#Advent 1 December
Who’s been a lucky lady today? That’ll be me then. Today my lovely best friend has gifted me a wonderful advent calendar full of surprise goodies bought especially for me. The advent box itself is a recycled M&S beauty advent box from last year and all through the year she has bought surprises to fill each box in readiness for me to open on the run up to Christmas this year. What a thoughtful thing to do – I just love it!!
I’m assured that none of the gifts were expensive and the lovely thing is that my friend enjoyed buying the goodies just as much as I’m going to enjoy receiving them – win win!!!
So, today December 1st – I opened the first box which revealed a handy tube of
hand cream that has a beautiful Christmas fragrance. This will be handy (forgive the pun) as the weather gets chillier.
Very excited now, I can’t wait to open up the rest of the boxes.
Who says Christmas is only for kids!!
I was excited to see what was in box 2 of my wonderful advent calendar. My friend knows me well….3 chocolate balls in a Rudolph tin. That’s morning coffee sorted then!!
The message on the box is ‘Treat Yourself’ and, at what can be such a busy time for everyone , we can forge to treat and look after ourselves properly. We are told time and time again that self care is important so how about treating yourself the way you treat the people the people you love most. You deserve it.
Today I will be treating myself by stopping work mid-morning for a delicious cup of coffee and my 3 chocolate balls.
How will you treat yourself today?
#Advent 3 December
Here’s day 3’s advent surprise. I love seeing a well manicured nail but I’m not a one for painting my finger nails normally. It brings out the ‘not good enough’ thoughts in me, thinking my nails aren’t long enough, not in good enough condition and also ‘I don’t have time to wait for varnish to dry’. So this gift will encourage me to sit for a while, be mindful, take some time for me and take a small step outside of my comfort zone.
What do you avoid doing because of ‘not good enough’ thoughts?
#Advent 4 December
A little late in opening day 4 of my advent calendar today – work getting in the way!! But here it is, a little tiny pot of Body Shop Adriatic Peony Body Wash, just enough for a luxurious relaxing bath, which I am assured will help me feel soothed and achieve pure peace. The Adriatic Peony are apparently often depicted as a symbol of peace, and let’s be honest, everyone could do with a little peace in their life from time to time. So my little pot of body wash will be ready and waiting for when I feel the need to be calm and peaceful.
What do you do to help you find peace in your life?
#Advent 5 December
As I was opening box number 5 I already began to get a sense of what was inside. The heady fragrance of rose filled the air, even without opening the bottle!! The fragrance of rose took me instantly back to a hot summers day walking through a fabulous English rose garden. What a fabulous gift to be transported to a hot, sunny summers day as we head to the shortest day of the year!! I’m feeling very blessed.
#feelinggrateful #feelingblessed #advent
#Advent 6 December
Well, opening today’s box just made me smile. I certainly won’t be eating this particular delight but I know someone who will.
Anyone who knows me well knows that my dog is a very important part of my life. Hooch the dog is a joy, he makes me laugh, he helps me keep fit, he loves a cuddle but he’s also independent, stubborn and often tests my patience. Since adopting him 10 months ago, getting to know him and understanding his anxieties has been a challenge at times but also a privilege. I’ve learned so much about non verbal communication since he’s been part of my family. Seeing him grow in confidence, learn new things and become a major part of my family is very special. So to be able to share my advent calendar
with my gorgeous, hairy Hooch is an absolute pleasure. I know the treat won’t last long!!! 😊
“The dog lives for the day, the hour, even the moment” Robert Falcon Scott
#Advent 7 December
Rhubarb and Ginger Gin, how Christmassy is my advent surprise today. I will enjoy sipping a long and tasty G&T whilst relaxing watching tv tonight.
