Don’t you just love it when you stumbled upon something that resonates with you and you think YES I want to be a part of that?
I did just that ~ I stumbled upon a challenge whilst looking through Instagram, it’s called “The Self Love Challenge” and is the brain child of Mel Wells.
You are sent, via email, a daily self love prompt to consider ~ then once you have decided how you will interpret it in a photo/s and/or video you then can, if you choose to, upload it onto either the dedicated page on Facebook or Instagram. When uploading and typing up your post you are encouraged to also add the #AdventChallenge and tag @theselflovesummit and @iammelwells to connect with other folks also doing the challenge, plus be put into the hat to possibly ~ if lucky ~ receive a prize too.
Obviously I had to join!
Today after the completion of the advent challenge and Christmas day, I decided to post the complete 25 days here as a blog and a place to keep them together to revisit in the future.
Below are the prompts for each day and my interpretation of them, with a brief explanation. I hope you enjoy them..
Day 1 ~ Proud Of Me
I had to think long and hard about what I felt proud of and how to depict it in a photo.
In the end the light bulb pinged above my head and I knew what I was proud of, the only way I could depict it was in a selfie.
I am proud of myself because I have taken on my health and my body. I have seen dermatologists, rheumatologists, hypnotherapist mind coach, physiotherapist and hairdresser!
I am now working with a rheumatology physiotherapist to help me regain some control and strength in my joints, which in turn I hope will reduce pain and improve mobility. I have a solid diagnosis of what is wrong with me which means I can start with hydrotherapy on 17th December. This is so I can gently exercise with the support of water under the watchful eye of my physio.
I also visited a hairdresser, the first time in years, to have my hair cut and we are working on getting the front the same length as the back before I can then start growing the length and reach my goal of shoulder length hair.
I am damn proud of myself for working on and progressing with my health, all be it at a snails pace. Success will take time but at least I’ve taken the first few steps..
Day 2 ~ A Gift To Decorate My Space
I love this prompt ~ I popped out to the supermarket, I needed a few bits anyway, and chose some gorgeous purple glittery flowers and lilies. I LOVE purple and sparkles plus lilies were mums favourite flowers every time I see them I think of mum and smile. I tidied up the dining room and put the flowers as a centre piece on my table with a purple tablecloth to match the flowers.
Day 3 ~ 3 Things To Love About Me
This prompt was quite difficult for me, it’s incredibly difficult to think about what you love about yourself. It’s much easier to say what’s to be loved about someone else. With some input from my daughters I came up with..
1) I love that I’m a born carer, all my life I have cared for others, my grandma, my mum and my girls and husband. For a while I worked as a nurse too ~ a job I adored.
2) I love that I love purple ~ the colour energises me, it’s a happy positive colour, the colour feels to be a part of my identity now and I aim to always sport purple hair, clothing, accessories, homeware…
3) I love my passion for sharing my life with everyone, I love the feeling of freedom that being open and sharing gives me. I love taking photographs with my camera to log times in my life, no matter how tricksey it may be. I don’t care that they may not be considered fabulous, I’m just a hobbyist photographer using my camera for pleasure and to record episodes of my life.
Day 4 ~ Vibes To Dance Around The Christmas Tree
I was suffering from PEM or viral infection ~ I don’t know which it was. Anyhow I had issues with dizziness and nausea, my balance not it’s best, which mean I couldn’t upload a video of me dancing to Christmas tunes by the tree so instead I played the videos on my laptop whilst wiggling my toes (with Loki wondering what on earth I was doing) and clenching and unclenching my buttock cheeks (physio exercise) in time to the music!
As I haven’t a video of me dancing to the tunes I have added the videos of my top three Christmas songs, cheesy I know but I really do love them..
Day 5 ~ Get Into Gratitude
What am I most grateful for? I have so much to be grateful for past and present.
