What is luck? A few things to consider if you've had a bad day

Last week, like millions of others, I sat down and watched Lynda Bellingham's heartbreaking last television appearance.  To see her so bubbly and excited about her plans for the Christmas she never got to see was quite difficult to watch.

In her interview on Loose Women, Lynda described herself as lucky.

This really struck a chord with me.  Here was a lady who had a limited number of days, her life was being cut short because she had terminal cancer, and she was describing herself as lucky.

I often refer to myself as being unlucky.  I've never won the lottery, I never win the Daybreak or This Morning competition, my car would always break down (touch wood that's not happened for a while, though), and other trivial things like that.

Seeing Lynda Bellingham refer to herself as being lucky made me feel like the worst person in the world.  She was there facing this horrible situation with such poise and grace, finding a positive even at the darkest of times.  And here I am in good health with two jobs I love, planning my future with my other half, a supportive family, great friends etc. thinking I'm unlucky because I haven't won the Euro Millions.

A lovely, lovely lady I know has recently been diagnosed with secondary, incurable cancer.  This is after already having breast cancer a few years ago and beating it.  Rather than thinking like the world has got something against her, she is filled with so much positive energy.  She's one of the happiest, smiliest, most uplifting people I've probably ever met.

Seeing these two incredible women face unthinkably difficult times in their lives with so much positivity has inspired me recently.

Too many people are too quick to think that whatever problems they are experiencing are the worst thing in the world.

There is always someone worse off than you.  That's not to mean that your problems aren't worthy of being worried about or worthy of a bit of a stress and upset, but thinking about the bigger picture will always make you realise that you are luckier than you realise.

I'm renowned for making a mountain out of a molehill and over-thinking every tiny detail, but to call myself unlucky I don't think is warranted any more.

Everyone has things that are sent to test them, it's how you pick yourself up and tackle it that defines you as a person.  Lynda Bellingham proved herself to be a strong, inspiring woman who fought hard not to let herself be defeated or deflated by her disease.  My friend is exactly the same - positive, uplifting and inspiring.

If you've had a bad day, or someone you know has, instead of dwelling on everything that has gone wrong or upset you or annoyed you, sit and think about all the positive and good things in your life.

If someone who has just found out their life is going to be cut considerably short can keep a smile on her face and keep a positive attitude, you can definitely find at least one thing to smile about on a not-so-good day.

Whether your car has broken down and you've got to fork out to fix it, or you're having trouble at work, or you've split up with your other half - there's always at least one thing you can find to put a smile back on your face.


Shopping and dating - do the same rules really apply?

I don't know a great deal about the dating process and being in relationships - I have very little, if any, experience in either area.  Until earlier this year, I could probably count the number of dates I'd been on without needing to use my toes as well.

I only tend to write about things that I know a lot about (hence why there's never a lengthy feature on the conflict in Syria or the threat of IS) and, given my lack of knowledge and experience, never considered writing a blog about dating (certainly nothing positive, anyway).

But while scribbling notes about dating and relationships, I discovered that I knew more than I realised. I think I've learnt more in the last five months about going on dates and being in a relationship than I would have ever wanted to learn from spending years dating a load of wastes of time.

A good friend of mine described the whole dating process like the feeling you get when shopping in T K Maxx - you know there's probably something in there, deep in the middle of all the rails of crap.  But do you really have the effort to rifle through all the things you know you don't want, and don't like, just to find that one, perfect thing?

And is it possible to ever find the 'perfect' man that you have painted that picture of in your mind?  It's like going shopping for a new outfit and knowing exactly what you want down to style, colour and cut.  As soon as you know what you want, you can't find it anywhere.  And the more you describe it and paint yourself a mental picture of it, the more elusive it becomes.

Finding a good man is like finding a pair of heels that won't cripple your feet.  There's nothing worse than sticking with a pair of shoes that kill your feet just because they look nice - faking their comfort every time someone compliments you on them.  You have to put time into finding a good pair of shoes.  A pair that fit perfectly and you don't have to pretend to be happy with.  To do that, you need to be prepared to look outside your usual comfort zone of the New Look court.

The more you over-think the reasons behind your single status and worry about why nothing is happening for you, the worse everything seems and the less likely it is to ever change.

