Finding joy when joy is proving more elusive than usual (10 ways to crack a smile)

Sometimes joy feels a little more out of reach than normal. Things feel a little more flat, and you find it harder to find anything to smile about. These are often the times when 'self-care' strategies aren't quite right. Having a warm bath with candles just allows the sense of 'dull' to continue, and having an early night just feels lame. And you're bored of lame.

Sometimes we don't need care, we need joy. So here are some ideas for injecting some fun back into your life. You can self-care some more tomorrow.

1. We'll start small. If the goal is laughter and smiles, the internet is your friend. You don't even need to get dressed. Comedians and pictures of dogs doing something silly work for me. You don't want feel-good, you want silly. Bonus points for finding something that makes you laugh out loud or cry (with giggling).

2. Now we've going to get moving. Sometimes a slump needs the cobwebs dusting out. Remember, this is about finding joy, so turn on some fun music from your teenage years, and have a silly dance or sing along.

3. Money doesn't solve everything, but sometimes having a little treat yo' self session can bring some joy. New makeup perhaps, or a fabulous new top. Whatever sparks some joy.

4. Make some plans. Other people can often make joy easier to find, so invite someone for coffee, or a cocktail date. 

5. Make bigger plans. Maybe your life needs a weekend getaway to look forward to. Or a holiday. Or tickets to a gig. Having something to get excited about always helps lift the levels of cheer.

6. Spend money you sort of shouldn't, but can afford to. Maybe get that haircut you've been dreaming of, or finally subscribe to Netflix. Spending some money on something that brings some joy is rarely wasted. Debt doesn't bring joy, it sucks it, so don't overspend.

7. Do something childish. Visit a gameboard cafe, the cat cafe, the ball-pit bar, or night time mini golf. Granted, I'm a little spoilt living in Shoreditch, as all of these are options on my doorstep, but child-like fun often sparks laughter. Bowling, ice skating, rounders in the park, etc. 

8. Tidy-up. Spending time in a cluttered space drags joy from most of us. Use your slump as a chance to get motivated to de-clutter. Not much compares to that sense of relief that comes with space. Add extra joy by playing fun music at the same time.

9. A different sense of joy this time, but sometimes when we're struggling to find our own joy, it's great to flip the switch. Help give joy to someone else. Can you help someone with something? Can you do something nice for someone? Smiles are contageous. 

10. Dress for the mood you wish you felt, not how you actually feel. You may want to crawl into some sweatpants, but step into something that you know makes you feel kickarse. Whether that's your best dress, or dungarees and massive hoop earrings (just me?) and show the world you mean business. Make yourself look like you feel fabulous and often the inner-you takes notice.

Some recent hair transformations I've loved

Our salon is often the destination for big, fun hair transformations. Which is pretty fucking awesome. People often change their hair when they're going through a new chapter in their life, and we get to share the journey as people take control and make themselves feel ready to take on the world.

Here are some recent hair transformations that gave me all the good feels. They may have just felt, "Fuck it, life's too short not to have fun hair", or perhaps they have a new career direction, or they've earned a treat. For whatever reason they decided to inject some colour into their lives, we salute them.

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Hair isn't ever permanent, so why not experiment a bit? You won't ever be on your death bed praising the Lord that you only ever tried one thing with your hair.

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One way that colourful hair injects some joy into your life is the compliments you'll get. Children on the bus with whisper (I usually whisper back that I'm a secret super hero!), and shop keepers will say you cheered up their day.

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People can be nervous about whether they're the kind of person who can pull off bright hair, but honestly it's all just about deciding that you want to be that person. There is no face that suits it, or not. You just decide to.

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I currently have black hair myself (under my wigs!) but have been almost every colour under the sun (minus orange and grey I think!). It requires a bit of effort, but I loved it. And one day I think I'll return to blue or green. They're my spirit colours I think!

Getting back to the gym. Bring it on 2017.

reeree gym 2017 2

After an absence from the gym over Christmas, along with the rest of the world no doubt, I returned to my bi-weekly BodyPump classes about a month ago. B moving abroad and me starting a job, both in January changed my routine somewhat, but I finally got it together.