I am enormously grateful for having had the time to say all I needed to to mum before she passed. We had many deep, personal, sharing conversations as the end drew closer and every time I remember her I feel so lucky to have had that time with her and appreciate that many people don’t have such an opportunity. We were always close but in her final months we were much more than that. December is mums month, her birthday, her wedding anniversary and also her death ~ all in December.
I am grateful for my husband ~ I am aware, once again, how fortunate I am to have found a life partner who is so in tune with me and my weirdness. I have known him for 46 of my almost 50 years. Our relationship has weathered many storms intent on breaking us and we have come through the other side, battered and bruised but with an added level of understanding between us. As we grow older we still enjoy each others company, conversation never runs out but in episodes of silence it is a comfortable one. We are familiar and comfortable with each other, a deeper love which comes from time, trials and tribulations. We never leave disagreements to fester and always begin and end the day with a kiss.
I am grateful to have been blessed with my three daughters. I wasn’t destined to carry boys and have mourned the loss of 5 miscarried boys. My daughters are unique, strong, sassy, caring, loving, vulnerable, wise and beautiful souls. They have been through more than they should in their youth and through adversity become stronger and now as young women are finding their place as adults. Every time I see or speak to them I am overcome by wonder at who they have become I couldn’t be any prouder.
I am grateful for being where I am and having access to our very precious NHS. We, as a family, have utilised the NHS heavily over the years for ongoing chronic illness and a fair few accidents. I am so aware, every time I switch on the news, how fortunate we are ~ we don’t have to flee our country or find ourselves in areas of famine or other terrible catastrophes or living conditions. We are exceptionally privileged and whenever possible we like to give back and help others less fortunate. I feel we should always be grateful for what we have and never take it for granted.
I am grateful for the friends I have, especially the women I have found through social media who have become so incredibly important to me.
I suppose in summary ~ when it comes to gratitude that I am grateful for everything. For every day I have to live ~ we none of us know when our time will be up, it could end by accident, disease or old age, we none of us know which it will be and when it will end. I take every day as a gift, I make the most of what I have, I take comfort and strength from all around me, the birds singing, the squirrels visiting, the seasons changing, the freedoms we have and the company or contact with the special people who are in my life with me.
Day 6 ~ Quality Time With Me
I loved this prompt and it was the perfect way for me to remember mum on her birthday. So, I baked a cake ~ a vegan Victoria Sponge cake, so that the girls could have some too. Mum loved her cake and although she didn’t cook, she did bake and made some really lovely cakes. For the rest of the day I rested, as still recovering from the dizzy bug / PEM and so listened to Audible ~ the book I’m currently listening to is a favourite called “Dune”. After that I rested some more before re~watching The Greatest Showman, I just love the soundtrack and Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron are easy on the eye too. Later that day I watched Mama Mia 2 (which broke me and left me blotchy eyed and snotty nosed) with the girls in honour of mum as she loved the first film and had a crush on Colin Firth.
All in all it was a good day with happy memories (bar the sobbing through Mama Mia 2), I felt mum was with me and approved of how we chose to spend the day.
Day 7 ~ A Spot Of Self Care Pampering
This prompt was easily achieved, a delicious Black Forest Mocha from Costa with all the bells and whistles to start the day. A plain chocolate bounty bar, fresh from the fridge was savoured and enjoyed. Finally, having the house to myself I put my feet up, dogs on my legs, fire on, fairly lights twinkling and a film on ~ Will Smith in Seven Pounds. I had a very enjoyable spot of self pampering and as soon as the film finished and after the dogs had been out for their bedtime wee’s, we piled upstairs and into bed.
Day 8 ~ Make A Move Towards Your Dreams
I have always wanted to learn sign language, it was something I had high up on my bucket list but had never got round to signing up for a course. Then, whilst scrolling on Facebook I saw a special offer of a two course bundle to learn British Sign Language for £19.99.
