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

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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.

 

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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.

Day 17: Spend Time With Important People

12034463_10153285151884531_1998699074819550123_oAfter some lovely days out in the last few weeks, it seemed like a no-brainer to have a special blog about spending time with important people as part of #SelfCareSeptember.

My friends and family are a wonderful support to me. They are the people who have stuck by me through my mental health difficulties, help me remember the reasons I am recovering when it feels tricky and above all, they are the people who make me smile and have so much fun with.

Making time to spend socialising is often something that get’s put to the bottom of the to-do list, it doesn’t always seem like a priority as often those people will still be around later on and of course you’ll catch up eventually. I’ve blogged a little before thanking my friends for sticking by me, but not everyone has been able to. I’ve really seen the importance of a good friendship group over the last year especially. So I’m trying to be really proactive and make sure I’m making the most of the time with my friends and family. They are the ones who make me feel good, so they should be the ones I make time for!

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Day 11: Love And Be Loved

Ev843a9cf3f1a472056b529b5cb17d7aedery year I am struck my the poignance of the close proximity of World Suicide Prevention Day and the September 11th anniversary of the loss of 2977 people in 2001. The two days share a similar sadness; days of memory for those who have been lost and awareness for threats to life such as terrorism and suicide.

I saw a post circulating Facebook today that really touched me:

On the eve of September 10th 2001, millions of Americans went to bed quietly, with no thought that the next morning their world would change for forever. That night hundreds packed flight bags they would not live to open. Thousands slept beside loved ones for the last time. One never knows what a new day has in store. Let us live each day to the fullest, and never miss a chance to let those dearest to us know of our love for them. So, if you have someone in your life that you love, tell them.

3c4a83f88f196b2cd0a12aed8e60f360At a time of year where we remember, I think it is also important to think of those who are important to us. I think there is a huge amount to be said for one of the oldest of sentiments, something we develop in infancy that remains key throughout our lives and regardless of the situation we may be in, the wonderful thing that is love.

Tragedy acts as a stark reminder of what is important to us and who we wish to surround ourselves with. Love comes along in all sorts of forms; the love of a parent and their child, the love between siblings or family members, the love of friends and companions. It can be felt in so many ways with so many different people in our lives. Love is a powerful thing and to experience it can bring such joy to life.

For today’s day of #SelfCareSeptember, get in contact with those you love, life can be full of unexpected and unexplainable things; so make sure they know how important they are to you.

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return

Day 4: Find some time for a little self love

IMG_3594I’m loving #SelfCareSeptember already! It’s been really nice researching new ideas and having to think a little outside of thebox… I mean… I’ve got a whole month to fill with ideas! I’m going to add my research sources, ideas and all things self care to a Pinterest board, so click and follow. I’ll be adding all of the #SelfCareSeptember posts and other ideas and inspiration so have a look and follow me!

For my fourth day of blogging this month, I wanted to share some fabulous tips about finding some time for some Self Love from Gala Darling, an inspirational teacher of radical self love from New Zealand. Her website is awesome and you should really check it out for some fab ideas and information. I’m probably going to be talking about some of her ideas on my blog again as they’re great!

Radical self acceptance is a tricky one especially if your relationship with yourself is a little on the rocky side. I’ve found developing any kind of self acceptance quite a challenge, but it was something that I’ve put a lot of work and a lot of therapy into! I think the key is to keep working at it, you’re not going to learn to accept yourself and love yourself over night and perhaps thinking about the amount of time you’ve not shown yourself acceptance… then maybe you will see that it might take a little time to relearn and reprogram your head
. That’s no reason to admit defeat or give up before you even give it a go, it’s definitely possible and worth it!

So what kind of things can you do to try and show yourself a little more self love? One lovely idea of Gala Darling’s is to think about 5 attributes you inherited or learnt from your parents, it can even be 5 things your relationship with them taught you. Noticing some positives can lead you to realising that your have positive and worthwhile qualities. I learnt a lot in therapy about positive logs and the benefits of noticing positive qualities or attributes you have in the war against unhelpful negative core beliefs you have about yourself or rules that you lead your life by.

Why don’t you have a go at thinking about a positive qualities you have. Maybe starting in a matter of fact way and thinking about skills you have could work, that’s how I managed to have a go!

Thank you to everyone who has been following, sharing, commenting and generally been getting involved with my monthly feature! It’s so encouraging and makes it feel really worthwhile… so don’t stop yet! Also, if you’ve got any top tips or #SelfCare ideas, then please drop me a line via my contact page or send me a Tweet/Direct message and I can include your ideas too 🙂

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.