No-one actively dislikes vanilla, but they don’t adore it either!

When was the last time you asked someone what their favourite flavour of ice-cream was and they got all excited and started jumping up and down about plain ol’ vanilla?

What’s that? You love vanilla with the little black flecks in it? Me too! But that’s hardly plain old vanilla is it? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Or, when was the last time you stood in front of a crowd of one thousand random people, told them your favourite joke, and they all laughed?

Ok, ok, poor example. I adore people but I would never tell myย favouriteย joke to aย random crowd that big. That would be terrifying! But, play along and pretend that you did, do you think they’d all get it?

Not likely. They might laugh because you’re laughing, or get swept along in the moment and chuckle, but the chances of a mixed bag of people all finding the same thing funny are low.

So why is it that we all too easily find ourselves a little surprised when someone doesn’t quite get us? Or, maybe that’s just me? ๐Ÿ˜‰

What if, for the next six months, we practiced showing up like that ice-cream with the little flecks of vanilla pod in it? Or, blueberry cheesecake, cherry or even olive oil and pine nut ice-cream? (Yeah, I think that last one sounds kinda funky too, but I’d love to try it!)

Whatever flavour of ice-cream you are, however many or few or weird people dig you, what if, for the the next six months, you showed up, all in, all you?

Collect photos of cloud porn if that’s what floats your boat. Laugh loudly and deeply at Miranda while sipping a freshly ground flat white if that fills your heart with delight. Marvel at the wonder that is Hawkeye (pun totally intended!) if comic-book heroes are your thing.

Whoever you are and whatever it looks like to be all you, all in, I dare you to be that person for this next six months and let’s see if that can help make it the best year ever.

Are you game? Fabulous! I look forward to playing along with you ๐Ÿ™‚

Sometimes you have to throw out the list and just go with it ….

So if you’ve been playing along, you’ll know that yesterday was a bit of a wobbly day. I woke up feeling pretty, hmmm, there’s no other word for it than ‘meh’ and it did not get any better until I acknowledged the feeling out loud.

That’s so not like me, I decided to poke at it with a stick a little and see what came out.

The short answer … good old, unexciting and totally unsexy uncertainty, that’s what.

Triggered by the shootings in Tunisia (the victims were having fun on holiday. I’m looking forward to going on holiday soon. Very loose connection but it doesn’t take much!) and fuelled by a fab idea I had for a whole other novel to the one I’m currently working on (I simultaneously both love and hate it when that happens!) my poor old brain did not stand a chance.

And (usually) ever the optimist, it left me feeling pretty shaky. (And yes, I know how lame that sounds, having those two massively contrasting events alongside each other. I never said that my brain was sensible!)

Everything I had planned for these little happiness hits this week felt contrived and silly (and not a good kind of silly!) and I felt totally lost.

And that’s when it hit me ….

Sometimes you have to give up the plans and the commitments and the expectations and just go with it.

Sometimes it needs you to go outside in the fresh air, to walk barefoot in the sand and to just be, for no other reason than to revel in how alive you really are.

Today is a gift.

And yes, it is a gift that I would love to have keep on giving tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that, but none of us knows just how many todays we have left so enjoy this day and all the wonder and delight it offers.

Throw out the lists.

Allow yourself space and time and freedom to breath really slowly and deeply. Smile. And love.

Because, like we said yesterday, when all else fails, love is the one thing this world can not get too much of. So don’t be shy about spreading it around a little.

One thing you can totally say “no” to …

Hiya and welcome to part two of “the game of yes” ๐Ÿ™‚

This is the “exception to the game” edition because, like I mentioned on Tuesday, there is one category of stuff in particular that I’m massively opposed to.

Can you guess what it might be? That’s right, it’s the dreaded ‘shoulds’.

Doing anything because you think you ought to is a horrible reason for doing it. Coupled with the expectations of others, ‘shoulds’ are the stuff of soul-eating nightmares.

Is it possible I’m being overdramatic? It might sound like it but really, think of it like this …

When was the last time you said you ‘should’ do something, and it was something that excited you or filled you with joy?

And when was the last time you said you ‘should’ do something, and you didn’t feel a sense of dread, regret or frustration?