Naturally I felt inspired and read more ~ it is a learn at your own pace course with private supportive Facebook group and tutor support PLUS a certificate at the end of each course (1 and 2). I found nothing to deter me, it looked genuine ~ and it is, I’m very slow as I have to watch and re~watch over and over again and so am only a small way into the first course. Watch this space ~ I’ll soon be signing and able to interact with friends and acquaintances who are hearing impaired.
Day 9 ~ A Touch of Christmas Magic In The Air.
I had hoped to be well enough to go and see the city lights and skating rink but sadly it’s on hold for now, instead I took a few photos of our Christmas tree and our neighbours well~lit house. If I can get out to the lights before the end of this advent challenge I will upload them here. I have made our living room a lovely fairy lit haven which is as far as I go with Christmas decorations.
Day 10 ~ Stare Into Your Own Soul
Todays prompt required some soul~searching as we had to look at ourselves in the mirror and tell ourselves the words we knew we needed to hear.
I have been practising positive affirmations for a while, initially the words felt strange and awkward but with practice I now find myself smiling back at myself and believing the words and knowing them to be true.
My affirmations are very simple but important..
I am STRONG.
I choose to FEEL GOOD about myself and ACCEPT and LOVE my body.
I am surrounded by LOVE.
I LOVE you (said to myself)
We make our own barriers, I strongly believe that if we tell what we want to achieve to our inner child / subconscious ~ then once we truly believe it, then we can do it.
Day 11 ~ Adorn Your Body
The prompt for day 11 was to wear something to make you feel like a goddess.
This was really hard for me as I have a uniform of comfy warm cosy lounge wear because it suits my needs. I don’t have the occasion for party wear and so simply don’t have those clothes in my wardrobe.
SO, I adorned my body in different way by..
1. I had a fabulous paraffin wax foot and leg massage.
2. I had a wonderful facial.
3. I finished off with a relaxing arm & chest massage.
I felt wonderfully relaxed and fabulous by the end ~ so I adorned my body in treatments to make me feel fabulous
Day 12 ~ Take Something Out
The challenge for day 12 was to take something out of your calendar.
So I cleared my calendar out completely to drive my daughter, Tara, who usually drives herself, to a photo shoot in Lincoln to see how it all works behind the scenes.
The photo uploaded is a photo taken by the immensely talented Joel Hicks Photography who has been a huge inspiration and role model for my daughter.
However the shoot we drove to in Lincoln was with Steve Winn a photographer who creates awesome images and today with the help of the uber talented body art & make up artist Charlotte Bowman transformed my daughter into a golden goddess covered only by gold paint to create some awesome primal images – which I can’t share as are to be published and so need to be exclusive.
Seeing first hand the time and effort behind the scenes taken to create some awesome results was mind~blowing & I have huge respect for all involved and feel honoured to have been present at my daughters first nude session which was pure art, no “parts” were on show in the images, what you saw was just the pure undiluted strength and power of a woman pared right down.
I can’t wait until they have been published and we can share the images.
Day 13 ~ Get Yourself A Little Something
The challenge for day 13 was to get yourself a little something, something for Christmas ~ a present.
So I gave myself the gift of a haircut. I’m growing it after a head shave last year & so I’m limited with style. I had the ends trimmed & layers added & a fringe chop!
I felt so much better about myself now, my hair feels better, softer and no split ends ~ so I’m ready, bring on Christmas!
P.S. Before and after my haircut I spent some time with my middle daughter, who lives just round the corner from the hair salon with her boyfriend. They had only just the previous evening picked up their baby pygmy hedgehog which they have named Pumpkin. I took a wee video of her, she is adorable and is almost full size ~ which is teeny tiny!
Day 14 ~ Move Your Body
For this prompt we were asked to “Move Our Body” ~ great if you are fit and healthy but not so much when physical conditions make this a tough one to do. BUT not one to be deterred I manned up and got my daughter to video me, with my helpful furry assistants, to do my physio exercises on camera for you! Obviously I only videoed one rep as otherwise you’d be yawning into your morning cuppa’s.
