Tag Archives: Wellbeing

In a Vase on Monday – Bee Kind this Spring

‘Be happy for this moment, This moment is your life’. Omar Khayyam (1048-1132) Persian mathematician, astronomer and poet.

Over the last month or so, I’ve been concentrating even more on my mindfulness practise – and being more in the moment. But, it feels a bit like groundhog day at the moment, Winter (and snow) re-appearing and Spring receding into the distance again (much like it was at the beginning of March). Once again it was a very cold weekend, with snow forcast, so I thought about what I might find the garden; most of the plants are looking a bit sorry for themselves (especially the Camellias) but plenty of bulbs coming up.

27 March 2018 – Hellebore, tête-à-tête daffodils (with ice) photographed on 18 March 2018

On Sunday 18th March, there was about 3inches of snow in our garden, the sky was blue, but it was very cold. It certainly concentrates your mind when you have to bundle up in your thickest coat, scarf, hat and gloves (and walking boots), just to explore what flowers are out in the garden. So I dashed out, and I found more than I was expecting. It made up for the pain from my arthritis, which doesn’t like the cold at all. I’ve struggled with the cold, with pain, which makes me tired all the time. That’s probably why it took over a week to write this blog – oh well I’ll try to be quicker next time.

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In A Vase on Monday – old rose, new year plans…CompassYear

‘Nevertheless, She persisted’ American Feminist expression (2017– )

I’ve been thinking this week about this tenacious rose flowering outside our front door – watching its progress – it’s been this soft peachy/yellow from bud.  This is the fourth set of flowers the rose has produced; it flowered in November too. The colour of the rose has changed though, the buds are  usually a bright orange that fades to red and yellow.  I know more expert gardeners than me will know why the colour is so different,  for a start it was only pruned in the Spring last year. Life over took us in 2018, so our garden was rather neglected. With the rose are some rosehips and a purple recycled glass bud vase, which I bought in the Eden Project. The vase appeared a few times for ‘In a Vase on Monday’ but the rose has only appeared once before:

I’ve made a note to cut more flowers from the rose this year 🙂

8 January 2018 – Rose with rosehips in a Purple glass bud glass – and CompassYear 2017-2018

This rose was one of the few plants in my front garden when I moved in eight years ago, it was in a right state. My Chap does the pruning and has certainly revived the rose. I hope flowering in a cold snap, won’t have too much impact on the rose flowering in 2018.

Do check out Cathy’s blog at Rambling in the Garden for more ‘In a Vase on Monday’ arrangements from around the world – some using vases and some not. There’s always something beautiful to lift your spirits.

8 January 2018 – Rose (January 2018) and Bud and Rose (June 2016)

YearCompass – www.yearcompass.com

It’s the time of year for resolutions; I’ve mention before I don’t really do resolutions, I prefer to think of intentions rather that ‘give something up’ or ‘start something’, it just leads to failure and disappointment usually by the second week of January.  I try to avoid all the ‘new year, new me’ in the media. However I try daily changes, being mindful, trying and trying to avoid self sabotage – keep going…

But given what a momentous year 2017 was in both good and bad ways, I decided I needed to find something to help me close off 2017, and help me think though my dreams and aspirations for 2018.  I found an excellent short document made by the volunteers of YearCompass and Invisible University International in Hungary.    The project began in 2012, is based on psychological theories, has a booklet helping people close their year and plan their next year.  The booklet has been downloaded over 400,000 and translated into 22 languages.

The booklet is 20 pages and you need a couple of hours to complete for 2017 and about 4 hours for 2018.

2017the past year

  • Looking through the year focusing on family life, work, home, friends, community, Fitness, etc.
  • Looking at decisions, support, gratitude, resilience, challenges and accomplishments.

2018 – next year 

  • What I want to achieve focusing on family life, work, home, friends, community, fitness, etc.
  • Questions like:  Visit three places, three things to do every morning, three things to discover… And many other questions.
  • Pick a word for the year ahead.
  • And you sign ‘I believe anything is possible this year’.

It was very illuminating – and thought provoking, and threw up a few topics I’d not really considered.

Find out more about CompassYear (and download the booklet) at www.yearcompass.com 

I discussed what I’d written, with My Chap and old friends, who reminded me of my determination and resilience.  I’ll be coming back to what I’ve written and the plans I’ve made for 2018.