Or how about when, after hearing you talk about something, a well-meaning friend or loved one said, “Oh, you should …” How did that work out for you?

It reminds me of that conversation we had at the end of last year about standing by what we actually think and believe, instead of saying what we should.

When you do what you want, stuff that lights you up and excites you, instead of what you think you should do, when you ditch the shoulds and be honest, you give the people around you permission to be real too.

And there is nothing more delightful and lovely in this world than people showing up the people they were born to be, all in, real. It’s the stuff of magic!

And so today I dare you, if only for one day, to pay attention to the words you use, ditch the shoulds, and do what lights you up.

Sound fun? Good! Get to it ๐Ÿ™‚

If your life were an advert, what promises would you make?

Well hello there. Happy Friday!ย It’s been a crazy 10 days and I’ve never been gladder (if that’s even a word!) to greet Friday with a great big hug and a smoochy wet kiss!

And after messing around with my website yesterday and getting all excited about the pretty colours on Facebook last night, I woke up thinking about promises. Specifically the promises I make about this blog and the daily email. (Stories and inspiration to help you smile and be you.)

This might sound kinda crazy but sometimes, when I start one of these and it’s just not flowing, I go back to my site, to remind myself of the promises I’ve made you.

And as I was thinking about that this morning, another thought popped in my head …

“What are the promises that we want our day to day lives to deliver?”

Like, if you show up in my little corner of the universe, what can you expect to find? And, if I show up in yours, what does that look like? Who would you most like to show up as? How does she speak, think, walk and be?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … you can be anyone.

And yes, I’d most love it if you showed up as you, but there is no neatly packaged definition of what it means to be you. You’re a multi-dimensional, big, complicated space-time event. What does it look like to be you?

This world is full of dark stuff. There are tragedies and horrors happening on a daily basis. Some we hear about, others slip past the attention of everyone except those it actually happens to.

What if you putting a smile on your face and greeting today with joy helped shine a little light into the darkness? [Click to Tweet]

It might sound naive and sure, when we’re surrounded by bad news stories it can feel pointless and like it doesn’t make any difference at all, but please, never underestimate the difference you can make with a simple smile.

A smile transforms even the most severe of faces. There’s a reason for that! ๐Ÿ˜‰

So here’s to you my lovely. May you infect your world with delight today, simply by being you.

If you’re addicted to personality quizzes, I wrote this for you.

Fair warning: I have a little bit of a bee in my bonnet today. And it’s something that I’m totally guilty of (which is probably why it bothers me so much. Isn’t that always the way?!?)

So I was bumming about on Facebook, as you do, and I saw yet another one of those quizzes where, in just 15 questions, you can know how introverted you are, how smart you are or how likely you are to bump into George Clooney at your local supermarket … OK, I made that last one up, but you get the idea.

Not only are the answers totally rigged (I know this because, according to Facebook, I have the smartest, most well-travelled, foodie friends on the whole Internet. Sorry chums, we both know you’re good, but you’re not that good!) and a complete waste of time, they’re also more than just a little bit damaging.

Since when did we become so one-dimensional that we can be classified in 15 questions?

I’d probably score minus figures on the introvert test but does that mean I’m simply a loud-mouth who loves nothing more than the sound of her own voice?

OK, sometimes I’m nothing more than a loud-mouth who loves the sound of her own voice, but I also adore peace and quiet and, despite evidence to the contrary, I do stop talking, sometimes! ๐Ÿ˜‰

You are brilliant and wonderful and delightful, just the way you are.

And as tempting as it is to think that just one more personality quiz will give us the answer to who we really are so we can be ‘fixed’ or, if only we knew ourselves a little better and look, this set of answers will tell us how to show up in the world, there is no set of questions on the planet that can give you the definitive answer to who you are and why you are here.

What if, instead, you could choose who you are?

That’s not to suggest that you have to choose to fight against who you were born to be (I was never created to be silent and I have absolutely zero intention of wanting to choose to be otherwise!)

This is about tapping into how you want to show up in the world, who you choose to allow out the door each morning, and accepting that that being is delightful, quirks and foibles and all.

