Tuesday, 14 January 2014

My Recipe for Happiness

A while back, I bought this gorgeous addition (below) to my kitchen which I thought was really cute and quirky but really uplifting. When I get up first thing on a morning and wait for the kettle to boil I look at it and it always lifts my spirits as it gets me to focus on what counts and what really matters.

I love the idea that happiness is like a recipe - it's so true. What ingredients we add to create a dish is like life; we choose to add certain things or avoid certain things for our recipe in order to gain a certain quality and result. It's a process; a bit like sifting flour and allowing some bits to pass through and removing the lumps we'd rather not add. It doesn't mean the dish will end up perfect as there are certain things we don't have control over.  Sometimes we may try to perfect a dish over and over again until we feel we have the right mix and quantity of each ingredient. I think that's similar to attaining happiness and this evolves and changes as we grow older and hopefully wiser.

In a Carrie Bradshaw way "it got me thinking...." of what else I would add to the recipe. There are loads and to name them all would end up being a complex Heston Blumenthal type of recipe as well as a being a bloody long blog so here are just a few:

Surrounding yourself with fabulous people
Of course I don't mean this in a superficial way ie swanning around town with beautiful people to make you look cool and chic (but it's allowed for some camp high drama fantasies Ab Fab style) I mean those people who really count. For me that's my gorgeous husband who supports me with every decision I make no matter how bonkers, my wonderful sister who I can tell anything to and makes me roar with belly laughter and my friends who are always there for me no matter what. This counts BIG time and although it sounds so obvious, sometimes it's so easy to take these things for granted. I have had periods in life when this aspect has been imbalanced ie only including this as a small part of the recipe To get technical on your ass a bit like adding 10 grams when now 1000 grams is much better. More is more in this respect. We need people. But quality people; like organic vs value range.

Having an open mind and heart
I think that being open to new possibilities open up your world so much more and affects the quality of your life. I think I'm quite good at this one which shows with the different hairstyles, careers and hobbies I've had over the years. Some people may call it fickle but I want to try out different things as variety is the spice of life isn't it? Where's the joy in sticking to one thing or holding onto a limited set of beliefs and thoughts? To be brutal we're all going to be 6 feet under at some point eventually so while we're on this planet for a short space of time we may as well feast on everything that's there. The more ideas, concepts, and thoughts we flirt with, new ideas form, new possibilities dance right under your nose taking you to some potentially amazing places. Put down your plate of meat and two veg and get on the all you can eat buffet!

I always thought I was a cat person until two whippets came into my life and now those skinny little hounds are like my babies and I love them so much my hearts feels like it will burst. They way they go nuts when they see  me - even when I've been outside for two minutes to take the bin out is just so heartwarming and their loyalty breaks my heart at times. Their personalities are so different  - Teddy is sociable, boisterous and rough and Jack is shy, gentle and loving. The unconditional love they show is overwhelming. On days when I just want to hide under the duvet they force me outside to take them walking and I'm back re-balanced connecting to nature while the two of them go hell for leather chasing each other. Their physicality and running speed blows me away as well as their appreciation and gratitude of the basics; love, warmth, food and exercise. We can all learn something from animals I believe. ps - I still love cats!

My babies
All through my life people would always say "you must be creative then" after looking at the way I dressed/wore my hair and makeup. That annoyed me a bit as I don't think creativity equates to painting, writing etc. It could be how you tackle a challenge in your life. Nonetheless, I used to write when I was a kid and adult hood knocked that out of me and I'm pleased to say I'm reunited with it. I met my artist husband almost six years ago and he's really encouraged me to experiment with creativity. I thought I had none and that you had to have loads of qualifications/exhibitions/accolades under your belt and I've found that is utter nonsense. Doing it because it feels good is a good enough reason to express creativity and taking this approach has really opened up a whole new world. I started this blog, been writing for Vintage Life magazine, restoring furniture and experimenting with photography (a tiny bit!). Previously the inner perfectionist would prevent me from even having a go but these days I just have a bash of it and enjoy the process. If the outcome is decent then all the better but that isn't the driving force behind it. In a world full of boring stuff like pensions, housework and never ending chores, expressing your creativity is the perfect antidote where you create your own happy space.

Messing about with paint and colour - total therapy
Being silly
Being an adult with responsibilities, mortgages and trying to maintain professionalism can be a little stifling at times and it's good to unleash our inner child at times. I have been tempted to throw myself on the floor in Sainsbury's and have a tantrum especially when jalepenos are out of stock but I understand that may not be appropriate or even comfortable. However I really believe that can life can get a bit serious and while we sadly can't live life like Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (sighs) we need to move the scales the other way and re-visit our child like silliness. Whether it be singing daft songs of the top of your voice out of tune or doing a ridiculous dance in the kitchen, releasing your inner child gets all of the crap out of your system makes you bellow with laughter and and re energises you big time.

Other ingredients that are vital to me I want to talk about but don't want to bore you with a HUGE blog post:
Glamour, books, spirituality, makeup,tea, Autumn, hairdressing, hog roasts, the countryside and the coast, mashed potato.

