How to be happy

My favourite presents to give, or receive, are books, umbrellas or wellies. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t find joy or usefulness in any of these things!

Anyway, there have been a lot of celebrations recently, and I have spent a lot of time looking at bookshelves (apparently you can have too many wellies and brollies…). Of particular note has been how many offer assistantance in seeking happiness. How extraordinary, and endlessly fascinating that a) such books have become best sellers, b) they are restricted to one volume, and c) one is written by Fearne Cotton…

Now, I can’t decide whether I feel a bit scared, or a bit happy about this. Scared in that this could have so many implications for so many people, and really negative ones…but then again Fearne Cotton has much better hair than me, which is indicative of joy, and so who am I to question her knowledge of such a complex human emotion? On the flip side I’m happy about these ‘happy’ books because I hope (in that they aren’t overtly dictatorial), that they force or challenge thinking. It’s forced me to really think. Because eventually, when I’m a grown up, I’m going to have a job making people feel happy.

Keep it clean.

All of this has taken over my little mental world of late, and has increased a burning desire to going travelling tenfold (I am never far away from chronic wanderlust), but specifically to visit Bhutan. For a start it’s in one of my favourite parts of the world, but it also rules by GNH, or ‘Gross National Happiness’; an official index which influences policy with the ultimate goal of achieving a smiling population. I need to read up more because I’m not sure how successful it is, or how they even go about, but I love the bravado of this tiny country looking at how the rest of the world works, and just going….'”nope”. They are working at it from the inside.

Which is I’m being kinder than I actually feel about the proliferation of these ‘happy’ books, because at least they are a start. We may have been lumbered with Theresa, but at Fearne is having a bash on our behalf. A revolution could start at Waterstones.

I’m not too sure where I’m going to be honest with this bizarre ramble, other than that ‘happiness’ is massive, and I don’t always understand it, but I love to feel it, and I’m fast learning that saying ‘nope’ can sometimes actually help achieve it, and the rest, well, it definitely is an inside job.

Important opinions on fish

I have never felt a compulsion to own fish. They are really pretty to look at, but then so is a nice vase, or that calendar with the Firemen on; yet neither of those things require feeding or a noisy pump.

Actually, I guess actual Firemen require both of those things, but that’s ok because I really like their shiny poles.

Having fish must just be like having a permanent screen saver.

This morning I was contemplating that I would really like to make a career out of blogging. I then thought that perhaps first I should try and refine my phraseology, whilst my punctuation and grammar can also be embarrassingly sloppy, but having revised the above, I’m feeling ‘engaging subject matter’ should maybe be my priority…

And strike ‘Practical Fishkeeping’ off the list of people to apply to. And put ‘Firefighter Magazine’ at the top.

It’s a journey.

Still January

I am so aware of vanity, and I find it uncomfortable and cringeworthy (like many of the blogs I’ve written). I’ve stopped being ‘present’ on other social media for this very reason – I understand that no one really cares that I have visited the cinema (other than the person I was with, they could still use a lift home), and when I am lucky enough to do really, really fun stuff, I feel uneasy about what motivates me to present these as ‘ta da’ moments.

Watching ‘Snowden’ recently was also a bit of an eye opener. And then there is the small person to think about. A private person in her nature, she was rather freaked out when someone unknown to her (but my Facebook friend) asked her about a trip we’d been on. “How did she know I did that Mummy? It was just us”.

 Yes, it was.

So here I am, blogging. 

It’s a dilemma because I love writing, even if it’s entire nonsense. It’s my happy place. 

The desire to share this nonsense I have decided comes from the satisfaction of seeing something concrete ‘here’. It feels like a job done, an achievement. The days when life is consumed by washing and ironing, and wiping that manky bit behind the bin, it feels good to have made, not just maintained, something. 

So this is me trying to justify this weird blog. I don’t think it’s a showing off thing, and will hopefully be the most respectfully, least vainly written nonsense I can muster. Ish. With some possible exceptions. Like ‘Kilted Yoga’ book gifts.

Happy things (for personal, future reference):

1. Kilted Yoga.

2. Pretty umbrellas.

3. The ‘Cruel Intentions’ soundtrack and feeling 18 again.

Screw it, let’s do it

Someone asked me recently why I don’t really ever post photos of myself anywhere. This. This is why.

I know my limitations, but admittedly I frequently indulge in outrageously sexy pics other people post..

https://www.flickr.com/photos/herbstanfang/3751566728
Credit: Voodoo donuts
https://www.deere.co.uk/en_GB/products/equipment/tractors/6m_series/6m_series.page
Credit: John Deere
http://makeitbritish.co.uk/footwear/meet-the-manufacturer-sheepland-slippers/
Credit: Sheepland Slippers
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/jeremy-paxman-winston-churchill-would-be-unelectable-nowadays-9987951.html
Credit: The Indepenedent

Salivating.

