Category Archives: Positive thinking

Limits vs. creativity: does it have to be a duel?

Limits

I joined in the On Being a Writer online discussion for the last six weeks and gained a lot from it. [The series, hosted by Kate Motaung, was based on Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig’s book On being a writer: 12 simple steps for a writing life that lasts]

One of the topics that left me thinking was that of ‘Limit’.

Before the issue was raised via this series, I was acting like a spoilt child, asking ‘Why does this have to be my life?”…”Why me?”…

I was seeing, feeling, assimilating the limits that are imposed on me as being debilitating, spirit-crushing, life-sapping.

Then I pondered the prompt, read the responses of the other lovely ladies who joined in and had a major lightbulb moment…

Limits are actually useful for our creativity if we come at them from the right frame of mind.

Now, instead of thinking ‘Oh woe is me, I only have one hour to write”, with this shift in perspective, I’m all “Yay! I have one hour to write! What can I get done in this one hour?”.

I’ve come to relish the challenge and to see exactly how productive I can be in this hour.

The part of me that needs a challenge and some degree of external motivation is excited by this new frame of mind.

I’ve come to my writing hour afresh, with new eyes and more vigour and am loving seeing what I can produce/do in my whole hour.

This fresh perspective on the external limits on my time have kick-started my creativity.

These limits have made me more determined and, because of this new-found determination, they’ve made me more creative. 

I’m working with what I have, starting from where I am, instead of kicking myself that nothing is ideal.

It’s been a major wake-up call not only for my creativity but also in other areas of my life. When abundance doesn’t flow, it’s easy to get down, discouraged. But, instead of letting ourselves get discouraged, why don’t we turn it on it’s head?

Think you’re not enough? You don’t have enough?

Start to name the things you do have that you should be thankful for. Start to think how you can maximise the money/time you do have available.

Thinking in ‘haves’ and not ‘have nots’, thinking of limits as challenges, it’ll open up a whole new world of possibility.

What’s the worse thing about limits?

We think they block our realm of possibility. This certainly is the case sometimes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t actively seek – and make the best of – the possibilities that are available to us.

This possibility-based thinking will – through unleashing our innate creativity – lead us out of the walls we build for ourselves.

And the best thing?

Once we’ve tasted what we can do when we’re limited, we won’t seek happiness, contentment elsewhere, we’ll find that we’re happy where we are with what we have, doing what we can do.

We’ll be expressing ourselves – our rich, inner, selves – despite the limits (whether this be time or disbelief in ourselves or or or…). And this full deliverance of our self expression will make us happy (may even, in the process, remove some of the limits we place on ourselves).

We’re not going to produce our best work unless we put the practice in and what better practice than creating within the boundaries imposed by the limits we face?

Can the limits we face push us to eventually become limitless….push us towards realising our best work? Can pushing up against our limits help us to develop – and flex – our creative muscles?

Would really love to hear what you think!

Helen xxx

If you had to buy your time…

CharlesL

If you had to buy your time

What would you do?

How would you live?

Would you be doing what you’re doing?

Would you, instead, find the resources to do something else?

What would that something else be?

What??

I ask myself….

If I had to pay for today, would I be doing what I’m doing?

My answer’s been ‘No’ for far too long…

…but I don’t see a way to turn my ‘No’ to ‘Yes’.

If you had to buy your time,

I bet you’d use it more wisely

Guard it much more fiercely

Not waste it frivolously

Or take even one second of it for granted.

If you had to buy your time,

all your moments would be set up, savoured, to last an eternity

Sunday best every day.

[Photo by Charles L. via Unsplash]

It’s time…

newlife

It’s time to start leaning in towards a collective, not an individual, perspective.

Time to start thinking from the soul not the ego.

Time to accept we’re all in this together.

Time to consider what we can do, what actions we can take, to make the world a little better.

Time to realise that small things do add up to big things.

To realise that the little things you do matter.

I challenge you to do something small today – whatever, anything – just do something to make your world – and therefore the world – a little better.

We can all do something small.

Imagine if we all did something small every day.

