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?!? πŸ˜‰

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! πŸ˜‰

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! πŸ™‚

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

37 reasons to smile

Yesterday marked my 37th birthday and as I was falling asleep the night before, I had an idea, in honour of this momentous number (I’m told by my children that I am now very old!) toΒ riff on 37 reasons to smile. It started out quite thoughtful and deep (in my pre-sleep swirly brain at least!) but then, after a brilliant day, I woke up this morning simply thankful for all the little things that bring a smile.

This list is neither deep nor particularly thoughtful but that’s entirely the point because, when I started to think about what makes a day wonderful sure, yesterday included presents and cake and flowers and I might not have carrot cake at 11am every single day but, it’s the little things that actually make life wonderful.

And so I give you my personal 37 reasons to smile this week (which was stupidly easy to list out even though it’s only Wednesday!) by way of inspiration.

You might start out your own list thinking it would be really difficult to find that many reasons to smile but, before you know it, you’ll be done! πŸ˜€

Here’s mine (I’d love to see yours!)

1. Finding craft materials for making fun stuff for El Post. (The envelopes arrived this morning and they are more kingfisher blue than TARDIS blue which I’m slightly gutted about but they’re still cute!)

2. Book babies. (Yes, I shared my birthday with Sandi’s book baby. Cool eh?!?)

3. Kindle. (Seriously, as I was saying to my fella yesterday over coffee and carrot cake, I love, appreciate and am thankful for the opportunities today that weren’t available even five years ago.)

4. Coffee and carrot cake. πŸ˜‰

5. Doctor Who. Enough said! πŸ˜‰

6. The surprise balloons and bunting my eldest daughter put up.

7. My wonderful, daft family wrapping my birthday presents in Hannah Montana paper.

8. Walking in the sunshine.

9. The word lush. πŸ˜€

10. And the Welsh word for microwave.

11. And butterfly.Β πŸ™‚

12. The beautiful bath bombs my daughters found for me (including this lush cupcake shaped one) which are now making my office smell amazing.

13. Beautiful flowers from my parents and sister.

14. Delicious feet (thanks to one of my other sisters.)

15. A son who knows me soooo well (and so picked this brilliant Doctor Who swag for me.)

16. Hair straighteners. (Because without them my hair is all over the place but, thanks to them, I could have pretty hair yesterday!)

17. Anticipation. (I can not wait for them to open. I’m learning just how much smell is important to me.)

18. Chocolate birthday cake! (Need I say more?!?)

19. The sun came out (albeit it 24 hours late!)

20. I learnt how to do a French plait in my youngest daughters hair – and it stayed in! (I had short hair as a kid and so my poor daughters have been stuck with boring old (easy!) pony tails for years!)

21. My favourite perfume. (SeeΒ #17 for why this makes me smile.)

22. Two novels for my new favourite author.Β (This is the lady who inspired me to write what I love most instead of what I think everyone wants from me.)

23. Waking up to a Facebook wall full of birthday messages. (You crazy lot!)

24. Wonderful emails full of happy birthday greetings and inspiration. (You know who you are. Thank you for emailing me yesterday!)

25. Warm caramel crunch for dessert in one of my favourite restaurants. (I had this one time, about four years ago, and have never seen it there since. When I booked the table for dinner I mentioned this to the waiter and bingo! πŸ˜‰ )

26. Delightful new notebooks.

27. Wonderful old (treasured) notebooks. (I can not wait to back and look over this in 2019!)

28. Watching Molly leap around in huge circles when you walk her across a wide open space.

29. Charlie’s cute little paws.

30. Our postman. (It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s raining or sunny, he always greets me with a cheery smile.)

31. My bright yellow car. (It is almost impossible to be grumpy when you drive a bright yellow car!)

32. Freshly ground coffee.

33. Origami. I am totally inspired by this guy on Instagram. (He is just brilliant!) And, after mentioning in a kind of throw away comment to my mother in law that I’d love to learn, I finally can!

34. Far away friends who know me so well.

35. A long-suffering husband who totally spoils me.

36. The opportunity to share this crazy wonderful ride with you.

37. And last, but my no means least, today.

Because it is a gift and I vote we keep our eyes open for all the lovely little things that add up to make it delightful.

And now it over to you my lovely. Start your own list. Record it in some way (because if you keep it in your head it will feel so much less brilliant!) And then, if you’d like to, share it with me. I can’t wait to hear about it. πŸ™‚

One super simple way to make every day delightful

I make no secret of the fact that I love Fridays but just last week I noticed something kinda funny … Fridays are both delightful, and I usually get shed loads done. Which, if you think about it, is really weird, because my goal for a Friday is to have fun and schedule as little work stuff as humanly possible.

Sure, there are things that have to get done (yes, I totally almost wrote ‘should’ then – for shame!) but those things always get done, no matter what, so they never see light of day on a to-do list or anything like that. (For the record, I despise to-do lists with a passion, but that’s a story for another time.)

So how is it possible that I could get sooo much done, when I’ve planned so little, and still have it be the best day of the week?

I pick one important thing that I choose to do.

Yes, just one, and yes, it’s an important one, and yes, I totally make a game of choosing.

That’s super useful for so many reasons. Choosing is empowering and motivating and removes all of the ‘have tos’ and ‘got tos’ from a day.

Doing something because you’ve chosen to do it is delightful!

But even more important is choosing just one thing.

We spend far too much of our time chasing our tails feeling rushed and stressed because we’re running out of time to get everything done. What if we chose to do less? What if we only had to do that one thing, and anything after that was just a bonus?

And even if we only got that one thing done, we could call the day brilliant?

Sounds delightful!

There’s a catch of course, because even as we’re saying we’re going to choose to do just one thing, secretly we’re all hoping that it’ll be the spring board for loads more. And, can we really be content with only getting that one thing done and nothing more?

It takes practice, for sure. You know that cliche about something being simple but not easy? Yeah, that. But it does get easier with practice. You just need to give it a try.

Are you ready to upset the status quo?

Do you know how sometimes something happens and it’s like the exact opposite of what you were expecting? Or maybe it’s something that seems so left of field, you wouldn’t have even considered it as an option?

OK, so yeah, that was yesterday.

I was driving toward the (green) traffic lights, on my way to pick the kids up from school when an older lady, probably in her late 70s, decided to cross the road.

To give you a bit of context, this is a road with a pedestrian crossing, except that she didn’t press the button and wait for the green man. She just stepped into the road and proceeded to cross it, incredibly slowly.

Now I would love to tell you that I slowed down and waited patiently, without grumbling in my head about how she should have just waited for the crossing.

I’d love to be able to tell you that but that would be a lie. I did of course slow down and I had no choice but to wait, but I can’t say that I didn’t grumble a little bit! πŸ˜‰

And then the unexpected happened.

As the lady got across the road and onto the pavement and I was driving past where she was walking, she gave me a little thumbs up. I wish I could have captured that moment on film because it was incredible and made me smile. And yes, it also made me feel guilty for having grumbled, even if it was only in my head πŸ™‚

And it also got me to thinking about how you and I could upset the status quo today. Create the unexpected. Bring a smile to a place where it might not otherwise be.

Sometimes it’s as simple as being open to the smile inducing stuff and other times it might mean being the one who brings the sunshine of a kind word but there’s no doubt in my mind that this world needs you and I to act as conduits of cheer.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

And so your challenge for today, if you choose to accept it πŸ˜‰ Keep your eyes open today for an opportunity to do something so unexpected, it makes someone else smile.

Use your imagination. Get creative. And when you’ve done it send me a tweet and tell me all about it. Making people smile is my favourite thing to do so I’d love to hear you got on πŸ™‚

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? πŸ™‚

Sometimes you’ve just got to go with the easy wins

Sometimes you’ve just got to go with the easy wins

  • Like going to bed at a decent hour because you’re tired, instead of fighting it just a little longer because you still have stuff to do.
  • Like saying, “yes please” and “thank you” when someone kindly offers to help you out with something that you’ve been trying to figure out for ages.
  • Like choosing to write about the first idea that pops in your head, no matter how simple or too basic your brain might tell you it is, instead of hunting around for something smarter or funnier.
  • Like choosing to look for something to smile about (and not just because it’s International Day of Happiness!)
  • Like getting silly giddy pleasure from realising that it’s your brother’s birthday and also International Day of Happiness. OK, so maybe that’s just me. But still, pretty cool eh? πŸ˜‰
  • Like taking time to have an extra coffee and really enjoying it, just because you can.

This life is all too often full of really tough stuff and it’s very easy to get lost, focussing on the doom and the gloom. But you know what?

If you allow yourself to set the bar just a little lower and accept that there are lots of things to smile about today, even if they’re silly, daft things like pretending you’re conducting the whole orchestra as you drive home from school listening to radio 3, it might just make your whole today a little bit brighter.

Sure, it won’t cure cancer or get your nominated for the next peace prize but that’s ok.