I’m not a massive fan of being a slave to modern fads and adding unnecessary things to food when its perfectly gorgeous in its traditional form – ‘mustard mash’, what’s that about when good old traditional mashed potatoes are delicious and the best comfort food ever!!!🙂
So, when flavoured gins became popular I had a choice, stick to a traditional G&T or step out of my comfort zone and try some of the new offerings. Well, I did try and surprise, surprise I discovered I loved the new fresh flavoured gins, a lot. So the moral of this is, don’t be closed to change or trying something new, you might just prefer it!!! I’m still unsure about mustard mash though!!🤣
#Advent 8 December
Seeing what was in box 8 of my advent calendar immediately catapulted me back to childhood. Those wonderful family days out on long car journeys to the seaside or maybe on a visit to family. Butterscotch sweets were always part of that time partly as a treat but also because I suffered with car sickness and it was one of the strategies my mum had to prevent me feeling unwell. She convinced me that by sucking a butterscotch I’d be ok, and I have to say that they did seem to have magic powers to stop me feeling sick and they tasted great too!! I will definitely enjoy these as I drive around.
#Advent 9 December
Today’s box contained a travel size Sanctury Body Lotion, another lovely perfumed, luxurious product. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, self care is not selfish it’s an absolute necessity. Taking care of your mind, body and spirit can make a whole lot of difference to your wellbeing. It’s a perfect way of being mindful, just by taking a few moments out of your busy day to spend time moisturising your skin, which by the way is regarded as the biggest organ of your body. It can set you up for the day after a morning shower, boost your wellbeing throughout the day or send you off to a sounder and more restful sleep at the end of the day.
As you moisturise, be aware of the texture of the lotion as it melts into your skin, take a deep breath in and breathe in the wonderful fragrance and before you cover your freshly moisturised skin, notice how smooth your skin has become.
I’m definitely going to enjoy today’s advent gift.
#Advent 10 December
I do like to use hand cream and I use a lot of it. So receiving another handy tube in box 10 of my advent calendar just tells me that my friend knows me well. It absolutely compliments yesterday’s body lotion, but more than that, this gift makes me feel ‘known’. Do you know that feeling?
Having someone where no explanation is required, no reasons need be given, feeling accepted whatever mood you’re in, feeling understood and knowing you can talk about anything. It’s a lovely feeling and I am grateful for it.
Gifts don’t need to cost a lot – ‘I saw this and thought of you’ means so much more.
#Advent 11 December
You can’t quite see from the photo but today’s advent gift is hand sanitizer, but not ordinary hand sanitizer, its glittery!!! How lovely is that. We all need a bit of glitter and sparkle in our lives especially at this time of year when it’s so dark and the days are so short. It’s lovely to see the bright twinkly lights illuminating the houses, which makes me smile on my travels on the lead up to Christmas. But, I will pop this gift into my work bag so I’ll have some glitter and sparkle well into the New Year.
How can you add a little glitter to your life today?
#Advent 12 December
There was a Christmas ‘must have’ in today’s box – a Lindt Milk Chocolate Bear – a small but essential past of Christmas confectionery in my view. Isn’t it funny how there are some foods that just mean Christmas. As a child, the wonderful smell of sweet Satsumas just meant Christmas had arrived. Sweet sticky dates that came in a long box with a special fork to pick them up with so your fingers didn’t get too sticky, were just like fruit from paradise. Chestnuts roasting, literally on an open fire, hot, tasty and gorgeous. But, it was the perennial box of Meltis Newberry Friuts and the Orange and Lemon Jelly Slices that I don’t get. So sweet and sugary but not really tasting of anything much but for some reason they had a constant presence in my childhood, and some adult Christmases too. Give me a Lindt Chocolate Bear anytime.
What tasty treats remind you of childhood Christmases?
#Advent 13 December
So this is a new thing for me. I’m not a vodka drinker but I love coconut so I’m intrigued to taste what Coconut Vodka’s like. Coconut reminds me of the coconut shy at the village fete when I was a child and my dad winning a real, fresh coconut and trying all sorts to crack it open. When eventually it was cracked open to reveal the flesh inside I thought it tasted of soap….very disappointed. I guess it’s one of those foods that tastes better as we get older.
