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No ifs or butts

Life is hard.  It sometimes gives us fights that we never thought we could conquer, but it also has moments of pure happiness too.

I was on BBC Sheffield recently on a piece they do called ‘My Life So Far’ where I spoke about family, illness and the lessons I have learnt through my life.  One of the questions was ‘if you were to write an autobiography, what would it be called?’, my answer was ‘No ifs or butts’.  The reason is, firstly I love a pun and I no longer have a butt! The second was a more serious point in that I think we need to stop making excuses and take responsibility for our own life.  No one is going to come along and make your life full of rainbows and sparkles, no matter how tough things are, only you can make your life better.

positive life quotes sheffield lifestyle blogger

There are lessons in life that we could all do with listening to now and again.  Here are mine…

Take full responsibility for yourself.

Success isn’t about money, it is about happiness.

Have a hobby that makes you happy

Find the people who make your soul happy and spend time with them.

Learn that some people are toxic, avoid them.

Read books and feed your mind.

Make time for the people who you love.

If you spend Sundays dreading going to work, you are probably in the wrong job.

Be yourself, don’t follow the crowd.

Travel whenever you can, it broadens the mind.  Explore your local area, travel doesn’t have to mean going to the other side of the world.

Accept your emotions, laugh when you’re happy and cry when you’re sad.

Say yes more.  Fear holds us back, say yes to things even if they scare you a little.

Look after you, make yourself a priority, you can’t help others if you are broken yourself.

Know that we are all struggling in our own way, you are not the only person who is anxious, scared and nervous.  Some just hide it better than others.

Just be nice.  Kindness is underrated, be open, loving and kind.

Don’t judge people based on their appearance but on the kindness of their soul

Be in the moment, over analysing is a sure way to make you sad.

Open your mind to new things, you are never too old to learn something new.

Life is short, live your dreams even if others don’t get it.

Accept that sometimes you will fail, but at least you tried!

Sam xx

And then I blow dried my arse… 

There are many things I never thought I’d say, and living with IBD has given me the opportunity to say many of them. I surprise myself at times.

Since having my latest op, I am dealing with a most peculiar wound. I now have, what is commonly known amongst people who’ve had this done, as a Barbie Butt.  During surgery, the doctors removed EVERYTHING from ‘down there’, I have no colon, no rectum and no anus.  My ass is like Barbie’s… as in no holes, it is not quite so pretty though!

A few years ago, I would have never in a million years told the world this, I would have been mortified.  I would have felt embarrassed and sad and humiliated at the thought of other people knowing this.  What if that laughed at me? What if they talked behind my back? What if they thought I was gross?

These days, thanks to this blog, I share everything.  I know that I am not alone and that there are so many people going through the same things as me.  I know there a millions of people living with all manner of illnesses and disabilities that society would deem embarrassing and so I think fuck it! If me talking about taboo subjects and things that are giggle-worthy helps just one person, then I will happily blab about my life.

barbie butt permanent ostomy

So anyway, this Barbie Butt…

Well, I literally no longer have a bum hole, it is sewn up completely, but bum holes don’t really like being sewn up completely, it confuses the hell out of the brain and body and so it can often be difficult to heal.  It is really quite sore, it’s not very nice to sit flat on my bum, it is painful, itchy and like any wound, takes time to settle down.

I think I am quite lucky at the minute, because apart from the soreness, I have had no issues.  I know some people have an awful time and need drains, have abcesses, stitches opening and all manner of nasty problems.  My stitches are all dissolvable and the worst part has been having the district nurse look at my bum twice a week.  Some people have stitches that need to be removed, some have staples or even have the wound left open to heal from the inside out.  I can obviously only talk about my experience.

It is quite intriguing though, it is one of the first things that family or friends have asked about since the op, with one (very weird) friend asking to have a look.  It is a bit of an oddity isn’t it! I did have to get a mirror and have a peek once I got home!

I have been scouring the internet for ways to relieve the pain and discomfort of the barbie butt and then got an email from a reader in Australia called Amanda who has had the same surgery as me.  She recommended salt baths and then using a hairdryer to dry the area…

I had to try it and I have to say, it seemed to work quite well, which is how I have ended up here writing about giving my arse a blow-dry!

sam cleasby author so bad ass sheffield

I thought I would share some tips on relieving symptoms in the recovery of Barbie Butt:

Using a donut cushion or an inflatable cushion.  Some people say not to use a donut as it puts more pressure on the area, but I found it really helped.

Sleeping on your side, if possible

Keep it clean.  Shower, bathe, bidet, whatever works best for you.  Avoid soaps and scented products.

Salt baths

Using a hairdryer (on cool and low!) to dry the whole area.  You’re not going to want to be drying it with a towel and it needs to dry.

Getting some air to it! Going without pants/pyjamas at night (if possible) so the wound isn’t constantly covered and sweaty!

Speak to your nurse or doctor if you are worried about anything.

Take painkillers, keep on top of your pain levels

Give yourself a break.  You have had major surgery and need to give your body plenty of time to recover.

 

As always, I have no medical training, these ideas are what I have tried or what others have suggested.  Do speak to a professional if you are at all worried about anything to do with your wound.

 

 

Sam xx

Comparison is the thief of joy 

I read this quote saying ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ and it felt very apt this week as I have fallen into the trap of comparing myself to others.  And my joy feels completely stolen.

Having a chronic illness and facing surgery soon that will give me a ‘bag for life’ in my permenant ostomy is taking it’s toll.  Not only physically, but emotionally too.

I’ve been comparing myself to everyone. To her career, her body, her free spirit, her perfectness.  I look at my sad, broken, scarred body and then look across at other women and feel thoroughly shit. I look at women with careers who are so clever and educated and brilliant and then feel bad about my cobbled together earnings. I see women living the dream, travelling the world, doing what they desire most and then look at my calendar filled with hospital dates.

sam cleasby blogger
Mainly, right now, it’s the body image thing.  And it’s hard for me to admit this as on this blog, I’m all about the positive body image. But this next surgery is so final. It will create an ostomy that can’t be reversed and so I know that for the rest of my life, I will have a bag attached to my stomach that collects poo.

I feel sorry for myself. There, I said it.

And even worse, I feel sorry for Timm. Poor lad really got the short straw when he ended up with me… I told him this during one of my wailing, howling sobs that have taken place this week. He smiled and said he’d got the most colourful and exciting straw. (That’s why we love him!)

It’s so easy to say that we should be positive about our bodies. And I do know I’m lucky to be here, still standing, after years of illness and surgery. But it’s fucking hard to be surrounded by images of ‘perfect’ women and to be imperfect.

On a good day, I can celebrate my ‘imperfections’. My size 16 body that has curves and soft skin, my strong, thick thighs and great rack.

On a bad day, I see fat, I see stretch marks, huge scars, boobs that sit that bit lower than before. And I think about the addition of another ostomy and it makes me cry.

I compare myself to women with ‘perfect’ bodies and make myself miserable.  I sit on this fine line between being terrified that my husband will leave me and the idea that he probably should as he’d be better off without me.

I think about how the man I love most in the whole world is also the man that I cause the most distress.  I worry about how much pressure he is put under every time I don’t feel well. I worry that it’s not fair to him. That he would be happier if I wasn’t here.

Having an illness or disability is fucking hard work.  It brings up so many feelings of pain and burden, shame and embarrassment. And these aren’t things that are easy to talk about.

But talk about them we must.

I don’t write them here to gain sympathy. I  don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. What I want, is to share these shitty feelings because I don’t think I’m alone in this!  I want to share in the hope that if someone else is struggling too, that they will feel less alone.

sam and timm cleasby

I write because saying those words out loud are painful but the inability to speak them allows them to grow and mutate in your mind till they become bigger than everything else.

I write because I want to give others the courage to talk to their loved ones about how they feel.  To talk about the bad thoughts as well as the good.

It’s ok to speak out. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to be angry.

Logically I can dissect my feelings and come up with appropriate answers.  I know when I’m hating on my fat, I need to remember that when I’m feeling good, I love my body. And I really do! I remember that I need to speak positively about my body because it is listening and I know that when my head isn’t such a mess that I believe I’m a motherfucking goddess!!! Seriously, I’m fucking delicious.

