Monday, 20 February 2017

The power of positivity

The last few weeks I've not felt too positive. I was going to ignore it as thought it might make for a boring post, but then I thought no. Lots of people have bad days or crappy times, so instead I thought I'd focus on what helps me.

Be warned there are some cheesy things to help combat negativity, so I try to get these out the way first.


It is about those around you. Surrounding yourself with friends, family and maybe even your partner (if you're not single like me) can make a huge difference to lifting your spirits. You want to be around the people who motivate, inspire and encourage you. I've realised the difference it makes; you will feel negative, when people don't value you, put you down and are generally negative about their own lives.


If you had told me two or three years ago that I'd recommend self-care I wouldn't believe you. It sounds like a hippy term, but can make a huge difference. For example, I dedicate Sundays to pamper myself. No makeup, doing very little and pampering. I usually paint nails and/or toes, exfoliate my face, put a body scrub on, put on my hair treatment and get in the shower! It's lovely and so relaxing. I think it's important to take time for you because it's so easy to forget these things. It's also important as part of self-care to do things you enjoy like meeting friends, treating yourself to something or generally keeping up your hobbies. When you're stressed you don't often wish to but it makes one hell of a difference!


So many of us say we don't have the time, but now I've put the effort into losing weight (gradually) I firmly believe that is not an excuse. You make time! People you see at gyms, exercise classes or just out running often have full-time jobs,  kids and busy schedules. I believe you just can't be bothered! To be honest, most of the time I can't. However think some people need to see what works for them - fitting in 15 minutes a day to do aerobics can make a difference or even walking instead of using the car! I can not stress the difference walking can make. About a year ago, I made so many excuses not to walk. I never relied on transport but just wouldn't go on walks longer than 10 or 15 minutes. I felt out of breath and blamed it on long-term sinitus, but recently realised it was my weight. I am a 24 year old woman who was less fit than my mum and haven't even had kids! Now I feel so much better. The air on your face makes your skin feel fresher and you can feel it in your legs. Who doesn't want to aim for 10,000 steps a day? Now I dedicate about 30 minutes a day to walking the dogs or walking to and from work. I also try to do yoga at least once a week. It calms and relaxes me as well as helping me with balance and giving exercise benefits.


If you're like me, you might groan to read that. If you eat chocolate everyday and stuff your face, it might taste amazing and make you happy, but the benefits are short-term. You feel bloated and rubbish for not picking fruit or something healthier instead. I know I do. Why does unhealthy food taste nicer? Well it doesn't always. There is healthy food that is nice. I often stock up on yoghurts to snack on and have a banana in between breakfast and lunch. I also believe it's all about portions. Eat as much as you want or need, and if you're full - stop eating. I've lost weight just doing that! I do think you should never cut out bad foods - just restrict it and only have once craving it.

Be social!

It's amazing the difference just being around people can make. I was previously living in the Isle of Wight, where I had no friends and did very little. It's hard to be happy with circumstances like that. I'm not sure whether I'd describe myself more of an extrovert or introvert, but I am definitely more sociable despite often being shy on first meeting. This is why I notice the difference of skyping friends (when it doesn't break up) or attending events e.g. going to cinema, attending a party or planning trips away. It really boost my mood!

Now onto two positivity books that I've been filling out that I think you'd love to hear about:

1. The Positivity Kit: Instant Happiness on every page by Lisa Currie
- Bought here at Urban Outfitters, £12.99.

I bought this when I was at Glasgow last and have filled out a fair few pages. Here are my favourite pages from the book:

Some I haven't filled, but love ideas behind them. I especially like how it gets you to list achievements big or small above.

As you can tell it's fun to fill out, and gives you varied activities. I like how it gives you the opportunity to doodle, list positive things and aspire to more.

I liked the idea of cutting things out however ugly my mascot might be...

2. The 52 lists project: A year of journaling inspiration by Moorea Seal
This is a fab present bought by one of my friends for my birthday.

It is split into sections of seasons, so thought I'd show you what I've done for winter:

For winter, it includes 13 lists for you to complete,which include:
- List your goals and dreams for this year
I could list what is included, but it's mostly in new year post.

- List your favourite characters from books, movies,  etc.
- List the happiest moments of your life so far
- List the soundtrack of your life right now
- List what you would like your life to look like in ten years
- List the ways you love to have fun
More ways to relax...

