Seasonal journals – I created Spring Goodness as a practice run and then Love Summer to sell in my etsy shop. An Autumn version will be coming soon!
Creating my etsy shop – trying not to get to hung up on what’s right and just experiment
Looking at nutrition and wellbeing from a curious perspective to try and lessen my all-or-nothing mentality
Getting back into sewing and making new things – I took a Learn to Sew course Autumn 2019 and loved finally being able to use a sewing machine. Over lockdown with a focus on home learning and not having enough space for sewing it fell by the wayside but I’m gradually getting back to it now
Trying different planning methods – it’s good to try new things but in this case I realised bullet journalling really suits me and I started a new bujo last month (I’ve previously blogged about bullet journalling here and here).
I’m more aware of the word Curiosity and tend to notice when it comes up in conversation or discussion – it helps me tune in and learn more about curiosity!
I do wonder if I use the excuse of curiosity to keep exploring new things rather than cracking on with existing hobbies. And if sometimes it lessens my focus?
But all in all I think it’s been a great word for me and I am glad I chose it.
Plans for curiosity for the rest of the year
I want to continue to use it as a lens and theme for the year. Something that I think about when new opportunities arise and also when issues and challenges come up in daily life… looking at things from a point of view of curiosity rather than judgement helps me to be more open minded about how I deal with problems. At least that’s what I hope!
Did you pick a word for 2021? If so – how’s it going? Has it had an impact on your life?
Today I want to talk about how we can cultivate positive energy.
It’s helpful to know what activities and things raise our energy. Then when we are having a meh day we can try them to see if it helps lift us up. It may not always help and it may not always be what we need (sometimes we need to feel our emotions and not brush them aside). But it’s great to have an idea of what might help raise our energy when we want to try it.
Get to Know Yourself Better
Something that has been super helpful for me in how I cultivate positive energy is getting to know myself better.
And I’m an INFJ who can sometimes be described as “sensitive” and work best when what I am doing links to my personal values.
There are various quizzes you can take online if you like that kind of thing (I do!) to help you discover more about your own traits. I know some people aren’t a fan of labels and being pigeon-holed but I’ve always found things like this a great leaping point to understand myself better.
If you do any quizzes I’d recommend following it up with research on your “type” to see if you do feel like it fits you. And then use that knowledge to give yourself tools and help in the areas you want to improve.
Knowing I am an introvert has probably been the biggest game-changer for my energy levels. Now I understand when my battery is running low and that quiet alone time is exactly what I need to help raise my energy again.
Get Ready to Cultivate Positive Energy
If we’re having a meh day and want to try and raise our energy – that often isn’t the best time to work out what we need. What is helpful is already having a file or toolbox you can open up when you need it. So let’s look at how we can do that…
Create an Energy Toolbox
Open up a notes file on your phone or a page in your notebook to record your answers to each of the prompts below. It can become something you revisit when you need to lift your spirits.
Make a list of things that raise your energy. E.g. listen to music, dance, go for a walk, talking to friends, being creative
What one thing can you do every morning to help you cultivate positive energy? E.g. journalling, meditation, hydrate, exercise, stretch, wear something that makes you happy, put on your favourite jewellery/perfume
Make a playlist with songs that make you want to dance and sing. If you prefer podcasts to music – which ones inspire you and motivate you?
Engage your senses… what colours mean happy or high energy to you? Which scents wake up and refresh you? What food/drink revives you?
What’s your perfect break when you get overwhelmed or stressed? Do you like to get outside? Have a nap? Have a drink? Switch to a different activity?
This is a great starting point. If you know your personality traits or have answers to the quizzes you could also screenshot your answers and keep them together to refer back to.
Start creating a file on yourself – what makes you feel good and what helps raise your energy when you need to. And then open it up on those days when you need a boost!
What’s the number one tool in your energy raising toolkit?
This month my son turned 10. I’ll save you from all the “where did the time go?” cliches and just say the last 10 years went by faster than my previous 28 years combined! I really enjoyed writing and sharing my Insights from 10 years of Marriage last year so today I thought I’d also share 10 Insights from 10 Years of Parenting.
First – a little back story…
Becoming a Parent
We welcomed our son into the world 10 years ago. We were living in a town called Palmerston North in New Zealand. It was a beautiful Winter’s day (my midwife wrote that in my maternity notes and it’s stuck with me).
My pregnancy had been fairly smooth. We had a scare very early on. And towards the end the health care professionals became worried he was measuring small. I ended up being monitored for the last couple of weeks and was booked in for an induction the day after my due date.
