I have to admit, it’s been an emotional April on the whole – lots of ups, a few downs and everything in between.
In fact, the emotional rollercoaster I’ve felt reminded me of my time in chemo and radiotherapy. Back then it wasn’t something that I could control, but at least I can now choose how to interpret the lockdown situation and turn a negative into a positive – so that’s what I’ve been focusing on.
I’ve been joining plenty of business networking meetings (on Zoom) and it’s been great to see such positivity, with underlying messages of ‘keeping calm’, ‘riding the storm’ and ‘seeing opportunities in adversity’. Basically – plenty of life lessons – and everything beyond our control isn’t worth the worry (a key lesson from one of my favourite books, Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff.)
So, having a look at April – here’s what’s been happening in my world this month…
What I’ve enjoyed in April
Two things mainly – time to reflect and time with the family. I’ve enjoyed some nice downtime, choosing to take time away from work to focus on what makes me happy. It turns out that I’ve loved rock painting – here are a few that my daughter and I created!
I’ve also enjoyed a couple of side projects such as creating my Frida Kahlo pot (the main picture!), a bit of gardening and plenty of decluttering, tidying and cleaning (after I finished reading ‘The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying‘).
Meanwhile, decorating the lounge (in a retro vibe) is where I’ve been concentrating most of my time – both planning it and the execution. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed decorating, but I also forgot how tiring it is. It’s pretty much finished – I’ve got a few finishing touches to add and then I’ll be writing up a blog post.
In terms of TV entertainment, I finished watching the first two series of Killing Eve, enjoyed Race Across The World and now I’m halfway through Tiger King. Next on my list of things to watch is Afterlife – and by the time I’m finished with that, I should be able to binge watch the third series of Killing Eve – I’ve got it all mapped out see!
Something that I did think was a great idea was a photographer coming round to the house to take pictures of us to treasure as a keepsake while we’re in lockdown. I got a call from my friend and neighbour to tell me that a local photographer was visiting her and she asked if he could pop round to get some snaps. He would provide free digital images on the condition that we make a donation to the charity of our choice – what a great idea! And what a wonderful thing for him to do too – I reckon he’ll get business through this via recommendations and people asking him to come back and do some Christmas pictures! Here’s one he took of the kids outside the house…
This month I got given the results of my first mammogram exam since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer – they were all clear and I was both relieved and thrilled. Naturally, I wanted to go out and celebrate with the family, but we raised a glass indoors instead and I’ll be making up for it once lockdown is over.
I put the news on my Instagram and Facebook and received so many lovely messages of support – thank you to each and every one of you who took time to wish me well – I have some lovely, caring and genuinely nice friends out there and I’m truly grateful for that.
Even though my cancer journey is now over, I feel it would be a great thing to blog about it sometimes and even chat about it on my Insta stories. Because when I did, I received some of the best feedback on how I’d helped others. It’s also a good idea to remind people to check themselves too – it’s all too easy to forget – and it could mean a huge difference in what you have to go through by early detection.
Again, it’s been a busy month so I only managed a couple of posts in April:
- 15 Things I Swear By To Get More Done
- and (given my new all-clear diagnosis) 12 Ways I Live My Life Differently After Cancer. I always enjoy writing blog posts like this as I can unleash my creativity and write totally from the heart.
I mentioned last month that my blog is looking a bit tired – and it is. And my plans were to update it. So far, I haven’t made any headway with that, but it’s definitely on the to-do list ….hopefully by next month who knows?!
Something that I’m VERY relieved about is that I finally backed up the blog. I have been living on a knife’s edge since last year, fearing that at any time my blog would get hacked and everything would go missing.
And my fears became reality when I realised that I’d been hacked (read last month’s roundup post on how I spotted this!) Luckily, I hadn’t lost any work, but it really made me think about how I’d feel if I lost everything. Gutted would be an understatement.
So….Backup-guard was originally a plugin I downloaded to back up my site, but no matter what I tried, I just couldn’t get it to work. Fortunately after (too much) too-ing and fro-ing, I managed to get my money back from the pro version that I’d purchased.
Instead Wordfence has worked a dream in backing up my site. I initially had a couple of issues, but no sooner had I sent an email to the company, that they emailed me straight back with a solution – that’s what I like to see – efficiency and helpfulness!
We’ve finally ‘gone to press’ with our May issue and it feels good to tick it off the list. It’s the largest magazine we’ve produced (a bumper 50 pages!) and I’m particularly proud of writing a 17-page Coronavirus Survival Guide making up a large chunk of the editorial. It’s all very much community focused, highlighting the wonderful, supportive nature of local communities helping one another. It was lovely to research and I enjoyed writing it.
And the good news was that I managed to wrap up all the editorial nice and early so that I could concentrate on taking a well deserved break. After all, we were supposed to be in Mexico, Los Angeles and Las Vegas over Easter, so I deserved some time off at home at least. And I really did enjoy every minute.
