Gratitude Challenge 2016!

So, I’m late starting this obviously for this year, but I wanted to do it anyway as I think it’s good for me to write down and see on paper (screen) how lucky I am. We all need a reminder of this sometimes!

  1. Why start this challenge?

I intend to just write a short answer here. I’m doing this challenge because I think it will be good for me to reflect on the positive things in my life. I also think it’s good to give yourself a little reminder of the things that you have to be grateful for, to try and stop taking people and things for granted, as we are all prone to do.

  1. Spouse/ significant other

Well, this is an easy one. I feel grateful that I met Michael every single day. His mum often says ‘As He made them, he matched them’ about us, and while I’m not religious, I really like this sentiment. Michael is truly my other half. He is also a wonderful person. He always looks after me, and has been my rock through some tough times. He makes me laugh every single day, usually because we’re being silly together in some way that would make anyone else question our sanity. We share lots of hobbies and interests, and love having a good debate together! He is my best friend as well as my fiancée, and I can talk to him about anything. He might not always do the dishes when he’s meant to, but he would be there for me in a shot if I needed him, as he’s proven time and again, and I often joke he would make a much better psychologist than I! He brings out the best in me with his kindness to others. No matter what troubles are happening in life, I can remind myself that when it comes to love, I absolutely won the lottery when I met Michael.

Can’t wait for our big day Mick, it’s going to be the best day of my life! And our honeymoon driving round West Coast USA will be rocking too!

  1. Family

I am also blessed to have a wonderful family. My mum, who will feature more in the next post, has always been there for me and looked out for me growing up. I still go to her with my problems knowing that she will listen and help. My sister is also a fantastic source of support for me. We have some really odd conversations and shared interests (zit popping videos anyone?) but she is one of the kindest, most gentle people I know. If I could pick, I’d still pick her as my sister!

My aunts and uncles have featured prominently in my life too, with lots of guidance, humour and tons of love! This is also true of my cousins – you’re guaranteed a great laugh with them, although some of them are more than a little bit zany (Angie, I’m looking at you kid!). Throughout my life, I have felt very much treasured by my extended family, and that is a powerful feeling. It adds so much to your confidence and sense of self. I’ve also lost some brilliant family members, most notably my gran and my Uncle John. They were both very important during my childhood, and I still think of them often and smile.

Writing this has really put a smile on my face. Reflecting on how fantabulous my family is definitely increases my gratitude for the part they play in my life!

  1. A family member

For this one, I absolutely had to pick my mum. All my childhood it was us against the world. We figured our way through whatever problems came our way, even if sometimes the solutions were a bit dubious (hanging onto a chair half out of the car is a definite life highlight). Consequently I think a lot of my strength comes from my mum, she’s a strong woman herself, and has taught me courage and strength in the face of adversity. She is also always ready to help me with my problems and listen to how I’m feeling. My mum gave up a lot of things to bring me up, instilled in me the importance of honesty and kindness to others, and generally shaped me as a person, for which I’m eternally grateful. She also encouraged me more than anyone with my education, and definitely has to be credited with pushing me to achieve, which ultimately led to my university education. One day I hope she will be able to be a brilliant granny to my kids.

Thanks mum, from the bottom of my heart. Love you always.

  1. Something someone gave you

The first thing I thought of when I read this is probably a little unusual, but is one of my prized possessions. When I was about 12 or 13 my gran gave me a thank you card, in which she thanked me for being ‘just me’ and asked that I never change who I am. It was a beautiful card at the time, but I have come to appreciate it much more with the years. Not only is it a fond memento of my gran, and a reminder of how much she loved me, I also often call it to mind when I doubt myself or my actions. My gran thought I was a good person, and usually that’s quite enough for me.

  1. City you live in

Glasgow! There’s definitely a lot of things I can say about Glasgow. I absolutely love it, warts and all. There’s a few things about Glasgow that shall we say are less than ideal. Number one has to be the weather, which is raditionally the most important topic of conversation in Glasgow. It’s always raining. I really do mean always. And usually freezing too. But hey, we Scots are hardy people, who love a good weather related moan!!! Another slight downside is reputation. Glasgow can sometimes have a bit of a bad reputation for violence and gang culture. I remember growing up someone telling me it was ‘murder capital of Europe.’ But I can honestly say I’ve never felt threatened. The slogan ‘People make Glasgow’ was used for the Commonwealth games, and never a truer word was spoken. Glaswegians are generally salt of the earth people, no airs or graces, and love a good laugh. We will continually climb on a monument just so we can put a cone on the Duke of Wellington’s head. And then mount a massive petition when we’re told we can’t (and win!). You can often see someone having an impromptu dance in front of a busker, for no other reason than a laugh! People in Glasgow tend to lend a hand. The tragedy in the Clutha bar is testament to that. Glasgow folk tend to be left wing – looking after the less fortunate is an important part of who we are. I love having a wee chat with some random person in the bus, whose life story you come to learn in 20 minutes at one o’clock in the morning. I honestly can’t imagine living anywhere else.

