An ‘immersive dining experience’ sounds almost dangerous doesn’t it? Don’t worry though, if you visit Chambers_ you won’t get your face held down in a bowl of soup or anything, it’s much more fun than that. In fact, it’s not just immersive, it’s MULTI-DIMENSIONAL.

Oooh!

Chambers_ immersive dining review

First up though, two questions.

  • Do you like food?
  • Do you like mysteries?

If you answered YES to both of those, and did a little twitch or smile or something similar at the thought of what the mystery might entail, then Chambers_ is definitely something you would enjoy. View Post

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homemade strawberry yogurt lolly recipe

‘What snacks have we got?’ says a muffled voice from the kitchen.

It’s Belle, her head in the fridge.

If you have teenagers you might recognise the kitchen snack cry. They seem to have bottomless stomachs requiring constant filling. Although I provide her with an array of wholesome and varied meals, (honestly I do), Belle seems to constantly have a snack on the go. She’s often to be found in the kitchen creating elaborate platters of treats – cucumber, carrot batons, crisps and dips, fruit and yogurt and big bowls of noodles. One of her favourite things, if she’s feeling particularly decadent, is strawberries covered in melted dark chocolate.

Strawberries are her favourite fruit and normally I spend so much money keeping her in berries that this summer we’ve grown our own. It’s perfect for Belle because she’s quite fussy about freshness and texture, and being able to pick just a handful straight from the plant when she wants them is ideal. Next year I’m considering a small strawberry farm. View Post

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Vegan coconut cupcake recipe

God, there are so many words to like in that sentence aren’t there? Vegan piña colada cupcakes with Malibu buttercream. Where to even begin??

Let’s start by taking a moment for me to get over the Malibu buttercream bit. It’s about 10.30am as I’m writing this, I’ve finished making the cakes, and I’ve just had to bury the piping bag with all the leftovers in the bin as a personal frosting intervention. I was literally standing at the kitchen window, first thing in the morning, squeezing Malibu buttercream into my mouth from a bag.

DAMN. It was so good.

To be honest, if you just wanted to skip ahead and make a bowl of frosting, close the curtains, and put on a DVD of the Golden Girls I think you’d have a pretty good evening, but if you do want to faff about making the cakes as well then you’re very welcome. It does all work together well and the pineapple centre allows you to pretend you’re having one of your five a day. (Possibly two if you count the cherry.) View Post

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Thai massamn lamb curry

No, ‘Slowthai massaman lamb curry’ is NOT a typo, honestly.

Let me explain.

I’ve been working with the ‘Lamb. Try it, Love it‘ campaign for a while now, creating all kinds of yummy lamb recipes, including Greek lamb meatballs, Game of Thrones rack of lamb, (a must see in my opinion) and a classic Irish stew.

When I heard that my lovely lamb chums were going to be at Kendal Calling, a festival in the Lake District that’s on from 25-28 July, with the ‘Lamb Bam Lounge’, well… it would have been rude not to create a festival inspired lamb dish wouldn’t it? Nothing beats being sat out on the grass on a sunny day with a big bowl of something yummy from a festival food truck. View Post

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Earlier this week I introduced the ŠKODA Parent Taxi App. You remember? It had that video in it, of me trying to look super casual and cool behind the wheel? Go back and have a read if you’ve forgotten.

Basically it’s an app, created by ŠKODA, that allows you to track your journeys using GPS and ‘charge’ your kids in chores for driving them around. ŠKODA loaned us a car for a couple of weeks, (which was an absolute joy to drive – I love a ŠKODA), and we put the app to the test.

Skoda Parent Taxi App

Now I COULD just talk here about how annoying it is as a parent to have to drive your kids around to meet their friends or go to hockey practice or whatever, and how the app teaches them the value of time and money, but actually our relationship with our car is a bit more complex than this. I thought this might be interesting to explore, as I suspect that for most people, parenting a teenager isn’t quite as simple as you may have been led to believe.

(That sounds a bit ominous doesn’t it? I feel like this post has the potential to get very deep very quickly.) View Post

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Written by Lucie Johnsen

There are plenty of things to do this summer, so don’t let any poor weather and long workdays stop you from enjoying some of these fun, innovative things to do, either alone, or with friends. It’s time to start injecting a little thrill into your life, so let’s show you how.

