Writing back to Happiness

In 2015 I started this blog when I was dealing with treatment for a life threatening form of leukaemia. I kept the blog up for some while – it helped provide me with a focus – and when I was able to go out, I enjoyed taking photos and sharing them.

As life returned to some form of normality – I had survived! (needing checks every six months) – my blog writing slipped. I had a couple of attempts to rekindle it but somehow life got in the way. Yet when I wrote my first book “Life Happens, Live Happy” (available on Amazon – author Kay Underdown), I fully realised how both writing and blogging had helped me through some very challenging times.

When I eventually graduated from University in 2017 with my degree in Social Sciences, having had a whole year out due to my illness, the idea for Life Story Writing was born. Workshops and courses using my own unique approach combining coaching, creativity and sense of belonging.

Following graduation I had to negotiate some difficult, and unexpected, life paths. the outcome is living in the most wonderful area by the sea, one of my dreams that I had long wanted to achieve but never before had the guts to see it through.

There followed a period when I half-heartedly worked towards working for myself as a coach and running workshops but somehow the time wasn’t right. Life was good. I still felt as if I was on holiday whenever I had the time to wander but I lacked something and I just didn’t know what that something was. So I returned to University to start a Masters degree in Methods of Social Research and during this time I had a period of exploration and fine-tuned my direction. It was the Life Story Writing workshops I wanted to focus on. I had an inner conviction that they could really make a difference to people’s wellbeing, and could help increase happiness and sense of belonging.

After a few initial workshops on happiness and empowerment and life story writing, I started running a longer course for a local charity aimed at people aged 50+. That course has led to something very special to me – a small life story writing group. One of the outcomes from this will be my next book – “Writing back to Happiness” Life Story Writing the Waves and Pebbles Way. I started handwriting this book just after Christmas with a lovely new fountain pen, part of a set gifted to me by my group.

It is during these meetings that I have realised how much I really enjoyed blogging, and not really understood why I stopped doing something I loved so much. Anyway, here I am, back again!

I am excited for 2020. It somehow feels that it is a year of the unexpected but that it will be good, providing new adventures with opportunities to explore all that life has to offer and doing it in my own way.

I truly wish anyone reading this the very best for 2020 and the coming new decade. May you give yourself the gift of time to explore what it is you really want to do with your life – whether that’s carrying on doing the things that you love or allowing yourself to explore new avenues based on your own life values and future dreams.

Watch this space as I continue “Writing back to Happiness”. My focus for my Waves and Pebbles blog continues to be random stories about life, creativity and memories – with the addition of nature – which are all reflected in my Life Story Writing workshops and groups.

I live in Broadstairs, on the Isle of Thanet in Kent, England. We are blessed with beautiful bays, sandy beaches and amazing skies. In 2020 I will be running short courses at various venues, usually hotels and cafes where you can relax and enjoy a social occasion and do some life story writing back to happiness along the way. I am also exploring the possibility of offering online groups so if you might be interested in this, please let me know.

I hope you have all enjoyed the festive season and are looking forward to what the New Year 2020 and the next decade will bring. I’d love to hear your life stories and what your hopes and dreams are for the future.

Kay xx

Please feel free to comment here or visit my website http://www.kayunderdown.com. You will also find my page on Facebook @empoweringyoubeyondyourdreams (Kay Underdown, Happiness & Empowerment Coach). Like my blog, this has not been kept up to date and I am looking at developing my social media presence specifically aimed at Life Story Writing. I’d love to hear your own experiences of writing … or perhaps the reasons why you don’t write … I also encourage people to draw their stories if they don’t want to write or to do storyboards, a bit of both!

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!

 

 

 

Off the beaten track in the Kent Downs, England with a visit to an art studio and The Black Horse Inn at Thurnham

Copyright Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright Kay/wavesandpebbles

I had a few hours to spare so went for a drive in the Kent countryside with nowhere particular in mind.  I was on a busy dual carriageway and waiting for something to lure me away.  A sign for Hucking Estate showed a place for walks and picnics, so I flicked my indicator and headed off into the narrow lanes and tree tunnels.  A nightmare I usually avoid, dreading coming face to face with a vehicle that will be obstinate and refuse to back away.  I hate reversing especially if someone is edging towards me impatiently.  But thankfully that was in my mind, it didn’t actually happen.  I stopped by the roadside to take photos which on their own do not do justice in conveying the splendorous views that surrounded me amidst peace on that cool sunny autumn day.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

