It’s tough to write these sometimes as it’s all so objective and quite personal. I’ve spent a bit of time thinking and the top 10 things that make me happy are below.
I suppose I should add that there are many other things which make me happy, sausage dogs, cats, pizza, flowers, sunshine and so much more. Life has taught me as it’s gone on that I need to look for the positives, otherwise the negatives will just overwhelm me. For this, I have an “Happy Thoughts Jar” which I fill with random happy things that happen throughout the year. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who feels that the dark outweighs the light, so much so that I write every happy thought down in my blog/diary each year as a memory and also to prove to myself how the little things really do matter.
But yes, on to the main challenge……
Travel – its been a long standing joke with friends of mine that I was going to finish school and then rush off to be part of the big wide world. Unfortunately, life happened and i’ve never really been able to live the dream. I do enjoy travelling and always say if I was to wake up tomorrow with nothing, I would pick up my passport, sell everything I could and get on a flight. I’ve been lucky to have travelled to the Caribbean and Africa and close to Asia but i’d really love to go to the far east, Thailand and the like to experience a totally different culture to the one i’m used to. I had always wanted to travel throughout America but currently, I’m not so sure thats a good idea, I want to go to the States when they are charmed by my Britishness, not when i’m probably likely to be locked up for protesting!!
I think my favourite place to spend time is Barcelona, it’s one of the places i’ve been to alone and have always had a blast. I don’t need people with me to make the holiday so I am always quite lucky to go, stay in a cheap hostel and then just get out and explore.
The place I tend to go to most is Paris. My dad worked and lived out there and has an obsession with the place which means he goes every year. I’m really lucky as it’s such a beautiful place to spend time and relatively easy to get to. Unfortunately the joy of being there has been tainted as that is where I had my accident which caused 2 operations, 6 months off work, trauma every time I see snow (i’m not joking, I freak out) and for my life to take a completely different direction. I do still adore it though, I have it on my 40 for 40 list so it will definitely be happening, hopefully next year.
My Friends – I know it sounds cliche but I don’t know where i’d be without my friends. I have people all over the world who I love and care for but I really have never understood what brings them to me, I mean, you know they say “if you could be friends with yourself….would you be?” i’d have to answer No. I mean, i’m not a horrible person but i’m a bit of an idiot & a bit lacklustre. I know a lot of that has to do with my personal issues and people do say to me that they don’t see me like that but I suppose one’s own view is always the strongest influencer. But anyway, I digress, my friends are amazing. Kind, generous, loving, open and no matter what, I know I have someone in my corner.
I love meeting new people as well, I mean, it may not be easy at first but I try to be as kind and caring for people as I can, I try to be nice and find that if you are nice, people will generally reciprocate in kind. I am lucky that i’m not the most shy. Mr A (the man) is incredibly shy and self doubting and I know that this has affected his life and i’m glad that having had my upbringing and being put into a foreign home/school/life when I was a child has made me much more outgoing, no, not outgoing, erm, forward. I can’t sell myself for toffee but I have less fear than I used to in saying “this is me”.
My man – Stuart is amazing, we’ve been together for over 5 years now (may not seem like much but to me it’s everything). It’s not been easy for us, we have had our share of ups and downs but I think we’ve emerged from them stronger and braver. I never got to meet his family due to circumstances but i’ve never really worried about that, I know I make him happy and it makes me happy to have someone who understands me (mostly) and spends his time trying to put a smile on my face.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s times i want to put his head through the wall but I think that’s normal, most days it just makes me happy to go home and give him a cuddle.
Cooking – I think that there’s a part of me which secretly craves being a 50’s American Housewife. I don’t want kids but if I did win the lottery, i’d take great pleasure in being at home, cooking and making sure that there was food on the table and things for us to enjoy.
I started at a relatively young age, both my parents are great cooks and they have always been around for support and – my dad especially – getting me to be stubborn and doing things “because I can”.
My small business Half Baked Productions is where I tend to try out new things, I attend local craft shows/fayres where I can sell my sweet goods and preserves but I would also love to be able to sell more of my savoury produce, I make excellent curry pastes and these are always well received by my friends. Does also help me if i forget occasions, as at least I can whip up a cake or something….I do want to spend more time learning about icing and the like, my cake game is good but my icing only works if I say i’ve been helped out in the kitchen by a toddler!
Reading – I am completely obsessed with reading. I was a fairly lonely child, well, teenager, and when we moved to Spain, for a while I was stuck with either….no one to talk to, or read, so I chose reading. I read like Johnny 5 apparently! My mum talks about me as a very small kid reading everything…..literally everything, the back of cornflake boxes, the papers in the supermarket, the ingredients list on a tin of cat food, EVERYTHING.
