I’m happy and I know it :)

The way I like to live my life is with as big a smile on my face as I can muster, because having lost so many loved ones over recent years, I’ve learned to truly appreciate every moment I get on this earth and simply want to make the most of every experience, and take every opportunity to spread a little laughter.

The best advice I can give on how to be happy is to take time every once in a while to sit back and truly appreciate what you already have.

*Our precious little man*

Having tried unsuccessfully for a baby for a number of years, in February 2006 our long held dreams finally came true. Meeting that tiny little chap for the first time was an incredible experience, something no words can ever come close to describing. As a life-long sports fan, forgive me for this small indulgence in attempting to sum up, in the simplest terms I understand, just how deeply happy he makes me feel every single day. In sporting terms, as a dedicated fan you always dream about your team reaching the pinnacle of each sport, for all the disappointments and setbacks there’s always the hope of that one perfect occasion – the ultimate achievement, whether that be an Ashes triumph, Champions League glory, World Cup, or even an Olympic gold. Even if you get there, there’s euphoria for a day or two but then it’s on to the next quest. Holding my little boy for the first time, I realised something profound for me sharing in his life is like winning the World Cup every single day. Helping my sunshine find his feet in this world, is my definition of personal contentment.

*Hugs and kisses from the Mrs*

When my good lady and I first met nearly 15 years ago, in post student accomodation in Birmingham, we started out as house-mates, well technically I was squatting on the floor (long story). Over time we became really close pals, and I always felt so comfortable in her company and could talk about pretty much anything with her. I’d never been much of a touchie-feelie’ person, but one of the things I loved from the start about my yorkie rose, was that she would always greet you with the warmest and cosiest of hugs. Whatever sort of a bad day, whatever kind of emotional turmoil, her hugs always made me feel so much better. In the summer of 1995 we finally shared our first kiss and that really was magical. She is still to this day, my best friend, so completely loyal, so kind, so giving, and I just love her to bits. I was so overcome with happiness when she walked down

the aisle, I erupted in uncontrollable sobbing luckily I just about managed to mutter the words – “you are so beautiful” apparently uptil that point she was wondering if there was summat wrong with her dress!

*The Birthday month*

As a kid born at the beginning of December, I often fell victim’ to the combined present syndrome, which did make you feel a little cheated compared with your school peers. However, as an adult I’ve successful managed to turn that whole issue well and truly on its head. One of the few genuinely useful things about my painfully laborious career spent in IT is the tendency across all projects and pieces of work for everything to get shutdown from around mid December until the New Year. This has resulted in me being able to effectively declare the entire pre-Christmas period as my Birthday Month, mentally I basically down tools on December the 1st and just indulge! I absolutely love celebrating the achievement of being a year older for me in this fragile life, you should take every opportunity going to rejoice in the time you are blessed with (and I get to eat a massive coffee and walnut cake my birthday , my rules!)

Inspite of the seemingly endless hijacking and commercialisation of this most precious of holiday periods, I really look forward to it so much because of what it means to me having to be on the road for at least part of pretty much every week in the year is hard-going, and the prospect of a few weeks wrapped up in my close family, particularly now our little fella really starting to understand and get excited by it all is absolute bliss. For me its all about the anticipation, savouring the countdown, getting in the spirit. I love Turkey so much it made it on to our Wedding breakfast with Yorkshire puddings naturally well you’ve got to keep everyone happy! (plus we even got married on Yorkshire day I really am considerate husbandtastic! to be fair though she did let us have the reception at Headingley Cricket Ground – bonus).

Hmmm now where was I, oh yes Chrimbo now Dickens a Christmas Carol – aka Scrooge in various movie guises, is my absolute favourite festive story. Sit me down in front of old Ebeneezer, with a bowl of nuts, my stocking tangerine and a Radio Times and I’m sorted!

*Life’s a beach*

Whether it’s nostalgia for those bucket and spade precious family days out, the sounds and spectacle of the crashing waves, the giddy joy of those two penny amusements, I find myself endlessly fascinated

with traditional British Seaside resorts. What always makes any day out at the coast for me that little bit extra special is that early afternoon family paddle on the beach, usually post fish and chips, just larking around, totally engrossed in the moment. Without wishing to sound too melodramatic , a trip to the seaside these days feels like a sort of pilgrimage for me these days, filling up my senses with happy vibes. Whenever I’m struggling through a day or feeling a bit low, I just think of those golden moments and I can’t help but smile.

*Ice-dream*

Naturally another big part of any seaside day out is my double chocolate waffle cone treat, but for me ice-cream deserves a section all on its own. There’s healthy food, there’s comfort food, but for me ice-cream is in a category all of its own. The unbridled joy I get from each and every cornet or tub never wavers. Birth of my son, 12 hours all through the night , there till the visiting hours finished at 10pm Saturday night back to Tesco Express, large tub of Ben and Jerry’s , Match of the Day perfection!

On a completely different note, I spent a frightening period of around 6-7 months back in 2000 in the grip of panic attacks (again a subject for another day), until I finally managed to get things back into balance via counselling but during those very difficult early days when I had no idea what was happening to me, waves of anxiety, discomfort, palpitations, as bizarre as it sounds the one thing that consistently helped me recover my composure was an ice-cream like some kind of magical force can’t explain it really.

*Pure Comedy*

Belly laugh inducing brilliance is something that I always love to experience. It’s moments of pure escapism even on the dullest of days that really give you a lift, and put everything back into perspective. Equally, when its just you and a group of mates or your closest loved ones, reminiscing, telling tales, there’s nothing better than making people laugh, that unspoken bond of familiar shared experience is priceless. Best of all, my little boy and me already have our own little in jokes, and he just has such a brilliant style all of his own, guaranteed to bring on tears of laughter every time.

*What makes me happy*

Being alive, being loved, being blessed.

Whenever I think about my beautiful little boy, my wonderful wife, all my close family, my late Mum and Dad and all the other people I’ve been privileged to have shared some part of my life with, to me they hold a value that could never be matched by any other material measure of wealth. Millions and billions are an utter irrelevance, compared with the importance of health and happiness.

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