Onwards… #365daysofselfcare

I’ve been doing more of the things that lift me . I’ve been continuing with daily #mindfulness, yoga and #Onehouroutside.  

#Onehouroutside  was started by one of the Outdoor Bloggers Zoe from www.splodzblogz.co.uk.  I’m on a roll with one hour outside – I’ve managed at least an hour outside since mid December. I’m making a note in my journal as sometimes walking for an hour isn’t feasible (work or bad weather).

It’s been near zero again this week in Manchester, some crisp sunny days with blue skies, alternating with gales and rain.  My back garden is a quagmire,  but we are fortunate there are Canals and footpaths on our doorstep.

I wrote about a local walk last week – Monton to Worsley Green circular walk (about 3 miles). I’ll be writing more about local walks, inspired by Sarah from Urban Wanderer who has many good walks around Greater Manchester and Lancashire.  Have a look:

My plan for this week is to listen to some mindful walking podcast while I’m out walking. Usually I’m just mindfully breathing, counting breaths and steps, looking around me at the surroundings.

  • If  you have any suggestions for mindful walking podcasts please let me know in the comments 

Instagram #savouringJanuary2018

As I mentioned last week, I enjoyed the @blurtfoundation Instagram Challenge #blurtmerrycalmness so I’ve looked around for another photo challenge.  I found Gaynor Treanor on Instagram who writes about selfcare and mindfulness.  So I’ve been following #savouringJanuary2018.

Today 8 January 2018 it was DAY 8: NOURISH #savouringJanuary2018

This definition spoke to me ‘necessary for growth, health and good condition’. It’s about taking care of yourself, doing the best you can for yourself, self-care and mindfulness. Good food matters too 🙂

  • What #selfcare have you done today?
  • Have you been kind to yourself today?

Follow on Instagram – @becmonton56 @Gabrielletreanor
#SavouringJanuary2018

8 January 2018 – lamb stew – Nourish day 8 #savouringJanuary2018

I’m feeling positive for 2018 – I think my intentions are feasible 😉 I’ll report back how I get on,

She persisted… 

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xx xx xx

In a Vase on Monday – good enough when not ‘in the pink’ 

You are enough, just as you are, right nowAnonymous

It’s been minus four all day both today and yesterday in Manchester (Mon 11th/ Tue 12th December 2017), it’s been gloomy but a biting wind. For a change, we swerved the heavy snow, hitting the Midlands instead, there was some snow on the hills that ring the city on Friday Night and during Saturday. We rarely get much more than a smattering of snow, where we live in #Monton, as it’s very flat, near canals and rather built up (the ground is too warm for snow to settle). Not that I’ve seen much of any snow, as I’ve been wiped out by a cold and in bed – my arthritis pain was a bit full on too. As usual My Chap has been looking after me 🙂 Still it could be worse, Cathy who hosts In a Vase on Monday at Rambling in The Garden in the Garden has a Vase of snowdrops and rose hips among rather deep snow this week. There are Northern and Southern Hemisphere contrinbutions so there’s always something lovely.

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12 December 2017 – In a Vase on Monday – rosemary, pelargonium and lavender in the Salford gloom

Today (Tue) I felt a bit better, so I wrapped up well and dashed outside, as I could see pink flowers on a very well sheltered hanging basket, and snipped a few stems. It was the trailing pelargonium (pictured in my blog header), I’ve managed to ‘over winter’ for five years now, along with another pink standard (non trailing) pelargonium. Also I found some lavender and did a little pruning of the rosemary that grows in the front garden and my mini bouquet was ready. I picked one of my mini jugs, partly because it had lovely pink roses on it, but also because I bought it at Bodnant Garden in North Wales in summer 2016. We got engaged there in the Rose Garden 🙂 Reminding me of sunny summer days 🙂

The picture frame and quote ‘you are enough just as you are right now‘ were used as a photo prompt for an Instagram Challenge I’m following from the Blurt Foundation (www.blurtitout.org) for December #blurtmerrycalmness. As it was so cold I took the photo in the porch at the front door; it has been a popular spot for photos recently as it gets the best light and is dry 😉

The photoframe and card represents DAY 7: WORTHY. I think it’s difficult at times to believe you’re good enough, especially if you’re ill and have long term health conditions. I’ve been working on accepting I’m enough. Mindfulness and affirmations help with this too.