We turned up at the hospital for an induction but it turned out I was in the early stages of labour. They broke my waters at 9am. I held my baby in my arms at 12.40pm. The hospital staff joked that if we had another I should probably book in the night before given how quickly my first had arrived!
Becoming a mother was hard. I struggled for a long time. Being responsible for a tiny human was my biggest challenge in life so far. I gradually learnt to relax and lean in and accept that I was doing the best I could at any given time. And I’ve learnt a lot along the way…
10 Insights from 10 Years of Parenting
Parenting is something you have to learn on the job. No amount of preparation can get you fully ready until you are a parent!
Listen to the advice that many people freely give. But it’s perfectly okay to do the complete opposite. We have to pick what works best for us at the time. As long as you have your own and your child’s best interests at heart don’t feel you have to justify those decisions.
We took a parenting course when our son was 4. Wish we did it sooner. It really helped us work out what kind of parents we want to be and gave us strategies to deal with frictions that arise in families. (If you’re in New Zealand – it was a Parenting Place Toolbox Course for the early years – would 100% recommend).
Build your own traditions. Celebrate them. Get the kiddos excited to be involved. And cherish them. Some of our favourites are:
pancakes for breakfast on birthdays and Christmas
decorating the house with streamers for special occasions
reading all together in the evenings before bed.
Find a way to capture the memories. I’ve always loved documenting life. I was a scrapbooker, I take part in day in the life and week in the life. I collate 1 second of videos from every day (I’m doing this in 2020 and have the full year from 2018 too).
For me – documenting life helps me realise how awesome the season we are in is while we are in it!
We grow in stages – remember the stages come and they go. Even the really tricky stages will come to an end. You will get through it. This too shall pass.
Learn to embrace your child’s personality. Figure out what drives them and work with that. Their personality may be completely opposite to yours!
For me, some parts of parenting have felt like a wild ride and I’ve wanted to stop the ride and get off. What’s been helpful is knowing myself better and knowing what makes me feel rested and refreshed. As an introvert I NEED alone time (something that was so severely lacking in those first years). I’ve learnt to find ways to get that alone time and come back as a better parent!
In terms of making rules and guidelines – we found some advice we were given really handy… it’s easier to start with stricter rules and gradually relax them than it is to enforce strict rules after starting more relaxed.
As a side suggestion here – learn all you can about the online world and how it effects our mental health – this is having a massive effect on kids today. Our school offers an annual e-safety session and I’ve picked up so much useful information through that.
Let them be little! I can’t say this enough. The world of responsibility and cynicism and adulthood will reach them at some point. But let them be little for as long as possible! Let them soak up the magic, the wonder and the whimsy of childhood while they can!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my insights from 10 years of parenting. f you’re a parent I’d love to know some of the things you’ve learnt along the way.
I wonder what the next 10 years will bring? Teenagers and all kinds of things I am far too naive about I am sure!
Today I want to share some tips and ideas to help you with figuring out your values. I defined my values back in 2015 and they are still steering me and my life decisions 5 years later! You can read more about my process here.
Why Do I Need to Know My Values?
Values can help give your life meaning.
They can help steer your direction and decisions you make.
Knowing your values gives you some roots and grounding to help you grow as a person.
Making decisions and commitments becomes easier because you can weigh them up against your values.
Your values almost become part of your gut feeling – they help alongside your intuition.
I wholeheartedly recommend taking the time for figuring out your values – it has changed my life!
Figuring Out Your Values – Getting Started
Set some time aside to do this. Ideally you want an hour – maybe longer. If you can – find some peace and quiet. Prepare your favourite drink, maybe light a candle and gather up some paper and a pen.
Savour the list. Work through each word. Say it in your head and maybe even aloud. Does it mean anything to you? If it sparks a feeling highlight it. If it doesn’t leave it be. And if you’re unsure what a word means look it up. Work your way through the whole list. Try to highlight at least 20 words.
Sometimes thinking about the antonyms or the opposites of the words can be helpful. Thinking “I definitely don’t want to be that!” about the opposite of the word may help you figure out if it has meaning to you.
And also if there are words on the list that you are turned off by – have a way to mark them – the antonyms of these words may hold value for you.
Another thing to remember is that it’s your interpretation of the word that counts! (For example: Understanding is one of my values – and I chose it because of its many definitions. For me it means empathy and also learning/figuring things out. But it may have another meaning to you.)
Figuring Out Your Values – Picking the Right Ones for You
Once you get to the end of the list have a look at all the ones you’ve marked or highlighted. Do some of the words mean more? Give them an extra mark!
