Small is Beautiful

1582Whenever I watch Glastonbury at home on the telly, I feel rather thankful that I’m getting a better view than the tiny dots at the back of the crowd (and that I have the luxury of indoor plumbing).  However as you know from previous posts, I’m crazy about live music so I love a good festival.  I just prefer the ones where you can be up close and personal with the performers and only have a few yards to crawl to your tent at the end of the night – for me that’s a perfect summer weekend.

The gorgeous weather helped to make two July weekends in a row the pinnacle of happiness for me – Furness Tradition followed by Music on the Marr, both small but perfectly formed events with something for everyone, from soulful tunes to foot-stomping bands with storytelling and dance thrown in for good measure.  I’m sure no big festival can ever match them for warmth and friendliness, and it’s wonderful to have a platform here in Cumbria for young and talented musicians to showcase their skills on the same stage as world-class performers with years of experience.    Continue reading

Coming soon – the Edinburgh Fringe!

994281_10152925602845207_1115211060_nHaving the time of our lives here in the beautiful Lake District, with tropical sunshine, outdoor swims in breathtaking locations and music, dancing and storytelling festivals galore.

Will share the happiness soon but in the meantime please click here to enjoy a guest post I wrote for award-winning blogsite The Quirky Traveller – if you’re a new visitor to the Edinburgh Fringe this year you need my top tips to make the most of it!  And if you’re a veteran, why not share your favourite tips below?

Father’s Day Gifts

546120_461213067244937_869093068_nIt was Father’s Day yesterday – traditionally a time to say thank you to dads everywhere and perhaps give them a token of appreciation.  Mine isn’t here to do that, so I thought I’d write about the gifts he gave me instead.

My dad was old-school, in that he wasn’t present at the birth of his children and never changed a nappy – men didn’t much, at that time. Though come to think of it he wasn’t too hot at some of the masculine roles either – it was my mum who painted the house and wallpapered, and took charge of the finances (counting coins into carefully labelled envelopes in those pre-direct debit days).  Nevertheless he was so delighted at my early-morning home birth  that I seem to remember a tale about him jumping on a bicycle half-dressed and rushing off to tell my grandmother that he had a daughter at last (after three sons), ignoring the racing pedals cutting into his bare feet.  Seems a little unlikely (surely it wouldn’t have taken a minute to put his shoes on?) so perhaps like all the best stories, not meant to be taken literally!    Continue reading

Happy April Fool’s Day!

How great that we have a special day to celebrate jokes and pranks!  Apparently as far back as the Romans many different cultures have had days of foolishness around late March or  the beginning of April – perhaps there’s something about the time of year, with the turn from winter to spring, that lends itself to light-hearted moments.  (Especially so this year when winter has outstayed its welcome – we’re all ready for a bit of spring fever).

Traditionally the laugh is usually at someone else’s expense, and involves tricking the gullible into believing something far-fetched.  My favourite was one pulled by the much-missed astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, who on the morning of 1st April 1976 announced on the radio that a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event was about to take place. He said the planets Pluto and Jupiter were temporarily causing a gravitational alignment and if listeners  jumped in the air at exactly the right moment, they would experience a strange sensation.  So convincing was Patrick that the BBC received hundreds of phone calls from excited listeners – one woman even reported she and her eleven friends had risen from their chairs and floated around the room!     Continue reading

Valentine’s Day Wishes

What a busy start to the year – apologies for the long silence!  I can’t let the day go by without wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day and reminding you of the links between love and happiness. Cynics may scoff at the modern commercialism of this festival – though it’s good news for the florists and card shops! – but why not have a special day to remind ourselves of the power of love?  Whether it’s love for a partner, a child, a family member, a friend, a stranger, or simply for ourselves, love is a healing force and a boost to happiness and wellbeing.  Take a moment to reflect today – who could you be more loving towards?  Who could you accept more love from?  Where could your love be a force for good in the world?  Set an intention to let more love into your life and see what happens!

I’ll be focusing on love next month with the publication of Robert Holden‘s new book Loveability (out March 4th) – can’t wait to read it and look forward to reviewing it here.