You can follow my Instagram @Becinmonton and contributions from other people to #blurtmerrycalmnessyou can get involved too 🙂

Today’s prompt is COMFORT (DAY 12); it’s a picture of our ramen soup we had for dinner but of course, comfort comes from many things, not just physical aspects of life. Ive spoken before about how much IAVOM helps me – how flowers, plants and the great outdoors lift me.

About the Blurt Foundation – INCREASING AWARENESS AND UNDERSTANDING OF DEPRESSION

Blurt produce a range of resources for people with #anxiety and #depression including these Card Decks – 12 cards in each with affirmations (£8.95 if you buy them seperately). They suggest pulling them out, steadying your breath and reading the cards. These two cards ‘spoke’ to me today…

12 December 2017 – Press pause, You are enough and Believe in yourself cards – produced by Blurt Foundation

I received these cards as part of my monthly Buddy Box from Blurt. they describe the boxes as a Hug in Box. These can be ordered as a one off, monthly, for a friend or send a Random Act of Kindness (Blurt pick someone to receive a box who really needs it).

My December box is due this week – and it will contain The Selfcare Project written by Jayne Hardy, Blurt’s Founder and CEO. The book is published on 14th December and can be ordered on Amazon – Print, Audio and Kindle

The Self-Care Project: How to let go of frazzle and make time for you

I’m really looking forward to reading this book – the blog posts and resources from Blurt are excellent. I’ve written a few times about Blurt before – #blurtfoundation

I’ve got much ‘better’ at self-care over the last few years but there’s always new options and ideas. Selfcare, mindfulness, yoga, affirmations are part of my daily life now. I’m on a journey and I’m not at my destination yet.

Do you have favourite affirmations? What’s your #365daysofselfcare routine? Are you going to join in with #blurtmerrycalmness

By the way, I decided not to include any fuchsias in my vase to give you all a rest from them over the last few weeks, but there are a few flowers under the kitchen window sill. Have a look on #fuchsia to see more 🙂

I hope the weather is OK where you are 🙂

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xxx

*Note: I paid full price for the Buddy Boxes and haven’t been asked to write about them. I wanted tell my readers about the great work Blurt do – and see if anyone want to get involved in #blurtmerrycalmness

In a Vase on Monday -(journaling) old favourites and new memories

Everything is going to work out just fine. Probably – Anonymous 

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’d notice I like quotes nearly as much as I like taking photos, especially of flowers. One of the reasons, I take photos is to keep a records of things, what’s flowered when, whether it’s early or late, beautiful gardens and views, as well as nature in its widest sense. It helps me remember good times, and also reminds me where things are – literally like the bulbs, but also so I don’t have to remember things in my overloaded brain!

This week’s In A Vase on Monday, has alot of old favourites which have a good memories, including the vase and something new – the sign 🙂

  • A standard size Cerise pink dianthus and some pink and white dwarf dianthus.
  • lilac violas – these were part of our wedding centre pieces.
  • Fuchsia – this is a hardy one which grows outside our kitchen window – it was in a Vase last week.
  • The vase is recycled purple glass bought at the Eden Centre in Cornwall. It has appeared before, usually, with sweetpeas.  Most recently was  July 2016 (blissful), when I wrote about our engagement 🙂
  • The sign was given to me by a great friend. It also appeared in our wedding centre pieces.  You ALL know how much I like being in the garden 🙂

Cathy, who hosts the meme over at Rambling in the Garden, has some stunning orange and white amaryllis this week. I’ve never grown Amaryllis.   The idea of IAVOM is to pick, and display, flowers and plants from your garden or locality each Monday.  The diversity of vases from across the world is staggering. It’s wonderful to see the Spring across the world in Australia and New Zealand. Just what I need on a freezing cold but sunny day in Manchester.

