Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The end of a long day

It has been a long Wednesday, but an interesting and productive one.

I was happy today that I made it up the hill on my bike. At the end of the park where I live, there is a railway bridge, and over it, a dirt track leading down to the main road. I like to cycle down there in the morning - it's short, but has enough rough and muddy bits to get me going first thing. Down is fun. But boy, does going up hurt these days! After not cycling (or indeed doing much else) since my knee injury in October, the old fitness level isn't what it used to be. Yesterday I borked, about three quarters of the way up the hill. But today - I made it to the top. Sweaty, yes. Puffing, yes. But I was there. And on only my third day back in the saddle, I thought it was some kind of achievement.

I will probably end up referring to this quite often on this blog, but the sun came out today, and that always makes me that little bit happier. Grateful, too, that spring is on its way, and it reminded me as well that the nights are light until past 6pm now. So having the sun beam down on me whilst out for a lunchtime meander put me in a better mood and optimistic about the season to come.

I'm about to start coaching a girls football team soon, and I went to a preliminary meeting with the girl who is coaching them now this evening. She wants to hand over after Easter (gulp) but I am heartened that I won't be taking it on alone. There will be a more experienced coach with me to start with, for the pre season and into the first season, while I find my feet and start my FA coach training.

So what does all this have to do with gratefulness, I hear you ask?

It struck me when I was talking to Sarah, the current coach of the team that I'll be taking on, that there are so many things in our communities that rely on the goodwill, time and energy of people like her who volunteer. We should be grateful every day for those people, who might teach our kids football, or be at events with the St John Ambulance to provide first aid, or like my BF, lead Scout groups. They might be people like the team where my mum lives who go to care homes to play board games with elderly residents. There are so many reminders in every community of the fundamental goodness of human nature and the will of people to reach out to one another - we should remember these things when it seems as if every second person is a potential terrorist, rapist or pest, when the hysteria gets too much. Most people actually want others to be happy, and they put a lot of effort into achieving that within their own spheres of influence.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Slipped already!

Well in the whirlwind of visiting friends, and driving home and starting work again, I've been pretty bad at remembering to come on here and blog! And OK, I might have been busy being a gadget freak with my new iphone. I resisted the temptation for so long, but now I have one, well, I'm hooked, I'm ashamed to say. I am careful to keep things in perspective and realise that it's not one of life's essentials and life still happens when you don't have an iphone, but I'm liking it. Nevertheless, I can see the downside possibly being that it is way too easy to waste a lot of time doing things like the Imbecile Test and feeding virtual fish.

Today's first piece of good news is that I have started cycling again. After months off while my knee injury healed, I have watched my fitness steadily decline and my weight go up. I was horrified to get on the Wii Fit and find myself over 11 stone. This is going to change! My first positive of the day was my cycle into work, to arrive feeling pumped and ready to go for the day was a rare change from my usual morning state. That, and I was properly hungry for breakfast, rather than just eating it because I feel I should. There's nothing like the feeling of hunger after physical exercise to make you appreciate food as the fuel it is for your body, and also nothing like pushing your body a little physically to make you want to put the right fuel in it.

The second thing of today that made me feel happy was how chuffed my work colleague was with his birthday cake. My work mate turned 42 today, and he isn't the sort to "do" birthdays, however he told the guy who sits opposite me that it was his birthday today, and he told we decided that the only thing to do with someone who hates birthdays is make a fuss of it of course! We have that sort of relationship in our team where we make our days pass better with banter and humour, so we knew it wouldn't be taken in the wrong way. I found him a card that was actually for a 2 year old and added a 4 to the beginning, and got people in the office to sign it by stealth. The cake was a chocolate hedgehog, and he absolutely loved it! He's kind of a gruff character at times, and the prickly hedgehog sort of suited him, so he was amused - and pleased we'd put in the effort. It was nice to make someone's day, especially as it had been rather a busy one in one way or another.

Right now, I feel happy in fact, because my beloved dog is stretched out beside me on the sofa. He is a proper mummy's boy, and generally does like to be where I am most of the time. I just love the way having a sleeping mutt next to you induces calm - he just looks so peaceful and content, it's impossible for it not to rub off!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Tiredness has taken over

and that means I have to be quick about my gratefulness today.

