Five Minutes With… Must Hike, Must Eat @snuffymusthike #Blogging #FiveMinutesWith

Welcome to Five Minutes With… a new feature where I invite bloggers of all genres to tell us a little about themselves and their blogging journey.

Today’s blogger is Shannon Cunningham who blogs at Must Hike Must Eat.

Shannon Must Hike Must EatQ1: When and why did you start blogging? Which platform do you use?

I write on WordPress and I started in January of 2016 when I found out I was going to be laid off from my job of 16 years.  It was a way for me to process that change and begin to look at other directions in my life.

Q2: What topics/themes do you blog about? Do you ever deviate from that theme?

Well, you can guess that I write about hiking (spending time outdoors) and eating (a Paleo diet) but my posts are not limited to that.  I write about traveling, restaurants that serve healthy food, mid-life parenting, my faith in God, social issues, book reviews, volunteering and just about anything that happens in my life!

Q3: Which of your blog posts is your favourite and why do you like this one so much?

Oh, I have several favorite posts but I think Definition of Courage will always be dear to my heart. I think it really sums up who I am and what I hope to accomplish with my blog.

Q4: Do you have a top tip to share for any new bloggers that might be reading?

Often we start blogging because we want write to express ourselves but it is important to remember that blogging is about community and connection, too.  Try and find yourself a writing community to join whether is be online or in your own circle; it can make all the difference!

Q5: What’s your favourite social media platform?

My favorite social media platform is Instagram, although I have more followers on Facebook.  It just has less clutter and feels more intimate.

Find out more about Shannon by connecting with her via the links below:

Blog Link: http://www.musthikemusteat.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/musthikemusteat/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/snuffymusthike

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/musthikemusteat/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/snuffymust/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pursuecourage/

I hope you enjoyed this feature. Be sure to check out Shannon’s blog. If you write a blog and would like to be considered for Five Minutes With… then please send me a message via the contact page.

Blog Signature

How to Create a Happiness Jar for 2018 #NewYear #Inspiration

It’s human nature to want to make our lives better but how do we make improvements to our life without upsetting our inner control freak?

Several years ago I began a new ritual after seeing a video on Facebook which suggested starting a gratitude jar. The idea appealed to me, but in the example you were told to write down something that you were grateful for each day, week, or month. While I approved of the sentiment, I was already adding my thoughts of gratitude to my daily journal. So, I improvised and made a happiness jar instead.Happiness Jar 1

My jar begins on the 1st January every year. Anything that I do over the course of twelve months which makes me happy goes into it. This includes big achievements, as well as the small moments, the kind people, and the instants of pride, joy, and hope that filled the year.

2017 didn’t start off well for me. The first six months were a hard slog against depression, self-doubt, and struggling in my own skin. It all hit the fan in May when I gave in and went to see my GP. She did a wonderful thing for me – she listened. For the first time that year I felt like someone understood me. It was this simple act that turned my year around. That doctor’s appointment made it into my happiness jar! When you are living in a slump, it can be tough to focus on the positives. Using a happiness jar allows you to remember all the precious moments you experience, the wonderful people who come into your life or help you along your path, and this turns negativity on its head.

On New Year’s Eve, I open my jar, tip the contents onto the table and read all the tiny slips of paper. I light a candle, make myself a cup of tea, indulge in a biscuit or two, and focus my time entirely on the positivity of 2017. By the end of this exercise I am no longer fixated on the darker side of my year, but instead, I’m filled with hope, joy, and determination that the New Year will bring more incredible experiences to overflow my jar once again.

Some examples from my 2017 happiness jar include:

  • Lunch with my friend Jane at the Rose and Crown – good company and great food.
  • Visiting the Tower of London on my own.
  • Going to Kenilworth Castle with my son so he could practice his photography.
  • FriendsFest with my daughter and her friend at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire.
  • Taking full advantage of my Cineworld Unlimited pass and seeing 24 films.
  • Going to Leeds with mum and bumping into old friends.
  • Seeing a Panto with my good friend Nikki.