Small purple glass bud vase with lilac violas, pink and white dianthus and pink fuchsia

29 November 2017 – In a Vase on Monday purple vase with dwarf lilac violas, pink dianthus and hardy fuchsia

I take photographs of all sorts of other things too, receipts, recipes, books to read, useful websites, notes I’ve made, etc.  I find it easier to have visual records, and use journals and lists. I use Trello for  electronic lists (I’ll write about that another time) and I’ve got a simple electronic diary shared with My Chap.

Writing things down, taking photos and also help with my planning, wellbeing and making memories, as well as self-care. Ive tried out bullet journals but it doesn’t work for me; I think it’s the pressure to complete things everyday.

So I thought I write about my daily planning and what journals/books I use. They definitely helps me with #365daysofselfare

My daily planning tools – journals, diaries and lists 

  • CalmCalm the Mind, Change the world by Michael Acton Smith

This is a lovely book – it explains mindfulness and meditation in a very straightforward, simple way and gives you ideas for activities in Nature, with Children, Food, Friends, etc.  It has quotes and poems too. It’s a pretty book which is why I’m reluctant to write in it 😉

I’ve had it a couple of years, and I dip in and out, using it to inspire activities or self-care depending on what I’m doing. Often, I use the gratitude, highlights and what’s made me feel calm today? How and note these down in my It’s going to be OK journal. 

I don’t use the app associated with Calm; mainly because I’ve never got around to downloading it 😦 I’m using the Headspace app at the moment, guided meditations on YouTube, and in particular, guided body scans. These connect well with my yoga practise too.

29 November 2017 – Calm Journal, Weekly Planner and It’s Gonna be Okay journal 

  • Stigu Journal – a rest and zest handbook I’ve written about Stigu before (including last week) and I’m just starting to fill in my 2018 Stigu.  It’s a mixture of a diary and a journal/note book. Each month has a theme – Reflect is November’s theme. The left page is for notes and suggestions for activities.  This week’s suggestion resonated with me – a puddle reflecting only what’s above it, for example clouds,  and keeping no ‘memory’ of what’s passed. Stigu asks us to imagine what our minds would be like if we could practise this?
  • Weekly Planner – from Sainsburys!   It has days of the week, notes and to do list. This is where all the detailed, mind dump, boring lists like the shopping!, reminders for bills, clothes for yoga, etc are recorded.
  • It’s Gonna be Okay – An inner truth journal. As the photos show, this has a quote on one side, date, What Im hanging hope on todayprevailing outlook for the day.   I use this as reminder of how my days gone, a narrative, notes – what’s gone well what hasn’t. The odd rant too.  It’s very much my secret, private thoughts. It has a quote for every day and sometimes I just flick through it looking at the quotes.

29 November 2017 – It’s Gonna be OK journal inside layout 

My Stigu journal and Its going to be OK journal also helps me record my symptoms too.  I don’t really use paper symptom or habit trackers – pressure to fill in boxes (or not fill them in!).  They’re a prompt to monitor my arthritis symptoms in a health app. I was part of a citizen scientist project, in 2017, called Cloudy with a Chance of Pain, which monitored the impact of the weather on arthritis and pain symptoms. The full results should be out next year. 

So for my #365daysofselfcare today, I went for a walk around Monton. It was freezing, but sunny skies and I wandered around taking photos.  Im very grateful to live where I do, close to woods and a canal, yet only six miles to the centre of Manchester.

My #selfcare plans this week include walking more and more gardening – #OneHourOutside and #bekind too

Do you use journals or diaries? Do you use them for selfcare or recording gratitude / positive events? Let me know in the comments or any suggestions you have

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xx xx xx 


In a Vase on Monday – Hello from the hardy fuchsias 

‘Hello, Hola, Ola, Bonjour, Hallo, Bongu, Ahoj, Namaste, G’day’ – International Hello Day 21 November was set up in 1973 to promote international peace after the Arab/Israeli conflict.

For this week’s vase, between heavy rain, I went looking for the hardy fuchsias in the garden, which have been pops of colour, amoung the greenery.  It’s been raining on and off for most of the week. Though we did have a light frost on Sunday, which was just typical as The Chap was up early for a local, muddy, trail half marathon. He let me off going to watch 😉 as my arthritis was giving me gip.  I’ve got all the gloves, hats, hand warmers, blankets and thick socks ready for the winter. A spot of Hygge and #selfcare needed.

