• My 2019 diary

    Last year I read 90 books. They weren’t all ‘worthy’ - whatever your definition of ‘worthy’ is but some of them had some interesting thoughts that I wanted to come back to. So I made notes and stored quotes. But, there’s a snag, I don’t tend to revisit such quotes. And that seems like a bit of a shame. I did make up a notebook containing selected thoughts and exercises from the Self Compassion book, but that was all.

    I often tend to have a Christmas project. In recent years it has been craft related - crocheted blankets, scarves, that kind of thing. But this year I decided to make myself a ‘quote a day’ diary for the year ahead. I’d found a beautiful diary in WH Smiths which was a page per day style with beautiful paper in it so decided that would be my starting point.

    The next step was collecting quotes and thoughts. So I raided my positivity jug and picked some favourite moments out of there. I looked at the various tweets I’d made using the hashtag #smallpleasure and chose some of those. And then I went through all the quotes I’d stored elsewhere. I ended up with about 100 more than I needed which was brilliant as it meant that I could revisit my selection and remove ones that maybe weren’t as relevant.

    Once I had 365 quotes, I printed them all out, sat down with a metal ruler, a craft knife, a cutting mat and a Pritt stick and got to work. I’d underestimated quite how much extra depth glueing in additional pieces of paper were going to add to the diary. Note to self: if I do this again, reconsider the paper and glue thing - it was time-consuming!

    The diary side on

    So, here I am, day 17 of the year, and I have read them every day so far. My routine is that I read it first thing in the morning and, if it makes me think of something, or feel something, I write my thoughts and feelings below the quote.

    The diary open

    I love that this is a self-curated list of quotes based on things I’ve read, thought about and found relevant. I like that there is space for me to make notes. I think, already, that may be a quote a day is ambitious and that maybe another time I’d go for a quote a week. I feel with a weekly quote I could get a few different perspectives on it depending on how my week was playing out. I like to think I’d still consider it every morning, and maybe write a bit about it every day as well, but I feel that perhaps I’d be able to give it some further thought, and carry it around with me a bit more. I’ll have to see how I feel about it towards the end of the year I guess!

  • My positivity jug

    Back in October, I wrote about having swapped my daily gratitude daily journalling into a gratitude jug. This jug still sits on my shelf. I still write notes and add them to the jug. But I’ve noticed that the kind of things that I write on the pieces of paper have broadened somewhat. As well as recording moments of gratitude, I’ve recorded things that made me smile, things that people have said or done, or even things that I want to claim as small victories. In fact, anything that I thought would be of benefit for the future me to read when she felt a bit flat, or under the weather, or was struggling.

    My gratitude jug on the shelf

    Towards the end of last year, I read The Self-Care Project: How to let go of frazzle and make time for you and there, amongst a section on things to do to help yourself, was a paragraph entitled “Start a positivity jar”. It describes having a positivity jar as being evidence against negative thoughts. And suggests that I could “Read them over when a dose of sunshine is needed.” It suggests that it could include “the kind things that people have done, the kind things we have done, the glimmers of hope in an otherwise dark time, our wins.”

    Looking into the jug

    And, somewhat inadvertently, that’s exactly what I’ve done. As ever, it’s a work in progress and is just one of many tools in my tool kit. But while it helps, and is a thing that even brings pleasure in its own right, it gets to stay, even if it has had a slight name change.

  • My Snailspace Route Master adventure is at an end

    The orange fleece is probably going to become a dog walking fleece

    So, after one junior snail launch event, seven Route Master shifts, a standing waving at the Royals afternoon, two shifts at the finale weekend, and a guest pass to the auction, my #BeMoreSnail adventure is at an end.

    Auction time

    The week after my first event, the junior snail launch, I spent a little time writing a list of what I wanted to get out of my #BeMoreSnail volunteering and why I was doing it. Here’s what I wrote:

    • feel like I’m helping people (the hospice, the organisers, the public)

    • feel more comfortable talking with strangers

    • feel like I’m involved with something worthwhile

    • feel a sense of belonging to something that brings joy to the city

    • meet new people via the volunteering

    I’m glad I wrote that list because I hadn’t remembered some of those.

    What I got out of it was:

    • A feeling of pride at being involved with something that did bring joy to people, and that had such a lovely message of slowing down, taking time, appreciating things, or being more snail. And one of my highlights was hearing the gasps and the ‘Wow’s as people entered into the hall at the finale weekend and saw all the snails together for the first time. Just magical

    • An appreciation that talking to the public about something like the snail sculptures isn’t hard at all. It’s not about making small talk. It’s about engaging with them about the snails - their favourites, how many they’ve seen, where they’ve been so far, whether they plan to see them all, have the app, or the map, or if there is anything I can help them

    • A realisation that a four-hour shift walking around cleaning snails and engaging with the public can be more or less tiring depending on who you’ve been paired up with. For me, it varied based on how well we got on, how easy it was to find common conversation topics, and whether we could find a way to make each other laugh. Laughter filled shifts were always my favourite and least draining ones

    • New learnings about what I need to balance my energy. For instance, if I’ve spent time out and about on duty - either as a Route Master shift or the finale weekend - I need to have some quality quiet time booked in to regroup and settle, to make sure I have time set aside for self-care

    • A real sense of pleasure of having supported something local to my home. Most of the fundraising, or even letter writing volunteering, I’ve done has been for national charities. Martlets is Brighton (well Hove actually) based. That has been good for my sense of belonging to this beautiful city that I call home

    Being a Route Master has been the first time I’ve given my time regularly as a people facing role, and is why I chose to involve myself with a project that was a fixed length - I knew I could commit to that come what may. I have learned from doing it. I’ve enjoyed it. So all that remains is for me to work out how I follow it.

    The finale weekend - magical enough to make people gasp and Wow

    Farewell my snail chums

    To everything there is a season looking beautiful

    All about the snail bus with a penguin conductor

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