Bath

A busy and stressful week got me thinking about pampering. I feel like January is already flying by and I haven’t had a chance to sit back and reflect, I’ve already done a lot in the 18 days of this month and I have to say so far I am actually quite proud of myself.

But enough of all that soppiness, I travelled straight from work in London on Friday to Bristol city for a trip that lasted around 12 hours but was 100% worth it to see one of my best friends before she embarks on a trip around the world for the next year. When I got back on Saturday evening, I was beyond knackered. I’d spent the first half of my weekend whizzing around on trains, getting ready in 30 minutes (pretty much a record for me) and taking to Bristol’s rather unusual night life (more precisely, a secret bar where you have to buzz for entry and there’s a moose’s head on the wall?!) I was kerplunked and very ready to just call it a night at 5pm. The only thing that sounded better than that was a super self-indulgent pamper night.

I really, really believe in the importance of taking time to yourself sometimes, time to just switch off your brain and relax. I am possibly the worst at this, my boyfriend says my catchphrase is ‘I’ve got so much to do’ and I say it hundreds of times a day. In search of a more permanent way to hush my constantly buzzing brain (lots of future blog posts to come on this so stay tuned), a pamper night was a good pitstop.

Lush Box

I got so many Lush products for Christmas and haven’t had a chance to use them yet, in fact I hadn’t had a bath in the whole of 2015 so that needed to be rectified. First stop on my perfect pamper night, delve into my box of Lush goodies. I went with a ButterBear because my skin also needed a break and I was after something very moisturising and soothing rather than pink and glittery. I lit my favourite candle (Shearer Candle’s Orange and Cinnamon if you were wondering), turned off the lights and just allowed myself to chill for as long as I wanted.

Lush Goodies

After my bath, it was time to take my time moisturising, cleansing and face masking. My body has taken a bit of a battering as I’ve thrown myself into working extremely hard, stepping up my schedule of running and trying to socialise every other spare moment I have had this January so this part was also important. After this, I painted my nails. Probably my all-time favourite thing to do.

Below is the selection of nail varnish I narrowed it down to, I ended up going for a classic pillar-box red using C&E’s offering.

Nail varnish

Final step: pick your favourite, girly film, grab some popcorn and a blanket and settle down for the night.

DVDs

Smile

Let me set the scene of a normal day in the life of me. I wake up at 6.30am and get ready for work, I still live at home so the first people I see in the morning are my Mum and Dad. I probably mumble a hello at them through my cornflakes but mostly stay silent. I make my way to the station to get the 7.26am train to London. I manage to muscle my way to the front of the crowd so I’m the first to get on the train but most people barely glance up – it’s too early to look at one another let alone interact. On the train I’m surrounded by hundreds of people but I never actually look at any of them, I’m just aware they’re there. Then I get off the train at Waterloo and join the hordes heading towards the bus. It’s about 8.20am when I get on the bus, still too early to smile at the bus driver, still too early to have a chat with the person I’m standing 1cm away from. I can probably tell you what their wife’s name is because I can read the text message they’re typing right under my nose. But I can’t look at them, that would break all morning protocols. Once I get off the bus I make the short walk to my office, head down and probably reading some work email or something. I might bump into someone on the way and murmur an apology, they are almost certainly also reading something on their phone so don’t even notice. Finally I make it safely into the confines of my office, here at about 9am, having been up 2.5 hours already, I’ll raise my first smile of the day. Well I can hardly scowl at the man who pays my wages, can I? It’s a funny world really. And I consider myself quite a smiley, cheerful person…

So for challenge four, I set myself a mission to smile at every single person I encountered for a whole 24 hours. Because, you know, there are a few interesting facts about smiling. Number one being that smiles are known to boost your mood, aiding me in my quest to get happy. And number two is they’re contagious, so how many people will also be happy as a result of my simple action. Let’s see…

6.45am: I wake up and smile at myself in the mirror, start as you mean to go on and all that. I can’t say it makes getting up in the cold that much easier but I do feel a tiny mood boost and I walk downstairs to my breakfast with my head held up so for the first time in a week I don’t trip over the box I’ve left outside my bedroom door. This smiling malarkey is already doing me a good turn.