I know I don’t need to be a size 8 to be beautiful. I know that my scars are interesting and are there because my life was saved.  I know that my stretch marks are there because my body grew and housed the three best kids in the whole world.

And I know that when my ostomy is back, that it will be there to improve my life.

I’m going to try to stop comparing my life to anyone else’s.  Not one of us is perfect. We’re all facing our own battles and we compare our worst moments with another persons highlights. We’ll never win that one.


Comparison is the thief of joy.  Remember that.
Sam x

When you're having a bad day…

You know those days where everything seems like hard work? When life is getting you down and everything is against you?

I’m sure you do because we all have those days. The ones where you need to crawl into a duvet cocoon and hide from the world, eat a whole tub of Ben and Jerrys and watch weepy films.

When you have a chronic illness these days can occur more often and it can be really hard not to let it all get on top of you and for it to be just too much.

I’ve had a few days like that recently. I’m still recovering from the jpouch surgery, though it was over a year ago, I was told it’s a 2 year recovery period and I’m still learning about my new body. I get days when it’s perfect! And then days where I am on the loo A LOT.

I’ve also been struggling emotionally and I think it’s because I am writing my book. Trawling through the memory banks and writing about my life, the illness, surgeries and my past is bringing up all kind of emotions. I often write with tears streaming down my face as I relive these events in order to share them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m over the moon at writing the book and I’m so excited but it’s really stirring up feelings.

When I’m down in the dumps, everything is tougher, life is heavier and the simplest of tasks seem overwhelming. I begin to doubt myself. That horrid little voice in my head starts to whisper mean things about me and it’s harder and harder to shoo it away.

And then I came across this image. It’s from a letter from Charles Darwin in 1861 to to his friend Charles Lyel. It comes from the American Philosophical Society and I found it on this blog

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“But I am very poorly today and very stupid and hate everybody and everything”

This letter was written two years AFTER he’d published ‘On the Origin of Species’. Two years after writing one of the most important books of our time, inspirational genius and all round game changer Darwin felt as stupid and pissed off as we all do on bad days!

If he were alive now I’m sure he would be in a duvet on the sofa watching Netflix too, watching marathons of Orange is the new black and cry singing to Les Mis.

It was just a great reminder for me that we all have bad days and that its ok to feel rubbish sometimes. That I need to have the bad day and then get back on the metaphorical horse and carry on.

There’s a great quote by Winston Churchill that says “If you’re going through hell, keep going!” I love that and tell myself it on those bad days. Because after a good old sulk, we need to buck up, put on our big girl pants and carry on.

The other option is to stay static in that hell which isn’t going to help anyone, especially yourself.

And so on my bad days, though I’ve learnt to accept them a little more, I will think of Darwin and his Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and if nothing else it will make me smile to know I am in good company.

Sam xx

How do you define beauty?

We all know the old sayings of ‘beauty is skin deep’ and ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ but do we actually live by them? Beauty is a billion dollar industry, we are sold images of beauty every day, studies say we see over 3500 marketing messages a day designed by marketing execs to show this narrow western ideal of beauty.

My talk last week for International Women’s Day was about chronic illness and body image and so it got me thinking about beauty, how we see ourselves, how the world defines beauty and where we fit into that concept.

My friend Helen sent me a message telling me to take a look at motivational speaker Lizzie Velasquez, she has an extremely rare disorder which means she cannot gain weight and I watched a video of hers called ‘How do you define beauty?’ where she talks about how she found a youtube video of herself naming her as the worlds ugliest woman.  I was blown away.  Watch this video and then think about it next time you want to make a ‘funny’ comment on a youtube video or random photo on the internet.  Remember her words ‘I felt like someone was reaching through the computer screen and punching me’, think about that before you post a comment about a celebrity or an unflattering picture of a stranger.

The amazing thing about Lizzie is her positivity, she accepts the life and the body she has and makes the absolute most of it.  Her strength, humour and positive attitude are BEAUTIFUL.

So how do you define beauty? Is it flawless skin and a size 0 figure? The perfect gym body? Toned arms and a six pack? Big pert breasts?  Or is it more than that?

Beauty to me is confidence, uniqueness, pride, kindness, positivity.  Beauty can be found everywhere if you are open to seeing it.  Size 0 or size 30, beauty is inside us all.  We just need to accept ourselves and let the awesomeness inside shine through, I KNOW that is easier said than done.  But we need to change the nature of society where we as women constantly put ourselves down, we are our own harshest critics and we need to be kinder to ourselves.

Its a shame that it took major surgery and living with an ileostomy bag for me to recognise and voice my wonder of my body.  It shouldn’t take such a drastic thing to see beauty in oneself.

We need to stop with the negative comments we make into the mirror and start with positive affirmations.  Say to yourself  ‘you are amazing’ ‘you are beautiful’ ‘you kick ass’ – say them enough times and you may start believing them.

self esteem quotes sam cleasby so bad ass

Think about the people in your life who are truly beautiful.  Do they fit into the tiny select package that beauty magazines tell us is beautiful? I have this friend and she is beautiful, but you would never hear her say those words because sadly she doesn’t believe them.  I wish she could see herself through my eyes, I see her as this magnificent person, she is kind hearted, open with her emotions, has  these gorgeous eyes that break my heart when they shine with tears.  I love her hair and she has an awesome rack… She has an amazing style, one of those annoying people who throw on several things that layer up like she’s just walked off a quirky fashion show.  Her heart is so big, she cares ferociously about those around her and has the most beautiful aura.

That is beauty.  That is what counts.

We need to stop giving ourselves such a hard time and be more ready with compliments for ourselves and those around us.  I am learning to accept compliments, I used to be embarrassed by them and make an argument as to why the person giving them was wrong…

Nice person – “I love your hair!”

Me – “Really? Have you not seen my roots?”

Nice person – “Your dress is beautiful”

Me – “This? It was really cheap.  And Im wearing massive fat pants to fit into it”

WHY???? Why do we do this? And so I make myself accept a compliment graciously with a “Thank you, that’s so kind” It doesn’t feel right, perhaps immodest to do this but I know I need to learn to be kind to myself and so if someone is nice enough to be kind to me, I have to learn to accept it.

If you do only one thing today, make it something good for yourself, tell yourself you are awesome.  Find just one thing that is amazing about you and say it out loud to yourself. (Perhaps do this at home rather than on public transport though as shouting “I have amazing breasts” on the bus is generally frowned upon)

Love Sam xxxx

What to do when bad things happen

When bad things happen it is so easy to get into a spiral of feeling down, whether its something big like illness, relationship troubles or a relatively minor thing like your car won’t start or your best top gets boil washed and comes out small enough for a Barbie…

Feelings of sorrow, sadness, anger and frustration are normal but are they helpful?  Focusing on the things that are going wrong in your life feeds the negativity.  Try to focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want.

Here are 10 things to do when bad things happen.  Will they make everything better? Probably not, but will they make YOU feel better in that moment, I hope so.

1. Remember that you aren’t alone

Whatever your issue, you are not alone.  The internet is a big place and there will always be someone else going through or come through what you are.  I blog about my illness so much because when I was sick it helped me to read other peoples experiences.  It gave me practical tips and ideas on how I could manage but it stopped me feeling quite so alone.

Talk to family and friends if you can, but if not there is a whole world of support waiting for you online if you just look.  Asking for help is not failing, it is being sensible and accepting when you need a hand.

My one caveat to this is that forums can be depressing… people like to write about the bad times but are less likely to write about positive experiences, so if you feel that reading a forum is not helping just switch that shit off!

2 Take a deep breath

I would have titled this ‘Meditate’ or ‘Practice Mindfulness’ but those words turn off some people, they thing its hippyish or a bit silly.  The reality is that focusing solely on your breathing clears your mind.  Close your eyes and think about your in breath and your out breath.  Are you breathing through your nose or mouth? Control your breathing, inhaling slowly and the gently release that breath…

This simple act WILL calm you down.  I try to do this a couple of times a day, I find it really focuses my thoughts and makes my day calmer.

stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

3 Knowledge is Power

I really believe that knowledge is power, it gives you control and allows to to make informed choices and rational decisions. If you feel out of control, everything seems worse.  Google it.  Go to the library.  Ask someone.  But learn about what it is you are going through.