Of course love can manifest itself in what we do as well as in our relationships – when we have a purpose in life and when we feel inspired and creative.  I’ll be running a couple of workshops in a week of so at the Cumbria TA Conference and I’m so looking forward to exploring whether Happiness Matters (I’ll give you a clue, I think it does) in the morning, as well as taking part in creative workshops myself.  It promises to be a great day – it’s not too late to join us though there are limited places left.  Check out the details here – I’ll share some thoughts on the day afterwards.    Continue reading

New Year, new challenge!


Happy New Year!  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and that Santa brought you what you wished for – in my case, having my sons home for Christmas and sharing food, fun, laughter, games and  music with friends and family.

Today’s a good day to give thanks for the experiences of last year, and to think about the gifts in store for 2013 – whether planned or unexpected, I hope they bring you joy.

Now, although I’ve written here before about the advantages of making new resolutions when spring starts to blossom, nevertheless I’ve decided to take up the challenge of having a Dry January – 31 days with no alcohol!  Why, I hear myself cry?  After all, I don’t have a drink problem, I do enjoy a nice glass of wine or pint of real ale, and this is a month where a combination of the post-Christmas slump, long cold dark nights, tax return deadlines – and the fact that I have a January birthday – surely beg for the cup that cheers . . . oops, better not talk myself out of it already. . .     Continue reading

Christmas Wishes

The December meeting of our monthly Happiness Group is traditionally a time to take stock of where we are now, to celebrate the past year and look forward to the coming one, and a chance to raise a glass (or two!) of mulled wine with old friends and new.  This year we used some of the daily inspirations from Robert Holden’s Happiness Project  to reflect on our own hopes and wishes for the festive season, so I’ll share some with you here.

‘Christmas is a time for love and goodwill – and in this respect it is like every other day in the year.’  What a good reminder that we don’t have to keep our ‘best’ side for special occasions – imagine how life would be if the spirit of generosity and benevolence to our fellow human beings lasted for the whole year!    Continue reading

Giving Thanks

I ran a workshop this week which touched on the links between happiness and gratitude.  When we remember to notice and give thanks for the good things in our lives we experience a powerful sense of connection with ourselves, with other people, and with the here and now; it’s a shortcut to happiness.

We also discussed the more challenging idea of giving thanks for whatever happens to us, unconditionally – that perhaps even things that don’t seem like gifts could be blessings in disguise.  It’s a shift of belief – as Robert Holden says, ‘What if life didn’t happen to you, it happened for you?’  A concept we use in NLP is that of reframing ie. taking a new perspective or putting a positive spin on a situation, in order to deliberately change our response to it.   Continue reading

An Attitude of Gratitude

Holiday travels have meant it’s been a long time since I posted, but here I sit on a dismal Bank Holiday Monday, gazing out at the torrential rain and feeling bereft of ideas.  My son’s left home and I miss him, it looks like autumn’s here before we’ve had a proper summer, and I’ve got a blog to write but no inspiration . . .

Distracting myself with Facebook, I notice a friend has posted this picture. I can’t help but smile – now there’s a challenge!

I check my e-mails and read my Daily Inspiration from Robert Holden: ‘Today is just another normal day full of miracles, gifts, and opportunities.’

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The Pleasures of Outdoor Swimming

Yes, I know it’s the fashion to call it wild swimming these days, but it’s pretty tame the way I do it . . .

Struggling into a clammy wetsuit to brave the breakers on a chilly day is not for me.  I usually swim outdoors when the sun is shining and the water, though refreshing, has warmed up a few degrees.  It still takes a bit of courage to wade out into the cool green depths and overcome the initial goose-pimples, but it’s so worth it to experience the real freedom of immersing yourself in the environment.  Imagine breathing in the fresh scents of waterside plants; the sounds of birdsong and the wind rustling in the branches; the sight of surrounding crags and valleys; a plunging waterfall creating a natural jacuzzi – then tell me you’d swap that for a claustrophobic chlorinated indoor pool!

Afterwards, you feel so happy, invigorated and fully alive. There’s no finer way to feel at one with nature and see the world from a different perspective – what Roger Deakin in his book Waterlog called ‘a frog’s eye view’.   Continue reading