happiness

7 Happy Things.

Well apparently tonight is one of those looong nights when sleep eludes me completely so, rather than lie in the dark attempting to divert my thoughts away from slightly depressing issues, I figured I may as well get back up and write this post. Thankfully I don’t have to wake up early tomorrow morning so I’ll be okay!

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{Image via Pinterest, originally from Donna Hay}

1. Getting our Christmas tree! One of the things I have been most excited about for Christmas this year is that after many years of having an artificial tree my parents decided we could go back to having a real one. I just think real trees are just that little bit better, the smell is wonderful and there is just something a little bit magical about having a real tree in your house all lit up. Plus it’s always so much fun to go out as a family and choose our tree!

2. Spending a lovely Christmassy afternoon with my family. Family time is especially important to me around Christmas time and we had such a nice time decorating the tree, setting up the nativity (minus the Magi and baby Jesus of course) and eating mince pies.

3. Volunteering! I had my first volunteering session at the scheme for young people with Asperger’s and Autistic on Thursday and it went really well. The other people working there are really friendly and helpful and the boys attending the group seem like a really nice group of teens. I think it’s going to be such a rewarding learning experience and I’m looking forward to going back already.

4. Christmas jumpers. Definitely enough said.

5. Looking forward to many of my lovely friends coming back next weekend. I’ve already been informed by one that she has a very busy schedule (mentioning no names haha) but I’m hoping they’ll all have the time to squeeze in time to see me!

6. Sending and receiving Christmas cards. This post has become incredibly Christmas themed but then it is the second weekend of December so I think it’s allowed. But I love writing my nearest and dearest festive cards and seeing a card come through the letterbox always brightens my day.

7. I may or may not have taken the plunge and booked a hair appointment this Friday so come this time next week I might have rather different locks!

Hope you are enjoying the festivities and have a great week 🙂

Sophie x

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7 Happy Things.

Before I jump into all of the brilliant positive things that happened last week, I just want to let everyone know that things are okay, I’m just about hanging in here. Last week was one of the toughest weeks I have had in a while and I also have to apologise that I didn’t get this post up on Sunday, I had an assignment due in yesterday

Things are hopefully going to improve now that I’m not so stressed and the doctor upped my medication so hopefully I’ll be able to see past the blur of pain again soon…

Anyway, moving swiftly on!

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{Image via Pinterest, originally from norrfrid}

1. First of all, as I couldn’t not include this as a HUGE happy thing, the wonderfully caring and heartwarming comments I received on my last post. I was so overwhelmed to get such a kind response and I really want to thank Abigail and Jessica, from the bottom of my heart, you have no idea how much it helped me to read them.

2. December is finally here! Anyone who knows me at all will know that I adore Christmas and everything about it, but the build up is almost the best bit of all. This weekend we had our annual tradition of making the Christmas cake at the beginning of the month, everyone has to take turns stirring the mix and when it’s your turn to mix you make a wish. I also have my little mini advent calendar set up in my bedroom and my fairy lights around my window. This time of year is so magical…

3. Mince pies. My mother and I made the first batch this weekend and they are, as happens every year, even better than I remember. The flaky pastry, the sweetness of the mincemeat. Enough said really.

4. Having my first essay of the term handed in. It may have seemed impossibly stressful trying to get it in but now that it is I feel so incredibly relieved!

5. I finally received my DBS form which means I can go ahead and start my volunteering position with the scheme for young people with Asperger Syndrome and Autism. I start on Thursday afternoon and I’m really excited (and a little nervous), I’ve never had the opportunity to do something like this before so I know I am going to learn so much from it. I’m so looking forward to meeting all of the teens in the group as well as the people I’ll be working with.

6. Seeing my family at the weekend. My parents always know what I need and came to pick me up so that I could write my essay tucked up in my ridiculously comfy bed instead of my horrible (okay I may be exaggerating, but only a little!) uni bed. It was lovely to be looked after for a couple of days.

7. Christmas present shopping! I absolutely love buying presents for people, but it’s even more fun at Christmas as it means buying something for everyone. I always spend lots of time figuring out what to get people and I love finding things that are more meaningful because it’s worth the time spent when you get to give it to the recipient and see their reaction 🙂

I hope you’re all having a brilliant December so far!

Sophie x

7 Happy Things.

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{Image via Pinterest, originally from notetosarah tumblr}

1. The memories from Rome last weekend. I keep going through my photos and reminiscing about the beauty of the city, I hope that one day I get a chance to go back and see more of it!

2. Finally feeling well enough to enjoy a great night out with some of my friends at uni. We all got dressed up (which, I can’t lie, is one of my favourite parts of the night!) and had a few drinks at our house before heading out to dance and meet some of the boys. I haven’t had a night out since Halloween so it was really good to blow off some steam and let my hair down.