Imagine where we’d end up.

Collectively.

Slow is my new busy

YellowHappyDesk

I’ve realised I’m sick and tired of racing, sick and tired of ‘busy’.

I’m sick of being present for all the things I’m supposed to be doing but being largely absent for myself.

Slow is my new busy.

This realisation has come upon me gradually over the last few months, as I’ve learnt, through meditation, to listen to ‘me’ and – I have to say – I’m feeling the benefits of this new ‘slower’ life.

I appreciate the little things even more now.

Like really appreciate themBecause I now make the time to appreciate the marvel they are.

I even appreciate mundane things. For they’re all part of my reality.

I remember a psychologist telling me, ‘Helen, you have to get to the stage where you’ll enjoy washing up’. Busy Helen was all like, “Yeah….right….” (that’s just never gonna happen). And guess what? Slowed-down Helen now relishes the washing up with gusto, enjoying the simple act of going through the motions (three times a day, seven days a week).

Busy me would have said, “Oh my goodness, 21 times I stand at the sink and wash pots, I could be doing so many other things with this twenty minutes (my mind racing, galloping, somehow trying to do my to-do list in my mind, over and over). Slowed-down Helen uses those twenty minutes (which it’s not possible to avoid, after all; the pots pretty much have to be washed) to think, in silence, to just be. To give thanks for the little, but really not so little, wonders of the day.

To rejoice in the good bits of the day and to let go of the not-so-good bits of the day (for there’s always several not-so-good bits).

I like slowed-down me and I’m liking slow. 

I’m getting so much more out of life by living slow.

Anything that causes me to take longer than expected to do something, I welcome. With open arms.

Huge queue in the bank? I spy an opportunity to do some quiet reflection. Traffic jam? It’ll give me some extra reading time. Someone hasn’t arrived for the appointment I had with them? I don’t fret. I don’t curse their rudeness. I roll with it. Take the time to imagine or dream or meditate.

It is, I’ve realised, something that my body/mind combo decided for me, as it’s something I desperately needed. Stress is bad for your body, bad for your mind. Just really bad all round. When your body starts telling you you’re stressed, you’ve got to listen. When your mind can’t switch off and you’re awake at 3am more nights than you’re asleep at 3am, you’ve got to listen because something’s not right somewhere. 

We only have one body, only have one life.

Is your busy worth the toll it takes on your body and mind?

No.

A resounding no.

So now, once I’d gone on the whole journey that led me to realising this, it suddenly became apparent that slow is, actually, the central axis of my new self-care regime.

I’m going slow because I love myself and want to give myself the best chance possible to a) stay around longer and b) enjoy everything the world has to offer whilst I’m still here and able to enjoy it.

Slow. It’s my new busy.

It’s the key to my new ‘me’.

Slow Helen.

I’m loving her.

Loving the new perspective on life I’m forging just by living slow. 

I’ve found a diagnosis….

After many hours of soul searching….

…it seems I have…

….eleutheromania….

“…an intense and irresistible desire for freedom”…

Best

It’s an acute case. Has been keeping me awake at night. Stopping me living fully. Stopping me being all I am, all I can be. Keeping me less when what I want is to be more, so much more. 

The only possible cure, I’ve decided, is to unshackle myself from old patterns of behaviour and ways of thinking. To ‘Shake it Up! Shake it Up!’ as Taylor Swift sings (in my mind)….

“Release the real Helen” (I can hear myself shouting, my soul fainting, giddy at the mere thought of what’s to come!)….

I can’t wait for you to arrive, 2015

…and, more’s to the point, I can’t wait to see the end of 2014, my annus horribilis….

