10 things to be happy and positive about – January 2019

Hey, hey, hey!

Welcome to my first new happy and positive post of 2019! I gather that it is now February, but I will be honest and say that finding items to write about has actually been harder than I thought for a few reasons;

  1. January has been super busy for me; moving to Switzerland and all the preparation for that, feeling quite a bit of anxiety about the move, being somewhere new and flying and also we had a ton of guests staying with my parents whilst I was there this month so finding the time to sit and research has been tricky. This is a silly excuse though and I will be way more ON IT each month.
  2. Finding items that actually happened in the same month I am researching, is again, tricky. I find loads of great stories from previous months, but really want to write about what is happening now in the present. Whilst an article might detail a certain project that is being developed, a new law being discussed in parliament or study being trialed right now, the results are not always immediately available, meaning that often there is not that much information I can give. However, when I do find articles like this, I bookmark them for later posts so hopefully I will build up a backlog of options as I develop these monthly blog posts.
  3.  The silliest reason of all: you really have to trawl through the internet and dismiss a lot of ‘negative’ articles and news stories before you find the ones that make you feel happy and positive. However, this is the reason why I wanted to start writing these posts and it will not deter me seeking out the stories that provide a little hope and light, highlight the kindness of others and the determination for change and make you feel that there are at least ten things to be happy and positive about each month.

 

So ladies and gents, let’s see what January had to offer.

 

  1. EDUCATION: In Oklahoma, United States, a brilliant development of an elementary school entirely for homeless children is being established. The aim is to help educate these children, break the cycle of poverty for their families, remove the barriers that prevent them from learning by providing transportation, food and basic necessities that they require like clothing, toiletries and school equipment. Children raised in a homeless environment are much more likely to have reduced literacy and numeracy abilities as well as suffering from constant anxieties and stress leading to further problems in later life (Positve Tomorrows website)  The school offers individual learning plans for the children and small class sizes so they can receive the most support from their teacher as they possibly can. There is also the opportunity to undertake extra-curricular activities in arts, sports, theatre and dance and much more. They also have created a family support programme which allows families to attend school activities and events in which transport, a meal and childcare is provided. Positive Tomorrows announced it had managed to raise a total of 15 million dollars to build a new facility that will be able to support more of the cities homeless children ages birth through 8th Grade. It will have a number of wonderful facilities available to the children including a gymnasium, common areas, spaces for art and music, a special education classroom and a storm shelter. It aims to be complete in autumn of this year but this month the steel for the Positive Tomorrow’s new school building was completed. Building work has officially begun! This is such a wonderful project that I think everyone should know about and learn from. If you want to find out more about Positive Tomorrows you can go to their website, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

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    Positive Tomorrows Homepage ©Positive Tomorrows
  2. ENVIRONMENT: In a bid to reduce less plastic waste in landfills and oceans a new scheme began in the UK this month that allows contact lens wearers to recycle both the lenses themselves and the packaging (including the plastic and foil). This can be done via collection or dropping them off in recycling bins at Boots opticians (and additionally at some independent stores). I know as someone who wears contact lenses myself that I often think about where all those individual lens packets go when I throw them out and as for the lenses themselves and it seems I wasn’t the only one. “70% of British contact lens wearers said they would recycle their contact lenses if they could and we share their interest in reducing the amount of plastics in the environment.” Sandra Rasche, area vice president of Johnson and Johnson Vision (BBC, January 15th 2019).  It is estimated that 3.7 million people in the UK wear soft contact lenses and this will definitely be a step towards the reduction in our plastic waste (The Guardian, January 15th 2019).

