My Week in Happy: A harvest of happiness

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At the heart of this blog is the belief that we can take responsibility for our own happiness. This does not mean we can necessarily control how we feel, rather that the things we choose do and the people we choose to interact with have a powerful effect on how we feel about ourselves and others. As I ask in this earlier blog:

Why wait for someone else to set the scene when you can run the show yourself?

I’m going to keep details of this week’s activities brief as the theme I want to explore is how our own positivity can be reflected back to us by the actions of others.

Monday

Was thrilled that the Safer Internet Day project I worked on earlier this year was nominated for a BBC Production Award for collaboration across the corporation.

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Jacqueline Jossa (EastEnders’ Lauren) did us a nice film about webcam hacking

We didn’t win in our category, that honour went very deservingly to D-Day at 70 coverage across TV, radio and online. BBC Production pulled out all the stops to make the nominees and winners of awards feel that their contributions and output felt really celebrated, with famous telly faces presenting each award.

I have to say that, for me, Nicholas Parsons stole the show with his sharp wit and midnight blue moccasins.

Wednesday

Last week I wrote about Lou Cordwell’s talk (Lou is founder of Manchester digital agency magneticNorth) at the @SheSaysMCR event.

I got chatting to her afterwards and was chuffed when she said she’d heard of Cheeruplove.com. I was even more chuffed when she invited me to the magneticNorth screening of Pulp: A Film About Life, Death and Supermarkets at The Deaf Institute.

I’ve always been a fan of Jarvis Cocker so I was delighted to watch this cute film about Pulp’s last gig in their home town of Sheffield.

I also ran into fellow BBC-er, executive product manager, Lucie McLean (@luciemclean) and had a great chat about projects we were working on and online safety for children.

Friday

I was delighted when an invitation to the launch party for Manchester Science Festival at MOSI was wafted under my nose.

I’m really excited about what’s lined up for this year – regarding Robin Ince’s gig last week as a bit of a pre-warm-up. This year there’s a bumper crop of events and activities across several sites covering everything from 3D printing to ‘Weather & Climate DIY’.

I was also lucky enough to get some cut-price tickets for me and my friend @angieokchan to see ‘Not I, Footfalls, and Rockaby’. This is a Samuel Beckett trilogy performed by very talent actor Lisa Dwan while the audience are plunged into complete darkness.

The result was an intense and powerful experience. In the first play, the audience can only make out a small glowing spot of light hovering several feet above the stage. Only by looking closely was able to see that this illuminated Dwan’s mouth as she ranted through a stream of consciousness that it seemed impossible that one person could sustain.

 Sunday

It’s great when Manchester Girl Geeks get together – literally anything can happen. Our ‘Show & Tell’ session at ThoughtWorks sparked a number of planned and impromptu talks on everything from mathematics to cosmetics. Girl Geeks chair Katie (@stecks) heroically hosted the event and gave a presentation minus her voice.

I’d also like to give a special mention to Gemma Hill (@Gem_Hill) who gave an extremely enthusiastic and energetic talk about her new project to create an open source ‘choose your own adventure’ game. I’m really interested to see how it develops.

My Week In Happy: Where the magic happens

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Monday

"Where the magic happens" in big bubble, "Your comfort zone" in smaller, separate bubble.

After my holiday, I went back to the Ashtanga class at my gym with renewed enthusiasm for my practice, and even managed a headstand!

Because I love this diagram and know it to be true I am sharing it again with you lovely people.

Last Saturday, I summoned up all my courage to pop my head round the door of newly launched alcohol-free venue The Dry Umbrella in Manchester’s fashionable Northern Quarter (MFNQ).

I was knocked out by the warmest welcome ever – and got invited back to a comedy night (more of which below).

Wednesday

As a qualified City Expert for Google Local Manchester I get to go to some of the cute and quirky events they put on from time to time.

I this occasion I was joined by friends @angieokchan and @Frimkron and also got to meet up with fellow City Experts +AdrianLunsong, +IanBotterill, +ChrisBrads and the ever fabulous Chrissie from The Fabulous Times.

The Craft & Draft event was held in art supplies heaven, the venue being Fred Aldous in MFNQ. Guests were treated to a range of locally produced drinks and nibbles and invited to get an old skool photo booth picture taken, try screen printing and even make a collage which was turned into booklet using a risograph copier.

Thursday

Back to MFNQ again for a night of inspirational talks at a @SheSaysMCR event held at SpacePortX – with the provocative theme What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”.

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First up was Lou Cordwell (@Loucordwell) of the highly successful digital design company Magnetic North.

 

She talked about being prepared to take educated risks but to trust that you can manage if you don’t succeed in the way you hoped to.

Ines Lopez (@milopezcom), a creative facilitator working in digital, then followed on from with this with an insightful talk on ‘managing fear’. A refreshing look at how we can remove the stigma from failure as part of the creative process.

Friday

Went to see Robin Ince do stand-up at MOSI. I’ve followed Robin for a long time and it’s good to see how his material is evolving as he moves towards some of the more ‘touchy feely’ aspects of science.

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MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, if you’ve not heard of it), provided an intimate space for the gig and I really hope they put on a few more evening events.

Saturday

lizzie-allanSo, I went back to The Dry Umbrella, this time with a friend. Again, a very warm welcome coupled with an extensive tea menu, soft drinks and cakes.

Lizzie Allan, ably introduced by MC Ali Khan, told us her story, which was times dark but at others chaotic and hilarious.

 

Lizzie opens her set by saying that she has been clean of drugs and drink for around 5 years.

It is remarkable that her recovery from addiction and the psychosis that resulted from her abuse of drugs and alcohol have led her to a place where she can reflect on all of that with warmth, sincerity and a cutting dry wit.

