Change Your Life With Positive Affirmations

Have you ever heard the schoolyard rhyme “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”? It originates from the 19th century and became a child’s defence against verbal bullying. But, as we all know, it’s not true. Words have the power to cause deep and lasting wounds. On the other hand, by focusing on short positive affirmations, it’s possible to create amazing, life-changing results…not that it’s easy. It takes dedication and regular practice.

A positive affirmation for attracting love into your life

Many years ago I was a single mum, living in a rental home, at the mercy of landlords with their quarterly inspections and restrictions about what I could and couldn’t do with the place. Often, I’d want to renew my lease but the landlord would decide they wanted to move back into the property forcing me to find somewhere else to live. After my sixth move in ten years, I decided enough was enough. No more renting. The next house I moved into would be my own. I had absolutely no idea how I’d make that happen but I’d heard about the power of positive affirmations so decided to give it a try.

Every night, before I went to sleep, I would affirm “I am happily living in my own home”. I would also visualise myself decorating it, relaxing with the kids, pottering around in the garden. Not wishing to be overly ambitious, I visualised a modest home for me and my two boys. It worked because the next home I moved into was my own. It wasn’t like the house in my visualisations, though. It was bigger and better.

What are positive affirmations?

In a nutshell, they’re positive statements, similar to the one above, written in the first-person, present tense. You can say them out loud, write them down, make posters of them for your wall. The important point is to focus on them on a regular, consistent basis.

by focusing on short positive affirmations, it's possible to create amazing, life-changing results #positiveaffirmations #lifechanging #motivation Click To Tweet

There is science behind positive affirmations. If you’re interested check out these academic web posts:

When you first start to do positive affirmations you may think they are silly and untrue. You might feel self-conscious reciting them out loud and question the sense in them. But if you persist with this daily practice, the words will gradually sink into your subconscious, replacing the opposite, negative beliefs that may be lodged there. You should then notice positive changes creeping into your life.

However, it must be emphasised, it’s not enough to just do the affirmations on their own. You can’t affirm you’re slim and healthy then live on a diet of burgers, cake and chocolate. Your actions have to correspond with the actions of a slim and healthy person. The point is, you are more likely to succeed with the right mindset, which is how this works.

Often, we aren’t even aware of all the negative thoughts/beliefs that filter through our minds on a daily basis:

  • I’ll never find a partner
  • I’m not clever enough to be rich.
  • I’m always overlooked by my boss.
  • I never get the good breaks.
  • I can’t lose weight.
  • I don’t deserve to be wealthy

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Sometimes, our negative beliefs are fed to us by others. “You’ll never amount to anything.” “You’re a hopeless cook” “That colour doesn’t suit you.” Isn’t it strange how we can get a string of compliments and a single negative comment yet it’s that one negative comment that we focus on? The best way to deal with negative thoughts is to blast them with positive statements.

Find a peaceful place to practice your positive affirmations.
Photo by Artem-Bali on Unsplash

How do you create an affirmation?

1) Choose one issue to work with.

Maybe you’d like to improve at a particular sport, or attract a partner, be more prosperous, or improve your general health and wellbeing. There are many possibilities, however, it’s best to work with one issue at a time. Once you’ve chosen something, consider what your current beliefs are about that issue. For example, if you want to lose weight but you’ve been on thousands of diets in the past with little success, you may believe that losing weight is impossible for you. Your affirmation, therefore, should state the opposite. For example, “I am becoming slimmer and healthier every day.”

2) Keep the words positive.

Don’t affirm “I am free from all illness”. Your brain will focus on the word “illness”. Instead, a more positive affirmation would be: “I am energised by the good health flooding through my body.” By including an emotional description such as “I am energised”, the affirmation will seem more real in your mind.

3) Create your affirmations in the present tense.

If you word your affirmations in the future tense e.g. “I will win the tennis tournament next summer” you’ll never achieve your goal because you’re affirming “next summer” which of course, like tomorrow, never comes!

4) Use “I am” statements.

Don’t use phrases like “I want” or “I need”. They highlight the fact you’re wanting and needing. Your brain will focus on those words and give you more feelings of wanting and needing.

Create a daily positive affirmations ritual.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Daily Practice

Create about three affirmations relating to the issue you want to work on. If you have trouble finding the words to compose your own, there are plenty of examples online to inspire you. I have a Pinterest board just for positive affirmations.


