Kindness makes the world go round…

I have been incredibly touched by all the love and kindness that I have received since having my miscarriage. I never expected so many messages of love and support which despite making me tearful also made a heart-breaking experience more bearable.

It goes to show how much difference people can make to our lives and sometimes all it takes is a few kind words, letting someone know you are thinking of them or any act of kindness.

I think I still had it in my head that it would be something that I would have to go through on my own and try to think of in quite a clinical sense in order to cope and move forward but, the past few days have proven to me that I am not on my own and that there are people around me who care.

It dawned on me that the reason I felt as though I would be pretty much on my own is because that is how it felt when I was going through all the trauma after the domestic abuse. Don’t get me wrong I had a couple of people who were amazing, but they also found it hard too and had their lives to live.

I then realised that my life is very different now, I have managed to open up my life to new experiences and new people and so even if I don’t always realise, I do have people that have come into my life since and these people are genuine, caring, and lovely.

Sometimes I maybe still don’t realise, as pretty much everyone disappeared out of my life back then when the going got tough.

It takes seconds to get in touch with someone, but we don’t always realise how much it can mean to someone and what a difference it can make.

In a time when someone is feeling sad or going through a difficult time it can shine a light and suddenly things don’t always feel so bad.

As I write this, I can’t help but smile as I look at the bunches of flowers lined up on my windowsill…aside from liking flowers anyway, they are a reminder of peoples love and kindness.

In the days following my miscarriage Ali & Andrew rang me everyday to check in on me which always made me smile and I thought it was very sweet of them. I had people telling me to take care of myself, to rest and take it easy…those people who know me, know I am not good always very good at that.

I can feel a sense of guilt when I am not filling my time with what I deem to be productive, but I know that self-care is necessary. So, I am working on allowing myself to rest and relax as well as letting others take care of me without feeling bad.

Without people’s kindness I know I would have got through this eventually but my goodness I cannot tell you how much difference it has made, feeling loved and supported. I suppose it feels as though you are not alone and the image I have in my head is being surrounded with people who are holding you up.

I really believe that kindness does make the world go around and that we can never truly know what a difference it can make but no doubt it will only make someone feel better, loved and that they are not alone.

Thank you to everyone who has been there for me, I really appreciate it and it has made these last few days easier. I feel incredibly lucky to have such lovely people in my life.

‘It’s the season of love and understanding…’

It’s one of my favourite times of the year and so much more magical having 2 little girls who believe in the magic of Santa!

We’ve been singing and dancing to Christmas songs for the past few weeks and our favourites include Last Christmas, All I want for Christmas is you and Merry Christmas Everyone!!

However, I have often felt that the build up to Christmas starts earlier every year and by November everywhere you turn you will see or hear something to do with Christmas. Most adverts on television are to do with Christmas, there are Christmas songs playing wherever you go, and people are posting about all their festive plans on social media.

Now whilst I do love Christmas, I can’t help but feel that with all this comes a certain amount of pressure or expectations about what you should be doing at Christmas, how much you should spend on food and presents and this idea that everyone is surrounded by large family and continual social gatherings. Whilst this may be true for some, it certainly isn’t true for everyone.

This time of year may be hard for some people due to varying circumstances…. not everyone can afford a luxury Christmas and there will be parents who hope that their children aren’t hoping for an expensive present from Santa. There will be those who don’t have family or friends, those who may have lost loved ones or who can’t go and be with their loved ones.

Yet for those people they can’t avoid Christmas (well not easily) even if they wanted to. It is all to easy to get wrapped up in our own busyness after all most of us have lots of things to do at this time of year on top of all the usual jobs.

However, it’s worth taking a minute to think about those who may not be looking forward to Christmas and take the time to reach out to them. You’d be surprised at what could make a difference to someone and how a small act of kindness can mean a lot to someone. It could be something as small as smiling at someone, wishing them a Merry Christmas, sending someone a message to let them know that you are thinking of them, asking if there’s anything you can do, posting someone a card or giving someone a gift.

I also feel that it is important to never assume that people are busy or that you would be disturbing them or that you are too busy to find time to check in on someone. I would imagine that something as simple as sending someone a message will always be appreciated, even if you don’t get a reply and we all know how easy and quick it is to send messages these days. In less than the time it takes to make a drink you can send someone a message.