Day 15 ~ Meditation
The email with the prompt for day 15 was to find time to fit in 5-10 minutes of meditation. The email also came with a download to listen to. Mel had created a wonderful guided meditation called “Make Peace With Food” and I listened to it twice, once lying quietly with eyes closed, floating away listening to Mels voice. The second time I created a Mandala as I listened on my zen garden. Both meditations helped relax and focus me ~ the guided meditation generously gifted by Mel has been listened to many times since as it is incredibly soothing.
Day 16 ~ Write It Down
For this challenge we were asked to write down our dreams / goals. This for me was a no brainer ~I want to be able to go with my husband to Rome and Pompeii, I want to be with him and watch his face as he sees the sights. I visited both Rome and Pompeii with my family when I was 10 and the memory of the holiday has stayed with me as one of the best. So, one day ~ hopefully soon, I will be walking around those wonderful sights once more.
Day 17 ~ Switch It Off
The challenge for day 17 was to switch off our phones for an hour.
This was the perfect prompt for today as I had my first rheumatology physiotherapy session in the hydrotherapy pool.
Whilst with the physio I was given a one to one introduction where a laminated exercise programme was created for me. I then entered the pool where another phsyio was waiting for me and stuck the laminate on the side of the pool worked me through the list. The exercise programme covers two sides (so flipped the laminate over) and I was taught exercises using balls, woggles, floats, submerged beds and steps. I will slowly be increasing reps and hope to bring the left side of my body to the same strength as my right as well as helping the movement of my hips.
Typically ~ being me ~ I had a full body rash as a reaction to the chlorine, so instructed to take my extra antihistamine prior to each session, along with additional pain killers. I take one 10mg tablet daily and have the option of taking another 10mg if needed.
After the session I came home and pjs went straight on and I settled down on my sofa, feet up and fire on, dogs on my legs. I then switched off my phone and had a nap for an hour, or perhaps even more.
Fabulous prompt as I would have most likely have been disturbed if I had had my phone on.
Day 18 ~ Eat With Intention
I LOVE this challenge and this was one that underlined how much my focus on food has changed.
I’m never very hungry in the morning and this was true on this day so had a coffee (or three) and a banana. Later I had a dinner of delicious whole~wheat pasta with a heavy on the veggies ragou. Then for something sweet I treated myself to a little puff pastry mince~pie, which incidentally was delicious.
I have found that I truly am only eating when hungry and stopping when I am full ~ get me!
It’s incredibly freeing to not be a slave to a diet and along with the positive affirmations my life is changing and I am slowly releasing the unwanted weight without feeling deprived or limited in any way.
Day 19 ~ Voice Notes
Instead of sending voice notes, as this challenge prompted I went one better and said how much I loved the special people in my life in person. We visited my dad and his M’Julie, Daves dad and Norma with Mark, Normas son. I also spoke to my daughters who were busy and couldn’t come with us ~ telling each of them how much I love them and what they mean to me.
To be honest as a rule I frequently tell my loved ones how much they are cherished, appreciated and loved because I believe in expressing emotions in the now ~ none of us know what the future holds and I never want to look back and say “I wish I had said..”
Day 20 ~ Give To Those Less Fortunate
I have given up giving Christmas cards and instead opt to give to a meaningful charity every December instead.
This year my youngest daughter organised a fundraiser at her College for CRISIS ~ we donated £40 in exchange for mini beauty treatments and also donated 5 winter coats, toiletries ~ razors for the men and mooncups for the ladies, plus some seasonal treats alongside non perishable food items.
Whenever possible I try to do something to help local charities throughout the year but in December I prioritized homeless charities and donating within the local community.
Day 21 ~ Love Bomb A Goddess
I’m mostly a lurker, I struggle with interacting and maintaining friendships because I easily become overwhelmed.
I have followed posts on Facebook and on Instagram, for this challenge I meditated to the Mel Wells meditation download and created an “inner eye of our self-conscious” mandala on my zen garden as I thought of the love bomb challenge.
