Life Happens, Live Happy … Now!

A year after I finished writing, I have NOW self-published my book “Life Happens, Live Happy” through Amazon KDP.  Writing a book was one of my life goals and to be honest I felt like I had achieved it when I finished writing it last Christmas, as the goal was never about selling it.  Perhaps that was why it took me so long to actually get it out there.  Then again, perhaps it was all about timing, or the fact that it was a very personal book that it feels quite scary to share with the world.  It now seems like the perfect time!

lhlh front cover wordpress 4 12 18 copy

This book is very important to me and it was quite therapeutic writing it.  Like this blog, it has at its root what happened to me in 2015 when I was diagnosed with a life-threatening form of leukaemia and was seriously ill in hospital.  When I returned home after more than a couple of months in hospital, it was blogging I turned to as something to give me some focus in life, to distract me from the seriousness of what I was dealing with.  So this little book talks about some of the issues around this time and what helped me, particularly having a positive approach to life and  acknowledging the simple things that can make us happy.  Like this blog, it is quite random in nature.

Back in 2017, I joined the Sue Stone Foundation as an accredited coach and this has made an immense difference to me, and it is Sue Stone who kindly wrote the Foreword for my new book.  Sue wrote the book “Love Life, Live Life”, which I read I believe back in 2008 and found it very inspirational.  Sue was later one of the Secret Millionaires on the TV programme and I feel very privileged to be a member of her Foundation whose aim is to spread positivity, love and success throughout the world.

I hope that some of you reading my blog will end up reading my little book.  The aim of the book was to inspire anyone on their own life journey, whatever their challenges may be.  It is available on Amazon across the world in English language, in the UK it is £6.99 plus postage for the paperback, the Kindle version is available for £2.99 or if you subscribe to unlimited then it is free under the KDP Select scheme.  This is a new adventure for me and 2019 is going to be an exciting time.  If anyone else reading this has experience of self-publishing through Amazon I would love to hear from you.  I would also love to hear any thoughts on my book if you have a chance to read it.

The Sue Stone Foundation is holding its first online summit on Monday, 21 January in the evening.  I will be one of the participants as a member of the Foundation.  If you would like further information about this, just leave me a message.

Wishing you all the best for 2019.

Life Happens, Live Happy!  Click here to see some sample pages and to buy “Life Happens, Live Happy” by Kay Underdown

Puppydays – Isle of Sheppey seaside

I’m excited to be back on WordPress after spending yesterday helping my friend Artist Julie Bradshaw with her own blog (more on that in another post).  It’s given me the incentive to get back on here, I’ve really missed it.  There’s been a lot going on in my life keeping me busy, mainly getting back to university after my debilitating illness throughout 2015, trying to catch up on what I have missed and keeping up with working on my modules so that I can complete my second year and progress to my final year.  But … one of the most exciting, heartwarming and life changing things has been having the new addition to our family, Jasmine our chocolate labrador puppy.

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It had been a possible intention to do a separate blog, or create a YouTube channel, for my puppy and tell her story from when she was born throughout her early days and beyond.  But the reality is that when Jasmine arrived home, I can only liken it to having a new baby with all the routines and care of looking after a new life.  Jasmine is a joy to look after but much as I wanted to take lots of beautiful photos, most important is to enjoy and be with her and the camera sort of goes out the window a lot of the time (and has luckily escaped the clutches of Jasmine’s teeth!).  I have taken quite a few photos but they are not the ‘perfect’ puppy photos I had imagined – but then Jasmine to me is perfect in every photo because it is her.  So at various points I will share some of the earlier photos and I’m sure she will appear in future posts as we enjoy the summer together.

So for now, here are a few photos of our trip the other day to the seaside on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent.  It was a glorious if slightly chilly day and there were surprisingly few people about.  I do enjoy finding these gems of places that are not so far away from my home and I wonder why I don’t visit more often.  I love the seaside and Jasmine really enjoyed her visit, despite having her nose to the ground most of the time.   But perhaps that’s a sure sign of happiness for a dog!

 

 

 

Embracing 60 – surprise party and the value of blogging

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I had no doubt I wanted to share this photo but I pondered the title.  Yes it was my sixtieth birthday recently.  I’d been very specific about my age when I was in hospital over the past year and they had me down at one stage as 60 – NO! I said, I’m not 60, I’m 59 – a big difference in my eyes, fiftties sounds younger, sixties sounds, well, old.

