The mistakes we make…

As I tipped over into my thirties I began to wonder where I was going wrong in life. I hadn’t had the confidence or drive to really pursue a career inMistake journalism and had drifted into a vaguely publishing-related office job instead (albeit with the wonderful addition of getting to edit The Book Monster for a couple of years). I was recently divorced after making the mistake of marrying an alcoholic. I was rapidly approaching the ovary-shrivelling ‘geriatric’ stage of fertility and living out a rebound relationship which never really had any chance of making it in the long term.

I’ve made some compromises and had to search for love the hard way (internet dating anyone?) to get to where I am now. And whilst I am very happy and feel very lucky to have two beautiful, healthy children in my life, sometimes I look at the lives of others – people who have set up successful businesses, known what their true vocation was from the word go (and how to make it the centre of everything they do), met and married their first love and had children at the ‘right’ age, created their own dream home (something I don’t even have the energy to aspire to), even people now who have set up a blog with such professionalism and knowledge of what they want out of it – that I’m stunned at what a failure my life looks in comparison. And I wonder if, over the years, I’ve made mistakes – taken the wrong fork in the road, given in to self-doubt, settled for less than I was worth.

But then I realise that my biggest mistake – the one I’m constantly in danger of making time and again with the help of all the many and varied social media platforms – is comparison itself. As the saying goes, into every life some rain must fall, no-one gets away with a life of ups (and by the way Cheryl Cole, being ‘on a rollercoaster, but it’s only going up’ is, in my humble opinion, a bit of an oxymoron, sorry love). The trick of it is to celebrate the ups and, for me, to realise that life is a learning experience and I’m still only half way through.

Perhaps being happy in the present moment is enough to cancel out any number of dodgy past life decisions, because I truly believe that everything we do in life is simply a quest for happiness, whether or not we’re aware of it and no matter how subtly we identify that feeling.



How to shine

Choose to shine

Over at Mum turned Mom HQ this week, Sara has gone for a word as this week’s Prompt: Shine. I didn’t immediately know what to say about this and wasn’t going to enter the link up this week, but I find myself with a little time on my hands and started contemplating what ‘shine’ means to me.

The dictionary tells me that to shine is to emit light, to glint or glisten, to excel or to be immediately apparent. When I think about what it takes to shine, as a person, it takes confidence, it takes a happy, outgoing spirit who is not afraid to put his or herself on the line, and, to be more philosophical, it takes a person who can accept that they have a light inside them which can be directed out into the world, to counteract the darkness.

It’s not easy to shine or to feel like you are capable of it. It takes a lot of encouragement and championing but maybe some people are just born to project themselves and their light into the world from an early age (natural born confidence?).

It might be easy to shine if you are born with an innate talent, an innate beauty – but for the rest of us plebs here on Earth it takes a bit of practice. As a mother, how do you shine when every day seems to be about cooking and laundry and school runs and work? You challenge yourself, you shine through your actions, you attempt to bring a little light, however small, into the lives of others.

At the beginning of the year I spent a lot of time thinking about ‘random acts of kindness’. I even contemplated starting up a linky all about encouraging others to both do and share their own RAOK. I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and was very taken by the notion of happiness coming through giving of yourself, and now I’m reading a book she recommends A Landing on the Sun by Michael Frayn and the concept of ‘happiness’ is once again in the forefront of my mind (and I’m not missing the parallel here of the Sun – a metaphor for happiness, and the one word which we most associate with the descriptive ‘shine’).

So go forth and emit your light, people! I know you can do it.



Happiness is anyone and anything at all that’s loved by you!

charlie brown & snoopy

The above is a quote from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and was MumturnedMom‘s prompt for week five of her Prompt linky.

I’m revisiting this post for this week’s Theme Game theme of ‘Love’ as, although this was originally inspired by thinking about happiness, the things you love are instricably linked with happiness and the two pretty much go hand in hand!

It would be impossible to narrow down what person or thing I love (although obviously I love my family and friends above all else) so I’ve decided that the best way forward is a good old list of all the wonderful things that make me happy:

  • That feeling you get round about the first week of April when the sun comes out and suddenly you realise that there are blossoms on the trees and winter has finally slung its hook.
  • An empty summers afternoon in which to lie in the sun whether it be by a pool, on a beach or in your own back garden, and read a good book with an ice cold drink close at hand.
  • Sneaking into the semi-darkness of my children’s room and watching them sleep like little fluffy haired, precious, innocent, adorable little angels – my angels!
  • Sitting in a darkened cinema or theatre knowing that you are about to be brilliantly entertained.
  • Taking a step back from anything that you’ve created from scratch and feeling a sense of pride and achievement.
  • My ‘Dorothy’ shoes:
  • 228
  • Setting off for an airport with an adventure ahead of you.
  • The sense of anticipation as you open the cover of a new book that you’ve been dying to get your hands on.
  • Anything that makes me laugh (particularly the likes of Spaced – Simon Pegg and Nick Frost at their best – or Friday Night Dinner “Shit on it!!!” [pardon my French!] or any Mel Brooks film, especially The Producers)
  • My mum’s roast dinners
  • A long, restful, dreamless sleep.

