Gratitude challenge weeks 9-12

So I’ve fallen way behind with blogging due to a bad virus, but I’m hoping to catch up a bit and thought I’d start with the gratitude challenge posts.

Week 9 : Books

I decided to change the focus of my gratitude challenge for this week because books have always been such a big part of my life. I am definitely at least 50% introvert and as such the number of books read flourishes as a result. One of my favourite sayings is George R.R.Martin ‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one’.

I love this saying because it captures exactly how I feel about books. They have taken me on so many voyages over the years, to view ancient cities through the eyes of Caesar, to ponder complex societal issues or just to encounter mythical creatures.  I am deeply grateful for the wonderfully talented authors who allowed me to tag along on their fantastical adventures.

With this in mind, some of my favourite authors include:

Wilkie Collins – pretty old school, and usually long, but writes exquisite mysteries that keep you guessing!

Donna Tartt – for sheer beauty of language, a mistress of the English language.

George R.R. Martin – because who doesn’t want to meet dragons?!?

Arthur Conan Doyle – Sherlock Holmes must remain one of the most interesting, complex characters ever created, utterly compelling writing.

Val McDermid – the Tony Hill series, totally gripping!

I have far too many books that I could be grateful for, maybe this was a big can of worms to open!!! Step away from the laptop Sarah…

Week 10 : 5 things you like about yourself

Wow, this is going to be a hard one. I am definitely not good at this kind of thing, but in the spirit of the challenge and of developing the self, I will give it a go!

  1. I like that I care about other people. It’s a big part of who I am and a big part of my life and career choices.
  2. I like that I care about animals. Although I wish I had the willpower to be a vegetarian!
  3. I like that I appreciate honesty, that it is important to me not to lie and it is also important to me that those I am close to are honest with me too.
  4. I like that I am reasonably smart, and can use my mind to learn new things and further my goals.
  5. I like my stubbornness. This probably sounds like a weird one, but actually, it makes a massive difference to my life. If I wasn’t so stubborn, I would have allowed myself to be defeated when things have been hard, especially in regards to my health.

So, that was hard, but it was a good feeling when I managed the five! Even if you aren’t keen on the gratitude challenge, why not try listing five things (or more?) that you like about yourself. It’s a really positive thing for your mental health, which we all needs to take better care of.

Week 11 – Someone who inspires you

I’m going to cheat a bit on this one too, but for a good reason – namely, that I think I can speak more from the heart by a little tweaking. I’m not going to pick one person, but rather lots of people – people who battle with their mental health problems.

Living with a mental health condition requires so much bravery, and so much energy, and often means a life time of hardship and suffering. When someone with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia wakes up in the morning, they are about to start a battle. Each day is a fight against the demons that are determined to pull them down – with fatigue, with sadness, with fear, with confusion. I have seen  this battle fought bravely in many people, and there is sometimes no war that can be won. Sometimes life is a series of battles every single day that people courageously endeavour.

To all those people out there fighting their own minds, you inspire me. You are unsung heroes.

Week 12 – Your favourite personality trait

It’s hard to pick a particular trait, because there are merits to so many various traits. I do love someone who is funny, someone is honest, someone who is clever. But I have often said, and still feel, that if I were to wish for my (future) children to have any one trait, it is kindness. Kindness makes the world a place worth living in. An act of kindness to another person might seem small and insignificant, but it may change that person’s whole world. Kindness unites us all, great and small, rich and poor. The Dalai Lama says ‘My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.’ Maybe that is all the world needs to become a better place.

Advertisements

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?