I am surprised and somewhat saddened that Covid appears to have divided people more than brought people together and that there seems to be less of a community spirit. We never know what is going on for someone and now more than ever I believe it is important to look out for one another. I don’t like to think of anyone feeling sad or finding life hard and although I know that I can’t change peoples lives, I like to try and do what I can to at least put a smile on someone’s face.

What means the most to me at this time of year is spending time with loved ones…there were so many Christmases where I didn’t get that opportunity so now, I make the most of it.

So, whilst you’re putting your feet up with a glass of something or in the middle of baking yet another batch of mince pies, it would be nice to consider those around you or to check in on that friend or family member who may not be finding the festive period as fun and exciting.

In the words of Shakin’ Stevens, ‘it’s the season of love and understanding, Merry Christmas everyone!’

Bugbear…

(For those of you who do not know what a bugbear is it is a cause of irritation)

Here is where I am going to sound like a grumpy so and so! Recently it has been bugging me more and more that people generally do not appear to use manners. I grew up in a world where manners were the norm…saying please and thank you was expected and common practice, no matter who you were or how old you were.

It now feels as though manners are almost a thing of the past…on the endangered list, soon to be extinct unless we do something about it.

My friend had a parents evening where she was told by the teacher that her 4-year-old was incredibly polite, and that the teacher had never come across such a polite child. I remember when she told me, we were both shocked that the teacher brought it up at parents evening because she said it was so rare for children to use manners! When I was at school (which wasn’t that long ago in the scheme of things!) parents would have been informed if their child did NOT use manners and now it’s the other way around!

I still say please and thank you even if others don’t, but I know of times when I have said thank you to someone and they have looked shocked, almost as if I have said something foreign!

Now I know it shouldn’t bother me when others do not use their manners, but it has been really getting to me because I think it’s rude not to use manners. The times I have opened doors for people or stepped out the way and not only have people not said thank you, but quite often not even smiled or acknowledged me.

I have noticed myself turning into my mother, as I then mutter under my breath, ‘thank you’ in a sarcastic manner! Or I go out of my way to give them my biggest smile whilst in my head I am thinking how rude they are! (I’m rolling my eyes at myself as I write this!!)

Manners do not cost anything and yet I believe they are very important and show appreciation and respect for others. It shows a kindness that I feel is lacking in general society as a whole.

Just like smiling, words can have a massive impact on someone’s day, and something as little as saying thank you can mean a lot.

I worry that the less people say please and thank you the more selfish and arrogant people may become. If we only think about ourselves and no longer undertaken acts of kindness such as opening doors, stepping aside for others, putting a checkout divider down for the next persons shopping etc, then people will have less reason to communicate with others or to use their manners.

I am aware that I should not expect others to acknowledge acts of kindness and therefore should not expect them to say thank you. Therefore, no doubt I will carry on being polite because that’s how I was brought up, but at times I do wonder why I bother, and it does make me feel more selfish.

However, I am bringing my girls up to use manners and I will remind them if they don’t say please or thank you, often saying, ‘what’s the magic word?’.

I wonder if the use of manners is something that is disappearing just in the UK or in other parts of the world.

Are people too busy to use them? Is it just something that people no longer think about or consider? Are children growing up without seeing others using them at home, in school or in general society?

When I was looking for quotes about manners, I came across this one which made me giggle…

If only flirting was that easy!!

I use manners all the time, in which case everyone, must think I am flirting with them!!!

Lockdown part 3…. Week 19

I can’t quite believe that tomorrow marks the end of most of the restrictions in England and that life will return to as normal as it has been for a long time and what may be the new normal for some time to come.

Not a lot will change for me on a day-to-day basis, but I imagine some people will be desperate to go to restaurants, bars, the cinema, indoor attractions etc.

Whatever your plans are moving forward, I hope you will be kind to yourself and only do what you feel comfortable doing. Some people will feel cautious or uncomfortable and others may feel completely relaxed but the main thing is to consider how you feel and not to feel pressured by anyone. We have spent more than a year living with varying degrees of restrictions, some of us have been working remotely, some may not have left their house, ventured into shops or been anywhere crowded (in some large towns and cities social distancing seems to have already gone out the window!).

Some people may feel excited about having more freedom and others may be anxious, I hope that people will be kind to one another as there is no right or wrong. We don’t know what people are feeling or what their personal circumstances are. Yes, there are lots of people who have now had either one or both vaccinations but there are also lots of people who have had neither and of course there is the unknown about how the Indian variation may affect things. I am hopeful that vaccinations will still protect us at least enough to prevent anyone from being hospitalised.

