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Make your What Ifs happen every day

Im revisiting some old posts from my old blog, updating them and reblogging – so don’t think you are going mad if you think you’ve seen some posts or photos before!!

My other life is running a business with my amazingly talented photographer husband Timm Cleasby.  In December we took a huge leap and moved into a 15th century mill and started The Picture Foundry – our photography studio and arts hub in South Yorkshire.  As you can imagine, this takes up just a little bit of my time!!

At The Picture Foundry we have a kick ass photography studio as well as gardens, woods and a stream that we are filling with awesome sets and play areas… tree houses, a stage, a ridiculously amazing chaise longue…. We also run Responsible Fishing from the mill – an arts group set up by Timm and our friend James.  They come up with the most fantastical ideas and then put them into place, there is the stone balancing workshops that go out to festivals all over the UK, there is Camp Cardboard, which involves taking a huge pile of cardboard boxes into schools and encouraging the children to transform the school hall into a massive cardboard den.  They currently are working on a frankly bizarre yet exciting idea of building a life size version of the childrens game, Mouse Trap…

The thinking behind our move was to have a better work/life balance and to initiate a creative hub.  Life is short and you never know what time you have here so we wanted to fulfil our dreams, to make the things we have talked about for years actually happen.  A saying often heard nowadays in our home is “whats the worst that can happen?”

We knew that for us, the worst that could happen is to have regrets.  I want to regret the things I have done, not the things I haven’t!  We didn’t want to get old and to look back and think ‘what if’ – so we make our what ifs happen every day.

positivity life change bravery

Its not easy, we have three children, a dog, two cats and five chickens.  We have to think about money and schools and children and we have panics that perhaps we should take an easier route.  But the majority of the time, we feel blessed.  We feel proud for taking a leap and lucky that we have each other.  We wake up every morning and think ‘FUCK ME!!! LOOK WHERE WE LIVE!!!”

Since my surgery it feels even more important to live each day to the maximum, to take risks, live your dreams and make choices that bring you closer to your goals.  Life is very short.  None of us know what time we have on this planet or when life will throw us a massive curveball that will change your life forever.  I knoooooowwwww I blab on about positivity but I truly believe that with the right attitude, a big lump of courage and a bit of luck we can achieve anything.

Love Sam xx

Happiness and Optimism

I am getting a lot of emails from people who read this blog who are going through tough times, whether it be through illness, relationships or just life in general. Firstly thank you to everyone who emails or messages me, the reason I started this blog is that I wanted to help people. I wanted to give a voice to people with IBD or who are living with a stoma. To get people talking and the break the ‘poo taboo’ so it means so much to see that it is doing that. And more!

Though my blog is about life with IBD and a stoma, Im realising that many people who are reading it don’t have either, but are finding strength and inspiration through the topics I talk about. Wow! You have no idea how much that means to me. It makes my blethering into the ether of the internet feel worth it. If I can help one person, I will be the happiest person alive!

So I thought I talk about happiness. Ive said before that I think happiness is a choice. No matter what shit we are going through, no matter how dark our mood, we can all make the choice to be happy. Even if that happiness is one fleeting moment through an otherwise crappy day. I really believe that trying to be positive, looking for the silver lining and opting to smile rather than frown, laugh rather than shout makes us feel better.

happiness quotes

Sometimes that is hard. A bereavement, an illness, a divorce… Of course there are times when we feel life is against us. In those dark times, thinking of something positive can feel impossible. And feeling sad is a natural thing, we need to feel sad, to cry, to shout to deal with the situations we go through in life.

Having a moment of happiness, or gratitude, or pleasure does not take away from the gravity of whatever problems you face. But thinking positively and trying to be happy, whether it be the hug from your child, or ten minutes sitting with the sun on your face, or a phone call with a friend, or just a damn fine cup of tea can make you feel better even if it is just for a minute. In being mindful of these moments you can give yourself the choice to be happy.

happy good for health

Plate by MBart Studios

There have been many studies about happiness and optimism, and it has been found that positive emotions can undo the effects of a stressful negative experience. You can read a great article about The benefits of Optimism here.