Connecting With Nature

During summer we often feel that we have more energy than we do during the colder months, which is the perfect opportunity for us to start appreciating the exhilarating outdoors. Next time you start to walk around in nature, take your shoes off, feel the grass in between your toes; connecting to the elements of nature is surprisingly healthy and beneficial for you. Another way to connect with nature is to start growing your own plants. Start simple; grow some mint and chilli peppers on your windowsill. If that’s too slow for you, start riding a bike or go out on warm evenings with friends; make your last destination a country pub or your favourite coffee shop.

Connect With Your Spirit

Humans are naturally very spiritual creatures, even if sometimes we don’t feel we are. The astrology behind our birthdays can be incredibly telling, and the magnetic energy fields that resonate from the moon and affect our seas are said to also affect our moods. When things feel a little off-kilter, it can be great to partake in some psychic readings and really get to learn what the universe has to offer and the blockages it may be bestowing upon you currently. Learn to accept and engage with your spiritual side.

Take advantage of the warmer, lighter evenings and enjoy your psychic readings with friends over a nice glass of wine. There can be nothing more rewarding than learning and following your spirit on a journey with the people who you’re closest too.

Try Cooking New Dishes

They say summer is a mindset. The foods we eat and the way we behave during each season contributes to the way we live during these times. In summer, we naturally have less of an appetite. However, we do still need to eat wholesome food. Try following a cookbook and exploring with some new dishes; getting yourself in the kitchen is a brilliant distraction from troubling thoughts as well as being incredibly nutritious for your body and mind. Throw in some summer herbs such as basil, oregano and parsley. Add some mint to your drinks and a lime. Use paper straws and recycle them, and bring a little bit of summer right to your kitchen. There is plenty to enjoy!

Adding a little excitement into summer doesn’t have to be difficult, and along the way, you can bring a little more health and happiness into your life, assist your mental health and feel ready for the autumn ahead. Think colourful; think outside your comfort zone; and enjoy your summer!

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Mother's day gifts

Mother’s Day is still a long way to come, but this does not mean it’s too early to begin searching for the best gifts for your mother. What’s more, you don’t have to wait until Mother’s Day to show the most important woman in your life how much you appreciate her. You can do this any time you feel like you want to show your gratitude for having a mother who gave her all to ensure you become the person you are right now. However, this is not to disregard the significance of Mother’s Day because on this day, all mums are celebrated and pampered for their efforts in raising their children, running the households, and juggling different careers just to ensure that the family remains intact. On this day, therefore, your mother is in for a major treat. As a present hunter, you’ll need to make sure she unboxes one of the most memorable gifts, be it a bottle of her favorite wine, a designer handbag, or exotic jewelry. Irrespective of the kind of gift you intend to buy for your mother, one thing is clear about it: the gift was agonized by your entire family and is a major topic of discussion before it is purchased. However, this should not worry you because everyone goes through similar experiences when searching for an appropriate gift for their mothers. No one has that capacity to stymie people when it comes to gift-giving like mothers. Since they have historically been in charge of gift distribution in the family, they are experts in selecting the perfect gift for every single member of the family. However, when roles are changed, it can be difficult to figure out what kind of gifts will genuinely delight them. With that in mind, this guide examines some of the most thoughtful options when it comes to Mother’s Day gifts. Whether you are searching for something small or symbolic or collaborating with other members of the family to come up with the appropriate gift, you need to be confident to ensure you select the absolute gift. Here is a complete list of Mother’s Day gifts that will definitely surprise her.

1.  Pre-Booked Pampering Session

There are some apps available today that act as little black books of spa treatments which can help you to book your mum in for a pedicure, manicure, or massage from a salon close by or from the comfort of her home. This is a great gift you can give your mother every year, but you can alternate between saunas and spa treatment, or any other option you find suitable. You can also make this a tradition every Mother’s Day so she knows that this is a day she will have to spend with the people she loves in the best possible way.

