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Beautiful things to do because... the world needs beauty right now

When the world is struggling we can get swept up in the struggle too. Often our first reaction is to let go of joy and playfulness. Of course! Who could care about sparkles when places and people you love are hurting? And I understand that, I really do.

Except I know that diving into the media, the rumours, the updates, the worries, is a recipe for me to feel powerless and disembodied. Which doesn’t benefit anyone. The world needs all of us right now, and doing beautiful things is a way we can add to the joy of the world.

CLICK TO TWEET: Let’s take action to tip the scales towards peace, and know we can begin that within.

Maybe you are struggling with your own challenges right now. Perhaps your child is ill, or school is hard, or you are struggling with your own medical challenges. That’s tough, I am sending you love and want to let you know, this list is for you too.

There’s a myth our minds whisper to us, that to be effective, we need to be something other than we are right now. We need to have more time, to be richer, to be less stressed, or thinner, or braver etc. I am here to tell you that simply isn’t true.

CLICK TO TWEET: We can take action for peace and compassion in every moment.

When you are kind to yourself your internal peace is mirrored in your actions and interactions in the world. You are encouraging gentleness.

The day you pick sparkly shoes, the snazzy hat, could be the day you cheer up someone who really needs a burst of brightness in their lives. I have a friend who used to wear a funny hat to chemo treatments and the moment she stepped into the waiting room everyone would laugh and smile, the atmosphere would change… everyone looked forward to her appointments, patients and medical staff. In putting on that hat she was doing something brave and amazing. Hat power!

If you choose to take 10 minutes in the garden, even though you think it needs 2 weeks and a team of 20 gardeners to get through the weeds, you are gradually tending a corner of your country with love – and that’s powerful.

Or maybe you drop a card in the postbox, send an email or text a smile to someone else who’s struggling, knowing all the while that there’s more you can do and maybe you wish you could do it. Carrying on anyway with the small, loving actions that you CAN take today, that is amazing. That is world changing.

The action you take is more important than all the actions you wish you could take. And I am proud of you for doing it. Thank you.

Want some suggestions of beautiful things to do?

Here you go. Beautiful things to do because the world needs beauty right now:

Make art in whatever form suits you (see my Trailblazer interview with Aviva Gold for inspiration)

Create a festive advent calendar

Give yourself a break this new year

Wear sparkly shoes

Make yourself a delicious warm drink (I am loving the new Crazy Sexy Juice book)

Tend your home – tidy it, care for it, beautify it, love it

Garden, or make a patch of land beautiful

Put up fairy lights

Comfort yourself, comfort others

Drop some interesting magazines off to the hospital. At one appointment there was a whole stack of fascinating magazines – wildlife, astronomy, physics, sport… what do you read that might be more interesting than the usual? Yesterday I dropped a stack of organic gardening and riding magazines off at the doctor’s surgery – it makes a change!

Donate copies of your favourite book to your local library

Read Prayers for Healing

Donate to a food bank

Donate clothing to refugees

Write for Amnesty International

Volunteer with Mike’s Help from Home

Listen to or make beautiful music

Use and share Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ trauma protocol

Do a little self care in protecting yourself from news

Choose action over awareness

Send cards to people who need support

What can you add to this list? Let me know in the comments…

Photo Credit: Lincolnian (Brian) via Compfight cc


Dyana Valentine

Dyana Valentine, one of my dearest friends, got in touch years ago as I put chronic illness and sparkle in the same sentence. She supported my TEDx talk, my book, my work and dreamed for me.

Prior to her current work, she was a microsurgery technician, Olympics organiser, horse trainer and secretary to the General Counsel of a multi-national corporation. She’s a speaker, magic-maker, secret-weapon to superstars, and creator of super conditions.

I’ve invited her because she is a total trailblazer, changing peoples’ lives, businesses and our world. She’s changed my life and I want to talk to her more about being human, living with struggle and moving forward, and asking the right questions.

In this interview we cover:

– Asking the questions to get to the heart of what we’re really all about

– Challenging the ‘either/or’ dynamic of living with challenges

– Identifying our own inner seasons

– Dyana Valentine’s new SuperConditions game, launching today!

To download a PDF of the transcript, click here.


Winter love list for bad weather

I’m writing this by the fire side, I’m wrapped up, wearing my dressing gown over all my clothes. It’s a grey day, too dark even to go outside properly yet. But when the bad weather, dark-days-doldrums kick in, I have an antidote. And I’d like to share it with you here…

I used to love winter, it was the time of year when I finally felt like I fitted in. The illnesses I was struggling with meant that I spent most of my time tucked up in bed, and was often wearing ear plugs (with ear muffs over them for stylish camouflage), and lots of layers to keep my sore, tired bones warm. Naturally winter was when my lifestyle was the one everyone wanted to follow. In the coldest times, everyone yearns to be warm in bed, or resting in an armchair by the fire.

But winter was also the time when the grey, dim days seemed to stretch forever. It never got light, it seemed, until the drear days blended into one another and I lived in a dark world – rising in darkness, going to bed in the dark, and my whole world artificially lit in between.

Winter also tends to bring more coughs and colds, and infection is something I do my best to avoid. Having had two pretty difficult lung infections in previous winters, I was very nervous of this winter. Summer felt bittersweet as each warm, easy, sunshiny day felt like another day closer to the coldest times.

So I decided to flip that script, and shift my fear, I set myself a challenge. I made it my mission to learn to LOVE winter. My tools? A manifesto, a winter love list and allies to adore the cold days with me.