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    Boots Website ©Boots
  3. GLOBAL: This month Gillette also released their new advertising campaign that altered their regular slogan of “the best a man can get” to “the best a man can be.” It aims to put an end to toxic masculinity and show men as role models for boys. In a time where the #metoo and #timesup campaigns are at the forefront of the women’s equality movement, this was a really great example of a company stepping up to highlight their support. It unfortunately received a lot of backlash predominately from men with the “let men be men” argument cropping up regularly. It did however receive much more praise with many people responding to the comments that suggested the advertisement was “an insult to their masculinity” saying that this was the reason we still needed advertisements and equality movements such as this. I, for one, thought it was an incredible piece of work that really got the message across with the use of spoken word and alongside the acting of scenes to prove their point, the use of actual news footage to support the #metoo movement was incredibly powerful and Gillette should be proud of their new campaign. To watch the add (if you haven’t already!) click here.

    Gillette.png
    Gillette advertisement ©Gillete Youtube channel
  4. MENTAL HEALTH: What do tea and mental health have in common? Well, I always find a cup of tea and a chat with the people I love the most always makes me feel better and Samaritans ‘Brew Monday‘ project aims to reduce loneliness, support mental health and generally just put a smile on people’s faces, all with a little help from a cup of tea. The third Monday in January has been awarded the title of the most depressing day of the year. With Christmas and New Year over and with our bank balance still suffering from it until the next pay day at the end of the month, new year’s resolutions often failed and with the weather now just feeling cold and gloomy, the day was originally given the title by a PR company (of course it was…) but is now a yearly reminder. Samaritans, however, took it upon themselves to use this for good and set up ‘Brew Monday’. Brew Monday is a project that aims to get people together, over a cup of tea (and even some cake!) and get people talking in order to try and beat those lonely January blues whilst raising money for Samaritans at the same time. This year some famous faces got involved and Brew Monday tea bags were even sold across Great Western Railways trains. Well this January it was pro-claimed “a tea-rrific success with 100,000 branded tea bags handed out across the UK” (Samaritans, 21st January 2019) all of which have the Samaritans phone number should anyone ever feeling low, anxious, depressed or lonely need to call them. Such a simple idea with such a positive impact and message and it’s making me fancy a cuppa. I’m off to put the kettle on…

    Samaritans.png
    Samaritans Website ©Samaritans
  5. ARTS: It is safe to say Sandra Oh, most famous for playing Cristina Yang on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, did pretty well at the Golden Globes this January. Not only did she host the show, but she also won the Golden Globe for her leading role in ‘Killing Eve’ (which is one of the best things I watched last year so if you haven’t got around to catching up with it yet, I would get on to it quick before season two comes out this year.) However did you also know she made history at the Golden Globes? She was the first Asian woman to host the show since it first aired in 1944. She is also the first Asian woman in forty years to receive the Golden Globe for a leading actress in a television drama and alongside her other Golden Globe from 2006 for her role in Grey’s Anatomy she is now the first Asian Woman to win multiple Golden Globe awards. Plus, if this wasn’t enough for my happy and positive list this month, her speech is quite simply adorable. Just look at her parents faces as she thanks them in Korean. Click here to watch!

    Golden Globes.png
                    Sandra Oh thanks her parents in Korean as part of her Golden Globes speech                       ©The Independent  
  6. HEALTH: This January more than 250,000 people that tried going vegan for Veganuary 2019 which according to the Veganuary website meant that they matched “the total number of pledges that the charity achieved in the previous four years combined” (Veganuary website) with more than 500,000 people now giving Vegan a go. It was also supporte by thirteen other overseas campaign meaning Veganisms going global! According to their statistics, from every ten people that try a vegan diet for the month of January, six will stay vegan. So why do it? While many people do it due to being against the killing of animals and the suffering they go through for produce like dairy, eggs and meat, there are also a lot of health benefits. According to the Veganuary website, eating a vegan diet can help “cut out cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.” (Veganaury website) For me personally, I’m not Vegan nor Vegetarian, but I do know we eat way too much meat as a society. I definitely want to start eating more vegan and vegetarian meals and with the increase in amazing recipes published, produce being sold in supermarkets and restaurants selling vegan dishes to a really high standard, it’s looking a whole lot easier to start introducing it a lot more into everyday lifestyle.