After partying a bit too hard in India and Thailand, Lizzie found her 19-year-old self sectioned and detained for treatment under the Mental Health Act.

While that does not sound like a laugh a minute, Lizzie playfully recalls the effects of psychosis – specifically her belief that (despite no experience) she was about to land a major recording deal as a rap artist.

She also talked a lot about The Law of Attraction (which I think I do believe in) and the power of the alignment of the planets (which I’m not so sure about), but one thing was for sure – Lizzie caused her own brand of hysteria when I challenged her to perform an impromptu rap.

Upcoming events at Umbrella Cafe, Nexus Art Cafe, 2 Dale Street, Manchester.

This week I also updated the About Cheer Up Love page.

Google City Experts @ Fred Aldous

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Just very quickly – went to great Google City Experts’ ‘Craft & Draft’ event at top Manchester craft store and workshop Fred Aldous this evening – here’s a little gallery ahead of full My Week In Happy at the weekend. Enjoy!

My Week In Happy: Sun, sea, sand and serenity

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In my previous post Colour and chakras on the Costa Blanca, I mentioned the yoga break that I was blessed to be a part of.

The holiday completely blew away my pre-conceptions about the ‘kind of people’ I thought went on yoga breaks. I had imagined that everyone would take things very seriously and have extremely ‘pure’ lifestyles.

This couldn’t have been further from the truth as our group of eleven, while keen to look after our minds and bodies, were a diverse group with warmth, humour and huge capacity for fun.

 

There were so many lovely moments in Denia and here are some of the highlights.

 Thursday

Hotel Chamarel buddhaWe were greeted at Hotel Chamarel by an effervescent Nicole (who runs Yoga Breaks in Spain with her partner Gary).

Our first session was spent stretching out after a day’s travelling in the light and airy yoga studio.

The place has a very cool and bohemian feel and our hosts David and Mila have created a relaxed vibe in a space adorned with their own artwork along with quirky artefacts.

Our fabulously fresh and tasty evening meals at the hotel were prepared by an Ayurvedic chef who created vegetarian and fish dishes that would be kind to our bodies while we practised yoga.

 

This was a very relaxed holiday with plenty of free time between morning and evening yoga sessions.

 Friday

IMG_0966I skipped the option to go on a coastal hike so that I could get into the town and take some photos.

I also tracked down a fantastic ice-cream parlour Gola E Tentazioni and ordered the Coppa Frutta which contained the best strawberry flavour that I have ever tasted.

 

The evening yoga session consisted of ‘Yoga Sensitivity Training’ – based on Godfri Devereux’s Dynamic Yoga. This emphasises the value of slow, soft movements. By being more aware of our bodies and our movement we can better judge how far we can stretch ourselves allowing us to get the most benefit from yoga.

This was followed by an introduction to the Seven Chakras, the energy centres in our bodies. As someone who loves colourful surroundings, I was interested to learn that each one has a colour. As Nicole guided us through a chakra meditation we produced the sounds for each centre until the studio resonated with a glorious ‘Om’.

Saturday

IMG_0991Guest teacher Nati helped us to prepare our bodies for inversions – yes, that means going upside down! She was very keen to tell us about the Bandhas – interior body locks which could enhance our practice.

Headstands take quite some mastery – I made it onto my head but with my legs supported by Nati, determined to crack the pose very soon.

After that excitement I went for a relaxing facial which I was surprised (and delighted) came with a foot massage thrown in.

In the evening, quite a few of us made the trip down to Denia Marina and hung out on the rooftop lounge bar before heading to a nearby restaurant. Mindful that Nati would be guiding an Ashtanga class in the morning we tried not to make it too much of a late one.

Sunday

After a brisk Ashtanga class – during which I actually managed an unsupported headstand, I visited Amanda (our guest therapist) for reflexology and a pedicure. I left utterly relaxed and sporting a pink and gold toenails.

In the evening, Gary led us in a series of meditations. We worked with the Mudras, practising a sequence of hand and finger positions and learning how each could affect our mind and body.

Dinner, hosted by Gary, was at a local restaurant Ca La Pepa Teresa where we grazed on seemingly never ending courses of bread, olives, vegetables, chick pea stew (or monkfish) and an indulgent dessert platter.

Monday

After breakfast it was off to the beach for the kayaking and standing up paddling (SUP) that some of us signed up for. I’d kayaked before so did a little bit of SUP before sunning myself on the shore.

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This also gave me the opportunity to take some great snaps of the rest of the group – yoga on a surf board anybody?!

The evening was a session of Yin yoga, also called restorative yoga. This is my favourite type of yoga as it brings very deep relaxation. It is a mainly floor-based practice which involves stretches last for around five minutes.

It was so relaxing, and after our last Ayurvedic meal of the week (stuffed aubergine), it was time for an early night.

Tuesday

Woke feeling quite (unexpectedly) emotional about leaving Hotel Chamarel, Denia and my fellow yogis. Took my last opportunity to have a Coppa Frutta at Gola i Tentazioni before heading to the airport.

  • Such lovely people.
  • So many ways to learn.
  • Feeling utterly indulged.

I was on a Pure Yoga holiday with Yoga Breaks in Spain.

My Week In Happy: Colour and chakras on the Costa Blanca

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I bet you were wondering what had happened to the latest instalment of ‘My Week In Happy’? Well…

For most of the last week I’ve been Pure Yoga break held in Denia on Spain’s Costa Blanca.

I will write more about the relaxing, stretching and pampering, but while I gather my thoughts I wanted to share this very colourful gallery I put together of the lovely little town of Denia.