2.  A Bouquet of Flowers

Flowers can never be a welcome gift on all occasions – so take the time to remind your mother how much you appreciate her using a bunch of flowers on Mother’s Day. With a lot of companies willing to break a leg in order to make a delivery for their clients, you can always surprise your mum with a combination of the best flowers available. Some of these companies may even suggest a combination of flowers that would send your mother a message she will leave to remember the entire year. You may choose to accompany the flowers with that vase she has always wanted to buy, such that she can continue using it long after the flowers have withered.

3.  Jewelry

For an unforgettable gift, you can decide to buy her a necklace she will always wear for the rest of her life. Whether you are doing this for your mother, your wife (who’s also a mother), your sister, aunt, or daughter, you need to make sure they get meaningful jewels which bespeak the love you have for them.  There’s no better way of doing this other than gifting personalized pendants which they will always remember you for.

With personalized necklaces, you may choose to utilize some unique stones, customize different kinds of metals to your liking, or select a favorite combination. Personalization allows you to individualize your pieces to ensure the jewel portrays that special and meaningful touch. If your mother loves stones, you can select different kinds, or you may opt to go with a stone that is of her favorite color. Create a customized jewel with a personalized message on the pendant as a gift that your mother will wear all year long.

4.  Makeup

Women can never get enough of their makeup and the same can be said for your mum. Your mother’s connection to makeup may not be defined by words, and that is why this is an excellent gift for Mother’s Day. Since there are a lot of aspects to consider when it comes to makeup, you need to know that there are some items that are preferred by all women. One of the most preferred options is lipstick. Whether your mother is a fashion enthusiast or not, there is a high chance she loves to apply some lipstick before stepping out of the house. If that is the case, a lipstick is a Mother’s Day gift she would love and use regularly.

Another option to consider is the perfume. Everyone loves a good smell and so does your mum. A good fragrance is greatly appreciated by everyone and goes a long way in uplifting the mood of a person. So, why not surprise your mother with a perfume she would use throughout the year?  Find out what her favorite fragrance is and choose accordingly.

5.  A Heated Mug

A heated mug is one of the most thoughtful gifts you can give someone. Most mugs do not conserve heat and therefore end up cooling the tea of coffee if the beverage does not drink almost immediately. However, with a temperature-regulating mug, this will not happen. A heated mug enables a person to set the temperature to their liking, and the mug will keep the drink at that temperature or as long as a person would like. Even when they are distracted for a long time or fall asleep accidentally, they would expect to find their tea or coffee as hot as they left it. Therefore, a heated mug with a personalized message can be a wonderful Mother’s Day gift. What’s more, it can be used long after Mother’s Day is over.

6.  Handbag

Handbags are perceived to be the perfect accessories for enhancing a woman’s look. Therefore, irrespective of the culture or age, all mums are united as far as the love for handbags is concerned. As a result, making a handbag an ideal gift for your mother on their special day is an excellent decision to make. You can find a bag that matches her personality by exploring some of the shops available online. Some great options to think about include totes, shoulder bags, and sling bags. Totes are multi-purpose bags every mother would love to have. It can fit just about anything, whether it groceries or a laptop. On the other hand, when it comes to the convenience of moving hands-free, shoulder bags are your ideal choice. While choosing this bag, you need to consider the design and material and ensure it can be used for all your mum’s shopping trips. Lastly, sling bags are suitable for the modern mum look and can be carried to parties or any other get-togethers.

7.  Footwear

Footwear is a major contender when it comes to choosing the perfect gift for Mother’s Day. In general, all women love their shoes. From slip-on to sandals, the choice of what to buy is far and wide. However, the most popular options include flats, wedges, and workout shoes. Flats are the most comfortable option and for that reason, they are popular among mothers. You can opt for flats that are made using soft materials such as cotton, satin, or leather. Wedges, on the other hand, are ideal for mums who love heels but are looking for something more comfortable to wear. You can choose to pair her bright colored dresses with wedges of orange, pink, or red. Lastly, workout shoes are also an ideal gift for your mum on Mother’s Day. Fitness is a crucial part of anyone’s life and your mother is not an exception. Workout shoes will give your mother the motivation to wake up every morning to jog or spare some time in the evening to go to the gym. By offering much-needed comfort, shoes play an essential role in your mother’s fitness process. Therefore, if your mum loves to jog, you should think about getting the perfect running shoes.