What do you eat now that you hated as a child?
#Advent 14 December
I love a Yankee Candle so the Sugared Blossom fragrant candle in today’s box is an awesome advent gift. I always burn a non scented candle in my therapy room to help create a relaxed and calm environment. But when life gets really busy, there is no better way to relax than by lighting a beautifully scented candle. Watching the flame flicker in the low subdued light helps switch off from the days stresses and reduce any anxieties that arise from the day. The fragrance can help calm your mind, slow your thoughts and lift your spirits, which is so beneficial for increasing wellbeing and is the perfect antidote to a stressful, modern life.
My favourite fragrance is Midnight Jasmine which transports me to a warm midsummer evening where I can relax and my spirits are lifted. At this time of year a cinnamon scented candle can create an amazing Christmas ambiance adding to the magical festive spirit.
What is your favourite scented candle fragrance and why?
#Advent 15 December
Self care is a term bandied about these days and a vision of a nice warm bath surrounded by scented candles often comes to mind, and of course that certainly can be a version of self care. Once you get over the fact that self care isn’t at all selfish but that it’s absolutely necessary, you can then start look at what kind of self care YOU need. Do you need to make time for physical self, your emotional self, your work self or maybe your wellbeing requires a bit of attention. You are unique so your self care needs are unique to you too. For me often it’s making sure I have time to myself, time to recharge and re-balance. I love spending time with friends and family but I need to have time to myself too. So it’s building time in my busy day for ‘me time’ – an early morning dog walk, setting time aside to spend time with my partner, having an hour listening to my book, catching up with a box set or making time for a session of reflexology. All these things will increase my wellbeing, reduce my personal stress and, let’s face it, make life so much more enjoyable.
This advent gift will give me a gentle nudge to spend just a few moments over Christmas concentrating on me. Taking a short while to feed my skin and nurture my soul with no guilt and no thoughts of selfishness but with a stronger feeling of ‘I’m worth it’.
What is your favourite way of practicing self care?
#Advent 16 December
It’s often said that it’s the little things in life that make it special. The weather forecast was not great for my dog walk with my friend yesterday, the wind blew, rain clouds gathered and a heavy downpour threatened. But then, quite suddenly the clouds parted, the sky brightened and there was the most beautiful rainbow looking down on us.
Now, I don’t know about you but seeing a rainbow never ceases to amaze me.
Rainbows are one of those natural phenomenon, they are there for everyone to see and their beautiful spectrum of colours and stunning natural beauty just fills me with peace and hope that the world will continue to turn.
In the whole scheme of things, it may have been a very small moment in the history of the world but on that day, in that moment, because of that rainbow I felt peaceful and the world felt right.
In these days of political and environmental upset across the world it is such a joy to find an oasis of peace in such a simple thing as a rainbow.
My advent gift today is another mini Body Shop pot, Pink Grapefruit Body Yogurt, which I must say I’ve never heard of. So I Googled it and it’s a body moisturiser that’s best applied whilst still damp, so perfect after getting caught in a shower of rain…..maybe whilst looking at the rainbow!!
#Advent 17 December
My advent box today was filled with a miniature bottle of Havana Club Especial, and for anyone not knowing what that is, including me, it is rum. Now, rum always takes me back to my lovey old Granddad, long past now, who loved a drop of rum, just to keep out the cold of course. But as a non rum drinker I was intrigued about the best way to drink it. When I started my research I saw that the slogan for it is ‘Double Ageing Makes it Especial’ a clever play on words but it made me think.
In this, my birthday week, age is on my mind probably more than normal. However, age for me is just a number, probably a little clichéd but to me it’s true. I have noticed that as I have got older I have become more energetic, more positive and more confident. I have learnt to say how I feel, to try new things, to be grateful for the wonderful people in my life and to slow down and appreciate even the tiniest of things. And when impostor syndrome turns up, negative thoughts take control and I begin to feel wobbly about something, I am able to call on family, friends and colleagues to help me through.
