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

Valuing individuality

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I opened a package the other day, a new book that I’d ordered online.  As I flicked through I was disappointed to see that the title page was creased over, and if I opened it out it was badly creased and stuck out as it hadn’t been trimmed to fit in like all the other pages.

Then I thought … Does it really matter?

I started to think about our own unique differences that make us special, and when we come together there is a magic involved – communication – that creates a sense of belonging in a group that embraces difference and commonalities.

So one little ‘flawed’ book will now have a special place in my library, not least because it is The Little Book of Hygge, The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking from The Happiness Research Institute, Copenhagen.

 

Possessions, memories and how to approach clutterless living unique to you

Copyright 2015, Cajsa Lilliehook, Flickr, CC-BY-SA, via Wylio

Copyright 2015, Cajsa Lilliehook, Flickr, CC-BY-SA, via Wylio

Following on from my last post on Selfness, here is another piece of draft writing from the same book (self-development/coaching).

‘Clutterless < — > Tidyness

I have had a long struggle with ‘clutter’ – I hold on to things for too long that I may never need. I now recognise that there is little value in this, apart from saving a few pennies or pounds in the distant future at the expense of living a cluttered existence.  If there is too much clutter, housework takes too long and becomes an unwelcome chore.

There has been much written on being clutterfree but some of this can be over-the-top, and lead to having a de-personalised space which is great for a showhouse but is it really a home?

At one time, I felt rebellious about clutterbusting.  Having had to downsize, I had no option than to sell or dispose of many items, some of which I still have regrets about.  Thankfully I did not rid myself completely of some of the smaller boxes containing various bits and pieces.  I later went through these and as I picked up a piece, I would recall a special person or time in my life.  Having a poor memory for some things, these triggers are invaluable and I am so thankful that I still have them in my life.

The key is to achieve a balance between possessions and space, with each possession having a place.  This leads to being clutterless (as opposed to clutterfree), keeps the space tidy and results in a personalised environment that is special to you.

Periodically I enjoy spending time sifting through a selection of my possessions to check that I still want to keep them, or to organise them in a better way.  This works for me.  I have found that by decorating a room in a way that brings me pleasure, then choosing storage solutions that complement that environment, I am able to keep the things that I love in a way that adds to my contentment in my home.

My problem is that I still buy things and bring them into the home. I get pleasure from browsing in charity shops and strolling round boot fairs, disastrous for adding to clutter! But I enjoy it, and therefore my sifting has become a regular occurrence to keep balance within the home. The benefits are that this process can be done mindfully. (A topic for another post.)

Here are a few tips for becoming clutterless:

  • Spend random times – perhaps in the evenings or at week-ends – going through a shelf, drawer or cupboard.  What works for me, if I am not motivated but want to sort something out, is to set a timer for 20 minutes and make an agreement with myself that after 20 minutes I can be done.  Oftentimes I am by then enjoying myself and get lost in the task, carrying on longer and achieving more, with a sense of satisfaction from the end result.
  • Draw up your own criteria for keeping things.  My own is that an item either gives pleasure, is useful now or within the next year, has memories or some other reason that I can justify to myself for keeping it.  Books are my downfall – yet they are such treasures. Also clothes. I do hold on to a lot of clothes, even though I apply the sifting process, but if they are well-organised then I don’t see it as a problem.
  • Decide what storage you want and get it.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot.  There are lots of cheap shelving options out there, or colourful boxes and filing systems.  The choice is yours. I have a bed with wonderful drawers which take a surprising amount.
  • Question what you are keeping ‘because it may be of use some day’.  My experience is that it is the things with memories, special things that people have given me, that I have missed. Those without memories are soon forgotten, and if you don’t need them then the likelihood is that you will not miss them. Amongst my regrets are my food mixer and food processor that I had for many years. I was in for a shock when I saw the replacement cost. So, think twice before sifting too far!
  • Think about what you really enjoy in your life.  Consider your values and keep the things that enhance your life.  Let go of those you will never use and just leave you with feelings of guilt that you should have done something with them.

Accept your level of clutterlessness and enjoy.’

This piece was written a few years back.  If you have read my recent post on Clutter-busting, it will be clear that I have not completely solved the clutter problem.  It remains something which varies according to my health, energy and motivation.

At the risk of sounding a bit weird, a conversation and youtube watching session with my daughter on shopping hauls gave me the idea of playing around with my new computer videoing a garage book haul.  I took a block of ten books off my shelf unit in my garage and recorded myself going through them and talking about them and what I found interesting.  I was hoping that by doing this I would at least find something that I no longer wanted.  I was wrong … it just reinforced my choice to keep them.  And the potential youtube video?  It was a learning experience – for a start it was too slow, I was swinging to and fro on my chair – very distracting – and it seemed so false!  There’s certainly work to be done if I want to join my daughter in becoming a youtuber (something she wants to do but not yet and would be great if we could both get involved).

By the way, for those that have read my post on Clutter-busting, as part of my garage plan I was researching the cost of skips at the week-end only to find that local skip hire companies are exceptionally secretive about their fees meaning that a few phone calls were needed.  Well today I contacted some and was slightly horrified at the cost.  Then I looked at the van hire and somehow the skip seemed more appealing.  However, even just working out that plan got me motivated to make a start on sorting the garage out, even if it wasn’t according to the plan I devised. I’ve made a start on working through it.

As a last thought, I think being part of this blogging community is really helping to motivate and inspire me.  When it comes to the home, I particularly like Le Zoe Musings which has such beautiful photos which include a selection of closet solutions.  Blogging has opened up a whole new world to me at a time when the world might otherwise have seemed to be getting smaller.

Clutter-busting … I woke as if in a dream and came up with a plan on how to empty my garage in 4 easy steps

Copyright 2008, Shane Gorski, Flickr, CC-BY-ND, via Wylio

Copyright 2008, Shane Gorski, Flickr, CC-BY-ND, via Wylio

Suddenly I was awake and felt startled.  I had been dreaming – I can’t recall what about now but it felt very real.  Now it was light and I thought I had overslept.  We would be late for school.  I jumped up and looked outside.  No activity.  Gradually it dawned on me that it was Saturday.  Relief swept over me and I relaxed.

Isn’t it strange how, when you get up first thing in the morning, suddenly a problem that’s been hanging over you just suddenly pops into your mind and a potential solution materialises in your thoughts that had never occurred to you before?  This was what happened to me this morning so I quickly penned a bullet point plan in case it flew away as quickly as it had landed.

I have a garage-full of ‘stuff’ that needs to be sorted and have either not had the motivation, space, resources or energy to deal with it.  It has been there in the background on a ‘to do’ list.  Vague discussions with family about taking action one week-end and clearing it, and one attempt about two years ago when we were not quite ready to dispose of the jumbled child equipment and activities, has meant that it still looms behind the doorway.

It is a block to sorting out my life.  The remnants of the past.  Reminders of good times.  At the moment I am on a role.  Despite my inability to go very far, being at home has meant that things are gradually happening, I have had the time to focus, make those calls, and get things done.

My eyes have become clearer since being on the verge of becoming a compulsive hoarder a few years ago while suffering from depression.  I think I stopped in time.  I took stock of the pile of old books that was building before me from addictive visits to charity shops, second hand bookshops and boot fairs.  I became fired up to take them to a charity shop that supported a local church where there are memories of my mother.  I filled bag after bag and there was a feeling of satisfaction when I delivered them in bulk to the charity shop, knowing that they were going to a good cause that in addition had a link with my mum.

One of the problems is I don’t just want to chuck things away that someone else would benefit from but there is so much (though of no particular value now).  We did spend time a couple of years back re-organising the garage.  We got rid of the most useless and discovered the odd hidden treasure.  Nowadays I sort things into rubbish and charity piles and it goes nowhere near the garage (well, to be honest it’s piled too high now) but the boot of my car is full of items ready to go to charity or recycling that has still not got there.

So … the plan that popped into my head, which may seem very obvious but has never occurred to me before, is to hire a large van big enough to take everything and be able to sort it out inside.  We could then take it to a boot fair so that if it could be of use to anyone, then that is an opportunity.  Whatever is left can then either go to charity or be disposed of as recycling or rubbish.  I have tried selling a few bits online but for me it is a long process, with little reward, and not one that I particularly enjoy after the first feeling of novelty.

So, the plan to clear a garage full of stuff is:

1. Hire a large van for the week-end.
2. Transfer the stuff from the garage to the van, filtering out the obvious rubbish.
3. Go to a boot fair.
4. Remainder goes to (a) charity (b) recycling (c) rubbish

I had thought of a having a skip, but I couldn’t deal with creating a heap of rubbish from many past gifts and memories in such a way.  I have seen the delight at a boot fair when a child excitedly finds something that they really want at that moment and my plan encompasses this.  However, I will check out the cost of a skip compared with my plan above and make a decision.

So when my garage is empty? Well there are some things in the spare bedroom that we want to keep … and underneath the stairs … on top of my wardrobe … under the bed … in the garden … NO!!!! it’s not going to happen.  The garage started off as a place to create, floored and walled, with table and chairs.  We even decorated it out and had Christmas Dinner in it one year.  Maybe a new use will pop into my head that will inspire me.   Anything is possible if you focus and believe it can be done.

Take the rough ground: fighting the system – finding my own way (journal writing 2013 on starting University)

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

 

The following is a piece of journal writing that I found while sorting out papers from my first year at University.  I really did get myself into a bit of a state over how much reading I thought I needed to do and it was beginning to become something that would stop me enjoying what to me was a dream come true to be at University.  Sometimes we need to just step back and reflect on our feelings about things that are troubling us and get them in perspective.  I also discovered there’s a lot of support out there for students.

I have lots of happy memories from my first year at University in 2013/14 as a mature student.  The photo was taken on holiday in Devon, England during a wonderful walk on Dartmoor when we met up with these beautiful Dartmoor ponies.

 

‘FIGHTING AGAINST THE SYSTEM – FINDING MY WAY
Tuesday, 1 October 2013
Last week was walking on air, this week anxiety has crept in. I’m here to learn. I knew there would be lots of books. But I can’t read! Well, I can read – I know my abc – but I can’t read lots and recall. Yesterday got really stressed when I looked at the never-ending book lists that seemed to go on forever. And I have to read them all! It’s important! Of course I have to read them all – except the small number of optional – elst why would they be optional? I can feel myself dipping, lurching, wilting. And it’s only day 1 of week 1. Tasters and freshers over. This is reality. But I love to learn. It’s enthralling, exciting, inspiring. Yet how do I learn if I can’t read the books??

Today, my answer is, by being me. I’ve lived long enough and delved deep enough to know that I learn and create in unique ways. Probably that’s the key word, create. I am creative in mind. Is it no wonder that I can’t follow systems to the letter? Routine is dull, orders are dull. I need colour, variety, flexibility, spontaneity, adventure. I need to go wherever I feel in the moment. Even I know that’s not reality and I soon swing in with all the rest. Yet when the freedom to learn becomes rigidly fixed in my mind, that’s when I have to find my own way. I have the passion, commitment, desire, inquiring mind, ambition to follow through with my path in my own way. I just need to give myself permission in this world of self-study, self-responsibility, self-organisation to follow the path less travelled – in fact to take the rough ground whenever I feel as sometimes the most magnificent scenes come into our lives when we trust in life and our ability to survive and grow.’