Final word

The above are some pointers of what could make ideal gifts for your mother on their special day. However, you need to remember that the list is not conclusive and the tips offer just one perspective. Use this information to fuel your own imagination and come up with an ideal gift because mums deserve nothing but the best!

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Naked Wines Angels

When the kids are finally asleep, you have some time to do some enjoyable activities. After a tiring day, it can be great to indulge in things that relax your mind, and allow you to unwind. Below, we present 5 things that you can do after the kids are asleep. They will allow both your mind and body to properly relax after a long day.

1. Do Some Yoga & Mediation

The first thing you can do is yoga with meditation. There are many types of yoga, and some can be done within your home. This means you don’t need any special equipment. There are many yoga videos online, which you can watch and follow. Yoga allows you to stretch and relax your muscles. It can improve your flexibility. You can combine yoga with mindful meditation. This will soothe your mind, and allow you to have a better sleep. Meditation is known to have a number of health benefits, and the perfect time to do it can be when you have peace and quiet. This usually comes after the kids are asleep.

2. Play Online Casino Games

If you are in the mood for some relaxing fun, then you can try playing online casino games. There are many games on offer, and you will surely find a game that excites you. These games can be played from the comfort of your tablet or smartphone. The best UK casino sites offer a wide range of classic and modern casino games. These games can provide just the thrill you need after the kids are asleep. The fantastic graphics and immersive gameplay will give you a great experience.

3. Enjoy a Glass of Wine

Some nights are made to be enjoyed with a glass of wine. Whether your choice is red or white, you can have an exciting night by cracking open your favorite bottle of wine. A glass can allow you to reflect on the days gone by. An occasional drink of wine is one of life’s simple pleasures. It can be enjoyed fully once the kids have gone to bed.

4. Watch a Movie

Another great way to spend your time is by watching a movie. The advantage of watching a movie after your kids are asleep is that you can enjoy it interpreted. This means you can follow an engrossing plot, and allow yourself to be taken in by a thrilling action sequence. Movies are supposed to have our full attention, and they are best watched when there are no distractions. The time after you kids are asleep is the best time to get around to watching a movie you have wanted to see.

5. Call a Friend

Another activity that you can properly enjoy once your kids are asleep, is calling a friend. A phone call can be a great way to catch up and relax. A phone call without distractions means you can properly communicate with your friend, and discuss what has been going on in your life. Long phone calls are a great way to remain in touch with friends. Friendships can be strained when you have children which makes it important to keep in touch through regular phone calls.

Conclusion

The time after your kids fall asleep is the perfect time to relax. It gives you an opportunity to provide some self-care. When you have kids it can sometimes be easy to forget about yourself. However, indulging in these activities will make you feel relaxed and they are all great ways to use your time. You deserve some time to yourself, so it is best to make the most of it.

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summer evening activities

Summer is now fully underway. For many of us, that means long hours spent sitting in boiling-hot offices waiting for the evening to roll around. So, when it does, it’s vital that we make the most of the time. After all, life’s too short not to!

But if you’re stuck for inspiration, then it’s easy to waste every night vegetating in front of the tv – or, worse yet, scrolling through your Instagram feed for hours on end. Let’s see if we can come up with some better suggestions!

Open-Air Cinema

Back in the day, most cinemas used to be outdoors. But now, the trend has well and truly returned. Just enter ‘outdoor cinema’ into Google and you’ll be confronted with dozens of local options – even if you’re a little off the beaten track. Sure, you’ll be a little limited in the choice of film, but it’s the experience that really counts. If you’re on the south coast (or planning to make a trip there), then there’s an open-air cinema right on Brighton beach.

A trip to the Zoo

Most zoos close their doors after the sun goes down. But a few offer special experiences designed to show the animals in an entirely different light (literally). Moreover, some sorts of animals (like bats) only come out after dark, and so you’ll need to go in the evening to see them at their best. London Zoo offers a special evening experience, but you’ve only got a bit of time left before it closes shop for the year!

Open-Air Gigs

Similarly, going to see some live music under the stars is a great way to spend a summer evening. You might be drawn to one of the larger festivals, but there are hundreds of smaller ones going on across the land. The music needn’t be of the popular variety, either – open air proms are being hosted at country estates everywhere!