Once created, repeat your affirmations several times during the day. You could write them on sticky notes and put them on your bathroom mirror to remind you in the morning or memorise them and say them in the car on the way to work. Alternatively, you could find a quiet place to focus on your positive affirmations.

As you repeat your affirmations, try to focus on how you’d feel if you already had whatever you’re aiming for. If negative feelings come up, then you need to address those first. For example, you may want to win the lottery, but when you focus on how you’d feel if you did win you may notice worries about how you’d cope with all the inevitable changes that would come to your life.

Over the next few weeks I will be posting positive affirmations you can use to get you started, so check back regularly.

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed and could vary from person to person. I am not a medical professional so please do your own research. If you have any medical or psychological concerns you should always consult your doctor.

If you want to explore this subject in greater depth, you may be interested in the following books available from The Book Depository:

Why You’re Never Too Old To Learn To Draw

I’ve always considered myself a creative person so it’s bugged me that I couldn’t draw or paint. But it never occurred to me that it was something I could learn. I thought art classes were only for people who already had talent and wanted to improve their skills. I didn’t think they’d be for people like me who didn’t have the first idea how to draw.

Can You Really Learn How To Draw?

In my head I believed an artist was someone who could pick up a pencil or paintbrush and paint whatever they wanted without reference. If you asked me to draw a dog or cat from memory, my attempts would be laughable.

See what I mean?

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But, as I’ve only recently found out, that is not only wrong, but has stopped me from enjoying, what I have since discovered is, an immensely satisfying, calming and self-involving hobby. I now believe most people can learn how to draw and paint to a level that they find rewarding and fun, provided they’re prepared to practice. You don’t need any fancy equipment. Plain paper, a pencil and an eraser will get you going. In my sketches below, I also used a blending stump. Of course, once the bug bites you, you will probably want to enlarge your tool kit to include paint mediums (water colours, goache, oil paint etc), brushes, markers and coloured pencils.

My Secret Hack

Over the past year or so I have steadily been practising and improving my art skills using “how to draw” books, online tutorials and videos. Along the way another myth I’ve thrown out is that an artist never copies. In fact, most artists copy whether it’s a live model in their studio, a photograph or a real-life scene. Some artists also use light boxes and tracing paper.

I created the portrait below by first tracing over the reference image to make a rough sketch then working with watercolours for the details. Think how cool that would be if you could use a similar technique to paint portraits of your kids or family? Is it cheating? I don’t know, but frankly I don’t really care either.

Another useful trick is to place a grid over your reference image then divide your drawing page into a grid with similar proportions. I find that helps me keep my drawing proportions right.

cat photo to cat sketch
My first attempt at an animal drawing using a photo of my cat as reference.

My Animal Challenge

Setting daily challenges is a good way to practice your growing skills. You can find many on Instagram. Try searching the hashtag #dailyartchallenge.

One of the challenges I set myself was to draw a different animal each day. I found reference photos in books, magazines and online. Each sketch was no more than 5 cms square (2″ square) and I tried not to spend long on each drawing. The end result was a selection of drawings I was, in the main, quite proud of.

Here are some of the results.

Whilst I won’t be exhibiting my work anywhere it is very self satisfying to see my skills slowly improve. I also find a great sense of peace and calm when I practice art. It focuses my mind to the exclusion of all else so it’s an excellent therapy.

There are many types of art from doodling to oil painting and everyone will have their favourite. At the moment, I’m enjoying learning digital art using Photoshop. For iPad users you can try creating art using apps such as Procreate or Adobe Fresco.

Learning Art Online – Resources

One of the first things I watched online which made me consider that learning to draw could be possible was the Ted Talk: “Why People Believe They Can’t Draw”. The presenter was a communications expert called Graham Shaw and within minutes he had me drawing fun cartoons.

There are thousands of videos on You Tube with tutorials about different types of art but my favourite learning source is Skillshare. They offer classes in subjects such as illustration, lettering, photography, writing, animation, design and so many more. The classes are split into bite-sized chunks so you can spend as much or little time as you want on them. You can also get full access to all their classes free for two months! (Click on the link below for further details)

My favourite teachers are Charley Clements for digital illustration. Tom Froese for stylised digital illustration. Helen Bradley’s Photoshop for Lunch series in which she provides short videos to help learn or improve on specific aspects of Photoshop. She also has similar classes for Adobe, Illustrator and Procreate.

Here are some of my class projects for these classes (links to the classes in the captions).