Life is about the little things, the seemingly ordinary day to day things. Bring smiles to those moments and you win.

So go on, give it a try. I dare you πŸ˜‰

Is there a connection between our capacity to love & the speed at which we’re travelling?

I’m on a bit of a space and productivity quest.

Space for fun and laughter and, well, sometimes just space to breathe, because life feels very busy right now and I’m not sure I’m convinced about how very wonderful that is.

And productivity because, if less really is more, I’d love to find that balance, the sweet spot.

After two days thinking about love (well, a whole weekend of it really but only the last two days showed up here in the daily dose) and realising yesterday that there is a real, solid correlation between our capacity to love and the speed at which we’re travelling, finding that sweet spot feels more important than ever.

I’m done with being the grumpy, stressy one.

I’m done with multi-tasking so I can squeeze more busy into the day.

I’m done with getting by.

I’m ready to really step up and enjoy each new day.

I’m ready to show my children, by example, what it looks like to smile at the sun rise and really thrive.

And if that sounds just a little more poetic than usual, you can totally blame a new writing app I’m playing with. I’m listening to gentle music as I write and it’s setting a beautiful scene πŸ™‚

What might your today look like if you really believed it were possible to thrive, every day?

What would you differently?

What would you allow yourself to make time for?

Today, I dare you to do all that stuff anyway, even if you don’t believe how thriving is actually possible yet.

As Christians we talk a lot about how to follow Christ means to take up your cross. To accept struggles and persecution. To be people who know what it is to hurt.

But Jesus also talked about his yoke being light. He promised rest and refreshment. He told us not to worry.

What might life look like if we took him at his word? Embraced those promises and really stepped into them and owned them?

You won’t know unless you try so go on, I dare you πŸ˜‰

What if the entire paradigm is wrong?

One of the things I love most about being an entrepreneur is the freedom.

With the children in school from nine until three, the usual routine is to work during those hours so that when they come home, it’s family time.

And mostly that works out great (although all too often, my longed for ‘family time’ turns into ‘playing taxi while one or more of them go to after-school club, netball or choir’ but I digress.)

Occasionally though, I bunk off for the day.

Like yesterday, my husband and I saw ‘Gravity’ and it was brilliant!

Going to the cinema in the middle of the day or going out for a meal, just the two of us, it feels very indulgent but hey, why not?

If I wanted to be tied to my desk for six hours every day, Monday to Friday, school holidays off, I’d go back to being a teacher. There’s far more certainty and it makes long term planning loads easier!

But you know what? I get far more done in two or three super-focussed hours than I ever did in a week as a teacher.

And I’m happier.

And I get to bunk off whenever I want to.

And I don’t have the stress of dealing with other people’s children.

It’s fab!

You were not put on this planet to live to work. You were put here to live and love and thrive.

We’re taught that we should work hard at school, go to university, get a job (hopefully one that doesn’t make us want to poke our own eyeballs out but if it does, just man up, that’s why it’s called work. You’re not meant to enjoy it!) and save all the fun stuff for the weekend (by which time you’re probably too exhausted from the work week to actually chill out and enjoy it but whatever.)

Whether you’re in a job or self-employed or something else entirely, this whole thinking about the way the world works, pervades every inch of society.

I write about the freedom to do what I want, when I want and yet still feel compelled to justify it by explaining that I work later when the children are in bed.

Or I bunk off on a Wednesday but play catch up on Friday. Get the hours in. Don’t slack off.

What if that entire paradigm was wrong?

It’s good to work. Doing work we love can bring a sense of purpose and make a difference to the people around us and the wider world. At a more basic level, it puts food on the table and warms our homes.

But it’s not all there is.

Jesus asked,

“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”

He was asking that while talking about our relationship with God but let’s expand that idea of soul for a moment and just think …

What good will it be to work so hard and have all the money and security and certainty your little heart desires, and yet forfeit your relationships with the people you love most and your sense of peace and happiness?

This isn’t a downer on money or stuff. Jesus isn’t saying you shouldn’t have things. He isn’t saying you shouldn’t work.

What he is asking is, what’s the point in having all that stuff, if you’re still not in a good place?

You could be the richest person on the planet but if your relationships stink, if all you do is work and work and never take time to look around you at the beauty in each new day, if every day you hurtle around at full speed, never pausing, is that really living?

What might your today look like if you stepped away from your computer and took a walk? (And I’m not talking about a quick once around the block before hitting your to-do list again!)

What if you did something today that you would usually reserve for a weekend?

What if you picked just one work thing to do and literally only did that?

What if you took the entire day off?

