Recently I’ve been feeling more like myself than I have done in a long time. My mental health has improved to the point where not every day feels like I’m in survival mode. Instead, the sense of contentment that I used to long for appears more and more often throughout the days. Whether it’s excitement to sit with a hot drink and a slice of cake in one of my favourite coffee shops or the sound of wood pigeons outside as the evening skies bleed out into night, happiness has found its way in. And so I’ve decided to write a monthly blog post about what’s been making me happy, whether it’s a moment or a place or something I’ve bought or read. I used to write posts like this back in high school and I think that documenting some of the things that are good in my life, and particularly documenting them through writing, will be a wonderful way to both feel like I’m being more productive and to make sure that I have things to look back on during bad days.
‘Ordinary People’ by Diana Evans.
After handing in my dissertation I decided to squeeze in something non-academic before confronting the stack of books to be tackled for my last exam. I picked up a copy of Evans’ ‘Ordinary People’ on a whim in Blackwells (my new campus happy-place) and tumbled into the aches, longings and frustrations of its characters. I think the fact that I grew so frustrated with one of the main characters without getting sick of the book itself is testament to Evans’ writing style – lyrical and lovely and incredibly moving. It was also refreshing to pick up a novel that engaged with ideas of racial identity, family and how these issues impact relationships from a perspective I hadn’t read from before. Like with all good books, it’s characters and their lives have been lodged in my head as I’ve gone about my day ever since.
This cute pot from 19pinkvine.
Not only is it in my favourite colours and a perfect lil home for a plant or my keys (I haven’t yet decided which) but given how stressful the post-uni housing situation is for me at the moment, buying something cute to have in my future flat seemed like a pretty good way to say fuck you to all my anxieties about the future. These lovely homewares are available via Etsy or, if you live in/near the Withington area, you could have a lil browse whilst grabbing a ridiculously tasty brunch at Boho Utopia.
The loveliest Heart Earrings by Olivia Annabelle.
I stumbled upon the Olivia Annabelle Instagram (filled with dreamy clothes, soft pastels and lots of beautiful photos) just before my university May Ball and, after a quick virtual wander, ended up ordering a pair of their beautiful Heart Earrings via Etsy. They arrived quickly in the post in lovely packaging, with a hand-written thank you note from OA founder, Olivia. They’re the prettiest colour and worked just as well going for a mocha-fuelled revision session in town as they did at the ball – every time I’ve worn them they’ve been complimented. This month was the first time in forever that I’ve gone out of my way on a normal day to wear a piece of jewellery just because I liked it and wanted to wear it and feel good, which makes these earrings even more exciting to have.
My University May Ball.
When I started at Manchester it was my second attempt at University. During my first term I’d walk to whatever building my lecture was in and freeze up, completely unable to go in. Whilst my mental health problems have far from disappeared since first year I’m so proud of the fact that by the end of third year I’d managed to integrate into University life in a way I feared I couldn’t and organising and speaking at my final ball was the best way to celebrate that.
A quiet train journey at sunset.
I always romanticise the idea of train journeys, though they often seem to just be overcrowded and stressful. But earlier this week I managed to grab a window seat and watched the sky in hues of blue and red across rolling hills and country lanes and had a whole two hours to just watch car headlights cut through the dark in the distance, to watch rivers and farms and eventually red lights of cranes against a purple sky as I arrived back in Manchester. It was one of the loveliest moments, filled with contentment and never as beautiful in a photograph as it actually was.