7am: I smile and say ‘good morning’ to both my Mum and my Dad, it comes out louder and slightly more forced sounding then I intended. My Mum looks slightly shocked but smiles and returns my good morning. My dad on the other hand asks what I’ve got to be so cheerful about…

7.20am: I arrive at the station and smile at the station staff member, he smiles back and wishes me a good day. I remember he’s the one I like because he always smiles at me and brightens up my early morning, I realise that I’ve been ‘catching’ smiles off of him for months so I’m very happy to finally return the favour.

8.20am: Walking through Waterloo, I realise for the first time how many hundreds of people I pass every morning. I walk through the station with a grin attached to my face and not one person returns my smile. A few people look at me smiling manically and give me an odd look but no one smiles. Most people don’t even notice me.

8.25am: There’s a bus strike today, cue lots of even unhappier commuters than usual. The bus is more packed than normal and it’s always full to the rafters. The driver is probably having a terrible day so I give him a huge smile as I pass and he smiles back, of all people I hope I’ve raised his spirits just a little. I dread to think what he’ll have to put up with from both passengers and his fellow striking staff today.

8.35am: I arrive at work and my line manager is already there, I smile brightly at her and offer a cup of tea. All this smiling has made me generous as well.

1pm: It’s lunch break time, I’ve smiled throughout the morning but I’m generally quite cheerful so I don’t think my colleagues have noticed that much of a difference. It’s been a good morning though and we got some good news as well, maybe the universe has caught my smile and is looking down on me.

1.05pm: I go to Sainsburys to buy lunch and both me and another man reach for the last exotic fruit salad at the same time. I flash him a smile and offer it to him (through gritted teeth, I bloody love an exotic fruit salad AND they’re on offer for £1 today). He smiles back and says ‘No love you take it.’ Finally this smile stuff is actually getting me somewhere, I’m not about to refuse that!

1.07pm: At the till, the checkout lady is chatting to the checkout lady next to her. This is a pet hate of mine, I used to work in a similar environment and I know this is the first rule of customer service. Usually I’d ignore her for being so rude but I force myself to look her directly in the eye, flash her a huge smile and wish her a nice day. She looks a little red faced.

2pm: I’m answering the door to clients today and of course I always smile at them anyway and make polite small talk. I try to notice who actually smiles back at me today though, and if they don’t I keep the smile on my face until they do. So far I’ve got a clean sheet, every single person has smiled at me. I hope that this means I’m passing on some happiness and positivity but as most want something from the company I work for it’s probably just them forcing themselves to be polite to the crazy junior member of staff.

4.20pm: I just had someone break my clean sheet. I smiled at him through our small talk for around four whole minutes and smiled extra hard when I re-entered the room to give him his coffee. I’ve learnt that some people are just immune to smiles.

6pm: It’s the end of the work day and time to join the crush back to home. This is usually the time I am at my least smiley because the commute home is a nightmare and my least favourite part of the day. I take a deep breath before leaving the office and remember to keep smiling, I feel weirdly positive.

6.05pm: The bus queue is the worst queue ever (and worst than the worst because of the bus strike today), no one sticks in a line and I hate it when people arrive late and push in. But today as someone pushes past me I just have to smile. It feels really weird and they look at me bizarrely. I smile at the guy next to me in the queue too and he smiles back and let’s me get on first. See, no need to push, just smile and you get the same effect. This is one time I’m going to make sure to smile everyday!

6.20pm: I’m running for the train as usual, and smile as I accidentally hit the man handing out Evening Standards. Usually I’d feel really guilty and stop to apologise but I just shout sorry and seeing my smile, he smiles back. One less thing to feel guilty about.

6.24pm: I’m standing squished next to every conceivable part of a person I don’t know on this train. I often think how bizarre it is that I get physically closer to these random strangers then I get to my best friends. I smile at them and if I wasn’t only just over 5 foot, I think they’d find it very creepy. As I’m small and look pretty innocent they just think I’m crazy. But one lady starts a conversation with me (shock horror! Not on a commuter train!) and we end up chatting, with all the carriage listening no doubt, about how ridiculous it is paying all the money we do and still packing in worse than cattle. It makes me feel better and the time genuinely goes quicker, which is what you want when you can’t move any part of you without touching a stranger in an inappropriate place.