There are more coffee dates, theatre trips, concerts, author/blogger events, and a host of other happy moments from last year in my jar. By doing this exercise, I’m allowing myself to start 2018 with an optimistic vibe.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to start this great habit:

  • Grab an old jam jar, or buy yourself a pretty Mason jar and decorate it.
  • Keep a small notepad/paper close by so you can jot down anything that you did, or experienced, that made you smile and add it to your pot along with cinema stubs, and concert tickets.
  • Keep your happiness jar in a prominent place. Mine is in my kitchen, that way I’m always reminded to add to it over the twelve months. It’s a visual reminder of all the good things in your life when you see it filling up.

Feel free to share photographs of your happiness jars with me over on my Facebook page or leave details of other New Year rituals you enjoy doing in the comments.

All that’s left to say is Happy New Year to all my blog readers. May 2018 bring happiness, laughter, love, and prosperity.

Blog Signature

It’s Not a Midlife Crisis – It’s a Midlife Makeover! #PersonalDevelopment

zc8jcI find that I’m reading articles and books on a variety of midlife topics at the moment. I’ve devoured Jonice Webb’s book, Running on Empty, nodded my way through Miranda Sawyer’s Out of Time, and wept bucket loads over Diane Esguerra’s journey to scatter the ashes of her son at Machu Picchu in her memoir, Junkie Buddha.

What do all these things have in common? The passage of time, getting older, travel, getting out and about more, discovering who we are, learning to love ourselves at later stages in our lives.

Midlife, according to the experts, tends to hit men at the age of 43, and women around the age of 44. I can, therefore, confirm that I am well and truly in the middle of my life cycle. The family genes are fairly strong so I should last out until I’m around 90 all being well. That means I have another forty-five years left to tick off all the items on my bucket list, and that’s only if my body doesn’t seize up, my bladder continues to work, my eyesight remains semi-decent, and nobody takes my driving license off me!

I recently convinced myself that I was having a midlife crisis. No, I didn’t get botox or shave my head, and I already have tattoos. I didn’t start dating a younger man (although I’m not going to rule this out altogether!) and I haven’t started frequenting strip clubs. What I have done is start a saving plan to buy a VW T2 Campervan, which is something that’s sat on the top of my bucket list for as long as I can remember.

It’s perfectly agiphycceptable for a man who is going through a midlife crisis to buy a motorbike, or sports car, so why can’t I have a camper?

It was as I sat behind the giant wheel of a type 2 that I realised my midlife crisis wasn’t in fact a crisis at all. It’s a shift in dynamics, a change in fortune and circumstance. My three children are all older and reasonably capable of looking after themselves. I’ve been a single mum for thirteen years so I’m pretty savvy at looking after myself, my family, and my affairs. The road is calling, freedom beckons, and I’ve decided to embrace this time of my life as a midlife makeover rather than a crisis.

I hope that next year is the start of a journey of discovery. I’m still searching for the perfect camper that will become a part of our family, but I’ve already got the road trips mapped out for when it does arrive in our lives. Watch this space…

What do you dream of doing but think you’re too old set in your ways to achieve? Are you in the middle of a midlife makeover? Share your tips and stories in the comments and feel free to join me in a VW convey if you spot me on the road 🙂

Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope you enjoyed this post. Want more? Connect with me here:  Twitter @ShelleyWilson72, Instagram or check out my Facebook pages http://www.facebook.com/FantasyAuthorSLWilson and http://www.facebook.com/MotivateMeBlog.

FINAL: How to Create a More Fulfilling Future: Summary #PersonalDevelopment

How To Create a More Fulfilling FutureOver the past nine weeks I’ve been running a blog series called ‘How to Create a More Fulfilling Future.’ If you’ve missed any of the posts over the course of this series then don’t panic – you can catch up by clicking the links at the bottom of this post.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken part and shared their stories. In the beginning, I suggested gathering your answers together in a personal workbook. There was a good reason for this as writing down our goals, observations, and achievements help us to stay grounded and accountable to our dreams.