3. Pasta with fresh pesto. The pesto was on special offer so I treated myself and imagined I was somewhere warm and sunny in the Med…

4. Being invited to sing in a Christmas concert with the county youth choir I used to be part of. I adore Christmas carols so it is lovely to get to go sing them in a concert and it also hopefully means I’ll get to see some of my old choir friends.

5. Popping home to have dinner with my father and my sister on Saturday evening. My mother was away for the weekend so they invited me round for steak and chips. I never really eat meat when I’m away at uni but having peppercorn sauce over a lovely medium steak is such a delicious treat.

6. Getting out my winter duvet – so comfy.

7. I have a week to finish my first assignment (definitely not a happy thing haha) but next weekend marks the beginning of December and I’m definitely going home for a couple of days to make the first batch of mince pies and light the advent candle for the first time!

Sophie x

Four Simple Goals… Before 2014.

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So my condition seems to be continuing to get worse, my pain levels are heightened, I have sharp stabbing pain in the base of my spine, I usually wake up with a head ache, and my energy levels are pretty low. In an effort to think positively and try to enjoy life despite all of that I thought I’d write about my current goals.

I was reading Elanor’s blog blueeyedgirlstrikesback and came across a post which she wrote, inspired by a post from A Beautiful Mess.

The rules, created by Elsie, are as follows:

1. Choose simple goals that will make your life richer and happier on a daily basis. Choose things you may not otherwise get done but are not difficult to accomplish.

2. Do not choose result oriented goals. Choose activity oriented goals. For example, instead of “lose 10 pounds”, choose something like “eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day”. Get what I’m saying? Positive actions instead of just the end result!

3. Choose personal goals you believe will truly make your life richer just by doing them! They can be daily, weekly or one time experiences.

4. Choose a reward for each goal as it is accomplished! It can be a small or large reward—it’s up to you.

5. Blog about your goals, each one as you achieve it and a big post when they are all finished before the new year! 

It would be easy to make goals which relate to my work, but I have so many writing and research related goals this semester already and rule number one states that my goals should make me happier. Whilst finishing all of my uni work will of course be a positive thing, I’d argue it isn’t about making myself happier.

I definitely have a tendency to make myself target orientated goals, things which have a structured method to achieve them and a finite ending but I rarely set myself more abstract, action orientated goals so I enjoyed this challenge. It wasn’t easy to create goals which didn’t have a completely set aim but it was a refreshing change. Here are my four goals:

1. Listen to my body more. I love my food but sometimes I think this impairs my judgment of when I am actually hungry and when I am actually full whilst I am eating. My younger sister has always been very good at only eating when hungry and stopping the minute she is full and this is something I want to teach myself.

2. Sing. Music, but more specifically singing has always made me happy. I can escape into the melody and the lyrics, express myself through the song. Although I have never really enjoyed singing for an audience because of nerves I had singing lessons for years and just adored singing for myself. I haven’t been singing much recently and I want to allow myself to find my voice again without the pressure of exams and concerts. What better time of year to do this than now with Christmas carols just around the corner?

3. Take more photos. My wonderful camera has been sadly neglected recently and I want to get back into taking more photos of daily life. It’s coming to Rome with me this weekend and I’m sure the beauty of the city will inspire me again.

4. Stretch daily. I look after my body as much as I can, it’s the only real way I have of trying to combat my condition, but I have to admit I haven’t been making much of an effort to take the time to stretch out my body everyday. It’s relaxing to do so it fulfills two positive purposes.

In accordance with the rules I will blog about achieving my goals and think up some nice rewards for when I do!

Let me know if you set yourself any goals this year too and whether you prefer target or action orientated goals 🙂

Sophie x

7 Happy Things.

So I’ve not been feeling very well, as my last post suggested, and I’ve struggled towards the end of this week to keep my chin up and carry on with life. It is difficult to put into words how much being in pain, in such pain as this, can affect your mind and body. It is all-encompassing. It is all-consuming. My body aches and throbs all over and my mind is dulled. It is so hard to stay positive when my future feels so uncertain, will my exciting plans ever been realised? It is hard when you know that being poorly makes you less interesting as a friend, less appealing as a partner, less able as a student…

But I won’t let it pull me under completely so in an attempt to (at least metaphorically) pick myself up a little I thought of 7 happy things from this week. Enjoy!

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{Image via Pinterest, originally from sacramentostreet}

1. As the picture suggests, it is most definitely hot drink weather. I don’t like tea and I rarely drink coffee but the minute the cold weather strikes I turn to one of my favourite treats – hot chocolate. There is something so comforting about a lovely chocolatey hot drink to warm you up. Of course I don’t just drink ordinary hot chocolates, oh no, I go all out! Hot chocolate just isn’t the same without whipped cream and marshmallows, and if possible chocolate sprinkles. I’m not fussy. Promise.

2. I was doing some blog reading this morning and stumbled upon this post from This Book is Reserved. How beautiful are those covers? I am desperate to get my hands on a copy of The Secret Garden and The Wizard of Oz because the former is one of my favourite childhood stories and the later is so wonderfully colourful.