Becoming worried and obsessed over finding what, you think, to be your perfect, ideal man only leads you to overlook the one standing right in front of you.

Earlier this year I decided to stop worrying about the fact I'd been single for so long and stop actively trying to find a significant other.  I'd been single for over four years and had had enough of chasing all the wrong ones and trying to force something to happen with just anyone.  I didn't want to settle for second, third or fourth best.  I was proud of being single for so long and vowed not to change my relationship status for just anyone. (See here)

Then, literally a matter of days later, BAM!

I've rifled through the junk on the racks at T K Maxx to find something worth the hassle; I've found the pair of heels that I don't have to pretend are comfy; and I've found the perfect outfit without even realising it was what I wanted.

My point is, it may sometimes seem like the end of the world is near when you're single and can't find the one you think you're looking for.

It's like when you've been paid and you go on a huge shopping spree - you can never find anything you like enough to warrant spending your money on.  You don't just buy things for the sake of it, you save up until you do see something that you like.

That's why, in my opinion, dating and shopping are easily comparable.  Neither can be rushed, forced, and you can't make someone do it if they don't like it.  You should never waste your time/money on something that's not totally and completely 100% right for you.

I'm happy that I no longer have to waste my time in T K Maxx, on the off-chance I might find something worthwhile.  My shoes still fit perfectly, and are getting more comfortable by the day.  And I've realised that you never really know the 'perfect outfit' until you find it.


The transformation of caterpillar into butterfly

For the majority of my teenage years I tuned into Galaxy FM (later re-branded into Capital) and listened to Hirsty's Daily Dose. I laughed along with Hirsty, Danny and JoJo and felt like I knew them as friends.

But it turns out you never really know someone at all and that the person you see and hear everyday may not be the person they truly are. Putting on an act everyday of your life must be exhausting. Pretending to be someone you're not must make you dread waking up every morning. And that's what it's been like for well-known breakfast dj Simon Hirst. 

This weekend, Simon Hirst made the decision to announce to the British public that he is half way through gender re-assignment therapy and, from now on, will be known as Stephanie. 

In her interview, Stephanie said she has struggled for most of her life to hide who she really felt she was. 

The courage, bravery and, ironically, balls that she has shown the last few days to stand up and speak out about this has made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I feel an outpouring of pride towards Stephanie, like I would towards a friend who had just achieved something remarkable. 

To think of all those thousands of mornings that I listened to Hirsty and relied on him to lift my mood before school or college, now knowing how low he must have felt trapped inside a body that he didn't feel was his makes me feel really sad. 

Whilst the majority of responses to Stephanie's revelation have been incredibly supportive and heartwarming, there are some who find it difficult to comprehend and understand. 

To see the outpouring of positivity and love towards her restored all my faith in humanity. People are too quick in this day in age to attack anything, or anyone, that's different. To see Stephanie immediately accepted for who she is, and millions supporting her through this, made me feel very proud to be a part of this county and country. 

I cannot imagine how difficult her life has been until this weekend. The sheer torture it must be to wake up every morning knowing you're not the person everyone thinks you are. Being trapped in a body and boxed in a life that you know isn't yours must be one of the worst things to experience. There's no escape from it. Ever. 

The fear of what people will say and the unknown must have terrified her for such a large part of her life. 

I hope she knows now that her honesty and courage have left her regarded in my mind, and probably many others, as one of the bravest people I've known.

The world has come a long way and so has Stephanie. 

She proves that standing up and being yourself is the most empowering thing you can ever do. Don't ever shy away from who you are and pretend to be someone you're not just because you don't think society will agree.  You never know, it might surprise you. 

There are sure to be millions of people out there who are going through exactly what Stephanie has. She has shown all of those people who are struggling with their identity that it is ok to be you. To not shy away or feel scared about being yourself. 

People have their own ideas of role models - usually they are celebrities or sports stars. To me, Stephanie is one of the best role models out there. If her revealing her battle to the world helps make it easier for one more person going through what she's been through, then it's all been worthwhile. 

I hope Stephanie will be back gracing the airwaves soon, I'm sure everyone is dying to hear her back permanently. 

Until then, I hope she feels supported and loved by her millions of fans and all of us who grew up listening to her and view her as a friend. A friend who is too inspiring and brave for words. 

The caterpillar who has transformed and blossomed into a beautiful, confident butterfly.