If you have been following the entire series, then you’ll hopefully have a fully rounded picture of your life, goals, and aspirations so far. You should have found yourself thinking quite seriously about certain aspects of your life – this is good!

Week One:

We looked at what we would do if we were brave enough, and what we have achieved even though we never thought we would or could.

Fear is a huge factor when pushing ourselves to do something outside our comfort zone. My favourite acronym is FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real and helps me remember that sometimes I’m the only one who is halting my efforts.

Quitting a job, writing and publishing a book, travelling solo, emigrating, and completing a physical challenge were just some of the incredible achievements my readers shared in the first week. Recalling your personal bravery, achievements, and spontaneous actions brings a sense of clarity to the forefront of your mind and therefore paves the way for you to set yourself other challenges and goals. So, here’s that final question again – what challenges are you ready to face now?

Week Two:

On week two we put aside our various hats (mum/dad/wife/husband/colleague/friend) and looked at what we would love to do if we had the freedom to do it. What would you do with a spare hour, afternoon, day, or weekend? The point of this exercise was to detach from our everyday ‘roles’ and think back to what it was like when we were only responsible for ourselves.

Why do our dreams have to change because we get married, or have children? Why can’t we drop everything and visit a friend at the other side of the country? Who said we couldn’t possibly indulge in an afternoon at the cinema, or curl up and read a book instead of ironing? And why do we insist on staying late at work instead of heading home to be with the family?

Often, we act how we think other people would want us to act. It’s something we learned as small children that has been carried through into our adult lives. Recognising that we are in control of our lives is important.

Week Three:

What are you good at? What would you like to improve? Thinking about our skills in a positive light helps us to feel connected to our passion, so it’s essential that we review this on a regular basis. While celebrating our strengths, it’s also imperative to think about the areas of our life we would like to improve upon. It’s these topics that become our future goals.

Improving ourselves is how we evolve and grow. Learning a new language, returning to college to retrain, building our self-confidence through workshops, and wishing to improve writing skills were just some of the ideas raised during week three. If time and money were no issue, what would you love to learn or improve upon?

Week Four:

Stress is a word that every single one of us has heard about, and probably experienced at one time or another. Do you let it control you, or do you have a system in place to combat/deal with the symptoms of stress? This was the topic up for discussion in week four.

Work, health, family, and finances came out as the top culprits for causing stress in our lives. It was interesting to note how my readers all reacted physically to this. Stomach pains, headaches, and chest pains manifested as a reaction to their situations.

Another interesting point to note is that in most situations the stress was self-inflicted. For example: Stressing about the state of the house when the kids are playing, adopting a ’what if’ attitude to situations and worrying about the hypothetical outcome, mentally berating yourself for having a chocolate bar instead of going to the gym, and putting too much pressure on yourself – or that need to be in constant control!

The final questions of week four touched upon how to cope with stress and what you could do to help yourself. Taking a time out to read, walk, a nap was a favourite with my readers. As was meditation, positive thinking, writing or journaling, and talking things over with family and friends. Do you have a favourite way to cope with stress?

Week Five:

Week five was an interesting one as we looked at how long we spend on social media, how valuable that time was, and what we could do instead if we cut back. Thinking about and/or recording the amount of time you spend online can be quite shocking, but by doing this, you highlight areas where you can claim back valuable time for family, leisure, or writing activities.

There’s a fine line between over-indulgence on social media sites and being active for the good of your profile (blog/book/business). The questions this week were designed to make you think about the quality of posting you do and if you really need to scroll down endless kitten memes! It was a challenging week of questions for many of my readers.

Week Six:

Who do you admire? Who keeps you grounded? Who motivates you? This week was all about appreciating our support networks in whatever capacity that falls under. Many of my readers acknowledged the importance of family in their answers, as well as the online support from fellow bloggers, writers, and colleagues. Knowing who we can call upon for encouragement and assistance is an important part of our personal development. Yes, we can do everything, but we don’t have to. Call upon your cheerleading squad to help you.

Week Seven:

I wanted to talk about self-care on week seven and look at how we treat ourselves compared to how we treat others. It was interesting to see that 99% of my readers think about others before themselves.

Why do we do this? I’ll use the classic flight attendant speech to highlight the need for self-care – put on your own oxygen mask before helping others! Many years ago I realised that if I were broken, I wouldn’t be strong enough to help my family, so I concentrated on healing myself, looking after my personal development and self-care, and when I’d grown strong I was able to help others easily but from a place of power.

Looking after your own needs is not selfish, it’s necessary. Julia Cameron dedicated an entire book to the importance of ‘filling the well’ in her fabulous book, The Artist’s Way. What can you do today that’s just for you?

Week Eight:

Enjoying a little light relief during our personal development is just as important as the self-work we do as we evolve and grow. This week was dedicated to remembering our funniest moments and also our most embarrassing moments.

What I found most interesting was how my readers had been able to turn these experiences on their head and see the funny side. Learning to accept our faults and failures is a huge step in the right direction, but to be able to turn them into lessons is even better. Every embarrassing moment is a small part of that patchwork of emotions. It might take some time, but we rethink the memory and turn it into a positive.

Week Nine:

The final post of the series looked at what we would like to be, do, or have if money, failure, and time was no issue. I wanted my readers to dream big this week!

We can prevent ourselves from achieving our dreams because of self-doubt, limiting beliefs, and acting how we think other people would want us to behave. Why? These final questions were designed to make you think about your deepest desires, greatest ideas, long-held dreams, and to realise that nobody, but you, is holding you back from achieving what you want.

Conclusion:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and found it to be helpful and insightful. Personal development is just that – personal. We are all on a unique journey with different goals, but finding support in each other’s stories is what helps us to learn and grow.

Thank you for being a part of this voyage and may I wish you all a happy and prosperous future.

Here’s a look at the previous posts in this series:

Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope you enjoyed this post. Want more? Connect with me here:  Twitter @ShelleyWilson72, Instagram or check out my Facebook pages http://www.facebook.com/FantasyAuthorSLWilson and http://www.facebook.com/MotivateMeBlog. You can also find me on Pinterest

How to Create a More Fulfilling Future: Week 9 #PersonalGrowth

How To Create a More Fulfilling FutureIf you’ve missed any of the posts over the course of this series then don’t panic – you can catch up by clicking the links at the bottom of this post. Next week we will be summarising all our questions and answers, but for today, I want you to concentrate on dreaming BIG.

As always, you might want to gather your answers together in a personal workbook. Don’t think too hard about each question, just go with the first thing that pops into your head.

If you have been following the entire series, then you’ll hopefully have a fully rounded picture of your life, goals, and aspirations so far. You should have found yourself thinking quite seriously about certain aspects of your life – this is good!

Grab your notebook, your journal, or open a new word document and record your answers so you can refer to them when needed. Today, I want you to think about what you would like to have, be, or do in your life:

Questions for week #9:

  1. Which countries would you like to visit?
  1. What is your ideal job?
  2. What activities/hobbies would you like to try?
  3. If money was no issue, what would you like to do most with your life?

Join me next Monday for an overview of this series and what you can do next with all the answers you’ve collected.

Your responses can be as private or as public as you choose. Feel free to leave your answers in the comments below. If you’d rather not, then simply share how you find the selection of questions, if you can answer them easily or if you struggled, and what you have chosen to do with the answers that came up for you if anything.

