Changing The World: One Book Date At A Time

PieLiving with a chronic physical and mental illness had led me to spend a lot of time managing feeling poorly and struggling. Having spent time in hospital, including a year as an inpatient on an eating disorder ward, I learnt a lot about self care and soothing myself when things are hard. Gradually I realised that I could come up with an idea that combined my love (and the boost it gives to my wellbeing) of craft, vintage and reading to come up with something that might help others who are going through a challenging time. #DateWithABook was born and it has continued to grow from there onwards.

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me– C.S. Lewis.

Illness can lead you to feel really isolated. You can face days where you are really limited in the amount of energy you have, or motivation to do the things you would love to be doing. This was one of the starting ideas for my book dates. I wanted to reach out to people who might be finding things tough and offer them something to help them through that moment. I’m a lover of everything old and vintage and the idea of rehoming a beautiful old book felt like the best way to go. Giving these books a new lease of life whilst helping others just seemed perfect! The idea is that a book date is a way to reclaim date night and rest and rejuvenate with a hot drink and a cosy homely coaster with your set.

We read to know we’re not alone– William Nicholson, Shadowlands.

So, what do I hope to achieve with my little book dates? Well… quite a lot! I believe that sharing a #datewithabook can be a huge act of kindness, offering someone who is struggling a piece of calm, distraction and an excuse to have a night off. Or it can be a perfect piece of self care for yourself, to help with the stresses that we face day to day. A date with a book can be a way of reconnecting with someone who needs some extra love or showing you care when you can’t ‘fix’ a situation someone is going through.

Praise for #datewithabook

I absolutely loved recieving my date with a book parcel in the post. Kate made one up based on my likes for me to enjoy on maternity leave. Good value for money and such a wonderful idea for a treat to yourself or for gifts to others. Will be ordering from her again in the future.- Jenny

iap_300x300.1391670469_git4lj8k

I received my date with a book yesterday and it’s wonderful. I almost didn’t want to open it as it looked so pretty. I’m currently about to sit down and start reading. I will definitely be using you again. It is such a lovely idea.– Lindsey

Fantastic idea. Love this. Date with a Book. Something really different, original & unique. Brought for a friend, who Loved it to & has been showing friends. Whole thing arrives Beautifully packaged in soft tissue paper. Makes a Wonderful gift for Any occasion. Or No occasion at all.. Just to say, Thinking of you. Hello. Etc.– Annette

Such a unique idea! It was very exciting to receive the package as you don’t know which book you will get and I was not disappointed! I received a book from an author who I’ve never heard of, and I cannot wait to read it! Prompt delivery too!!– Bisma

There are lots of different #datewithabook sets available in my Conscious Crafties and Etsy stores. I’m just in the process of a big restock to make way for a beautiful array of Christmas gifts, ideal for the person who has everything. Use the discount code BLOG10 to get 10% off any orders over £10. I also have a #datewithabook advent calendar full of literary themed items.

 

Advertisements

Finding Hope In Unexpected Places

bestHope is a strange thing. It can be the motivation to keep going when things are hard or the idea that things may one day be different or better. Hope is a hard thing to hang on to, it’s not exactly tangible and it can be easily shattered. But even the tiniest amount of hope can be a really powerful thing. I’ve frequently been told to hold on, with the hope that it will get easier. But I guess I want to be told exactly when that will be… easier said than done I guess.

Perhaps, certainly in recovery, it is much easier to identify and manage if someone has lost hope, rather than working out how much hope they have! Martin Seligman found that if animals were subjected to difficult situations that were out of their control, then became helpless and passive; not wanting to try and escape the situation they were in. Perhaps demonstrating what happens when you lose hope in a situation. For people lack of hope can manifest in many different ways such as; depression, anxiety, lack of motivation or self destructive behaviours. It can be a bit of a downward spiral where hopelessness leads to individuals not wanting to try and change, and therefore the negativity is perpetuated.

Hope is not pretending that troubles don’t exist. It is the hope that they
won’t last forever. That hurts will be healed and difficulties overcome. That we will be led out of darkness and into the sunshine.

Sometimes taking the first step, especially when you feel hopelessness, can be the hardest. If you don’t believe things can change, then it’s totally understandable that it feels impossible to get started and find some hope.

So how can you find hope and break unhelpful spirals?