I read an interesting article based on the virus experts’ opinions about the next stage of lockdown easing and the general consensus was cautiousness particularly in the next couple of weeks until we see what impact the easing has had on the number of cases etc. Like the experts I will still feel more comfortable sitting outside at cafes or restaurants or at least somewhere where there are limited numbers and 2 metres between tables. I found it interesting to read that all indoor exercise classes can resume but that high intensity classes pose more of a risk than say yoga as people expel more air when doing such classes. Fortunately, I wasn’t planning on attending any indoor exercise classes!!

There is still a feeling of limbo or that the government are hoping for the best but taking a stab in the dark when it comes to making decisions (yes, I know they say all decisions are based on data but it is obvious that a lot has to do with the economy, and we know the UK government has made mistakes otherwise we wouldn’t have the 5th highest number of Covid deaths).

Wales has advised people not to travel abroad until next year whereas England is allowing foreign travel to resume from next week. However, I am not sure how many countries will want us due to the increasing number of cases linked with the Indian variant. People won’t find out if they can go on holiday until the government updates the traffic light list which could mean you may not find out until the day before you are due to go. Although I had hoped to be able to take my girls abroad before my eldest starts school in September, I am relieved that I didn’t book anything and instead have planned a couple of staycations!

I got another chance to drive to York this week for my second Covid vaccine and I am now one of 15 million people in the UK to be fully vaccinated. I was a little anxious about having my 2nd vaccine as I had the Astra Zeneca and not long ago it was announced that all under 40’s would be offered a different vaccine because of a small number of people getting blood clots. However, I found it interesting that you are more likely to get a blood clot from taking the pill than from having the Astra Zeneca vaccine, yet a lot of people take the pill without batting an eyelid.

…..

As tomorrow marks the end of lockdown as we know it, this will be my last lockdown blog, but I will still write about life after lockdown!

…..

I am excited that my blog now has 100 followers from all over the world! I cannot tell you how much it means, and I want to thank everyone for reading my blog. My blog has now been read by people from the UK, USA, Malaysia, India, China, Japan, South Africa, Canada, Romania, Ecuador, Russia, Indonesia, Egypt, Ireland, Switzerland, Poland, Netherlands, Sweden, Albania, Slovakia, France, and Israel!

So, thank you, thanks, terima kasih, dhanyavad, xiè xiè, arigatou, dankie, mulțumesc, gracias, Спасибо, shukraan, Go raibh maith agat, merci vielmal, Dziękuję, bedankt, tack, faleminderit, Ďakujem, merci, todah!

Lockdown part 3….Week 14

This week has been a mixture of complete relaxation and getting jobs done. I did manage to do some baking and had a go at rainbow icing which was messy but fun. I might challenge myself to make a rainbow cake for my daughters’ birthday. I enjoyed binge watching some TV including a series called The One on Netflix and the 2020 film The Father with Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Coleman. Normally I like to watch chic flicks and romcoms and avoid tear jerkers, but it was good to watch something different. How it has been written is incredible…within minutes I was completely confused and as I had not read about the film it took me awhile to realise that was the point. It is filmed from the father’s perspective who is suffering with dementia. Anthony Hopkins was amazing; he is so talented to be playing such a challenging role and Olivia Coleman was also remarkable. I was gripped all the way through and sobbed like a baby at the end of the film. Despite it making me cry I would thoroughly recommend it but would advise you have a tissue to hand!

…..

The deadline for the case study for my counselling course is getting closer by the day (obviously!!) and I have managed to do most of it this week, but my goodness talk about procrastinating! It is amazing what you can end up doing to avoid doing something! Suddenly, I had an urge to put a new floor down in my bathroom, replace the seal around the bath, going hunting for garden furniture for my Mum, sort through all the paperwork I brought with me when I moved here 2 years ago…and these aren’t the kind of things I would normally choose to do! I am someone who likes to get things done and be prepared, I don’t like things hanging over me and know that once I get something done then I can enjoy myself but all that seems to have gone out the window! I’d be the one encouraging others to get it done and reminding them that they’ll feel better once its out the way and that they can reward themselves afterwards…and in fact that is what I have been doing but clearly, I am not listening to my own advice!

I investigated the reasons that people procrastinate and apparently it is due to a fear of failing. That does resonate with me as I do lack confidence in my own abilities and I have a habit of comparing myself to others and assuming everyone else is better than me. However, I also believe that sometimes there are other things you’d rather do or you’re not in the right mood or you’re tired and that at times it can be worse and sit aimlessly at a computer screen for hours not getting anything done than to admit to yourself that right now it’s not going to happen and coming back to it later or another time.

…..

Tomorrow is a big day for those of us in England as lockdown restrictions are eased a bit more. All shops will be allowed to open, hairdressers and beauty salons will also open, alongside gyms and spas. Restaurants and pubs can open if people are seated outside. Zoos, farms, wildlife parks and theme parks can also open. However, we are still not allowed to visit friends and families indoors.

I feel a mixture of emotions about tomorrow, it feels like such a long time ago when all the above was last open so in a way it will be nice to feel like we are slowly returning to some sort of normality but at the same time I am a little anxious about it. I will continue to avoid crowded places and will no doubt wait a couple of weeks before I attempt to visit anywhere such as a farm in the hope that it won’t be incredibly busy.

I know I have mentioned it before, but I really hope that people will be mindful of how they are feeling and not beat themselves up if they are hesitant about things starting to return to normal. We have spent the past year living in bizarre circumstances that we never imagined would be happening, our lives have been turned upside down and each and everyone of us will have been affected one way or another. It’s ok to not be jumping for joy about restrictions being eased. Take things one step at a time and maybe set yourself a small achievable goal such as visiting a shop when it’s quiet or arranging to meet a friend for a drink somewhere so that you’re not on your own when you take the next step.

I will be continuing will my weekly lockdown posts until 21st June when Boris Johnson hopes to be able to lift the majority of restrictions.

…..

Finally, this week brought the sad news of Prince Phillips death. I had to remind myself that he was 99 years old and from what has been reported it sounds as though he passed away peacefully in his sleep. However, I still feel sad, particularly for the Queen who has lost her husband of 73 years and who described Prince Philip as her strength and stay. Not forgetting Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward who have all sadly lost their father. It doesn’t matter how old someone is or how wonderful their life may have been, they have all still lost someone close to their heart.

I love this photo!

Random Acts of Kindness…

In a time where the whole world has been turned upside down, I wanted to share some ideas of little things we can do to brighten someone’s day (and our own)!

I believe that one of the best things we can do in life is SMILE! After all, a smile costs nothing but its impact may surprise you. It is surprising and saddening how few people appear to smile so I am going to challenge you all to smile at everyone you meet (face to face or virtually) in a day and see how you feel afterwards.

According to an article I read, studies show that smiling releases endorphins, other natural painkillers, and serotonin. Together, these brain chemicals make us feel good from head to toe. Not only do they elevate your mood, but they also relax your body and reduce physical pain. 

So, get smiling!!!!

Other ideas of how we can brighten someone’s day…

  • Open a door for someone
  • Say hello to a stranger
  • Message someone to say good morning
  • Bake a cake for a friend or neighbour
  • Praise someone for something they have done well
  • Let someone go ahead of you in the queue (even more so if you can see that they only have a few items)
  • Collect litter that you see when you’re out and about
  • Say thank you or leave a thank you note
  • Leave a nice note in a library book for someone to discover
  • Give your car park ticket to someone else (if it has time left on it and it’s not a car park requiring your reg plate!)
  • Let someone merge into traffic with a smile
  • Treat someone to a coffee (be it a friend or a stranger)
  • Leave a trolley coin or £1 in a trolley for the next person
  • Dry the swings/slide at the park after it’s rained
  • Go to your local nursing home and smile and wave at residents, donate jigsaws or knitted blankets etc, ask your child/ren to paint a picture for them
  • Give someone your seat on a crowded bus or train (not necessarily something we can do right now but hopefully in the future)
  • Hand in an item you find e.g., someone’s keys or purse
  • Offer to help someone who looks as if they are struggling
  • Give food to a homeless person
  • Donate old glasses
  • Call a family member or friend just to say ‘I love you’
  • Write an encouraging note and put it in a loved one’s bag or under their pillow to find.
  • Reconnect with someone you’ve lost touch with
  • Don’t forget yourself! Schedule some you time, spend a few hours reading a great book or make time for another activity you love. Being kind to yourself will give you the energy and strength to be kind to others!

Kindness is a gift that keeps on giving. Sprinkle a few of these ideas around and you’ll be spreading positive energy with a chain of love.