I focused on my inner self, my subconscious, my inner child and realised that in order to make change we have to see it in our inner self and from there act upon it.
With this advent challenge we are, in our own way, trying to achieve change, self~love and inner peace. It doesn’t happen overnight and is an ongoing process.
I can’t select just one goddess and so I am sending this love bomb to each and every goddess who reads this, my friends, associates, daughters, family and all the women who I may not know but are reading this.
It really doesn’t matter if you feel overwhelmed, what matters is that you try and that you get up each and every day to try all over again.
Our struggles are all different and none any bigger than another, everything is relative to our unique situations and if I’ve learnt anything it’s that you try, it either does or doesn’t work out but the most important thing is we give it a good go ~ and then we try again.
If it doesn’t work out or isn’t for you then we can adapt and change, looking to find out what does work for us.
Much love to each and every one of you, you are all fabulous 💜xxx💜
Day 22 ~Out With The Old
For me out with the old meant that I was removing all negativity from my mind and life. All negative and critical thoughts were acknowledge and then removed, replacing them with positive affirmations. Teaching my subconscious mind new rules and guidelines to steer me in the direction I am working towards. It a ongoing process but in the forthcoming months I will reap the rewards.
Day 23 ~ Decide A 2019 Mantra
This one is short and sweet ~ my new 2019 mantra is as follows..
I accept my body as it is now and live each day mindfully, surrounding myself with positive people.
I am achieving my dreams and goals which are enriching my life.
I remove negativity in all forms by reviewing what is around me and what thoughts I have every day.
Day 24 ~ Gratitude
For this prompt we were asked to list 10~20 things that we have immense gratitude for: ~
- Grateful for my husband and marriage, I know how fortunate I am and don’t take it for granted.
- Grateful for my daughters, having had 5 miscarriages I am hugely appreciative of my girls and everything they are. What they have achieved and how they continue to work to pursue their dreams. I honestly can’t express verbally how fortunate I feel for having these young women in my life.
- Grateful for growing up in a pre~digital era; having the freedoms of not owning a mobile phone, computer, email, social media and so on. Instead enjoying zipping out on my bike, meeting up with friends and being able to climb trees, build dens, go scrumping and not have the pressures of online expectations.
- Grateful (ironically) for the internet and being linked to the outside world due to health issue limitations. It’s become a life line being able to learn sign language, write a blog, and search photography tips and download images from my phone and camera.
- Grateful for my virtual friends who have become very special to me and whom I would never have “met” had it not been for the fabulous internet and social media.
- Grateful for my dogs who I adore and who give me undiluted love and affection along with many laughs at their antics.
- Grateful for my body as it has carried me through my life thus far with barely a grumble, it’s a little battle weary with scars and patches holding it together, but it is a warrior and I am grateful for all it has and is doing for me.
- Grateful for my home, the roof over my head, my wee corner on the sofa with all my things around my “spot” for easy access. To be able to look out of the window from my “spot” and watch the antics of our resident squirrel “Gloria” and the birds that visit daily.
- Grateful for my rights, freedom of speech and ability to vote and basic human rights ~ something we should never take for granted because they have been hard~won.
- Grateful for our national health system ~ being able to access free health care whenever we need it and not having to worry about the cost and whether we can afford to go ahead and have it. I will fight for our health service at all costs because we are so privileged to have it.
Day 25 ~ Be Present
The final challenge was quite simply to just be present and in the moment with our loved ones on Christmas Day. We did just that, our middle daughter spent the day with her boyfriend and their pet pygmy hedgehog and so we face timed with her whilst we opened our presents. We messaged our fathers and siblings wishing them a happy Christmas. After that I spent the day with my husband, eldest and youngest daughters and dogs. We cooked together and then after eating chilled, chatted and watch random stuff on television ~ it truly was a lovely day.
“I hope you get your dreams
Just go ahead, let your hair down
You’re gonna find yourself somewhere, somehow”