So here I am, 60 and proud of it.  It’s a fact, it’s a number.  But does it really mean anything?  I opened a card just the other day from a fairly new friend who had never known my age.  She couldn’t help adding a comment to the card that we had chatted, shared things and experiences together, laughed and more and she couldn’t believe I was the age I was and said it proves age is just a number.  I don’t know her age.  Somewhere between 30’s and 40’s.  Does it matter?  What matters is that we clicked, we get on well together, she always makes me smile.  She said I was an inspiration but she inspires me.  We inspire each other, what can be better than that – peer inspiration, the best.

After the difficult year I have had, I felt blessed to reach my 60th and even more so when a surprise birthday celebration was arranged by my close family.  I had an inkling that we were going to do something, I thought a small family meal out together somewhere.  I was urged to be ready in time and was frantically trying to get my Christmas gift of earrings from a friend through my ears that I had not done for nearly a year, didn’t even know if the holes would still be there.  Success and then I made my way out the door to be greeted by a huge white limousine.

It was a wonderful surprise and I sat sipping a taster of Champagne as I floated in the car to our destination.  It seemed unreal.  In my mind I kept thinking I knew where we were going as we took different turnings and changed my guess as we went past.  We ended up arriving at one of my favourite haunts some years back where we spent many happy times, a fairly local hotel where I had partied, had family brunches with Santa and enjoyed the therapeutic benefits of the health spa.  After capturing our family group outside the limo, I ventured inside, not prepared for the surprises that moment by moment dawned on me.  Some of my closest friends who had supported me so much during the past year were already seated in the lounge area, scattered so it took me a few minutes to take it in and tears of emotion and joy escaped my eyes.  It couldn’t have been more perfect.  How they had all managed to keep it from me at a time when we were wishing each other a Happy Christmas and not expecting to see each other until the New Year I do not know.  I never suspected such a surprise.  It brought a warm glow to my heart and I treasured every moment.

I have dwelt on this more than I intended and it is hard to express in words how I felt.  I had not felt able to make plans myself because I had not long had my last treatment of chemotherapy and was still recovering, and somehow it being the last of the cycle made it more difficult though I should have been pleased.  As I write this I have enjoyed a joyous Christmas at home and spent a couple of days away at a family party where most of my family were present and I met once again with the youngest member, just under a year old, my niece’s son.

I would never have imagined years ago that at age 60 (which always seemed so old when I recall my own parents reaching that age) that I would have a teenage daughter and be mid-way through a degree course at University.  I have a wonderful family, dear friends and a range of interests that keep me happy most of the time.  There are challenges ahead but there is so much to be thankful for.  I am returning to study in January and this will bring its own pressures which will again mean that my blogging will no doubt go on hold again, but it is not something that I want to let go of.  It is something that I want to return to again and again as there is something so special about it.  I have tinkered with different aspects of social media.  Each has its place, benefits and downfalls, but to me nothing gets near to what blogging can do.  It opens up a whole new world and the opportunities are endless.  Whenever I come on here I get lost in what I am doing and never feel that I have wasted my time.  There is always something that draws me in to read more and I know that it is always there for me if I need it.

i

Timelapse – return to blogging – Brighton West Pier

Copyright 2015 Kay Underdown/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay Underdown/wavesandpebbles

This photo was taken from my hotel room in Brighton when I escaped with my daughter for a couple of days before returning home for my last cycle of chemo treatment which I am having today.  I have very mixed emotions and hoping that I don’t end up back in hospital.

My post today was prompted by the realisation that people were still reading my blog and if I left it much longer I might never return.  I realise how much I have missed the blogging world but I have taken time out to get out and about as much as possible before I am restricted again.  I have also been experimenting with other social media, Twitter in particular, but there is no comparison.  I find Twitter fascinating but there is not the same sense of community that I feel might be gained from being part of the blogging world.  I would be interested to hear other people’s thoughts on this.  There’s a lot of social media options out there and for me they each serve different purposes and it’s finding a way to use them without social media taking over your life.

