Archives for the month of: March, 2014

This weekend as a last minute decision I took the three hour journey back to my home in Wales. As it was Mother’s Day on the Sunday I thought it would be nice to visit to everyone for the day.
So I guess the positive thing from my weekend was family / home.  I always love going back home to Wales. As soon as I cross the Seven Bridge I instantly feel at home.

Home
When I was younger, I was so desperate to leave Wales, venture out and experience more than I had done in the small town where I’m from. Over the few years since I’ve left, I’ve come to appreciate my home.  The people that are in it and of course my family. I guess this appreciation has comes with distance.
For people that have never been to Wales it’s hard to explain the differences from the rest of the country. They are only minor differences in themselves, however as a whole the country feels very different, especially in attitudes.

I got to spend some quality time with my sister, which is always so lovely. As kids it’s pretty fair to say we didn’t get on. We are only two years apart so I guess this in normal for sisters. Now we’ve had some time apart and we’ve grown up we seem to be much closer. It feels more like we’re on the same team against my parents. As apposed to us battling, and our parents being the referees.
We get to have the girly chats, much like the ones I have with my friends – which I suppose she is my friend. Over time, it feels like we can tolerate our differences, which weren’t the easiest thing to do when your a teenager.

One of the best reasons I love going home is to harass my dog! You can see my obsession in more detail in my previous post – Introducing Woody.
Here’s a photo – because it’s too cute not to.

Love dogs, Jack Russell,

 

So I’d say in conclusion, the positive element of this weekend is appreciation of my family 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Following on from my previous post  where I plan to document one positive thing from each day.  The positive part of my day was that this morning I made the effort to get my ass down the gym! I’ve been feeling very motivated recently and I think it’s because I’ve started training on a regular basis. For me, I find if I do a good hour session at the gym it releases me from the day, a way of getting my brain to focus on one task and to completely relax.

I’ve got a good gym plan now that i’m powering through trying to push myself further. I have a good support around me in terms of people I can go to for advice. About a year ago my sister really got into fitness, learning how to develop herself physically as well as mentally. This has rubbed off on me, so I can go to her when I need anything!

Also one of my friends is a personal trainer. She has one of these infectiously passionate personalities where you can’t help but get enthralled by her vast amount of knowledge and dedication to improving other people. She is driven by the fact she is helping others succeed and fulfill their goals. This passion shines out of her, and it literally makes me want to hit the gym immediately.
Have a little look at her website

With all this around me I cannot help but feel like I need to pull my weight (quite literally).

Gym, motivation,

Having a good balance with work, social life, exercise (well for me anyways) it makes such a huge impact on my general happiness day to day. If I lack in any of these areas I start to feel a bit imbalanced and as though I’m not getting the most out of myself. This week as a whole I’ve been pretty good. I’ve had some much needed time with my girls, the other half and some gym time.

What was positive about your day?

I read my horoscope yesterday, which is something that I don’t often do. I’m not majorly into horoscope and astrology however from time to time I enjoy reading what might come of the next month.
Well it just so happened that my horoscope read ‘you should take the time with a friend or lover as you have both had testing weeks, and enjoy some quality time’. I don’t need to be asked twice.

That evening with my ‘lover’  we went on a little date night, had food and just spent some quality time with each other. Even though it was a Thursday evening I think it was a good choice to remove ourselves from the chaos of the week and just enjoy being with the two of us.

I think it’s very important to have moments like these! Whether it’s with friends or partners. It makes you appreciate what you have and allow yourselves to reconnect. I see very often couples for example that may live together not really enjoying each other, just simply existing next to each other.

Taking the opportunity when you can – even for a couple of hours is invaluable! If you don’t have the time, make the time. As the gap between the relationship will just keep growing. The day to day stresses can cause you to take it out on the ones who are closest to you, so from time to time appreciating the relationship and reminding yourselves why you are with each other brings you closer.

Oh and this is completely irrelevant to the rest of the post, but I saw these photographs today and it made me smile, so I thought I would share it 🙂

FireShot Screen Capture #006 - '500px _ Angry birds by Elke Vogelsang' - 500px_com_photo_32796035

See link for the full album
(Images by Elke Vogelsang)

My positive thing from today would be having great friends!

It goes without saying; that having a close group of friends is priceless! I have made such lovely friends at University, something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Having the support from your friends can truly bring another sense of happiness to yourself.

Hours of chatting about dramas, gossips, guys obviously.  It removes yourself from your own troubles and worries when your with your friends. Mainly because you can share your worries and they can offer honest advice with the best intentions. And also you absorb yourself in their lives and offer your support.

