Appreciating the small things in life

Right now the world seems to be more frantic than ever, and life can pass you by so quickly you’ll wonder what happened. Reading online stories and watching the headlines every morning is something of a ritual for many people, however what would happen if you didn’t do this every day and instead concentrated on your own life and surroundings?

I was getting wrapped up in all the political negativity and uncertainty surrounding Britain and failed to notice what was directly in front of me. The other day I was paying for a parking ticket but was getting annoyed when I realised I didn’t have enough change. A woman was stood waiting behind me and not only offered me what I said I was short by, but checked to make sure I didn’t need anything else. That simple act of kindness started the ball rolling on expanding my faith in humanity.

The next day someone commented on how well I’d trained my dog and said that if I ever needed a new home for him she would take him in a heartbeat. She didn’t need to say anything nice to me or even talk to me in the first place, but she took the time out of her day to interact and again my spirits were lifted.

Faith in humanity

Next time you see an ambulance, police car or fire engine drive down the road with its sirens blaring, watch how many drivers automatically make room for it to pass and continue on its way to saving someone’s life. Yes, you could argue that it’s the law to move and we’re all taught that in our driving lessons, but still not everyone abides by the law and yet I have never seen anyone intentionally hold up an emergency services vehicle. How great is that? In comparison, I recently travelled to India and the police had to wait in line until others had driven down the road, there was no making way for them, so it really made me appreciate how we are in this country.

One reason why I think we forget to appreciate the little things is because of our ever increasing standards. We expect more and more and forget no one really has to do anything for us. When you walk in to a shop the staff don’t have to greet you, but many do, so we expect that everywhere. When you’re carrying heavy bags and someone helps you, remember they don’t have to do that. Those bags are your responsibility not theirs so be grateful someone has given you some of their own time.

Give someone your own time

Ask yourself, when was the last time you offered to help, or just started talking to someone because you’re genuinely interested in how they are? During the 40 days of lent why not set yourself a challenge – try and do one nice thing a day that you wouldn’t normally do. Ask someone how they are, buy someone a coffee just because you thought of them or send someone a hand written letter. Lent isn’t just about giving something up, it’s also about thinking of others, and right now our society needs that more than ever.

Nobody’s perfect

People pleasing is in my nature and however good it makes me feel when I can meet someone’s demands, it’s also extremely draining on my emotions. I’ve noticed this more recently and having to say no to someone is something I dread. However is it really that bad to think of yourself?

I put so much pressure on myself to be the best I can be and portray a squeaky clean image, that it’s now starting to make me anxious and worry about running out of time to do what I want to do.

The other day I saw a great reminder of how to protect your own energy. It said:

It’s okay to cancel a commitment.
It’s ok to not answer a call.
It’s okay to change your mind.
It’s okay to want to be alone.
It’s okay to take a day off.
It’s okay to do nothing.
It’s okay to speak up.
It’s okay to let go.

This was a real wake-up call for me and made me realise I’m not the only one thinking guilty about letting others down. Take for example this blog. I’ve been posting twice a week since I started, once on a Wednesday and once on a Sunday, however yesterday I didn’t have time (due to commitments to others). I woke up this morning kicking myself wondering why I didn’t spend just half an hour writing a blog and posting it.

This was swiftly rationalised by remembering I simply didn’t have the chance to do it. Plus forcing myself to write something isn’t why I started doing this. I wanted to portray my own thoughts and feelings to highlight what I was actually going through.

That’s why reminding yourself of the above phrases helps to promote a healthier mind set and takes the pressure off. Don’t feel guilty for thinking of your own needs and understand that you have to take care of your mental state before others.

I can’t wait to pencil a day in my diary to do absolutely nothing and concentrate on exactly what I want to do.

Release your inner child

Wake up, work, eat, sleep, wake up, work, eat, sleep, wake up, work….

Ever feel like you’re doing the same monotonous thing day in day out? If so, why not sign yourself up to something outrageous and fun. It’s what I recently did and I loved every minute.

