100 Happy Things: Revisited

Last week, I posted a challenge for myself. To find one happy thing per day and to keep track of them. So I’ve kept a diary of my week and picked one happy thing per day. Hope you enjoy!

1. Friday

Today I went to work. As soon as I got in, I found out that the area manager would be in during the day. Now those words might mean nothing to you, but to me, they are very scary words. Area manager visits only happen in the holidays and they are meant to check that even in our busiest periods, we’re maintaining the highest quality. Not only will he check the site in general (make sure the toilets are clean, screen checks are being done correctly, everything is stocked up and where it should be) he will quiz members of staff on sales, our customer survey reports and our fire zones in case of emergency. We should also know our sales targets for the day and be ready to explain every single sales package we have, without any guides in front of us. There is a wealth of knowledge we have to learn and be able to recite when our area manager comes to town. It’s a stressful visit, but it comes with certain rewards… if we answer our questions correctly, we’re given a promotional lanyard. Colleagues have previously had Frozen ones, The Hobbit ones amongst others. They’re always for a film that is out at the time of his visit. I was awarded an Avengers one shortly after joining the company for being one of the most improved over my first summer. However, this time, I wowed my AM with my knowledge on sales and customer survey reports (with some serious detail!) and was awarded a new lanyard:

Muppets Most Wanted Lanyard!
Muppets Most Wanted Lanyard!

My happy thing for Friday? My seriously cool new Muppets lanyard.

2. Saturday

Today, I woke up super early as I was volunteering my time to Cardiff based Christian organisation Ignite. I first heard of Ignite last October. I went to a presentation called ‘Discipling a Generation’ with our church youth worker. There I met Gary Smith, the CEO of Ignite. At this event I heard all about 1,2,3: choose 1 person to be your mentor; choose 2 people to be your running buddies; choose 3 people to mentor. You can learn more about that here. What was said in general interested me, and we were given loads of handouts. One of which was an invite to Ignite’s Speak Conference. At the end of November they held a TED style conference where a selection of speakers spoke for just 10 minutes each on a Christian topic of their choice. With the likes of George Verwer, Jasvinder Sanghera and Rob Parsons, it was an incredible experience. It all finished with a live performance from Ben Cantelon. It was an amazing weekend.

When I dropped out of uni, I had a friend who helped me work out what to do next. One thing he did was send me links to a couple of internships and apprenticeships I might be interested in. One of those internships was with Ignite. I saved his email with the links in, and didn’t think anything of it. The other week, I had an argument with a friend and decided I wanted to do something to make something of my life. So I revisited his email. I got in touch with someone at Ignite and met with one of coordinators. I knew her name, as she was one of the speakers at the conference in November. She bought with her one of the current interns. It was great to have a conversation about the internship, what they expect, what I expect and to speak to someone doing it. They said while I think and pray on it, they were running a day called Love Tremorfa, and if I was available that I should come along. They were going to paint a wall, do some litter picking and breathe some life into what is a bit of a run down area.

This day was today. I booked the day off work and headed down to Tremorfa. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I spent the first half of the day clearing greenery from where others cut up some dead wood. Not really my best skills, but fun nonetheless. Then we stopped for coffee as the rain set in. Me and one of the other girls were a little bit late getting undercover (we were working furthest away) and got soaked to the skin, so the warm coffee was very much welcomed!

Unfortunately, then the council left us, and they had the tools and truck for the greenery. So we started litter picking. On arrival, the leaders discovered the wall had already been painted, so instead they repainted the play park. Doing the litter picking gave us all great opportunity to talk to the community. Passers-by stopped us to ask us who we were and what we were doing. We had specially made t-shirts on, so we were all obviously together and part of something. It was a great opportunity to shout about Jesus and who we are. Although I didn’t know much about what Ignite do and their part in the community, it was really great to be given that opportunity.

Then we stopped for lunch (and a loo break!) and I was taken to one of the members house. Many members of the team relocated to Tremofra to help encourage the regeneration. It was so utterly amazing and incredible to see God’s work in these people’s lives. We returned to the park with fish and chips, and after lunch we got back to litter picking. I filled 2 more bags before I became entirely exhausted and conceded that I had to return home.

It was the most incredible, inspiring and hard-working day I’ve had in a while. I can’t choose one small moment, so my happy thing for Saturday? Working closely with some amazing people at Ignite on a really incredible project.

3. Sunday

Sundays and Thursdays are my favourite days: these are the days I spend at Mack, usually in the company of some amazing 7-11 year olds. Yesterdays happy thing was a big one, todays was much smaller, like my lanyard on Friday.

