Daily Gratitude Challenge Day 7: Travel Experiences

In an effort to inject some positivity into my daily mindset and the online world I have created a Daily Gratitude Challenge and I am inviting everyone to participate. If you have missed my introductory post that explains the challenge and maps out the daily post schedule, visit here.

What travel experiences are you most grateful for

Day 7 is all about the travel experiences you are grateful for. Travel wasn’t really something that was particularly important to me until my late 20’s – I had been on some package holidays to a few places abroad but never really took the time to explore anything while I was there, preferring to focus on sunbathing during the day and partying at night. However, a trip to America on a school trip that I was supervising introduced me to all of the incredible things to see and do while visiting a new city, even more so when a natural disaster left us stranded for a while (and gained us an invitation to the White House). Since then, travel has become high in my priorities and I am incredibly grateful to have seen and experienced some amazing things. Continue reading

Daily Gratitude Challenge Day 6: Challenges

In an effort to inject some positivity into my daily mindset and the online world I have created a Daily Gratitude Challenge and I am inviting everyone to participate. If you have missed my introductory post that explains the challenge and maps out the daily post schedule, visit here.

What challenges have you overcome (1)

Day 6 of the Daily Gratitude Challenge is about challenges that you have overcome and are grateful for the experience. Often a topic covered during the interview process, embracing and overcoming challenge demonstrates strength of character and resilience. Whether it is a personal fear, person or situation, this is an opportunity to consider the challenges that you have conquered and are a better person for it.  Continue reading

Daily Gratitude Challenge Day 5: Who Are You Most Grateful For?

In an effort to inject some positivity into my daily mindset and the online world I have created a Daily Gratitude Challenge and I am inviting everyone to participate. If you have missed my introductory post that explains the challenge and maps out the daily post schedule, visit here.

Daily Gratitude Challenge Who are you most grateful for (1)

Day 5 of the Daily Gratitude Challenge is all about the people that you are most grateful for. I’m lucky in that I have a number of people in my life that are trustworthy and supportive, but this year has also highlighted those who are putting their own lives on the line every day and doing lots of incredible things to help others. Whether it is family or close friends, key workers or charities, this is an opportunity to be mindful and appreciative of those who make life just that little bit better. Continue reading

Daily Gratitude Challenge Day 3: Moments and Memories

In an effort to inject some positivity into my daily mindset and the online world I have created a Daily Gratitude Challenge and I am inviting everyone to participate. If you have missed my introductory post that explains the challenge and maps out the daily post schedule, visit here.

Day 3 focuses on moments and memories. I take hundreds of photographs wherever I go because I feel the need to record the moments I experience and preserve the memories I have of amazing places and people, but I always make sure to stop and take a few minutes to be mindful of where I am and what is happening. I value the memories that I have, particularly when things are tough. Here are just a select few,

Moments and Memories I am Grateful For:

Note: I haven’t included as many travel memories as there is a specific travel topic later in the challenge.

Daily Gratitude Challenge Moments and Memories

Time I spent with my Grandfather. A northern Englishman to the core, he wore a flat cap and grey cardigans and regularly asked me if I was ‘courting’ anyone (despite the fact that I was 10 at the time). He liked musicals and snooker, made up his own lyrics to songs and whenever visited he always had a little white paper bag with a selection of chocolates for us. He was adopted, and so in 2014 I set out to trace his ancestry and I found his birth mother – it was a fascinating journey and not only gave me a bit more of an understanding as to what his early life must have been like, but a greater appreciation of his kindness despite that adversity that he faced. He passed away when I was 16, and it would have been his 100th birthday last year.

The day I surprised my mum by turning up unexpectedly on my 21st birthday when she thought I was at uni. I loved the look on her face when I told her to look outside her office window. Continue reading

Daily Gratitude Challenge Day 2: What Makes You Special?

In an effort to inject some positivity into my daily mindset and the online world I have created a Daily Gratitude Challenge and I am inviting everyone to participate. If you have missed my introductory post that explains the challenge and maps out the daily post schedule, visit here.