‘Glasgow’s miles better’

  1. A friend 1

I’m going to write this one about one of my oldest friends, Vickie. We’ve been friends since we were…14? (she’ll remember better than me!) and even though we are separated by hundreds of miles now she’s still a good friend. I know that I can always rely on her to talk to and listen, and I hope she knows that it works both ways. We have some really hilarious memories together, especially from our teenage years, hanging about in Glasgow playing ‘he’s your boyfriend’ (a particularly complex game when you try to outdo each other by picking increasingly interesting characters as the other’s boyfriend…hey, we were young!). I also reckon I’ve eaten my weight in Chinese several times over with this lady! My gratitude for Vickie is for her unwavering friendship and support, and the fact that nothing changes our friendship, even when she takes herself off to Eastbourne! (Trying to escape, dear?)

When we occasionally meet up, nothing has ever changed between us, we just pick up where we left off, for which I’m very grateful. Can’t wait to see you at the wedding, lovely!

 

  1. Express gratitude to 3 people

 

Well, there was only ever going to be one set of people here! This week’s gratitude definitely has to go to my university friends, the ‘psychos!’ Not a commentary on their personality disorders, but on our undergraduate psychology degree. We’ve been through some real ups and downs together and I reckon we can take on anything as team psycho! All three of them are great friends who always listen and look after you when you need it – I couldn’t ask for better friends for support but we also have some great laughs, usually with some cocktails!

I think I’ll do a few words on them one at a time;

Susan – Susan is definitely the mummy of the group, she looks after us all so well. She is totally organised and will absolutely not let anyone mess with any of us! She’s scary then! One of the things I love most about Susan is her thoughtfulness. She always thinks up the most personal, unique presents and sends you little messages or cards if she knows you’re having a hard time, to let you know she’s thinking of you. She would always be there for you when you’re in a pickle, and has some really great advice.

Lindsay – Lindsay probably takes the award for sense of humour, like me she loves a good innuendo or some black humour. We also share a mutual passion for books – she is definitely right up there with me on book consumption!! Lindsay also has some fabulous advice when you’re having a hard time – she takes absolutely no nonsense and as such gives me the kick I may need to see a situation differently. Lindsay presents as a tough cookie but she’s a big softy underneath when you need her and gives you the best cuddles! She is very knowledgeable on all things fashion, make up and skincare, and always looks amazing as a result!

Katherine – The first thing I think of when I think of Katherine is how happy she is. Her happiness is absolutely infectious and it is very difficult to be sad in her presence. I can’t help but laugh and smile when I’m with her. If you are sad though, she is brilliant at listening to you and her counselling skills really shine through.  Katherine grabs life by the balls and lives it to the fullest, which is a lovely way of living and inspires me to try and do the same. She is always so colourful with her clothes and  make up, which can’t help but make you smile either. Stay in the Southside with me, kid! She’s getting married this year to the lovely Fraser, and she’s going to be a beautiful bride 🙂 can’t wait for the  big day!

 

Love you all guys, you have all brought so much joy to my life. Here’s to many more years of psycho-ing together!!!

 

Phew, think I’ve just about caught up!! Why not try the gratitude challenge for this year (you could probably catch up too!) even if you just write a few lines in your notebook?

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Support Dogs

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love animals,  especially dogs. They are truly man’s best friend, and I think that this is especially true when it comes to support dogs.

I recently read about the amazing work support dogs can do to help people with various medical conditions (see supportdogs.org.uk for more details). It is well known that dogs help humans out when we are stranded on mountain sides or when we are visually impaired. But I did not realise until recently the other conditions that dogs can also help us with.

Support Dogs are also trained to aid people with epilepsy in recognising that a seizure is imminent. This means that people with epilepsy can find a safe place before their seizure has begun, thus ensuring that they are not injured during the seizure, for example, when using an oven or in a bath. Seizure alert dogs mean that people can have the confidence to go about their day to day lives, knowing that they will be safe when a seizure strikes.

Dogs can be used to assist those with other disabilities, for example, by opening doors or by loading the washing machine. Amazing that they can train a dog to do something I haven’t managed to train my fiance to do yet!! Again, these dogs increase people’s confidence and help them to live more independent lives without constant reliance on others.

One of the sweetest roles I feel that a dog can be trained to do is assisting children with autism. These dogs help to calm the child with autism during upsetting times and keep the child safe in what is an unpredictable world. Dogs can also increase a child’s ability to communicate with others, which can be difficult for people with autism.

All in all, I think dogs are pretty amazing! Reading about them really made me smile, and even if you’re not a dog fan, I’m sure you can see the benefits they can provide when man really needs them. I reckon the dogs are very much loved and rewarded in return.

If you’re considering donating to charity any time soon, consider supportdogs.org.uk.

P.S. I’ve included a picture of my beautiful dog Molly (though she’s not likely to assist with anything except eating!) 🙂167342_493646586255_6144622_n