I arrived early to Mack this morning on a slight miscommunication. It wasn’t the end of the world, I had an extra-ordinarily early morning this morning so wasn’t complaining when I left home a little early. I sat and chatted to our youth worker for a little while, a brother and sister and who regularly attend Sunday school and youth club. The sister is 12, so outside of the ages I work with, but she’s really lovely and a pleasure to talk to. I chatted with them for about 20 minutes, and went into the service with one of the girls who was baptised with me (I haven’t seen her since Christmas) and we sat with one of the members of my house group.

I left the service for Sunday school and managed to be the last one up the stairs to our teaching room. One of my friend’s girls was waiting, holding the door open for me. We had a small group this week, my friend’s 2 girls, and the boy from earlier. As I walked into the room, the boy called ‘Amy! Amy! Come here! Sit next to me!’ So I sat with him and the two girls sat opposite us. We had a great little lesson all about Adam and Eve and I helped all the kids with their reading, as we consulted the bible. I really enjoy being in Sunday school, even when it’s a small group.

We hugely overran this week… to the point where my friend came to look for his girls after the service. But it was a really great lesson. So, my happy thing for Sunday? One of the kids wanting me to sit with them. It feels good to be wanted, even by a 10-year-old.

4. Monday

Wow. Today has been a very busy day! So much good stuff, how can I just pick one thing as my happy thing?

I started in school. Yep, you read that right. I’m a reading buddy at a local primary school. I’m not allowed to say anything about the pupils, and I won’t name the school, but today I was handed a proper folder from the teacher. I started last term and was sort of thrown in the deep end. I sort of took it at face value, and resolved to clarify with the teacher exactly what she wanted when the new term started. But she jumped in ahead of me, she’s put together this amazing pack, with a list of kids for me to read with, so all I have to do i pop my head in the classroom, call out a name and sit and read with the child in question. It’s great to see the kids get more confident in their reading, and they’re eager to come and read with me too.

My reading file
My reading folder

Following that, I headed to my youth worker’s house to head together to Radyr. Radyr is hosting the GSUS Live trailer for 2 weeks, before it moves to a high school in Cardiff, where I will be helping to present the material. Today was a training day and we ran through the material and learnt how to set up the trailer and close it down too. It’s exciting preparing for a new experience, and this one will be with school years 7, 8 and 9. An experience I’m very excited to get into.

I then spent the afternoon at home watching The X-Files. I rang a church member to stay in touch, I hadn’t seen them in a while, so just wanted to check in. I’m starting a prayer group in the next couple of weeks and I wanted to invite her personally. I also spent time online reading/watching some of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while. I watched this video of Arthur Darvill singing about his time on Doctor Who:

I also read this article on Buzzfeed which had me in absolute stitches. Needless to say, I spent most of the afternoon laughing.

I then had a curry night/youth club meeting to attend. If I’m being totally honest, I was kind of dreading it. I won’t go into why, but I was. I was the first to arrive, but eventually the others began to show. We had our meeting over the first couple of courses, and I stayed quieter than I usually would. After the meeting we started sharing stories. Again, I stayed quiet, but I laughed so hard I was crying at some of the stories the others had to offer.

So, I guess, my happy thing from today are the friends I have in the youth work I do, and the amount of laughter I’ve managed to achieve today.

5. Tuesday

So, today has been a totally mixed bag. For some unknown reason (I can only assume it’s because I set my alarm last night after having a couple of beers) I decided to set my alarm for 7am… even though I didn’t have to be anywhere until 10:30am. Still, an early start is always refreshing… sort of.

I spent the morning watching The X-Files and creating the most awful Spotify playlist that I can sing along to in the car. I underuse my Spotify account, but use it predominantly to follow a friend’s playlists. He has awesome taste and makes some really, really good playlists. But I figured I should make one of my own.

Whilst I was procrastinating in my own special way, I received a text from my friend to tell me she’d got a job she had interviewed for yesterday. She’s been unemployed for a while, and, to be honest, I was starting to get a little bit worried about her. I couldn’t imagine being in her position. I’m in a dead-end, 4 hour contract retail job, but I have a job. I really couldn’t imagine not having that. We were particularly eager for her to get a job so we could look for a house for us to move into this summer. We decided to move in together a couple of months ago. I feel cut off from the community I’ve integrated myself into, by living on the other side of the city centre. I also took a house mate for a month and it really made me realise how much I miss living with someone. But without a job, my friend couldn’t sign a new contract for a house, so this is really the great news we needed.