I have not enjoyed my winter body, my clothes don't fit, and as much as I truly wish I felt the same regardless of my body, that simply isn't true. I feel better when I'm stronger and slimmer. This may not be true for everyone at every stage of their lives, but I am only responsible for me. So here I am, determined to get back to where I was happier.

I adore BodyPump. Honestly, it ticks every box for me. Great music, weights and the perfect blend of repitition and variety. I like that you're in your own world, but yet part of a group. I like that it's weight led too. I also love that there aren't really any dance type moves, like in aerobics. I'm too left-footed for that nonsense.

However, Bodypump isn't enough for me. My body is not how it was, and I want to work towards the place where i felt better. So I need to mix it up some more.

Today I popped to the gym and had a little 2k run. It was slow. I ran it in 13:46, which is pretty terrible compared to my old times, but that's ok, I'm only running against myself. It reminded me how quickly we lose our strength.

However I was reminded of an old post of  mine - Business lesson at the gym where I discussed running from 3 years ago. I used to run 2k in 12 minutes, and really believed I couldn't ever get it down. Then I ran it in 11:29, and then 10:49, 10:30, 10:22. Then it continued down, 9:55 and 9:50. I was stuck running it at 12 minutes for ages, and really thought that was as fast as my body would ever be. And yet that belief simply wasn't true. Just an important lesson to remember. Just because we think something is true, doesn't mean it is,

So I plan to smash that 13:46 pretty soon. 

Remembering 20 years of meeting people online - memories 1 and 2

I'm 34, and while it may seem unbelievable that I've been dating online since I was 14, it doesn't make it any less true. I was 14, and had just exploring the rather new world of the internet. These were the days when you were billed per minute of use, so my Mother had a money box next to the PC where I had to put 60p in for every hour I used. It dialled up through your phone line, and this led to many stressful arguments about the phone never being free. Eventually I was made to get my own phone line, which I had to use my Saturday job earnings to pay for.

Anyhow, I loved the internet more than any one I knew. I spent hours every day in chat rooms and forums, expanding my social circles outside of those in my school. I explored flirting and had many late phone calls with strangers. Such a different world back then!

I thought I'd share some of my more amusing internet dating ventures, from way back when, as a way to celebrate the 20th year I've used the internet to connect to new people.

1. I used to have a few penpals from chat rooms, from 14-16 years old. We'd often take it offline, and send real letters, and I met many of these people in real life too. Some even stayed at my home, but more of that later. There was one rather unusual 'friend' I had for quite a few months, who was definitely a grown man, perhaps late 20s or 30s. He was a milkman. He had a fetish for latex and bondage, and seemed to enjoy sending me pictures of the equipment he'd like. We never talked dirty, and he was struggling to look after an elderly parent I believe, but he definitely got off in some way to sharing catalogue images of fetish wear with me. I remember not being too fussed by it, and I still liked chatting to him. He was the only one I didn't give my home address to though, I gave him my family's business address instead. I look back at this 'relationship' in a different way now, but I really just felt sorry for him, and he listened to me. Blimey.

2. I've only had one boyfriend that wasn't from 'the internet', and I got my first proper kiss from the very first time I connected to the internet. I'd had to accompany my Dad to a house where he was working, and he showed me how to connect to a chat room for the first time. I got chatting to two men, Colin and Nik. They were both older than me, I think Colin was 19, and Nik perhaps 20. I was 14. The world was so innocent back then that my Dad said I should give them my home address so they could write to me. I met both of these men, which is why I remember my first internet experience so vividly. 

Colin was my first boyfriend, and my first kiss. We met in a local park after being penpals for a short while. He snogged me, and I remember feeling such a mixture of relief at finally being kissed, and disgusted at how gross the whole thing was. Ha. 