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My friends came down to see me, and we had a lovely day – catching up on the latest events. It also reminds me that we are slowly growing up (unfortunately). As the gossips that are brought to the table nowadays have changes over the past year.
Friends are having babies, moving in together, settling down in relationships. It all reflects the changes that are happening in our lives and it is amazing to be able to share this with your friends.

It’s true they say as long as your have your friends – you will be happy!

Day 2

Today was a much more productive day than yesterday! I was busy throughout the day but for once it felt like I was ticking things off my to do list. Which is always such a delightful feeling.

My positive thing from today would be amongst all the hectic events of the day I had giggle fit for about ten minutes.
I saw an article which read 40 Hilariously Honest Notes From Kids. A brilliant read!

This is a snapshot of one of my favourite letters from one particular child:

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I love the pure honestly that comes with the mind of a child, so brutally honest yet so innocent. I guess it was a lovely break during my day to have the biggest giggling fit reading endearing comments by children.

I’m really enjoying at the end of my day sitting down with my cup of tea and sieving through the events of the day only focusing on the positives and looking at what impact it had on my day. It does start to make a difference in how I perceive how well the day has gone.
If you haven’t already had a look – I did a post  on TEDtalks who did a brilliant talk on how to be more productive with positive thinking. I’m giving myself the 21 day challenge, as suggested in the video, to journal one positive element of the past 24 hours.
Even though today was only a small ten minutes of laughter, it really gave my day a little lift.

How was your day?

 

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Day 1

Following my previous post about improving productivity and happiness through positive thinking. I start today’s post with my first day of documenting one positive thing about my day.
As I start to write this, I realise that looking back over my day, I never usually look for the good, and it feels almost unnatural to try and sieve through the days events through a positive lens. I don’t know about you but my usual thoughts (especially on a Monday) would go go something like this; I forgot to start this, I need to remember to do that, I didn’t have time to do this etc. It does start to make you feel as though you had a very unproductive day, when in fact if I acknowledged all the good things in my day I actually have done pretty well!

– Taken on new tasks in placement
– Had a lovely conversation with the guy that served me coffee
– My first shift alone as a supervisor at my part time job – everything went according to plan! Woo

I know it seems very obvious that we should look for the positives in our lives and therefore will make us happier.  But this is not our default setting. We are trained to search for better, what could we improve, what did we do wrong. I am aware that it is good to challenge yourself with new things however taking time to appreciate what you have done, and acknowledge your successes, really does make all the difference.

So as for Day 1 – my positive thing from my day would be; A successful first shift alone as supervisor in my new job. 

What was the positive thing in your day?

After my usual mindless scrolling through the internet on a Sunday afternoon through random websites, articles and videos I watched a really interesting video by ‘Ted Talks‘. It’s a video by psychologist Shawn Achor who argues that actually happiness inspires productivity.
Admittedly all of the Ted talks are amazingly captivating and engaging leading you to start questioning many areas of your life, the world in which we live in, and agreed this is a result of excellent speakers. I once watched a 20 minute video on ‘How to use one paper towel’. Now let me explain; I did not watch the full length of this video because I’m overly passionate about saving paper, or being efficient with my bathroom duties, however the speaker was so entertaining and was able to keep my attention. This demonstrates the information itself is equally as important as how the information is provided.

Anyway back to the point. I will give you a quick synopsis of the video – if you don’t fancy watching the full 12 minutes.

Shawn Achor identifies there is an underlying problem with how we formulate our happiness.

– If we work hard, we will be more successful; and if we are more successful we will therefore be happier.

However this is never the case, because once we reach success, we move the parameters. Once we hit our sales target, we change them, better grades, better jobs etc. This creates an unobtainable happiness as we will be constantly pushing the success barrier and never registering our own success, and never reaching our own happiness.
I find this such an amazing analogy! It literally identifies the world we live in now. So many people don’t appreciate and acknowledge what they have and are searching for things, that they feel will bring them more happiness.

Shawn Achor explains that if we change the way we formulate our own happiness by being positive and being content with the now this can lead to being more; successful, creative and happy etc.
He outlines that by doing some daily tasks (for 21 days) that will focus on retaining the positives from your day it will force you to look for the positives rather than the negatives. By:
3 Gratitude’s – stating three things that your grateful for
Journaling – documenting one positive thing from your day and writing it down
Exercise
Meditation
Random acts of kindness

All of these things will train your brain to seek out the positives in your life and change the way you categorise your happiness.

I love this idea so much so, that for the next 21 days (as stated in the video) I will write one blog posts a day, of one positive experience I had over the past 24 hours.
I will document if/when I see a change in the way I start to view my day and the effects it has.