For those of you who’ve been kind – so kind – to take the time to ask where I’ve been (which was, is, so much appreciated xxx) – I’m fine! Just been taking a break…spending some quality time with my littles…bouncing on trampolines at 2am (and being told off by security guards – don’t ask! Although I will say that I think I earned enough ‘Cool Mama’ points to see me through to, oh, about June time!)….searching for a suitable ‘woman on a swing’ image in Google (oh my goodness….who knew (or even suspected!) that there’d be so many kinky ‘woman on a swing’ images to battle through to find one image I could use for this post???!!!)…..eating far too much……(yuck, double yuck)…..writing mammoth draft blog posts (mammoth quantities – there’s something about rest that makes my brain fire on all fronts!)…..planting seeds…..playing dolls and PES2015 (who knew it was so cool?! and that the players look so much like their real counterparts?! Freaky!)…..bike riding…baking….tidying….decluttering…bird watching (weaver birds building their nest – that’s a lesson in humility if ever I needed one!)….writing my “new life manifesto”….(oh yeah, baby…!)….basically doing a million (and one) offline things that’ve kept me occupied…..

…but I’m missing you guys and am raring to get back in the saddle (as it were), with my writing muscles chomping at the bit (how many mixed metaphors there??!!)…..

I’ll be back with a vengeance in the next few days…with my ‘2015 Word’ post…

Have a wonderful, wonderful New Years Eve/New Years Day and I’ll see you all soon xxxx

P.S. Do you think I can manage to recreate a winged eyeliner look? And should I sport one in bright blue (Oh, Sophie Dahl, how I love thee)? [These are important questions on New Years Eve’s Eve, darlings! Given, however, that the tutorial involves scotch tape to be placed near my eye lashes, I’m thinking I better give it a miss….(even if we are planning on spending New Years Eve watching The Spiderwick Chronicles – excitement all round! – my date with a glass of champagne, a box of chocolates and The Great Gatsby shortly afterwards requires I make some sort of an effort!!!!]

40 after 40

I’m starting my life over. Forced to do so. I’ve had a few months to think about what I really want to do and, in my best ‘planning head on’ mode and spurred on by images like this that pop up at me on Pinterest – alternatively scaring me to death/goading me and panicking me…

208490106f95ffe6c0208500f44dd0da

…I’ve been making a list of the things I want to do before I shift this mortal coil. [An image of the lady in Titanic always comes to mind when I think of this: I will, will have photos of these things to show my great Grandchildren].

Drumroll please. Here goes:

Places

1. Visit Paris. Live in Paris for a while, preferably

2. Trek through the National Parks and see the glaciers in Chile/Argentina

3. Travel India

4. Explore Japan (walk through a cherry blossom lined avenue)

5. River journey on the Amazon (see pink dolphins and the giant lily leaves!)

experiences

6. Hot air balloon ride (over London)

7. See show(s) at The Globe

8. Surf (I’m scared of the sea: this is a biggy for me!)

9. Do a rally (expensive but there will be a way!)

10. Skating at Somerset House

Music

11. See Andrea Bocelli in concert, preferably in an Italian piazza

12. Experience Carnival in Rio (Note to self: must learn to samba)

13. See Alicia Keys in concert

14. See Tony Bennett in concert

15. Flamenco festival in Andalucia/flamenco dancing lessons

Experiences3

16. Visit Nekker Island (meet Richard Branson)

17. Buy my dream piece of land

18. Get a Leica. Have a book of my photos published (I was going for ‘a photo published’ but, what the heck – if you aim for the moon and miss, you’ll still be amongst the stars!)

19. Live in London again

20. Take a long journey by bicycle (preferably around Italy; definitely through the Amalfi Coast)

Experiences2

21. Grow/tend a perfectly English wildflower garden (just like my Grandad’s)

22. Live in Venice: I want to experience Venice through all the seasons.

23. Eat spaghetti a la vongole in Torcello

24. Make it a habit to travel to the Van Gogh Museum

25. Go on a retreat in Tibet

Animals

26. Scale a Sequoia

27. See a turtle in the sea

28. Swim with dolphins

29. Go to the Tiger Temple with the littles

30. See whales

expeirence4

31. Ride an elephant

32. Visit the Rodin Museum

33. Explore Thailand

34. Spend some time in Skopelos

35. Take tea at The Ritz

…and some more I didn’t have photos for (but not any less important – as these will fund said escapades!):