Open-Air Theatre

Back in Shakespeare’s day, every performance took place under the stars (often by necessity). So, if you want the authentic experience, you’ll need to go to an open-air theatre. The Globe in London is an obvious candidate: they’re showing both parts of Henry IV from now until mid-October.

Of course, the more standard sort of theatre is also available, and easily reached from outside the capital. A train from Gatwick airport to London Victoria means you’ll be able to reach the Apollo Theatre and be out of the city (or, indeed, the country) in the same evening.

Evening Dining

Getting a few friends over for a barbeque is the stuff that summer memories are really made from. You needn’t invite the entire neighbourhood – just a select few. And you needn’t strictly go for a barbeque: nowadays, outdoor cooking comes in dozens of different sorts, so you’ll be able to keep things fresh and interesting. If you’re really committed, you can set up an outdoor smoker and have it going all day long, and then enjoy the results after the sun’s gone down. On the other hand, you can always make life easy and go and visit that restaurant you’ve always fancied!

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Do you ever feel like your kids treat you as something of a taxi service? Do you ever wish you actually had a meter installed, so you could at least be earning a bit of extra cash while you drove them around?

That would be cool wouldn’t it?

‘No problem love,’ I’d say to Belle in a cockney accent, ‘I can drive you to dance – it’ll cost you six paaaand.’ (That’s me doing the accent.)

Of course it would never work – teenagers notoriously have no money because they spend it all on frappuccinos and make-up palettes. What they DO have though is TIME (when they’re not watching important videos on Tik-Tok and practicing make-up looks) and ENERGY (if you catch them after a frappuccino.)

And when you have a taxi fare to pay, TIME + ENERGY = CHORES.

That’s the theory behind the ŠKODA Parent Taxi App – start the meter running when you set off, and depending on how far you travel, and how generous you are with the settings, your time and trouble gets repaid to you in the form of chores completed by your grateful teen.

Skoda Parent Taxi App

Skoda Parent Taxi App review

Sounds like a good idea doesn’t it?

A little while ago, ŠKODA invited me and Belle to have a play with the app, and put together a short video of us where I drive about and try to look young and cool and Belle tolerates me. It’s less than a minute and gives you a good overview of what the ŠKODA Parent Taxi App involves: View Post

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Uncontested, contested, no-fault? What do all these terms mean? Is an uncontested divorce an affordable way to get a marriage dissolution? Which option is cheaper? Often couples going through a divorce wonder which option would be cheaper. At the end of the day, you want your divorce to be finalised without leaving you in complete poverty.  So would an uncontested divorce be cheaper? Keep reading to find out.

Firstly, what is an uncontested divorce? An uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse agree to all the terms and conditions set out in your divorce. You agree on how your assets and debts should be split, you agree about child custody and maintenance. So basically an uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse have ended your divorce on a good foot. In an uncontested divorce, you also would not have to go to court.

A contested divorce is the opposite of an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse can not agree on anything. Therefore in an uncontested divorce, you don’t agree on how to split your assets, you don’t agree on child custody or how to split your debts, you might not even agree on getting a divorce. During an uncontested divorce, you might have to go to court, if you can’t come to an agreement.

So which would be more affordable? What do you think?

The answer is that an uncontested divorce is far more affordable than a contested divorce. Why is this? Well if you and your spouse agree on everything, you won’t even need a lawyer. Lawyers fees are incredibly expensive and can range from anything between $150 and $250 an hour. Another advantage of an uncontested divorce is that you could even file for a divorce online. If you use an online divorce company you could really save money. Some online divorce companies offer a flat fee of $299. This is a huge difference in comparison to a contested divorce that could on average end up costing between $15 000 and $20 000 per person. One of the best things about using an online divorce company is that you can file for a divorce from the comfort of your own home. For couples who have an amicable divorce, going the traditional route is completely unnecessary. It is expensive and can be lengthy. Using an online divorce company for an uncontested divorce will be cheap, easy and quick. Save yourself the trouble of going the traditional route. If you can agree with your spouse, rather go the simpler route.