Now write each of your highlighted words on individual slips of paper. Post-it’s can work well or just scrap paper. Add a star to any that really stand out for you.
Can you group any of the words together? Do they hold similar meaning to you? If so – which word best encapsulates all of the ones in a group?
Try to prioritise or order them in some way. Which ones feel more important?
Tips for whittling the list down – take each word in turn:
Can you think of examples of when this value has been important in your life and steered you?
If you choose this word what would that mean? Can you actively live life according to this value?
Remember – these are your values – try not to be influenced by any external judgements of the words you choose. We are all different and how awesome is that?!
You can have as many values as you like. I have 5. I’d suggest aiming for 3-6 as more than that may result in less focus on them.
Once you’ve got a few picked out – sit with them for a few days. Pin them up somewhere you will see them each day. Do they feel right? You can always come back and tweak.
An activity I did to expand on my Values was to create a sheet for each one.
On it I listed:
What the word means to me
Characteristics of the Value
Examples of the Value
And Non-Examples (what would be going against the meaning of the value)
I recently mentioned I was keen to be making peace with 2019 (in my Monthly Mantras post) and today I want to write more about that.
2019 felt like a big year. I didn’t give birth, move house, move from one side of the world to the other or lose anyone close to me (each of these fit into the definition of a “big year” for me). And yet it still felt like a lot happened last year. And I feel that needs to be reflected on.
So I’ve been doing some reflection exercises and I thought I’d share some of that with you.
Reviewing and Reflecting on 2019
I started with a review of the year. Deciding to follow the format suggested by Elise Joy in her email newsletter, I drew out a template in my Bullet Journal for the review back in December but ended up stalled for weeks. I think I had to get into 2020 before I could complete it! I recently finished it by taking it one month at a time.
For each month I went through my Bullet Journal and wrote a quick summary of what I did and what happened each month. Then I noted down how I felt that month. It’s interesting to see how much happened in 2019. And that there were definitely some up’s and down’s throughout the year.
I’ve also been journaling in my Morning Pages. My Morning Pages don’t have any defined structure – I just aim for 3 pages each day when I can. It’s usually whatever is on my mind, reflecting back and planning my days. I have found myself reflecting back on 2019 some days. I find Morning Pages a good way to get things out onto the page.
Other good exercises to help you reflect are:
Keeping a gratitude journal and writing down something you are grateful for at the end of each day
Writing Happy Lists (things that make you happy so you can bring more happiness into your life!)
Thinking about what you want More, Less and the Same of in your life going forward (or what you want to Stop Doing, Start Doing and Continue Doing) – I have an example here
Dreaming about your Ideal Day and then working out what small things you can start adding to your current days to work towards the ideal
What Happened in 2019?
So what happened in 2019 that made it feel like such a big year? Here’s just some of the things we did last year…
Had some building work done on the house that took a couple of months
Tried to rehome a rescue dog but unfortunately she wasn’t able to be around children (we didn’t know that when we took her in)
Had some health stuff to deal with (that I’m still dealing with now)
Amongst all of this we did all the daily life stuff as well relating to school, work, family and home.
Making Peace with 2019
I think that 2019 was a full year for us with lots going on. There was always something happening or preparation and planning was happening for future events. When we travelled it was to visit family and/or friends and it was jam-packed. We didn’t get much down time. And when we did it felt enforced (because we were poorly or exhausted!).
Now that I’ve been able to reflect back on everything I can see that there were highs and lows (as there should be) and that we achieved a lot. It wasn’t all bad. It’s good to look back and find the good!
Looking back on 2019 has helped me work out my themes for 2020 and where I want to focus my time and energy currently.
I’d love to hear some of your favourite exercises for reflecting and how you’ve been making peace with 2019.
We’d been together as a couple for almost 10 years when we said our marriage vows. Our relationship began as the millennium rolled over. We were engaged mid 2004 and finally got around to the wedding over 5 years later.
Our relationship has covered a lot of ground – in time, in distance (we’ve lived in 3 different countries and 7 different houses) and life experience (including emigration, becoming parents, relocation and returning to the UK.)
I do like to reflect (as you may already know) and I’ve found myself looking back at our marriage recently as we reached the milestone of our 10th anniversary.
My 10 Insights from 10 years of Marriage
I believe intimacy is related to nuances. All these small actions and behaviours add up. When you’re in a long term relationship – intimacy is often more about the small everyday nuances than grand actions.
It’s important to celebrate individualities whilst having common ground.