7.10pm: My Dad gives me a lift home from the station and I definitely don’t have to force a smile when I see him sitting in the car as I dash through the rain.

And that really ends my day, after this I just watched TV and did some work with my family. I did lots of smiling but this is usually my smiliest time anyway.

What have I learnt from challenge four? Smile more! It genuinely does make your day better and that night I had a think back and actually remembered most of the stranger’s faces who smiled back at me. How nice is that, to just remember a bunch of strangers whom I would have usually instantly forgotten.

I’ve learnt smiles are 100% contagious, there is no doubt in my mind about that. So why wouldn’t I want to cheer someone up with such a small little thing. And okay I won’t be doing this challenge everyday because let’s face it, it was incredibly embarrassing walking through Waterloo with that huge grin on my face. In fact, there were quite a few times when a red face accompanied my smile so there are definitely moments I’ll keep my expression neutral in future. But little things like smiling at the guard who let me through the train station this morning, smiling and wishing a good day to the grumpy lady in Sainsburys and smiling at the woman that I was stood ridiculously close to on the train home. I will definitely keep giving out little smiles like those because they cheer my day up as well as someone else’s. One day my smile might make me a brand new best friend or a brilliant work contact or it might even get me a discount on my morning Starbucks. You never know.

So as the old saying goes, turn that frown upside down (it uses less muscles than frowning you know?!) and let me know If you have a go at my challenge four at all – even if it’s just for one hour. I’d love to know how you get on 🙂

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As the saying goes, tidy home means a tidy mind and I think I am just one of those people who this applies to more than most. I can’t sleep if something is out of place in my room, especially if my wardrobe door is left ajar or my desk seat is in the middle of the room rather than tucked neatly under the desk. Now I think about it, that’s probably a bit strange isn’t it? But I also have a very bad habit, if this mess is in clear view and I don’t have time to tidy it away then I’ll just shove it somewhere it can’t be seen. You see the saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ also applies to me. And that is not good news for the state of my wardrobe. 

So that brings me to my third challenge, clear out my wardrobe. This is more of a challenge then you might realise, it was more of a challenge then even I realised. My wardrobe is just simply a mess. There are a lot of clothes in quite a little space, there are bits and bobs that really shouldn’t be in there and it hasn’t been cleared out in a good 5 or 6 years. Just have a look below…

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So down to my method of clearing out. There wasn’t really any science to it, I simply pulled everything out of the wardrobe and onto the floor and then sorted through every piece. After that, I chose to either put it in a black bin bag to donate to charity or piled it in relevant piles ready to put neatly back into the wardrobe. It took me 5 hours and 2 black bin bags. It was frustrating at times and about half way through I genuinely wanted to give up. But the results made me smile. 

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Now I can go to my wardrobe and actually find what I want to wear! I’ve got piles for pyjamas, jumpers, summer tops, winter tops, going out tops. It’s a revolution and it will save me so much time in the morning. It’s also great to have just cleared out all the rubbish, some of the stuff I had in there was aged 14 on the label. I’m 22 years old. But it’s more than making things easier for me, it comes back to the tidy home, tidy mind mantra. You just feel better when things are cleared out and organised.

I also unearthed this gem when tidying out, it’s my school polo shirt aged 11. I wore it on my last day at Infant school and everyone in my class signed it. I’m still friends with quite a few of the names on there which really made me smile.

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And the final thing that made me happy, two huge black bin bags of clothes of really good quality. Some things in there hadn’t even been worn! I can’t wait to take these to my local charity shop.

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My second post means my second way to get happy, I understand lots of you reading this may have already started a blog or may not be interested in writing at all so this is something for all of you. Make something that will last forever. The other day I just got thinking about how lovely it would it be if you could capture a moment that you were really happy and every time you look at something remember that moment. I guess you can do this with photos/videos but I just wanted a more creative way so I got artistic.

Before we get any further let me just explain how un-artistic I am. I am rubbish at art, always have been and always will be. I can’t draw, I can’t paint, I’m not even that good at colouring in! But whether you’re good or not, being artistic can be fun.

