Happiness is go!

If you read my post about having more fun (here), you might remember I mention The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (and if you don’t, well, I can only think you weren’t paying proper attention *narrows eyes*) and recklessly stated publicly that I was going to start my own Happiness Project in Janaury. And oh, look at that, it’s January… *gulp*

So, I did actually do as I said and used the time around Christmas to decide how my year was going to pan out, and what areas of my life I was going to concentrate on each month, following Gretchen’s example of focusing my resolutions each month on one area rather than more general “Be good, be better” New Year’s Resolutions. Briefly, here they are, starting with February (I’ll come back to January in a second):

February: Marriage

March: Children

April: Sprirituality and reflection

May: Friends and extended family

June: Conscience

July: Recording

August: Outdoors

September: Home

October: Old passions (hobbies, NOT old flames before the more filthy-minded of you get carried away…)

November: Creativity

December: Attitude

So what’s on the agenda for January? Well, Gretchen starts her New Year with Energy and that seems like as good a place to start as any. I’m also adding fun to the mix, as I reckon that’ll give me more energy too. My resolutions, then, for January, are:

  • exercise regularly
  • eat in moderation (IE ignore the Christmas chocolates…)
  • Be spontaneous (yes, as my husband pointed out, I am planning to be spontaneous. Shurrup).
  • Try new things
  • Laugh
  • Diary (not a reflective journal as such, more a record of what’s happening. I started this last year and want to build on it).
  • Cull and organise
  • Motivate myself – star charts rock!

How’m I getting on so far? Give me a chance, it’s only the first couple of days… To be honest I haven’t really gotten going yet. We went away to stay with family just after Christmas, coming back on New Year’s Day so I’ve been catching up on chores and as far as I’m concerned life only resumes normality today. So I’ll be back to let you know. In the spirit of fun etc though, when I changed my twitter avatar from the Christmas one, I thought I’d have a bit of fun with it…


Fun, fun, fun!

I have been having a bit of a roller-coaster ride lately. Maybe some sort of cross between a mid(ish)-life crisis, a reaction to the frankly depressing year we’ve had as a family, or just a general “awakening”, but whatever is going on it’s giving me energy, optimism and enthusiasm. It’s also giving me a bit of a realisation that actually, it’s not such a bad thing to be me after all.

In this spirit I’m reading a lot of philosophy and psychology and self-help-sort-of-things, and two merit Special Mentions.

First up is the book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I LOVE THIS BOOK. Gretchen writes about her experience over the course of a year trying to bring more happiness into her life. It’s not a ‘how to be happy’ book, it’s very firmly about HER story and what SHE did but to be honest, she could be me. So many times reading it I thought “Yes, that is exactly what I do” or just “That’s me!”, so many of her suggestions I actually took on board for myself. I hugely recommend the book, as well as Gretchen’s website which is here.

Next year I’m starting my own Happiness Project which I’m going to blog about. Since it’s mid-December now I’m going to use time between Christmas preparations to think about what I’m going to do and January seems like a good time to start!

I finished reading the Happiness Project on Friday and have been mulling things over; then today I got the latest issue of Psychologies magazine. I’ve started getting this regularly over the past few months, tearing out articles that really tugged at me and putting them into a scrap-file. This month’s focus was on having more fun and coming on top of the high that The Happiness Project left me on, it couldn’t have been more perfectly timed.

One of the suggestions (actually, in both The Happiness Project and Psychologies) was to think of things I used to do for fun as a child and see if I can’t do them now. What a brilliant idea! There’s a quote from CS Lewis (a brilliantly quotable man) saying “When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” It’s so true, and it’s something I had in a small way acknowledged in reading more and more books for children and young adults – although that can be rationalised as a ‘career development activity’ too, really. But no more – I’m going to have more fun, dammit!

These are some of the things I used to do as a child for fun:

  • dress up – in anything. It’s amazing what kind of costume you can make from tucking up and arranging old sheets and curtains. Curtains, actually, are especially good as you can get some lovely fabrics. I had a dark green velvet one which became variously a queen’s dress, a ball gown or a mediaeval maiden. Not to mention being spread on the floor as a forest/garden/meadow.
  • dolls. mostly paper actually – I did have several ‘real’ dolls, both baby and Barbie-type, but paper dolls were a special kind of magic. Either cutting them out of catalogues or drawing them myself or (a real treat) those ones in comics where you got the doll wearing a vest and knickers and two or three outfits with tabs that folded around to hold them on. I’m actually heaving a happy sigh just thinking about them.
  • skipping
  • bubbles
  • puzzles! I used to get a bumper book of puzzles, especially wordsearches, to take with me on the ferry when we went on holiday every summer and it was such a treat.
  • reading.
  • reading.
  • more reading. (It’s amazing actually when I look at what I like doing NOW for fun, how much revolves around books. Thinking ahead, I realised lately that one of my real ambitions is to run a centre for children’s books. Ya never know!)
  • music – on our old, battered piano; one of several recorders I owned; a tortured violin (major parenting points to my parents for putting up with THAT)…
  • curling up in small, enclosed spaces. I actually used to squeeze in behind the hot water tank. Or a small cupboard. Or the space behind my bunk bed (one of those with a desk and wardrobe under the bed). Or folding the sofa bed into a box and getting in the middle. I was rather odd, when I come to think about it…
  • making things with paper. I already mentioned the dolls but I also tried origami, making paper furniture for my dolls, making envelopes. Someone once bought me a book of paper boxes that you pressed out of the pages and folded and slotted together. And one year my dad got me a huge pile of Discovery  magazines which was a real treasure trove; as well as all the facts on a random range of subjects, many of them had hardly been touched and still had the cardboard models to make. I LOVED doing those.
So part of my Happiness Project will be do rediscover some of these hobbies from my childhood and HAVING FUN. And I might just start now… *goes off to hunt for paper and scissors*

The Next Big Thing

So, I’ve been writing a while now. At least a few months. And I sent off my first book manuscript, let’s see, 5 months ago? It’s time and more that I was published. Don’t these publishers and agents realise what they’re missing out on? The millions I could make them (and me)? Well, panic no longer. This post will explain exactly why I’m the person you should all be signing IMMEDIATELY, and I shall sit next to the phone once I’ve pressed ‘Publish’ to accept your calls. And your grovelling apologies for not calling sooner.

1. I’m a genius. Children have never read books like mine. I have a way with the written (or typed) word that makes it sing on the page. Children all over the world will have literacy scores through the roof after reading my books. Well, book (see below).

2. I’ll only bother you once. My book is so good, it will keep us all rich and happy for many, many years. There’s no need to write more than one, in fact I’m not even bothering right now. Hear that? That was the sound of all my works-in-progress going in the bin. And that other noise was the cork popping out of the bottle of wine I’m opening to drink instead of writing.

3. I need no editing. I’ve been over my manuscript a couple of times, I know it’s great. Therere absolutly no speling errors, typox or grammer mistakes for you to worries about. I’m a pro. So you’ll actually be saving money on an editor by publishing me.

4. I don’t need an illustrator. I’ve got kids, they can do the drawings. It’ll add charm and character. And again, it’s cheaper. Lots of lovely royalties for us.

5. I’ll be easy to market. Stay at home mum writing with young children? A money maker. If you want me to add a touch of extra pathos, I’ll stash my husband under the patio and ba-boom! I’m also a young, tragic widow. He won’t mind, he’ll know it’s in a good cause.*

6. I’m good to work with. As long as you give me your undivided attention, with a phone call or lunch on the house a couple of times a week, I’ll be happy. Oh, and do try to control the fans, please?

So there you have it. Six reasons why you should be signing me up before someone else snaps me up and you regret your missed opportunity forever.

*no husbands were harmed in the making of this post.

Creative Writing Awards

Don’t get excited, this isn’t about my picture book being accepted by an agent, sold to a major publishing house and winning a prestigious award since my last post. If it was, I would be too busy running around the room screaming to write a blog post about it.

No, this is a response to a post on the wonderful Jane Travers’ blog, here, in which I was tagged to come up with my own list of lies, sorry, ‘untruths’.

So the idea is, I give a list of 6 untruths about myself and one half-truth, and you have to guess which is the half-truth. The prize is, um, well I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

  1. I speak fluent Portugese. I don’t have any qualifications in it, but have taught myself through those, well, ‘Teach Yourself…’ books. Very interesting it was too.
  2. I did the Coast to Coast bike ride for charity five years ago. Ouch.
  3. I met my husband in 1913 and stalked him until he agreed to make an honest woman of me.
  4. I can explain the off-side rule in 140 characters or less. I shall prove it at some point in the near future.
  5. I bake most of the cakes we eat as a family as I much prefer home-cooked food. I also try to do my own bread at least a couple of times a month since we were given a bread maker for Christmas two years ago.
  6. I am one of the few women I know who can actually parallel park. This is because my husband made me practice over, and over, and over for my driving test.
  7. I had a dream about the National Lottery numbers and we won a prize the same week.

My husband is automatically disqualified from entering, of course. Anyone else, please join in and have a go!