I got my new car. And it is fab. OK, so it's a 2001 Corsa, nothing to write home about, but it isn't full of dents and has power steering and (the best bit) central locking that locks at the touch of a button! Amazing! I am very easily pleased.

So today's things in no particular order that made me happy.

1. Being by the sea.
I'm not normally a sea person but I did feel extraordinarily tranquil today, watching the waves come in. Maybe it was because it was a nice day. It was hard to feel any sort of anger or unpleasantness watching that sea and the sun sparkle off it. I could have happily stayed there all day.

2. The art of Nicholas Roerich.
Russian artist/philosopher/archaeologist. Most famous for designing the sets for Diaghilev's Ballet Russe, but he also painted 6000 paintings in his lifetime. I love his pictures and being over at my mum's friend Russell's place today, he showed us the DVD he had of Roerich's life and work. Some very stirring stuff, and it takes a lot to get me with art, because I'm not big on paintings. I guess I like that the spiritual and philosophical shows through in the paintings, as well as a true beauty and simplicity in them. There is such calmness and tranquility there.

3. Charity shop finds.
Maybe it's the Yorkshire genes, but I love a bargain. I picked up a Roxy sweater for SD in this charity shop in Topsham for £2.50! It looked barely worn, and is a lovely light blue that will suit her nicely. And is age 14 so she will grow into it, seeing as she is shooting up like a sunflower at the moment. I also found the cutest little cuddly reindeer - yes, I know it's not Christmas but it was a quid and it was so cute I couldn't resist getting it for my friend's little girl who just turned 2. I know it will be cuddled to death, and kids that age don't really have any concept of reindeer only coming out for one month of the year. And why should they anyway, surely reindeer deserve love all year round!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

When the day passes you by

...and you realise that you didn't really take much time to appreciate the little things.

I was so busy today. Long story, but I ended up having to buy a new car. Mine has just got too many mechanical problems now to be worth repairing, so I've had to allow it to give up the ghost and get another one.

I guess I should really be grateful that my mum earns a lot more than I do and is willing to share her bounty with me. I've never had money, mainly because I've never had a decent job that earns me decent money. I get money, it disappears. That seems to be the way of things. I am grateful, of course I am, but - it does highlight my shortcomings. The fact that I can only afford a banger and not something halfway roadworthy for longer than a few months, without my mum's help, at the age of 27 - it makes me feel a little shit about myself, as much as I am grateful and happy that my mum can help me when I need it. I do look forward to the day when I have a much more sorted financial situation (not to mention a better job) and can actually afford to buy my mum something nice for once, or take her on holiday. Hell, even a meal out! In fact, that really is something that I should do. Save up the money to take her for a really nice meal before I go back to uni and hit serious skintness.

Seeing as the above is a bit of a double edged sword, I figure I probably shouldn't count it as one of my three things to be grateful for, even though I am if that makes sense. And I sure am grateful that my shiny new car has power steering after 2 years of heaving my go-kart-esque Citroen around. And air con that doesn't involve me opening any windows and breathing in exhaust fumes.

So, here they are for today. The non car related reasons to be happy.

Number 1 - The sun! The sun was out all day today, bringing with it the promise of spring. And I actually saw some tulip bulbs peeking through the soil. Spring is most definitely in the air, even if the winter chill is still there, and I am still firmly attached to my Ugg boots (ok, fake Beijing market ugg boots, but I can pretend, OK?). But there was some warmth in that sun, oh yes. I might have got some vitamin D into my light-starved system, finally!

Number 2 - pyjamas. Why pyjamas, I hear you ask? Well, I have lots of pairs of pyjamas. I love them. There is something so comforting about them. My current favourite pair is a cow print pair of pj pants and a top that says "Moody but marvellous". The cow print pants match my cow print slippers. Let nobody say I am not co-ordinated, even when slobbing out. Putting my pyjamas on is a signal that it's the end of the day and time to breathe out. Time for me. Time when I'm not running around after anyone else. Pyjamas are great, and my pyjama donning moments always make me happier and more relaxed. Everyone should have a favourite pair.