26. Relaunch my businesses

27. Publish my fiction book

28. Launch I Will Bloom properly

29. Start to write articles again

30. Save 30% of my income. Don’t spend more than I need to (more posts about this planned for later!)

So, there they go. All voiced out loud, typed up and posted publicly no less. How’s that for stating my intentions loud and clear! Universe, make them happen for me. Please xxx

In an effort to keep myself accountable, and inspired by the lovely Sami Anne, who publishes her bucket list accomplishments on her blog, I’m going to let you all know how I’m getting on with making my dreams happen…I know you’ll all be rooting for me! [As I have the loveliest ladies reading my blog!]…unsure how to hold myself accountable at the moment but – as with everything – there will be a way of doing so!

Would love to hear of your ‘bucket list’ dreams – let me know in the comments…

Leave a little sparkle…

gatsby2

“…It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It…concentrated on you with an irresistable prejudice in your favor. It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey” F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

I love The Great Gatsby. Have always been in awe of it’s brilliance. The quote above? My favourite one from the book. It somehow encapsulates everything I feel about how we should, as individuals, treat people.

What’s a life – after all – if it’s not to make things that matter? And what matters more than making people feel they matter?

We all know people who feel down: about themselves, or their relationships, or their lives. Heavens, I struggle, some days, with a sadness that often makes me beside myself with frustration: it’d be self destructive if I let it have free reign but I know I have to keep it in check because I can’t let it destroy me. I have too much I still need to do in my life (post coming about that tomorrow!).

But it’s an emotion, a feeling, a state of being that makes me doubt myself, puts shivers in my soul, as it lessens me. And I’m not accustomed to being lessened or feeling less than everything I am. My self-esteem has been dented. I feel lost most days, as a woman. If it’s not one thing, it’s another: wanting a hug from someone that’s not a child, wanting someone to tell me I look pretty, wanting someone to notice I made an effort to make myself look nice….anything, really, that would make me feel alive again, as a woman.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want another relationship, nor anything even vaguely physical in that way. It’s not about having a man. It’s about being recognised as a woman. I am Helen, after all. 40. Still attractive. An attractive, young, woman.

Perhaps my biggest fear in this regard – when I admit it to myself – is that I’ve not had a relationship since I was 22 where the other half of the relationship has appreciated me for me, truly appreciated me for my unique qualities, for my unique womanliness. And I’m not getting any younger. And I’d like, I’d actually really like, someone to notice me. “Helen me”. The woman “me”. I’m not saying I need it. I’m just saying I’d like it to happen because I don’t want to get old and have not had me, the woman, recognised by someone who appreciated it. Because I think that would be a waste. A real waste. I don’t think I’d be able to bear it if I got to the end of my life and I hadn’t experienced it (because, I realise now, what I thought was genuine was anything but: narcissists aren’t capable of genuine love or genuine appreciation).

I’m not saying I’m Marilyn Monroe or anything, but, you know, it’d be really nice to flirt or feel appreciated for the woman I am. To have someone smile at me like “Gatsby looks at Daisy – in a way that every…girl wants to be looked at”.

I think this must mean I’m getting further along in my recovery from the abuse. I’m over the repeated replays of the violence in my head. I’m over the worst of the shakes from these replays. I’m over the  fear every time I hear the lift coming upstairs. I’m moving on to pastures new. Reclaiming what was taken from me. It’s frustrating, empowering, dizzy-making, but it’s something I have to do. I can’t look back. Only forward. Time and tide wait for no man, especially not for an ageing battered old soul like myself.

While I re-locate my inner woman, and reconnect all my dots again, I’ll do something positive. Daily positive acts as a way through this living cha cha cha that is recovery from abuse (two steps forward, three steps back, cha cha cha). I’ll live by Fitzgerald’s words and try to make everybody feel like a somebody, try to make everyone’s load that little bit lighter and try to lift people up.

A smile (a Gatsby smile), a kind act: they’re powerful weapons in the fight to bring a sparkle to people’s days. And they’re things I have in abundance (despite – in spite of? – everything I’ve been through). I’m going to try to leave a little sparkle wherever I go while I wait for someone to make me sparkle. Because Heaven knows we all need a little more sparkle sometimes.

