Happiness means more not less

I was going to call this ‘what happiness looks like’ and then I started writing a poem in my head and came up with a first line and what I believe to be a far more catchy title anyway.

So what do I mean by this? I was thinking about happiness and what it feels and looks like. I have been through some super difficult days over recent years, as many of you journeying with me may know (a huge thank you to Writing Presence for her amazing blogging empathy). I have posted on some of this, but over recent days and weeks, life has taken on a different colour and hue. So today’s blog is simply to explore that in a bit more detail.

So, happiness looks like this to me: having a home to live in and being at peace with myself and the world. Being able to close off clamour. Walking and thinking. Making frothy hot chocolate. Hearing my whistling kettle sing its song. Friendships strong and connected (you know who you are). Listening to cds (oh yes I still do that). Having wifi connected. Reading crime novels, which I really enjoy; ‘The Woman in the Window’ was hugely compelling. Going to bed early. Getting up early or late. Relaxing, conversations, laughing at the most hilarious radio three composition with my mum (sorry radio 3, but I have never heard anything like it!). Tidying up and finding places for things. Shopping, preparing food and eating it are fun events. Tidying and cleaning have even taken on a new joy which I am surprised by (I particularly recommend Dettol surface wipes for cleaning electric toothbrushes and other small items).

Squeezing every inch of meaning from every day. I am at a point in life where the mundane is in many respects more beautiful than the novel. Structure and order shape my day and I relish this. I used to crave impulse, spontaneity and change. I still enjoy these things, however the power of routine has worked its magic.

I think to truly appreciate happiness, we must have possibly experienced something different, although please correct me if you disagree. I think maybe suffering helps us experience life’s simple pleasures more, providing a contrasting backdrop to when life is less painful. Let me know your thoughts on this please.

So, to resume where we started. Happiness means more in terms of richer experiences, not more possessions. It is simply engaging with life in a more meaningful way and squeezing the maximum juice out of the day. That is what it looks like to me anyway. Love to you all X

On writing

I have been thinking about writing recently. Having read ‘The Woman in The Window’ which is beautifully written, I wanted to ask what makes a good writer? Comments welcome please.

For me, the writing should be immersive. I found myself turning page after page because I was pulled in to the world of the narrator (despite having watched the film before reading the book), I would advise against that as it does lessen the surprise of the ending!

Good writing should also, in my opinion, be credible. When something is credible it delivers, even if far fetched. Truth is often stranger than fiction and therefore fiction can pull at the edges of life and fray them. But the world created needs to be well crafted so one can picture oneself there.

And it is good to have interesting characters who intrigue me. Again, Ethan is a fascinating character study as is Anna, in the book cited above. If you have read this, please feel free to comment.

So everyone what are your fave books? Fave characters. My favourite ever novel is ‘Anna Karenina’. It is stunning, expansive and powerfully etched. I love the way Tolstoy highlights the perspectives of Anna and Vronsky.

I will post some more about writing soon. And if you would like to have a bash, check out Reedsy Prompts which offers a great space for short story writers, along with a weekly competition.

Keep writing and reading everyone X

On endings

I have been reflecting a great deal over recent days about endings. And I am convinced that we must not steal someone’s ending. What on earth do you mean by that you may be asking. I will explain. And, as always, please feel free to disagree or comment. Because these are only my views and I love to hear from you wonderful readers out there.

So, to explore. What I mean by stealing an ending is to take over something that someone may be finishing and finish it for them. This I feel is disrespectful and hurtful. There may be reasons for this, but not to discuss it with the person concerned is simply not okay.

I have decided to consider how people may wish to do things. So if someone is moving and I am involved, then I will not throw things away without checking. I feel for those with hoarding issues that the ultimate pain for them is someone else taking their right to decide how to deal with things. Hoarding is of course an illness and needs professional support.

I also think that attachment to objects needs to be respected. Some people have no attachment to objects. Others have a great attachment to them. So everyone is different. I find it very painful if my things are not respected and that is a lesson for me in how others may perceive their possessions too.

And on endings as in a move, this is a hard process so let us give each other support and kindness. I have a terrible memory of someone throwing things away for me, just to get things cleared. This simply hurt me more than it helped.

Has anyone had a really good ending they would like to share? I am unable to think of any and a series of painful ones bubble up when I consider this topic.