- List all the people who brighten up your day
Granted some are animals...

- List your favourite quotes
- List the things you treasure most
- List the things you should ignore
- List the ways you can rejuvenate your space
- List your best qualities
I asked people, and listed ones. It really boosted my confidence!

- List the things that always cheer you up

I'm thinking of including more posts from the 52 lists project as complete spring, summer and autumn. Would you enjoy filling out books like this? What helps keep you positive? I'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Getting creative

Being creative isn't only fun, but it is a hobby with many benefits. It is suggested that expressing ourselves creatively can prevent the urge to buy impulsively and save money. It not only gives you a deeper sense of fulfilment, but learning to make things can prevent the need to buy as much. It is also linked to helping to combat stress, and considered a form of meditation.

I've never been one of those that excels in art, so I will never try to persuade any of you to make anything elaborate. However in my quest to get to know more creative hobbies I may enjoy, I have tried a few activities that sound appealing to me.

I did it in my teens - trying to collect my gig tickets, gathering pictures of friends etc but somewhere along the way it has been lost. However, moving to Ipswich at the end of last year, I was keen to get involved in something new. This is where I came across two interesting classes with Craftability- jewellery making and scrapbooking. Although I think they are only local to Ipswich, I think it's always good to look things up locally. I simply searched for things I was interested in e.g. jewellery making, knitting and crochet and a few things popped up. I suggest doing the same! I'm working a lot of Saturdays at the moment and most of these workshops seem to take place on weekends. 

Since my necklace didn't survive a recent night out, I won't be discussing that. It wasn't that the class wasn't good; it was more of a reflection on my talents. The heart broke off and another part fell off later in the day. It didn't even last 24hours! 

Onto scrapbooking...

I loved it! Like I said I'd done it before, but nothing fancy. Sticking pictures down, maybe decorating with glitter or given some kind of heading. The workshop taught me to use  backgrounds, reminded me how to cross-stitch, putting shapes and even using double-backed tape (you can't underestimate my excitement there). 

It would probably be more fun to do a step-by-step process, but honestly can't remember it too much. It was all about getting the measurements right and adding my own touches. For example, the sample one only had two photos for this one, but didn't like the blank space. I also used different tools to make the paper curl round or stitching that circle was the longest; as I needed several different strings and threading that needle!

I love the colours and different textures to try for this one. I also enjoyed using the stick-on pearls and would be tempted to use so many more! I made a glue mess on the graduation picture so covered it with a square and the snowflake. However think it now looks odd! 

I haven't done anymore scrapbooking, but would definitely attend another workshop as it was only £7.50 and just asked you to bring your own photos. You received teaching of techniques and use of appropriate materials. The workshops are on Saturdays, but the next one I hear I can do, I will be doing so fast. In the meantime, I need to print more pictures off and get scrapbooking! 

I hope you enjoyed my more creative post. I came across the Make it Monthly post by Whimsical Mumblings, and knew I needed to get involved. It was all about craft and sharing your wonderful creations. I thought it would be great to discuss my recent scrapbooking, and can hopefully encourage me to do more fun crafty things!

For any bloggers reading, feel free to get involved in the fun. I'd love to read and be more inspired to be creative. 

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Don't be a bitter single!

January is now long-gone, many have survived dry January, Veganuary and maybe even paid off some debts from Christmas. I feel that January was a very positive month for me - learning new hobbies to take up in my free-time, working towards goals in volunteering and learning to drive again after a  long 10 month break (some women have babies in that time). There is much more that was enjoyed as discussed here in my last post about my goal progress for the year. However for those who weren't as lucky, the January blues are truly over!

As February is upon us, I thought like many bloggers I'd discuss Valentine's Day, but as a single woman of 24, I don't wish to pretend I like it. Not because I'm a bitter single and wish to be spoilt by a man like many others will be. I can assure you that I strongly believe in true love, fate and romance as cheesy as that sounds. 

If a secret admirer felt like sending me a card or a thoughtful gift, I wouldn't reject it, but at the same time, why wait until Valentine's Day? If you like, love or care for someone, surely you should be making them feel valued every single day.

