Pursuing Happiness…

The Pursuit of Happiness

I am currently reading Ruth Whippman’s book The Pursuit of Happiness (and how it’s making us anxious) and although I haven’t quite reached the end yet I’m finding it fascinating. As a former Happiness Project disciple I have begun to feel thoroughly de-constructed. A pin has most definitely been unceremoniously jabbed into my little Americanised bubble. I say Americanised, but only half of me seems to be have been converted.

Several times throughout the book Whippman points out the marked difference between the British psyche and that of our Atlantic cousins – the former deeply entrenched in *reality* – with a heavy dose of ‘this is all a bit rubbish’ bubbling under the surface, whilst the latter remain perkily upbeat, optimistic and outwardly positive at all times. She remarks on the way in which us Brits have been involved in a huge sea change towards the American way (citing the changes she’s noticed in the things her British friends share on Facebook these days and the fact that we have also been enraptured by the idea of happiness as a goal we can achieve through activities like yoga, meditation and mindfulness).

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Being human…

Humans-–-Matt-Haig

I read a book over the weekend. Let me just state that again: I-READ-A-BOOK-OVER-THE-WEEKEND. It’s news in my world simply because I think I’ve probably managed to read about 2 books in the last year, so mentally crowded is my life with the demands of motherhood and work and (lately) commuting and threenage tantrums combined with a general need to spend the two hours of the day I have to myself vegetating in front of the iPlayer.

I guess that must say something about this book. It’s called The Humans and it’s written by a guy called Matt Haig. I’ve read one of his other books, The Radleys, but I bought this one for my sister as a gift a while ago after reading an intriguing review. It just so happens that she gave it a rave review herself and recently lent me her copy – an actual hard copy as well (I’m so used to reading everything on Kindle nowadays).

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Picture Book Philosophy 101

Snail and the Whale snail

Did anyone see that episode of The Apprentice (UK 2015) during which the candidates were tasked with creating children’s picture books (in a day) and then flogging off as many as possible? It was interesting to see what they came up with. There was one candidate – Sam – who hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that the best picture books convey a message.

Julia Donaldson is one particular children’s author who does this exceptionally well, and as her fame and sales prove people love a message. We are well versed in The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom but recently my sister (who is a teaching assistant) gave us a pile of her books which I was not so familiar with.

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Fire station activity book and playset review

Firestation book and play set

When I went to the Britmums conference back in June I was excited to become a Parragon Book Buddy – essentially a monthly reviewer. Unfortunately I chose an age group that was too advanced for my two but I have finally got around to changing that and we were recently sent this fab Fire Station activity book and play set to test.

I have to say that when I first opened up the envelope and EJ saw what was inside it was like all his Christmasses had come at once! He absolutely loves fire engines and has several toys already, but the beauty of this book/toy is that it has a whole pop out and build cardboard fire engine, fire station and loads of little extras – from firemen and women with hoses, fire hydrants, road block fences, and even a cat stuck up a tree!

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Orphans, buttons, Lego and bears #Littleloves

 READ

I’m sorry to say that I haven’t really picked up my book at all this week. However I have read some very informative and entertaining blog posts including 10 Facebook Groups to Help Your Blog by Aby over at You Baby Me Mummy – as always really useful information and so lovely of Aby to share so openly; and Nostalgia Jukebox: Getting into a Madonna Groove by Tim at Slouching Towards Thatcham which really re-ignited my (former) life-long obsession with the woman ending up with me on You Tube scouting her more obscure albums for forgotten favourites like ‘Don’t Stop’ from Bedtime Stories (FYI YouTube assures me I am mostly into ‘deep house’ music these days which is probably true as I have graduated from the garage 🙂 ).

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Sweet Potato Brownies, The World’s End and The Life You Want #littleloves

READ

I finished The Girl on the Train and even though I did find the middle section to be a bit too drawn out, the ending was well done. After watching Eat Pray Love last week I decided to look out something along the same lines but then realised that I’ve had the Emily Barr novel The Life You Want sitting on my Kindle for a while now. It’s the story of a woman, this time a mum of two young boys, who decides to take off to India to help out a friend and try and re-capture some of the excitement of her backpacking years. It’s actually the sequel to her first novel Backpack – following the same character a decade on. I read Backpack a long time ago but I do remember enjoying it and consequently read a couple of Barr’s other books so I’m hoping I’ll enjoy this and it’ll be interesting to see a different kind of take on this story of travel as an escape from more mundane life, but this time factoring in motherhood.

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50 shades of obsession

And by 50, I really mean: 5.

So without further ado here are my top 5 obsessions:

Obsession 1: The Halfway House:

The other day I had this flash of of inspiration about how to improve and beautify my home. I realised that, because there is a lot of clutter on most of the available surfaces, putting up some shelves would give me some valuable space to work with. I realise it’s not rocket science and everyone else in the world has already done this, but I digress – the point is, I didn’t then just leave it there, pencil in a quick trip to B&Q and crack out the power drill. Instead I went to Pinterest. I spent hoMy happiness shelfurs poring over beautifully coordinated, decorated and photographed shelving units. It was great! It made me happy. I told myself that this was inspirational, demonstrating what was within the realms of achievability. I even went on to clear some clutter from an existing shelf and pretty it up, creating what I’ve dubbed a ‘happiness alcove’.

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How to be a Woman, Uncle and Converse fakes #littleloves

READ

This week I finally stopped banging on about my new book by Caitlin Moran (How to be a Woman) and finally read chapter 1 and wow,  this really made me think back to a time in my life I haven’t thought about for a long, long time – the onset of puberty! Fortunately I will never have to guide a young girl through this time of blood and angst blossoming womanhood, but the boys are a completely unknown quantity (hopefully I’ll leave the guidance to their dad at that point!!).

I’ve also read lots of great blog posts and discovered a couple which are new to me too including Parenting Hacks (for parents who no longer give a crap) by Up the Spout and Round About which made me laugh (out loud!).

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The truth about… Inspiration

Inspiration

I have really struggled lately with coming up with blog ideas – even just an idea for this post has not been particularly fruitful. So, I’m resorting to a post format that I’ve read before many times – the ‘banish writer’s block by writing about your writer’s block’ post. Other people might just decide to put their writing on the back burner until a good idea strikes but, as the custodian of a living linky I not only feel the need to publish at least this one new article a week, but I want and need to keep exercising my brain in this way. Columnists who are paid to produce a weekly piece can’t just drop a week or two (although paid columnists probably have a bit more thinking space than I do!).

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The Book Monster

About 12 yeBook Monsterars ago I was lucky enough to be running a semi-professional website all about children’s books called The Book Monster. I wrote, edited, reviewed, interviewed and organised competitions and had the pleasure to talk to some great authors including Melvin Burgess (he of controversial Junk fame – this website very much incorporated teenage and young adult fiction), Nina Bawden (who wrote Carrie’s War) and that twisted mastermind Lemony Snicket.

 I met JK Rowling amongst others at the Smarties Book Prize awards (circa Chamber of Secrets) as well as attending several rather fabulous book launches (Louise Rennison – author of the Angus, Thongs series was a bit of a luvvie and her first two books were launched at the Groucho Club in Soho and The Ivy respectively!).

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