Last minute New Year’s resolutions

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Enjoying the ball pool during with Girl Geeks in Manchester Science Week

It’s the last day of January and I still haven’t committed my New Year’s resolutions to digital pen and paper. I’ve needed to mull them over, organise them and let them settle.

I am not telling myself that I have to do all of these things. The list will also serve as a reference for longer-term aspirations.

Write more

This doesn’t just mean on my blog, but in my personal journals. Taking time to reflect on events and share my experience in a way I find comfortable.

Put pen to paper

Remembering that in an age where we can send a sentiment in a few seconds by text or messaging, the effort put into sending your thoughts through a physical medium speaks volumes.

Nail nutrition

I have been working hard for some time to find a healthy balance in what I eat an drink and continue to be guided in this. Today I made my first green juice.

Hit the gym (more)

Something I do already, but need to establish some firm habits. Went to my first Pilates class in an age this morning. It was tough but exhilarating.

Exercise elsewhere

I got a FitBit. It tracks lots of things like heart rate and sleep, but also very tangible and motivating things like daily number of steps and flights of stairs climbed. I’d like to walk at least 6,000 steps even on the most sedentary day.

Monitor my moods

I haven’t done this for quite some time and it will be interesting to see how the Mood Meter data fits in with what the FitBit captures in terms of wellbeing.

Reset my daily reminders

I use iCal to set mini prompts for me each day to make sure I maintain balance in life. These change from time to time so I need to get rid of any reminders that just aren’t relevant any more.

Develop my own ‘colour my week’ calendar

I’ve been experimenting in Google Calendar with a way of colour coding activities depending on how demanding they are so I can get balance across the week. A definite work in progress.

Read actual physical books

Instead of / as well as the many online articles and ebooks I dip into. I love the feeling of having a book in my hands

Speak more

Pick up the phone more often and meet friends in person. It’s too easy to rely on the convenience of email and messaging to make contact.

Put on an event

Happily I have achieved this already. I put on a ‘Meet the Bloggers’ event as part of Manchester Girl Geeks last weekend with six fabulous speakers. The room was packed the other volunteers, and folks at MadLab, made it a great and popular session.

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Me (front), with the Meet the Bloggers line-up. From left to right -Gill Kieran, Claire Gowler, Rosie Campbell, Natalie-Claire, Clare Sudbury and Sophie.

The event stimulated a lot of conversations between the bloggers and guests which carried on into social media after we’d wrapped up for the day.

I was particularly delighted when one of the attendees, Chrissy, wrote about how the panel discussion given the confidence to promote her own blog Making It Mindful.

My Week In Happy: Looking forward to 2015

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Rain against the glass of the tram stop at MediaCityUK

When it was raining and windy and cold and I was freezing waiting for the tram.

I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions because a) I don’t think they really work, and b) I’m pretty much always trying to improve some aspect of who I am and how I live.

I will say though, that returning to my routine after the festive holiday has given me a renewed zeal for my own over-arching goal of being as happy as possible.

As a person who benefits from routine, getting back to work and into the gym have been great for me.  I’ve learnt that the year has its own natural rhythm and so do I. These are things I can work with.

View of MediaCityUK from tram stop.

Dark and forboding weather.

Sitting in my high-rise apartment, I listen as the wind swirls around in the cavity between my ceiling and my upstairs neighbours’ floor. The sound is amplified by this arrangement, and when the rain drives against my windows as it comes in from the west, I feel safe and happy in my tower.

Even so, I chastise myself for not going out, even though my diary is starting to fill up. I make solo plans so I’m not letting anyone down if I take literal rain-check. I wonder what I think is going to happen if I don’t go out.

Will people forget who I am? (Unlikely).

Will they think I am dull and uninteresting? (Possibly, but so what?!).

Looking at it this way makes me realise I’ve been needlessly giving myself a hard time!

The fact is, I could go out if I really wanted to. Even if it meant going solo to a new place where there was no guarantee of knowing anyone who was there. I know I can do it.

The novelty is wanting to stay in, by myself, and spend time making the place I live the sanctuary that I want it to be. And that, I feel, is something to be truly grateful for.