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    Veganuary 2019 results ©Veganuary Website
  7. POLITICS: As the 116th was sworn in in America a number of women made history this January including Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib who became the first Muslim women in Congress. Tlaib is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants and Omar arrived into Washington from a Kenyan refugee camp twenty-three years previously. Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids became the first Native American women in Congress. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress (and if you haven’t seen her challenge a committee on the US financial system and political corruption then I suggest you do, it’s a real insight into the flaws of the system and ends with a real mike drop moment.) Whilst the 131 women still only make up 24% of congress it’s hopefully a sign of where things are headed. To read more about the women and the many others making history this month, click here.

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    The New York Times published portraits of the women serving in both chambers of the 116th Congress as of this month ©New York Times 
  8. MUSIC: This month the BBC teamed up with Playlist for Life, a UK music and dementia charity that aims to “use the music of a person’s life to keep them connected to themselves and their loved ones throughout their dementia journey.” (Playlist for Life website) The charity has helped developed ‘Music Memories‘ with the BBC. It has music playlists online from the 1920s to 2010s that can easily be clicked on and played. There are popular music, classical music and even theme tunes sections. Music has been known to ease stress and increase happiness in dementia patients.This therefore reduces the need to strong calming medication and it has also been known to bring families closer together and reconnect. As someone who has seen dementia and understands how awful the disease can be, I think this is wonderful.

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    BBc Music Memories Homepage ©BBC Music Memories
  9. GOOD DEEDS: A really awesome positive news story I watched this month was hearing Ellen DeGeneres talk to Candice Payne on her show. Candice rented thirty rooms for a number of homeless people in Chicago during the polar vortex and additionally set up a GoFundMe page to raise more more in order that she could help more homeless people have somewhere warm to sleep during the negative 25 degree temperatures. Candice appeared on The Ellen Show and was presented with two cheques each for $25,000. She says she plans to combine both her charity; ‘Action for a Cause‘ and her experience as a residential redeveloper to help the homeless people of Chicago off the streets.

    ellen.png
                                                     Ellen interviews Candice Payne on her show                                                    ©The Ellen DeGeneres Show Youtube Channel 
  10. I always want to try and end these lists with a project I think you should know about and for my January post I want to talk about U!Shine Vienna. I have talked about this before on the blog as my friend Holly helped set up the Vienna branch of the charity and I often heard about the ups and downs of process over coffee and brunch. Well, this month their website officially launched and their services have begun! U!Shine Vienna offers seminars, workshops, community evenings and much, much more. Check out their website, Facebook and Instagram to find out more.
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U!Shine Vienna Website ©U!Shine Vienna

 

Alongside the list here are a few of the things that are injecting some happiness and positivity in my life right now in case you need a little extra in your life too:

Something to watch: I have always loved this Ted Talk from Frank Warren discussing the half a million secrets people have sent him on postcards.

Something to listen to: Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place Podcast (it’s my new favourite)

Something to read: I’ve mentioned it before, but I will say it again; Elizabeth Gilbert’s book ‘Big Magic’ is a stunning piece of literature inspiring you to live creatively beyond fear. My copy is so highlighted it’s luminous.

Somewhere to go/do when you’re feeling a little low: This month I started using the Nike running app and I LOVE it. It’s free to download and the guided runs are amazing for anyone who needs that voice giving them a pep talk to keep going. Have a go and let me know what you think!

 

I hope this brand new happy and positive edition has inspired you, helped you or simply just put a smile on your face in some way.

I look forward to seeing what the rest of the year has to offer.

Much love,

Lydia

 

**Credit for the header photo goes to Daniel Cristian via Unsplash 

**Please note: Every effort has been made to provide the right and appropriate links to all sites mentioned or used for this post and that any quote used from an additional sourced has been referenced appropriately with a clickable link provided. I will be happy to correct any link or reference that may be incorrect or faulty and add in or remove any references or links, should it be required or at the request of the source.

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