  1. Break it down a little- sometimes hoping to be ‘recovered’ can be a very tall order. It can feel like you’re trying to get from A-Z without any real idea of how to get there. It’s important to try and allow yourself you work through the process, taking measurable baby steps to find your way. It’s also completely ok if your goal changes, it can be a fluid process which in itself may give you hope.
  2. Show yourself compassion- once you begin your steps, you make have to reevaluate and take a different approach if it doesn’t feel like it’s working or going smoothly. Of course, it’s not going to be a walk in the park, but if it’s too hard you won’t reach the other side anyway. You may just need to change your goal posts and aim for slightly simpler steps. A headteacher once told me that when you write a to-do list, you should start with 2-3 things you’ve already done or know you can complete straight away. Giving yourself the immediate satisfaction of completing something can then spur you on to manage the rest.
  3. Start a gratitude list- I am fairly certain you’ve already achieved a lot in your life. If might not feel it, but think about the little things you have achieved. Reminding yourself that you are in fact pretty amazing can help you to feel hopeful about the future.
  4. Find Inspiration- this could be from people you know, famous people or celebrities, quotes, stories or anything really. Surround yourself with your inspiration and re-visit it daily to help move your mindset on to one of hope.
  5. Find hope by letting go of negativity- starting to let go of negativity, anxiety or depression can set you up to find space for a little more hope in your life.
  6. Think your way to hope- think about the way your life is now and the type of person you would like to be and what kind of life you would have if you were that person.
  7. Gain support from others- if you’re feeling hopeless, sometimes you need someone to help you find hope again. This can be from friends, family or even professionals. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  8. Look after yourself- once again, self care is really important here. Looking after yourself can build your resilience and help you manage when you’re feeling hopeless.
  9. Help others to help yourself- sometimes getting a little perspective can help you find hope again.
  10. Be brave- ultimately, don’t give up. You’ve got this, you can do it. Maybe not right now, but you will be able to.

At the end of the day, all you need is hope and strength. Hope that it will get better and strength to hold on until it does.

Safe Journey Stardust

12376210_10153431360168869_2326014685564590211_n.pngToday the world lost one of it’s greatest musicians. David Bowie shared with the world pure creative genius which touched and shaped the lives of a whole multitude of people spanning years and generations. His music has a way of reaching inside of your, drawing you in and hooking you up to his very spirit. The New York Times paid a much greater tribute to a wonderful man than I would be able to do; but I wanted to share my feelings of gratitude.

Bowie represented the misfits, the weirdness of the world and perhaps spoke out for those who just didn’t fit in. His morphing personas encompassed all of life and shouted that it was ok to be who or whatever you were destined to be. He gave so much to music and popular culture in such a non-conformist kind of way and the world will continue to be a better place with his legacy as he lives on through all that he has created.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 23.36.46.png
Photo courtesy of the V&A

I was lucky enough to visit the ‘David Bowie Is…’ retrospective exhibition at the V&A. It was an insight into Bowie’s life that really opened my eyes to his journey as a performer. There were such power in the battles he had faced throughout the years and the impact they had on his various personas. It seemed to make sense that he was indeed such a creative master; his mind full of so much turmoil as well as magic.

 

As the world mourns the loss of one of the greats, his legacy will last on through the way he has opened our eyes to differences in fame, fashion, music and gender. Hopefully the world will continue to grow more accepting of the weird and wonderful, of those who are outside of the norm.

Safe travels to the stars Stardust.

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 00.02.30.pngScreen Shot 2016-01-11 at 23.45.39.png

Breaking The Avoidance

353aad1ef4e8029ad92a66931546e982I’ve definitely been avoiding blogging for a while. I’ve had ideas and at times even made a start on a blog; but then the avoidance breaks have jammed back on again! I don’t think it’s even been intentional, life is just very very busy at the moment.

I’ve completed my second week back at Uni and so far it’s been good… hard and weird but good. It’s funny, I was so stressed with all the what if’s of going back to studying that I lost site of all of the positives. It’s been an anxiety filled whirlwind but I *think* I’m on top of everything… I’m working part time alongside Uni, so I’ve had to juggle my workload and try and keep some time free to destress and really focus on my self-care. I was cycling home yesterday thinking that maybe… just maybe… it’s going ok! I think the negative stressy part of my head is waiting for me to start to really struggle, waiting for the inevitable time when it gets too much. But the reality is that it’s going well and I’m really enjoying it!

Perhaps I’m working towards being in a place where I can let go of that negativity or just notice it as my anxious inner self, acknowledge it’s there and let it float off in a mindful way.

Today I’m aiming to finish my first draft of my ethics form… watch this space for exciting mental health research hopefully coming soon!

I’m not sure what I was aiming to get out of blogging today… I guess I’m hoping to break the back of the writers and perfectionist block so I can get back into the swing of things.