Charly Clements also occasionally has weekly challenges on Instagram with specific prompts. I love doing these as they really stretch my abilities and creativity to the hilt. Here are some of my attempts at her challenges posted on Instagram.

As you can see I am having a lot of fun with my new hobby. And for me, that’s the main goal. I don’t beat myself up when things don’t work out the way I’d like, as happens often! But I’m discovering the more I practice, the more my confidence builds and I improve.

The only downside to all this is that it’s so engrossing! Five hours can zip past in what seems like five minutes. Maybe the next prompts should be: messy house, overflowing laundry basket, starving family!

Books For Learning Art

If you’re interested in learning more about art check out these awesome books from The Book Depository.

Art Inc. by Lisa Congdon
How to Draw Almost Everything : An Illustrated Sourcebook by Chika Miyata
Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Procreate : How to Create Art on an iPad
Let's Draw Cute Animals by Sachiko Umoto

More Posts You May Enjoy

examples of digital art created online following classes from Skillshare.com
examples of digital art created online following classes from Skillshare.com
examples of digital art created online following classes from Skillshare.com
examples of digital art created online following classes from Skillshare.com

Bodiam Castle – a Medieval Fortress?

If someone asked you to visualise a medieval castle, the chances are you’d imagine a structure with turrets and a moat, in fact, you’d probably imagine a castle that looked very much like Bodiam Castle in East Sussex.

Bodiam Castle in East Sussex, England

Constructed in 1385, by wealthy landowner, Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, Bodiam Castle was originally built as a manor house. A few years later, with the threat of invasion by the French during the Hundred Years War, Sir Edward was granted permission to fortify his home and Bodiam Castle emerged.   

Before we moved our family to Australia, I lived close to this amazing place that lives up to all the stunning images you’ll find on the internet. It’s a castle packed with atmosphere. My kids used to love going there but looking back, I probably didn’t appreciate its historical significance as much as I do now, living in a country where most buildings are less than two hundred years old.

A chilly family outing to Bodiam Castle back in 1988
Old Photo of the family visiting Bodiam Castle on a cold winter’s day.

When you gaze at Bodiam Castle you might think it looks like impressive fortress but is that just an illusion? Historians have argued for centuries that perhaps it was built more as a showy and impressive home than a military-strength stronghold.

Bodiam Castle in East Sussex, England. Built in 1385

The castle was “dismantled”, in other words converted to a ruin, after the English Civil War in the 1600s and left abandoned until 1829 when it was partially restored by George Cubitt, the 1st Baron Ashcombe.

Bodiam Castle in the heart of the British Countryside is a fine example of a Medieval moated castle.

In recent times, Bodiam Castle has been owned and run by the National Trust since 1929. With its romantic setting and its scenic moat, it’s a sumptuous place for a stroll or a summer picnic. For the more romantic, it’s a place to fire up the imagination of days passed. You can almost hear the chink of armour and the clash of swords as knights battle it out while damzels watch from the tower windows.

On a less romantic note the picture-perfect moat once served as a sewage system for the castle’s thirty toilets, according to the castle’s website (link below). Maybe not somewhere past occupants would have gone for a cooling dip on a summer’s day!

This post may contain affiliate links. This means if you click on one of the links I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. For further information please read the affiliate statement here.

Check out this amazing aerial video showing a bird’s-eye view of the castle and the surrounding picturesque scenery.

For general information:

Bodiam Castle’s Website

For opening hours and admission costs:

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodiam-castle

If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy these:

Vindolanda is a Roman  Settlement in Northumberland, England

For further reading check out some of these great books from the Book Depository.

Bodiam Castle , a medieval castle in East Sussex
Bodiam Castle , a medieval castle in East Sussex
Bodiam Castle , a medieval castle in East Sussex

Convert A Yucky Old Glass Into A Beautiful Vase

Simple hack to convert an old Ikea glass into a beautiful vase

Do you have an old drinking glass in your cupboard that’s looking worse for wear? After years of going through the dishwasher cycle glasses often lose their sparkle and develop a cloudiness that’s difficult to remove (I’ve heard that vinegar can help). However, instead of throwing your glass out, why not repurpose with this pretty vase DIY?

Using only a few very cheap materials you can convert this glass:

Old drinking glasses can become cloudy after numerous cycles through the dishwasher.

Into this vase:

This is the glass when covered with the scraps of napkin.

