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

Paradice

IMG_2835

I just came across this poem I wrote some years ago when I was in my bedroom looking down onto the snowy urban landscape around me, stuck at home and unable to travel as the roads were so treacherous.

PARADICE

There’s nowhere I can go
you spread your blanket high
I’m trapped within this box
and I don’t have any socks

How can it really be
you flutter from the sky
it makes this life so hard
and we’ve taken down our guard

We never are prepared
you make us really sigh
it brings us to a halt
and we’ve used up all the salt

Then suddenly it comes
to those that do not cry
it takes away the stress
and don’t even have to dress

We’re stranded here at home
with no-one coming by
it brings such wondrous calm
and don’t come to any harm

There’s some that have a go
don’t stop to think of why
it may be hard to see
and they may just hit a tree

We ventured for a walk
you felt so very dry
the world it did stand still
and with magic we did chill

Laughter rippled through us
a warm tear filled the eye
with luck did surely dice
and we fell for paradice

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)

Creative Anticipation – poem written from the facilitator’s perspective about the start of a creative memories workshop Uniday for families

Copyright 2014 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2014 Kay/wavesandpebbles

I call this a poem – it is exactly as it came to me on the day of a Family Uniday – the theme for which was creativity and memories.  I wish that I had continued writing to show more of what happened once the families became captured by the thought that they could actually create but my time was otherwise engaged!  It was a heart-warming occasion, families of all generations sharing quality time creating together.  Kay

~

Creative Anticipation

~

Empty rooms, space filled with expectancy

the clock ticks on

the first signs as footsteps and faces emerge

the chain cranks slowly into action

people emerge in the doorway, open, hesitant

warmth draws them in and they take their place

~

Tables fill, people become names

a gentle hub softens the air

words are shared, plans made clear

leaders share their passion

memories recalled, mine to offer

the underlying gift of it all

~

Choice is given, the queue is drawn

excitement building as wishes are met

the underground motion moves them on

each family starts their own journey

the throng is split, meandering to rooms

new experiences and knowledge theirs to find

~

Watching like an angel guide

sharing as a friend in kind

working on what needs to happen

valuing the help that’s found

creation has begun its travels

and pride with wonder gathers round

~

The Strawberry Effect – an A to Z Poetry Challenge

Copyright 2010 Mr.TinDC, Flickr, CC-BY-ND, via Wylio

Copyright 2010 Mr.TinDC, Flickr, CC-BY-ND, via Wylio

The Strawberry Effect

Apples gleaming with a rosy hue
Bananas browning too soon in the queue
Cherries masquerading with damson delight
Darkening tastebuds with sourness so bright

Endless choice of shapes and flavour
Fondling fruit such strange behaviour
Gathering mounds of good intent
Healthy heroes the world has sent

Isles of green spring way ahead
Jolly leaves stay in their bed
King of mushrooms, sturdy and strong
Laughing lentils, where have they gone?

Melons milking their golden flesh
Nurturing nectar with a honey mesh
Oranges glow with dimpled desire
Peppers compete with radiant fire

Quarrelling cubes of hacked about fruit
Ready-to-eat but do they really suit?
Softening strawberries enticingly placed
Thoughts of the cream and the scones in haste

Under the rainbow hope is born
Visions of dreamy desserts forewarn
Wallowing weighty magical moments
X-rated – so bring back the Clements
Young and fruity and so divine
Zero degrees with a glass of wine

This poem was written this morning after this week discovering the blog of Blair King http://www.peoplethingsandlife.wordpress.com and reading her poem The Storm.  I loved the poem and then discovered Blair had set out to use the alphabet for the start of each line which I thought made her poem even more amazing.  So, I thought I’d have a go with the A to Z and somehow I ended up with this poem based around food shopping – no idea why!  Have a great day!  Kay  (and thanks Blair for the idea)

Life of our own – Poem

Copyright 2015 Sarah Joy, Flickr, CC-BY-SA, via Wylio

Copyright 2015 Sarah Joy, Flickr, CC-BY-SA, via Wylio

I watched as my daughter walked slowly across the grass
smoothing her hands through her long ruffled hair

A lone figure walking into school
into her own life, a life where I am not there

Everyone has their life, leave judgement aside
no-one truly knows what each other experiences

Family lives, time spent together as a unique whole
Distinct family pairings, each time differences

Working lives, daily grind to fulfilling achievement
client, manager, managed and peer

Friends made along the way, supporting and teaching us
passing connections and lifelong here

Love and conflict run close together
spiking through life’s tumultuous time

Communication is key to understanding and passion
Listening to words where nothing needs to rhyme

Stress, control, choice and time perception – including Mary Oliver Poem ‘The Summer Day’

Copyright 2015, Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015, Kay/wavesandpebbles

Here is the last section of my draft writing that I came across recently on self-development and life coaching.  For the remainder of sections, I have headings only so maybe I will do some more work on it.

Stressless < — > Calmness

I have had times in my life when I have suffered from stress, even having to take time off work. Those times were when there were numerous things going on in my life which added together resulted in my not being able to cope. I have since learnt to recognise my own signs for when I am getting stressed and take action to deal with this before it is too late. Too much stress can lead to anxiety and depression. By recognising the signs and taking action, a calmer and happier life can be yours.

Life coaching and increased self-awareness through reading self-development books has helped me deal with stress, anxiety and depression. The key to this is one word – CONTROL. Being in control or feeling in control. Once you feel out of control of situations, that is the danger zone. Another word that is important here is CHOICE. We all have choices, even if we don’t think we have. We can choose to do things differently any second, any minute, any hour of the day. We can choose to make small, almost insignificant, changes at any time.

