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I got new fish!

I went home this weekend to see the cat and spend some time with the family too. (In that order ;) ) Then on Sunday my dad drove me back and drove me to the pet shop to get my new pets.

I bought 5 five danios- two zebra, three leopard. And I bought a betta fish! (Otherwise known as a Siamese Fighting Fish.)

My dad helped me get them into the tank. My danios were going into my 120L with my minnows, but my Betta was going into my old 19L, recently refurbished with new gravel, a heater, thermometer and new ornaments. I also got a plant on Sunday to finish it off!

My minnows were very curious about the new inhabitants, and not nervous or shy at all! As soon as my danios were out the bag they were happily swimming together. My Betta was a surprise. He is a restless and curious little fish- he loves to swim into odd places- the space between the glass and heater, between glass and filter, curled around the heater. I was worried by this at first, scared he didn’t like his tank, but he doesn’t seem scared. He just seems to like to explore and I suppose watch over his territory. He’s a little playful and he notices a lot more than my minnows- come too close to the tank and he retreats away, when my other fish swim about near his tank , he follows them and almost tries to chase them- but it’s more like a cat following a flicking string. Head to one side, then to the other. Its too adorable. Its been a delight getting to know him- I never knew fish could be so expressive! (I swear he gives me the saddest look when I stop feeding him.) And have such a feisty personality. Then again, my danios are fairly feisty compared to my minnows…well, a lot bolder. My minnows like to hide amongst the plants in the back, but my danios love being at the top of the tank, in open water and even swimming amongst the bubbles from my air stone. When I changed the water they were happily darting in and out of the waterfall of water.

This makes feeding a problem- as they tend to get to the food first and nom it all before my minnows can get any! I’m putting more food in and sprinkling it in different areas which is helping. My Betta is a fussy fish who would not eat the others food but I bought some new food for him that the pet shop recommended and he eventually started eating. He comes right to the top of the tank so you just sprinkle the food in front of him and he gobbles it up! He’s just too cute. And so very pretty (and I think he knows it!)

I’m so happy with all my fish. They make me happy. :) And I tested the water and both tanks are stable, as well as well filtrated, aerated and planted, so hopefully the fish are happy too!

The Happiness Planner

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As soon as I heard about the happiness planner, I knew I needed one.

Currently, I am on a break from therapy as a challenge to see if I can maintain my current good mental state all by myself. The happiness planner fit so well into what I have been doing with my counsellor in CBT to work through my anxiety disorder. Focusing on the positives? Increasing my resiliency to uncertain situations? Focusing on developing better/more useful habits*? Managing my diet better? Yes and yes and yes and yes.

I decided, after much deliberation, to get the 100 day planner.

I was so excited when it came through the post. I must admit that when I opened it and inspected it though that I was not 100% impressed with the quality of it – the blue cover had some weird white speckles and a couple of feint scratches. Inside, the printing is good, but the paper is fairly average quality. If you are quite heavy handed like me, the words sink through quite easily. (A problem solved by writing in pencil for me, then after the smudging got ridiculous, some fine liners have been doing the trick.) Also, I found a typo. Just the one, but still. At the price I paid, I was expecting perfection. OK, but it’s the contents that matters overall. And this is where it delivers.

The planner begins with a series of exercises to identify the things that makes you happy and what you are grateful for, but also what makes you unhappy and frustrated. It encourages you to think about why you are doing the planner and what you hope to get out of it. It encourages you to write about your dreams and goals, and the achievements you have made. The 100 days then begins.

Each seven days begins with a weekly schedule, with sections for each day as well as a notes section. I use this notes section to write down my daily goals, most of them in line with my therapy. Each day then has its own page with an inspiring quote and several sections to fill in to prepare for the day, and then end it. The planner gives you the following to fill in-

  • What are you excited about today?
  • What do you want to focus on today?
  • Meals and exercises
  • Schedule
  • To dos
  • Notes
  • What were the positives about the day?
  • What are your hopes for the next day?

I find that one A5 page for each day can be enough, but a lot of the time I find myself wishing for more space. I would love a bigger notes section in particular – so that if I really want to work through some thoughts I would have room to. As it is, some days I find myself cramming the words in the margins and well, it looks messy. I’d love a full page for the notes. Yes, it would make the dairy fatter. This could impede carrying it around. But I already find it a bit heavy to carry around anyway. I sometimes take it with me to fill out on the train home from work, but mostly I keep it at home.

At the end of the week there is a chance to review the week – both good and bad, and write down your hopes for the next week.

I enjoy taking a little time each evening to fill out my planner and I like the way it forces you to think of something positive, to take notice of that small thing that made you smile on an otherwise crappy day, which can make all the difference. I like being able to track my meals. And to be able to tick off my to-dos. I’m only on week two so is too early to say if I’ll make it the whole hundred days, but right now I’m finding this a useful tool in my fight against anxiety.

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*Checking the windows are locked five times every morning for instance, is not a useful habit.
**Not sponsored.

“I will send you out a message. I will telephone a love song. I’ll collect all of your stories. I haven’t seen you for so long”

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{Eleven more pictures under the cut}

BUDAPEST, DAY THREE – This day started slowly. We left around 9.30am and went to the opera to pick up tickets, then joined a walking tour of Budapest. The guide was pretty good and it was reasonably enjoyable. The tour finished at the Fisherman’s Bastion and Mathias church which were both stunning, although it was very cold. It was cold enough this day that walking wasn’t helping. We overpaid for lunch at the Fisherman’s Bastion then went to visit the National Gallery. I really enjoyed it. It is really annoying how they make you take your handbags and jackets off before you can enter though – it was much too cold to be parted from our outer layers. (My sister was in just a t shirt under her jacket, poor girl.) At least this time I remembered to rummage through my bag and take out my phone. (See: Day two.) Afterwards, it was back to the apartment to rush to get changed and made up for the opera.

