Ten Things That Made My Life Better Last Week

Not the catchiest of titles, really, is it? But I thought because I’d spent the whole week being a complete and utter whingebag, feeling sorry for myself, and weeping in the corner because I felt too exhausted to move (still found the energy to cry though! Sweet as a nut!) I should get back to my cheery self with this post. Combined, all the below things made me feel about a million times better, so if you find yourself in a sticky spot, these are the things you need:

WARNING: Some of the below are a bit embarrassing.

  1. Friends: No, definitely not the TV show, which I hate with an intensity that almost scares me. My actual proper friends. People have been AMAZING this week, and I think you know who you are. People have gone out of their way to try and make me feel chirpier, and I really appreciate it. I didn’t need reminding about how brilliant my friends are, but I’ve been reminded anyway. Thank you all ever so much for picking up the pieces and seeing me through.
  2. Ukulele: Whenever life gets a bit rubs, I get my ukulele out. I find it very calming. Even though the one song I uploaded to Soundcloud was super duper depressing, I’ve secretly been playing Human League, Bellowhead, Ween, and also ‘Call Me Maybe’, which has its very own entry.
  3. Biscuits: Obviously. Don’t think I really need to explain this one too much, but biscuits and cakes were definitely a big saviour of the week.
  4. Adam & Joe: Should be prescribed on the NHS. Download their radio shows – I get them orft the interweb, which means I get full shows, so three hours of hilarious goodness. Their voices are weirdly reassuring, the content of the shows is absolutely top notch, and the music is 6Music brilliance. Definitely listen. It really does make things right with the world.
  5. Horrible Histories: Balm for the soul. Well, if it’s your kind of thing. I used to love the books as a child, and now that I’m a bit more grown up, I very much like the array of hot men in the show. Hot men who occasionally dress up as highwaymen and stuff. But let’s keep it clean! Great show, don’t let the CBBC aspect put you off. Yes, the comedy can be a little…elemental, but regular sketches include Historical Apprentice, Historical Masterchef, a movie pitch sketch featuring the League of Gentlemen chaps, and absolutely corking songs parodying all sorts of genres. Give it a try!
  6. Call Me Maybe: When life is sitting heavily on your shoulders, I strongly recommend meaningless pop songs. Shallow can be so good.
  7. Justin Timberlake’s ‘Justified’: It’s pretty obvious by now that music has played a big part in cheering me up. Justified came out when I was about 13/14, so perfect for that early teen phase where music just sticks in your head and means a huge amount. Such a great album, and it really made me happy to hear again the other day.
  8. Country walks: I live in the countryside, but I often don’t really notice it. I was lucky that some friends decided to sort me out this weekend. Saturday morning, I went for a lovely wander around the Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells, and to an antiques fair in a church hall. I can’t begin to describe how reassuring I find that sort of thing. The musty smell, the dust particles swirling about in the light coming through the latticed windows, those particular blue cups and saucers than every church or town hall has. Sunday I went for a long walk across the fields in my home town with chums, children and dogs. You can see in the above photos the pair of lambs who decided to come over and say hi. When I got back from the walk, it felt like the weight of the world had lifted from my shoulders (please excuse the cliché.)
  9. Exercise: When I was feeling weak and pathetic, doing Pilates really helped me feel stronger and a bit more in charge of my poor, sad body. I attempted Tracy Anderson, but she’s the queen of the following aerobic sequences: jumpy jumpy turn turn twist star jump twist pirouette leap. Not marv when you’re a bit dizzy anyway. So I did Cassey Ho’s pilates sessions – look for ‘Blogilates’ on YouTube. And I lost 4lbs in a week! *Air punch*
  10. Pets: Finally, I recommend that you find a pet and spend some time with it. I have none, so I managed to chill with a cat on Saturday, two lovely dogs on Sunday, and also the lambs. It’s very soothing, and really helps to take your mind off things.
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The Valentine’s Day Conundrum

Where to start? Well, you all know my feelings on the day. Yes, I can see it’s a saccharine, over-commercialised pile of rubbish, a Card Company holiday that doesn’t mean anything. But I still adore it. Why? Because I’m a cheerful soul and I truly believe that we need to grab any opportunities we can to celebrate something upbeat . I suppose you could say that I love love. I do. I love taking care of people, I love doing nice but silly little things purely because they’ll cheer people up or just make them smile.