I don’t know if its because I ‘m nosy, need to keep my brain active or just want to know whats going on but I still to this day, have at least 3 books on the go, plus and audio book, plus papers and anything else I can get my grubby little mitts on. I adore fantasy books (a very special place in my soul is on Terry Pratchetts Discworld) but am also happy to read anything. I was lucky enough to be part of a book scheme where kind of like a chain letter, you send a book and get various books from strangers in the post, which was fun as it helped me to expand my range and try other things…..i’ll be honest, the poetry wasn’t for me but i’m glad I got to experience it.
My local library is amazing, it’s over the road from where I work and live which means that I can pop in there on a weekly basis – i’m very lucky for that otherwise my book bill would be astronomical! Supporting libraries is also something I feel very strongly about as I know people who wouldn’t have been encouraged to read at all by their family and without places like that, how are they to manage?
Making plans – I make plans for everything! I have lists for what i need to buy from the shops, what i’d like to do on holiday, what I would want when we eventually rent a new flat, where I want to be in the future.
I feel like it helps me to visualise/realise what I actually want, I read a study years ago about the Harvard Grad Class being split into 2 groups, 1/2 who’d write a “where will I be in 5 years” and the other half who didn’t. They then came back 5 years later and those who had written the lists had hands down achieved more of their dreams…..it seems putting it to paper helps to focus.
Dancing – I really love to dance, I dont get the chance to do it often in public now but am equally content with having a boogie to myself in the kitchen while i’m cooking or even when a really good song comes on my headphones, I will dance, its like I have no control as i often do this out in the open and have no shame in being caught!
Awful tv shows – well, they aren’t awful as in bad but I do admit, I will watch a fair amount of trash tv. I love the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (if only to look at the houses), Ru Paul’s Drag Race – I am a bit obsessed with Drag and have been for years so this is one show I actively look forward to new seasons so I can get my fix, taskmaster is also a great comedy show (see it’s not all reality) and i’m currently getting into Josh and Nish vs the World……not brilliant but does make me laugh and nice to have on in the background whilst I do other things.
Cocktails – as one of my favourite Queens Mrs Kasha Davis is so fond of saying “there’s ALWAYS time for a cocktail” and I heartily agree. Again, as with the dancing theres not that many opportunities for that but when I get invited out with work people, a cocktail is sure to be involved – or 2, or maybe more.
“It takes 1 drink to get me drunk, but whether its the 12th or the 13th I simply cannot remember” WC FIELDS
Board Games – so this is a fairly new one for me to be honest, Stuart and I are both computer gamers and we spend a lot of time in the multiverse killing things or building things so when he started talking about Modern board games we looked for more of the same really. I do love the old school Monopoly type of game but have had my eyes opened to a whole new level.
Currently in our possession are:
- Roll for the Galaxy – a deck building dice game….which I tend to win at so we don’t play that often anymore.
- Pandemic – a classic as far as i’m concerned, co-operative so no fights over who wins and a game I think most people would enjoy – i mean, who doesn’t want to save the world?
- Discworld Ankh Morpork – this is honestly one of my favourite games, obviously the theme is right up my street but also the story is great too, its not just a game with a theme slapped on it, it actually makes sense and sticks to canon.
- Guards! Guards! – another discworld game which while good, isn’t great for 2 players so cannot wait to get that out at a party.
- Sushi Go – this is a great little travel game, very fun, very quick and has got us through many a boring hour in airports
- Love Letter – another great travel game, but one we can quite happily sit and play while waiting for things to load/someone to finish the rules to a new game.
- The Witches – another Discworld game but again, not too popular in our house as needs more people to play, would be good for kids though so might be more useful if invited to peoples houses in the future.
- Pandemic Legacy season 1 – i’ll be honest, I wasn’t really enamoured with the idea of a legacy game which is where as you progress down through the game, you make decisions and these will have a permanent effect…..such as you decide to upgrade your character and then you find out later in the game, the person with that upgrade becomes a traitor and cannot be played with ever again, or you pick an area to build something and later on discover that that area is quarantined and never can be entered again. It can be shocking and does unfortunately put a timescale on your game, as once youve played it through, there is no replay. However, Stuart bought it and we had a few weekends (I made us have a limit to how much we would play – due to the limited play time) of great fun, we’ve spent a lot of time working through it and beat the game really well. I would say, if people play Pandemic, then they would probably enjoy season 1 legacy, and as season 2 is being released basically, now, im sure at some point we will try that out too.
A new thing in our local area is a game cafe, a place where you pay an entry fee and then go and play with any of their library of games, I think this is great as we’ve managed to get to play games we wouldn’t normally play and this helps us decide on games to buy in the future or simply those that are good but not ones for our permanent collection.
So, challenge 1 done, hope if you’ve read this, you’ve enjoyed and if you have any comments/feedback or the like, please get in touch 🙂