I decided to make a painting, a big abstract one so I could just let go and do what I want. Rather than worry about what it looks like or staying within the lines, I just wanted to go for it. I didn’t have any art materials (except for some paint brushes) before I started so I nipped down to WH Smith and picked up a canvas for £3.99 and some paints for £4.99, much cheaper than I expected. I just picked up a pack of 12 acrylic paints because I wanted lots of fun colours and I knew acrylic paints would work well on the canvas. You could even do it with a big piece of paper or card and some water colour or powder paints you might have in the house, I just chose a canvas because I wanted to put it up on my wall.

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Then down to the fun part, I enlisted the help of my more creative boyfriend (but you could easily do this alone) and we laid down newspaper all over the kitchen floor. Make sure you do this on a wood surface or similar because this paint could easily stain the carpet and unfortunately newspaper is not always enough! We were going to do it outside but sadly the weather did not agree and it was the rainiest day ever on the day we wanted to get going. Once your newspaper is well and truly covering every part of the floor/nearby soft furnishings etc. and you’re wearing old clothes or overalls, lay down your canvas in the middle and get ready to go a little crazy. Oh and take off your socks too, I may have learnt that lesson the hard way!

All we did from here is open every paint tube and get going, squeezing colours over the canvas, flicking the paint on to the canvas, dripping it across it and also getting stuck in with paintbrushes to smooth out blobs of paint and mix colours together. I can honestly say that it really was one of the funnest things I’ve done in a while. It was so easy to just let go and go for it, putting paint wherever you wanted and getting it all over the newspapered floor. The most important thing is to not worry what it looks like as you go along, just go for it and I promise the finished product will look better than you think.

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One tip: if you have a dog make sure you shut them out of the room you’re painting in. Little Charlie, my boyfriend’s Westie, made some rather colourful paw prints on the wooden floor because we forgot to keep him out! He seemed to rather enjoy it though and luckily the paint came off the wood really easily.

And here is the finished piece (can you spot my little signature?!):

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It might look like a bit of a mess to you but it reminds me of an hour where I totally let go and had fun, and I think if I was a famous artist I could have made millions from this abstract piece. Can’t you see how I’ve painted a stormy day at sea with a strong wind and a rather dark stranger lurking in the sidelines?! Only kidding, it’s totally random and that’s what makes it so special.

I can’t wait for this to dry so I can mount it on my wall, it will be a talking point at least.

image (1)It’s 00.01am on January 1st 2015 and I’ve decided to change my life. I’m pretty average, I graduated in 2012 with a BA in English Literature and now I work 9am-6pm (+ all those extra hours that slip by unnoticed). I have a long term boyfriend I met at University, I’m a size 10 with a pretty average dress sense and long dark hair. I live at home, am in thousands of pounds worth of student debt, spend most of my money on travelling to work and, of course, clothes and make up, and if I’m honest to myself my perfect evening involves getting into bed in my pyjamas and dressing gown at around 8pm (when I get in from work), eating pizza, and watching reality TV. If you’re really honest you probably like the sound of that too, right? I’m Little Miss Average. But at 22, I’m just not ready to accept that and I’ve decided 2015 is the year to make the change. I’m not entirely sure how yet but if you fancy coming with me on this journey then I’m going to post on here every Thursday and Sunday. That brings me to the title of this blog, 100 ways to happy. Every week I’m going to try two new things to change my life and make me a happier person (52 weeks in a year so I’m giving myself 4 days off). Sometimes the things will be tiny, things that take 20 seconds to do, and sometimes things will be huge, things which take weeks of planning and months to execute. At this precise moment, I have no idea what’s going to happen, what shape this blog will take and how exactly I will get happy but I’m pretty determined. I used to be the sort of person who when they set their mind on it, they achieved it. Time to become that person again.

Every week, twice a week, I aim to change my life in some small way. Whether it’s something small, something new that I’ve never done before or something that makes me or someone else smile. Number one for the first of January (start as you mean to go on and all that)? Start this blog. Let’s see where this journey takes me.

Happy 2015, join me on my journey to go from Little Miss Average to Little Miss Happy.