On a typical Valentine’s Day I’d be found baking some heart shaped cakes, putting the finishing touches to a handmade card, popping off to the florist to buy a bunch of charming flowers, and putting together a playlist that would almost definitely include both Nina Simone AND David Hassellhoff (diverse!) This year, though, I’m single. For the first time. So how do I align my love of – well, love – with the fact that I’m excluded from this particular day on a technicality?

See, as I’ve just realised, your options as a single person on V Day are very limited. You either have to opt out completely, or you have to feel utterly horrible about it all. You can sit there, refreshing the Facebook homepage and seeing photo after photo of adorable presents, and chipper statuses. Statii? Anyway. That isn’t really my style. So what to do? What about a third option? I decided yesterday what I’d do. Seeing as this is my favourite day of all the commercialised holidays, I chose to embrace it wholeheartedly.

Because you know what? There are heaps of us who are single today. It means absolutely bugger all, but it doesn’t change the fact that we’re still being subjected to a day that is purely for couples alone. I chose to adopt the approach that this was a day about love in general. I decided instead of swerving Twitter for the whole day – or worse, going on and posting depressed updates – I’d wade right in and be Aphrodite for the day.

I refuse to let anyone feel bad about today. And the thing is, you can brush if off all you like and say ‘it’s only a silly commercial bit of rubbish’, but as long as I can see people commenting on how thoroughly wonderful their relationship is, then there will be a need for someone to rally the troops and cheer people up. I rarely feel self-pitying; I haven’t even been single for a particularly long period of time, and I’m actually rather enjoying it. But today? When I see the photos of flowers, cake, and kittens (really) people have been given by the person who thinks they are really, truly ACE? I’m afraid to say it makes me feel a little lonely, a little sad, and a little bit excluded.

So I hope you’ll forgive me for interpreting the day in my own way. I’m sorry that it’s not in ‘keeping’ with the spirit of the holiday that I am choosing to show love to my friends, but hey. The actual St Valentine was imprisoned and beheaded, so, let’s not talk about the true meaning of the day too much, shall we? What is a relationship? Having someone who goes through the bad times with you and holds your hand. Someone who thinks you are wonderful the way you are. Someone who thinks about nice little things to do for you and does them. That description? That’s my friends. I really, truly love my friends, and I won’t make any apologies for the fact that I want to think about them and appreciate them on a day that celebrates love. My friends are AMAZING and I owe them a great deal.

If I’ve misunderstood the point of the day, then please, just indulge me. I personally don’t have the luxury of a boyfriend who will be looking after me all day and whipping me off to dinner, so let me be happy in my own way and have a bit of a Twitter love-in with chums. If I want to give people compliments, virtual bouquets of peonies, and a YouTube link to a soppy song, then that’s my prerogative. I should NOT have to be excluded from a day because I so happen to be single, and neither should anyone else I know. No one should EVER feel rubbish about themselves because a day dictates it.

Also, have you seen the news lately? There is so much to make us miserable out there, every single bloody day. I think Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to concentrate on what makes us happy, to celebrate our loved ones, and to eat an awful lot of heart-shaped sweets. If I want to salve everybody’s slightly aching hearts, then let me do it. I know I’m as soft and fluffy as a marshmallow, but it’s too late to change now. If working in a call centre didn’t beat the inner happiness out of me, then nothing will. Come on. Don’t crush my spirit. You can take my life, but you cannae take my soft-centre.

So in the meantime, come down to Twitter and follow me @ameliafsimmons for a day full of whimsy, compliments, larking about, and general cheeriness. I’m sorry (not really sorry, though) that I won’t be submitting to the cultural stereotype and weeping to Adele while stuffing my gob full of Ben & Jerry’s. I’m sorry (I’m still really not) that I will hold my head high and wish anyone who will listen a Happy Valentine’s Day. I’m sorry (still definitely not) that I will hold Valentine’s Day in my heart, and…oh, hang on. I’m getting mixed up with ‘A Christmas Carol’.

But “joking” aside. Go and tell someone you care about them. I know we shouldn’t need a day to do it on, but we do, really, don’t we? Because we don’t do it often enough. Don’t be shy, don’t be sad, and do just enjoy it. It’s only one day a year, after all.

I LOVE YOU, BYEEE!

Amelia xx