5 Tips for a Happy Existence

I have to admit, I haven't always been the happiest of people, and actually suffered quite badly from depression in my younger years. I had a breakdown in my early twenties and was consequently on strong anti-depressants for the majority of the following decade, which in hindsight I strongly suspect destroyed my ability to feel great happiness. I never experience the highs that people talk about, only lows or 'normal'.

At this moment in time, I am content, which suits my life right now. Saying that, my life is pretty boring, and this is because I have had to cut out a lot of the stuff that affected my emotions negatively, to basically avoid becoming unhappy again.

So I have to admit, many of you may not agree with my tips for a happy life because you aren't as boring as me. 😊

1. Avoiding drama. I hate drama and conflict. It just doesn't agree with me whatsoever, and makes me feel miserable, confused and uncertain. In the past, I have been dragged into unnecessary drama for no reason other than certain people wanted to take the blame off themselves. I must have seemed like an easy target at the time, and in the end I just withdrew from those people.

I find it difficult to understand those who claim to hate drama, yet surround themselves with volatile people or situations and then moan when the shit hits the fan. No thanks. I'll stick to my boring existence.

2. Staying positive. Okay, I admit, sometimes this is very difficult to do, especially when you are at a low point. Everything seems bad when you are in a depressive state, and thinking positively is easier said than done. In this case, please seek help and speak to somebody. You are never alone.

I was very lucky to be able to drag myself out of those murky depths after so many years of being down. It wasn't easy. The worse I felt about myself, the more shit I attracted, and I seemed to be stuck in a vicious circle. My relationships were a joke, and it took living with the most negative person I had ever met for 6 years to realise that it wasn't good for me at all. He dragged me right down into a pit of misery, and after hitting rock bottom, I decided enough was enough. I didn't need anybody to make me feel like rubbish. I could do that all by myself. My self-esteem, or lack of it, has always been to blame for my passiveness and ridiculous life choices, and my emotional fragility back then made it so easy for that one negative person to drag me down and make me believe that second best and heartbreak was all I deserved. These days, I try to stay away from negativity because it just isn't good for me.

3. Believing in yourself. I have to admit, this is something I haven't quite conquered yet, but I'm getting there. As I read somewhere recently "Nothing will work if you don't believe in it", and this is so true. Okay, maybe not when it comes to time travel, or turning water into wine (unfortunately!) But believing in yourself and your abilities can take you far. Intelligence and skill doesn't matter in the slightest if you don't have the confidence to see it through. So many of us allow self-doubt, vulnerability, and uncertainty to plague our thoughts, and this can get in the way of success. We just need a confident outlook, and this can only come from ourselves. Instead of telling yourself why it won't work, tell yourself why it will. I suppose that explains it as succinctly as possible. I'm working on this. 😊

4. Do things that you like. This may sound very obvious, but it's amazing how many people allow themselves to get bogged down by boring chores and hated jobs, and forget to use their spare time constructively. Don't forget the things that make you happy, whether that may be a cherished hobby, spending time with the people you love, or visiting your favourite places. Even stamp collecting, train spotting, or hibernating at home to recharge the batteries, as I so often like to do. If it makes you happy, then do it. Although try to keep it legal. 😊

5. Stay healthy. Now I have to admit, healthy people really irritate me. Dieting and calorie counting bores me to tears, and the gym is most definitely against my religion. However, secretly, I admire the motivation it takes to do any of the above. I'd actually love to be one of those people, but I'm far too laid back about my lifestyle. Since hitting the big 4-0 though, I have begun to see the benefits of living a healthier lifestyle. More exercise, less wine. Going for walks in the countryside, surrounded by beautiful scenery. Getting enough sleep. Laughing more. I've been trying to include more protein into my diet, and less fat. But I'm not completely cutting out on the things I like, because that would defeat the object of number 4. I'm just taking more of an interest in my health, by cutting back on the bad things and doing more of the good things. This makes me feel better about myself, which in turn lifts my spirits.