Take the test yourself – do one of the listed items each day to see if helps you project your happiness in each day.

This weekend (slightly late post) whilst perusing the streets of sunny Bournemouth we came across a gathering in the square of the city center. On further inspection it was a demonstration of a group called Zil’oKA. A French Caribbean group promoting the diversity of traditional rhythms, singing, and dances. 

French Caribbean

 

After standing and watching the group for only a few minutes you couldn’t help but be mesmerized by their connection with the music and to each other. They gathered quite a large crowd. It seems only fitting on the rare occasions the sun comes out to have a beautiful sound track of African percussion in the background. Many people were dotted around the square lounging on the grass, readying, soaking up the sun whilst listening to the groups catchy rhythms.

French Caribbean

Many people who were watching started to join in and dance with the group. Small kids would reluctantly let go of their parents hands and be draw into the circle of dancing.
It was really nice seeing a group of people joining together to share their passion with complete strangers. Although they were taking donations it felt as though the group were just humble to have the opportunity to share their music.

The group was made up of women and men of all ages playing tradition percussion. The women of the group were mainly dancers who would interact with the crowd.

Was lovely to be a part of their music and  helped me to get excited that summer is on it’s way!

 

Donate blood, my bucket listThis week I was finally able to cross something off my bucket listDonating blood.
I went with a friend from work clearly for morale support. I hadn’t really thought about the fact I was going to have 1 pint of blood taken from me. I do know that sounds ridiculous, but it hit me when we arrived, when I could see about 7 people hooked up to their own little donation stations: All doing their good deed for the day. At which point I started to become nervous.

After having my medical check, I was then ready to sit in the donating chair. (Which were amazing). The chairs were a sort of arm chair that swung back – similarly to garden furniture but on a swing mechanism, that tilted backwards.

The nurse that was assigned to me was very reassuring and kept me chatting the whole way which was lovely 🙂 Thanks Peter!

It didn’t actually hurt as much as I thought it would. The worst part for me was the little pin prick they do to test your blood before hand. That I always hate that.

I was hooked up to the machine and waited until the required amount had been taken, which for me was 9.44 seconds.

All was fine, I had done it!
The process of getting out of the chair however was a little more problematic. To ensure that you don’t faint with the rush of blood when you stand up, they bring the chair up in stages to allow you body change to balance.
Apparently my body didn’t want to balance out and instead gave me the feelings of fainting. It was not very pleasant at all! Every time I would get to the half way point, I would have a horrible feeling in my stomach and then my head would start to become all rushy and the edges of my vision started to blacken. The nurse then pushed to chair straight back down and then rush of blood straight back to my head would make me feel better again. This went on for another 45 minutes. Which was highly frustrating and embarrassing!

In the end after eating 4 chocolate bars and biscuits, I was finally feeling better to leave.
Apparently it affects people in different ways, and a number of things could have contributed to me feeling faint.
The amount I ate (which I thought I’d done pretty well), relief as it was over being my first time, my weight, bloody pressure.

Overall I’m very glad I’ve done it, and was lovely to know that my donation will save three people’s lives. 

I will definitely carry on giving blood when I can. Although I had a little problem after the donation it really wasn’t as bad as I thought. Was very quick and easy. My only suggestion is to make sure you eat a lot!

 

 

 

 

I am now a week into reading Alan Rusbridger’s diary ‘Play it Again’, a year where he tries to learn Chopin’s first Ballad on the piano. See my previous posts.

I must say, I’m really enjoying it! It’s so refreshing to hear the words of a true amateur explaining the frustrations of playing. How he has never been able to memorise a single note in his life (I suffer the same problem), how he has always played piano the way he wants to – by reading or playing the notes he feels is best, skipping the slightly harder parts, and blurring them in the background of heavily based chord melodies.

It has given me a kick up the arse to try and learn a semi professional piano piece properly – note by note. Well not professional, but classical let’s say. I’ve always LOVED listening to ‘Claire de Lune’ by Debussy .

So I thought I would give it a try. I’ve counted the piece and put in the fingering and now am playing it very slowly! It’s getting there though. I can play the first two pages.
I’ve had a rush of the old feeling when I was around 6 years old, learning for the first time. How it would take so much concentration and energy to do simple notes. After doing twenty minutes I feel physically exhausted. Although these feelings have come rushing back as I’m not used to staring at the music and not knowing where to begin. It does feel exciting that i’m learning new things, and I shouldn’t be complacent in what I’ve learnt. ‘You can always improve and get better’.

When it’s complete i’ll be sure to post a video of the finished piece.