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!

Canary Wharf, London, England

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I went for a train ride yesterday and ended up at Canary Wharf.  I had hoped to see some of the 15 street pianos that were there but I somehow missed them.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day and I took a few photos.  I arrived on the Docklands Light Railway, which is strange as I was sitting facing forward and could see ahead into the other carriages so could see the train swinging from side to side unlike the old London underground trains where you sit down the sides facing the people opposite and can’t see the other carriages.  This has changed on the new underground trains, they are more spacious so at less busy times you can walk though the carriages and see them curving round.

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Canary Wharf had a great atmosphere outside in the early evening and I discovered an Italian restaurant that I would really like to visit Amerigo Vespucci, it had a very enticing menu.  It is a restaurant with an alfresco bar open with tables and chairs on the terrace overlooking the water.

I happened to be on Twitter this morning and linked through to someone who had favourited one of my tweets.  His latest tweet was on visual storytelling and microblogging.  On clicking through to his article, I discovered the app Steller (which is free) and had a go at using it.  Here is the link to my first ‘story’ on Canary Wharf https://steller.co/s/4ukCuGNSfbR.  If for some reason this doesn’t work visit me on Twitter – see link to the right.  This app can really tell a story.  There are different themes and you can write text either separate from, or on, the photos.

The original Tweet was mainly about a different, new (updated) visual storytelling app Storehouse.  I am just downloading that now for free and hope to blog about it soon.  Social media and it’s related parts are really eating into my time and I daren’t go there this morning else the day will be gone but I am really enjoying finding out more about it all.

Here are just a few more photos of some of the buildings.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Unblocking creativity and releasing inspiration – 10 minute writing challenge (2 of 2)

Copyright 2013 Miguel Virkkuhen Carvalho, Flickr, CC-BY, via Wylio

Copyright 2013 Miguel Virkkuhen Carvalho, Flickr, CC-BY, via Wylio

This 10 minute writing exercise was written four days after the last one posted yesterday, back in January of this year when I was in hospital.  It was a very emotional time yet at the same time my emotions were somewhat on hold, still struggling somewhere with my new situation in life, having just been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia – a fast-acting life threatening form of cancer.  Fortunately the final report revealed that I had the type APL (Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia) which has the best prognosis.  

‘Let anything come to light. Light, sun, shade, depths. My favourite colours. Pink and turquoise. Where are they now? The luminescence of my favourite pink is in my hand leading this waltz of writing. Waltz – music is within me yet it has evaded me. The song of life, the thrill of it all. The lilting sound of creativity. Creativity is to be found all around – or is it? I need to search it out, to wallow in it and bring it back to life. Life, it keeps coming up. This new, unexpected venture. How does it feel to be here? But I am not ‘here’. I am soothing my soul to do something special with creativity. There is so much around, but where is it hiding. I am on a journey and that journey is just finding me. I must avoid the logic. That is not what this is for. Storytelling was my aim and that can stay with me. I will write a short story, one that wings in from the sky above. One that I don’t think hard about, it just comes to me. Will it be real? There will be more than one – but fantasy is what breathes through my veins. A new light. Get caught up in the colour that comes to me.  Take inspiration from all that has come to be in this vessel of a room. The cards and gifts. Where am I? I am with heart. I am loving life. All is not lost it is within me. To find the light and the story. To have music in my mind. To love and to laugh. To write music is a gift that I can bring to this time. I am soaring through the sky in Florida. Such a wonderful and special time. The cool air brushing through my hair as I swirl through the clouds like a swan sweeping across the ocean.’

Unblocking creativity and releasing inspiration – 10 minute writing challenge (1 of 2)

Copyright 2009 Trug Bui Viet, Flicks, via Wylio

Copyright 2009 Trug Bui Viet, Flickr, CC-BY-SA, via Wylio

I thought I would share with you this 10 minute writing exercise I carried out after a friend gave me a very special writing book while I was in hospital.  This is the very first bit of writing I did as a result of receiving this book.  (Try it yourself – set a timer for 10 minutes and just write whatever comes into your head.)  This was written in January this year.  I have in the past month started my story … I just need to return again.  This 10 minute extract conveys the kind of autobiographical fiction I would like to write.

‘Heart of my life. This moment. Where am I? I am in a new life. I am boarding a train at Platform Life. I have my ticket to an unknown destination. It is calling me. I have no idea where I am going but I have my inside filled with the fuel of inspiration. I am alone. Yet I do not feel alone. I feel that I have my spirits with me. The special light of those I have loved and lost. Yet there is the call of mystery. This is my story. I recall when I was given a signal to get on the train and know that I was on a special journey. I received texts telling me that I was not alone. It was scary yet somehow exciting. I love trains and I was on a journey to my mystery story, the one I am going to start.

I feel it is a fantasy story. It means I can go on any plane of life. The now, the future, the past, the unknown. The hidden depths within me. I may get lost but the fragments of me will collect themselves and save me from the hardness of life as I know it at this moment. I am on a soft journey to a fantasy world. I am going to soar into a story of such powerfulness that inspires me and connects me with the people who I love now and those I have yet to meet. I feel blessed to have this opportunity. And it is going to re-alight my creativity. Take me to a place that is beyond the bounds of special. A unique, timeless experience that is so touching, so enchanting, that I will create many special characters to join me on this journey. They will be colourful, fantastical, special, heartwarming …’