Daily Gratitude Challenge Day 2: What makes you special

Day 2 of the Daily Gratitude Challenge focuses on you. In a world where image is seemingly everything, it’s easy to forget to be not only kind to yourself, but to appreciate and be grateful for the qualities about yourself that you admire. We’re often taught that being positive about ourselves and confident in our own abilities equates to arrogance, but I am always reminded of an article I read on Facebook a long time ago in which a woman took the compliments that she regularly gave to others and started saying them to herself every morning. I found it to be rather an alien concept at the time and quite a revelation – I like to say nice things to my loved ones but rarely took the time to acknowledge or be grateful for anything positive about myself. Continue reading

Daily Gratitude Challenge Day 1: It’s the Little Things

In an effort to inject some positivity into my daily mindset and the online world I have created a Daily Gratitude Challenge and I am inviting everyone to participate. If you have missed my introductory post that explains the challenge and maps out the daily post schedule, visit here.

It's the Little Things - Daily Gratitude Challenge

Day 1 focuses on the little things – the everyday things that are all too easy to take for granted. Whether it is that first cup of coffee in a morning, a letter from a friend, a beautiful sunset or the unconditional love of a pet, there are lots of things in our daily lives that pass us by without acknowledgement. Continue reading

Introducing the July Daily Gratitude Challenge

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough – Oprah Winfrey

In times of struggle, it can often be difficult not to become permanently focused on the negative, and this year is certainly one of the most challenging periods in living memory. In a era of great change, the online world has become an even bigger cesspool of animosity and hatred.

Daily Gratitude

We all have those days when things seemingly go from bad to worse, but when reflecting we all have things to be grateful for every day, however small they may be. In an effort to inject a little positivity, I decided to set myself a Daily Gratitude Challenge for the entire month of July, and I am inviting everyone else to join in. I try to be as mindful as possible by taking the time to be grateful for the people around me, the lifestyle that I lead and the positive things that have happened in my day when filling out a Daily Gratitude Journal in my Bullet Journal. I find this enormously helpful when it feels like the world is imploding.

This Daily Gratitude Challenge is designed to be more in-depth. Instead of a sentence or two, each day will focus on things to be grateful for, with the act of writing becoming a larger part of my self-care routine. And with a sizeable following on Suzie Speaks, I am encouraging anyone and everyone to do the same. Continue reading

How to Create a Gratitude Journal That Actually Works

How to Create a Gratitude Journal that Actually Works

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough – Oprah Winfrey

It’s easy to become bogged down in minutiae, particularly during days when even the smallest of things doesn’t go as planned. As someone who naturally adopts a ‘glass-half-empty’ perspective on life when things don’t go my way, I find it difficult not to get pulled into a wave of negative energy that affects my mindset and how I function.

In an effort to try and gain a more positive perspective in my day-to-day life, I started to fill out a gratitude journal of all the beautiful things that I have to be grateful for, and I discovered that it was an incredible helpful tool to boost my mindset on even the most difficult of days. Actively forcing myself to focus on the positive has indeed had a positive impact on my perception of how I live and work. Continue reading

Tracing the Past

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My grandparents on their wedding day

The greatest man I have ever known was my grandfather, Alfred. A northern Englishman to the core, he wore a flat cap and grey cardigans and regularly asked me if I was ‘courting’ anyone (which seems a bit silly now as I was 10 years old at the time). He was a warm, funny and a quintessential gentleman. I remember that he always had a little white paper bag with a selection of chocolates that he would give to us whenever we saw him. He made up his own lyrics to different songs, my favourite being ‘Me Grandfathers Clock’, and had sayings like “Eeh, put skin on yer back like velvet” every time he ate custard. My sisters and I adored him and would look forward to his visits. He had a hard life, he and my grandmother were poor, but my mother’s memories of her own childhood were filled with happiness, kindness and love, and she never wanted for anything. He put his family first, working manual labour jobs and even becoming a a coal miner at one point, but he never talked about himself.

Unfortunately, he died when I was 16 years old. He developed senile dementia and I witnessed him deteriorate from a healthy, intelligent and witty human being to the point where he didn’t know where he was or who we were, in an awful hospital that has since been closed down. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t take the time to get to know him properly.

A few years ago I had a little bit of time during a holiday, and so I decided to trace my family history. Growing up I had just my parents and two younger sisters – my mum didn’t keep in touch with any of her distant relatives and was an only child, and my father’s family disowned him when he married my mum and so it was just the five of us. I had virtually no information to start my research aside from a single photo album. I spoke to my mother and asked her for any details, but my grandfather had always remained reasonably private about his early life and so she could only give me vague memories of things that he had shared during her childhood.