Take a look at the previous posts in this series:

·         Week 1

·         Week 2

·         Week 3

·         Week 4

·         Week 5

·         Week 6

·         Week 7

·         Week 8

Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope you enjoyed this post. Want more? Connect with me here:  Twitter @ShelleyWilson72, Instagram or check out my Facebook pages http://www.facebook.com/FantasyAuthorSLWilson and http://www.facebook.com/MotivateMeBlog. You can also find me on Pinterest

How to Create a More Fulfilling Future: Week 8 #PersonalGrowth

How To Create a More Fulfilling FutureI’ve been delighted with the response to this blog series so far and would like to thank everyone who has taken part. Readers have engaged with the questions and really given them some serious thought. It’s this reaction that I had hoped for. When we want to work on our personal development it’s so important to review various areas of our lives first. These questions give you the thinking space you need and I’ve loved reading the responses.

If you’ve missed any of the posts in this new series then don’t panic – you can catch up by clicking the links at the bottom of this post.

I will post additional questions for you to answer every Monday. As always, you might want to gather them all together like a personal workbook, or just pop in and out to answer the questions that appeal to you.

Don’t think too hard about each question, just go with the first thing that pops into your head.

If you have been following the entire series, then you’ll hopefully have a fully rounded picture of your life, goals, and aspirations so far. You should have found yourself thinking quite seriously about certain aspects of your life – this is good!

Grab a notebook, your journal, or open a new word document and record your answers so you can refer to them when needed. This week I want you to think about specific moments in your life:

Questions for week #8:

  1. What is your proudest moment?
  1. What is your funniest moment/memory?
  2. What is your most embarrassing moment/memory?

Join me next Monday for more questions.

As always, your responses can be as private or as public as you choose. Feel free to leave your answers in the comments below. If you’d rather not, then simply share how you find the selection of questions, if you can answer them easily or if you struggled, and what you have chosen to do with the answers that came up for you if anything.

Take a look at the previous posts in this series:

·         Week 1

·         Week 2

·         Week 3

·         Week 4

·         Week 5

·         Week 6

·         Week 7

Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope you enjoyed this post. Want more? Connect with me here:  Twitter @ShelleyWilson72, Instagram or check out my Facebook pages http://www.facebook.com/FantasyAuthorSLWilson and http://www.facebook.com/MotivateMeBlog. You can also find me on Pinterest

How To Create a More Fulfilling Future: Week 6 #SelfHelp

How To Create a More Fulfilling FutureNEW BLOG SERIES: How to create a more fulfilling future.

If you’ve missed any of the posts in this new series then don’t panic – you can catch up by clicking the links at the bottom of this post.

As promised, I will post additional questions for you to answer every Monday. You might want to gather them all together like a personal workbook, or just pop in and out to answer the questions that appeal to you.

Don’t think too hard about each question, just go with the first thing that pops into your head. Some questions will amuse you, others will test your boundaries, but all of them will bring about a sense of fulfilment.

Each week I’ll share the link to the previous questions so you can collect them as you go and don’t have to worry if you miss a week. They may seem random in their order, but if you do choose to follow the entire series, then you’ll hopefully get a fully rounded picture of your life, goals, and aspirations for a fulfilling future.

Grab a notebook, your journal, or open a new word document and record your answers so you can refer to them when needed. This week I want you to think about who you have in your life, and how they help you.

Questions for week #6:

  1. Who motivates you?
  1. Who keeps you grounded?
  2. Who do you admire?
  3. Who do you miss?
  4. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Join me next Monday for more questions.

As always, your responses can be as private or as public as you choose. Feel free to leave your answers in the comments below. If you’d rather not, then simply share how you find the selection of questions, if you can answer them easily or if you struggled, and what you have chosen to do with the answers that came up for you if anything.

Take a look at the previous posts in this series:

·         Week 1

·         Week 2

·         Week 3

·         Week 4

·         Week 5

Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope you enjoyed this post. Want more? Connect with me here:  Twitter @ShelleyWilson72, Instagram or check out my Facebook pages http://www.facebook.com/FantasyAuthorSLWilson and http://www.facebook.com/MotivateMeBlog. You can also find me on Pinterest