Nik felt like my first true teenage love, although maturity makes me know this wasn't true. But I was infatuated with him. We'd talk for hours, I even think he had a girlfriend, and we spoke as if we were siblings. He was a big part of my life for a long time, and when I finally met him it was pretty surreal. I'm not even sure I completely remember exactly how it happened. I'd gone to Wales to scatter my Father's ashes, and I returned home, aged 15, and knocked the front door. Nik opened it. He'd somehow ended up travelling to London to see me, on a day I wasn't there. My Mother had let him stay in my room, and he stayed the night. All a rather bizaare time. I never kissed Nik, but he helped me through a really tough time. However I look back with new lenses....I was 15, he was 20/21. So weird.

I wonder if they remember me....

Over the 20 years I've been meeting people online, offline, I've made friends, lovers and everything inbetween. I hope you'll head back to share in some more of my online memories!

A rather sudden new chapter.

So I did it. I made a rather drastic change, and started a new chapter. Before I go into that, let me backtrack a tad.

Just over a year ago, I took a job at a digital agency, and managed the salon in my ‘spare’ time. This was certainly challenging at times, but the salon continued to grow and I managed to juggle my time. It was tiring but worth it. I cleared my debt, had a holiday and managed to get some savings for the first time ever.

At the start of the year, I switched jobs, and started a new role as a digital marketing manager. I had been excited, but after 2 months I just knew it wasn’t right for me. And I was feeling so so tired. It all started to feel a little much, being in the wrong job, running the salon and B living abroad.

So I did something pretty selfish and I quit. I ran away to my mother’s house and I quit. I used my holiday allowance, and just worked two days notice. It was so unlike me, to be so  un-sensible. However it just felt like I needed to do it.

So here I am, officially only self employed again. Bring it on world, bring it on.

What I learnt during my first attempt at Facebook Live - The French Resistance Room

I've never done any live video, I've not really felt I've had anything to say, and to be frank, video is scary enough, and that's even before you realise there is no edit, and no re-do. But fuck it, I stumbled into my step-dad's attic room and just felt ready to throw myself into the world of live video.

My step-dad blogs about the French Resistance, and has become an expert in his field. It's the type of passion that is narrow and deep, and not something I can relate to in that sense, however it's so impressive. I remember sitting him down and helping him start the blog, and all these years on, he is still dedicated to it. He now has this pretty darn cool room in his attic, full of his French Resistance memorabilia. The room is set up as if a person was living in it.

What I learnt during my first Facebook live video is that when the wifi connection drops (because you're high up in an attic) the sound stays but gosh the visuals drop off. I won't keep talking next time this happens). I also learned that the comments that happen live, aren't saved over the video, so when I'm replying to them, its not clear what's happening at a later date. I learned that you have to keep re-introducing the topic, as people join you along the way.

However I also learned that it wasn't that scary, that some people liked watching it live, and taking the time to comment. And that's a win, right?

Oh, I've also learnt that my London accent gets pretty strong at times, innit.

He's been gone for a month...

long distance relationship one month on

I've hit the one month mark of being half of a long distance relationship. I'm sitting down to write this to give myself a virtual pat on the back. I'm owning it.

B is far away, not somewhere I can swing by for a random weekend, and so the gap is going to get pretty big. But do you know what, it's just time isn't it? In so many ways, nothing has changed at all. Sure, some superficial things have changed; what I do with my weekends being the main one, but the actual real things....they're just the same.

We're still the same people; the same couple. Being miles apart doesn't turn us into slushy poets who make dramatic gestures. We're still the us that we have always been. 

The time zones are tough, and one of us is usuallly going to sleep while the other wakes up, which is challenging as mornings suck wherever you are in the world.  This can make it hard to feel like you have quality time to connect.  But you make do. We're still who we always were.

Technology obviously makes LDRs completely different compared to times gone by, we can Whatsapp, video call, and screen share, all for free. It must have been much lonelier before the world became connected.

I'll be spending Valentines' alone, yet not alone, which will feel odd no doubt. I'm with someone, yet not. I intend to treat myself to something fabulous that day to make up for it!