It turned out to be a fascinating experience. My grandfather, born in 1919, was living with Frank and Margaret, and took their surname until the age of 14. When he left school he was given his birth certificate so he could find a job. He discovered that his mother’s name was actually Emily, and so he adopted her last name from that point on. My mum told me that he knew a woman called ‘Big Emily’, who he assumed was his mother, but he never knew for sure.

I signed up to Ancestry.co.uk and obtained a copy of his birth certificate, and written on there was ‘Emily…’, but had no father registered. By sheer luck I found Emily – one of her other children, my grandfather’s half-brother, was researching his family history and had posted a picture of her (looking like my grandfather in a wig) and this led to quite a fascinating set of discoveries.

Emily was living with her Auntie Margeret and Uncle Frank in 1911, and according to the census she was working as a belt maker in a factory. Her mother, Mary (Margeret’s sister) had committed suicide in 1905 by swallowing nitric acid after losing a child at the age of just a few months and her father, Frederick died in 1898 from TB. My grandfather was born out of wedlock in 1919, and he continued to live with Frank and Margaret, which makes me think that Frank was the father. I remember my grandfather once told me that Frank was an abusive man, recounting a memory of a clock being thrown into a fire, and my mum added to this that he died of diseases brought on by alcoholism in the early 1940’s. Margaret never liked my grandfather and was quite openly hostile towards him, but he never understood why. It makes sense that her dislike of him could have been caused by her husband’s infidelity with her niece.

Emily went on to marry a man named Charles in 1927, eight years after my grandfather was born, and NEVER told anyone in her family that she had another son. It was only when I contacted them that they were aware of his existence and after I explained to them my findings and emailed them my pictures of him they accepted it without question. I then discovered that Emily lived in the next town to my grandfather and she died in 1989, only eight years before him. She is even buried just a few plots away in the same cemetery. How heartbreaking – they could have passed each other in the street on a number of occasions and wouldn’t have known.

Yet despite the obvious sense of abandonment he must have felt, he was a hard-working, kind and generous man, and I was very lucky to have him in my life, even if it was just for a short time. It’s amazing how resilient some can be in the face of adversity.

I learned a lot during the process, particularly in the fact that I have a strong working class northern English bloodline that is extremely evident in mine and my sisters characters even to this day. What I found most fulfilling about the experience was being able to share my findings with my mother. She was astounded at the photograph of Emily, who was her grandmother that she had never met, and I was delighted to reveal a family history that she would never have known about. We’ve agreed that we are going to visit the graves of our ancestors to pay our respects.

Now I have a little bit of history that I can tell my own children…

What about you guys? Do you have interesting stories in your family history?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks.

Things I’m Glad I Didn’t Do

ImageI’ve never been a huge risk taker – I’ve always tried to follow the rules and do what is expected of me. I don’t have any wild tales of drunken debauchery, I’ve never woken up in a strange place with a strange person… I’ve been quite a good girl in my time.

An ex-boyfriend requested my friendship on Facebook not long ago. I declined it – after fifteen years I have no reason to communicate with him and if I am being honest I haven’t really thought of him much in that time – but not before I snooped through his profile as much as his privacy settings would allow. He looked much older, he’d obviously been working out and he was the proud father to three kids. He seems happy, and I’m glad, but there was one thought that kept popping into my head during my little stalking session:

Thank god that wasn’t me.

He wasn’t a bad boyfriend and I’m sure he’s a brilliant father, but after seeing his pictures I couldn’t help but feel like I had dodged a bullet.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

During recent months I have spent some time reflecting on life, often culminating in thoughts of regret or nostalgia. However, here are the things that I am glad I didn’t do.

Getting the dolphin tattoo I so desperately wanted. I don’t like needles, the colour would have faded by now and I have gained so much weight it would now resemble a whale.

Borrowing money from an ex. He offered to lend me enough to get me on the property ladder. I’m glad I refused – I discovered that he was cheating on me not long afterwards.

ImageTaking drugs. Plenty of my friends have dabbled on nights out, but I’ve never regretted not taking the risk. I have an addictive personality and bad luck – not a good combination.

Taking things further with someone I was seeing in my gap year. I found out that he gave his girlfriend after me syphillis.

Becoming a professional violinist. The competition is far too high – I wouldn’t have coped.

Getting my hair permed again. Blonde afro’s look great on some. I, however, looked like a reject from ‘Annie.’

What about you guys? Do you have thing in life that you’re glad you didn’t do?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to ‘like’ my new Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Suzie81Speaks