Following on from last week’s post on International Kindness Day, I’m doing my best to be kind to people I know, those I don’t know and being kind to myself too. It can be really difficult to find the time and energy to do #selfcare but it’s worth finding the time even if it’s only a few minutes.

It’s International Hello Day (21 November) which stresses the value of communication in daily life, including saying hello to 10 people you don’t know. Its ideals are to encourage greater understanding and peace.

21 November 2017 – Three hardy fuchsias, purple wallflower and pink pelargonium

I found more than the hardy fuchsias flowering; the perennial wallflower is still going strong but there was a pink pelargonium flowering!  The pink vase often has sweetpeas in it 🙂

  • The three fuchsia are Son of Tom which grows about 3 foot high out side our kitchen window(small crimson flowers) Wharfdale (light pink and dark crimson centre) and is about 2 foot high, and the final one came from Morrisons – it might be Mrs Poppleton (crimson with a purple centre) it’s about 4 foot high at the moment. Fuchsias have appeared many times In a Vase on Monday – have a look at #fuchsia
  • The pink pelargonium in a pot, in a sheltered spot in our garden for about five years. It’s appeared in IAVOM many times too. #pelargonium 
  • The perennial wallflower also appears often, most recently last week #wallflower

Picking my vase is definitely part of my #365daysofselfcare, it definitely helps me both choosing, photographing and writing about flowers but also it’s looking to see what Cathy at Rambling in the Garden and the people all around the world who join in. This week Cathy has got a vase entirely of green foliage which has got me thinking.   In my head, I say hello to them every time I read a blog post, their pictures and words lift my soul. Maybe one day I’ll get to say hello to them face to face – I hope so. Their kind words have helped me though some tough times – so a Big Hello to everyone who’s reading my blog today 🙂

23 November 2017 – Stigu planners 2017 and 2018 with The Little Book of Kindness

So my plans for #365daysofselfcare and #bekind this week are:

  • #bekind especially to myself – and not to beat myself up about being late/disorganised.
  • Doing some dream mapping from my Stigu Planner 2018 – I don’t do New Year resolutions, I do them in December instead.
  • I love my Stigu planners, they’re in between a Planner and Mindfulness journal – I’ve had one for the last two years – you can follow them on Twitter too @SticktoStigu 
  • Finishing our thank you cards from our wedding. It was lovely catching up with people and I’m writing letters about what’s been happening and our plans for 2018 🙂 So many people have supported us though so much this year.
  • Reading The Little Book of Kindness by Bernadette Russell* She suggests acts of kindness for yourself, friends, the environment, community, those you love and what to do for free…
    • Shop less – use your money to DO stuff not have stuff – I was stuck by this but i’m hoping buying plants and bulbs doesn’t count 😉
    • #bekind #thelittlebookofkindness I follow Bernadette on Twitter @betterussell
    • I received the book as part of my Buddy Box for September from Blurt Foundation – www.blurtitout.org they describe them a hug in a box.  The boxes are great and really lift me; there’s often books on self-care and mental health in the box.
    • You can purchase them monthly, there’s the full version and a lite version.  www.blurtitout.org/buddybox/

And in case you’re wondering the languages at the start are – Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Maltese, Czech, Hindi and Australian ;-). I can speak varying amount of these languages – but definitely Hello, Goodbye, Please and Thank You 😉 I’ve visited all these wonderful countries and plan to visit again soon.

So who have you said ‘hello’ to today? And what about tomorrow? and how will you #bekind

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xxx xxx

*I paid full price for my Buddy Box from the Blurt Foundation and my Stigu Planner.  I haven’t been asked to blog about them or been paid for this content.

Spread kindness like confetti – International Kindness Day 

Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world. Annie Lennox – singer 

If you’ve been anywhere near the Internet, or the news, today you can’t possibly have missed that it’s International Kindness Day.  I don’t know about you but I try to be kind to people, ‘stand in their shoes’, ‘treat people as you’d like to be treated yourself’… I don’t always get kindness back, but hey that’s their problem not mine.  But, what I do know is being kind, helps me be a better person.  It also helps when the world around us looks dark, whether it’s Trump, Brexit or people breaking laws.

13 November 2017 – Spread kindness like confetti

One of the best things I found today was the 2017 Kindness Advent Calendar from Helen at Make Today Make Today Happy. Have a look!

