The Happy Starfish

Living Mindfully & Celebrating Health, Happiness & Peaceful Living


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Ditch the New Year pressure

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We’re only a few days into January and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked what my New Year’s Resolutions are.

The cashier at the supermarket this morning looked baffled when I said I don’t have any.

‘I’ve put on weight over Christmas,’ she blurted out, ‘And I’m going to join a gym.’

Why do we do it? Heap unnecessary pressure on top of our often frantic lives, only to face crushing disappointment when we can’t achieve the impossibly high standards we set ourselves.

I have goals, dreams, aspirations. Everybody should but I strive every day to be better than I was yesterday, to always be kind, compassionate, grateful and mindful, no matter what day or month it is. To be the best version of myself I can be; to pay it forward whenever I can, and love. You can never have enough love. And that’s the only resolution I need.

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What the world needs

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I wrote a short story on my fiction blog on Saturday called ‘Where would the world be,’ (you can read below).

If I was granted one wish in this lifetime it would be to make people a little kinder towards each other. Often it can be hard to know how, or ever when to help but I firmly believe there are small acts of kindness we could carry out almost daily. These small acts could truly enrich the lives of others and if we all led by example and paid it forward just imagine the overall effect on humanity. but, and here’s the thing, everyone needs to do something.

There are those, like Janet, in the story below, who does one thing, to validate her self worth but is blinkered when it comes to others genuinely needing a bit of support, those whose second nature it is to help whenever and wherever possible and those that rarely do anything. I like to think that those who do nothing just haven’t needed a random act of kindness themselves and don’t understand the huge impact they could make by carrying one out.

Kindness. Let’s spread it around.

 

 

Where would the world be?

‘You are good,’ said Father Brian admiring the patchwork of colour Janet had created. Containers of sweet peas, peonies and lavender bought a warmth to the cool, dark church. ‘I wish more people were like you. The world would be a better place.’

‘I do my best,’ blushed Janet.’‘See you tomorrow Father.’

Janet turned into the High Street towards home. The sound of crying sliced through her thoughts. About 40 yards ahead of her was a lone girl of around 6, her face as pink as her torn dress. Long blonde hair hung in matted clumps around her face which was sodden with tears. Blood oozed down her leg from a cut knee, staining her white ankle sock crimson.

Janet pretended to search in her bag for something as she crossed the street. It wouldn’t do to approach a child nowadays. You could be accused of anything. Anyway, she was certain the mother would turn up soon.

Outside the chemist a man hunkered down wrapped in a grimy blanket and sheets of sorrow. His face dark with dirt and loss. A shabby cap was placed in front of him, as he tried to collect loose change and hope from a world that had turned its back long ago. Avoiding eye contact Janet stepped over his dreams of a hot dinner. What was the world coming to begging in the streets? This was England for heavens sake!

At the crossroads the Big Issue seller smiled at Janet. ‘A magazine to help the homeless?’ he proffered. Janet didn’t break her stride, her gaze fixed firmly on a spot in the distance as she bustled ahead.

Turning right into Brown Street Janet was relieved to be home. As she turned her door key she could hear the fumbling of her neighbour unlocking her door.  Stepping over her threshold Janet slammed the door behind her. Old Mrs Davies always wanted a chat. ‘It’s not my problem her husband has died and her children don’t visit’, thought Janet. ‘Besides, my programme starts in 10 minutes.’

The shrill sound of the telephone shattered the silence.

‘Hello,’

‘Hello Janet. I’ve been trying you all afternoon.’

Hello Doris. It was my afternoon for volunteering at the church, doing the flowers for the service tomorrow.’

‘You are such a good person Janet. Always thinking of others.’

‘I know. But where would the world be if we didn’t all do our bit?’


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My lovely random act of kindness surprise

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“You have two hands, one to help yourself, one to help others.”

Anyone who knows me, or reads my blog, understands I get more than a teensy bit excited when I hear of pay it forward stories.

Yesterday I was a recipient of a random act of kindness which instilled such a warm and fuzzy feeling, it hasn’t worn off yet. Following my post stating my intention to want to write a novel I was touched to receive a gift of three books on novel writing, via amazon , from a fellow blogger. This was accompanied by a lovely note wishing me luck.

I don’t know this blogger (who wishes to remain anonymous), and living on the other side of the world I am unlikely to ever meet them, but am so grateful of their encouragement.

It would be easy to paint a bleak view of our world today, hate, crime and war appear to be everywhere. Many of us live in fear, stress and uncertainty, our anxieties fuelled by the media and drip fed with every bad news story circulated.  We can make a difference. We can create our own good news stories. I blogged last year about a kindness book we have in our kitchen to encourage our children to be mindful of things they can do for others, and there is always something we can do for others, however small.

Kindness is contagious – be a carrier.

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The lost art of letter writing

 

“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart”. Phyllis Theroux

I was deep in my morning meditation when I heard the post drop onto the mat. I was in no rush to collect it. It had been a long time since I received anything other than a bill or statement in the mail.

