Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Well folks, it's been just over a week since my last blog. Thanks for the encouragement readers, I hope that you find this useful.
In the last week I have had ups and downs just like all of you. School holidays can create a challenge for keeping Kirsten busy, balancing work and child care. I try and take as much time off with Kirsten as I can. It is all too easy to put off doing things, life and work can take over but I know how precious those fun times together are. Kirsten had a friend to stay over, we made candles which was great fun, it didn't take long but was a real quality moment. I was looking around at the messy kitchen we were working in, did the girls notice -or care? No they were just having fun adding colour and scent to their melted wax. I had fun too, I made a candle in a lovely vintage china cup, it felt so good to look at what I had made. Simple pleasures, it reminded me of the times I made things when I was growing up and the fun times that we had with Calum when he was small guddling in water, making messy goo, baking and having fun in our untidy kitchen.
The girls also made some movies with Kirsten's video camera, laughing and capturing the memories. It struck a chord with how we record our memories inside our heads all the time. This is one of the things that I use regularly to help me feel happier.

Try accessing your mind videos -think of a time when you enjoyed a great day and had fun. Close your eyes and remember. Can you "see" the scenes and hear the sounds from that time, immerse yourself in it, make it vibrant, colourful and real, now notice how you feel. Your happy mind videos can lift your mood, your body will react as if it is happening now, so you can find yourself smiling, relaxing and even laughing as you relive the good times. I am a great one for reminiscing with my family and friends, laughing over the things we did in the past, retelling the stories over and over. It is always such a happy event when we do this, I love those times as much as I did the actual event.
Sharing your happy times with someone else helps to pass on some happiness and keep those stories going. Scots used to have a great tradition of story telling, passing on the previous generations' tales. I think it is a shame modern day reality TV seems to be more interesting to some people rather than sharing our own real lives. Sharing stories about people we have lost is a real tribute to their impact on your life and helps to keep their memory alive. I know some people who find it difficult to mention Calum, perhaps for fear of upsetting me. To not talk about our son and his part in our lives and our history is far more upsetting. Talking about the good times, the holidays, the daft things he did, the jokes we shared, the silly sayings we had helped me to find a tunnel of light out of the grief. Tears still come at times but as a wise friend tells me tears are healing too.

I experienced some anxiety last week while travelling to meet my very best friend Ann. We were having a day away to ourselves, staying overnight in a hotel in a town where I used to work. I felt shaky and anxious on the train, at first I didn't realise what was going on. I was looking forward to meeting up with Ann so why did I feel bad? Thinking about it for a minute I realised that I had not been back to this place for a long time. I had left my job because of some stressful times and this journey back to that physical place had jolted my body back to that emotional state. This is what we call anchoring in NLP terms. You might have suddenly felt upset, anxious, scared or even sick when your mind makes a link to a past time. How do you handle this? I used some EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to release the negative emotion and found myself begin to relax. The jitters in my tummy and shaking eased. Then the train stopped at a station and I found myself thinking about an old work colleague who I knew lived here, before long I was immersed in the memories of that time so very long ago. He was a lively character and we had fun, I started to smile and suddenly I had reached my destination feeling upbeat and looking forward to tea and lots of laughs with Ann. We have both positive and negative anchors to people, places, things, music and more. I had used a positive anchor to clear the negative emotions without even trying, my thoughts and feelings changed quickly. Next time you find yourself in anxious state try some EFT and a positive thought.
I had a great time and we met up with some other ex colleagues for a good laugh, I am looking forward to my next visit.

I had some low points last week, feeling overwhelmed about the amount of things I still had to do, taking time out is great but when you are self employed no one else does the work. You would think that that this would mean I would be really motivated and busy when back to work, but no! I couldn't focus and that means that self doubt creeps in - could I really achieve all these plans I have, all the different workshops and business angles seemed too much. Where to start? I call this my headless chicken phase, so many things to do that I end up running round like a headless chicken and not starting anywhere. I have been here before so I know what works - take time out. What more time off! Sounds like madness, but just a few minutes to breathe, relax and calm my mind. Being mindful some call it or meditation, whatever you call it doesn't matter it works. Try out this link to give it a go http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12263892
Now my mind is calm I can write my list of things to do and prioritise it, I don't feel so overwhelmed now I can do a couple of things on the list easily. My positive thoughts begin to come back, I can do this. I even begin to feel excited about some of my ideas again. My thoughts and emotions can either work for me or against me. Recognising that allows me to do something about it. It's not about being upbeat, positive and happy all the time it is handling it and not being a victim of my own low points.