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#100happydays challenge 1-5 photos

Much of this year has been very difficult for me mentally and physically, especially after my friend died in April 2015. A couple of weeks ago I saw the #100happydays challenge – http://100happydays.com/

I decided to have a go – it’s pretty simple really…It’s asking

  • Can you be happy for 100 days in a row?  
  • Every day submit a picture of what made you happy!
  • It can be about anything or anyone.  
  • It’s a way of getting in touch with the moment you’re in
  • People can submit photos privately too.

My flowers and garden have brought me so much solace this year during such difficult times; my garden has been my sanctuary.  The Great Gardens (like Tatton, Helligan, Bodnant and Dunham Massey) we’ve visited have helped too as well, as have all the beautiful flowers from all gardening bloggers across the world.   I’ve been getting back into yoga (it helps my back trouble) and have been doing some mindfulness practise too.   And of course, my friends and especially my Chap have supported and loved me.

I hope doing this will remind me of things, people and experiences that help make me happy.  I’m definitely getting back to where I want to be.

#100happy days dahlia, vinegar, acorns, mindfulness 1-4

dahlia (1/100), vinegar (2/100), acorns (3/100), mindfulness (4/100) #100happydays

1/100 – mini dahlia in a very mini milk bottle

I found this flower lurking among the slug-ravaged leaves. I wrote about it here

2/100 – blackberry vinegar

We had huge amount of blackberries from both my mum’s and my friend’s gardens so I froze some for crumbles and other puddings   I decided to have a go a blackberry vinegar; it was very easy to make and it’s hidden away in the cupboard infusing.

I’ve got to wait a couple of weeks before the next stage; it will need straining, simmering with some sugar and decanting into smaller bottles and apparently it will last for years.

3/100 – acorns in my friend J’s hands

I went to see my pal J, who’s on maternity leave waiting for her baby to arrive. We talked about growing an oak tree to mark her baby girl’s birth.  She and her husband have decided that they’ll take the sapling to be planted in the National Forest in Derbyshire. It needs to grow for a couple of years first (just like their baby) before they can plant it out. Isn’t this a wonderful idea?  Find out how to grow your own oak tree here:

4/100 Mindfulness and Wellbeing Rooms

I’ve been doing mindfulness at work (and at home) which is definitely helping.
Find out more about mindfulness which is an ancient meditation technique and also how it is used within Mindful cognitive behavioural therapy – http://mbct.co.uk/ and the Guardian wrote about it today (20 October 2015) by Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School who brought mindfulness concepts to the West in the 1960s.

I’m very fortunately that there are many wellbeing classes I can attend at work, like mindfulness, as well as counselling (there are lots of stressed students).  Also, I’ve started tai chi and am doing yoga again which helps with my chronic back trouble. I do Iyengar yoga, which is very good for people with injuries, and the teachers have to study for about three years before they can teach it to others.  More information:

I started practising yoga nearly 10 years ago and it has made a big difference to my life.  I’ll write about more about yoga another time.

5/100 a visit to Dunham Massey with my pal C

Dunham Massey mansion - 5/100 #100happydays

Dunham Massey – 5/100 #100happydays

My friend C and I have birthdays close together so we usually go out for the day.  It was a glorious sunny day so we went to Dunham Massey – which is owned by the National Trust.  Dunham Massey  is a Georgian mansion, near Altrincham with a beautiful garden (including a walled rose garden) a deer park and a saw mill. It’s a wonderful place any time of year, lovely walks too and a lot to see.  As you’d expect from the National Trust, it’s got a couple of fine tea rooms and their cakes are great too.

Until 11 November 2015 Dunham Massey is Stamford Military Hospital where they have recreated the first world war hospital where over 300 soldiers recuperated from 1917-1919.  I’ve been twice – it’s a very powerful evocation of the soldiers’ situations, lives and illnesses recreated with actors.

*****

Come back again for the next instalment of my #100happydays challenge – it’s mostly about Lisbon

You can follow my photos for #100happydays challenge on twitter feed everyday (@becinmonton)

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Anyone around the world can get involved in #100happyday or just have a look for the hashtag or on facebook too.                                                                  

What has made you happy today?

Carpe Diem