You are God’s masterpiece and poem, his work of art and creation, and he does not need a do over (or yet another personality quiz!) to be reminded of just how wonderful you are.

Could Tuesday be the new Monday?

Do you ever have the kind of weekend where you get to the end of it and it’s like you’ve had no weekend at all? Or, maybe you get part way into the new week and you find yourself feeling totally burned out already?

So, I have this theory …

You know how everyone complains about Monday? Well, not me. I love Mondays! That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy the weekend – of course I do – but I also love Mondays because they’re so full of potential and possibility. Kinda like a mini-New Year’s Day that comes around every seven days.

Maybe you feel a little bit like that too? And so you charge into the new week, full of excitement, raring to go.

And then Tuesday dawns and you’ve totally worn yourself out! Or maybe that’s just me?!? ๐Ÿ˜‰

But if it’s not just me, if you too feel yourself teetering on the edge of burnout, take this as your reminder to allow some fun into your today.

“Fun” is totally subjective of course.

If you’re running on too little sleep, there is no better fun than a nap. If you’ve been sat in front of a computer screen for too long, fun is getting outside in the fresh air. And if you haven’t got caught up on the last episode of Game of Thrones yet, you know what to do! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Seriously though, now is not the time to bend to someone else’s idea of fun. This is about knowing what makes you smile and choosing to do that. Because life’s too short to run it at full speed all the time.

And nope, that doesn’t mean that if you go too fast you’ll get to the end of it quicker (although I guess you might. Stress is bad for you and all that) but it won’t be as delightful as it could be.

And delight gets my vote, every time! ๐Ÿ™‚

Which leaves just one question … what’s the first fun thing you can do right now? Decide, choose, and then do it! Simples ๐Ÿ™‚

Read this if you feel like you don’t make a difference.

It’s really easy to look around at all the cool stuff going on in the world and feel like you’re not quite there yet, that there’s soooo much more your could or should be doing, and why are you such a slacker?!?

Or maybe that’s just me ๐Ÿ˜‰

I woke up today not really knowing what I was going to share in today’s blog post. One of the things I love most about writing these each day is the way random thoughts and stories and ideas pop in my head (no prizes for guessing who I give credit to for those!)

And I get to share them with you in a way which sees the both of us skipping off happily into the new day. (That’s the plan at least!)

And so as I was walking back from dropping the kids home from school, I still had nothing.ย No stress, it’ll happen, I thought. I wait until I’m inspired to write but I make sure I always get inspired by 9.30am ๐Ÿ˜‰

So I’m chatting with one of the mums at school when suddenly, out of nowhere, a bug lands on my back and makes me jump! Except, it wasn’t a bug, it was the old guy from across the road sneaking up behind me while I’m chatting. He made me jump a mile!

This gent is a lovely guy. I only usually see him when the sun is out and he’s tidying up his garden at about the time the children come out. We had a quick chat and on we all went with our respective days.

Fast forward a few minutes and I was just up the road from my house when I caught up to another older chap who I say hello to whenever I see him. Apparently I say hello to lots of people ๐Ÿ˜‰

And we too stopped for a quick hello and a chat and then, finally, I got home.

And it was as I walked into the house that this thought popped into my head:

Never underestimate the difference you make each day, just by being you.

It’s really easy to look around at the massive things people are putting out into the world and feel like we’re not enough. And, yes, sometimes, we might be part of something huge, but for the rest of the time there’s just real life.

Showing up. Being yourself.

Even the big things that people do, when you break them down and actually look at them, are made up ofย smaller parts, daily actions, showing up and doing the work.

A smile. Eye contact. A conversation with a random stranger while you’re waiting in line. Holding a door open for someone. Saying “thank you” and actually meaning it.

Teeny tiny things that we oh so easily take for granted.

Never underestimate the difference you make each day, just by being you.

Until next time, keep being the wonderful you that you are! ๐Ÿ™‚

Sometimes you’re just not meant to get over that wall!

Thanks to the wonders of technology, as this email lands in your inbox, I’ll be somewhere in the south of England, watching my youngest brother graduate from the RAF.

I’m super excited, and not least because I get to dress up fancy, but that’s a whole other story.

Nathaniel wants to be a fireman.