Mash potato on top of fish pie. mmmmmm
What ingredients make your recipe for happiness? Leave a comment below, I'd love to know.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

A New Chapter

I've not been feeling myself for a good year and a large part of that was due to being in a job where I felt unhappy. I felt trapped; on paper there was nothing "wrong" with the job as it was varied and the salary was decent. I almost felt silly for feeling the way I did and ignored that nagging voice telling me to get out and do something else. The thought of another job didn't inspire me in the health field - there was nothing which really got me going and I felt disillusioned with it all. I felt that I would be wasting a degree I slogged and paid for and felt silly for having a second career change yet still feeling dissatisfied. So I stayed where I was. I thought it was just me being ungrateful. I felt ashamed of moaning when others were facing redundancy and tried to focus on all of the positives the job brought me. So I kept it all bottled up and got on with it. But in myself I felt worse and worse.

The past couple of months have forced me to face the situation head on. I stopped exercising, I got fatter by the day, I drank more wine, I cried more for no reason and I was alarmed at how physically and mentally I was heading downhill. The voice screamed "ENOUGH!" I knew I deserved better and I really needed to take charge of my life again as I have always done. It had scared me how I had allowed my situation to control me since I had always considered myself a feisty, go getting gal yet I could barely decide whether to go to a spinning class never mind make a life changing decision.

My husband, sister and friends all listened to me when I needed to talk about it. My fabulous best friend was on hand to guide me and begin a process of talking things through properly - something I've not been accustomed to being a coper. It felt strange and liberating at the same time. I'm learning to be more honest and it feels great. I was desperate for some guidance and kept praying and asking. Along the way I met two women who had resigned from jobs they hated. Deep down I knew they were sent to me to nudge me but I didn't have the courage to do what they done. For me to do that would have been irresponsible.

Day after day I tapped into my intuition. I realised that I was fed up of moulding myself into something I wasn't for an employer. I'm a vibrant, energetic, creative, loud, caring, camp, compassionate and intelligent woman with lots of makeup and funky hair. Yet I was having to contain myself and suppress a lot of who I was and toe the line to suit an organisation. I just wanted to be me and have felt for a long time that being self employed would be the only way forward for me. Since meeting my artist husband I have experimented with more creative pursuits including my writing and a spot of photography. I have also loved upcycling furniture. Being covered in paint and transforming a drab wardrobe into an eye catching beautiful piece has been wonderful and I wanted to turn it into a business. But I was too scared. I had an academic background. I had always lived to think that any career path could only proceed once a relevant qualification was under my belt. I had ignored the idea and passed it off as a silly whim. But it kept nagging at me.

Exploring my creative side
I met two more women who told me that had resigned from jobs they hated without having another job lined up. And they were fine, if not even better off starting a business and going into consultancy on their terms. I was asking for guidance still and thinking nothing was showing up - HELLO!! I eventually woke up and took notice. My gorgeous husband sat with me while we worked out finances together. Yes I could afford to work part time and start a furniture business. It would be really tight but do-able. Too scared. I carried on.

A new lease of life
I felt out of sorts emotionally. One day I would decide to leave, the next I was staying  but considering dropping my hours part time, the next I was looking at other full time but dull jobs. Intuitively I felt I would benefit from a reiki session. After telling the reiki healer about where I was at the time she asked me to pick and angel card. When I turned the card over I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I knew it was time to change when I read this:

Three days later over a text conversation with my sister and my rock, she was brutally honest with me, backed me into a corner so I could no longer hide and forced me to decide what I was going to do. Shit. Enough. I'm going. And I did. I was scared. Two weeks ago I handed in my notice. I took charge of my life. I thought I would panic but in reality I had never felt so calm or so certain. The minute I made the decision I felt that everything would be ok. The next day I had another reiki session. I chose another angel card:

People ask me what was so awful about my job to make me feel that unhappy. There are a few tangible reasons which don't really seem like much and apart from feeling like I couldn't be myself I knew it was more than that and something spiritual. It all made sense yesterday when I read an exerpt from Iyanla Vanzant's book 'Until Today':

" For no reason, you are suddenly unhappy being where you are or what you are doing. Yet for some reason, there is a gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach that where you are no longer serves you. You may even feel bad because you have no logical explanation for it.........When God's grace and blessing have been lifted from a situation, you will no longer be able to stay there. Once you have fulfilled the purpose, once you have grown, learned and gifted all that is required of you, according to God's purpose then grace is lifted. When you are in a good situation, the lifting of grace may make you feel guilty. You may want to stay because you don't have a good reason to leave. Here's a good one: to stay once God has let go of a situation may take you out of grace with God."

As I type I have two pieces of furniture upstairs waiting to be waxed and photographed before they go online in the hope they'll sell. I have no idea how it will all go but what's important is that I'm trying it. I'm following my heart and doing what makes me happy. If it works then awesome and if I fall on my arse then that's cool too - I'll survive. Don't get me wrong; there are days when I'm crippled with self doubt. But equally they are days where I feel inspired and excited more and more. I'm slowly feeling more like myself. I'm laughing not crying anymore and I'm starting a brand new chapter in my life which is authentic and on my terms. I will never ignore that voice again.

Work in progress - just like me
To all of you who have been there for me, thank you from the bottom of my heart - you know who you are.