My Week In Happy: Skipping a beat

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My intention with this blog is to write an update each week. In reality, this doesn’t always happen. I try not to give myself a hard time about it as it invariably means there is something else more interesting going on in my life…

A round up of recent events

Theatre in the ‘burbs

Checked out The Garrick Theatre, Altrincham for a performance of The Lieutenant of Inishmore on Saturday 7th March. The setting of the venue is very suburban – just a short walk from Navigation Road tram stop.

The comedy, begins when local pussycat ‘Wee Thomas’ is murdered. His owner, the unpredictable Padraic of the Irish National Liberation Army, returns to the island of Inishmore to seek vengeance for his beloved feline’s demise.

Despite the dark nature of the material, physical comedy and fine performances by young cast members Megan Johnstone (Mairead), Charlie Gallagher (Davey) and Adam Gonet (Padraic) made for a winning formula.

Let’s talk about sex(ology)

Dr Tommy Dickinson's book 'Curing Queers' at MOSI

Dr Tommy Dickinson’s book ‘Curing Queers’ at MOSI

I was excited to hear that this was coming up when I first heard about it at the launch of Manchester Science Festival last year. The event, on Wednesday 11th March, boasted ‘scientific speed dating’ along with a variety of activities and talks taking place at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI).

I ran into a couple of friends who had signed up for speed dating and were filling in the scientific survey after ‘voting’ for who they would like to see again. The twist? After they had chosen they were told how popular each potential date was and given the opportunity to switch votes.

There’s more on this, including Hannah Fry’s ‘Mathematics of Dating’ TED Talk on Ian’s blog here.

The MOSI event also featured some quirky activities including a challenge to draw genitals in three seconds (harder than you think) and a tasting of foodstuffs considered to make us feel sexy.

There were some great talks including Dr Tommy Dickinson’s discussion of his research for the book ‘Curing Queers’ which looked at mental health treatments for homosexuality in the last century.

The closing act on the main stage was Dr Matthew Mears from the University of Sheffield who gave a very illuminating talk on the physics of ‘pole fitness’. This was demonstrated by an experienced athlete and Matt even got up there himself a couple of times.

It turns out there is a scientific reason why pole fitness requires a lot of bare flesh – it provides superior friction therefore allowing more advanced moves and acrobatics…

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.

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: Stressipes, recipes and taking things at my own pace

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This has been a relatively quiet week for me going-out wise allowing me time to spend a bit more time reflecting and less time doing.

Monday

Spent some time learning about the kinds of things stress people out at work and how these ‘stressors’ can cause us to behave. At times it can be difficult to separate out issues at work from other events in our lives and all of these anxieties can combine to become what I think of as a ‘stressipe’ (rhymes with recipe).

Cheer Up Love - upcoming events

Giving my whiteboard some love.

Lifestyle is one of the key factors (other than personality type) that affects how we cope under pressure – one key aspect of this is making sure we do stuff we enjoy. That’s a big part of what Cheeruplove.com is about – and to make it seem more official I’ve started using my whiteboard to display the fun events I’ve got coming up.

Wednesday

Received a last minute invitation to see War Horse at The Lowry. I was actually feeling pretty weary but I knew that the offer was too good to turn down. It was lovely of my colleague Andrea to think of me when someone had to drop out the day before (especially as the ticket was just a tenner).

I had seen and heard a lot about the show, which is story based around the events of World War One, it’s not a subject I am normally drawn to but the spectacular puppetry and gripping emotional plot made it totally worth it.

Thursday

I recently decided it was time to get really serious about nutrition. On the advice of my personal trainer, it’s out with processed food, too much cheese and gorging on sugary fruits, and in with a high protein diet which includes ‘good fats’ like nuts and seeds.

Angie's chilli

Chilli grown and packaged by @angieokchan – used for very tasty salmon and broccoli stir-fry.

All of this has taken considerable getting my head round but it really does make sense – so it’s back to the chopping board for me! I’m experimenting with recipes that consist of 40% protein, 30% carbs and 30% (as proportions of the overall number of calories. If you have any suggestions for meals I could try I’d be glad to hear from you!

Friday

Popped in to Silicon Drinkabout Manchester at The Lower Turk’s Head near Shudehill tram stop. I hadn’t been to a Drinkabout for a while and I have to say the venue was ideal for chatting and mingling.

Had fun hanging out with @angieokchan, @frimkron@cnorthwood, @ianforrester and we *somehow* ended up chatting for ages about dating and Ian’s proposed ‘flirkshop’ event and eating at the legendary Northern Quarter burger joint Almost Famous (definitely not nutrition compliant!).

Sunday

My lovely friend Elizabeth invited me round to her flat for a ‘bring and share’ afternoon tea she was holding. This was kicking off at 4pm so I thought I had plenty of time to bake. Of course, I couldn’t do anything simple. Of course, I knew that the supermarket would not stock one key ingredient in the recipe and max out my culinary skills.

I also knew that I would forget I had a fan-assisted oven which meant it didn’t need to be on so hot, and that I definitely had a cake tin big enough to put the finished product in.

Slice of avocado cake

Avocado cake – yum!

Also, I definitely knew when I tried to whisk the ingredients with a hand-held blender that they would spray all over the hob and work-tops. What I did not know was that this would necessitate a complete reorganisation of my cupboards as they had kind of been annoying me lately.

Thankfully, the cake turned out well in the end – due to feats of engineering with ingredients, oven heat and transit arrangements. It was lovely to catch up with Elizabeth and her family, chat about BBC Radio Cumbria and drink tea, but it was a definite bonus that I had made a cake I felt proud of – happy days!