I think we all need to be a little kinder to ourselves, we say things about ourselves that we would never say of a friend (or even foe!) If when we are feeling down about ourselves we could try just for a moment to think of the positive things about us and say them I think we could be happier. We are very British though and hate to be seen to me immodest, but screw that! What is fantastic about you? Are you kind? Are you a good friend? Are you loyal? Or brave? Or hard working? Do you do the BEST Tina Turner dancing in the world? Are you funny? – Seriously, think about the characteristics that you admire in others and ask yourself if you have them too. If you do, then celebrate that! If you don’t, think about why not.

Think about what makes you happy.

I LOVE having friends round for dinner, a bottle of red wine, the fire blazing, a great dish in the middle of the table that everyone tucks into. Sitting around the table, talking, laughing and being together.

Sitting in the garden with my eyes closed and the sun on my face. Listening to the noises around me and just being.

I really love being curled up with a book. I like to be totally snuggled with a blanket and cushions and just sink into the book.

A cuddle with my children and the smell of their neck.

A date with my husband.

Painting my nails.

A really good nap!

Listening to music. SInging loudly. Dancing wildly.

Walking the dog.

Watching a good film – we have ‘cinema night’ where we all pile on the sofa, lots of blankets – a film on, and lots of goodies to eat.

Think about the things that make you happy. Its not about money, its about the small things you can do that make you feel happy and good. Think of those things and then DO them!

Of course we all have time and money constraints but we can do one thing a day that makes us feel good. Whether it be getting up before everyone else and having a cup of coffee or wearing your favourite pair of shoes. We can do it. But it means making yourself and your happiness a priority.

You are worth it. You deserve to be happy. Make time for it.

happiness quote

So today, my mission for you if you choose to accept it, is to think of one positive thing about yourself and celebrate it. And to do one thing, no matter how small, that makes you happy.

MIne are:

I was told today by someone that I inspired them. I feel really bloody proud of myself for that.

I ventured out into my garden with a cup of coffee and sat in the sun. I had 10 minutes of just being outdoors, alone, in the quiet. Not worrying about things that need to be done. Just sat… And it was heavenly!!!

So go on, get to to it. It would be lovely to know how your mission goes, so please leave a comment.

Love Sam xx

Be kind to yourself

Today I need to remind myself of this.

 

kind quotes

 

I woke feeling unsettled, I didn’t sleep well again. Im still tapering off the steroids so have awful insomnia, Im still on the sleeping tablets that I have been on since June.

Its my son’s birthday today, so we got up early and Timm made birthday pancakes. Charlie opened his presents and we had a lovely morning together.

Timm took all the kids to school and I was changing my bag. My mind wasn’t quite on the job and I left the dry wipes on one side of the bedroom whilst I took off my bag, Timm came in just in time to get the wipes and crisis was averted. Such a non event. But it hit me hard and I had a big cry.

Such a silly thing. Nothing at all really!

Ive been so good at keeping positive and then one distracted decision makes me weep?! Blimey!

So Im reminding myself now. Be kind to yourself.

Im being kind to myself by chilling out today, I have surrounded myself on the sofa with cook books as I feel like baking as soon as Im up to it. I have my knitting out (Im knitting the only thing I can, squares, that will be eventually sewn into one huge blanket) I have blankets on and the fire is lit. For lunch Im going comfort food all the way with cheese toasties and soup. Im going to put on gorgeous expensive hand cream, a present from my lovely friends. Im going to paint my nails. Im going to drink hot ribena.

Tonight we are going for a family meal for Charlie’s birthday. I kind of did a bit too much yesterday in going out and feel exhausted and have some pain so its really important that I relax today so this evening goes off without a hitch!

As you are reading this now, I want you to remember how important it is to be kind to yourself.

Do one thing today to be kind to yourself, no matter how small…

Im not kidding… Go do it now!

 

Love Sam xx

 

And sometimes you need to wear sequinned knickers…

Today I wore clothes for the first time in almost three weeks!

Three weeks of jamas!!!!

And to make me feel better I just had to wear the sequinned knickers…

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You can see the top of my scar here now the staples are out. It’s pretty big but scars are cool, right?!

My bag is HUGE, they give you the biggest easiest ones to learn how to deal with them in the early days. I’ve seen the ones I could move onto and they look tons better, easier to disguise, easier to fit under clothes.