Change is inevitable so there has to be some flexibility – this comes back to those nuances again – we change gradually over time and being aware of the nuances helps it not be a shock.
The wedding day is just one day of celebration – make sure you continue celebrating your marriage – not necessarily with big parties and the rest of the world but as a couple.
He’s one of my favourite people…unless he’s not – it’s important I work through why he’s not instead of taking action because of it.
Make big decisions together. The times we made big decisions together have formed the milestones of our marriage.
We must call each other out when our behaviour isn’t acceptable. And yes, sometimes that happens.
Respect each others values and beliefs. And remember – they won’t always align.
Humour and comedy is a common ground for us and we enjoy it together. Especially in the mundane or bad moments.
Him being lighter makes me lighter and vice versa – we must make the effort to keep lifting each other up.
* I wonder what insights I will glean from the next 10 years?
Today I want to help you write your own list of things that make you happy.
A Happy list is a great resource to have to recognise what brings you joy. It can work as a great reminder to do more of what you love and also for days that don’t feel so great to remind you to find the good! Plus creating the list can help you recognise and show gratitude for the happy things in your life.
My things that make me happy lists (list 1 and list 2) are popular posts here at Find the Good Everyday so I thought I’d share some tips so you can write your own version.
I’ve also created a journalling workbook full of journalling prompts to help you get more joy in your everyday. Happy Lists feature as do 20 other 10 minute prompts for happiness. You can find out more here. And buy your copy here.
Writing your own things that make you Happy list
I’d recommend 100 things if you can – it’s a challenge but it really gets you thinking about all the things (small and large) that bring you joy.
Grab some paper or a notebook and a pen and let’s get started…
First of all – get as many things on paper that come to mind straightaway. Number them as you go so you know how many you’ve got.
Do that now and if/when you start to get stuck come back to read the prompts below (and the What Next section).
Happy List Prompts
If you’re stuck for ideas have a think about these categories and if any happy things spring to mind.
Things you collect
Time of day
Day of the week
Each season (which is your favourite and what makes you happy during each season)
Occasions & Celebrations
Things that make you smile
Food & Drinks
Activities (that make you feel good during and after)
Movies & TV
Things that made you happy as a child
The 5 senses (sight, sound, touch, taste and scent)
If you’ve worked your way through these prompts and still have space on your happy list have a read of my 100 things and 100 more things lists to see if they spark any ideas.
I’d recommend leaving the list for a day or two and then coming back to review it.
You could type it up or hand letter your list or stick with the original version.
And then display your list somewhere you can see it everyday – on a notice board, vision board, in your planner. Or take a photo and save it as your screensaver.
Make a pact with yourself to read it often and try to encourage some of those things that make you happy in to your daily life.
Since February this I’ve been conducting an experiment in setting half term goals for myself. Today I want to share how and why I’ve been doing this.
Why have I been setting Half Term Goals?
I have a 9 year old boy at primary school and I realised that I could use the way the school year is broken up into chunks to set goals with deadlines. It also means when my son has school holidays I can review and reset as well as focusing on time with him.
Here in the UK the school year has 3 terms each broken into 2 half terms. Autumn term runs from September until Christmas with a week off usually in October. Spring term is from January until Easter with a week’s break in February. And the Summer term runs from after Easter until July with a week off at the end of May.
Each half term is usually around 6 weeks which seems like a decent block of time to get things done.
My Process for Setting Half Term Goals
I worked out 3 areas I wanted to set goals around. These are:
Home & Family
At the start of each half term I come up with a list of what I want to achieve in each area.
I create a page in my Bullet Journal listing the tasks for each area with check boxes to tick as I complete them.
This list then feeds through to my monthly bujo pages where I list aims and goals for each month.
Is this system working for me?
I think this has been great to try and keep me focused and working on detailed tasks.
But I feel like I need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I need to ensure these short term goals are stepping me towards big goals. So I am currently working on setting/reviewing longer-term goals in each area so I can refer to them when I set shorter-term goals each half term.
Goals written down are a great step forward but I also need to make sure I’m taking the time to DO the work!
For this new half term I drew up a grid showing all the days my son is at school. I noted down prior appointments and commitments so I can see what time I have available to work on my goals.
One thing I struggle with is overcommitting to too many things. I often think I can get much more done in a day than I actually manage. (I often forget that school hours only allow me around 4-5 hours of work time if I have no other commitments or distractions…And they always show up!). This can sometimes lead to overwhelm and then I don’t know what to work on.