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: Feeling grateful for good friends

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I’ve lived in a quite few cities. Childhood in Coventry, teenage years in Norwich, university in Southampton, then back to Norwich before a 10 year stint in London, before finally landing here in Manchester.

In each stage of my life I’ve made new friends and do my best to stay in touch them even if sometimes months or even years have elapsed since we were last in contact.

This week, seeing some dear friends has make me extremely happy and grateful.

Mike

I met Mike when we worked at a small offshoot of a publishing house in Norwich in the mid-nineties. He’s always made a really big effort to keep in touch no matter what’s going on in either of our lives. Mike has sharp wit which is reflected in some of the greeting cards he has created for me over the years. Take a look at this gallery.

Some of the Mike's greeting card designs. Broccoli = Brockley.

Some of the Mike’s greeting card designs.

Lynsey

I have known Lynsey since we were about 14 years old. Contact may have ebbed and flowed over the years as we moved to different cities and did different things with our lives, but when we chat (usually online and about pretty much anything) it feels like no time has passed at all.

Lynsey is working on her first novel and blogging about it – the blog itself is a work of art in my eyes.

Birthday buddies

My friend Karen shares a birthday month with me. We love to celebrate and it’s been a month full of hiding cards and collections and eating several kilos of cake.

On Friday it was Karen’s birthday, an occasion that we marked at Chaophraya, a top Thai place in Manchester. To give you a flavour of what we got up to, here’s a gallery.

Erinma

I’ve got to know Erinma over the last couple of years through mutual friends and various geeky activities. We hooked up for the #HookedOnMusic late event on Saturday night at Manchester’s Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI).

Erinma has had a long involvement with the museum, developing and delivering fantastic citizen science projects including Turing’s Sunflowers and Hooked On Music. She is also one of the most generous and kind-hearted people you could ever hope to meet.

Cosmo update

icu-twitterMy cat, Cosmo, is an old boy who’s led an amazingly good and pampered life.

He’s not been too well for the last couple of months and has lost a lot of weight since the beginning of the year.

He’s at home being cared for in the Intensive Cuddle Unit and we’re going to back to the vets on Thursday to see how he’s doing.

 

My Week In Happy: The many gifts of girl geeks

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I want to spend some time talking about one particular thing that makes me happy so the diary entries for this week will be briefer than usual.

When I started off writing this I was inspired by the small gifts my friend Angie (@angieokchan) often presents me with. As a graphic designer, Angie always finds a novel way to package anything from a homegrown chilli to some ticket money.

I first met Angie through my involvement with Manchester Girl Geeks – a group of volunteers that puts on and supports events that provide a friendly place for women and girls to find out more about science and technology.

Angie designs a lot of the Manchester Girl Geeks (MGG) branding and publicity materials and also came up with a fantastic illustrated instruction sheet for our soft electronics workshop.

Manchester Girl Geeks

As I looked back over my entries on the MGG blog and the numerous photographs that I’ve taken at our events it made me realise that I was not only grateful for Angie for her generosity but Manchester Girl Geeks in general.

We are all volunteers but put our heart and soul into creating an supporting events that will reach more and more women and girls.

This degree of dedication was demonstrated recently when our chair Katie (@stecks) hosted a Sunday afternoon ‘Show & Tell’ event minus the use of her vocal chords (due to a cold), even giving her own talk on binary nail varnish!

So I would like to celebrate the commitment and hard work of the wonderful women I’ve met through Manchester Girl Geeks:

Other stuff that happened this week

Thursday night saw the launch of Manchester Science Festival at the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) where former Happy Mondays’ dancer Bez made a surprise appearance and I got to pick the brain of a (very charming) academic involved in an upcoming sexology project.

My dear friends Erinma and Caroline then whisked me off for a pre-birthday curry.

On Saturday I celebrated my birthday early at a new club night ‘NQ Working Men’s Club’ held at Night & Day Cafe in Manchester’s fashionable Northern Quarter.

Top Northern Soul Dance School teacher Tobin Lochrie (@TobinLochrie) made it a super night out with dance classes, a raffle and 80s musical bingo. He even got the crowd singing happy birthday to me and gave me the honour of drawing the winning raffles tickets (I’ve never seen a woman move so fast to collect her prize of diet Spam!).

