Guest #5 – Josie

June 12, 2015

I had been trying to think about an intro for Josie and then I read the first part of her post, and in describing me she has described everything I love about her. She is much better at these word things than me, and so I am just going to say. You need Josie in your life to make you look past all the stuff and see the things that really matter. The link is to her Twitter account because honestly she wins at Twitter.

10 things to do when you’re not having a good day

Kelly’s blog is very special to me, because through it, I got to make a very special new friend. Kelly is someone who gets what it means to be beautifully human. To love hard and try hard and fall down and keep getting up again. I adore the socks off her. Happy Blogiversary, Kelly. And thank you for brightening up many of my not-so-good days.

If your day isn’t feeling great, here’s some ideas on how to make it a little bit better.

1. If it’s a clear night, find out if there’s anything interesting to spot in the sky tonight (clue: there’s always something interesting to spot in the sky tonight). Use a stargazer app on your phone to identify a visible planet or constellation. Bonus points for bringing something alcoholic in a thermos and getting a dirty bum.
Remember: You are a tiny, momentary speck in an incomprehensibly vast and ancient universe. The light you can see up there has taken years to reach your eyes and try and make you smile, so try not to be rude. And, what’s more, you’re made from the exact same stuff, you improbable, unique wonderbeing. Feel it, and burn a little brighter.

2. Derail someone else’s bad day. Ok, maybe yours has been unavoidably crap, but you have the power of causality on your side. You could be the one person who turns around someone else’s. Do something impulsively generous for a stranger. Arrange for a gift to be sent to someone you’ve thought about lately. Write postcards. Put pot plants on doorsteps. You benevolent demigod, you.
Remember: everyone around us is struggling as much as we are. Maybe not today, but sooner or later – none of us escape the hard days in life. Despondency, disappointment, grief, sickness: we all have to take our turn at them. Our bad days can be what we use to fuel our compassion, empathy and care for people around us, rather than be something we use to wall ourselves off from others.


3. Go to the supermarket late, when they’re sticking all the ‘reduced to clear’ stickers on things. Head for the cut flowers section and wait. Avoid looking too suspicious by reading up on the nutritional value of vacuum-packed beetroot. When you see a flash of yellow on the bouquets, move fast. Load up and buy as many as you can afford. I’m talking armfuls, people. And men, don’t assume you’re excused. You too.
Remember: that sometimes the best person to bring a bit of beauty and care to your day is YOU. Don’t sit around feeling resentful that someone else hasn’t made it their responsibility to cheer you up. Maybe they have their own stuff going on. Anyway, being your own paramour is great.

4. Dedicate an hour, or however long you have, to researching something you’re curious about. See how much of an expert you can become about that thing before the end of the day. Suggestions: snail sex, duck penises, bird ears, lichen.
Remember: The world is bloody brilliant, and you have a lifetime stretching ahead of you to learn all about it. Are you excited? You should be. Oh, and you are now a surprising catch at dinner parties. Congratulations.

5. Go and buy a pot, some seeds, and a little bag of potting compost. Wilkinsons are great for cheap gardening supplies. Surreptitiously nick some pebbles from someone’s drive for the bottom of your pot, then get your hands in the compost and break it up till it’s crumbly (no trowels or gloves, dirty fingernails are obligatory). Fill the pot and pat it firm. The seed packet will help you work out the rest. Then wait.
Remember: There is always hope. Things we can’t see today will lift our heart soon. Sometimes you have get your hands dirty before good things happen. There’s potential in even the tiniest thing. Jeez, there’s endless metaphors for this one. Whatever. Above all, just be patient.

6. Get rid of some stuff. Pick a room, a cupboard, anything. Unless you love it with the intensity of a hundred birthday candles or use it regularly, put it in a bag for the charity shop. No “I’ll keep it just in case” or “I might need it one day”. If it doesn’t make you smile and lift your heart today, in the here and now, it’s going. If this turns out to be especially cathartic, go Google ‘Konmari’.
Remember: the less you have, the more the things around you have the potential to stand out, be useful and make you happy right now. And now is what matters. Give yourself, your stuff and your space some elbow room to stretch and see what it can do without distraction and competition.

7. Do something impulsive and completely out of the ordinary. Grab a book and climb a tree. Dye your hair purple. Make a completely out-of-character suggestion to someone in your life. If you don’t have time to carry it all out today, plan for sometime soon and get to revel in delicious, warm anticipation for a while. Whatever you do, give it your full attention. Make it worth it. Give it everything you’ve got.
Remember: Don’t be a passive spectator of life. You’re in charge. Maybe not of everything, but of enough to make a hell of a lot of interesting things happen. And, above all: “If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.” (That quote’s been ascribed to a hundred sources. Let’s say it was Obi Wan Kenobi.)

8. Read some poetry or actual, credited quotes from books. Poemhunter is great for this, as is Goodreads. Search for whatever you’re struggling with and see how others have expressed and explored what you’re experiencing. (Discount anything written over a rainbow or a waterfall picture though.)
Remember: Others have felt this way, over and over, stretching down the ages. What you feel is important, it is real, but it is not unordinary. Feelings are what unite us, not what set us apart from everyone else. Other people came through this, and you will too.

9. Write down what’s happened and how you’re feeling. Do it privately. Then write down what you worry might happen next. Now. Draw a line. Time to write some different endings. As many different ones as you can, the more outlandish, the better. With each new go, write something more and more improbable and silly until you make yourself laugh.
Remember: Your feelings aren’t facts. We can really hurt ourselves by writing stories in our heads about the future and believing that they’re true. Everything and anything is possible. The future is a big blank page. Wait and see.

10. Go to bed early.
Remember: Sodding it all is always a perfectly valid option. Let’s try again tomorrow. The beautiful gift of time and the ever-changing nature of existence means you’ll never have to live this day again. Plus, sleep is lovely.
(I think my other ideas are more fun though.)

If you’re having a bad day and decide to do something from this list, will you come and tell me? I’d love to hear about it. I’m @porridgebrain, and I already think you’re wonderful, because I’m nice like that. X

I have asked ten bloggers to guest post for me in the run up to my 10 year anniversary at the start of July. I really hope that you enjoy these posts, and visit their blogs to say hello, or wave on Twitter. Each one of them has been a special part of my blogging life and I am so honoured to call them my friends.

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  • Reply Elizabeth Rebecca June 13, 2015 at 1:31 am

    Your point about poetry is what I keep telling my kids in every poetry lesson.

    Lizzie Dripping

  • Reply Vanessa June 14, 2015 at 7:52 am

    I love reading your writing. How do you stay so lovely, day in and day out!?

    You’re an inspiration xx

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