Farewell (for now, at least)

Time for an announcement.

As you’ve probably noticed, this blog has been dwindling away and looking a bit unloved for some time now… And I’ve now decided to officially close the Happy Things doors – at least for a little while.

The reason for this, as you may also know, is because I’ve been getting increasingly busy with my other blog, Theatre Things (if you like the theatre, please check it out), and have some fairly ambitious plans for its future development. All of which sadly means I’ve run out of spare minutes in the day to devote to Happy Things.

It’s fair to say writing this blog has been one of the best things I’ve ever done, not just because it led me to set up Theatre Things, but because it forced me to focus on all the good stuff going on around me. At times it’s hard, especially right now, to be positive and find the little happy things in life – but when you do, it’s so rewarding. I honestly think writing this blog has made me a happier person.

I’ve met some amazing people, and have really appreciated all the support and friendship I’ve gained from getting to know the awesome blogging community. Through working on Happy Things, I grew in confidence as a writer, and it even helped me figure out how to use Twitter. (And now I’m addicted…)

So this is farewell for now, but please do pop over and visit at Theatre Things, or come and say hi on Twitter @lizzid82. And hopefully I’ll be back one day – after all, there’ll always be sunsets to share…

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10 reasons to be happy right now

I’m baaaack!

So first, an apology. I’ve been the world’s worst blogger lately (at least on here – over at Theatre Things I’ve been a busy bee). But I’ve been feeling bad about it, and then I got a lovely comment the other day from Sarah that inspired me to try harder. So here I am!

Now part of the problem with happy blogging has been that recently I’ve been slipping back into some bad habits, and keep finding myself moaning about stuff to anyone who’ll listen (and, I’m sure, a few people who look like they’re listening but have actually gone to their happy place).

So I decided to get back to basics, and make a list of 10 reasons to be happy right now. And here they are:

  • Tomorrow is a new day. More importantly, tomorrow is also Saturday.
  • It’s bluebell season.

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  • Next month I get to be bridesmaid for one of my bestest friends. In Greece. On the beach.
  • I totally got 100% on this Friends quiz.
  • The Kinky Boots London cast made an album – not that it wasn’t fun to listen to the Broadway actors attempt a Northampton accent. (I promise you, if you’re ever feeling a bit blue, this show will cheer you right up.)
  • One of my colleagues bought us profiteroles today. They were good.

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This is not my route home from work (sadly). But it’s a nice photo.

What’s making you happy today?

Monday Motivation: Be positive

Woohoo! It’s November 30th, and that means I’ve officially completed the NaBloPoMo 30-day blogging challenge. I’ve posted something every day this month – with some days admittedly requiring a bit more effort than others – and it’s been a lot of fun. Partly this is because I’ve remembered why I love writing, but mostly it’s because it’s reminded me of the whole reason I started this blog in the first place, which was to focus on the little happy things that happen every single day, and spend less time dwelling on the bad stuff.

Happy orange

Some of you will have heard this story before, but the inspiration behind The Blog of Happy Things was one evening a couple of years ago, when I was due to meet my parents and sister at the theatre. Unfortunately, they got caught in horrible traffic and didn’t arrive at the theatre until the interval of what was already quite a short play. I think in the end they got to watch about forty minutes of slightly confusing action before heading home again.

In the car on the way home, I suddenly realised that I’d just spent the last twenty minutes complaining about what a terrible day I’d had, and I was so ashamed of myself that I promptly shut up altogether. Because whatever it was that had happened – and I can’t remember now, so it was obviously pretty insignificant – it didn’t really compare to my family’s experience of sitting in a traffic jam for two hours and missing half of a play that they’d paid to see.

I was reminded of this story whilst watching the following TED talk, by Alison Ledgerwood, which considers why all human beings have a tendency to focus on the negative side of life, and how we can turn that on its head to celebrate the positives instead. It certainly resonated with me, and I hope it’s helpful to you too.

Thank you for sticking with me over the past month; I hope to keep up the habit of blogging regularly (although I can’t promise it’ll be every day, what with Christmas and all that jazz) and sharing little happy things for a long time to come 🙂

NaBloPoMo progress report

We’re now two thirds of the way through BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo November challenge, and I thought it was a good time to pause and reflect on the last 20 days.