After he graduated from university, he did all the usual investigation into how one becomes a fireman. The local brigade didn’t have any jobs so he looked at the option of being an on call fireman but my parent’s house was too far out of town so that couldn’t happen.

Because it was seeming like fireman wasn’t going to happen, he applied to join the RAF as an officer. He did loads of fitness work leading up to the big day and eventually it was time to go through the testing process.

On one fateful day, he had to scale a wall. (Yes, literally. I love metaphors but this one was an actual wall.) He did it during the practice run but during the real thing, he couldn’t do it.

He was gutted!

And yes, I’m projecting somewhat. He was really grownup about it but after all that training and preparation, I’m pretty sure he was disappointed.

Fast forward months and months and I’m standing in his RAF graduation and next month, he starts his training to be a fireman.

What the what?!?

Sometimes you’re just not meant to get over that wall.

Sometimes getting over the wall would mean saying hello to a whole load of stuff that isn’t really what you want.

Sometimes, maybe, you have to get around the wall via an alternate route?

In Nathaniel’s case, that meant going home, applying to join the RAF (again!) but this time as a firefighter (wanted he wanted to do all along – hooray!)

In Nathaniel’s case it meant months of interviews and training and preparation (he even went for a run on Boxing Day!) before finally facing that wall again.

In Nathaniel’s case it meant getting slap bang in the centre of where God wanted him, the long way round.

And I couldn’t be prouder of him.

Sometimes you’re just not meant to get over that wall ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you think God smiles?

Walking with Molly dog yesterday morning, we did our usual loop across the field. We’d already done a decent lap but there is something about wide open spaces that she loves so I like to find at least one field per walk.

I’d like to pretend that I do it for her benefit but that’s not true.

Watching her bound around the field in wider and wider circles makes me smile. Every single time. Without fail.

We walk across the fields for me because it brings a warm glow to my heart to watch her.

I love it because as she’s running around the field, she seems at her most natural. It’s like it’s what she was born to do and the sheer joy and abandon she displays is priceless.

And it was yesterday, as I was smiling, that I had a thought:

Does God’s heart warm a little when he sees you being totally you?

You know that moment when you’re totally all in? Fully absorbed and free to be, with absolute abandon?

Do you think it brings him pleasure?

We’re made in his image. That we love is because he loved first. Not sure if God has a sense of humour? Do you? Well yeah, where do you think you got that from?

So smiling as we watch another creature be fully all in?

I think it’s fair to say that we feel that because God does too.

What do you think? ๐Ÿ™‚

If we’re all basically narcissists at heart, how does that work when Jesus talks about “dying to self”?

One of my friends became an auntie at the weekend. Her sister named her daughter Ellyson, Elly for short. My first thought?

Ooooh, another El! ๐Ÿ˜‰

We’d already heard of another El entering the world (and that time, she was a fully fledged Eleanor, just like me) so I was delighted!

It got me thinking though … deep down, we’re all just a little bit narcissistic aren’t we? Or maybe that’s just me?!? ๐Ÿ˜‰

What’s that really about? And how does that work when Jesus talked about dying to self and the need to lose our life in order to save it?

I mean, if everyone who was friends with Jesus literally died for him, that would leave no one to love everyone else on God’s behalf so it can’t be that exactly.

What if “dying to self” was about every day, asking God to help us show up as the people he created us to be?

What if he never meant it as a negative thing (because if I’m being totally honest, I’ve always thought ‘carrying my cross’ and ‘dying to self’ sounded like an awful lot of hard work!)

What if he actually wanted it to be something that made day to day life better?

You being you, the “you on a good day you”, God’s best version of you, is an act of love and worship.

It’s like taking your time over a gourmet meal, enjoying every bite, and being sure to thank the chef.

It’s like walking around the Louvre, drinking in the colours and textures of the art, thankful to whoever invited you.

It’s like belly laughing with your children, free from distractions and stress and screens.

And sure, it should come naturally to us, seeing as it’s just us being us, but this is life and sometimes it’s not all that easy. It’s so, so much easier if you don’t try and do it alone.

What if “dying to self” was about saying “no more” to trying to do it alone?

That I could get on board with ๐Ÿ™‚

How about you?