Day 30: Bring It All Together

Somehow, it’s the end of the month and my #SelfCareSeptember journey is coming to an end! ec3ba90e42153fd91bd7ca3b14399517I hope you’ve found some of my posts interesting and that you can take away at least a few ideas to help improve your own self care.

I’ve definitely found thinking about self care for a little time each day really helpful, it’s helped me to realise that it’s ok to make myself a priority for a little of my busy routine… the world won’t end and I will actually feel a little better for it.

I’ve used distress tolerance boxes in the past (something I will blog about at a later date), and I wonder if it could work to make a self care box or bag. Fill it with all of the things you need to complete a little self care, or flash cards reminding prompting you with different ideas… I image it being a little like a lucky dip on lovely ideas to help improve your wellbeing.

Here’s a summary of the month’s blog posts. Thanks so much for reading my blog and not getting too bored of me waffling on about self care! Now to think of a new project!

  1. Day 1: Be Still (Mindfulness and meditation)
  2. Day 2: Healthy Routines
  3. Day 3: Gratitude
  4. Day 4: Radical Self Love
  5. Day 5: Random Acts of Kindness
  6. Day 6: Happy and Safe Places
  7. Day 7: Take a Break
  8. Day 8: Let Go of Your Inner Critic
  9. Day 9: Get Active
  10. Day 10: Warning Signs
  11. Day 11: Love
  12. Day 12: Sleep and Rest
  13. Day 13: Put Yourself First
  14. Day 14: Soothe Your Soul
  15. Day 15: Know Your Limits
  16. Day 16: Colouring
  17. Day 17: Important People
  18. Day 18: Be Yourself
  19. Day 19: Face Your Fears
  20. Day 20: Ride The Storm
  21. Day 21: Live Without Regrets
  22. Day 22: Notice The Little Things
  23. Day 23: Technology Breaks
  24. Day 24: Let Out Emotions
  25. Day 25: Silver Linings
  26. Day 26: Accept and Seek Help
  27. Day 27: Work Towards Goals
  28. Day 28: Expand Your Mind
  29. Day 29: Self Compassion
  30. Day 30: Self Care Bags

Day 22: Notice The Little Things

IMG_4212I am really privileged to work with children and young people every week. Not a week goes by when I’m not astounded and inspired (and of course occasionally a little frustrated!) by the young people I get to spend my working hours with. They are full of exciting enthusiasm and new perspectives on things that I really take for granted. I moderate and host two live forums each week, a kind of live moderated chat discussion and recently (probably inspired a little by my personal blogging topic) we have been looking at self care and distress tolerance techniques.

It took a while for you young people to understand the idea of self soothe, they really weren’t keen on spending time to look after themselves without needing any reason to. But eventually we got there and they became almost enthusiastic about the idea! One of my favourites had a fab explanation as the penny dropped and he excitedly said… ‘so it’s about noticing and appreciating the little things in life’, it seemed so simple but he really had a point. We had been talking about using your senses to feel good, for example having a nice bubble bath with lots of smellies, sitting outside and listening to the birds or looking at beautiful pictures. He was right, they were all the little things that we often take for granted, that make us feel better.

Apparently, it takes 30 days to make or break a habit. So why not have a go at the challenge I set our young people a couple of weeks ago and try to find a few minutes each day to appreciate the little things in life and do things that make you feel good, if you can do it each day for about a month… you’re more likely to be able to carry it on and improve your wellbeing so why not start during#SelfCareSeptember?

7/7 is a day of celebration as well as remembrance

Today is my wonderful, beautiful, caring and kind sisters 22nd birthday. I am so privileged to have such a great sister and I am so happy to be celebrating her birthday today!

The 7th July 2015 marked a terrible moment in Britain’s history when four bombs were detonated in London killing 52 people and injuring and changing the lives of so many others. Today marks the 10th anniversary of 7/7 and there have been some really special tributes and memorial events that have taken place across the country to honour those who were lost and those who were affected by the attacks.

I took some time out to think of those who were killed in the 7/7 terrorist attacks today, but I’ve also spent the day celebrating Lizzie’s birthday. It’s a sad fact that each year there will be a sad memory of the terrible event that happened but 7/7 each year also marks a day to celebrate life, mainly my little sister’s. I think it’s something so important we all must do, remember those who were lost, but also a celebrate of all of the people who survived, and how lucky we all are to be alive. I will always hold 7/7 in my heart as a day of love and appreciation of what I have got in a world that is often troubled by sadness and hurt.