As Steve Maraboli says, “There’s nothing more rare and beautiful than a woman being unapologetically herself, comfortable in her perfect imperfection”. Whilst I’m waiting for someone that’ll make me sparkle, I’ll take me being me beautifully and unapologetically perfectly imperfect. It’s all I have. So I have to make the best of it.

[You don’t have to thank me for brightening your day, ladies, with the twinkle in Leonardo’s eye 🙂 He’s totally twinkling as much for me as he is for you… 🙂 ]

Are you a gratitude-r? [And if not, why not?!]

GRATITUDE

I wrote here about how keeping a gratitude journal has helped me on my own journey towards healing and I thought some of you might like a bit more information regarding the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of gratitude journalling.

My own gratitude journal isn’t pretty (as you can see in the photo above!). It’s functional. It’s small. Small enough to sit on the table at the side of the settee where I usually sit at the end of the evening, silently reflecting on what sort of day I’ve had, what things could have been better, what things I could have done differently, how I could make improvements tomorrow/in the future and – last but certainly not least – what things I’m thankful for. I limit myself to five each day and I write them, on their own page, in my gratitude journal. At the end of the page, I write my ‘one best thing’ about my day.

As I sit, for these five or ten minutes, I take the time to reflect deeply about my life, where I am, where we are, and how we’re doing. I have nights where I don’t think I’ll stop crying and nights where I chuckle to myself. I’ve had nights where I’ve laughed so hard, I’ve woken up the littles and they’ve come scurrying out of bed to see where all the hilarity is. I’ve come to learn, on these solitary, silent, nights that being grateful is the key to a happy, contented, life.

As I always write on the cover of my gratitude journals, “Being grateful turns what you have in to enough“, which is part of a quote from Melody Beattie, which reads:

quote-gratitude-unlocks-the-fullness-of-life-it-turns-what-we-have-into-enough-and-more-it-turns-melody-beattie-290951

When I read that quote online, it hit me as an extremely powerful and empowering tool for dealing with life. Whatever life throws at us, however we’re feeling. Unless we learn to stop and recognise that what we have, in each of our moments, is amazing, that we’re amazing, that life itself is a miracle, an amazing miracle, life – our lives – pass us by in a blur. We lose sight of what makes life beautiful by not recognising it’s beauty and not marvelling at the miracle it is.

By taking five minutes at the end of each day, to give thanks, to recognise all the things I’m grateful for, I’ve come to appreciate the profound beauty of life. The profound beauty that can come in any moment, at any time. By being grateful, we tune ourselves to recognise these moments of profound beauty when they’re presented to us, and we begin to live with a heart that sings because we realise we’re surrounded by beauty, by a million things we should give thanks for.

I think that’s pretty cool. 

I’ve noticed some brilliant blogs/posts about how others incorporate gratitude in their daily lives:

– I’m an avid follower of Laura Lynn’s blog here where she notes “Five things, every day: an exercise in cultivating and propagating gratitude”. Her posts are always so very thoughtful and so beautifully written, they always inspire me in my own journey towards a more grateful, gracious, appreciative, life.

– Ali Edwards has a post here about Practicing Gratitude in the Middle of the Mess. She writes, in that post, “…photography is a big piece of (my) personal gratitude practice”. I know that I, myself, feel much more alive when I’m taking photos because I’m much more aware of the beauty around me, of the life I want to capture. Taking photos makes me that much more grateful and thankful that I am alive and that much more in awe of the beauty around me.

– This one from Light, Love, Hope: such a beautiful post with so many important truths (that are, unfortunately, all too easy to forget in the midst of the busy-ness of life).

This post from Tiny Buddha – tips on how to keep a gratitude journal.

– Love Oprah’s take on gratitude journalling (had to chuckle to myself that she listed ‘Maya Angelou calling to read me a new poem’ as one of her 5 things on October 12th 1996!).