I’m just going to leave it there today.  I’ve still been taking photos which I will catch up on and blog about.  My Apple desktop is a scattered mess of photos which will no doubt give me inspiration.  I’m keeping calm and relaxed and there is just something about the photo I have chosen for this blog that takes me to a different place.

Introducing my Healthy Eating Forum for Bloggers across the World

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

I know I need to eat healthier.  It’s not that I don’t eat reasonably healthily, as I think I do.  But it is what the ‘reasonably’ stands for.  Some days it’s chocolate, including keep returning to that delicious block of Belgian chocolate gateaux that I thought was such a bargain as I can slice it straight from the freezer and no longer wait for it to defrost.  Other days it’s butter, too many things throughout the day that just wouldn’t be the same without it: hot buttered toast, mushrooms cooked in butter, cauliflower cheese with a rich sauce.  Then recently I bought a second hand Kenwood food mixer and have been making my own bread and baking cakes.  How do people who bake all the time manage to keep trim?  And going out socialising, eating and drinking in restaurants and cafes.  Yesterday I was offered dessert (after a fairly healthy and very filling jacket potato with cheese and salad).  Usually I decline but I was tempted by their homemade Raspberry Pavlova.  When it arrived the raspberries were sitting on a thick blanket of fresh cream.  It was delicious but even I realised it was a bit over the top.

When I was first diagnosed with leukaemia in January this year I was in hospital for three months and lost about a stone and a half (I never can visualise my metric weight).  I must admit I was glad that I had some weight to lose as I eventually couldn’t eat and had to have nutrition intravenously.  The medical staff were concerned that I got my appetite back and ate things that would build me up.  So when I could eat, it wasn’t particularly what I would call healthy – it was a bit of a mix.  Which is probably where I am at now.  I do believe that as long as the healthy and unhealthy is properly balanced then it is not a problem.  But what is that balance?  Balance is probably the wrong word as it definitely should not be 50:50.  What do you think?

When I was in my early twenties I was forever trying to lose weight, trying different diets with my friends then putting the weight back on.  Then I stumbled across something that worked for me, losing over two stone and keeping it off for many years.  I still recall that I had a set menu every day, it became a routine.  I had cereal for breakfast, crispbreads with apple sauce (yes, sounds strange, but I discovered it and it worked for me) then a chicken salad in the evening.  I also walked to and from work, a good half hour each way.  The thing was I didn’t have to think about what I was going to eat.  I knew.  Once I got used to it, I stopped being obsessed with thinking about food.  Have you found something that has worked for you?

I know what I need to do.  I need to plan what I am going to eat, make a shopping list and stick to it.  And how difficult is that?  Simple.  Then why is it so hard to do?  Why do I seem to have such a block when it comes to planning my diet?  I have come across some blogs on here which focus on healthy eating, including people who have been affected by cancer and discuss the best types of food to eat.  The problem is there is so much information out there and it’s knowing the best places to look.  Have you found a really good blog or website?  Is there a book you would recommend?

I should have the motivation.  I have good reason to want to eat healthily but somehow that isn’t always enough to do what’s needed.  There must be other people out there who are struggling like I am, or who have moved on and now living a healthy life.  I am therefore setting up a page which people can visit and share their own experiences, what has helped them overcome blocks to healthy eating, what healthy eating means to them in practice, what the risks are – such as what has stopped them following a healthy diet, what has got in the way.  Things such as stress, relationship break-ups, long working hours, cooking for family?  I’d love to hear from bloggers all over the world.

Please visit my new Forum https://wavesandpebbles.wordpress.com/healthy-eating-forum/ and let me know what you think of this idea.  I hope it will bring people together to discuss their issues related to healthy eating.  You may have noticed I don’t talk about losing weight.  I do need to lose weight but I think that once I am eating a healthier diet, my weight will gradually reduce which is the best way of keeping it off.

I look forward to hearing about your own experiences and am hoping that by doing this, it will help me, and others out there in the blogging world, live a healthier life.

Happy blogging.

Kay

Recovering at home – working towards my goals

Photo Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Photo Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Today I thought I’d better try and get back into blogging, which I had been looking forward to but other things have got in the way and I couldn’t seem to decide what to write about.