I may sound like I know what I'm talking about, but I really don't. Everybody has their own idea of what makes them happy, and these are my own. I'm just trying to lead a better life than I have in previous years. 😊

50 Followers – Thank You!

So today, my little blog hit the 50 milestone, which is awesome! 😃 I just want to say a big Thank You to everybody who has followed, liked, commented on, and shared my posts. I am hugely grateful to you all for taking an interest in the stuff I write.

As a lot of you may know, I have been writing for years but have never had the guts to do it on a public spectrum. So this blog means a lot to me, and so does my audience. In the future, I am hoping to bag myself a custom domain and become a paid member of WordPress, so I would really like to make this work. Thank you all for joining me on my journey. 💜

Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Stew

Okay, for those of you who are familiar with my other blog, you will know that I am no domestic goddess. In fact, I am much more of a slap-dash, frozen food, stick-it-in-the-oven-and-time-it kind of gal. However, following doctor’s orders after slightly disappointing blood test results (cholesterol!) I have vowed to attempt to eat a little healthier. I say a little, because I’m certainly not going to turn into Nigella Lawson overnight. 

So today, I am attempting the above – slow cooker Italian chicken stew. Ryan is notoriously moany when it comes to casseroles and stews, so I’m going to team it with a serving of pasta, because he loves it.

Slow cooker Italian chicken stew.

serves: 8 | prep: 0:10 | cook 8:00

Ingredients

1.2kg mixed chicken thighs/drumsticks (I used diced chicken instead)

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup (125ml) dry white wine

1/2 cup (125ml) chicken stock

1 large brown onion

2 medium leeks, sliced

2 medium carrots, diced

2 sticks celery, diced

2 x 400g tins diced tomatoes

1 tbsp rosemary, chopped

Method

Season chicken pieces well with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large frypan over medium heat. Brown chicken in batches and place in slow cooker.

Pour wine and chicken stock into the pan and bring to the boil. Scrape down pan and pour over chicken pieces.

Place vegetables, tinned tomatoes rosemary into the slow cooker with chicken.

Cover and cook for 6-8 hours on low or 4-6 hours on high.

Serve with pasta or mashed potato and green vegetables.

AFTERWARDS..

It went down surprisingly well with Ryan. He shovelled it down, so either he was extra hungry, or the pasta trick worked. I, on the other hand, found it lacking in something, and that may have been the leek, which Asda failed to deliver in my home shopping (they were out of stock, or some baloney!) Also, I used red wine instead of white. 

Top marks for satisfying the kid, but I’ll be doing some tinkering with the ingredients next time until I get it right.

Hedgehog Heaven


Well, it’s been a strange, and unusually quite emotional week, seeing as all I’ve really done is go to work and come home. It all began on Monday, when I was dreading returning to work after my birthday weekend.

Why do we feel that Sunday evening dread at the thought of Monday looming on the horizon? What is so horrifying about the start of another working week? My job isn’t bad. Granted, it isn’t good, but that doesn’t mean I experience unpleasantness in the workplace. I’d just much rather spend my time doing something I enjoyed, instead of being bored to tears every day, toiling over the same, repetitive duties. 

Anyway, I digress. So I arrived at work under a grey cloud of post-weekend gloom only to be informed that it was free McDonalds for lunch day, as a thank you for excellent results the week before. That lifted my spirits somewhat, as I do enjoy free food – it tastes better.

It was after lunch that I turned to speak to my colleague and spotted the hedgehog.

My desk is next to a long window looking out onto a small patch of landscaped garden. The area in which our office is situated is surrounded by trees and bushes and we frequently spot various birds and animals on the patch of grass. Rabbits, squirrels, robins and blackbirds are a daily occurrence. Hedgehogs, however, are not. The hedgehog is a nocturnal creature, and seeing them out and about in daylight generally signals that there is something wrong with the animal. Sadly, this was the case in this instance. 

