“Just have a little patience” ~ Take That

Or, as defined by my dictionary

Patience” (n): the capacity for calmly enduring difficult situations; the ability to wait calmly for something without complaining or giving up


In many ways I am not a patient person. In material matters if I want something I want it now. When it comes to money I am a spender not a saver; or, as the indomitable Sue Perkins once said when asked in interview if she was a saver or a spender replied “An evaporator, really”. This outlook sits at odds with my job, where I can sit for hours at a time ostensibly doing nothing or how I can embrace a long period of travel without succumbing to the ‘Are we nearly there yet?’s. Perhaps because in those scenarios there is the knowledge that something is being achieved, albeit incrementally. But patience is a virtue I have had to learn to apply to my life outside the fields of work and travel.

At some point soon (soon being a relative concept) I will have my first anthology of ‘100 Word Stories’ published. These are short stories/prose/poems/fables/call them what you will all comprised of exactly 100 words. This means, barring story titles, the book will be 10,000 words in length. 10,000 words is not exactly many. But if I were selling them in a craft shop these would be artisinal words, hand-crafted from the moon and blood magic, written to the beat of a soulless city, and creating a sense of the Otherwhere. Or something like that. My point being that it took me a long time to write all those words, to create those stories. It took me a long time to admit that I wanted to be, was actually already, a writer. And even longer to get over the self consciousness of sitting down and writing, grinding out ideas and plots and magic spells at my keyboard. No book is created overnight. Mine won’t be. I have a lot of editing ahead when I desperately want to forge on to the next new shiny thing. And even when I do start that it will be a long time in the creation. And so I have had to learn to be ok with this, to give myself, my ideas and my words, time to be created and crafted and shared.

This mindset has helped enormously with my running. I want to get out there and run. I want to eat up the miles and sprint like I ran as a kid. I can’t. My body can’t take it; my poor operated-on foot can’t take the pressure, my lungs certainly can’t maintain sufficient airflow. And so I have learnt to rein myself in, to take slower strides, to walk when I don’t feel like I need it, to save those reserves of energy to keep me out longer and further. Sometimes when I catch my pace increasing and I slow myself down it feels like a band across my chest hauling me back, like Wile E. Coyote pinned by a giant ACME magnet when he has yet again been foiled in his attempts to catch the Road Runner. Humour helps when you are learning patience with your own body and stretching against your limitations.

And so now I am learning to apply this patience to my heart. Apparently it’s not the done thing to just grab a man you like and say “I’ll have this one”, no matter how strong the temptation on occasions. That being said the latest piece of advice I’ve been given for my lovelife is shout French at men then attack so who knows? Other notable pieces of advice have been “Find a school teacher” (a colleague) and “Go to church” (my mother). But I digress. Love, in all forms, can arrive swiftly but it will always and rightly need work. I have made lifelong friendships that started from a couple of tweets, I’ve fallen in love over gin & tonic, but all relationships, with friends, with lovers, will take time to develop. I have a greater sense now than ever of what my heart wants, in my friends, in a lover, in a partner; and whilst knowing does not make a thing so it does mean I can allow myself to be curious and open, to accept the vulnerabilities of my emotions as I can accept the shake in my thighs as I try to run another mile or the despair of my imagination when a story reaches 96 words and I am grasping for 4 more.

In essence, patience with ourselves as we would be patient with others gives us time to develop, to grow; to find new skills and forge new friendships. That, and maybe just a little bit of French.

Bonne chance, mes amis.





If It Makes you Happy

“If it makes you happy it can’t be that bad” ~ Sheryl Crow

Or, as defined by my dictionary

Happy (adj): feeling or expressing joy, causing joy or gladness


I don’t believe we have an automatic right to be happy. But I think trying to be happy is a Good Thing. Misery can be very easy to wallow in but actually it isn’t all that comfortable.

I recently came across this quote by Voltaire “The most important decision you make is to be in a good mood.” It really speaks to me. It’s an outlook of positivity, a way of facing the world and its myriad of challenges without despairing. Things may be awful but how we deal with them is up to us.

I started writing blogs on Happiness Is… because I was actually deeply unhappy and so writing lists of things that still made me smile in the depths of my unhappiness became a coping mechanism. I was raised to count my blessings and it’s a habit I continue to practice, most especially when times are bad. It’s not always easy to find things that make you smile, that spark a little bit of happy inside, but I think it’s important and I will always keep looking.

But to keep looking is not the same as pursuing happiness. The pursuit of happiness is stated within the US Declaration of Independence as part of peoples’ unalienable rights. Eddie Izzard does a very good bit of stand up on it, as though happiness is something to be pursued hunting-style with a gun. I think that looking for things that make you happy is a positive thing but if you can’t look around your immediate environment, emotionally and physically, and find things that make you happy then it doesn’t matter how hard you pursue, you won’t find happiness. It comes from within.

That’s not to say possessions don’t create happiness because they do. The laptop I am writing this piece on, the phone sitting next to me; they make me happy. But it is their usage, my usage, that creates the happiness. If I was writing a piece of hatred, if the messages coming through on my phone were nasty or unpleasant, then my happiness would be significantly diminished. I think it’s fine to be happy over material things but not to only be happy over material things. A piece of art can be possessed but is it the possessing that creates the happiness or the looking? A cool breeze, a gentle caress, the warm scent of baking bread; these things can’t be possessed but can create intense happiness.

Really, I just like to be happy. And I like other people to be happy. And so, even when I am unhappy and people I care about are happy, then I’m happy even though I’m sad.

What makes you happy? Always interested to know. Drop me a line on a comment box-shaped postcard.