4. Be kind to yourself

When life slaps you in the face you need to be kind to yourself.  What makes you feel better? Is it a night out with the girls or a movie in with the kids? Do the thing that relaxes you and makes you feel good, whether that is cooking an amazing meal for yourself, going to the library and hiding there reading all afternoon, a deep bath with oils and bubbles or a pamper of painting your nails or having a facial.

I don’t know what makes you feel better, you do, so do it.

5. Hide away

Its ok to feel you need to hide away, as long as its only temporary.  When things are bad I like to make myself a nest of cushions and duvets, I bring a picnic of foods to the nest that are easy to eat and need no cooking.  I climb into my nest with a remote and watch films or tv series… I love Netflix (my friends laugh at me, because I talk about it a lot!) My hideaway means slobbing in a corner and allowing myself to switch off.

6. Things will get better

I saw this quote that said “Everything is ok in the end, if its not ok, then its not the end”  Perhaps things won’t get better in the way you think they should but even the darkest night has a sunrise.  Be open to new experiences, be positive and grateful for the things you have and things will get better.

stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy ibd ulcerative colitis photo shoot

7 Look for the love and kindness around you

No matter what the Daily Fail wants you to think, people are generally good.  Of course there are arseholes in this life but most people have a heart filled with love and kindness if you just look for it.

Give out love and kindness to others and you will receive it back.

8 Get moving

I know its a cliche, but thats because it works.  When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body.  It is proven to reduce stress, ward off anxiety, boost self esteem and improve sleep.  You don’t have to go to the gym or run a marathon, but a long walk in the woods with my dog always makes me feel a bit better about the world.

walking dog exercise for when things go wrong

9 Get organised – gain control

You might not be able to control what has happened, but you can control how you react and deal with it. Making lists or having a clear out is a physical way to help your mind feel organised.  I know that control is a big thing for me, if I feel out of control I get frustrated, angry and like Im in free fall.  Organise your space, use pinterest, get a note book, anything that helps you feel organised is going to help.

10 Know that you always have a choice.

No matter what happens, you do have a choice in how you react. Accept responsibility of your own actions, educate yourself, take a deep breath and know that you can face the worst things in the world, your reaction to them is your own doing.

EE Cummings said “remember one thing only; that it’s you – nobody else – who determines your destiny and decides your fate.  Nobody else can be alive for you; nor can you be alive for anybody else”

Sam xxx

Johnny Cash – Quotes for Life

You know who was bad ass? Johnny Cash…

He is probably not the first person you think of when you are musing inspirational quotes, but here is why Johnny Cash is like a wise, wise buddha…

Johnny Cash quotes inspirational bad ass

“Flesh and blood needs flesh and blood”

Humans need touch, love and company.  If you find someone special in your life whether it is a partner, friend or general awesome chap, hold them close and cherish them

johnny cash quotes bad ass

This is a good one for us IBD warriors.  We got to be tough, we have to be stronger than the constant shit we deal with every day x

johnny cash quotes bad ass

“Its good to know who hates you and it is good to be hated by the right people”

Dude, someone is always going to hate… Those people, those haters, they aren’t the ones you want around you.

johnny cash quotes bad ass

“I keep a close watch on this heart of mine,
I keep my eyes wide open all the time,
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds,
Because you’re mine, I walk the line.I find it very, very easy to be true,
I find myself alone when each day’s through,
Yes, I’ll admit that I’m a fool for you,
Because you’re mine, I walk the line.As sure as night is dark and day is light,
I keep you on my mind both day and night,
And happiness I’ve known proves that it’s right,
Because you’re mine, I walk the line.

You’ve got a way to keep me on your side,
You give me cause for love that I can’t hide,
For you I know I’d even try to turn the tide,
Because you’re mine, I walk the line.

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine,
I keep my eyes wide open all the time,
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds,
Because you’re mine, I walk the line.”