I have reached an unexpected stage in my parenting career where I have found myself with a modicum of time for things like blogging (apologies), dental treatment, moisturising and more importantly, reading! I am luxuriating in the fondling of pages, the feel of a smooth spine, the crackle of a new edition and the weird smell of libraries. It’s a glorious thing to be able to escape into other worlds, and learn a few things to boot.

Which brings to me to the title of this blog, and also the title of a short read by Sir Richard Branson. I didn’t really intend to read his book, but it was 10p towards ‘Dogs for the disabled’ and a long wait for a train. While the book contains a lot of motivational messages, lessons on life, and ways not to fly a hot air balloon that I will merrily dismiss, it did remind me that dreams can happen when you’re a bit brave and just get the hell on and do it.

I wanted to blog again. Really just for myself. It’s a beginning.

Everything else? Screw it, let’s do it!

Running with it

I have started running.

And blogging too again, apparently.

I have never had myself down as being a runner. Too many bits of me seem to move independently and require strapping down. Then there is my unladylike gait. And the thought of me in leggings…the thought of other people having to see me in leggings…it just didn’t seem kind.

Running also seemed to me without reason. I read somewhere once, that the reason why people wear all the gear is to indicate to others that they aren’t running to or from something, they are just simply ‘running’. Because.

Because…?

Now, I love walking. Walking relaxes me, it is at a slower pace and so you are afforded the opportunity to stop and notice and wonder; it is also a very essential part of getting from ‘A’ to ‘B’, but without the need for a sports bra.

Earlier this year however a friend turned to me and asked me to run with her. It is therapy that she badly needs right now, and she asked if I could be her running mate. I had decided when the hand struck midnight earlier on in the year that my mantra from hereon is going to be ‘why not’ – a strange little experiment I have going on to see where this might take me.

So far only to Little Heath Road and back, but you know…

And so this was my reason for starting running. I’m not sure I love it yet, but I am steadily making progress on my ‘Couch to 5K’ app, and it’s always interesting to see what you can do when you truly step outside of your comfort zone. All the times I have really done this, I have felt my most free.

People say they run to feel free.

And now I own leggings.

6 May

 

For Mother’s Day I was given an annual pass to our local wildlife park, and Kate and I visit often (the gardens particularly are so beautiful). Kate’s obsession is the little train that does a circuit of the park, and we have made it a tradition now to catch a ride before heading home.

Today as we approached the little station, it appeared we would be the only passengers on this trip. The train’s driver asked if we minded waiting to see if a few more people would turn up, and as we were in.no hurry, we stopped and chatted and were regailed with this story.

A month ago Bryan the Train Driver had been sought out by a company who specialise in finding the heirs of unclaimed wills. This had led him into discovering an Aunt he never knew he had, and becoming the recipient of a sum of money that was greatly unexpected. Feeling rather awful he had never had contact with this long lost relative, Bryan felt it only proper to attend the Aunt’s funeral, where he met a couple (The Cornwells) with whom he shared a connection – Glebe Court, an old manor house in Goring-on-Thames.

The Cornwells had been house keepers for the owners of Glebe Court – the Shoolbreds and later the Golodetz, but left when the ouse was demolished and the land sold to developers in the 1970s. Bryan’s link to Glebe Court had been to obtain some architectural salvage prior to its demolition in order to sell this on for his employers at the time. However, he had found it so difficult to let some of the pieces go, such was the beauty of their craftmanship, he had bought them himself and incorporated them into his own home in Goring (where he had moved to from Worcester). At the mystery Aunt’s funeral, Bryan had told Cornwells of this, and they were visiting his house this very evening to reminisce about the good old times of Glebe Court.

I write about this because my Grandparents, Frank and Ivy Godfrey, and their seven children (including my Mum) lived in Glebe Court Lodge, the Groundsman’s residence at Glebe Court, as my Grandad was Head Gardener to the Shoolbreds and knew the Cornwells well.

They say that you know everyone in the world through 9 people. Today I believe this to be true.

3 May

IMG_20140503_183740

I have few regrets in life, but one of them is that I didn’t choose the right subject for my undergraduate degree. I think if I had my time again I would have chosen psychology or philosophy (over Geography), or perhaps a combination of the two as they seem inextricably linked.

Looking back at that time I wonder really if anyone has enough life experience or maturity to make such a big investment of time and money to influence what career path they take.

Such musings have recently come about as I have become drawn into wanting to understand, well, everything really! I recognise that Neil and I are fast changing as people at the same time as trying to be there for someone who is developing in her own right. This journey is both scary and deeply fascinating.

In my rare moment off duty, I sometimes kick back with a copy of Waitrose Weekend and a can of rice pudding, coz that’s how I roll, and more often than not I’ll see if I can continue my love affair with TED. There are many people on there who are teaching me that everyone pretty much is a philosopher, and that whereas you can’t change what has gone before, making smart decisions now can certainly change what goes after.

The talk by Chip Conley in this list is particuarly worth a watch.