And take a look at this post about the many health benefits of gratitude: a really good overview of all the health benefits that can come from maintaining an ‘attitude of gratitude’. As the article notes, “Gratitude is no cure-all but it’s a massively under-utilised tool for improving life satisfaction and happiness”. The graphic below summarises the main points from the post:

Benefits-of-Gratitude5

My recommendation? Give it a go for two weeks. Keep a gratitude journal for two weeks. Even if you feel fairly happy and fairly contented already. Even if you think you don’t have five minutes to do it (especially if you don’t think you have five minutes to do it!). I guarantee, after a few weeks, you’ll be amazed at how many benefits, and insights, it brings you.

I’d love to hear your gratitude journalling experiences: do leave me a note in the comments! Remember:

quotes-lifeclass-gratitude-dr-robert-holden-600x411

The five people you meet in Heaven

My Grandad recommended one book to me: Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it (it isn’t just special for me because it was the only book my Grandad recommended to me: it’s a truly great book!). The basic premise of the book is that, as you arrive in Heaven, you’ll meet the five people who shaped the course of your life on Earth. I must have read it twenty years ago now but I find myself thinking of it again – often – recently.

Who are my five people (up to now) and how did they change me?

1. My Dad. He showed me that life is meant to be wonderful. Meant to be filled with laughter and not tears, with kindness and not negative emotions. He made an impact on everyone he met, from the cashier (who he always made laugh) to the CEO (several of whom told me, at his funeral, and completely genuinely (according to the tears in their eyes) that they would miss him – and his insights – sorely) to the homeless/out of luck (he would always – much to our despairgive rides to hitchhikers; his reasoning that no-one could possibly hurt him). He was a man who touched everyone he met. He definitely showed me how to get the most from life. [I often wonder if he died when he was just 45 because he’d lived his life so intensely…did he literally use it all up?]. I miss you Dad, every day I miss you.

  25

2. My Gran. She showed me what love is. True, pure, love. I learnt all I know about how to treat people and how to be kind from her. She was an angel on Earth. So tender and kind and so pure. She had her moments, don’t get me wrong, but she emitted such deep love, such comfort, just being near her was joy itself. I miss her, every day I miss her. I think of her at least a dozen times a day and I often smell her perfume (usually in my times of greatest need): is it my mind playing tricks on me or is she really with me, helping me, guiding me? Even if it is my mind, I’ll take it: I feel instantly more calm every time I feel her near.

Unknown

3. My Grandad. He was a giant of a man. In every sense. Larger than life, with his jokes and his tender turns of phrase. He always had something interesting to tell me, always wanted me to be able to shine. He always used to save up to take me to the theatre or to the ballet (not usual for a Northern working class miner): we’d go off on our own, me dressed impeccably, beautiful dress, lacy socks, polished shoes, him driving me through the night (exciting for a little girl!), then we’d get to the theatre and I’d always be amazed at it’s grandness. Captivated the whole show long by the life there before me on stage. I realise it was him trying to show me there was something else, something bigger than my surroundings. It worked: I caught the bug. When I went to University (the first to do so from my town), he wrote me the second letter he’d ever written. It ends: “Well, that’s about it, Helen. I know there is no need for me to tell you how much me and your Gran love you and hope you can do all the things you want to do. Love Grandad xxx”. I have a big print of it posted on the wall at the side of my desk (where I’m writing now): it brings me so much confidence and comfort. Having grandparents who loved me, who believed in me so totally: that definitely shaped the person I am today. I cannot ever say enough thanks for their teachings (all of which were by example): it is their example that guides me through this stage of my life. With grace.

9d50d6b712cbff7e8cb6e7fb49cfd950

4. My friend Barnaby. An inspiration from the moment I met him, some twenty plus years ago now. A rock of a man. Fiercely intelligent. Deeply kind. Always there for me, in whatever hour, whatever situation. Always willing me on, unfailingly believing in me and my potential. He shows me, every day, the power of friendship and the joy that can come from having the kind of friendship that allows you to just be you: horrible bits and all. He’s taught me so, so much about life and kindness and grace and the power of philanthropy. He’s my walking Encyclopedia. I turn to him whenever I need to offload/unload. He’s been there for me through thick, through thin, through it all. Always cheering me on. Always guiding me. Never letting me fail on my path towards achieving my goals. [I should have listened to you, Barnaby, should have listened when you told me ‘Don’t do it. You’ll regret it”. Should have listened, but didn’t. Your wisdom hasn’t allowed you to say, “I told you so” and I appreciate you all the more for that. Thank you].