As Oscar Wilde said ‘ I am not young enough to know everything’ so it’s good to know I have people on my side to hold me when I need it.
It’s never too late to enjoy new things and make new memories. So, I’m off to buy some coke and lime and grab some ice cubes from the freezer to enjoy this little ‘Especial’ delight known as as a Cuba Libre cocktail…cheers, cin ci, salute, santé, good health to you all….and sending lots of warm thoughts to my lovely my Granddad too, may he continue to rest in peace.
#Advent 18 December
FRIENDSHIP – when the world lets you down it’s good to know that your friends are there to pick you up. A true friend doesn’t lead or follow but walks along side you, whatever is going on for you.
There is no doubt my friend who created this advent calendar knows me very well, we’ve known each other for many years and receiving this gift of a beautiful white stone heart with the words’ Best Friends Forever’ means so much to me.
Best friends see the real you, they see each other at their best and worst, during the good times when they share the joy you’re feeling and the bad times when they offer support, truth and love, and maybe with a cup of tea, a listening ear, saying nothing. No judgement just truth and love. Good friends laugh together, cry together and keep each other company during lonely times.
You may not live in each other’s pockets but will be there alongside you in a heartbeat if needed. It’s comforting to know your friends are there. Having good friends in your life makes your world a far better and beautiful place.
I am so grateful for all my friends, they support me and help and allow me be the person I am today and this precious advent gift will be a constant reminder of how grateful I am to have the best friend in the world in my life.
#Advent 19 December
The last couple of days have been very busy and I didn’t get chance to open box 19 until today. My gift to myself this year was to plan a longer break over Christmas and really have the time to relax so I can enjoy my time with family and friends. So here I begin, actually taking some of my own advice and taking easy, having a few hours to myself, in the company of Hooch the Dog of course, before the fun and festivities start. The silence is fabulous, I love it and I can feel my shoulders relaxing already. All I can hear is the ticking clock and Hooch gently snoring away. To help me relax even more, I’m enjoying yet more delicious chocolate balls, this time in a lovely Father Christmas tin – I can guarantee it won’t be the last chocolate I consume over the next couple of weeks!!
Silence, do you love it or hate it?
#Advent 20 December
It’s my birthday today and I’m relaxing at home, no work today or for the next couple of weeks. I really love my job but I am also human and need some time to chill, balance and recharge before the New Year – self care is so important – I may have said that once or twice before!!
Having a birthday so close to Christmas can mean it can often gets gobbled up by, in my case, pre-Christmas planning. But over the years I have begun to accept the birthday present wrapped in Christmas paper, the merged Birthday/Christmas present and realising that trying to book a table for dinner that isn’t ‘Christmas Dinner’ is nigh on impossible. Nowadays I really do appreciate the effort the special people in my life make to ensure I have a good day and the lovely birthday cards received via Royal Mail and the fab messages from so many different people thanks to FB. It’s a timely reminder not to underestimate how much a simple ‘happy birthday’ message can mean if someone is feeling lonely or isolated.
Today, box 20 contained a very special gift which I know was bought with much thought and kindness and I love it.
Today I feel appreciated and loved and that is a lovely feeling.
Here’s to all the December and January birthday people out there!!
#Advent 21 December
It’s that time year where routine seems to go out of the window. Mealtimes in my house go a bit awry with lots of snacks and nibbles being the order of the day. Even Hooch the Dog has to put up with his first walk of the day being a bit later, although it’s been so rainy lately that he’s the last one to want to go outside and happy to cross his legs!! I quite like having routine interrupted for a short while and enjoy having chocolate for breakfast, watching a film in the middle of the day or sampling new (for me) tasty delights like the contents of box 21, quite a new way for me to drink coffee!! I know that soon enough my need for routine will kick back in. But that can wait until the New Year, until then I’m enjoying the lack of routine!!!
