Happy Families

Well, my dearest ones, I am back. The holiday tally:

Mosquito bites on my face, causing me to swell up like a pekingese, two;
Enormous fillings which fell out while eating a chip which I lovingly cooked myself (don’t you just adore self catering?), one;
Rows with stepchildren, one (but a vicious one and the children are tiny and cute as little buttons);
Spats with own children, too numerous and exhausting to mention;
Dirty washing to wrestle with, 84kg (the original 42 kg belonging to the girls, my very own 21kg of filth plus mysterious extra weight caused by toxic vapours in the suitcases).

First stop now I’m back was the dentist, to repair the cavernous whole in my upper-left-molar-D3-occluded, or whatever mumbo-jumbo it is that they always chant to their assistants when doing a check-up. Luckily, I have to wait ages for my appointment and chance upon August’s copy of Red magazine in the waiting room. An article called ‘glass half empty’ catches my eye. I can’t remember the name of the author, but I thought it was jolly good – probably because it echoes my own occasional attempts at positive thinking. Apparently, you see, the brain wears itself into grooves, rather like our feet, when we are forcing them to become accustomed to those evil Birkenstock sandals. There are the Birkenstocks, with cunningly attractive straps to lure you in, looking so wholesome and comfy. Yet walking in them is always, at first, like the poor Little Mermaid treading on knifes. Remind me again why they are trendy?

Anyway, I digress. Back to the article. The more you think downcast, depressive thoughts, the more the brain gets used to those, it says. But fear not! Before you become downcast and depressive about the very idea of having downcast and depressive thoughts and start the spiral of doom, there is hope. You can retrain yourself, and it only takes 21 days.

Twenty-one days of cheery, sun-sparkled thought, and I shall be a new woman.

Life is what it is – it’s the way you look at it that makes the difference. In the article, our intrepid reporter tries various methods of getting happy, discards some, but sticks with two in particular – a Gratitude Book, in which she writes down her blessings, and the Thought Leap, where you jump from a stressful, no-win way of thinking into an alternative view. Her example of the latter was rushing to do a million things at once and ending up pretty frustrated. Instead of yelling or sobbing, she took herself out of the situation and said to herself, ‘what a busy multi-tasker I am’, and gave herself a smug little pat on the back. With the gratitude book, though she admitted it was pretty nauseating writing down all her blessings, she did end up feeling all grateful and happy, and reading the book afterwards had the same effect as writing in it. Meanwhile, stray sad thoughts were vanquished simply by looking at pictures of loved ones.

Right. Here I go. Let’s reassess the holiday in a cheery new light. I can’t pretend the mosquito bites were fantastic, but the swelling did have the lovely effect of smoothing out my angst-ridden features. It was, in fact, free botox, courtesy of two little winged beasties. Cracking my filling resulted in the trip to the dentist, the finding of the magazine and the new life of radiant happiness which is going to be mine in 20 short days’ time. The row with the cute little stepchildren was a frank exchange of views which has helped us understand each other better (er, kind of). Discussions with my own offspring are a vital part of the letting-go process (letting them go a long, long way becomes newly tempting) and totally necessary. And the vast mountain ranges of malodorous washing currently flobbing about all over the kitchen? Erm, erm, they are a lovely concrete reminder of the way that I am currently putting my own thought processes through a 90 degree boil wash, with an added scoop of Oxy stain remover for luck.

Ok, that’s better. Now I just have to find a Gratitude Book, arrange my face in a jolly but not too frightening smile, and prepare for happiness to burst upon me. I will play happy families – even if, sometimes, this family seems to be not so much blended, as liquidised.

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