On Sunday I managed to make to TEDxSalford with my good friend Lord Toby Mildon (@tobymildon). It was great to see talks by:

  • Kate Russell (BBC Click presenter, on crowdfunding)
  • Jack Andraka (inventor of early detection kit for pancreatic cancer)
  • Jack Sim (founder of the World Toilet Organization)
  • Lucy Hawking (writes stories for children about astrophysics and astronomy) and
  • Professor Bruce Hood (cognitive scientist and father of the killer cardigan stunt)

Bonus gallery

 

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: SpacePortX launch, Corrie visit and tea-powered talk

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Hello! I bet you’ve wondering what I’ve been up to this week? You probably have some idea if you follow me on Twitter or Google+ as I post regularly on both platforms.

Wednesday

An after work trip to the Northern Quarter for the launch of SpacePortX – the co-working and community space  which has picked up where TechHub Manchester left off with a bit of extra Manchesterness baked in.

Chris Northwood and Zoe E Breen at SpacePortX launch networking

Chris Northwood and I pose for the camera.
(Photo: Drew Forsyth)

CEO Shaf Choudry spoke with passion about how, in its new incarnation as SpacePortX, the venue was not just for start-ups but the whole local tech community. There are so many events going on now in Manchester in the geek / start-up diary that it’s a job not to double-book yourself!

The aim of SpacePortX is simple – to make Manchester one of the top five tech cities in the UK. I think we can go further so please think about adding the hashtag #MCRTOP5 to your tweets when you comment on tech in Manchester.

Friday

I do like my soaps, I used to watch a whole bunch of them until they ate up too much of my time. Although I will always prefer EastEnders over Coronation Street, since I’ve moved up north I’ve taken much more of an interest in Corrie.

With Coronation Street now based at MediaCityUK the old sets at Granada Studios have been opened up to the paying public. It took very little effort to persuade my friend Elizabeth to join me in celebrating a piece of Manchester’s rich cultural heritage.

Behind the bar at the Rovers Return Inn.

Liz McDonald eat your heart out – behind the bar at the Rovers Return Inn.

Elizabeth, her daughter Hannah and I were pretty soaked by the time we got to Granada Studios, but the warm and entertaining tone of our tour guide Leah soon took our minds off the rain.

Photography is not allowed in the interiors sets, although you do get the chance to have your photo taken in the Rovers. Elizabeth and I got a photo each in a 2 for 1 deal for £5 and I have to say I’m pretty chuffed with the result (see picture above).

Once outside on the street you’re free to take as many pictures as you like. I think the dark and rain made for some quite atmospheric panorama shots.

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The Rovers Return Inn, the street, and Audrey’s salon.

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Prima Doner kebab shop, Roy’s Rolls cafe and Barlow’s Buys.

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Bridge, Rovers Return Inn and Audrey’s salon.

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Wide shot featuring Beetham Tower in the background.

You can read my review on the official Coronation Street Tours Google+ page.

Saturday

Headed back to the Northern Quarter to meet with my friend Ian to discuss an idea for a dating format that I’d struck upon. I’m not going to share the concept here as it’s not really very developed and needs quite a bit of work.

We met at North Tea Power which I was keen to check out as I’d somehow never made it there before. So tea (Earl Grey Blue, Lapsang Souchong) and coffee (Americano, mocha) were consumed as we chatted over the merits of different dating formats.

Ian had been working on a blog about sensory dating after I shared a link with him about an event being held at the Science Museum in London. I am really interested in different ways of bringing people together and it would be great to see something similar being held at MOSI in Manchester.

We also talked about different dating shows that he had been involved with – the wonderfully named ITV format ‘How To Get More Sex’ (2007) which was his first foray into the world of speed dating and BBC Three’s ‘A Year Of Making Love’ (2013) which matched potential partners based on an online ‘compatibility test’.

As far as I understand it, scientists continue to be baffled by why exactly people are attracted to one another. While finding a mate by sniffing a t-shirt they’ve worn may seem a bit gimmicky, I’d hope the experience would allow people to loosen up, get talking and possibly share a memorable evening together.

The fact is that all dating formats – on television, online or ‘in real life’ are gimmicky by their very nature. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that – in fact I quite like it.