Some of us like myself are extremely sensitive souls and can feel trampled down very easily. I write this not to criticise but merely to ask us all to consider caring for other humans in the best way we can. Because we are all in this strange thing called life together.

The unwanted gift

How many of us remember being bought something that we did not like for Christmas? I have memories of knitted jumpers that were far too small and other presents that were a far cry from the dreams I had and the Christmas list I made.

Recently I have been thinking about how we bless one another. And also how we can hurt one another by giving something that is unwanted. Closure is such an important thing and I think it is so important to allow people the gift of having a good ending. We often focus on beginnings, but a positive ending is vital and preventing this can cause a lot of pain and heartache.

I think making assumptions about what people want or do not want can be toxic. Communication is the key to a good relationship and asking someone what kind of gift or ending they would like is by far the best way in my view. A surprise can be lovely, but it can also backfire.

I don’t wish to sound ungrateful, but I have memories of someone repackaging a gift they later gave me as a present. I knew this was something they didn’t want, It resonated of being second best. I think gifts should be from our heart and speak of our love for one another, not something we were given and want to dispose of.

And what do we do when someone gives us an unwanted gift, or does something for us that they think we would want but is the antithesis of our wishes? My response is to be gracious. Sometimes people act out of pain and there is always a backstory. However, I feel that if someone is behaving in a way that is hurtful and their ‘gift’ reflects that then perhaps it is time to remove oneself from the relationship. A gift is supposed to be a beautiful thing, but sadly can also be a weapon in disguise.

As always, I would welcome your comments. Please feel free to disagree. Wishing you a peaceful and blessed week X

Practical ways to help others and avoid unnecessary waste

I have been thinking a great deal about our beautiful planet recently and how we can be more creative in how we dispose of unwanted things. So here is some learning from the past few months. I haven’t included charity shops, which are a somewhat obvious option and sell items on. Personally, I prefer to help others directly, but that is just my choice.

I like the idea of acting as a conduit and moving things from here to there. You could put unwanted items on a table outside your house, or even in a local space with a notice offering them for free. It may seem obvious but do ensure jigsaws don’t have pieces missing etc as that can be disappointing.

Perhaps consider donating books or toys or craft materials to a local care home, as they do activities. And a care home with people who have dementia may welcome children’s toys, because they are suitable.

Offer unwanted books and clothes to friends. Or a clothes bank. Or you may want to put up a clothing rail somewhere and put items out for free. Facebook is a great way to advertise unwanted items. There are some lovely groups out there.

Broken plates or bowls can be glued with gold paint (kintsugi). I plan to have a go at this sometime.

And baby toys make really good bird toys. They are bright and fun, especially ones with doors.

Just a few ideas. Please let me know your thoughts and ideas. Let’s help the planet together X

Silence is golden

I have been reflecting on many things recently. And been battling some deep stuff. One thing I have come to consider as a gift that is often unwrapped and ignored, lying there, waiting to be opened, is silence.

What on earth is this about? You may be wondering. Words are so powerful. We can destroy another person with criticism, nasty comments (trolling) and gossip. Words are in many senses weapons of mass destruction, as can be seen in the political realm.

So what is silence? It is sometimes better not to speak. When someone hurts us and doesn’t realise (or may do but they do not apologise), we can confront or not. And being silent is a strength. Confronting is also a strength but I am not sure it is always the best way forward. Keeping one’s own counsel, processing the hurt in a dignified way, can be a different route.

Retaliation is in my opinion, a petty response to an action of hurt. Personally I choose the path of forgiveness, although this is not an emotional response, rather a deliberate decision.

I think silence speaks volumes. It conveys a message and also means one does not have to regret words spoken in haste. And then when one does choose to respond (or not as the case may be), it is a measured considered response rather than an emotional reaction which could effectively detroy a relationship.

What do you think? Has anyone said something they wish they had kept silent about? Or kept silent when maybe speaking out would have been better. Please get in touch X

What if ?

What if I had never spoken to you that day?

What if I had chosen to forgive?

What if I hadn’t listened to you?

I have been thinking about transformative emotional scar tissue; how we get scars that are golden: not healed but transformed.