 Bs2Dr3uCMAEHXnq

5. My soon-to-be-ex husband. We were together for 16 years. A long time. He taught me many valuable lessons I needed to learn (I see that now): not to be so naive; not to trust blindly; to follow my instincts; to protect myself more; to be more selfish; to think of myself more; to care for myself more; to trust in myself more. And most importantly? I’m still processing it all, but I think the most important thing I’ve learnt: sometimes, you can’t help. It’s just not in your power to be able to help. You just have to move on. And not look back. That you are more important than trying to save something that wasn’t as important to the other person. I see this now and it’s giving me the strength I’ll need for this next stage of my life. I thank him for these valuable lessons. They’ve strengthened my weak areas.

1d9765ad37e524d9d800a19bdb810e91

Do you have five people?

It’s a great exercise to do, a useful piece of self-reflection to show you where you’ve been, who’s helped you to get there and where you want to go next. Only by having a clear knowledge of your past and a clear path forwards will you reach your goals.

5ab5701888518843e112a882d1d87136

One lovely blog award

one-blog-lovely-award

Thanks Britney and thanks Charlotte for nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award.

It made my day when I saw the nominations: thank you so much!

OK, here goes:

7 facts about me:

1. Taxi Driver and It’s a Wonderful Life are my two favourite films. Fight Club and Amelie are serious contendersAs are Avanti and Big Night. 

2. I make a mean paella [and love cooking, in general]. I’m already compiling contenders for my ’52 cakes in 2015′ list (I usually make a new-to-us cake every week every year (YUM!) – here are some of the 2015 contenders!)

3. I can whistle without moving my lips. It’s really cool. I used to do it on the tube and chuckle secretly to myself as everyone started to look around, wondering who the whistler was!

4. I love flamenco music and secretly really want to learn how to flamenco dance [all my passion would, I know, come out in a flurry of emotion, cleansing me, showing me my soul again]….I’m going to need to get back a bit of my confidence before I attempt it, however 😉

5. I would really like to attend a fashion show. Like really. I’d just be in awe of the creativity (of the runway show and the clothing of the other attendees).

6. I have a burning desire to meet Richard Branson.

7. I’d like to retire to a Caribbean island. I know which plot of land I’d like to buy. My big dream is to buy it, build the house myself (well, not myself but you know what I mean) and then spend a lot of my days there, away from noise, in peace. [Note to readers who may think I’m some sort of millionaire: I’m most certainly not, but nothing gets achieved unless we dream (and then plan so the dreams come true)].

Now I have to nominate other wonderful ladies for the award:

1. The all-round amazing Chelsea from Hollands Reverie [no tricky questions with this one ;)]

2. Dearest Catherine from An Angel in the Garden.

3. The always thought-provoking Lizelle from Sandals & Sunnies.

4. Rachel from The Random Writings. [Always makes me think, think, think and yearn for China, helping me to keep my dreams alive even on the darkest days of this journey of mine…thank you]

5. Darling Barbara from Barbara’s Blog[Such insightful, inspiring, writing and such a very dear soul].

6. Andrea from Hope Ann [Such a generous, open, wonderful soul]

7. Anne (‘Lovely Anne’ she calls herself because she’s, well, lovely!) from Flowers and Wanderlust[Inspiration guaranteed].

8. Sweet Zoe from Zoe P. Rose. [Delightful writing, even more delightful soul…you’ve got to love anyone who offers to send you Angel Delight in the post!]

[PLEASE, please, PLEASE, ladies, don’t feel obliged to post a post in response to the award – just wanted to let you know that you’re appreciated :)]