Imagine my delight therefore to receive a beautiful hand written letter from one of my closest friends. Crafted on proper stationary I was touched by her heartfelt words and also by the time and effort she had taken to let me know how much she appreciates our friendship.

When I was at school I used to eagerly await the postman every morning. I had numerous penpals and savoured every word written to me eagerly replying as soon as I could. Gradually as I got older, and became more reliant on technology I somehow, sadly, stopped writing to people properly.

Texts and emails are a quick, easy way of keeping in touch but there is something special about receiving an unexpected letter in the post. I am going to make a conscious effort to do my bit to resurrect the lost art of letter writing. Here are five reasons why you should too: –

Letters can be preserved – the letter I received this morning is now safely tucked away inside my gratitude journal where it will bring me joy each time I reread.

Letters form a connection – the writer really connects to the recipient. It’s like love in an envelope.

Letters are a mindful way to communicate – emails and texts are easily sent without thought and often regretted afterwards. Taking the time to find stationary, write a letter, buy a stamp and walk to the postbox gives you plenty of time to reflect on your words.

Letters are personal – you know the writer has sat and thought about you specifically. Totally different to being copied in on an email or being sent a mass text.

Letters will survive – ever felt the wonder of looking through your grandparents old photos and letters; discovering who they were and the world that existed before you were born? Letters preserve a sense of history that technology can never recreate.

So whatever your weekend plans are – why not incorporate writing a letter to someone you care about? This small gesture could really make their day.


What I learned from Meerkats

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“The moment is always Now”.

Nothing makes me happier than spending time with my family and experiencing new things in life so I was more than a teensy bit excited yesterday to get to hang out with the (allegedly) tamest  meerkats in Britain.

I was preempting my gratitude journal that evening would be full of family, love and laughter (which it was) but I had to add an entry to the meerkats for a great reminder on how to approach life with complete wonder.

My youngest son had velcro trainers on and the curious animals spent huge amounts of time investigating how this worked, undoing them, doing them back up and moving aside to let others have a go. The joy as they played together and jumped onto our laps for cuddles was contagious. When their food came they stopped what they were doing and totally absorbed themselves in the task of mindfully eating, savouring every mouthful. No chance of them automatically consuming their food, not really noticing the flavours while multi tasking as humans often do.

I went to bed last night thankful for the chance to observe these cute creatures living in the moment. It is something I will never forget.

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Little lights

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“We’re born with millions of little lights shining in the dark

And they show us the way

One lights up, every time you feel love in your heart

One dies when it moves away”

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I love listening to music, even more so when the lyrics really resonate with me.

One of my favourite albums this year is Passenger’s Little Lights – (watch on Youtube)

The title track is beautiful. It refers to ‘little lights’ we are all born with in our hearts. When something negative happens to us or because of us one of the lights will extinguish but through love and living a good life we are always igniting more.

I love the image these lyrics instill. It’s true we are born with infinite love, our lights shine brightly with no judgements or expectations in place to diminish them. As we grow and develop a belief system we begin to lose our connection to our inner stillness and we may not shine as brightly as we once did.

As life progresses it’s inevitable we love, we laugh, we cry, we grieve, we feel hope and disappointment, but no matter what life throws at us we always get the chance to light a new light. Each moment is a new beginning, a chance to ensure we are never in darkness.

How brightly are you shining today?


A lovely act of kindness

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you”. Princess Diana.

I received a fabulous surprise this morning when I woke up and checked my emails. The lovely traveling couple we had the pleasure of meeting at Sweetheart Abbey had sent us the photos they had taken of Tim and I on our wedding day.

 

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The quality of the images are phenomenal. The thing with eloping meant the majority of the photos were taken with my iphone. I had thought they were ok until I saw how vibrant and sharp Wendy and Geoff’s (as we now know they are called) pictures are.

 

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I am so grateful they took the time to do this. They have edited each photo and sent them via individual emails as the file size is so large and they thoughtfully didn’t want to diminish the quality. As they apparently have 9000 of their own photos from their trip to get through I am really touched they did this for us. 

Anyone who knows me (and many of you who don’t)! know I am a huge advocate of pay it forward. I believe the way to change the world is by one act of kindness at a time. A simple act, a thought, being shown compassion and kindness can be life changing. It’s not solely about making someone feel good in the moment. Such acts can provoke huge feelings of gratitude and joy we recall again and again. When you pay it forward you could be creating a memory someone will draw upon during their darkest days; how phenomenal is that?

Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Many of us have a positive effect on someone most days without consciously realising it. Imagine if we all consciously tried to carry out an act of kindness everyday too, it’s possible whatever your circumstances; a smile is the easiest way to start. Who knows how far the ripple effect will travel?

It’s fast approaching World Kindness Day (November 13th 2013). What can you do for someone on this date? The warm fuzzy feeling of kindness is too good not to share. Happiness is contagious – be a carrier.

 

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