First gather your materials. You will need:

  • A suitable glass. The one I used was about 14.5 cms / 5.5 inches tall.
  • Paper napkin (or you could use tissue paper)
  • Mod Podge (a waterbased sealer, glue and finish – widely available in many different countries)
  • An old paintbrush
The only materials you will need for this project are paper napkins or tissue paper, mod podge, an old drinking glass or tumbler and a paint brush.

That’s it.

  • the first step is to wash and dry the glass thoroughly
  • next, tear your napkin or tissue paper into small pieces. If, like mine, your napkin is 2 ply then separate the layers and just use the top layer.
  • next, using the paint brush dab some Mod Podge onto one of the paper napkin scraps and stick it onto the glass. Continue doing that until you’ve covered the glass with the tissue scraps. It’s fine to overlap the pieces just make sure they’re all stuck down. Start from the top, remembering to fold some paper over the rim of your glass, and work your way down. When you get to about 1 cm or 1/2 inch from the bottom stop and leave the whole thing to dry.
  • when the top part is completely dry (which may take several hours or, better still, overnight). Turn the glass upside down and prop it onto something tall enough to lift the glass’s rim off your work surface. I actually put some Mod Podge into a dish to work with and used the container as a stand. Then finish off around the base of the glass.
  • Leave to dry.
Stand the covered glass upside down on a suitable stand, such as a can or a tub to dry.

Once it’s completely dry add a few coats of Mod Podge over the top with your paintbrush, allowing each coat to dry before applying another, as per the directions on the container.

And that’s it. Fill with your favourite flowers, or it also looks amazing if you put a candle inside instead of flowers. The translucent nature of the tissue lets the candlelight flicker through which looks very pretty!

Feeling creative?

Check out some of these awesome books from The Book Depository.

Tom Hanks stars as Mister Rogers in TriStar Pictures' A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – & a Cracker of a Movie!

Promotional poster for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood with Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys
Image (c) Sony Pictures
Promotional poster for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood with Tom Hanks
image (c) Sony Pictures

I saw “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” (this links to the entry in IMDB.com ) last week and absolutely loved it but, I have to confess, I knew nothing about Mr. Rogers before I saw it. He didn’t appear on British TV which is a huge shame. So, watching this movie wasn’t a nostalgic experience for me. The big drawcard for me was Tom Hanks, one of my favourite actors. Since watching this film I’ve seen You Tube videos of Mr. Rogers and can now appreciate just how brilliantly Tom Hanks captures his gentle, quiet presence. In interviews, Tom Hanks claimed he had difficulty with Mr. Roger’s slow pace of speech. The director, Marielle Henner, had to frequently remind him to slow things down!

Tom Hanks stars as Mister Rogers in TriStar Pictures' A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.  Photo by: Lacey Terrell
Tom Hanks stars as Mister Rogers in TriStar Pictures’ A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. Photo by: Lacey Terrell

The film’s screenplay was written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster who wanted to create an adult’s version of the TV show. Inspired by a 1998 article in Esquire magazine called “Can You Say Hero?” by Tom Junot in 1998, in this film, journalist, Lloyd Vogel, played by Matthew Rhys, is assigned to do a 400-word piece on Mr. Rogers. At first Lloyd Vogel is mystified why he’s given this assignment. His articles are usually hard-hitting cynical pieces that tear his subjects to shreds. His editor tells him that Mr. Rogers was the only person who would agree to be interviewed by him which mystifies Lloyd further.

After his first meeting with Mr. Rogers, Vogel can’t believe anyone could be that nice and starts to look for dark secrets in his subject’s past. He also discovers that Fred Rogers is not an easy man to interview. He’s evasive and asks too many questions, questions that scratch at deeply buried wounds and make Vogel highly uncomfortable.

Matthew Rhys stars in TriStar Pictures' A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.
Matthew Rhys stars in TriStar Pictures’ A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

As well as the stellar performance by Tom Hanks, I was also blown away by Matthew Rhys’ performance as Lloyd Vogel. The camera gets right in his face on several occasions. The raw pain shown, as he confronts his issues, is agonizingly authentic. As an aside, he does a great American accent…at least it sounded convincing to these non-American ears.  I actually thought he was American until I heard him being interviewed as himself and speaking with a beautiful Welsh accent!

So, even if you’re not a Mr Rogers fan, I would highly recommend this gentle movie about forgiveness, acceptance and generally being a nice person.

How To Customize Your Windows 10 Desktop

How to Personalise Your Windows 10 Desktop
How to customize your windows 10 desktop

Does your Windows 10 PC Desktop still have the plain Windows wallpaper it came with? How about changing it to a slideshow of beautiful images? Did you know that in the Windows store there are hundreds of stunning themes you can download for free? But, if you prefer, you can also easily create a theme using your own pictures.

