How to Cheer Yourself Up

Posted by Judy Johnson On Monday, 28 March 2011 23:34 2 comments
As any reader of this blog may know, I'm a bit of a moan-y sort. It's not something I'm proud of (apart from when it allows me to write for Grumpy Young Women, which is great). I've been pestered by panic attacks, dabbled a bit in depression and am generally a my-glass-is-half-empty-and-now-you've-gone-and-knocked-it-over-you-idiot kind of person. More importantly, overly cheery types get on my nerves and I am truly suspicious of anyone who walks around smiling all the time (what? It's not natural!). Which is why this blog title is already making me feel a bit queasy but hey, even we grumps can share some happiness sometimes. 

Honestly, I am trying to be a little more positive and a little less of the life-sucks mentality (and doing quite well at it!), and recently I wrote myself a little list of things which helped relax my face into a smile last time I found myself in a bit of a hole. On a serious note, it's not fun when there's a dark cloud hovering over everything while everyone else plays in the sunshine - but there are ways to make it better. 

Music
If you're not on Spotify, rectify that right this minute - you don't know what you're missing out on. Well, I'll tell you - you're missing the Musical Prozac list that myself and Emma Cossey created and listen to fairly religiously when we need a pick-me-up. Admittedly, we're 90s kids and there's a lot of S Club, 5ive and Steps in there (and that's just my contribution) but I defy you not to get up and jump around when any one of the songs on the playlist comes on. Hairbrush hits and dancefloor favourites are in there aplenty, and it's a collaborative list so you can add your own happy hits to it. Music is the biggest helper when I get a bout of the blues - whether I'm jumping around my room like a moron or singing my heart out to Beyonce, I forget what I was sad about and just feel grateful for having ears (not vocal chords).

Exercise
OK, so we all hate hearing that actually, the key to happiness is not slouching on the sofa watching Friends (though in fact I will come to that later) - and working up a sweat can work off those negative feelings. Whether it's dancing around your bedroom (see point one) or going for a quick jog round the block, getting your heart pumping and throwing your energy into something else other than being angry or down is a good way to at least take your mind off your troubles. Do as I do and follow it with a rewarding cuppa and a Hobnob and you'll wonder what all the fuss was about...

Chat
This is a tricky one. I was explaining to a friend recently that when I fall into that pit of self-pity and sadness, the very last thing I want to do is talk to anyone. I, obviously, prefer to shut myself in my room and put 5ive's Keep on Movin' on repeat. But, when I do need a pick-me-up, I find that picking up my phone is often the best way to go. Whether it's to hear my mum talk to me about what she did to her hair this week or to text my friend to simply share that I am blue so she can send me some virtual flowers, just telling someone about it (or distracting yourself with someone else's life for a while) can make things seem a lot simpler. Not sure who to talk to? Get yourself onto Twitter. We're all pretty good listeners.

A fail-safe film
If you're not a lover of film and TV, firstly, what does your furniture point at? And secondly, well this may not work for you, but hopefully you have something to relate it to (a good book?). As a bit of a telly addict and film fan, I have a few fail-safe movies and shows that are guaranteed to make me feel better when I'm down. Obviously, Friends is an easy one and so is Sex and the City (this is not a time for Eastenders). My personal favourite is Home and Away - stop laughing - because I love the show, it's set in Australia where they are forever on the sunny beach and it's easy viewing. Film-wise I have so many I wouldn't want to bore you, but How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Confessions of a Shopaholic and anything Disney are always top of the list. And Bourne, for obvious reasons...


Remembering the past, looking at the future 
One final thing that chills me out a little is to stop thinking about the present. When things get too much, it's always because there is a lot going on and I'm feeling overwhelmed by it all. Whipping out the photo album (or, you know, Facebook) and reminiscing about the good old days is always fun, so long as you don't start sobbing over the waist you used to have or the boy you used to date. I have one particular memory involving my ex, his nan and a very unstable picnic chair that has me crying with laughter every time, and photo-wise a picture of my baby nephew is all it takes to make me smile again. Just look at the happy memories. Even better - plan some new ones. My love of travel always cheers me up, and I look at my globe (a very dear present that takes pride of place in my room), think about where I'd like to go and look up some holiday deals on the net, just to browse. Even if I don't book any, knowing it's out there and that I could do it is something for me to look forward to. 

