I’m sharing a more personal post today on how to stay positive and keep happy in challenging times. Last year my lovely husband Michael was diagnosed with a brain tumour and after two years of fighting he is still going through treatment, and is currently in the middle of a course of chemotherapy. I have taken a break from my career to care for him and life has been on pause for us while we focus on his treatment. This isn’t something I have chosen to share previously on my little corner of the internet as I have in general used my blog and Instagram feed as a place to share the happy times. I am incredibly proud of my wonderful husband and his positive approach to life is inspiring, and so I decided to share how we manage to keep going and stay positive even when life is hard.
I am a firm believer that happiness is a choice, no matter what life throws at you. When Michael first received his diagnosis our world was in chaos but we didn’t want to just feel sad all of the time. So every day, we wake up and choose to be happy. Some days this is easier than others, and some days it is just plain impossible, but we always try. I’ve come up with 5 tips for how we keep positive and happy, and I hope if you are reading this and life has been tough and unfair then this might help you too. All of the pictures I have included below are snapshots of our daily life from my Instagram feed.
1. Make the everyday special
These days we spend a lot of our time at home. If we are ever feeling a little fed up but Michael isn’t up to getting out and about, I make an extra effort to make everyday things more special. For example, instead of just making a mug of tea, I make a pot of tea with our best china served with biscuits and treats. I serve our drinks in my collection of colourful melamine cups or in mason jars with stripy paper straws and umbrellas to make even a normal drink of squash feel like a fancy cocktail. I set the table for meals using our best cutlery and colourful napkins, or serve cereal in a tea cup with milk in a cute jug or bottle on the side. It helps to brighten up our day and make things a little more colourful even when we have to stay home.
2. Dress up
It’s easy on days where you won’t be leaving the house or will be spending the day at the hospital to just pull on any old clothes because who’s going to see, so why make the effort? But I find that if I do get dressed up, it helps me to face the day and feel a little more positive. I have a quote I found on Pinterest taped up inside my wardrobe that reads “Don’t save things for a special occasion, every day of your life is a special occasion” and it’s become a mantra for me this past two years. Every day I challenge myself to put together a cute and colourful outfit and it helps me to feel a little more brave, and it makes Michael smile to see I’m wearing something fun even if we aren’t doing anything special.
3. Get crafty
We have always enjoyed making things but recently crafting has become very important to us both as not only does it provide a welcome distraction and focus, it can be so therapeutic just to create something. I love sewing, knitting, crochet, painting and scrapbooking to name just a few and will try my hand at making anything pretty. Michael is a huge Lego fan and has been working on designing and building his own modular buildings to create an amazing New York inspired street. The buildings he creates are often modelled on places we visited on our honeymoon or places from some of our favourite films. We both love the process of planning a project, and then sharing the finished result on our Instagram feeds. If you’d like to see some of Michael’s projects, please do check out his instagram over at @michaelpingu
4. Stay connected
It can be easy to feel a little disconnected from the world when life is on pause. Instagram has been a real solace as we can connect with people with similar interests and find constant inspiration and ideas without even having to leave the house. As well as posting snapshots of our daily life on Instagram, we’ve also taken part in lots of Instagram giveaways, community hashtags like #makeitsewcial and parcel swaps which have all helped us to feel a bit more in touch with the rest of the world. I loved taking part in Make it Sewcial on a Monday where everyone shares a photo of a crafty project they have been working on. I loved giving and receiving comments and feedback on each other’s projects as I have found it to be an incredibly supportive and positive community. Allison has moved on from the Make it Sewcial project now, but the hashtag is still going strong and I am always looking for other crafty hashtags and competitions to continue taking part in (if you have any suggestions please let me know!).
We also love receiving happy mail in the post as when you are home most of the time a cheery letter or parcel can really brighten up your day. I am a Lucky Dip Club subscriber, which if you don’t already know is the amazing subscription box service run by the incredibly talented Leona. It is always a happy day when my monthly Lucky Dip Club box of loveliness pops through my letterbox. I love scrolling through the Instagram hashtag after I’ve opened my box to see every one’s pictures, and it helps me to feel like I’m part of something.
5. Grow something
There really is nothing better than getting out in the garden to help clear your head. This year we grew over 50 varieties of fruit, vegetables and flowers in our little garden, raising as much as we could from seeds or bulbs in our greenhouse, and it has been so rewarding to watch things grow. There is always something to do in the garden so it is a great way to pass the time, and you get to eat your own fruit and veggies as a reward for your hard work!
Obviously these are just my thoughts on what helps us to face each day with a smile, and not everything that works for us will work for you. But I hope the message you will take away is that no matter what life throws at you, try to make the most out of every day and, whenever possible, find time to do the things that make you happy.
Thank you for reading!