How about you – are you someone who loves or dislikes routine?
#Advent 22 December
It’s the shortest day of the year today so from now on the days will get longer and the nights shorter. It’s comforting to know that spring will be here before we know it bringing colourful spring flowers and longer warmer days. Box 22 today contained another of those lovely Body Shop mini pots full of Atlantic Seaweed Cream which, if the blurb is to believed, will rejuvenate and revitalise me – maybe a little glimpse bit of spring on the shortest day of the year.
#Advent 23 December
There feels such a pressure nowadays to be perfect. To be the perfect size, to have the perfect family, children, lifestyle, relationship, job, car, hair, personality etc, etc etc. At this time of year, we are bombarded with adverts telling us what the perfect Christmas should be like and we constantly see those ‘always happy’ posts on social media showing us other people’s perfect lives.
The pressure to buy perfect gifts, cook perfect meals, decorate the perfect tree, have the most perfectly behaved children is immense. Heads up…..if you don’t achieve the perfection you aim for it can feel like failure and failure never, ever feels good. Christmas should not feel like a burden, so maybe aim for ‘good enough’ instead. I promise you that Christmas dinner will not be ruined if you overcook the sprouts or forget to make the bread sauce….both of which I have done!!!
Box 23 contained a mini breath freshener – what does this have to do with being perfect and the pressures at Christmas? It just reminded me of the quote below – so please, with just 2 sleeps to go before Christmas day, remember, there’s every chance you will have more fun if there is less pressure to be perfect. See the funny side if things don’t go exactly to plan, ask for help if you need it, don’t add any more pressure to your already busy life and really, really enjoy not being perfect this Christmas
#Advent 24 December
Only one day to go, or ‘sleeps’ if you prefer, to the big day, when we discover if we’ve been naughty or nice. I feel as if I must have been very nice this year to receive such a great advent calendar!! Today’s box revealed a little pot of Nivea Lip Butter. Now, Nivea brings back all sorts of memories for me. As a child I always bought my mum a pot of Nivea Cold Cream because it was her favourite. My mum washed her face with soap and water and never wore make up but she did love to slather on handfuls of Nivea cream to soften and calm her rosey, weather beaten cheeks. So my Christmas gift (paid for by my dad of course) was always very much appreciated. My guess she is she would be spinning in her grave if she knew how much money is spent on creams, potions and face packs these days. The one luxury she did always use was a lip salve. I thought it was so glamorous, seeing her apply the lip salve to her own lips and then bending down and dabbing it on my lips too, oh the pleasure – I thought I was right grown up!! This pot will be placed in my work bag and each time I use it I will be reminded of my lovely mum and my lovely friend who bought it for me.
#Advent 25 December
It’s Christmas, shouted in a Noddy Holder way of course!!!! I don’t have the early starts nowadays that parents of small people have. The parents who are woken at the crack of dawn by overly excited children who probably haven’t sleep much just in case they missed ‘Him’ turn up with his sack full of pressies. My Christmas starts much more leisurely with a lovely dog walk, at a reasonably sensible time, and this Christmas the weather was kind, which makes all the difference. So, what could be a better final gift than one that keeps Hooch the Dog quiet and occupied for at least 3 mins after we have exchanged presents and he has destroyed the wrapping paper, such fun! He will enjoy this tasty treat as I have enjoyed opening all the boxes of my advent calendar and writing these mini blogs. Now it’s time for me to start fill the boxes again so that I can re-gift it back to my friend next Christmas. I will enjoy looking for the silly things, the ‘oh, she’ll like that’ things and the meaningful things to fit each box. So the gift continues………Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year to you all
YOUR ADVENT 2019
What is the perfect gift you would like to receive in your advent calendar and why? Please leave a comment below.
I am posting these mini blogs daily on my professional Facebook Page – Marian Stapley Counselling – and will regularly add the posts here, so keep logging on here to discover what is in the rest of my 2019 Advent Calendar .
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