Everyone will have their own happy list - this is just mine. If you feel down more than you feel up, take a sheet of paper, write down five things that make you smile and stick it on the wall. It might just make you feel better next time things get tough. Oh and also - this is part of a blogging challenge where you have to have a question for a title. Typing 'how to..', 'what is', 'why is..' into Google provides oodles of giggles if you need a quick happy fix. People search for some weird stuff.

What are your happy songs/films/tips?

This post is part of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge series - see all posts in the challenge here!  
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Top Five Sandra Bullock Films

Posted by Judy Johnson On Sunday, 27 March 2011 12:53 2 comments
After watching and adoring The Blind Side last night, I started thinking that, bad blonde hair dye or not, Sandra Bullock is pretty damn good at her job. And she picks her roles well - I am struggling to think of any terrible films that she stars in, other than perhaps Miss Congeniality 2 which just sounds dire even as a title - they should have stopped at one. So, as I'm a huge film fan and wanting to write a little more about movieland, here are my top five films that the lovely Sandra has starred in...

Easily becoming one of my all time favourite films after having just seen it for the first time, it's safe to say this made an impression. It's captivating from start to finish, makes you want to adopt Michael and the other adorable kid, and won't leave a dry eye in the house - but for all the right reasons. I loved Bullock's character and she suited it down to the ground.


Not a huge Blockbuster, but Hope Floats is a film I love to catch whenever it's on. Sweet,  heartfelt and with fantastic actors including Gena Rowlands (of The Notebook fame) and yummy Harry Connick Jr, I always cry like a baby throughout but it's worth the tears. It's also the owner of a brilliant quote I posted about before - "Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts the most."

3) The Proposal
Obviously, the best thing about The Proposal is that Ryan Reynolds is in it - but I thought Bullock was on a different level in this film. She does do comedy well but her uptight, emotionally-closed-off character in this really suited her acting style and had me giggling the whole way through (and my cold heart melted when it had a happy ending, of course). It may just be a silly rom-com but it was one of the greatest films of 2009. 

4) Miss Congeniality
Many a Sunday afternoon was spent wearing out my video (yes, video) of Miss Congeniality back in the day - it's just one of those movies that you can watch again and again. It helps that Benjamin Bratt is gorgeous, of course (sorry, there's a bit of a running theme here isn't there? Nice one Sandra!) but it's also just a fun story in which a superbly camp Micheal Caine gets to dress up Bullock in pretty dresses. Gets my vote.

5) A Time to Kill
I haven't watched this thriller in ages because it's tough viewing, but it is a firm favourite in my DVD collection (yes I have advanced to DVDs now). Matthew McConaughey is flawless alongside Samuel L Jackson, and while Bullock is not the star of it she plays yet another determined, hard-working woman who helps to make sure justice is served at whatever cost. Proof that she is way more than just chick-flick material.


I've left out a few other guilty-pleasure gems such as Two Weeks Notice, Premonition, Practical Magic, Crash and Speed (the latter two are up there with some of my favourite films, but she ruined it with Speed 2 because Keanu wasn't in it) but all in all - Bullock, you rock. 

Whose films do you always love, no matter what the genre? Let me know - I might even blog about it... 

This post is part of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge series - see all posts in the challenge here!  
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Remember that fantastic Sanctuary facial oil I was telling you about in a recent blog post? Well, I'm still using it religiously because it has solved my winter skin woes and then some - hello silky skin, it's been a while. 

And now thanks to Wahanda - yes this is slightly self-promotional but with good reason - you can try it out too, along with a few other Sanctuary goodies for less than half of the usual cost. Oh, we are good to you...

