scroll, the exception are topics I feel passionately about; like teen mental health, anxiety or sometimes adoption stories – however, again I select accounts that are giving solutions, tools or sharing positive intentions around those issues. We don’t have the TV on in our home, instead we sit down to stream specific films or series – the news is never on. If I need to know, social media has a way of letting me know the big stuff, without the TV on we also don’t have adverts blaring through our home or the constant chatter of day time TV and negative energy.

I do meditate but I admit this is something I’m currently struggling to keep in my routine. Mornings can be manic and evenings I just end up dozing off, however this week I’m going to trial lunch time meditations now the little dude has returned to school. There are many articles on why we should all meditate and so many different ways; guided or not, with or without music, with actions or still….it’s worth exploring what works for you.

Magnetised by positive people:

We can’t always avoid people that have low energy or perhaps drain us, in the work place you may not get to decide who you work with and its unlikely that you’re already thinking of a certain someone that drains you faster than the bathroom plug can be emptied. However, in your personal life you can, or you can minimise interactions with people who dont raise you up.

Another way around this, is balancing your time with personalities who both drain and radiate for you at the same time or near each other. I also sometimes will make sure I have time to myself to ‘fill up my cup’ before I enter a situation that I know may be highly stressful, although I realise that this isn’t always possible.

Actively search for the tiny moments of sparkle in your day:

Don’t just notice them, highlight them. Keep track of them in a gratitude diary, or a note in your phone, share them with others or just relish them a little longer than you might normally.

To get you started here are a few of mine from where I’m seated in this moment:

  • The sun is shining through the windows and its hitting my prisms that hang and casting rainbows everywhere.
  • My cup is over half full…no seriously, I just filled glass with water (hydrations lifts moods too)
  • My dog is laying across my feet – bonus that she’s keeping them warm
  • I hoovered this morning so my carpet looks clear (no toys in site!)

Once you begin this Polly-Anna approach to looking for the light in life, much like any habit you’ll magnetise to more of the joy life offers. Whilst its not always easy to see, I promise you there is always something good to appreciate. Basic maths tells us that we can’t get a negative number from two or more positive numbers. I suggest that you can lead a more hopeful, sparkly and joyful existence if you choose to focus on the tiny moments life offers us.

Escaping is not changing

Quote from Ross Welfords book ‘Time travelling with a hamster’

You may of noticed I didn’t publish anything on Sunday, I just couldn’t find my writing flow (which is very unusual for me), so instead I have 4a handful of half written posts that I’ll deal with another day. This afternoon I saw a quote in the teen fiction book listed below and my inner blog danced like the world was watching. I’m also a huge fan of Ross’s work.

2020 the year pretty much nobody is going on holiday, no escaping and yet so many changes. I think travel offers both a quick escape get away or a profound change. I remember my friends brother returning from Australia and as he walked in the door he didn’t look like the boy that left?

Escapism has its place, I personally find mine in books and creative outlets that allow my imagination to explore momentarily.

However, when things go wrong in life we often as adults find quick fixes to dull the sense, from drugs to alcohol or we pack and leave certain that the grass is greener. Of course lawns are complex organisms and need the right level of sun / water ratio…very quickly we learn that all grass has the ability to die and look dishevelled (ours is green thanks to the high ratio of moss) and our old patterns we attempted to escape from reincarnate with new relationships or jobs.

Change is usually beneficial but comes with sacrifice and hard work. Change requires bravery and a trust of instinct which can be hard to summon. So often we go for the easy option; in lawn maintenance this would be the artificial option.

However, the ebb and flow of life requires change. Nature changes seasons and it’s sometimes brutal, things die back and then grow again with a new depth. Natural disasters have a way of destroying but also rebuilding.

I think a combination of both is always is useful, sometimes we just need a brief chapter of escapism but sometimes we need to put the work in, be brave and make huge changes so that our lawns of life can thrive. There is often more reward in change than the temporary delay that escapism brings. How do you escape and what would you like to change?