My Year In Happy: Welcome and entertain them all!

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Hello for the last time in 2015.

IMG_0990This is just a quick note to end the year on.

2014 has been an eventful year for me, but if I had to pick one stand-out experience for me from the past 12 months it would have to be the blissful yoga break in the Spanish sun in early September.

Nicole, our yoga teacher, and kind and generous host, brought us new gifts each day.

I had heard this piece by Rumi before and it had clearly lodged itself somewhere in my sub-conscious. As Nicole read out the poem I realised I was ready to accept these words rather than merely hear them.

The Guest House

PIC_0085This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

…and so another door opens

As 2014 draws to an end, it might feel tempting to say that one door has closed, but for me it’s a comforting reminder that there are many more doors, windows and minds to be opened in 2015.

Something else to add my gratitude-inspired list of 25 reasons to be cheerful in 2015.

My Week In Happy: A White Christmas and 25 reasons to be cheerful in 2015

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In her fab blog, my friend Lynsey White explains how she uses gratitude lists to help her stay positive – actively searching for three things each day that she feels thankful for.

So, taking a leaf out of Lynsey’s book, I’ve collected my thoughts and put together a list of things I’m grateful for that will sustain me into 2015 and beyond.

To get me in the mood for writing this list I’ve taken inspiration from the cosy cheer offered by Lynsey’s daughter Lucy Lou White in her very own vlog series.

And, with a nod to punk legend Ian Dury, I’m dubbing these my ‘reasons to be cheerful’.

25 reasons to be cheerful in 2015

  1. Cheeruplove.com
  2. My loving family
  3. Fantastic friends – old and new
  4. Brilliant and talented colleagues
  5. Work I truly believe in
  6. My wonderful mentees
  7. Wearing beautiful, colourful clothes
  8. Birthdays / any other reasons to celebrate
  9. Cooking delicious and healthy food
  10. Trying out new places to eat
  11. Pokusevski’s deli – my second home
  12. Developing compassion for everyone
  13. A wonderful yoga holiday in Spain (hopefully another in 2015)
  14. Rocking circuits on a Sunday morning
  15. A strong immune system (touching wood)
  16. Great arts scene in Salford and Manchester
  17. Mindfulness exercises
  18. Northern soul dancing
  19. Relaxing and remembering to laugh
  20. 90s dance classics with Robin on Saturday
  21. Being a part of Manchester Girl Geeks
  22. Becoming a Google City Expert
  23. Lovely neighbours
  24. A beautiful, light and airy apartment
  25. Knowing my cat Cosmo lived a happy life

My Week In Happy: All I want for Christmas…

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10683572_10152606908058160_8962302706601248153_o‘Fairytale of New York’ playing into my headphones, I attempt to pull myself into the festive spirit. Sitting at home on Sunday, I started to manufacture Christmas cards – each one a bold explosion of colour. Each card in contrast to my own quieter, stiller mood.

Don’t get me wrong, I have many things to be thankful for this Christmas. Not least, time spent with friends and family and the comfort of friendships and relationships made and nurtured in the past year.

I just don’t like these short days of winter and hope that the coming weeks and 2015, like my festive greeting cards, will sizzle with colour and excitement!

 

 

My Week In Happy: Digital creativity, Future Everything

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Make it Digital

bbc-webwise-elite

I created my first web content on a BBC Micro at age 12.

One of the things I really like to do is step outside of my world as a BBC web producer and find out how other people are being creative with digital media.

Writing this entry feels particularly timely as my department, BBC Learning, is looking for external partners to work with for ‘Make it Digital‘ – our focus on digital creativity for 2015.

In the 1980s the BBC Micro computer landed in schools across the UK. I was lucky enough to get my hands on one and contributed to the Domesday Project – an ambitious initiative to crowdsource local information through pupils.

domesday

In 2011, the BBC ran a project to surface all the data captured on the huge laser discs that came with each computer, and I was delighted to see that my name had been included in the credits – my first contribution t o web content at just 12 years old.

Building on the huge success of the BBC Micro in the 1980s, the BBC are looked for partners interested in our project to ‘create a hands-on learning experience that allows any level of young coder from absolute beginner to advanced maker to get involved and be part of something exciting’.

If you want to apply for this you need to do it right away!
Expressions of interest close at 2pm Monday 8th December.

Hyper Island

So, on Wednesday I visited Hyper Island to take part in their very first ‘Learning Lab’. Hyper Island offers students an alternative to conventional academic institutions, with opportunities ranging from apprenticeships to MA programmes across the globe.

Learning takes place in Hyper Island’s own studios and, vitally, within industry settings. The Learning Lab was a teaserf for their latest MA programme, Digital Experience Design, which launches in April 2015.

The evening was hosted by Lauren Currie, Catherine McHenry and Tash Wilcocks from Hyper Island and Tom Higham from Future Everything (Manchester’s annual festival of ideas).

We quickly broke up into teams and got started with rapid idea generation (Post-It notes and marker pens at the ready), we worked rapidly to identify ‘broken’ aspects of further education, locate ‘pain points’ and work up a solution.

I worked with a graphic design lecturer, digital creative and filmmaker to prototype ‘Dean’s Den’ – an informal, non-hierarchical space (think bean bags and throws), where pitches for small sums of money for project can be made by students and lecturers, but the decision has to be made there and then within the Den and not deferred elsewhere.

It was great to meet so many enthusiastic and friendly folks and I’m very much looking forward to Hyper Island’s next Learning Lab.

Manchester Digital

Popped my head round the door of the Manchester Digital Christmas party on Thursday at the Cane & Grain in the fashionable Northern Quarter. Didn’t intend to stay for long but got chatting to lots of friendly people from across the industry from hosting companies to recruiters and games developers. It’s great to feel part of such a vibrant tech and digital scene in Manchester.

We often talk about making Manchester a Top 5 city in the UK for Tech, but for me it already has the top slot.

My Week In Happy: Searching for gratitude

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The aftermath of the Santa Run at MediaCityUK.  
Note: I did not take part in the run, I just happened to be coming back from the gym at the time.

It’s been tough losing my beloved feline friend Cosmo. He was with me for far longer than any romantic relationship I’ve ever had, by my side for 15 years. Although his passing was anticipated, knowing it was coming hasn’t eased the pain – other than my ability to stop his pain.

So in these dark times, it is more important than ever for me to dig deep and turn up those things that bring me joy and for which I am grateful.

 Life is short

Earlier this year, a good friend of my lost his mother who was in her eighties. She was an amazing woman who raised four children, started university at the age of 52, qualified as a social worker and started a career aged 56, and became a gay rights campaigner in her fifties.

This started me thinking about my relationships with my family and other people that I felt I needed to do more to keep in touch with. What I did as a result of this:

  • Celebrated my dad’s birthday with my brother for the first time in over 30 years.
  • Made contact with a school friend I’d lost touch with and connected on Facebook.
  • Met another school friend who I hadn’t seen for 20 years – it was magical.

Moving round a lot and having a busy job are no longer good enough reasons for not staying in touch.

This is all rather more sombre than my usual updates, I am still doing good things (seeing Half Man Half Biscuit, laughing at Bridget Christie and pitching new content ideas), so please bear with me.