So, on Monday 28th March we have MobDeals going up for two Sanctuary skincare gift sets, both with more than 50% off the RRP. Plus, these aren't iddly piddly sets of travel-size lotions and potions - these are full size products. Amazing, no? Each set will be £20 and there's a limited number available - so don't wait too long to check them out!

You can either grab the Skincare Spa Heroes set which is pretty much all you need for a mini at-home facial (including my tried and trusted oil), or you can give your skin a boost with the lovely Pro-Collagen kit. Or you know, you could buy both. You are saving money after all...

P.S. Tweet me if you want an extra 10% off as I have a little promocode that I'm allowed to give out to my friends. Perks of the job and all that...
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The latest series of Take Me Out finished last week, and already Saturday nights seem dull. If it hadn't been for the fun of Earth Hour, our lights would have stayed on all night, completely uninterrupted. How very 2009. 

But fret not, for the show that brought us 'no likey, no lighty' has also given us something to take away - and that is some great dating advice. No, I do not mean get a tan, find a very short dress in the Lipsy sale and wear three pairs of false eyelashes - I mean learn from what a lot of those couples did wrong. Because let's face it, there were some shockers. It also sparked conversation with my friends who shared some of their dating dos and don'ts...

1. Don't talk about your ex all night. 
This one was awkward - the girl kept talking about the previous love of her life and how they should never have really broken up. Then the guy, who was rather lovely too, said that he found it weird to talk about exes on a first date. The girl did not take the hint. If you need to talk about your ex, you don't need to be taken out by anyone but your girlfriends (or guyfriends, if you're the guy who's hung up on Mrs Wrong). Sort your head out first.

2. Don't wonder why you're there.... out loud
This was even more cringeworthy than the first - a guy decided to describe his ideal woman, who was the complete opposite of the woman in front of him - and then said he wasn't sure why he'd picked her. She was probably thinking the same, love (why me? WHY me?! etc). I've had this once - not on a date, though I'd been looking forward to seeing a guy out that I'd met at new year, but when we saw each other all he could say was that he wasn't sure why he'd come along as he hated the bar. Needless to say, I wasn't impressed and didn't text him back...

3. Do try to remember their name
Always a good one, this - remember what they're called, and repeat it in your head, constantly. Write it down if you have to. Just don't under any circumstances call them something else - especially if it's your ex's name. See point one!

4. Do eat (and drink) nicely
If you're anything like me, you'll cringe when people make noises as they eat (I say cringe, I mean inwardly scream until it stops). The slightest slurp of a drink and my entire body tenses in disgust, and don't even get me started on chomping. Which is why I sympathised (and laughed) when my friend told me the deal-breaker for a recent first date - the guy was sucking the chocolate off their Maltesers, LOUDLY - in the cinema, and it was all she could hear during the quiet scenes. Nothing would put me off my Matt Damon viewing more than hearing someone abuse Maltesers in public. Just don't. 

5. Do have fun
Easier said than done when nerves are involved, but I think the lights were left on and the sparks were flying a lot more on Take Me Out when the daters had a giggle, got to know each other while having fun in the sun (good ol' Fernando's) and didn't take things too seriously. Whatever you do on your first date, just relax - and 'Let the bees see the knees' as Paddy might say...

What have been your first-date no-nos?

This post is part of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge series - see all posts in the challenge here
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Nailing It - Barry M Instant Effects

Posted by Judy Johnson On Saturday, 26 March 2011 23:43 2 comments
I love painting my nails. Forget fashion - keeping up with the catwalks is expensive and not all of the trends will suit every shape and size. Nail colours and nail trends on the other hand can be worn by anyone and everyone, and they won't break the bank either. Yes, nail polish to me is what shoes are to Carrie Bradshaw.