As I mentioned, I’ve been partaking in quite a lot of Zoom networking calls over the last few weeks – and I’ve been using a nifty little gadget called The Braven Mini Speaker by Zagg*. It has meant that the sound quality on the digital meetings has been much better quality – I was able to pair easily to my Macbook or iPhone (wireless pairing) and it has a built in microphone too.
For its compact size, the sound quality is spot on and it has a 12-hour playtime meaning that I can leave it on my desk and listen to podcasts while I’m working away. And get this – it also floats meaning I can listen to some soothing sounds while indulging in a bubble bath. A nifty little gadget – and with a price of £34.95 – affordable too.
As per last month, I’ve still been keeping busy decluttering, tidying and cleaning, but I think I wore myself out so much with taking on a big decorating project (the lounge), that I ran out of energy! Plus the fact that I haven’t been sleeping well hasn’t helped.
I carried on organising and tidying (for my own sanity – and also because I’ve wanted to really sort the house out for a long time. On nice days, this extended to the garden too.
Something that I’ve discovered and that I absolutely love is an app called Blinkist. Essentially it allows you to digest the concepts of entire books in a matter of minutes. I’m on the free version at the moment but I’m definitely getting the paid version when my free trial ends – the other day I read two books in one day! Oh, and it allows you to listen to the audio narrative if you want to give your eyes a break (highly recommended!)
My other (proud) personal development project that I’ve managed to keep up for all of this month is the morning workouts with Joe Wicks. Sometimes I’m in the mood and sometimes I’m not, but I’ve fought through the pain to do his workouts with VIP and the kids.
I’m always glad I did when it’s over though (the feel-good endorphins kick in after a workout don’t they?), but I’ve just got to make sure I keep up something once lockdown is over. Hopefully reminding me of this is my latest workout accessory – the new Cafestor from ION8*.
I love the style, the colour and the fact that it’s 100% leak proof. You can have both cold and hot drinks and, as an extra safety feature, a new two stage OneTouch release mechanism means that pressure in the flask is relieved before opening – fab idea!
Other things worth mentioning – it’s BPA and toxin-free (very important to me!), odour resistant and is lightweight. It comes in 480ml or 360ml and costs from £19.99. I use mine daily (Monday-Friday) for the morning workouts and it’s definitely off limits to the kids – for now anyway!
My latest purchases
Er…. lots of decorating stuff including wallpaper, a new side table and a new rug for the lounge. I also decided to order a few nice homeware bits that I’d had my eye on for some time including some wall prints.
I’m looking forward to when I add the finishing touches to the lounge – things like wall art and plants and then I’ll be able to reveal all when I write up the blog post….watch this space as they say.
In terms of food shopping, as I received my ‘high risk’ letter from the NHS, VIP has been going out once a week to get the food in. He has his little routine down to a T – he arrives at Tesco at 6am and gets in the queue and does the shopping as quickly as he can – picking me up a couple of treats that are not on the shopping list bless him.
When he gets home, he puts his clothes straight in the wash, washes his hands, cleans his phone and then cleans every single item he’s bought using these Dettol wipes which kill 99.9% of bacteria AND flu viruses. You can imagine that the whole shopping process – from the time he leaves the house until the time the last thing has been put away takes at least three hours! I asked him for ice cream last time he went – and you can guess what I’m going to say can’t you? Let’s just say it didn’t resemble ice cream when it came to putting it in the freezer!
Things I’m grateful for this month
There’s always so much to be grateful for – and I remind myself of this daily (using my 5 Minute Journal which I write in every day since the start of this year!). Things I’m particularly grateful for include:
- We’ve got some great telly on right now – I’m particularly loving Gogglebox, The Real Housewives of Cheshire (how the other half live!) and Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins. Oh and The Repair Shop is really good too.
- That we’ve had some gorgeous weather and I’ve been able to enjoy sitting in the garden a few times soaking up the rays.
- That I’ve been having regular Zoom and Houseparty calls with business acquaintances and friends – it’s helped keep things in perspective and keeping our spirits up
- The slower, unrushed days – I feel calmer, more at peace.
- The baking and crafting opportunities have been wonderful. I’m definitely a better baker/cook/crafter now than when lockdown first started!
The April goals…
My goals from last month were all home based and included….
- Getting through another book (I got through two via Blinkist and now I’m on a third fiction book borrowed from a friend)
- Decluttering, tidying and cleaning my office space – yes, that happened!
- Decluttering all the kitchen and lounge cupboards – I still have a couple of kitchen cupboards to declutter but I’m happy with what I achieved. Now I just need to take a well earned rest!
My new goals for May are….
- Have a BIG clear out of the utility room
- Drink more water
- Sell some things online
- Update my blog
How’s your April gone? And – looking ahead – what are you looking forward to next month?
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*Items were gifted in exchange for an honest review.
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