Last month, I managed one blog post each week, and that was mostly because I felt I should, rather than because I had any hugely inspiring ideas to share. But I love my little blog, and didn’t want it to become something I viewed as a chore, rather than something I did through choice. So maybe committing to a post every day wasn’t the cleverest move – but as it happens, it’s been exactly what I needed.

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Over the past 20 days, I’ve been really surprised at how easily the blog posts have come together, and it’s renewed my enthusiasm and reminded me why I fell in love with blogging in the first place. There hasn’t been a day yet when I’ve had to really think hard to come up with an idea – although of course there have been some when I’ve had less time to write (that’s generally when the photos of sheep start coming out…).

And because I’ve needed an idea for every day, it’s led me to pay more attention to what’s going on around me, and to renew my commitment to looking for the positives in everything I do. I’ve also been thinking more about positivity in general; creating the Happiness Manifesto was a highlight.

I’ve had to manage my time better too; rather than wasting my commute or lunch break, I’ve been using it to blog (or, one occasion, to quiz my colleagues in the name of research).

Some of the posts this month have been the most popular in terms of both readers and response; the debate about when we get to call ourselves writers got some particularly interesting comments. (If you haven’t had your say yet, you’re more than welcome to join the discussion!)

I’ve made several new blogging friends this month, and discovered loads of great blogs to follow as well. Part of the NaBloPoMo experience is supporting others who are taking part, so I’ve spent a lot of time reading and commenting on posts, and stumbled on some real gems.

NaBloPoMo may be almost over for November, but if you’re a blogger, I’d recommend taking this challenge another month. I’m loving it so far, and it turns out impulsively deciding to give it a go on November 1st was a great move. I can’t guarantee I’ll keep posting every day once the month’s up, but at least now I know I can do it if I want to – and best of all, I’ve got my blogging mojo back 🙂

Huzzah!

10 days to go…

Happy Birthday Happy Things!

My blog is 2 years old today! Ever since June 6th 2013, I’ve been filling these pages with my random waffle, and you lovely people have been reading, sharing and commenting on it. Thank you!

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And thank you to everyone who’s sent me their own Happy Things to share in this post. Each and every one of them made me smile, too 🙂 Please check out their blogs, Twitter, Instagram – they’re all awesome people! So here goes:

First up, Lexie, who has a brilliant blog called Those Words She Wrote. And she’s the creator of the 365 Days of Happy project, which sounds so fab I may just have to steal the idea… Lexie wrote a great post recently on her own blog about what makes her happy, but she also tweeted me a few Happy Things to include here:

Next, Hanna. She and I used to work together, before she left to pursue her dream to be a web developer (which she achieved, by the way). Although we haven’t seen each other for a while, it was great to get back in touch with Hanna recently on Twitter. And good to see that she still has excellent taste in desserts…

The first of three Sarahs featured in this post is a new Twitter friend and fellow theatre lover. Sarah has a fantastic blog, Musical Theatre Musings – and she’s also a member of the Bromley Players, which makes her infinitely more qualified than I am to review stuff 😉

Belle had a couple of suggestions; I don’t really know Belle yet (we just met on Twitter) but we have a love of pizza in common, and that can only be a good thing.

My friend Alex was also my colleague – until yesterday, when she left to go travelling across Eastern Europe 😢Alex is a self-confessed language geek, who’s clearly far, far braver than I am to drop everything and head off into the unknown. I’m looking forward to hearing about her adventures on her new blog, Postcards from Ukraine.

Mandy is a friend, fellow blogger and book club member, who I met last year through the wonder that is Twitter. When she’s not up to her ears in studying, Mandy blogs at Emm in London and Addicted to Media – among others – and takes fantastic photos; follow her on Instagram to see what I mean.

Last week, I got an email from Sarah, who’s just started her blog, Things Sarah Loves, and is already going strong 🙂 We’ve been bonding on Twitter this week over our appreciation for drunken pensioners (read my last post and you’ll understand) and I’m eagerly awaiting next week’s tutorial on how to make a Hugo hedgehog… Follow Sarah on Twitter and join in our random conversations; she’s @thingssarahloves. Here are her Happy Things:

1.  Seeing my sister smile.
2.  Reading a good book.
3.  Hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows!
4.  Long walks with my dog.
5.  A good yoga session.
6.  Receiving a letter from my penpal.
7.  Going stationary shopping!
8.  Watching bands play live.
9.  Ticking off every item on my To Do list.
10.  Baking cakes and licking the bowl.