Golden scars are, in my opinion formed when we leave behind the ‘what ifs’ and pursue the ‘how can this transform the future?’. A shift in thinking from the sticky stuckness of the past to a glimmer of change for the future.

The pain doesn’t evaporate, but it metamorphoses into something quintessentially beautiful. This is Kintsugi.

Shake those maracas

I have been learning recently about nurturing my inner child. This involve something many adults have forgotten and that is how to play.

Last night I was walking round in a circle, shaking the life out of a tambourine, banging on it occasionally with a maraca that I was also shaking wildly, dressed in a kaftan and singing to a song about tidying up (I never knew tidying up could be such fun.

Play is good for us, in that we need a good balance of work and play in our lives, as the old adage foes. If we are overworked, it is likely that we may be actually quite unproductive.

I will be looking into much more in depth in regard to parenting soon on this blog, as I am very interested in child psychology. But one thing I know is that if our inner child is unhappy, our external adult will sure be.

Some adults may not know how to play and this is a shame. How can we rectify this? Here are a few suggestions

  1. Find a friend to play some games with
  2. Go to the park with your child/nephew niece and go on the swings
  3. Dance wildly around the room to some music
  4. Play a musical instrument (doesn’t have to be tuneful)

I feel it is so important to give ourselves space to enjoy life. Life is so short and if there is a balance it affects our wellbeing.

Please let me know your suggestions on adult play(the crazier the better). There is nothing wrong with playing with toys by the way (it can be therapeutic).

Enjoy your day everyone X

The Big Shift

https://www.linkedin.com/in/melody-wimhurst-3ab1491a7/detail/recent-activity/shares/

I wanted to share my experience during the pandemic. I am a qualified social worker and I was running groups for vulnerable adults.

Then Covid came and along with that came a big shift in my thinking. I was working alongside a foodbank and as an experiment I put out a rusty old clothes rail. Anyway the clothes went flying off the rail.

I soon realised that people, especially in Thanet where I live, are in financial trouble. People are struggling to afford basic things such as food and clothes. Many have no sleeping or cooking facilities.

We have now grown and are in the process of forming the East Kent Clothing Bank, covering Margate to Folkestone.

We have now helped over 2000 people and ran a very successful toy event last Christmas . Our clothes bank is outside and we offer clothes, bedding and household goods. We also provide things like prescription glasses which many are unable to afford.

Many of our homeless community come down and are offered advice and support as well as clothing. We try to give them clean underwear and socks too. We work with the local hygiene bank too, so free hygiene products can be given to women.

We also provide a man and van service and have delivered washing machines and sofas and fridges to families in need.

We aim to combat poverty and restore hope and dignity. This is pure social work.

Creating meaning

https://www.linkedin.com/posts/melody-wimhurst-3ab1491a7_createmeaning-activity-6815698185424519168-XdDH

Thinking outside the box #CreateMeaning
I wanted to share my thoughts around redefining work in a meaningful way. Sometimes the mundane creeps in and we feel stuck.

Sometimes work feels overwhelming or stressful. As a social worker, I think it is important to follow the fundamental principle of social work ethics and help others.

I also think asking questions about a job role is extremely important Am I enjoying this? And if not why? Is it a good fit? And if it isn’t maybe speak to your manager about a new role, take on extra responsibility or a new challenge.

When Covid hit I redefined my project through an experiment with a clothes rail. This has now mushroomed into the East Kent clothes bank and we work alongside the local authority, offering household goods and clothing. We support unaccompanied asylum seekers and looked after children as well as various people in our community who are vulnerable for various reasons such as homelessness.

This all came from an experiment. A decision to try something new. And it has revolutionised my role. I am so thrilled it has taken off. I love helping others. I love going to work.

If you are stagnating and can make changes in your workplace, now is a good time. The pandemic has shaken things so that old ways of doing ‘ normal are no longer needed in many senses. And a new ‘ normal’ paves the way for a new creation of what it means to be in the workplace.

We offer a free charity shop model but also a revolutionary approach to landfill, generating hardly any waste. Old broken baby toys are used for bird toys by one of our clients, who have made their feathered friends a paradise in their cafe with brightly coloured shape sorters., mirrors, plastic shapes and cranes.

I love being innovative. And in this pandemic the new and different approaches seem to be at the forefront. My advice is be brave, step out, embrace the new and take a risk. There is no harm in trying!