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Bee Happy (and a bit about Laughter Yoga)

Hello, everyone 🙂  I was back at work this week after having an extended Easter break.  Can’t say I was overjoyed at the thought of returning to work, but very grateful to have a job to return to (the current economic climate being what it is, every extra day of employment is a bonus).  It took a while to get back into the swing of things, and I was horribly nervous when people came in to ask questions about our services etc ; after just a week off, I was a bit brain-dead and stupid.  But I got through it ok and people seemed happy with my responses.  It’s probably just me who thought I was useless!

One of my tasks today was to write a book review.  The book, “Love Laughter and Longevity : the Art and Science of Wellbeing” by Janni Goss, talks about laughter and its positive effects on our health, longevity, and quality of life.  As my organisation assists people with dementia, and encourages positive thinking and celebrating the small joys in life, this book could benefit many people who are dealing with the difficulties that dementia inevitably brings.  But laughter is a well-documented medicine for many of the things that ail us, whether we are experiencing illness or not.

There are physical changes that occur when we laugh : blood flow increases, endorphins are released, cortisol levels are lowered and the immune response is improved.  Intense laughter (whether faked or not – the brain can’t tell the difference) also provides aerobic exercise, which is far more enjoyable than time spent at the gym.

Janni is an advocate for Laughter Yoga and its benefits.  Over 100 countries around the world have Laughter Yoga groups, and its positive effect on people with illnesses ranging from high blood pressure to cancer has been studied and reported in numerous medical journals.  It’s certainly an interesting topic to read about (a lot of my reading-for-work tasks are pretty dull and make me go a bit cross-eyed) and worth further investigation if you’re into self-improvement and inner health (whilst improving your outer health at the same time!).  You can read more from Janni HERE or learn about Laughter Yoga throughout Australia HERE

All that laughter and being happy reminded me of this little canvas I painted on the weekend.  At first, when I had finished it, I felt a bit unsure about the whole “bee happy” thing.  Sometimes we’re just NOT, right?  Sometimes we are decidedly unhappy and a bit down in the dumps.  But I guess what Janni’s book and philosophy encourages is to embrace the small joyful moments in life and use them to promote well-being in our bodies and minds.  It’s kinda like faking it til you make it.  Not avoiding dealing with sadness but, rather, using joy to combat it and face it head on.  And you might as well have a few extra happy hormones to help you, right?

Having said all that, it’s important to let people know you’re struggling.  No one should suggest you “pretend” to be happy if you’re not.  That’s way too much pressure!  I believe happiness itself is a bit of a myth.  It’s such a vague concept.  No one is happy 100% of the time ; how can you be, when there is so much suffering and pain in the world?

But I think it’s important to be content with your situation, be in the moment, and be happy about the small things in life, focusing on the good, and doing what you can to minimise the “bad”.  It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sad or upsetting moments in our life, but how often do we give the same amount of energy to joyous moments, savouring them and replaying them in our minds?  The brain can’t differentiate between something that is a memory and something that is happening now.  So, we should try and hold on to happy memories and use them to boost our spirits when we are down, rather than re-living those moments that caused us pain and distress.

Easy to say.  But I think every extra weapon we can have in our arsenal against the blues is a bonus and worth a try.  I don’t think I will be doing a class of Laughter Yoga any time soon (I’m not a joining-in kinda gal and I would spend the entire time worrying about what I look like when I’m laughing and whether or not I was doing things right) but there are definitely principles that I could use to be more positive or, at least, trick my brain into feeling happier, until I am able to feel it for real.

Be happy today.  And if you can’t be, I’m sending good thoughts your way and a wish for a happier tomorrow.  Hang in there x

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Spring Sings

Spring is one of my favourite times of the year.  All those beautiful flowers blooming, baby everythings everywhere you look (finally got some GORGEOUS broods of cygnets at the local lake – I just want to squeeze them!), blue skies and glorious sunshine (well, some of the time anyway…so far we’ve had a pretty cold and wet Spring).  I love how the evenings change – there’s that particular feeling in the air.  The feeling of change and of warmth coming.  The days are longer and the mornings brighter.

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My garden, such as it is, also changes with the coming of Spring.  The majority of my plants are in pots – I just haven’t had the money or energy to create a proper garden yet.  I mostly have weeds.  Lots of weeds.  I’m a bit ashamed of them, to be honest.  My neighbour’s gardens are all pristine, well-manicured and tidy.  Mine is the feral one.  I try not to look at it.  My back has been playing up such a lot lately that I daren’t do any weeding or any activity that requires much bending in the garden.  So, weeds it is.

This weekend I was surprised to find this glorious bloom in my courtyard.  An Apostle’s Iris.  So pretty!  I got this plant about 18 months ago at a Quiz Night and had no idea what it was.  I figured it was probably an iris of some kinds, but I wasn’t sure.  I have neglected it totally and haven’t even repotted it into a decent sized pot.  Then, yesterday morning, this beautiful flower appeared.  The plant also has a baby that has taken root in another pot, so I’ll have two plants soon.  Yay!

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My pelargoniums are always cooperative and do very well, even with my slack gardening efforts.  I have had this one for a few years and the flowers are just gorgeous.  So bright and cheerful, and long-lasting.  I’ve taken lots of cuttings over the years and so the original plant is now growing in lots of different pots and other people’s gardens!

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I often go for a little walk during my lunch break and the bushland nearby has lots of pretty natives (and a few non-native interlopers) blooming.  I love the bright and cheery wattle – I don’t suffer from hay fever like so many other people – and the colour is always so lovely against the greens and browns of the bush.

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I believe this lovely purple climber is called “Happy Wanderer”.  It’s from the pea family, so it creates its own food by bringing nitrogen to the soil.  It’s so pretty.

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This bright pink beauty is a type of wild geranium.  It grows pretty prolifically and is common around coastal areas as it is very hardy and doesn’t mind a bit of salt air.

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And then we have good old freesias.  I LOVE the smell of them.  I pick lots and lots in Spring time and have them in the library.  Their scent is so gorgeous and fresh.  They are not a native, and in some states are considered a pest.  So I can pick as many as I like 🙂  I even had them in my wedding bouquet, a million years ago.  They make me happy.

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The best thing about Spring, besides the flowers and baby critters, is the promise of Summer.  THAT is my favourite season.  The heat, the sunshine, the balmy nights (that everyone else complains about but I love because it’s warm, warm, warm) and the blue skies.  But, Spring is a pretty close second.  It’s Mother Nature’s party time, her extended prom night, her chance to show off a bit.

Do you have a favourite season?  Does spring bring you joy or does it spell runny-nosed-sneezy-wheezy hay fever hell for you?

Either way, hope you’ve got some spring in your step today (or some Autumn Attitude for our Northern Hemisphere pals!) 🙂

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Cosy Corner

Still nesting… I swear my little crow gets moved around at least 400 times before I find a spot for him.  He’s very fussy about where he goes (or, at least, I am) and doesn’t like to be somewhere that’s not in full view.  So, he’s sitting atop my brand new butler’s trolley / display cabinet thingy.  I love it – it’s so cute.  Room for books and knick-knacks and other stuff (ie junk) that needs to be quickly shoved into a drawer when people come over.

I don’t always buy brand new things – normally I am a hunt-around-until-you-find-it-second-hand kind of girl, but I wanted to have a few new things for myself this time.  Especially this piece – it’s quirky and colourful and just a bit different.  It matches with everything else and yet stands out at the same time. And Mr Crow seems to like it 🙂

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I’m still in a mess everywhere, but am resigned to being in that state for quite some time.  Setting up a home takes a while and I want to get things right, not just chuck stuff around the rooms and say “that’ll do”.   So I am doing little bits at a time – that way it is less overwhelming.  I’m still struggling with motivation about life in general right now (got a lot going on and my brain has decided to just not deal with ANYTHING) so putting stuff away and being tidy is not exactly a priority (I say that like it is EVER a priority for me).  But the more little cosy corners I have, the happier I feel.  Eventually, my whole house will be one big cosy corner – I hope so, anyway.

May your home be happy today and always x

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Joy

I wasn’t sure about this card, but the more I look at it, the more I kinda like it.  I’m trying to be less critical of myself and my work.  I think the bird has a cheeky look in her eye, as though she is saying “Look what I laid!” Although, judging by the size of that egg, she would probably be thinking “What the heck did I just lay?!”
So maybe a little less “Joy” and a little more “Oy!” (or “Ow!”).
Either way, I think she deserves that little crown and should wear it with pride.

Hope your day has brought you some joy, in one way or another 🙂

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Little Peeps & Night Owls

A lovely long weekend has just passed, which means I didn’t have to deal with the dreaded Monday-it is.  Every Monday should be a public holiday – how would I go about getting that made into law?  Who can I call about that?  I’m sure it would be a popular decision…

I went to the movies (Lady in The Van) and spent time with my friend – we went for a VERY long walk on a windy beach and my calves are still hurting three days later – and had an impromptu dinner at her house.  I visited my brother and his family and went to a David Bowie tribute night at a local pub.  It was so loud, I ended up stuffing bits of napkin into my ears.  I’m not very good with super loud stuff – I am paranoid about my hearing.  My friend came with me, as did my brother and his partner.  My Mum babysat the four rugrats while we were out.  Little Miss Two stayed up until we got home – she just wasn’t having any of that “It’s time for bed” nonsense.  She’s becoming a bit of a night owl which is problematic…but I stay out of it!  But my Mum got to spend a lovely evening having mini tea parties, playing with blocks, and reading books (over and over).

On Monday, I took my Mum home (she had stayed the night with me as it was too late to take her home the night before) and then I spent the rest of the day crafting and mucking about at home.  I couldn’t settle in to anything for a bit, but eventually started doodling and colouring some little people for cards.

I drew them out of watercolour paper and then coloured them in with Copic markers.  Then I cut them out with very sharp, tiny scissors.  Which almost sent me blind and a bit crazy, but I got there in the end without snipping off anything I shouldn’t (including my own fingers).  I edged them with a black marker so there wasn’t any white showing.  Just makes it look a bit neater and helps the design “pop”.

Then I assembled them onto a card using scrapbooking paper for their dresses.  I used some rubber stamps to add sentiments and some extra accents here and there.

I’m quite pleased with them.  They’re kinda cute and make me smile.  I’m trying out different hair on my Little Peeps at the moment so there will probably be more as the weeks go by, with varying styles and dos.

Anyway, it was good to finish a couple of things and be satisfied with them – I’m trying to do that more often these days.  I’m also trying to use up more of my brighter papers and embellishments, so they will feature more and more often I think too.

Hope you had a good weekend – enjoy your week 🙂

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