3. Getting the volunteering position I wanted! I had an informal interview on Thursday at a fantastic centre run by a charitable organisation and got the place so I’m over the moon about that. I’m going to be working for an after-school club run there for young people with Asperger’s and high-functioning autism. It’s such a brilliant programme as it gives the young people a safe environment, it’s a place where they can just be themselves and relax. I’m so excited to start volunteering, I’ll be there once a week for two and half hours, working with a group of boys aged 13 to 17. It’s a completely new challenge for me but I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in and learning all I can!

4. Going food shopping with my mother (who was lovely and drove over to give me a lift to the supermarket so that I didn’t have to walk!) and having a fully stocked fridge again. I have a fridge full of delicious healthy foods to inspire me and get me back on my feet. Plus a couple of little treats because who can resist After Eight yoghurts?

5. Hearing the best news about my dissertation. When we were first assigned supervisors my heart sank slightly, I’d been given a lecturer who I like as a person but find really difficult to work with. I’ve been emailing her over the summer but I was really struggling to get anywhere. It’s been worrying me for ages as one of the most important things in a dissertation is who you work with so I was ecstatic when my absolutely lovely personal tutor offered to supervise me instead.

6. Having little Clive from two doors down pop in for a cuddle. If you don’t follow me on Instagram (@sophiejuliette_mh) then you won’t know that Clive is the adorable little cat who comes round to say hello and hang out when her (I know, Clive is a girl) owners are out.

7. Pleasant interludes in my student life – this week it was going for coffee, or hot chocolate in my case, with my mother on Friday. I met her before my seminar and it was really nice to have a little chat as we are very close. This coming week I’m going for lunch with my friend Aimee and the following week I’m going out for dinner with the lovely Ellie as a late birthday celebration for her 🙂

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Sophie x

7 Happy Things

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{Image via Pinterest, originally from Ninbra tumblr}

1. It’s my gorgeous friend Ellie’s 21st today! Happy birthday Ellie, I hope you’ve had a lovely lovely day!

2. Watching Sunday night TV with my lovely housemates. Downton Abbey, followed by Homeland, followed by Was It Something I Said, makes for some seriously good viewing.

3. Going home to help my sister write her personal statement and getting to have a lovely dinner with my family. (And getting to take the leftovers back with me!) Despite being in twenties now and in my final year of uni I still love being home, I think I will always be somewhat of a home-bird.

4. Brilliant lectures which remind me why I am reading English at uni, sitting in a two-hour seminar on Jane Eyre made me remember why I fell in love with words and with reading. The magic of certain books will just never be eclipsed.

5. Getting excited about Halloween and costumes and pumpkins. I’m rubbish at carving pumpkins but my sister is really good at it and we always had beautiful pumpkins at home. We’re planning on throwing a Halloween party here at my uni house before going out afterwards so I will definitely be getting dressed up!

6. My wonderful Fireside Treats scented candle from Yankee Candle which makes my entire bedroom smell like delicious fire toasted marshmallows.

7. Feeling a strange mixture of both terrified and excited to receive my letter from NHS Blood and Transplant saying that my appointment to give blood is set for next Monday! I absolutely loathe having my blood taken but I feel like giving blood is something really important that everyone who is able should do so I just decided to bite the bullet and sign up…

Hope you’ve all had a fantastic weekend and enjoy the week ahead!

Sophie x

Friendship.

I read a quotation once which resonated deeply within me, it felt like it had been written just then, especially for me to learn from.

‘Do not chase people. Be you, do your own thing and work hard. The right people who belong in your life will come to you and stay.’

It’s such a powerful message, particularly for someone like me who has always cared more about what others think than I should. The statement isn’t suggesting that you shouldn’t make an effort with people, of course you should. But you shouldn’t put yourself out there so much that you lose some of yourself. Sometimes we must open ourselves to rejection, we have to be brave and take a chance, because often what people regret the most in the end is the chances they didn’t take, rather than mistakes they made. However you shouldn’t open yourself up for someone else to hack away at your soul. The people who choose to hurt you simply don’t deserve you.

True friendship is a gift. There are those who will only ever be fair weather friends and then there are those that will always be there for you. They are the special ones.

Oscar Wilde once wrote that you should ‘never love anybody who treats you like you’re ordinary.’ I think this is important for any relationship. Relationships are hard work, work for them. But never let them work away at you. You are the most important character in your own life story.

When my health was at its worst in my first year of university there were certain people who always had time to lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on. When I feel like I’m being sucked into a never-ending whirlpool of work stress there are always people here to pull me back out. When my self-esteem takes a beating I know I have people to turn to. When I am just feeling a bit low, there is always someone. I know I am lucky.

So if you are the eternal people-pleaser, afraid to say anything or fight back, always trying to have everyone like you, just remember that, as Dr Seuss so aptly put it: ‘be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter, don’t mind.’

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I hope you are all having a lovely weekend, I’m off to cry my eyes out watching Romeo and Juliet in the cinema!

Sophie x