What if you started each new day open to the possibility of fun and joy and love and people?

What if you expected that stuff, every day?

Lots of what ifs today. Please don’t add them all to a to-do list. That would be totally missing the point! πŸ˜‰

What if you took just one, tried it for size, claimed it as your own and then took it for a test drive for the day?

Go on, I dare you! πŸ˜‰

 

 

This is for when you’re having one of those perfectly ordinary days.

You know the ones where it’s just the same old, same old?

Same routine. Nothing new, unexpected or exciting. Just any old day.

But what if it was extraordinary?

What if today might actually be amazing? Maybe for reasons that are totally ridiculous and nonsensical.

It’s my husband’s birthday today. He’s 39 years young and he’s already starting to worry that next year he might have a bit of a mid-life crisis.

But then it hit me … you can only have a mid-life crisis if you’re in the mid point of your life. Half way. As much left to come as has already been.

I don’t know about you but even the last 5 years has contained so much incredible stuff, to talk about 39 years – wowzas!

Sure, it might all be downhill from here but what if every single one of the next 14,235 days (and yes, I cheated and used a calculator) contained something wonderful and brilliant?

And what if you could actually help bring the sparkle that made each day fabulous?

Silly stuff. Seemingly inconsequential stuff. Delightful, wonderful stuff.

There will be days when life is hard and it seems totally impossible to bring even a glimmer of light, let alone some sparkle and shine.

But for everything else, there’s you.

And what if you being you, all sparkly and delighting in the silly small stuff you, happens to coincide with someone else’s dark day. They can’t sparkle but you help do it for them.

What kind of a difference might that make?

A pretty wonderful, fabulous difference I think πŸ™‚

So here’s to sparkling and shining, God helping us.

Until next time,
Keep smiling, sparkling and shining πŸ™‚

 

It’s time to really party over the small stuff. You in?

Being an entrepreneur is a funny old life.

And for the record, you don’t have to own a bricks and mortar offline business to be an entrepreneur. A friend once told me that she believed not all self-employed people are entrepreneurs. “To be an entrepreneur, you have to own actual buildings”, she said.

I say that’s rubbish! Being an entrepreneur is a state of mind. A way of operating in the world. A view point. I was an entrepreneur long before I ever owned my own business.

Most of all, I suspect it’s about having a mind that sees opportunities. Generates ideas. Imagines possibilities.

That’s why so many of us have multiple businesses or projects. It’s impossible for us to have just one idea and stick to that.

Between you and I, it drives my husband potty.

“Why can’t you just pick one thing and stick to it?”

And I can, sort of.

But there always seems to be this flux between ‘this is the most wonderful thing I ever dreamed up’ and ‘this is a total pile of rubbish. I can’t believe I even thought this was possible!’

It’s just the nature of the beast and instead of fighting it, I’ve learned to acknowledge it and make no business or life changing decisions on the ‘this is total poop!’ days.

TITP days, as they shall from hence forth be known, require careful handling, kindness, lots of cups of tea and either ‘Blink’ or ‘The day of the astronaut’ (depending on where I am in my current re-run fest.)

Work can be done on TITP days but it needs to be the kind of work that doesn’t require too much thinking. Self-analysis is definitely not recommended on TITP days! πŸ˜‰

But do you know what the best medicine is for those days?

Taking time to celebrate the small wins.

Did you just roll your eyes? Shame on you! πŸ˜‰

I know, you’ve heard it before. The advice to keep a swipe file of nice emails and kind comments is not new. But did you ever actually do it?

My friend Stacy and I were chatting about this a couple of days ago. I’d had an email that had totally made my day. She had too. (And no, we didn’t just send each other an email!)

“How lucky are we that we get to have emails like this? We get to do stuff that actually has the potential to make a difference to someone else.”

I agreed with her of course.

But it’s so easy to negate that stuff. To get drowned by the TITP days. To allow ourselves to forget. Out of sight, out of mind, remember?

It’s time to start celebrating the small stuff, delighting over the little wins and really appreciating what a wonderful opportunity is in front of us.

You are brilliant and every time you step into the world, you have the choice to make it a more wonderful place.

You’re out there, shining your little light, never giving up, keeping on keeping on. And for that, you need to give yourself a standing ovation from time to time.

God delights in the little stuff. Jesus said every hair on your head is accounted for (which in my dad’s case wouldn’t take too long but it’s ok, he loves the attention) so maybe it’s time for us to follow God’s lead and start partying with the small stuff too.

Are you game? It’s easy, all you have to do is start.