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Adult tobogganing at Tamworth Snow Dome

My activity of choice was tobogganing at the Snow Dome in Tamworth. It was only a half hour slot but that was just enough time to get to grips with it and not getting too tired. In that half an hour I fitted in four runs down the slope and they were so much fun.

Setting off at the top surrounded by kids and adults you get an adrenaline buzz of not knowing what to expect. As you push off on to the slope and round the first corner at speed all thoughts of the outside world disappear and your concentration is solely on steering and getting to the bottom. The metal pads that steer underneath the toboggan were awful, but that just added to the fun. Not knowing the exact path you were taking made you think on your feet without having to second guess what was coming next.

I had a ball and would definitely do it again in the future. The experience didn’t take up much of my time, it was cheap and most importantly, switched off my mind from any outside stresses.

I’ve got my eye on the adrenaline tubing for my next outing!

What are you waiting for? Go and find yourself a childish activity and let loose.

Dealing with rejection

Last week I applied for a job that matched the experience I possessed and was in an industry I felt passionately about working in. I prepared for the interview more so than I would have for other jobs and even gained the help of my previous colleagues who were still working within that industry. The day of the interview arrived and I was on time, spoke clearly and efficiently and answered the questions well. Or so I thought…

Waiting for the call

Four days later I had my phone charged and the volume cranked up to loud so as not to miss a call while it was glued to my hand all morning. I opened my email account to find a new message stating that unfortunately I had not been the highest scoring candidate at interview. However what made it worse was directly below this the next sentence down stated that ‘I clearly have the necessary knowledge and skills’ and because of this my application is officially on hold. This means that if the exact same position becomes available in the next six months I will be the first in line to get it.

Once the disappointment had passed at not being offered the role, my feelings soon turned to annoyance and frustration. A number of questions kept popping into my head – If I was that good a candidate why had I not been offered the job? Why should I wait around until they decide to offer me a role when it suits them? What did I do wrong in the interview to warrant not getting the job? Was I really that bad a candidate?

Think positively

I realised I was just confused, as my initial thoughts after leaving the interview had been positive, so to have these flipped on their head was difficult. However, I soon rationalised those thoughts and came to more positive conclusions:

  • Everything happens for a reason
  • The job role obviously wasn’t right for me
  • When one door closes another one opens
  • Don’t take it personally as this isn’t an attack on your own ability to do something it’s just the way interviews are scored

This rejection has also given me the opportunity to step back and evaluate what I really want in life. I love writing and conducting research into making a good story and I enjoy the variety each day brings while doing this.

Do what makes you feel good

After looking online at more roles I’ve found a recently published one that sounds right up my street. So don’t wallow in self-pity for too long as the next positive step could be waiting right around the corner.

Where’s life’s pause button?

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Spend more time doing what you love

I recently moved house and with it started working part-time during the interim period of looking for a more permanent full-time job. I thought I’d have loads more time for doing the things I want and relaxing without rushing about with life admin.

How wrong was I?

I’ve found myself working during the morning and then not sitting down again until I’m settling down for my evening meal at about 7pm. I feel busier than when I had a full-time job and am left wondering how on earth I fitted everything in while also working a 37-hour week. Over the last few days I’ve been trying to find an answer to this conundrum. Yes, I’ve signed myself up to more yoga classes, but these are mainly during the evening. I’m also able to take the dog out on longer walks throughout the day and I’ve been able to spend more time writing blog posts. However that doesn’t explain how I was losing so much time. Then it hit me, the answer to all those lost hours throughout the day was social media!

The time I’ve spent looking on Facebook, Instagram and The Daily Mail website is increasing every day. I wouldn’t mind but I don’t even like the way the Mail stories are written and believe very little of what I read on there. The scrolling through Instagram and Facebook is pointless too as I feel a huge sense of under achievement once I tear my eyes away from the screen an hour or two later.

Adding more hours to your day

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Put a stop to spending hours looking at social media

So, I’ve made the decision to limit my time on these websites. I’ll only visit them once a day for a maximum of half an hour, plenty of time to catch up on what’s been going on in the world. I’ve also put myself on a ban from The Daily Mail and already feel better in myself having not read about the trials and tribulations of celebrities.