Interestingly enough, many couples often start out with a contested divorce, only to agree on matters outside of court. If couples reach a settlement this will also lower the costs of having your divorce go to trial. The best things about a settlement are that neither party will be able to appeal it because they have come to an agreement. If you come to a settlement outside of court, a judge will have to review and approve your settlement. A judge will usually approve of a settlement if it is clear that each party was fairly treated. This is so much better than having the stress of a contested divorce. An uncontested divorce costs on average $300. If you need an attorney, you will then need to pay them extra if you would like them to review your paperwork.

If you have minor children and substantial assets, you might be wondering if it could be possible to still have an uncontested divorce, so that you can save money. The answer is yes, you could possibly still have an uncontested divorce if you agree with each other on absolutely every aspect of your divorce. If there are one or two issues that you and your spouse disagree on, you could still avoid going to trial by perhaps hiring a lawyer or a mediator to help you come to an agreement. A mediator charges between $300 and $800 an hour. It is also possible to negotiate via your attorneys but this will increase the cost of the divorce process, and your reading this article because you want an affordable marriage dissolution. It’s really important once again to try and come to an agreement together with your spouse if you really want to save costs during your divorce.

When it comes to an uncontested divorce, you could also get away without using an attorney at all. But it is advisable to use an attorney to review your paperwork at least. If you file your paperwork incorrectly or make a mistake, then it would be very hard to change the mistake you made, or even worse, you would have to start the entire process all over again. This will only increase the length of time that it takes for your divorce to be finalised.

That’s also one of the great benefits of an uncontested divorce is that you might be able to get away with only having to pay for the court filing fees.

Sometimes though, no matter how hard you try to reach an agreement, even with a mediator, you still might not be able to come to an agreement. If this is the case, then you might have to have a contested divorce and go to trial. This might be needed in major disagreements. An uncontested divorce would definitely be the cheaper and most affordable option, but sometimes this is not possible.

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It feels to me like there’s a bit of a contradiction when it comes to self-help and positive thinking.

On the one hand we’re told not to bottle up our feelings. Not saying when something bothers you is BAD – we all need to learn to be more open about our emotions, to be honest and authentic and not keep things inside.

On the other hand we have gratitude journals and endless inspirational images online – pastel starscapes and swirly fonts – telling us, sometimes desperately, to think positive thoughts, appreciate how wonderful our lives are and remember how lucky we are to be alive.

I don’t have anything at all against a good gratitude journal and I appreciate the value in focussing on the good things in our day to day lives, but sometimes I wonder if all of this positive thinking isn’t causing us to silence our not so positive thoughts.

When I’ve written in a journal in the past it’s been at difficult points in my life where I need to vent frustration or think through a problem. The act of writing helps me to clarify my own thoughts and at the end I normally feel lighter. I’ve given myself that space to be angry or sad or confused and letting those feelings out has helped me to understand them, process them, and move on. When the focus is always on gratitude, what’s gone well, and positive goals for the next day, I wonder if we aren’t actually doing ourselves a massive disservice, pushing the negative feelings away, trying to paint over them with uplifting mantras.

It feels like a strange time to be in, because you could say that we are more open about our feelings than ever – more and more people are comfortable now talking about their mental health struggles and we are increasingly accepting and understanding of things like anxiety and depression.

But what if you fall sort of in the middle?

You might not be depressed or anxious – perhaps you just feel lonely, or restless, or cross, or something you can’t put your finger on (like a midlife unravelling). You don’t feel it warrants putting yourself out there as ‘struggling’, and yet what’s the alternative? Heading to Pinterest to look at positive quotes and sunny pictures of meals you’ll never feel motivated enough to make? Brainstorming an inspiring vision board for where you want your perfect life to be in five years time?

While I do think that there is value in optimism and a positive mindset, surely there is room too for something that allows us to feel that life is sometimes sad and lonely and pointless feeling? I’m not saying we just all be negative and miserable the whole time, but just something that acknowledges that not everything can always be solved by listing three things that went well in your day, and that it’s okay to find life a slog.

Perhaps if we did more of this it would feel less lonely, because we wouldn’t have to imagine that everyone else was skipping through their day waiting for it to rain, just so that they could dance between the raindrops.

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