All through the summer I put together a list of wonderful things about winter. Everything I could look forward to. I got ready, gathered my kit for a sustained winter joy campaign. I’m very serious about this, I was ordering ski wear on eBay in August! But now I have warm clothes, and a list of joyful smiling-worthy winter delights I’d love to share with you here.

Manifesto Mojo

Set the intention – winter can and shall be awesome. A manifesto can help us make that so. The manifesto is your mission, your commitment to the challenge of cold-weather smiles and your guide of how to get them. Simply fill in the prompts below and post it somewhere you can see it. If you’d like, share on social media #turntrailblazer.

My Winter Manifesto

Today I commit to celebrating all the benefits of each day, whatever the weather.

I believe in myself, and know that my ________, ________ and________ are always with me.

Days are made bright by my actions and the three things I know can always lift my spirits are 1. _________ 2. _________ 3. _________.

Winter is a beautiful season, my favourite parts are _________, _________ but most especially _________.

I will take this season as an opportunity to _____________. Always remembering that _____________.

I look forward to each day and just like winter, I am awesome!

Build Your Winter Love List

What do you love about winter? At the beginning it can be hard to think of anything, but I’m sure if you turn your mind toward this question some thoughts will arise.

Can you begin with a winter free-write? Simply start by writing everything you feel about winter. The idea with a free-write is just to keep the pencil moving/your fingers typing/dictaphone speaking. When you have finished, take a break and then you can come back to what you’ve written. Grab a highlighter, read through, pull out any ideas (or seeds of ideas) buried in your words. What does winter joy look like for you?

I’m sharing my winter love list below for inspiration and fun.

Grace’s Winter Love List

Comfort at Home

Take the bad weather of winter as an opportunity to make the place you spend your time as lovely as possible. It can often be the case that when we live with illness we spend so much time focusing on surviving we can miss out on opportunities for the icing of life; pretty clothing, gorgeous home-wares, art which moves us. It’s also a common occurrence that our homes become filled with disability aids. These can be functional and beautiful but when they are not, it is hard. Can you make beautiful your equipment (check out my article here for tips and tricks)? And check in, does your home reflect you?

– Burning gorgeous candles – I can’t wait to try these Harry Potter scented candles

– Double duvet days – the ultimate luxury. A high-tog duvet over and under you, for total cwtchy comfort

– Decorating the house for festivities. I adore hanging holly over all the paintings, and home made advent calendars!

– Planning the garden, get the seed catalogues out. Read Gertrude Jekyll and Vita Sackville West for inspiration

– Decorating the chimney piece with squash and pumpkin boxes from Riverford Organic Farms and then eating them!

Body Nourishment

Winter is a beautiful time to turn inwards and nourish our bodies. So often it can seem the world is moving so fast, that everyone wants to do more, go more, see more, be more.

Winter is a great leveller. It slows us down to the human pace of our bodies, we haven’t subjugated nature, and we all bow when the wind blows. This relentless pace of life can be especially difficult for those with chronic illness as the fast pace can be far beyond us. Yet in winter the world slows down, people walk at our pace through the rain and wind.

Can you draw on your wisdom and give your body what it needs in the cold times? Nourish yourself with what feeds your soul and your body. Take the rest needed and just be.

– Making warm and nourishing foods like black bean pot, sweet potato soup with vanilla, smokey tomato lentil stew with spinach and olives and scrummy split pea soup

– Drinking hot gingerbread rooibos tea with a good book

Supercharged vanilla porridge

– Pickling and preserving vegetables

– Gingerbread – fresh and warm from the dehydrator

– Enjoying blood oranges in season

– Making kale chips

– Mixed nuts in their shells and clementines at Christmas

– Making up festive hampers of homemade goodies

Fabulous Fun

With little to gaze at in the garden and fuel prices rising, winter boredom can set in and bring a reactive depression with it. However I believe proactive plans can be made to prevent this occurrence. Can you begin by thinking what you might like to do, what you enjoy – like reading, movement, socialising, warmth, excitement etc.

Then mind shower activities that can fill these roles, what can be done around reading, for example? Perhaps a book club, a visit to a rare book shop, reading aloud for the Gutenberg Project etc. Next, look at anything that might be preventing you from enjoying these activities and find ways to circumnavigate the winter induced issue. It could be that you get so much pain in the cold that travelling to a book shop would be a punishment rather than a joy – but great quality thermal hiking clothes might keep you warm enough to travel (and if so, eBay may be your friend here).

– Going to the spa or swimming pool and being in warm water when it’s cold outside

– Camping out in the sitting room, make a bed or tent on the floor and tell stories

– Listening to favourite audio books

– Cuddling up with the dogs

– Festive music on the radio

– Grey days are good photography days:
Cloudy grey days can produce surprisingly beautiful results because the clouds act like a diffuser around the sun, dispersing wonderfully even light across your scene and minimising the risks of harsh shadows and hot spots.” – Instant Love by Jen Altman, Susannah Conway, Amanda Gilligan

– Knitting

– Star gazing

Advantageous Allies

I don’t know about you, but accountability and support count for a lot with me. I am writing about this because to love winter I need allies, and I’d like to invite you to join me.

If you’ve enjoyed this article let me know by posting on social media with the hash tag #turntrailblazer and let’s love winter together!

If you’re looking to have a care kit to help you on your way this winter, check out the Original Healing Box, complete with super-soft warming bamboo socks (perfect for this time of year), luscious lip balm, a beautifully made recycled notebook with Autumn leaf design and more.

Originally published in The Pillow Fort Magazine

Photo Credit: ff137 via Compfight cc