Number 3 - Chilli chocolate. It sounds wrong to many people, but it is my ultimate favourite food combo ever. And the way I like it best is a couple of squares melted and stirred into hot milk to make a hot chocolate with a difference. When I lived in Melbourne, there was this little South American cafe down Lygon Street that used to serve the most amazing hot chocolates, made with seriously dark, rich chocolate, and they were out of this world. My absolute favourite was the chilli, honey and vanilla one, but they also did an orange and cardamom one that came a close second. So when I make my own chilli chocolate at home, I am always reminded of sitting in that cafe listening to sounds of salsa, merengue and mambo, and being transported for a moment to a lively Latin hacienda. I made one tonight, and as always, the taste made me smile. It's one of those things that I will keep coming back to over and over. Kind of like pyjamas in fact.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Day 1 - what have I got to be happy about today?

So this is my first day of Life Appreciation.

The first thing that made me happy today was the lovely hot shower I had this morning. You know when you get the shower just the right temperature? I'm also staying at my mum's at the moment, she has an old house which gets really cold, so getting out of my warm snuggly bed was tough today. The shower was just what I needed!

The second thing that made me happy today was finding the EXACT skirt I've been looking for. Black, slightly flouncy, and fantastic for teaming with rock chick T-shirts, sparkly cardigans, bright coloured tights and biker boots. H&M, you rock, but are an extremely dangerous place for me to go shopping! Somehow I always end up doing a raiding party on Divided when I am in need of retail therapy. I love it when you find exactly what you're looking for.

The third thing was that my fabulous pictures from Candy Snap Boudoir are ready! They look amazing, and I am sooo glad I did it. The fab Rebecca Lippett (of La Belle Mere fame) did the shots for me on Monday, when I took a trip to her studio in Bristol, and I can honestly say that yes, every woman should be photographed naked. OK, so my slightly hyper critical mother said on seeing my snaps that I could do with dropping some weight, but hey - I'm not going to wait around until I reach the perfect weight to be happy with my body. I'm naturally a size 12-14, have always had a big frame, and I build muscle easily, which tends to make for a not very feminine effect, I will admit, but we're all different, and being sexy is not just reserved for the skinny minnies of this world. We should embrace what we are - being healthy is far more important. And I love my snaps - who wouldn't love getting done up like Dita von Teese and making like a movie star! Every woman should do this - and every woman should learn to love her body. Life is too short to be unhappy in your own skin.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The (wo)Man In The Mirror

I never liked MJ particularly when he was alive. He was just too OTT for me when I was first getting into music - I liked floppy haired indie boys and the grunge sound, not over-theatrical performances involving too many children. But recently, my boyfriend downloaded a collection of MJ's greatest hits, and I actually found myself listening to it in a different way.

The song "Man In The Mirror" pretty much describes where my life is at right now. I can go on the same, doing just as I've always done, and repeat all the same patterns over and over til I die. Or, I can ask the woman in the mirror to change her ways. I'm not going to suggest that doing this might make the whole world a better place, but it certainly might do something to mine.

This blog is a diversion from my usual caustic humour, because I need to do something different - tell a different story. For once, I am not going to use the internet for what I usually use it for - venting and carrying on (albeit in a witty manner) about all the woes my life involves. This experimental blog will be for one month to start with, and I'm calling the experiment the Grateful Diaries. Because there's a lot in life to be grateful for as well as a whole load of horseshit, and I'm hoping that actually forcing my naturally pessimistic, dark humoured self to concentrate on the positive for once, might actually start to become habit forming.

I will write on this every day for a month, and the rule is that I must write about at least three things each day that have made me happy, grateful, or any other positive emotion I care to mention. If I have a day where I'm struggling to find three, then that's going to be my red flag that I've not done enough that day to find the positive and dig it out of life. Even if it was just a particularly yummy vanilla latte from Starbucks.

This is in the vain hope that I might one day be one of those people who sees the glass as being half full....if you weren't born with it, cultivate it.