There are a few of us in the office who are huge animal lovers, and spend a lot of our day talking about our pets or animals we have seen on social media. It didn’t take long for us to launch a rescue mission, armed with an empty paper box lined with an old hoody. Outside, it was raining heavily, and the poor little mite was lay flat out on the grass, eyes closed. We quickly lifted him into the box and tucked him in. He seemed extremely lethargic, and did not struggle or attempt to curl into a ball.

Back in the office, we gave him water out of a plastic bottle lid and one girl went across to the local supermarket to buy cat food. But although the hedgehog, who we named Ezra, drank a little water, he refused to eat. Something was not right with him, so we called the nearest veterinary surgery.

After the excitement of finding him and making him comfortable, we were horrified and saddened to discover that our Ezra was untreatable. Maggots, probably ingested on something he had eaten, were consuming him from the inside out, and there was no hope for our little friend. Unfortunately, he was put to sleep. 😢

Now, I know that this is a sad story, and I apologise for potentially ruining your Saturday. But some good has come of this. First of all, poor Ezra’s suffering was brought to an end. It is unknown how long the creature was out there, confused and in pain, and if we hadn’t rescued him, it would have only got worse. Secondly, it has made us all much more aware of the hedgehogs plight. 

In the last 10 years, hedgehog numbers in the U.K. have fallen drastically, thanks to habitat loss caused by development and the reduction of bushes and hedgerows. The hedgehog population has fallen by 30%, and there are now thought to be less than a million left in the U.K. This is very sad news.

So how can we help?

1. Make you garden hedgehog friendly.

Gardens, along with hedgerows, parkland, cemeteries, and woodlands, are important hedgehog habitats, and by making your garden hedgehog friendly, you are providing an excellent place for your locals hogs to visit. As they particularly like to eat slugs, beetles, and earthworms, they are a gardener’s best friend.

Also, by covering up drains and gullies, which hedgehogs can fall into, and cutting out on harmful slug pellets, you are helping to keep your hog friends safe. 

2. Provide nesting sites.

Fallen leaves make perfect nesting material for our hogs, so once autumn is upon us, don’t clear them away. Place them in a quiet corner of your garden for hogs to rest and hibernate. Alternatively, make your own hog home (see below).


3. Create hedgehog highways.
Hedgehogs like to roam far and wide on search of food, mates and nesting sites, and you can help them out by creating holes in your fences or tunnels beneath garden boundaries to enable them to move between gardens easily.

4. Create a feeding station.

These are easy enough to make, by cutting a hole in a plastic storage box and using bricks to weigh down the lid. This should effectively stop other animals taking the food, although may potentially attract rats. In order to prevent this, try not to use grain-based foods, and remove any leftovers.

Alternatively, grow a variety of different plants to attract more of the hedgehogs natural diet – creepy crawlies! 


5. What to do if you find a sick or injured hedgehog.

As I mentioned earlier, hedgehogs are nocturnal creatures, and it is rare to see them out in daylight. If you find a hedgehog with its eyes closed, not moving, then it probably needs help. Please visit http://www.hedgehog-rescue.org.uk/rescues.php for more information, or phone your nearest vet. 

Not all hedgehogs have to end up like poor Ezra, and by understanding more about them and their habitat, we can hopefully help to save them.


Happy Birthday?


It’s my birthday!! Yes, happy birthday to me. Although I think I’m a little too old to be celebrating much these days. My 40th last year was definitely celebrated in style, with me throwing around the phrase “life begins at..” like it was my saviour. My 41st though? Hmm, I’m not sure there is much point in celebrating my descent into middle aged-dom, is there? But I’m going to anyway. I’m off to my brother’s for a barbecue in the sun later – lots of charcoaled meat along with a few vodka-and-cloudy-lemonades. Can’t wait! Happy weekend, everyone!