So, having already been a huge fan of Barry M's cheap and cheerful (and pretty chip-resistant) nail varnishes for some time, I was first in line to grab the Instant Nail Effects polish when it came out. In case you've somehow missed the buzz, it's a black top coat that you put on over colour - and as it dries, it cracks to leave an instantly and effortlessly cool design on your nails. I've been wearing it over anything and everything - bright corals, pinks and greens are really eye-catching, and at the moment I'm wearing it over gold for an almost leopard-print look. 

So why am I telling you this now? Because it just got better. Barry M have released three more colours - a blue, pink and white - of the shatter polish so that we can have even more fun doing our own manicures. The one I'm struggling with the most is the blue - it's an odd shade so I'm not sure what to layer it on top of, but it still makes a nice change from the black. I've tried them all on black and I think white is my favourite just as it's nice and bright (sorry for the bad application, I started it in candelight thanks to Earth Hour!).

Other brands have released similar products, but at just £3.99 a pop, Barry M is my favourite. What are yours? And what are you layering them on top of?
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Just a Routine Exercise...

Posted by Judy Johnson On 18:43 0 comments
Though I'm not sure it's fair to call it 'news' since we could probably have worked it out for ourselves, a new health study appeared this week telling us that 'occasional' physical and sexual activity is bad for the heart. So-called 'spikes' in physical activity, such as when you're getting down and dirty once in a blue moon, can actually trigger heart attacks. Well, Eastenders were a step ahead with Phil Mitchell on that one, weren't they?

This really comes as no surprise - we all know we're supposed to exercise regularly, it's just that a lot of us don't. I've lost count of the number of friends I've spoken to who say how appalled they are when they realise they don't actually do any exercise other than walking to the station in the morning. I am one of those people - it's hard to fit it in; costs money unless you're one of those running types (I'm not); and when you're trying to get ahead in your career while socialising enough so that you're not working all the time, plus doing all those other life-niggles such as cleaning the house and making dinner, adding a trip to the gym into that is a little off-putting. Of course, these are all excuses, but valid ones - time is precious when you're a Londoner.

I have a genius idea that could solve this problem - fitness carriages on trains. Seriously. One carriage (more if more people wanted it) that's basically empty floor space, with an instructor doing aerobics as you make your way home. I have a 20 minute train journey that could be put good to use each day if only it were invented... so, Boris, if you're reading, sort it out please.

This probably won't happen any time soon. So my answer? I'm going to try and make exercise part of my routine. Sounds simple, right? I am a girl of routine - I have my cup of tea after 4pm and not a moment before, I have cereal for dinner if I haven't eaten by half nine and I know to start getting ready a couple of hours before I need to leave for a night out in order to have hair that looks photographically acceptable.  So instead of worrying about joining a gym and whether or not I'll find time to go, or finding someone to come to a class with me so that I'm motivated, I'm keeping it simple. 

I've just spent £400 worth of Wahanda vouchers on a block of 24 power plate sessions at Fitness for Every Body in London Bridge - conveniently on my way home from work - and plan to go to a class once a week at least. Knowing it's paid for and all I have to do is pick a class is already a weight off my mind (and will hopefully soon be a weight off my waist). I did my first session this week - and am still aching - and have a double cardio session booked for Thursday. Eeek. 

Next up is walking - now, I have a running argument (unintentional pun) with a friend over whether walking is 'real' exercise, but I believe it is, and given that it's not as intimidating as the thought of running somewhere, I think I can squeeze it in to my daily habits. Having read an article over on That's Fit about a walking plan, I realised that all that's been stopping me is wondering where to walk to  - the only bit of Lewisham that I know particularly well is the mall, and it seems very Cher-from-Clueless to exercise my way to the mall. But if all I need to do is twenty minutes or so at a time, I can walk up the very long hill by my house and back again... and be home in time to have something that isn't cereal for tea. Easy!

I'm hoping putting a few twenty minute stints of simple exercise into my week will take the effort out of it and just make it another thing I do each day - I also own a hula hoop which gets a daily spin and that doesn't even feel like exercise. How do you fit your fitness into your routine?

This post is the first in my 30 Day Blogging Challenge series - see all posts in the challenge here!
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