A New Year, New Start: Things I Learned in 2020

Things I Learned in 2020

I’ve always found something quite liberating about the clock striking midnight on New Year’s Eve. Despite the fact that it is just one minute, the transition between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day brings a sense of excitement and the notion that anything is possible.

A year ago The Bloke and I rang in the new year with the fireworks display from the London Eye on the TV, singing Auld Lang Syne with the cat and making promises that 2020 would be our year. I had plans. I had spent weeks carefully making lists of all of the things that we were going to do: the places we would go, the things we would see, the experiences that we would have. Continue reading

A Lockdown Birthday and Terry the Christmas Tree

With less than a week to go until Christmas, The Bloke and I have taken to adulting to get everything prepared in advance. I was determined (especially after a such a crazy year), Christmas would be a period in which we could actually relax, do something positive for others and then take some time for ourselves without worrying about last-minute things, and we’ve managed most of it (although the found myself on a mad dash to the postbox yesterday to send off a whole bunch of Christmas cards. 

The last quarter of the year is always the busiest. Between October and December there are five birthdays within our family including mine and The Bloke’s and we had our third wedding anniversary at the end of October. Normally we would take a trip somewhere to celebrate at least one of these (last year we went to London for the weekend with my sister and her boyfriend to see the Tutankhamun exhibition at the Saatchi and the year before we fed giraffes at West Midlands Safari Park and went to the Harry Potter Studios Tour) but most of the last few months have been spent trying to stay safe and well at home. Instead I have created almost mini staycations and celebrations indoors, finding interesting things to watch and trying to support local businesses by ordering from them rather than going through the giants that now monopolise the online shopping world (except Lego of course, because The Bloke loves it).  Continue reading

A Visit to Van Gogh Alive at the Birmingham Hippodrome

Van Gogh Alive at the Birmingham Hippodrome Starry Night

This is no ordinary art exhibition…

What has become abundantly clear amidst the chaos and confusion of the last seven months is just how essential the arts are, with many turning to art and culture within their own homes as a form of mental stimulation, creativity and self-care.

While I certainly count my blessings, some of the things I have missed the most during lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions have been the theatre and museums. Seeing a show or an exhibition – usually several times a month – provided an often much-needed opportunity to switch off from the stresses of the day, relax and immerse myself in an amazing performance or stunning piece of artwork by talented performers and creatives.

I’m a huge Van Gogh fan, being lucky enough to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, see The Starry Night at the MOMA in New York and Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London and consequently I was ecstatic when I saw that the world-renowned Van Gogh Alive Experience was being premiered at the Birmingham Hippodrome. Continue reading

Autumn Thoughts

The atmosphere in the house has been difficult to adjust to. It has been a week since Poppy passed away and for the first time in seventeen years there hasn’t been a cat in the house to get under my feet, yell at me for breakfast or test out the acoustics of the bathroom by singing their favourite songs at 3.00am. I have found it difficult not to walk up and down the stairs in a certain way to accommodate a feline zooming past me, or to open a door slowly just in case their was a cat sitting behind it, and for the first few days the sight of an empty kitty bed made me break down in tears. My lovely neighbour works with an animal sanctuary and so she very kindly agreed to pass all of Poppy’s things on so that they can go to help another animal in need, which has made me feel a little better. Continue reading

Daily Gratitude Challenge Day 29: Aspirations and Goals

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 Goals and aspirations

Day 29 of the Daily Gratitude Challenge is all about aspirations and goals. Continue reading

Daily Gratitude Challenge Day 22: Lessons Learned

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 What life lessons are you grateful for

Day 22 of the Daily Gratitude Challenge is all about lessons learned. While it may not be obvious at the time, lessons learned (particularly when they are learned the hard way) are instrumental in our psychological and emotional growth. This is an opportunity to look at the lessons you are grateful for, and how their impact has made you a better person. 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 4: The Greatest Advice I’ve Ever Received

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 4 Greatest Pieces of Advice

Day 4 of the Daily Gratitude Challenge focuses on advice. Whether the advice we receive comes directly from the words and actions of family, close friends and colleagues or from books, TV and films, people in power or celebrities, I have taken advice from all areas of my life and am grateful for it. 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 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