My sister Caz had a bit of trouble narrowing her list down to 10 (I’m so mean) but she got there in the end! Caz is a rather fabulous photographer – although she won’t tell you that herself – and shares many of her pictures on her blog, Finding a Focus. Here’s her final list (at least until she changes her mind…):

1.  Standing on an empty beach at sunrise.
2.  Arriving home after a long day.
3.  Homemade cranberry sauce poured over vanilla ice cream.
4.  Seeing something new – or an old favourite – at the theatre.
5.  Photography.
6.  Time with friends and/or family.
7.  Receiving ‘snail mail’ from a friend.
8.  Exchanging a smile with a stranger.
9.  A good book – and time to read it!
10.  The first signs of spring.

Last, but by no means least, another Sarah, a good friend who was one of the first members of my book club and nowadays is a regular theatre buddy. Sarah doesn’t have a blog (yet…!) but she does take brilliant photos, which you can see by following her on Instagram. Here’s her Happy List:

Challenging myself – I think it is important to look forward, grow and learn as a person so from time to time I set myself a little challenge. These can vary from finishing a piece of work by a difficult deadline, completing Fat Mum Slims Photo a day for a month, finding all the London Shaun the sheeps, which means getting out for walks and discovering corners of London that I didn’t know were there. I also get to practice my photography. Doing 40 new things in my 40th year was fun, especially the ‘Drinking 40 different cocktails’ one, not all on the same night obvs, that would be messy… Unsurprisingly I had lots of volunteers to join me on that one…

Travelling – I love discovering new places and more recently looking for their hidden secrets. For example when in Singapore last year I asked my friend to help me find the location of a time capsule that’s there. My friend had no clue about this despite living there all her life, she asked how I knew about it and I told her by researching online before I travelled. It’s due to be opened later this year so I’m looking forward to reading about the event and what’s found inside.

Languages – unfortunately I didn’t discover this made me happy at school so I’m not fluent in any other language. I spent a year recently having Sat morning classes to learn Spanish, just because it was something I wanted to do. I loved it and at some point will continue the lessons. I’ve always believed it’s important to try to speak a few native words when travelling so at the very least try to learn my ‘P’s & Q’s’ (please & thank you) before I go. I work for a Japanese company too, so enjoy making my colleagues laugh with my attempts at their (very difficult) language. At least I try!

Photography – I just love it. Getting out and discovering new things. Trying to ‘see’ things through a creative eye and improving my vision. Posting my photos online and getting appreciation from friends and strangers in the form of likes or the occasional comment on my vision (Instagram – @sazzygaimster). I don’t use professional equipment mostly my iPhone, or small ‘point and click’ when travelling, but I get some pleasing results.

Theatre, Concerts, Dance… Live Performance – I love the buzz that almost all live performance gives. I go to the theatre as much as I can, I’m lucky to have the West End & O2 Arena not too far away and a beautiful local theatre ‘The Orchard’, so there is always plenty of choice of event to attend to get my buzz.

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to this post. If you missed out but would still like to get involved, it’s not too late – leave a comment here with your own Happy Things! 🙂

Finally, a few more from me (to add to my original Happy List):

Penguins (because who doesn’t love penguins?)
Captain Ross Poldark
Getting good feedback on a review
New opportunities
Pimm’s
Freshly washed sheets
Rediscovering an old favourite book
Having a productive day at work
Exploring London and finding somewhere I’ve never been before
Chocolate
Musicals
Being busy
Sunshine
The feeling of accomplishment when I’ve successfully removed a spider from my flat
Planning for my friend’s wedding next year
Getting into bed after a long day
Reading blog comments
Tulips
Bank holiday weekends
Having silly conversations

And sunsets. I know they were on the original list – but I really love sunsets. (It’s possible I may need help.)

Dartford sunsetHave a great day! 🙂