I noticed a sign at a vague crossroads to an Art Studio.  Intrigued, as I love discovering unexpected places, I followed the sign until I came to a dilemma.  A choice of a no through road or turn off to the right.  Well, I thought, it is perhaps most likely along the no through road and at least I will come to an end, whereas the other road could take me who knows how far.  Mere seconds along the no through road and I was regretting my choice.  There were no passing points, nowhere to go if another vehicle appeared, especially if it was a tractor, and no way I could reverse unless I could manage a straight (or curving) line.  Recalling a theme within a book I am reading*, I tried to convince myself that it was less boring to follow this road and that I must let my fear ride alongside and ignore it.  I eventually arrived at a farm where there were lots of tractors and the people living there came out to see me.  It was good to meet a friendly face and I was reassured that there were no tractors due to arrive and if another vehicle did appear, it was possible to somehow squeeze past.  I was kindly given directions to the Art Studio which was but a few minutes away.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

And so I came to arrive at This Art of Mine Arts & Craft Studio.  I was welcomed by a friendly dog from the neighbouring house and discovered that the Studio was in fact closed but there was someone there.  I was welcomed in and had a guided tour, discovering a wonderful place that offered workshops (which included decorating pottery and jewellery making) and also an area dedicated to open access to just turn up and pay as you paint pottery.  It was really spacious and light, with plenty of examples of work that had already been done.

When I left, I decided to carry on and head back to the main road.  In doing so, I ended up arriving at one of my favourite restaurants, The Black Horse Inn at Thurnham that I had not visited in a long while.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

I wasn’t hungry when I arrived so had a lemonade and sat outside on the terrace in the sunshine.  Enticed by the daily special menu, I lengthened my stay and enjoyed a tasty three course lunch ending with a luscious Creme Brûlée.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandnpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandnpebbles

I was full and sat relaxing, reading my book in the cosy historic atmosphere of the Inn.

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

The Black Horse Inn is licensed for Marriages and Civil Ceremonies.  It is a beautiful place with a special landscaped area for ceremonies.  There is also accommodation that can be booked.  Ideal for wedding guests or if you are having a special celebration and want to be able to have a drink and not worry about driving home, or if you are visiting the area and want somewhere different to stay.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

I am including the following photo as it shows more of the immense outdoor areas available.  The sun was so bright that the angle I took it has affected it but in black and white it does provide you with a picture of what it is like – perhaps it adds a hint of romance.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

The Black Horse Inn is a very friendly and welcoming public house and restaurant (with accommodation) and I thoroughly recommend a visit if you find yourself in the area of Maidstone in Kent, England.  Their website can be found here.

I never ended up on the Hucking Estate but information on this Woodland Trust area, and other areas within the Kent Downs – AnArea of Outstanding Natural Beauty – can be found here www.kentdowns.org.uk.

This Art of Mine Art & Craft Studio – information can be found here.

The book I am reading is Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear, written by Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat Pray Love.  Here is a link to The The Guardian Q & A with the author.

Living on Water – Chatham Maritime, Kent, England

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

The other day I was at Chatham Maritime with time to spare and decided to take a few photos.  The people who live at the top of the blocks of apartments must have an amazing view.  There is much going on in the area to appeal to different interests and it is continually growing.  There is a large university campus with three universities, Chatham Historic Dockyard, Dickensworld, cinema and numerous restaurants.

Copyright 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

Reminiscing by the Estuary Coast – Allhallows, Kent

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

The other day I had to go to a doctor’s appointment at a different location.  So, unplanned, it  took me near somewhere I used to spend much time and of where I have very special memories.  So I decided to take a detour.

It was our weekend escape to stay in a caravan and I was able to write in peace and walk along the coast with the sea breeze blowing through my hair.  There were many precious family times, fun and laughter.  It was also our temporary home in between house moves in the freezing cold of winter.  I never forget the first time I saw it, emerging over the brow of a hill with the panorama of the estuary coast on a beautiful sunny day.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

The Peace Garden and The Friars, Aylesford, Kent, England

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Walking around the grounds of The Friars, I came across the Peace Garden and nearly didn’t go in … a long strip of walled garden and rain was threatening.  So glad that I did, it felt really special.  The flowers and plants were beautiful and I loved the mosaic artwork.

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

The Friars is a great place to visit and just have a quiet wander around the grounds and some of the chapels are open to visitors.  There is a pottery, tearoom and restaurant to have lunch, as well as a conference centre set attractively within the grounds.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles