Today, I am grateful for… a week of self-care

Self-care

After 28 days of my first official Gratitude Daily course, which ended on the last day of Feb, I was thrilled with how things had gone, but exhausted by the unexpected energy used up in sharing this particular offering with the world for the very first time. Not to mention the holding of space for a group of women to share their daily gratitudes and challenges. Add to that the late nights for scheduling emails and keeping up with the Facebook group postings. Wow! It takes a lot to put yourself out there, but the pay off is big… earning money doing what you love and touching people’s lives… what a pleasure that is. Out of both necessity and celebration, it was time for some self-care. So, this week is dedicated Self-Care Week. On Saturday, I bought myself some beautiful flowers – daffodils, purple tulips and alstromeria in pink. Today, they opened fully. Yesterday, I allowed myself time away from my desk for guilt-free lunch out with a friend. I was in bed by 9 and up before sunrise. Today, I treated myself to a book for bedtime, but couldn’t resist dipping in after dinner and can’t wait to dive in again. After pancakes with lemon sugar for desert, I am considering giving up chocolate for lent… another leaning/learning this week has been towards healthy food as a treat for my body, rather than chocolate. Tomorrow, I haven’t decided how I will celebrate, but on Thursday, I have booked myself in for a cut and colour… a rare event over here! On Friday, I may venture to the sea… Brighton is calling and I can justify it with some work there as well, but I will still have time for the sea air self-care, oh yes! A coast-bound train journey looms… bring it on! Hard work (even if it is something you love) is all very well, but what’s the point if you can’t take time out to indulge a little and enjoy yourself? What will you do to treat yourself well this week? Give yourself a reason for Gratitude Daily… do one small thing just for you each day. You will thank yourself for it. x

Today, I am grateful for… successful women

Flourish
I love seeing people succeed. I especially love to see women thrive and carve out a business with their authentic, original selves at the heart of the magic. I interviewed a friend who has successfully turned around her business in the space of just six months from cancelling events due to not enough participants to selling out in January – normally the quietest month! Today, I am grateful for the Marie Forleos and for the Laura Hollicks of this world, and closer to home, for the Judith Morgans and countless others… I am grateful for intelligent women, living abundant lives, who inspire and support other women to create successful businesses from their passions and strengths. I know I may seem a little naive here… that in some cases, there’s a lot of $£€ in it, but that is no bad thing… I genuinely believe that their work comes from a good place… from the heart and from a desire to help others and see others succeed… and if they can make a good (fantastic) living from this, then good for them… long may they flourish! Who doesn’t want that as well? Seeing their success gives me the confidence to step up my game… to take bigger risks and bigger leaps than I might otherwise have done.
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Thank you ladies… you are an inspiration!

Today, I am grateful for… old friends

Grateful for old friends
Today, I am grateful for old friends. The ones who have known you for what feels like a lifetime, but who these days you rarely see. Those friends who, no matter how long the gap between spending time together, you still share and connect on the same deep level that you always did? Time melts away and it’s just like it always was? Magic and laughter. Today, I had one of those meetings.
More than 8 years had passed since last we met… she had moved from London to New York, then on to New Orleans, had started her own business, met a great guy – her love and new business partner (who I had the pleasure of meeting today). Since last we met, I had my second child, separated from my husband (she was my chief bridesmaid), reconnected with my creativity and started doing work I love. Both our mothers had survived serious illness in recent years and yes, we both had a similar style as we did way back when… we both rocked up in black trousers, deep red scarves and big grins. There was a lot to talk about.
Here we were, together again after 8+ years with the big pond between us, chatting away like it was only yesterday. Everything and nothing had changed. She still expresses herself so beautifully with her fabulous tattooed hands; she looks no older than she did when last we met, but her hair has grown very long and turned red, and I was delighted to learn that she still gives her pets funny names.
So here’s to old friends… and new ones too… my gratitude goes out to you.
Here’s to meetings that feel like yesterday.
Here’s to time spent together again in what I hope will seem like just days.
I think it’s time I started planning a trip to New Orleans.
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Who are the people you love to spend time with? The ones that light up your life and time melts away? Tell me about them please…. I would love to hear… what do you love about those friends?

 

Today, I am grateful for… my gratitude walks

gratitude walk

Each morning, on my way home from the school run, I make a little detour through the park… my gratitude walk. It takes just a few minutes, but the effect lasts for hours. My decision to turn right rather than left at the bottom of the hill adds moments to my walk home and smiles to my morning. I walk slowly, mindfully. I look around me and take in the details. Today, the first daffodils, a ring of crocuses, freshly flowering after the weekend, planted in a wobbly ring. As I walk, I stretch out all of the tightness in my shoulders from too many computer hours and let the fresh air fill my lungs. I breathe in, out, in; slowly and deeply. Some days, like today, I take pictures… somehow capturing moments on my camera or phone helps to imprint these things on my mind. These gratitude walks help me to appreciate the beauty on my doorstep… the simple pleasures it is so easy to take for granted, but which, if we allow them, add such joy to our lives. In the Summer, I will want to linger, I am sure, but for now, just a five minute boost from nature is enough to top up my morning gratitude tanks.
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Is there a little detour you could make each day for a short gratitude walk? Or perhaps there is a route you walk already, which walked slowly and mindfully might inject more joy into your life. Just a few minutes away from the desk and out in nature shifts the focus and helps productivity no end. If you think there isn’t time, think again. If you want to get more done, slow down… Jonathan Fields reminded me of that with his productivity hack Hair on Fire Minus One. This week, I am putting it to the test.

Today, I am grateful for… feeling at home

Home
I have lived in my little home for just over 14 years. I never intended this to be my forever home, this sweet little cottage; it was the bridge between a flat and a house.  It was a doer-upper when I purchased it with my ex on the Valentine’s Day of the year we got married. It was our first place without lodgers… a space to make our own. We could see the potential. We worked hard; poured love and money into the project; re-wired, re-plastered, re-painted, re-everything-ed it . But I rarely settled here… I was always off and out, here and there… doing, seeing, visiting, somebody or something. This was a bigger-picture thing, I am sure. My restlessness was not to do with the home itself, but something inside me. When we had our first son, spare room became nursery and on the birth of our second son, a cot was added and, as they grew, bunk beds. But I was always out… rarely here, relaxing and entertaining. I cannot recall a single weekend when I stayed home willingly. It has been just my boys and I living here for the past 3 years. Last Winter I redecorated the dining room. It is where we eat and also where I work… at my little corner office. The year before, the boys’ bedroom and our living room were given an overhaul with the help of my boyfriend. We moved everything out of each room in turn, bringing back in only what was wanted. We demolished a shed, constructed a pergola and converted an old door and a sewing machine base into a table. We created a little seated area for outdoor entertaining. This doubles as my Summer art studio also.
In the past years or so, something has shifted. I finally feel at home here. I invite people in. I cook here for friends – I entertain, but the biggest shift of all is that I am happy staying in. This weekend, I have not ventured further than my front door… and no, I’m not ill. If you know me, you know that this would have been unheard of a year ago!
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So today, I am grateful that I finally feel at home here, in my home. I am grateful for a quiet contented feeling. I am grateful for a connectedness to my living environment and a release from my restlessness. I may not always live here, but I feel that now I can be here with myself, I could be happy anywhere. And in reconnecting with my home, I know that it was not my home I was disconnected from, but myself.

Today, I am grateful for… the joy a smile can bring

The joy a smile can bring

Today, I am grateful for the joy a smile can bring. It costs nothing, but says everything.
I am not talking about the toothy grin prompted by “say cheese” in the high pitched cry of a camera wielding parent intent on capturing a certain something. I am referring to that wonder-full moment when eyes are alight and a feeling in the heart is revealed. It’s contagious that thing. Pure. Spontaneous. Magic. I am grateful for witnessing the spread of a smile today… the joy passed from friend to friend, as the party began and from small boy to big brother, to (me) mother, grandmother, and on…
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I am grateful for the joy of friendship. I am grateful for my own precious friends and that my small son, 5 today, already has some truly kind, loyal and loving friends. I am grateful that in watching them today, jumping and giggling, I was reminded of my own happy childhood parties and my old school friends. I am grateful for family and for the fact that whilst ours is no longer intact, we remain close and are able to share these special occasions, extended family included. I am grateful for the sound of children’s laughter… it rang out today and is music to my ears. Grateful for the sound of silence now that our day is over; the presents opened; the cake eaten. I am grateful for peace at last and for the feeling of joy in my heart that each of today’s memories, lived and re-lived brings. I am grateful that tonight, I feel abundantly blessed. My heart is smiling.

Today, I am grateful for… the spaces in between

Spces in between

Today, I am grateful for the spaces in between… the sun between showers, sky between trees, blue between dark clouds, stops between steps, naps between tasks, moments of peace between fights in the back seat.
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After a rush, rush morning, ready for fresh air and exercise, big boy and I ventured out. Time together just the two of us is all too rare, so today, I was grateful for a little of that. Huge grey cloud suggested rain, but we chose to have faith. As we neared the park, the blue sky that had been mostly hidden came out and the sun showed its face again. The focus of my gratitude practice today was mindfulness… stopping to take in the views and feel the wind on my skin brought me back to the moment again. I walked a little, stopped; walked a little, stopped. Beauty is everywhere; always.

 

Today, I am grateful for… the promise of Spring

Crocuses

Today, I am grateful for the promise of Spring… sun shining, crocuses opening, buds on branches.
Today, I had the pleasure of time in my garden coat-free. I cut back straggly plants, raked leaves and in my head formed a plan for the garden in the coming weeks. It felt good. Blue sky, fresh air, nature… bliss. This year, I want to tame the too tall trees. I want to add more colour and some things to eat – grow rocket and spinach at the least. It is time to lose the small wooden shed and the plastic slide and throw down more grass seed, tend it and be out in the garden daily. This is the place I should be spending time… connecting with nature (and me). This is the place I feel alive. This is what I moved from a huge flat to a tiny house for… my outdoor space. Right now, grass is long, but it is green. For that, I am grateful. There is mud… more of it than there is grass, it seems, but that’s not permanent. There are no puddles or floods here, for which I am grateful. Half way up our little hill, we are safe. Down below, in the park, lakes have replaced fields and paths are almost impassable as the brook that cuts right through the middle has risen and risen and the rains have run down from the woods. That will change… warm weather will come and soon we will be cycling on dry paths and the muddy waters will run clear again. I appreciate the big shifts and the little things that come with the changing of seasons. Above all, I am grateful that I have a home that is dry and warm and a garden in which I can grow things. I am blessed to have a little corner of the world that I can call my own. All of this makes me feel truly abundant.

Today, I am grateful for… the light

Light out of Chichester

Today, I am grateful for the most extraordinary light from the train home this evening. A blissful golden hue fell upon the grasses in the fields outside Chichester and as we passed by the flooded areas that have turned the Sussex countryside into a Lake District, dark rainclouds loomed and a rainbow straddled the blue band in between. This glorious sight… the most stunningly beautiful views of wild nature that I have ever seen from this train, kept me going all the way home to Barnet. So grateful for that… the beauty is still in my mind. I had no camera, but even if I did, I don’t think I could have captured it.
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“Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.”
Erasmus

Today, I am grateful for… a gratitude reunion

Ladies of gratitude

Today, something rather special happened… a little gathering took place at my home for five international women (Spanish, English, Italian, South African) – one quarter of our gratitude group – to celebrate one year of practicing gratitude together. After posting an open invitation on my Facebook page last February, I set up a closed community of 20 women, sent daily prompts for one month as we all worked on our gratitude practice. Sharing daily our gratitude, as well as our challenges, brought us close across the miles, from London to Seattle to the Czech Republic. One year on, we continue to support each other in our struggles and share our joy in life’s little things. Whilst several of us were already friends, new connections were forged and although today’s gathering was the first meeting for some, I know it will not be the last. Growing and nurturing our gratitude practice has been a bright and beautiful journey together.
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Today, I am grateful for international friends. I am grateful for the depth of our sharing. I am grateful for the safe haven that is our little community. My wish is that everyone who feels that a gratitude practice could benefit their life, would have the opportunity to experience this. It is what I am working towards with Gratitude Daily.