And sometimes you just need to wear sequinned knickers…

Love Sam xx

Self Pity Vs Staying Positive

I think in general I am a fairly positive person. I really try not to wallow in self pity and I always try and find the silver lining. Not always of course, but on the whole I really try.

I’m struggling at the moment. I want to shout and scream like a toddler. I want to bang my hands and feet on the floor and get all Chinese crying baby. I want to say ‘ITS NOT FAIR!’

self pity

I feel like I’m a fairly decent chap, I’m kind and caring and I love my friends and family. I try hard to be a good person, I think of others before myself and I try to put more niceness into the world than badness. So it’s hard when I feel like I’m getting dealt a shitty hand! If I believed in a God if be thinking that he had something against me right now!!!!

Part of me would find it so easy to sink into self pity. Part of me wants to lay in bed with my curtains closed, Alanis Morrissette on full blast, a bottle of red wine and a box of tissues… Crying, weeping, wailing. A good chunk of drama, hand to forehead, perhaps some swooning.

But you know what? Logically I know that’s not going to help ANYTHING! It won’t make me feel better. It won’t stop me being in pain. It won’t take away my stoma, it won’t heal my body from surgery. It won’t bring back my doggy.

It won’t stop me feeling sad. It won’t stop this deep grief inside. I’m grieving Elvis. But I’m also grieving my bowel – that’s an odd one!!! I’m grieving a ‘normal’ life without a bag.

So I make a choice. Every day I make a choice that however this day goes, I’m going to try to deal with it positively.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have my moments. When I’m sad I will have a cry and a bug cuddle with Timm. We talk a LOT. About how I’m feeling, how Timm is feeling. About how I am physically, mentally and emotionally and that helps so much.

I’m not suggesting I’m a bundle of sunshine!! I think it’s really important that I talk about the negative things as well as the positive. This blog is helping me so much to be able to pour my emotions onto the page.

But I think the most important part of my recovery is going to be an emotional one. So I try. Every day I try to stay positive. To be mindful. To think of the good things in my life. To stay centred. To take ten minutes to meditate (yes really!!!!). To appreciate. To be grateful. To love. And to be loved.

Being happy is an option. No matter how shit life may seem, whatever is thrown at you. You can make the decision to try to be happy. Take control of whatever you can, no matter how small. I’ve realised control is quite important to me, I realised that when I lost it and suddenly was post op in a hospital and couldn’t move, couldn’t clean myself or do anything. But I can control how I react to it. So I try to realise that though I have had to rely on other in the last two weeks to do things that I wish I could do myself, that Blimey, aren’t I lucky to have people around me who are willing to help me!!!

positivity

I can’t control that Elvis, my awesome dog has died. So suddenly he is just gone!! I feel in shock. Timm has been to get his body from our neighbours and Ive had a few minutes with him this morning. He looks perfect, there is not a mark on him. If you don’t have pets, you may not understand just how heartbreaking it is to lose an animal. He was part of my family and we all loved him so much. I miss him. He has been by my side since I left hospital, I think he did know that I was in pain (either that or he was just enjoying the warmth and my allowing him in my bed!!) I feel like its so unfair that he is gone, and for it to happen now when Im already dealing with so much bloody sucks.

Its hard to find any positivity in the situation because there isn’t any. But I can make a choice, I can cry and say its not fair (and I have done that for a while!!) or I can cuddle my children and encourage them to talk about all the things we loved about him. About the funny way he scrunched up his nose so he looked like he was smiling. About just how greedy he was and how he’d do anything for a treat! About his soft ears, his helicopter tail and his big wide eyes. I know the kids will mirror our reactions, so its important that they see us smiling. We have all had a cry together. We have talked about how it is ok to cry, ok to be sad. But important that we think about the things we loved about him. The things that made us happy.

This weekend Timm had to work away again, he took our two eldest children and my amazing friend Caroline came to stay. We had our two youngest kids with us and she has cooked, cleaned and cared for me. She is an awesome person and just a truly beautiful friend. How lucky am I? I cant be grumpy and sink into self pity when I have people around me who are so caring and wonderful.

positive thinking

I’ve said before and ill say again. I am BLOWN AWAY by the messages, cards, gifts, flowers, texts, phone calls and visits I have had from you all. Every single one genuinely makes me feel better. With all the support and care I have had from so many people, I choose to stay positive…

Thank you for reading and for caring.

Love Sam xxx