Here are 5 reasons I'm glad to be single on one of the most romantic days of the year:

1. I don't want to settle!
Photo credit: Google Search

Despite how that sounds, this doesn't apply to many people. It doesn't apply to any of my friends, who are happily married or engaged. It doesn't apply to any couples in my immediate family. However, you do hear of people settling for someone treating them rubbish because they don't want to be alone for occasions like this. Some people even choose to date to avoid being alone for the occasion. The same might apply to birthdays or Christmas.

2. Rather no relationship than a bad one!

I've not found the right person, but maybe I will. However I'm glad I'm not wasting a year with the wrong person. Why waste it with someone who doesn't appreciate your weird and wonderful quirks? Why be with someone who doesn't appreciate the things that matter, or who doesn't have the same values?

3. The pressure

It has become such a big thing now. You need to go out to be in a restaurant that seems to charge double what they might already have done the day or week before. You have to buy the perfect gift. You need to think of a lovely romantic gesture. Why bother? I have only spent one Valentine's Day as a couple and simply exchanged cards and bought thoughtful gifts. It felt a bit forced. Surely spontaneous and unexpected romantic gestures are less stressful and more exciting! Put it this way, if every man/woman proposed because they were told they needed to at a certain time, would it be as memorable and romantic? It's romantic as it comes unexpected and from someone you really love (under the right circumstances, of course).

4. Crowds
I dare you to say this doesn't look like a love heart!

While picking the perfect gift, card, or going out on that fateful day. It is bonkers! This year, I hope mum chooses to show me she loves me through food. This was a picture taken an ordinary day making me my tea/dinner.

5. No expectations

Even if you say you don't expect anything, it's hard not to be disappointed if you don't celebrate in some way. However as a single person, I genuinely have no expectations. It will be an ordinary day. As it is a day off work, I will probably walk my dogs, promote the blog on social media where I can, read a book and perhaps binge on some films. 

There are also several things that irritate me about the day:

1. The singles

Yes, I know. You have read right; I'm single and hate other singles. Why? Because a lot don't appreciate it as a day like mother's day or father's day. Just because you're not a mother or father, you don't envy those who have children who spoil them. So why moan on social media about being single? Why become so desperate? Appreciate what you have. Don't get me wrong, I have days where I'd love someone to cuddle, share my secrets with and to love/be loved. However why should I spend one day every year being miserable about it?

2. A day about love doesn't celebrate all kinds

It is a day to celebrate love and bring about romance, but why not celebrate other types of love? Love for your pets, children, family, friends and neighbours. Why not encourage people to show love and care for others, or even help people in the community.

3. The overindulgence
Photo credit: LA Times (wordpress blog)

I can't help but find it cute when friends describe what they're doing. Despite how singles, I'm not in any way envious. I don't want to date them or their partner. I probably wouldn't even celebrate it in the same way. However I find they celebrate it in different ways; personal to their relationship and in ways that show real care. Baking a favourite cake,  buy something their partner wouldn't treat themselves to or simply buying something that shows an "in" joke. This being said, it's not Christmas; it's not their birthday, but people will send hundreds on things for this romantic occasion. To me, it's utterly overindulgent. That money could be spent on many more valued things like giving to charity, saving for a mortgage, buying a car or even a nice holiday.

4. The discomfort of others
Photo credit: Life of a Doctor's Wife (blog - wordpress)

I try not to bring it up too much to couples because they tend to put their foot in it. They will say things like "you'll meet someone soon" or "I don't understand why you've not found someone. You're so lovely." Their heart is in the right place, so I just smile and nod. To them, it's perhaps a special day, but to me it's just any other day. I've not dedicated the day to mourn that I am single despite popular belief.

5. The consumerism
Picked red this week and didn't even plan to! 

I suppose it's like Christmas or any occasion. It is advertised everywhere from billboards, TV, print or radio. It feels like Christmas is over and the Valentine's Day ads are then on! You then can't escape red hearts, cuddly toys, chocolate boxes dedicated to Valentine's Day and everything red, pink or heart related!

In the spirit of my post, don't pity me for being single; don't feel I'm being too negative. This is meant  more with jest as I would never want ANYONE to have a bad day. I hope every married or committed person has a lovely day, and those singles don't become an annoying stereotype!

Let me know what you think of Valentine's Day. Is it an over-consumerised event or another way to celebrate love? 

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Goal progress in January

I thought it might fun to include how I'm getting on with my goals. When I've read the progress of others in fitness or other goals, I find it highly motivating. Let me know what you think as I might do them quarterly rather than monthly.

1. Passing my driving test

The progress is there. I have already paid for 10 hours, and done 6 hours of driving lessons. I am making great progress. I've noticed more confidence leaving the roundabout and knowing when to go, which is my ultimate fear. I really hope to keep progressing. It is great since it's the first time even been driven around Ipswich. However also noticed new instructors have different priorities and notice new things you're bad at.

2. Go abroad

I really hope to do this, but this is not a priority just yet. I think I may visit a friend who lives in Norway now, but then again it is more costly to visit than to get there. Seen flights for under £100 return but know it is expensive to buy and do things!

3. See at least 3 gigs this year

I've looked a little, but not seen much I fancy. I'm booked to see comedian, Jon Richardson in September and had hoped to see Ed Sheeran. Unfortunately I couldn't get tickets, but hopeful I will think of other performers to see.

4. Start yoga again

I've looked into local classes, but am nervous to start any alone. I have also tried looking at few youtube videos. For anyone else wanting to try yoga, I noticed a fab post published by Saccharine-soul. I've actually tested a few of the routines suggested here. Although I'm not a beginner, I'm not confident enough to move onto intermediate or more advanced.

5. Do a charity challenge

I've enquired about doing the Great Wall of China in aid of the British Red Cross. I love how you will help rebuild it too. However I know the work it took to fundraise for climbing Kilimanjaro and had the resources there: supportive work colleagues, uni support, friends to attend events, and just don't  have that locally.

I'm also considering trying an abseil again. I've seen an abseil for the local hospital which sounds so fun. Anyone who knows me will know how gutted I was to have let down a favourite charity, when I couldn't take on the 160ft abseil off forth rail bridge. This was despite doing a 10,000 ft skydive, a bungee jump and climbing Kilimanjaro in the past. I feel doing this will really boost my confidence again. It will also be something fantastic to really look forward to. I fear I may have an anxiety attack again, but doesn't feature my ultimate fear of bridges.

6. Pursue creative hobbies
I've gone to both a jewellery making and scrapbooking classes. From this, I'm unsure I will try this again as the necklace broke to pieces and didn't make it to feature in this post. I've done scrapbooking before and learnt some new techniques, and would love to go again.

I'm proud that I actually stitched the gold circle...

I still want to learn to make bracelets, but going to look at Youtube to learn that one!

7. Lose weight

I'm really happy with my progress in this. I've had compliments from family members on the look of my skin and how much healthier I look, which is obviously a huge confidence boost. Most of all, I love the boost to my energy and how much happier this has had me.

This has only been from small steps - walking at least 30 minutes a day, drinking lots of water (admittedly I did this well already), adjusting my attitude to portion sizes and actually eating more fruit/veg. Instead of thinking, "oh, I've got a few more of these I might as well finish", I just stop eating when I'm full. Instead of cutting out sweets or chocolate, I eat what I fancy and then don't crave it as much. I've even started craving things like crisps or cheese, which is so unlike me! 

8. See more films from my list

If you like my facebook page, you will have seen that I received lots of DVDs and watched them. Please refer to the review on the films I watched here. This month, I've seen 12 off my list and 13 in all. I hope I can beat this in February as I've watched more DVDs than my usual Netflix.

9. See friends more

There are no plans yet, but this is important to me with many friends living in Scotland. With the closest friend being about 400 miles away, it is essential and especially with friends getting married, having babies and getting promotions, not seeing them as often can feel like missing out.

10. Walk dogs more

I have been walking the dogs on almost every day off, and actively making the effort to spend more time with them.Cuddles are the best!

11. Do more in spare time

This one is still very much in progress. At the moment, my spare time consists of walking dogs, writing for this blog, promoting the blog, reading and anything that might come up. That doesn't sound hugely exciting, but definitely been feeling more positive.

12. Keep writing

I've not looked into alternative ways to write outside of this blog, but definitely want to. I'm really not sure where to begin on that one!

13. Read more

Already I feel like I'm making great progress on this. Most times I read no more than 4 or 5 books in a year. This month alone, I've already read 6 books. Please refer to this post about the books I've read here. I'm looking forward to reading more as part of the Popsugar challenge as discussed here.

How has your January been going? Any tips for me to continue to tick off my goals this year?