However, to balance this fantastically great news out, a different friend got in touch with me and told me she couldn’t make our usual Thursday plans. We usually spend some time together, having a bit of a heart to heart, eat some food of some description and she’s become a really good friend through these afternoons. We’ve not kept our usual meetings over Easter, but she had personal reasons, that made me sad and worried and concerned. My happiness from my friend getting a job was dampened somewhat.

I then had a bible study with friend with new job and the youth leader at my church. We had a really good study and I’m finding it easy to share within the small group we have going, something I really do struggle with in larger groups. Then I headed to work, where I couldn’t find any free parking. So it cost me more than I’d care to pay to park my car when I usually walk. And that… was my Tuesday.

My happy thing: my friend getting a job. So psyched to start looking for a house together!

6. Wednesday:

Today, I woke up with a missed call. A missed call from the agency with whom I’m registered as a supply teaching assistant. They were calling to offer me work today. This means I am officially in the role. However, I had a commitment as a reading buddy today so could not accept the offer. Unfortunately, the class I usually read with was on a school trip, and the teacher forgot to tell me. However, instead of sending me away, the school placed me with another teacher’s class of the same age, so I read with some different kids.

I had lunch at Nando’s with my newly employed friend, and headed to the cinema for a double feature of Pompeii and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. A fun day, both films come recommended from me, though know that I love terrible films. Keifer Sutherland in Pompeii was just… wonderful. And Jamie Foxx stole the show in Spider-Man.

I then headed to my church for our AGM. It was very informative and I learnt a lot about where we are right now and what is intended for us in the next year. I also got to spend some time with what I like to call ‘my Cardiff family’, or my church family, afterwards as we shared tea and coffee after the meeting.

My happy thing from today: being called on as a supply TA and seeing and spending time with my friends and church family.

7. Thursday

I started the day as a reading buddy again. This time with the correct class. I have 2 kids I read with every time I go in. I then have a list of others I can read with, so I’m trying to mix it up a bit, so I don’t read with the same 4 or 5 kids everyday. So today I read with the 2 I had to, then read with 2 or 3 I hadn’t heard before. I ended up leaving a little bit later that I usually do, so the kids were on their break as I left, but as I put the folder back on the shelf in the classroom, one of the boys I’ve been reading with regularly with, but didn’t call today, stopped me. To be honest, he didn’t seem all that bothered about reading when I’d sat with him, but he stopped me and asked if it was his turn. I said I’d finished for the day, and he seemed genuinely disappointed. So I promised him that next time, I would hear him read. He grinned then and said ‘OK!’ I was stopped again before leaving the classroom, and a girl, who I have never sat with, wanted me to play a game with her. It was hard to leave this morning, and not because they kept stopping me, but because I wanted to stay.

Between school and work, I found out that my favourite lecturer on my undergraduate degree has passed away. I won’t dwell on it here, but I did post a blog about it at the time, and you can read that here.

I then had work. I don’t usually work Thursdays, since I need to leave by 6pm to make it to our church’s youth club in time. Today I left work at 6:15pm. I was not too happy. I made it to youth club before most of the kids turned up, but I do feel guilty when I walk in at that point; that I’ve done absolutely nothing to set up. But I also need to pay bills and put food on the table, I guess I can’t have everything.

It’s been 2 weeks off, but it feels like a lifetime. The kids we have amaze me beyond words. I get to have kids for one night a week, because I have my little group. I have a handful of kids who gravitate towards me, and I love it so much. We sat and we talked about our Easter break, how we all felt going back to school and we all talked about our favourite Harry Potter films and books and characters, and shared what our other favourite books were… One girl, she referred to something in a conversation with just me as “well, at our age…” she included me in it. I thought it was cute and funny. Thursday night youth club is beyond words the best thing that has ever happened to me. It helped me work out my gift, it gave me a great mentor and friend, it’s introduced me to a world I never knew before and it was my life raft when I needed one the most. I live for Thursday nights, because it’s where it all began 9 months ago.

Do you really need to ask what my happy thing from today was? Youth club of course!

 

I’m so pleased I did this, and I apologise for it being such a long post. I know I live a busy life but actually writing a blog for just a week has made me realise just how much I cram into 24 hours… Not only that, but how much good is happening in my life. This week has been a really good week for me so it was easy to find a happy thing everyday, but I think it’s a great code of practice to find a happy thing for each day when the day ends.

I think this would be especially effective when I’m having a rubbish time, rather than a good time as I am at the moment. To be able to focus on the positives in life and to be grateful for them… In doing this little blog, I’ve decided to incorporate this practice into my daily worship and praise. I challenge you to think about the little things (and the big things) that make you happy everyday, and once you recognise them, to hold on to them and to let the bad things fall away… Because that’s what I fully intend to do.

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