One thing I went through a phase of doing is not watching television throughout the weekend. If you can do this it really makes a difference. I found I had more time than ever to just chill out and really relax my mind and thoughts. When you sit down in front of the TV your mind doesn’t switch off so it’s not as relaxing as you think. Without it you’re able to concentrate on the simpler things in life and feel as though the world isn’t going past you like a bolt of lightning.

I highly recommend switching off and reconnecting with the things that really matter, you’ll feel the benefits and wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Life is short enough already, so don’t waste it on reading about other people’s lives.

Concentrate on the one that matters…your own.

Family is where life begins

I’ve been living away from the county I grew up in for over 10 years, but recently I made the move back due to a job change. One of the things I realised when I arrived back was how out of touch I was with the people living in the area. Even though it’s somewhere I grew up and all the external buildings and streets are familiar, I felt like I was walking on unfamiliar territory with my friends and family who I’d lost touch with. Being so far away means you miss out on the little things that happen on a daily basis and I’d forgotten to stay in regular contact with those I’d previously been so close to. The expression out of touch, out of mind never felt so real.

The realisation hit me at my cousin’s wedding where I saw many relatives who I hadn’t spoken to in years. I left the next day feeling great after having caught up on their lives but also sad I had missed out on many moments with them.

I was determined to change this.

Making time in an active life

I’m a busy person so making time for every member of my extended family was nigh on impossible so I thought I’d start off with just one. After moving house I was closer to them, which made it easier to arrange a visit. One weekend I travelled over to see them and it was great to visit the house I’d been to many times as a young child. There were no awkward moments like you sometimes experience when meeting an old friend, no questions asked about why you hadn’t stayed in touch and most importantly I felt happy and relaxed to be around them.

I think as you grow older you realise it’s more important to have a handful of really close friends rather than hundreds of distant ones who you just say hi to on the street.

Family is one of the most important things in your life and we should treasure those we are lucky enough to have in our lives. I’m so glad I made the move to reconnect and will continue to do this when I have the chance.

Lives go fast so don’t forget those who help move and drive you along to be your best self.

Battling against the pressure

Getting married is stressful! Regardless of what people tell you about making it all about you and doing what you want, there is always something that crops up to sway you away from that path. One element that is high on the never-ending to do list is finding ‘the one’. I don’t mean finding yourself a groom but instead finding that one dress that makes you feel like royalty. However does it really need to make you feel like Princess Catherine or Meghan Markle? Shouldn’t it be about making you feel comfortable to help you enjoy your special day?

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Your dress doesn’t have to sparkle on the outside to make you sparkle from the inside

Finding the right shop

I set out on my journey of finding this elusive dress and felt increasingly despaired at every dress shop I visited. There was nothing that made me feel special and I thought the day would never arrive when I looked in the mirror and thought ‘that’s it’. I finally found myself in a converted barn in Framlingham with just one of my friends and the owner. The business bought dresses from the previous season and sold them at a fraction of their original price. There was no pressure from other people as we were the only ones there, the appointment time was lengthy so there was no rush and the owner really listened to what you wanted. In fact the dress I finally settled on was one she chose for me and is something I wouldn’t have tried on if I’d seen it on the hanger.

The dress isn’t flamboyant, it doesn’t make me look like a loo roll cover and there are minimal sparkles on it. It’s a simple, yet elegantly plain dress that will never go out of fashion. More importantly it felt like me and is really comfortable. Remember there will be lots of food on your wedding day so you need something that gives a little anyway to help hide the food baby!

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Choose a dress that feels right for you

Do it your way

I also bought my dress before setting a date for the wedding as this also took the pressure away from having to find one before a particular date. It’s seen as the wrong way round to many people but it worked for me and I would recommend it to anyone. As someone who gets slightly anxious I knew this was the best decision for me so ignored the words of others when told I was looking too soon.

Granted since that day I’ve seen others that I think may have looked better but I’ve trusted my instinct and stayed with my original choice. Plus I know my fiancé will be happy I chose one that I felt comfortable in.

Now I just need to organise the rest of the day!