This half term I intend to be more intentional when writing my daily to do lists. I want to add things that move me towards my goals but make sure the daily list is achievable to keep me motivated to continue.
Today I want to talk more about my Style Analysis and what my plans are around this item on my 37 Things list .
Why did I change my 37 Things activity?
Since I was a teenager (jeepers that’s 20 years ago) I’ve been self-conscious about my size, shape and weight. I’ve tried various diets, lifestyle plans and types of exercise over the years – most with the faraway goal of becoming a skinny size 10 who can wear anything and isn’t a slave to chocolate!
I remember seeing a post online somewhere that said:
“I wish I was the weight I was when I thought I was fat.”
How true is that? And I’ve come to the realisation (at a ridiculously slow rate!) that I’ve been going about it all the wrong way! I feel like I’ve been battling with myself for years!
Even recently I was still a member of Slimming World. I joined late 2016 after we moved back to the UK from New Zealand and initially did well. I lost over 4 stone. But I was so hard on myself that I would feel guilty about enjoying life and having a meal out. Any time I slipped up I would often lose the plot completely. And over 2018 I watched as the number on the scales went up rather than down. This led to the equivalent of a toddler tantrum on my part…where I decided “Screw it!” and wrecked most of my hard work.
This year – I’ve decided things need to change! I do want to work towards what I consider a healthier weight but I intend to go about it differently. I’m trying to learn more about nutrition and moving towards a whole foods diet (I might blog about this soon). And, in line with those changes, I’ve decided to learn more about clothes that suit my body shape and colouring and build a wardrobe of clothes I feel confident in now (not waiting forever until I’m at my “ideal” weight).
Getting my Style Analysis
I found an online service called Styled by Susie. It was recommended by The Organised Mum (whose house organising and cleaning method I blogged about earlier this year). I visited the website a few times, started following Susie on Instagram and joined her Facebook group. I followed some advice in the group about clothes that suit most shapes and started to think a bit more about how I was putting my outfits together. And over Easter I decided to go for it and book an analysis to get even more information to help me make style choices.
I submitted my questionnaire and photos then I waited, not particularly patiently, for the email to arrive…
What my Style Analysis says
When the email arrived it was full of useful information and also some lovely confidence-boosting words from Sarah (who did my analysis). It also told me that my body shape is Pear. And my season or colour palette is Summer.
So what do these terms actually mean?
My pear-shape (sometimes called a triangle) means that my hips and lower half is larger than my top half. Pear shapes usually have a defined waist and a decent neck, arms and shoulders. My style analysis report gives me suggestions for how to draw attention to the areas I am happier with whilst taking attention away from my bulkier areas.
My Summer complexion means I suit pastel and muted colours with a blue undertone. Lucky for me – there are lots of colours in this range that I love – especially blues, purples and pinks. I also suit grey. And white works better for me than cream.
Where to now?
I’m excited to be armed with lots of information from my analysis to start updating my wardrobe with colours and styles that will suit my shape and colouring.
I intend to go through my current wardrobe and work out what items I already have that will work for my colouring and shape. Then I’ll come up with a list of things to start looking out for as I see them. I’m keen to buy a couple of key pieces to wear over summer and some fun accessories too!
I want to have items in my wardrobe that make me smile and help me feel more confident when I wear them.
Have you ever had a style analysis? Or do you dress in certain colours and styles because they suit you better? If so – let me know what works for you!
Last year I shared my 100 Things That Make Me Happy list which I wrote back in August 2014. It was one of my most visited posts in 2018. We are now 4.5 years on from that original list so I thought I’d set myself the challenge of coming up with 100 More Things That Make Me Happy!
Yellow flowers (e.g. sunflowers, daffodils and tete a tete)
Overcoming my weird fear of running out and USING stationery items!
Planning adventures with friends
Learning snippets of the language of countries I visit
How much I still enjoy blogging
Wow I did it – 100 More Things That Make Me Happy! This list has come together over a couple of weeks…I kept coming back to it at different times of the days which helped come up with new items to add.
If you haven’t already – please come up with your own list! It doesn’t have to be 100…start with just 20 things and add to it. These lists in themselves make me happy. It’s great to have the reminder of what I can do to make myself happy.
I’ve created a couple PDF printables for creating your own list. If you’d like a copy drop me an email (via the Contact form) and I’ll happily send them through to you!
Find Your Happy Journalling Workbook
If you want help with creating your own Happy List as well as some other ideas for journalling to make you happy – check out Find Your Happy. It’s full of 10-minute journalling prompts to help you find more joy in your everyday life. You can buy a copy here.