We can choose to make life-changing decisions now, next week, next month or next year. It is our choice. Of course there are repercussions, so you have to weigh up whether you actually want to make that decision. But by taking control of situations, and making choices, you retain control and are able to feel calmer and less stressed, knowing that you have made a decision and that you are in control of your own life. Once you allow others or situations to take control, you can feel out of control and overwhelmed.

A valuable tool that I have gained through my life coach training is the Life Wheel, which can be adapted to use in any situation, and is a paper exercise that you can do for yourself taking in the whole picture of what is important or impacts on you and your life, then creates focus, exploration and action through small, achievable goals that are within your own gift of achieving – leading to a sense of regaining control over your life and the particular aspect you are focussing on. (if you are interested in this, a future post can address how to do the Life Wheel exercise and the different ways in which it can be applied)

Another BIG word that impacts immensely on stress – in competition with control, and perhaps in many cases, overtakes it – is TIME. ‘I don’t have enough time …’ ‘I am running out of time …’ ‘I have to get this done by …’ ‘Look at the time …’ ‘There is never enough time in the day …’ ‘I am always under pressure …’ ‘I never have time to relax and enjoy myself.’ ‘I never have enough time to do what I need to do.’

The first thing I did a long long time ago, that changed my relationship with time, was to stop wearing a watch. I noticed that one of my colleagues who was more laid back about things didn’t wear one and wondered how she managed. I decided to try for myself and have never looked back. … time is still there – not forgotten – but not drawing my attention every minute of every day.

How else did I change my relationship with time? By taking a more relaxed approach to my working day.  I start at varying times. Sometimes early, sometimes late. I appreciate that not everyone can do this, but many employers have become a lot more flexible, particularly with a need to cater for those with family commitments, and flexibility helps take the pressure off.

If time is really a big issue for you, and you never have enough time to do what you want, then maybe it would help to do a time analysis over a period of a week. Nothing too complicated, but something that would get you thinking about how you really spend your time. Take a few moments to write down what you spend your time on, both at home and at work. Is everything you do necessary? Do you do things because you want to do them, need to do them or feel you should do them? If the latter, what would happen if you didn’t do it? Would you feel guilty? Is it your responsibility? Does it really have to be done?

Remember it’s your life and you have choices over what you spend your lifetime doing. Think about it. Is there anything that you could either stop doing completely, spend less time on or get someone to help you with so that you could achieve it quicker, or even get someone to take over the job? When I was struggling working mum with a young child, we had a cleaner. Just 3 hours a week made so much difference. Having to downsize meant that I lost this wonderful luxury but if you can afford such help I thoroughly recommend it. (for some reason whilst typing this it has reminded me of a poem by Mary Oliver which I am now going to look up)

Gettting back to time, often I used to put pressure on myself for no reason. I was especially guilty in thinking I had to make the most of every waking moment, and that to stay in bed too long or sit around doing nothing was a waste of time. I can still sometimes go that way, but because I am aware of this, I remind myself and allow myself to enjoy having time just to chill out and relax, potter around and moodle. I thought this was a wonderful word when I came across it – moodling. Just doing things slowly, enjoying the process, thinking about anything but in a relaxed way. The practice of mindfulness (to be covered in a future post) is very beneficial if you are under pressure and find it difficult to switch off and do nothing. In my opinion, mindfulness is a form of meditation, as is going for a long walk on my own with no aim in mind and no distractions and letting thoughts drift in and out of my mind.

My relationship with time is so different now. In the initial stages of becoming more relaxed about time, even my choice of diary made a difference. If I could see the whole week at a glance, which I do find useful, I also used to see that there was not much time left before the week had even begun as there seemed to be so much already organised. I changed to one page a day, and time seemed immediately to extend itself. Now I am back to a week at a glance as I am able to be more relaxed and my diary no longer panics me.

There are a range of time management books out there but I think that the key to dealing with time issues is not how to manage time but how to change your relationship with time. It is the rest of life and creating balance that is the issue, not the amount of time itself. It is how you feel about time, as opposed to what it actually is. You can have the same amount of time to do the same thing, but one day you might feel that you don’t have enough time, you may feel rushed, stressed, tired. Another day you may feel relaxed and confident with no issues about getting the task completed in the time available. It is very much more about your perception of time than the amount of time actually available.

Sometimes I lump an amount of time all together, and become fearful when getting near the end of it. For example, over the weekend I think of it as a whole, and when it gets to Sunday late afternoon/early evening that that is the end of it. Yet in the week when returning home from work at teatime/early evening, I still think I have a whole evening ahead of me. Why cannot I think the same of Sunday evenings? I seem to have so much on my mind about the next day that it leads to time being wiped away.

Sometimes I stop and think. We are all living our own separate lives. We all start and end at different points. Yet we treat time as if we are all experiencing the same amount of time with the use of the 24 hour clock, 7-day week and 12 months in a year. We are all experiencing different moments of time in each of our individual lives. Why should we allow ourselves to be taken over by a universal approach to time? If we listen to the radio, we can’t get away from the fact that every hour we know when it is up when the news/weather/traffic info comes on. We get reminded to the minute of the exact time.’

Doing away with a universal approach would undoubtedly lead to chaos in the extreme but there needs to be a balance between living our own (time-limited) lives in the best way possible and fitting in with the demands cast upon us by a world dominated by time.

Note

I have checked out the poem by American poet Mary Oliver.  It is ‘The Summer Day’ also referred to as ‘The Grasshopper’.  The last lines are:

‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’

You might like to listen to Mary Oliver reading it.