Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Why I'm stopping #100happydays


I'm 36 days into the #100happydays challenge but I think I'm going to leave it there.

I hate to be a quitter, it's a little embarrassing really but to be honest, I can't be bothered. That sounds more teenager-ish and apathetic than it should be. I just don't think it suits me, or I don't suit it.

I thought I'd find it all pretty easy - I'm quite a positive person and even on the tough days I manage to find the good, but the difficulty came in photographing that. It got a little depressing really.

If you'd believe my Instagram feed, the highlight of many of my days within this challenge was a cat, a candle or food. I like all those three things, but for them to be emblematic of my happiness seems a little odd. Or very appropriate. Either way, they don't make for great photos.

Ticket stubs featured heavily too and acted as a nice reminder of what I'd been seeing. But really a quick blog post of what I thought, either for each show or as a round-up - that's something I'd rather write, and read.

I mean sure, these moments did bring me happiness but my highlights were never really photo-worthy. A nice conversation and moments of laughter and connection - they were my moments. Just not in a "grab the camera phone" kind of way.

There's also something a little odd about documenting the happy moments, as they happen or even at the end of the day. It almost taints them. As you sit there content to then think "great - this will be my #100happydays moment" - as if you're ticking something off a list.

I'd rather just acknowledge and appreciate it, rather than then feeling the need to share it with the world. And I think that was the problem - feeling the need. When something becomes an obligation, it changes it. You wonder how happy you are if you struggle to find something photo-worthy, but that's silly.

All that said, this has reminded me to take a heck of a lot more photos. It's important and nice to look back on. But the photos I take will be of loved ones, good times and nice views - not of a Tesco packaged desert, or the cat being cute again (ok I probably I will take that photo, but not everyone needs to see).

If you'd like more info on the #100happydays challenge click here and if you'd like to follow me on Instagram you can do so here. If you struggle to find the positives then hopefully it will help you. As long as you enjoy it and maybe get some cool photos out of it then that's good and it's worthwhile.

For me, I'll just keep clocking and counting my blessings as they happen, and maybe banging on about that process on here now and then.

All the best,

A (happy) quitter

You might also want to read my thoughts on staying positive (even when things are really tough) in this previous blogpost.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

#100happydays: week four

I'm finding #100happydays more difficult now - skipping days and not bothering as much. Maybe the novelty has worn off, or maybe I'm just feeling a little apathetic in general. I try to always find the positives, but to try to capture them in photo form still feels a little odd.

Still, if nothing else this has reminded me to take more photos. But perhaps these little happy moments are better to jot down - just for myself. There's a weird mix of the visual and the public that I'm still not entirely comfortable with.

My real happy moments don't always make for interesting photos, nor really interesting reading. It's a "you had to be there" feeling where a one-line journal might well be better. Or, in the spirit of the challenge - at least to just keep with Instagram. Then spend time writing about things I care about, like the plays I saw the other weekend.

I'll keep going now I've started, I'd hate to leave this unfinished. Perhaps it's just the mood I'm in. That may pass, and this may help. We shall see.

#100happydays week four

Day 25: More food related indulgence/happiness.

Day 26: More cat related cuteness. It's a bed attached to a radiator. I am jealous of this cat.

Day 27A brilliant day up London with lovely people. Meal at Wahaca followed by a play at Soho Theatre (The One: funny but bleak, but brilliant) followed by afternoon tea, followed by another play at Soho Theate (Bitch Boxer: joyous and an incredible solo performance). Five out of five for this day.

Day 28: Ok so this was going to be a photo of my relaxing pink bath with Lush bath bomb, until it stained my bath and made me mega stressed. I won't say which one as it was probably just a bad batch and customer services are being great. So instead, I love these super cool silky brightly coloured Ali Baba trousers my mum got me from Goa.

Day 29: Feeling pretty dreadful health wise but the cats looked after me. Have I mentioned they're pretty cute?

Day 30: Alison's leaving do (sad) but love this present - a professional poster for her yet to be fully realised one-woman show of Dirty Dancing. She is both faces. It is good.

Day 31: An unexpected but enjoyable moment in the office...

Day 32: A lovely day at Wise Words Festival - a talk on chronic illness and writing followed by an hour of brilliant performance poetry. All in a yurt in Greyfriars Franciscan Garden. The sun shone and it was a really inspiring day.

Follow me on Instagram, and let me know if you're also taking the #100happydays challenge.

Monday, 31 March 2014

March favourites: beauty

March beauty favourites: Maybelline Express Remover, Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely, Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure, Stila One Step Corrector Primer, Seventeen Stay Time Concealer

So, another month has passed. A difficult one but also too quickly somehow. Anyway, I thought I'd keep this up and do another beauty favourites post. Here goes...

This month I've been eating pretty badly. Usually if I'm sad I'll go off my food but this time it's gone the other way, taking comfort in chocolate and too many Krispy Kreme doughnuts. As a result, my skin's suffered.

So I've been really glad of my SEVENTEEN Stay Time Concealer. I had been using the Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer until a few months ago but I really do prefer this. It doesn't go cakey and has a nice, creamy but lasting consistency. It seems, however, that this is no longer online which means a) this is awful, and b) this is a bit of a wasted recommendation. Soz.

My other skin-related saviour has been the Stila One Step Corrector Primer (£24). I had my eye on this for the longest time, I think originally from a recommendation from Ghost Parties. I put off buying it though, wondering if I could really justify the cost. In the end I went for it, purchasing this at the beginning of the month and I'm glad I did.

The idea is that it improves the appearance of skin: colour-correcting, brightening and covering imperfections. Now, I'm not going to claim it's a miracle worker but it really does do these things. I find that through using this I use less concealer and foundation, and it generally makes my skin look healthier.

I've been using it for about a month, applying it most days before make-up and I've used maybe a fifth of the product which isn't too bad. I could probably use less but I think I'm still in the novelty, little bit in love phase. The triple helix formulation just blows my mind to be honest.

I also picked up the Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure (£6.99) in Wine Not at the beginning of the month in the Boots 3 for 2 offer, intrigued by the concept: no need for base or top coats, just one lovely polish that does it all.

I always want a shine to nails (the idea of matte polish sounds grim to me), and was convinced I would need a top coat but I really didn't. The finish was so shiny and colour so lovely, it looked like it almost could have been a professional job. So, genuinely living up to the name.

It takes steps out of the application process but also drys pretty quickly, making the whole thing so much easier. Wary to say it, but think this could be my favourite polish of all time. Now just wishing I'd stocked up on other colours in the 3 for 2!

Staying with nails, I've been loving the Maybelline Express Nail Polish Remover. I'd been using the Bourjois version since that came out but this is a definite improvement. It's much quicker to remove polish, and feels like it may last longer too though I guess time will tell with that one.

Lastly, a perfume. When we were up in Liverpool my mum's friend Tina bought her Sarah Jessica Parker's Lovely as a random little gift. I tried a little spray and absolutely loved it.

It's a gorgeous fresh and sweet scent, without being sickly, but it also really lasted. Later in the day I was still catching the smell, and still loving it. I purchased the 100ml bottle from Amazon when I got home for a ridiculously cheap £15.28.

What have you been loving this month? Let me know anything you would suggest.

My YouTube recommendations for this month are the lovely Roisin Thora for fashion, and Meg's Boutique for beauty! Go watch and enjoy, if you're into that sort of thing.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

A mother's day thank you

a mother's day thank you

I remember when I was about nine entering my mum for a 'Mum Of The Year' competition. In my entry I talked about how she was the best Mum ever. My reasons for this were that she'd bought me a telly, a Sega Megadrive and a hamster. In retrospect, they feel like pretty flimsy reasons but hey, it won us a holiday to Dorset!

Obviously a lot has changed since then. I guess I've been through a lot over the past five years and it's just made me appreciate my mum so much more.

So I just wanted to say thank you. For holding my feet when I'm cold, and holding me when I'm sad. For always making me laugh, even when I wouldn't think it possible. For being a shining example of strength, kindness and humility. For making me know that you really are always there for me.

So thank you Mum. You absolute hoot!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

#100happydays: week three

So another week of #100happydays has gone by. Another difficult one but made easier by being around lovely family, and having lots of good bad food.

#100happydays week 3

Day Seventeen: A little bit in love with the Sally Hansen Complete Manicure in Wine Not. Something really relaxing about painting nails, and this may be my favourite polish ever. Blimey.

Day Eighteen: Edited and posted this blogpost on positive quotes. Helped me to re-read these.

Day Nineteen: Struggled this day but then Abi took me for lunch at Boho in Canterbury (it's lovely. Go there) and got me some goodies from Lush (thank you!). Then saw Vamos Theatre's Finding Joy at The Marlowe Studio with family, which was beyond brilliant, and lovely to see the audience's response too.

Day Twenty:  Who knew Pizza Gogo in Gillingham would sell pizzas with quorn? Had one with veg and barbecue base. SO GOOD.

Day Twenty-One: A lovely meal at Charlie Parker's in Waterloo, Liverpool. Love this photo of me and my mum.

Day Twenty-Two:  Standard weekly cat photo. This is gorgeous little Lucy. She snores little cat snores. Cute.

Day Twenty-Three: We said goodbye to grandad today. It was such a sad and difficult day but also a wonderful celebration of a wonderful man's life.

Day Twenty-Four: A cupcake and illustration of the cats and their thoughts on said cupcake? Perfect way to be welcomed home. I have brilliant housemates.

Follow me on Instagram, and let me know if you're also taking the #100happydays challenge.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Positive inspiring quotes (especially if you have a chronic illness, but even if not)

Positive, inspiring quotes

I've spoken before about how much I love quotes. They're always nice to read through but one really stuck with me, which I've posted several times before but I'll share again.

"If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do - you have to keep moving forward."
Martin Luther King

Some people turn to their religion in times of pain, but for me it's reading quotes like these that really helps.

The Martin Luther King quote has become a bit of a mantra. Even if I'm not consciously saying it to myself - it reminds me to keep going. As tempting as it is to give up sometimes (whatever that means), it would make the experience so much harder.

Also, I've said it before but I'll say it again. Positive thinking isn't about denying pain or bad times, or thinking that these thoughts will make you instantly happy. They won't.

For me, they just provide a source of inspiration - not necessarily to get to a happy place but to motivate me into keeping going and finding a bit of strength.

Anyway, if there's one quote here that you will remember and that will help in some way, then that's ace.

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow."
Mary Anne Radmacher

"If opening your eyes, or getting out of bed, or holding a spoon, or combing your hair is the daunting Mount Everest you climb today, that is okay."
Carmen Ambrosio

"One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar."
Hellen Keller

"Love bravely, live bravely, be courageous. There's really nothing to lose. There's no wrong you can't make right again."
Jewel Kilcher

"Some people say I have attitude - maybe I do. But I think you have to. You have to believe in yourself when no one else does - that makes you a winner right there."
Venus Williams

"Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
Samuel Beckett

"There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap."
Cynthia Heimel

"If you are going through hell, keep going."
Winson Churchill

"You may not realise it when it happens, but a big kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."
Walt Disney

"There are hazards in anything one does, but there are greater hazards in doing nothing."
Shirley Williams

"There's something so vibrant and gutsy about courage; just do it."
Anna Roddick

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
Theodoore Roosevelt

"Perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once in a while, so that we can see life with a clearer view again."
Alex Tan

"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."

"Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realise the strength, move on."
Henry Rollins

"Never, never, never give up."
Winston Churchill

What are your favourite inspiring quotes? Like Chronic Perseverance on Facebook for daily inspirational quotes, especially pertinent if you have a chronic illness but even if not.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

#100happydays: week two

I struggled with #100happydays this week. It didn't seem right to keep posting about my supposedly "happy days". They weren't happy days. We lost my Grandad on Wednesday.

He had his ailments, as most 94 year olds do, but he was well and in good spirits. It was quick and peaceful, which I know is better - but just so hard to get our heads round. We didn't have chance to say goodbye.

We'd planned to travel to Liverpool on Thursday and we still made the trip. It was good to be around family, finding strength in each other.

Anyway, I sort of wanted to give up with this #100happydays malarkey but after missing one day I decided to keep going. Really, it's in difficult times that this challenge really comes into its own: to keep finding the positives. So that's what I tried to do.

#100happydays week two

Day Nine: After a really busy week I was glad of a chill out day, and tried out the Una Brennan Super Facialist Tea Flower Deep Clean Pore Purifying Clay Mask.

Day Ten: Following an awful night's sleep (and perhaps overdoing it week before) I passed out at work and had to go home. I was so shattered and spent the day in bed, half-awake, half-asleep and in the company of this little one.

Day Eleven: My lovely friend Katherine came over after work and cooked me dinner (thank you!) - gnocchi with butternut squash in a lemon and rosemary sauce.

Day Twelve: This was Thursday, the day after Grandad passed. We got to Liverpool and were glad to be in company of family - talking about the wonderful, cheeky and charming man that Grandad was. I love this photo of us.

Day Thirteen: Booked to see Kristin Chenoweth at the Royal Albert Hall. Nice night to look forward to.

Day Fourteen: We had a late dinner at the Turkish restaurant on South Road in Waterloo. Gorgeous food and good company. At the end of the meal the prankster of a waiter went to drop a (fake) coffee over my cousin Steve. Took us all by surprise and made us laugh, especially Steve. First time in a while and much needed.

Day Fifteen: Waiting to see the minister about the funeral I checked my email to find an email from another POTS patients from King's Hospital. She'd been passed on my blog from the specialist nurse and wanted to get in touch. Both of those things really blew me away, and so nice to be in touch with someone in a similar situation.

Day Sixteen: A long car journey back made easier with my iPad, including an interesting documentary on the brilliant Bill Hicks.

Click here to follow me on Instagram, and let me know if you're also taking the #100happydays challenge.