I have set up my PC desktop to display photos I take on my travels. It brings me so much joy to relive those memories whenever I turn on my computer. They look amazing on my large wide screen.

My Windows 10 Desktop shows photos from a trip to Venice

There’s no limit to what you could include in your theme: family photos, your own artwork, pictures of your pets—whatever. If you’re not an artist or a photographer there are many websites (some listed below) where you can legally download amazing images for free personal use.

Let’s get started.

First of all, do you want to use a ready made Windows theme or create your own? Instructions for either option are provided below.

Install a Windows 10 Theme

  1. Right click on the desktop (the screen you see when you have no windows showing) and a window will pop up. Click on Personalise.
  1. A new window will open. On the left side is a menu so click on Themes.
  1. Under the “Change Theme” header, you’ll find a few themes available, alternatively, click on “Get More Themes in Microsoft Store” and you’ll then be spoilt for choice because there are hundreds of themes listed, many of them free.

Important note: I recommend you only download themes from the Microsoft Store as themes offered elsewhere may have viruses.

  1. If you find a theme you like in the Microsoft store, click on it. It won’t install it but you’ll be taken to a page where you can see some screenshots of the images in that theme, see other suggested themes, read reviews etc. If you want to go ahead and download that theme click on the blue “Get” button at the top. You will be given the option of signing into Microsoft. If you’re downloading one of the many free themes just click “No thanks”. 
  1. To activate your theme go back to the personalise settings window on your PC (right click on your desktop and select personalise as before). Click on themes and the one you just downloaded should be there under “Change Theme”. Click on it to activate it.

Create Your Own Windows 10 Theme

Gather some suitable images together into a separate folder on your PC. Five would be a good number to start with, you can easily add more later. For a great display that fills the monitor without any blank space around it I would recommend you use landscape images and crop/resize them to the exact dimensions of your monitor’s display resolution.

I have a standard wide-screen monitor and its display resolution is 1920 pixels (px) by 1080 pixels. Yours might be different. If you’re not sure, right click on your desktop and select display settings. It will tell you the current display resolution.

A word of warning…when resizing or cropping, don’t make your image larger than it was originally as the image quality will degrade.

If you haven’t resized your images, then check their dimensions because the display settings in your theme will vary depending on the size of your images and if they’re larger or smaller than your monitor’s dimensions. Just to clarify, we’re talking dimensions in pixels not file size.

If you look at fig 1b below, you’ll see some of my photos as they’re listed in a folder on my PC. The middle column shows the dimensions of the image so you can see they’re 1200 x 800 which is smaller than my monitor size of 1920 x 1080.

If your folder doesn’t look like mine then click on the view menu at the top and select “content”. (see fig 1a below). If you’ve downloaded images from your phone, chances are they will be larger than your monitor in pixels. Mine are usually more than twice as big. For best results, don’t combine smaller and larger photos in the same theme. You’ll see why in a minute.

Fig 1a
Fig 1b

Okay, now you have all your images in a folder, it’s time to set up the theme. 

Right click on your desktop and select “personalisation”. Here you’ll be presented with a a few options. They’re all self-explanatory but this is how I’ve set up mine. 

The only setting to be careful with is the “choose a fit” setting. If you resized your images to match your monitor’s dimensions then select “Fill”. Otherwise, choose “fit” if your images are larger than your monitor or “centre” if they’re smaller. Bear in mind, unless you have selected “fill”, you will have some blank space around your images. The example below is a small image set at “centre”. If I’d chosen “fit” it would have stretched it out and it would have looked pixelated and awful!

Click on “colours” in the left hand menu to customise them, if you want. I like “Automatically pick an accent colour from my background” which changes the theme colours every time the wallpaper changes.

When you’ve finished setting up the background and the colours, head to themes (in the left hand menu) to name and save your theme.  

You should now see your theme under “Change Theme” but it will have already activated onto your desktop.

The great thing is, once you have created your theme, you can add or delete images to its folder when you like. Those images will automatically filter through to your slideshow.

Note: these instructions are specifically for Windows 10 users. If you have an older version of Windows you may, depending on how old your version is, be able to create a customised theme but the steps will be different.

These steps WILL NOT work on an Apple Mac.

Here are a few websites where you can download free stock images although some of these websites also have paid options.