I couldn’t pick one line from this song as its all so perfect, one of my favourite love songs.  The right person by your side makes you want to be a better person, because you’re mine, I walk the line.
johnny cash quotes bad ass
“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”
johnny cash quotes
“Life is rough so you gotta be tough”
johnny cash and june carter
“This morning, with her, drinking coffee” – Johnny Cash about June Carter when asked his description of paradise.
Sigghhhhhhhh <3
So when you are struggling in life, ask yourself one question…
what would johnny cash do
And if all else fails, laugh at this.
johnny cash high
Sam xx

15 ways to make your life happy


happiness

1. Make your own happiness a priority.

Your happiness matters.  Everyone, but especially women tend to put other people’s happiness before our own.  We make excuses for why we neglect our needs – we are too busy, too skint, too stressed out.  If you don’t value your own happiness then no one else will.  It is entirely possible to look out for your own needs and still care about your friends and family.  If you are happy, you are more likely to spread happiness and care for those around you.

Think about what makes you happy.  Now what would make me delirious would be to wake late, eat cake, drink wine and spend the day sunbathing somewhere hot and beautiful.  Thats not realistic at this point in my life as I think my kids would have something to say about it!  But what does make me happy is blogging, making pretty things, reading, watching a good film, open fires, sauvignon blanc, walking in the woods with the dog and my family, my chickens, a good meal with awesome friends, a lie in with Timm, going dancing with my friends, a full english breakfast…  There is a LOT that makes me happy that costs little or nothing and that I make time for.  Its easy to neglect your own desires but important that you don’t.

happiness a priority

2. Spend time with people who make you happy

Who are the people you enjoy spending time with? Who make you happy, love, respect and appreciate you and who make you be a better person.  If you surround yourself with negative people then your life will be filled with negativity, and the opposite is true also, being around positive, happy people make you aspire to be positive and happy.

Sometimes we can’t help who we have to spend time with, we may have work colleagues or family members who are Debbie Downers and we have to hang out with them at times.  But in our social lives it is so important to keep awesome positive people around us.  The ones who make us laugh, who are joyous to be around.  Im not saying fill your life with Mary Poppins’, some of the people who make me happy are filthy minded, raucous and quite dark! But they are interesting and make me feel good about myself.

3. Take responsibility for your own life

This is a biggy for me, the trait I hate the most in people is refusing to take responsibility for their own lives.  People who have constant excuses for their bad behaviour, who think it is always someone or something else’s fault.  People who say “its alright for you because…”

Own your life.  Own your mistakes.  Live and learn and move on.  The world doesn’t owe you anything, you make your own path through this world.  Everyone faces hardships throughout their life but you can choose to be a martyr to your tough times or own the shit out of them and move forward a stronger person.

4. Be yourself.  Everyone else is taken

Be the best version of yourself that you can be.  Be true to yourself and be proud of the person you are.  It’s easy to compare ourselves to others, the fact is there will always be someone thinner, smarter, prettier – but honestly? Who cares?  Whatever part of yourself you admire the most, be that more.  The parts you dislike about yourself, be that less…

Be proud of your quirks and weirdness, stand tall and proud and applaud your inner awesomeness!

be yourself everyone else is taken

5. Create your own happiness

No one else can change your life and make you truly happy.  Choose positivity over negativity, smile because you can.  Choose to be happy.  Be happy with who you are right now and allow your joy to shape your present and your future.  Do the things that make you happy more often, spend time with those who bring out your smile and create your own happiness.  If you are waiting for someone else to make you happy, you may be waiting a long time.

6. Find the silver lining

This is a toughie.  When you are going through a really tough time it is easy to slip into feeling defeated and that life is just too hard.  We go through things in life that we think will break us, illness, bereavement, job loss, money troubles, and it can feel like there is no way to get through these times.  The truth is we are stronger than we think.

It is important to look for the silver lining even if that is only the tiniest sliver of hope.  When I was recovering from my bowel surgery and was in pain, I was feeling humiliated by leaking bags and the inability to care for myself.  During  that time I struggled to see the silver lining, but the reality of it was that I was no longer sick.  My Ulcerative Colitis was gone, ten years of illness, pain and medication were now in my past.

If there is no silver lining in your situation, for example the death of a loved one, then try to count your blessings and be grateful of the good things in your life.

When things are hard, and you feel down, take a few deep breaths and look for the silver lining – the small glimmers of hope.  Remind yourself that you can and will grow stronger from these hard times.  And remain conscious of your blessings and victories – all the things in your life that are right.  Focus on what you have, not on what you haven’t.