One of the things I was most excited to do whilst in Budapest was go see a show at the Hungarian State Opera House. I was worried that it would end up dropped idea, as neither of my travelling partners was that interested. But my sister pulled through for me in the end. Today, we went to see Parsifal by Wagner. I hadn’t really researched it and had no idea what to expect, as we had initially made plans to see a different show on a previous day, but I was ridiculously excited anyway. The opera started at 5pm and would carry through until 10pm. (In this respect, I could understand my sisters reluctance to go. Even I was nervous about sitting through three acts of this.)

The opera hall was magnificent and decadent. The show was accompanied by a full orchestra- even harps! It was a dress rehearsal, but that just meant we could buy cheaper tickets. The first act was a bit difficult to get to as I tried to adjust to sitting there, and to what the story was about. There was a long intermission where we went to have a highly decadent cake at the opera cafe, and I felt reasonably refreshed after that. (My sister, who was feeling fairly bored and grouchy, became a lot more cheerful after I bought her cake. Of course.) By the second act I was hooked and by the second intermission I wasn’t happy for the break but keen for the show to start again. It was just so good. The protagonist himself- Parsifal – was incredibly sleepy throughout the performance and looked downright miserable by the end but the rest was fantastic. I enjoyed it a lot more than the previous days concert, even though it was equally religious and heavy. Granted, it helped that the seat was much more comfortable (relatively, theatres are never going to be relaxing to sit in, let’s be real here)

The day was ending on a high after beginning fairly low. I’d been a little grumpy all day- the downside of being introverted, and anxious on top of that, means one gets sick of being around people pretty quickly. The opera was a nice pick me up, and one of the overall highlights of the holiday.

Europe

I am currently planning my next holiday.

Plane tickets are booked, and I’m waiting for my bills for this month to go through so I can purchase train tickets and book some hotels. I’m going to Copenhagen for a few days with my sister, then I’m carrying on alone to Germany. I am taking the train from Copenhagen to Hamburg, and from there to Lübeck, then Schwerin, before back to Hamburg and home. I’ve always wanted to do ‘Europe by train’ but that’s unfeasible, so doing it on a small scale like this is also exciting. It’s been a while since I’ve travelled on my own and I’m not familiar with Europe so I’m a bit nervous, but also excited! It’s going to be quite a whirlwind trip, just 10 days, as I can’t take too much time off work but I’m determined to do and see as much as I can. I’m not even fussed about spending time on the train- I’m looking forward to experiencing German transport and seeing what passes me by through the window. (Not even commuting by train can destroy my love for high speed overland travel, which is ideally what trains are.) I’m going to have to pack light though, which is making me nervous. I like having lots of stuff! Being overly prepared to the point of paranoia in other words.

I also can’t believe I’m going on holiday twice this year. The last time I travelled so frequently was when I lived in Malaysia, where the cost of living was so low and the places I wanted to go so close I could afford to. As much as I love the far east and am planning on returning to South Korea and Japan, and likely checking out Taiwan and China at some point, I’ve always wanted to explore Europe more. It’s so close by! And yet I never had the opportunity, but mostly the money. Cost of living is high in the UK, and being a student is financially as it’s reputation holds.

I love my job but obviously, like all jobs, it’s not always exciting, and it’s not easy. It can be nice to remind myself of the outside benefits of working- namely earning money,and all the doors and possibilities that opens up. I’m not particularly financial stable yet, not this close out of uni, and I’m fairly poor with money anyway but I keep my bills paid and i try to keep my debts low and contribute to my savings as much as I can. Whatever is left, I play with. It’s so nice to be able to treat myself to holidays, to a couple of Starbucks a week, to take away food and quality shoes. (Its the best being able to afford proper shoes, not cheap thin ones that fall apart quickly, which you have to keep wearing anyway because broke.) I have a good job, a good home, and am leading a comfortable life style, through my own work (and ok, a small contribution from my bank…) It’s a nice feeling- this independence. It has its downsides, but I’ll focus on the positive today. I’ll leave it there.

Basically, I’m seeing more of Europe and I’m so excited!

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Moved my fish to their new tank yesterday. Thus far, they are alive and seem to be happy. I have spotted several small snail like creatures since, sliding across the glass and on plants and ornaments, which is worrying. Apparently, snails can hitch a ride from the pet shop on live plants. I wish I knew that before I moved my fish. Do you know how hard it was to catch these fish? It was honestly stressful. They sure can swim fast. I guess when you are designed to exist at the bottom of the food chain, speed and the ability to hide yourself somewhere awkward is all you’ve got. It took at least half an hour to move five fish to a new tank right next door. I had to take out all the ornaments, filter and drain about 40% of the water, and when that failed, herd them with two nets.

There is no end to the way running an aquarium can surprise a person. That fish can. I perpetually feel like I’m doing something wrong and that’s there’s some problem to be fixed. So often, there is. All my Google terms on my phone are now fish related – what is this thing in my aquarium? Why is my fish behaving a certain way, how do fish get sick? If anything, I am developing a greater appreciation for our rivers and seas.

I spend too much time a) at the pet store and b) fretting over my fish.