So all in it was a good week, the scales tipped more on the positive side. 7 out of 10 on my happiness scale.
If you have any questions or comments please post them. See you next week.

Take care, wishing you love, light and laughter

Monday, February 14, 2011


There has been a lot in the media recently about happiness and how to achieve it. I am a big fan of happiness, everyone I know wants to feel happy. How happy should you be though? There are a load of books, courses and information out there designed to help you to feel happier. If you decide to start on the happiness crusade then what is your measure of success - can you be happy 24/7? If you aren't are you a failure?

I have started this blog to explore my happiness, what impacts on how I feel and to share my experiences. Life is a rollercoaster, you have highs and lows - the trick is to live it, cope with the lows, find ways to make you feel better and then enjoy the good times. I am going to share what works for me and give you some tips to try. I'd also like to hear from you - if you have something that helps you feel happier then pass it on. I intend to be honest about my frustrations, upsets and low points and about how I get over them. I also want to share the highs, what has inspired me and lifted my spirits. This is true life not the glossy 24/7 Happiness promise.

I would like to point out that I am not a Guru, I have studied lots of interesting theories, read loads of books, attended various courses and even got qualifications from some of them. I have lived and experienced some really happy moments and also suffered terrible tragedy. What I know is that life presents lots of challenges, and how we think and react to them influences our levels of happiness. I also believe that we can change how we think and react, learn how to use the good times as fuel to build resilience to cope with the lows.

My Story so far...
I'd like to share my story with you. I am 44, married to Sinclair for 23 years and I have 2 children. Kirsten who is 11 and heading to secondary school this year and Calum who lost his life to meningitis on 12th October 2007 aged 12.
My life changed for ever on that day, all the plans, hopes and dreams that I had for our future disappeared. For those that knew me before Calum's death I think they would have said I was a happy person, talkative, always on the go, trying new things, learning new things - an optimist. I had started my own business in 2006, leaving a well paid HR managers role to take the plunge into the world of managing emotions, stress and depression in particular. Now less than a year later I was plunged into a world of darkness. I think people thought I had gone mad in the days following Calum's death when I would tell people that we would be happy again. I set it as a mission for us as a family, I owed it to Calum - he was such a happy lad. I didn't really know how I would do it back in 2007, didn't know how I could claw my way out of the terrible bleakness that I felt. Losing a child is every parents worst nightmare, many don't find a way out of the blackness.
What I can say now is that there is no one thing that makes it better. No magical cure that suddenly lifts the dark veil and replaces it with glowing sunlight. There are lots of little things that can make life a bit better, and as the colour gradually came back in to my life I was able to use more things to help. Other people were very kind and that made such a difference - you can read more in David Hamilton's book Why Kindness is Good for You.

What I know is that whatever you use to help to begin with has to be simple. I knew that taking exercise would improve my mood but if I couldn't find the energy to get dressed then getting out was beyond me. I did open some essential oils and find them soothing, I opened a book with positive quotes and I looked up. If you are in the depths of despair even these simple things can help to change your thoughts and outlook.

I also want you to know that I acknowledged my feelings, my very wise GP gave me some advice to let go of the emotions. So I did scream and cry (often in the early days and still do some days) but I also decided to write to Calum. I wrote how I was feeling sometimes the tears smudged the ink, I wrote about what was happening, venting my feelings but also keeping a connection with my much loved son. I still write to Calum today but my journals are generally happier with more positive stories and fewer really low days.

I hope that you will join me on my journey. I want you to have hope that if you are feeling low, stressed, depressed, grieving, anxious or just hacked off that you will be able to change that. Everything changes, nothing stays the same for ever, so the negative thoughts and emotions that can grip us and cause us to hold back or even give up will pass. Try something new, a thought, a hope - a smile and they can pass quicker.

Thank you for reading, I plan to post at least once a week. My happiness meter for now is 7 out of 10. I am happy I have started this project that has been in my mind for a few weeks. I can tick one thing off my to do list and the sense of achievement is good.

Take care, be kind to yourselves and one another.