7. Be kind

Be a kind person, one who is caring and thoughtful, who thinks of others and treats people with respect.  Kindness breeds kindness.  Its a simple one but so important, kindness sometimes is confused with being a doormat – this is bullshit.  You can be a strong person who has a kind and loving heart.

8. Be open

Be open, share your thoughts and feelings with the people closest to you.  If you are hurting then accept the hurt and allow yourself time to heal – let your loved ones in and be honest with them.  A problem shared is a problem halved is a great saying, the act of speaking your troubles out loud can be of as much help as any advice you can receive.  Becoming a more open person can lead to real happiness.

happiness is chickens

9. Let go of the past

Our pasts define who we are and we can learn lessons from the things we have gone through, but when your past is keeping you from moving forward it becomes a problem.  We have all had tough experiences but if you are reliving the pain of this experience again and again and it is affecting your present then it is time to let go.

Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting what has happened or pretending it didn’t happen, it means letting go of the pain and resentment that is holding you back.  This is easier in some situations than others, but be honest with yourself and if something from your past is affecting your present then it may be time to talk through those issues either with a trusted friend or family member or a trained therapist.

let go of your past

10. Take a chance

Last December my husband and I took a leap of faith, we sold our home and rented a 15th century mill to push our photography business forward.  It was a risk, but a calculated risk.  I knew that if there was a motto to live by (other than ‘If you can’t sing well, sing LOUD’) it was ‘I’d rather regret the things I did, than the things I didn’t do.  We plotted and planned, did the sums a million times and then decided to take a chance.  And it was the best thing we ever did, don’t get me wrong there have been some very tough times but throughout the year I knew we had made the right decision.

Life is not about getting a chance, it is about taking a chance.  If there is something you have always dreamed of doing, then try to make it happen.  If it works you will have achieved a goal, if it doesn’t you know you at least tried it and you WILL learn a lesson from it.

regret quotes

11. Be mindful

Live in the present, in the here and now.  It is so easy to let busy lives, technology and procrastination take over our lives, but being mindful of the things around you can bring peace and happiness into your life.  Take time to notice the things that are important in your life right now, experience life as it happens.  Don’t dwell on the past or imagine how great things could be in the future.  This moment is the only thing guaranteed to you in life, we never know what the future holds so enjoy today.

mindfulness

12. Concentrate on the things you can control, not the things you can’t

Worry and stress is a normal part of life but when your day is taken up with worrying about the things in life you cannot control it is a sign that things need to change.  Worrying about things that are beyond your control is such a waste of your time and emotional energy.

Worry affects you, not the person or situation you are worrying about.  If it is important to you and you can control the outcome and positively help a problem then great, if not then let it go.  You have enough genuine problems to face in life without upsetting yourself with things beyond your control.

13. Face your problems and make a positive change

There’s no point in burying your head in the sand, if you have a problem you need to face it head on and make a positive change as no one is going to do it for you.  The problem will not just disappear on their own without action from you, no problem is too big to overcome.  It takes acceptance from you and then a plan, no matter how small the steps you need to do little and often and move it forward.

Some problems you will be able to overcome alone with a good old fashioned list and a bit of hard work.  Others are bigger and need support from others.  There is no shame in asking for help, whether it is the help of friends, family or a professional.

14. Appreciate the things you have

Perspective.  There will always be someone better off than you and someone worse off than you.  Learn to appreciate the things you have rather than worrying about the things you don’t.  Im not saying we shouldn’t aspire to be greater than we are now, but just not to be so busy in thinking of the things you don’t have that you forget to appreciate all you do.

15. Love those around you

Appreciate and love those around you, bring joy to the people who mean the most by telling them how much they mean to you.  Since my sister moved to Australia I end all our conversations with “love you!” I didn’t do this before she left but her moving half way around the world brought out something in me that makes me want her to know how much she means to me.

This isn’t about huge grand gestures, it is about personal, meaningful acts that let your friends and family know how awesome they are.  A text message, sending a photo that you think they’ll find funny, a hug, a few words.

Love Sam xx