And so to bed….


The Reading Residence



Word of the week: Happy!

happy minion!

I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately and started reading “The Happiness Project” this week after seeing mention of it in a post over at Learner Mother. After my thoughts last week on how the outlook of other, more pessimistic or gloomy souls can drag you down somewhat (unless you can switch off without appearing rude!), I began to ponder what external factors can flick the happiness switch. Lately, for me (and I’m sure plenty of other people too) its the moment that the Pharell Williams song “Happy” comes on the radio. I instantly find myself doing a little shoulder dance, singing along, visualising that very lovable video that goes with this awesome tune – other random bods going about their days, the sun shining, the quality of the light, the feeling that everyone else who is listening to this song is somehow connected to you in a wave of euphoria. Feeling just like a room without a roof (whatever that means!). And who can fail to be tickled by the sight of a life size minion getting in on the action?
So for all those who want to bring bad news to me I will attempt to mentally channel Pharrell – “no offence to you, but don’t waste your time”.
In the spirit of idea sharing I’d love to know what flicks your happiness switch?


Other peoples’ blues

Half empty

Four mornings a week I find myself in the presence of a lovely lady who does me a great favour saving me both time and money through her selfless generosity. She is the first person who I see and speak to on these days. Unfortunately she is also the world’s biggest pessimist, gloom-monger and doom sayer. In fact I’d go so far as to suggest that her glass is way less than half empty.

This puts me in the unenviable position of starting off each working day, not with a cheerful, sunny or inspirational ‘thought for the day’ but rather a dire, doom-laden prospectus on the unravelling of society, the hopelessness of the way our country is going and the traffic gridlock our town will surely face when they start building the new Sainsburys in a few weeks time.

Sometimes I am tempted to stick my fingers in my ears and, as the choon says, sing “La La La”. However, this would be extremely rude, ungrateful and frankly, out of character (I was after all brought up with some manners!).

My main strategy is to try and turn the conversation to something less gloomy as soon as a suitable chance presents itself. This doesn’t always work and sometimes I just don’t have the energy (its mostly quite early in the morning). As I have lately been aiming to live mindfully, enjoy the moment more and always think positive thoughts wherever it is humanly possible to do so, I’m finding this quite challenging. The weather isn’t helping.

So what do you do to stop yourself from having all your good karma zapped into oblivion? Answers on a postcard [or there’s also a thing called a comment thread – see below ;-)]

Linking to PoCoLo over at Verily Victoria Vocalises:

Post Comment Love

Play = happiness

play for life

As this week’s Theme Game (courtesy of The Reading Residence and Red Peffer) is all around the theme of ‘play’ I’m sure that I’ll be reading lots about the various ways in which children come to this activity: cars, dolls, tea parties; imaginative play; learning through play; game playing; team games; solitary play; softplay; outdoor play; physical play; mind games, wordplay…

And I could tell you about my children’s favourite forms of play, what I think they might have learned on the journey, or the kind of play I would like to encourage more of. But most interesting to me though is something I read on Wikipedia which states that, regardless if play is structured or unstructured both types “promote adaptive behaviours and mental states of happiness”.

And then I’m drawn back to that inevitable ponder on the nature of the urge to procreate and the thoughts that go through our minds when we project our future families into existence. Despite what the carefree, childfree might see as some dumb biological imperative that us brat-hoarders have mindlessly followed (sometimes into what may seem like sleep-deprived oblivion) we did actually make the decision to follow this path for a good reason: because we know, deep inside, that childhood was (or in the case of those less fortunate, should have been) the most amazing, wondrous time of our lives, and the vast majority of it was (or should have been) spent playing in one way or another. And we see that, as adults, we lose our ability to play in the untethered, imaginative and carefree way that children do. And maybe we hope that we can be allowed to recapture some of the magic of childhood through tagging along with our kids for the ride!

And this reminds me that maybe sometimes I need to stop observing and actually get down on the floor with my own rugrats and join in! What have I got lose! Happiness awaits…


Redpeffer The Theme Game