Well if I thought August was an emotional roller-coaster, September could definitely join in the race. I won’t lie that I have been feeling super low these last few months, making it hard to notice the good in every day. Yet, whilst I have days that I don’t feel like getting up in the morning or want to literally tear my hair out, I have still managed to put together my September list of things to feel happy and positive about (and I guess that in itself, makes me feel happy!)
- This September was my 24th year around the sun. As I was staying with my parents they decided we would go away for a few nights and since they live within driving distance to Italy, we headed for somewhere I have always wanted to visit: Venice. We drove to the coastal town of Caorle, where we stayed at Duna Rosa Villagio and residence. It was a gorgeous place to stay; lots of individual apartments, but also with a restaurant for breakfast and dinner, a pool, outdoor gym and BBQ area. They also take dogs which was great for us as the boys came too! We loved waking up in the morning and having a wonderful breakfast of different meats and cheeses, big bowls of fruit, patisserie items and coffee. It is also a short walk to the beach, however if you are taking dogs with you, be careful because dogs are not allowed on most of the beach.
- On my birthday we drove to Punta Sabbioni and took the boat to Venice. Coming into port and seeing the city was just amazing. Considering it was raining when we got on the boat, it was like the weather knew it was my birthday and when we arrived, the sun appeared and it was HOT! I had the best day exploring the city, taking endless amounts of photos at the stunning architecture, counting Gondolas and enjoying a birthday lunch of Pizza and Bellinis. In the evening, my Dad and I went to the top of St. Mark’s Bell Tower and looked over the city. I was mesmerised by all the terracotta rooftops that seemed to go on for miles and to top it off, we caught the sun setting on the horizon. A perfect end to a perfect day.
- One of the best things about being away for a few days is that I intentionally left my laptop at home and so therefore had three days to properly relax. I did not think about all the things that were getting me down before I left for Italy and it was the perfect break away, literally and mentally.
- Whilst in Venice, I really wanted to look at/buy some traditional Commedia dell’arte masks. Commedia dell’arte is a theatre style which began in Italy in which the stock characters were represented by emphasised masks. It is the character traits of the stock characters that are the foundations of those that we see in stories, theatre performances, films and television today. As someone who studied Drama and Performance, this was one of the main reasons why I have wanted to visit for so long and I was not disappointed. There are thousands of masks to buy from the markets, the typical Venetian carnival style mask, but most of them are made from plastic, awash with glitter and feathers. However, among these machine made copies, there are traditional shops where the masks are traditionally handmade, often in front of the customer, from leather and papier maché. We found one where two sisters were making and selling the masks, just as their parents had done when they started the business. This shop was ‘Alberto Sarria Masks‘ and they have been making masks since 1986. There were masks gallore in the shop. The Commedia dell’arte masks were absolutely amazing, but because they were handmade from leather they were just little too expensive for me. I was drawn to many of the painted papier maché masks. My Mum said she would buy one for me for my birthday and my Nan was going to pay for another, so I ended up walking away with two stunning handmade masks; one a traditional jester design and the another painted to look like Pinocchio, the title character in the 1883 children’s book ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio’ by Italian author Carlo Collodi. I never know what to say when people ask me what I want for my birthday, I never usually want anything; preferring to ‘do something’ rather than ‘receive something’, so this was a really unique gift that I will really treasure for years to come.
- Not only was it my birthday this month, but two days before mine was my Nan’s 83rd birthday. We have always been birthday buddies and I try to do something for her that really makes her smile. For her eightieth, we threw her a surprise party with all her friends. I also made her a ‘This is your life’ style video to show on the day, which had messages from family members across the UK and Europe who could not make it. It also had a message from the cast of the touring production of one of her favourite musicals; Top Hat. This year, being in Austria meant the gift was going to have to come through the post, and rather than send her flowers/gift cards like we have done in previous years, I decided to do something a little different. So I found a company online called Balloon Monkey that allows you to have a picture put on a balloon and delivered to someone in the post. Initially my idea was to find a nice picture of her, all dolled up from a meal out perhaps, but when looking through the album of photos that I had from the video I made three years ago, I found a fabulous black and white photo of my Nan when she was about twenty-eight pulling a silly face that I find absolutely hilarious. She looks about sixty-eight not twenty-eight! I knew this would give her a really good laugh so I had it printed onto a balloon along with the caption ‘Looking better than ever!’ There is no better feel-good feeling about watching someone open a gift you have given them, so we had an extra special video chat which I caught her first glimpse of the balloon. She had such a good laugh about, and that just made my day.
- This month I also visited and went up the Pyramidenkogel tower which is the tallest wooden observation tower in the world. It is based on the Pyramidenkogel mountain in Carinthia and the views from the top are simply stunning. To make it a little more interesting however, there is a 66 metre long slide which visitors can pay a little for, to slide through the middle of the tower. This makes it the longest slide in Europe and believe me, it feels like the longest slide in Europe. I thought it was never going to end…at least I can say I have done it now.
- Unfortunately I don’t have any book recommendations for this month, but I do have a television series recommendation. There are lots of great series being shown on British television at the moment; the Bodyguard and Killing Eve have received rave reviews, but we have really got into ‘This is Us’, the American series available on Amazon Video. It really tugs at the heart-strings, has lots of twists and turns and the music in it is just fabulous. You can listen to the ‘This is Us’ playlist on Spotify which will really put you in a great mood.
- If you include my 2017 monthly round up in December of last year, where I looked back on the year and what there was to be happy and positive about, then I have officially been writing these posts for a whole year. A whole year of finding ten things in each month that made me feel happy and positives. Some months were easy to write, others were a lot harder, but I was always able to write them, and that has been a comforting thought this month when I have felt incredibly low.
- This month I have decided to start a new project. When my Grandmother passed away a few years ago, the one thing I wanted was her bus pass. It seems a funny thing to ask for, but it was something she used almost every day. She would go into town most days to get her shopping, or to snoop around the charity shops. She was always sending me dresses she found in them! She loved to take us with her on the bus and I have a distinct memory as a child of going on the top deck of a bus, possibly for the first time, with her. On the day of her funeral, we ended up following the same bus she took very regularly on our way to the crematorium and it was like a nice final touch when saying Goodbye to her. I have carried her bus pass in my purse ever since and she has been with me wherever I go. She’s traveled with me to America, Canada and to many countries of Europe. It is my way of taking her on my journey. So I have decided to start taking photos of the bus pass in all different locations around the world in a project I’m calling, ‘Jean on her travels‘. She’s been to so many places already and I think it will be quite fun to see where she will go next.
- What I will say is that whilst it was really tough to feel super low this month, reaching rock bottom forced me to make some decisions. It made me think “What do I need to do to get me out of this head space, and also the space I am literally in where I do not know anyone, don’t speak the language and am becoming more depressed each day?” I will talk more about this in next months’ happy and positive post and possibly in more depth in a later blog post, but I will say that decisions were made, and things are still going to be tough, but I have got the ball rolling now and it looks like things are looking up from here.
So if you are feeling low at the mo, I encourage you to try and look for the good, not even in every day if that feels too difficult, but perhaps in every week or in each month.
If you do need a little something to put you in an uplifting mood; stop whatever you are doing, click here, turn the volume up loud and dance like nobody’s watching, because remember…