One thing I am really pleased about is that I at last seem to be making progress with an idea for a novel, one of my ambitions in life.  It is gradually beginning to take shape, slowly.  At last I seem to have found a way that works for me, by doing it randomly and gradually it is coming together and different ideas are starting to pop up.  I want to write something that is both simple and yet complex in the way that it is structured, bringing together things to do with life that I am interested in and using some of my life experiences and learning.  I had often thought about writing something autobiographical until I attended a creative writing course which made me realise that I could write fiction and weave personal experiences within it.

The other thing I have been doing over the past couple of weeks is catching up on an online learning course on social media marketing.  It is an introduction and has been interesting seeing how the course itself has been put together.  Maybe this will come in useful when I publish my book!  When it comes to publishing – some way off for me at the moment – there are decisions to make on whether to go the self-publishing route, whether to publish an e-book, traditional printed copies or both.  I love books that I can just flick through, there is just something about browsing in a book shop, holding the book and turning the pages.  Yet having an e-book would open it up to a much wider audience.

Something else I have done in the past couple of weeks is putting together a photo book.  I took advantage of one Groupon’s offers and enjoyed putting together a random selection of memories from photos on my computer which spanned from the birth of my 13 year old daughter.  I received the book in the post yesterday and am really pleased with it.  It has a hard cover with my own photos on the front and back.  A bonus was that I could share an electronic version with friends and family if I wished – I wasn’t expecting that – so I am well pleased.  Going back to my novel, I can really see the benefits of going the ‘e’ route but a combination – like my photo book – would definitely suit me best.  So at some point I will need to research the options, particularly cost-wise and time-wise.  If I really got a move on with my draft, when could I realistically publish?  At last I do actually believe it could happen, that it is not some flimsy dream without legs.

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Since coming out of hospital I have been dipping into ‘The Millionaire Course. A Visionary Plan for Creating the Life of Your Dreams’ by Marc Allen.  I really like the book, particularly the use of ‘keys’ and numerous quotations.  It has reminded me of things I have learned in the past and I have started doing affirmations again in relation to things I want to achieve.  Last time I did this regularly, I did notice changes take place in my life for the better.  I just need to remember to read the affirmations each day, add to them or change them, and see what happens.  It helps in keeping things positive during a difficult time, as does my writing.

Well that’s it for now.  I hope not to leave it so long till next time.  I’m now going to see what photos I can use for this post.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Additional note:

It intrigues me where things lead.  As I thought about what photo to use, I decided to take a photo of an inspirational tile that was a gift from my eldest daughter some years ago.  It sits here in a prominent position in my room.  I then decided to look on the back to see if there was any way of finding out if it was still available.  Well I still don’t know the answer to that as I got distracted.  The tile is by Russ Berrie and I googled this.  I ended up reading about Russ Berrie’s story as Founder of The Russell Berrie Foundation.  A man who starts making money at the age of 10 years old selling scorecards at baseball games and has a real belief in the value and skill of being able to sell.  He becomes one of the top 40 most generous Americans and founds The Russell Berrie Foundation.  Sadly he passed away on Christmas Day in 2002 but his memory lives on through the Foundation.  I liked the following quote from his story which is an extract from a lecture given in 1998 “Selling Your Way to Success”:

“So, set a goal, then persevere in that goal through thick and thin, overcoming all obstacles … if you have the courage and the sense of urgency to get it done, you will do so. You can achieve what you want if you truly want it badly enough. My wish for you is that you get in touch with the person that is uniquely you. I advise you to trust yourself enough to let the world in and savor all that it has to offer.” (Russ Berrie 1998)

Home again – reflecting back on beauty in nature after chemo

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Hi everyone

Just got back home after another spell in hospital.  I realise I have missed the blogging world which is out of reach where I stay as there is such a bad mobile connection and no Wi Fi.  I thought about writing blog posts while I was in hospital but for me it isn’t the same.  I like to be spontaneous.  To write and post the same day if I can.  There may be some snippets of writing that I can share but I tend to look back later at any writing I do in hospital rather than revisit it straightaway.

Anyway, the week before I was admitted to hospital following my third cycle of chemotherapy, I had taken a gentle walk in a couple of different places.  So some of those photos will be appearing here.  They are not brilliant photos, a bit blurry in places, but for me they represent days spent enjoying just being in nature on beautiful sunny – yet cloudy – days.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles