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Embracing Mediocrity

  Today’s thought is dedicated to those days we all know very well, and tend to file away under the labels “unsuccessful”, “unproductive”, or “unsatisfactory”. Teaching goes ok, but won’t win you any prizes. Writing … well, you did some. A tiny bit. Nothing paradigm shifting in either quantity or quality. Maybe you even did some domestic chores. Not to show home standards, but you have matching socks at the ready for the next day or two. I had one of those days today. I did far less than the examples I’ve just listed. Actually, the only thing...

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Be More Henry

Henry is a French Bulldog. He’s my dogs’ best friend, and together they like nothing better than chasing each other in circles. They’re an odd group of friends: Maya and Jaggers are Collie x Kelpies; long-legged dogs who can run and work all day. Henry, with his short legs and muscular, stocky body can keep up for short bursts and sprints, but he can’t keep up for prolonged periods of time … and he knows he doesn’t have to. He runs with them for as long as he can. Then he rests and waits for his opportunity. Henry...

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Face Your Fears

I’ve been trying to make this thought sound less dramatic, but somehow “Get Comfortable with Discomfort” didn’t quite sound right, and also vaguely reminded me of adverts for constipation remedies. The reason I was looking for a better phrase is that this note isn’t really about what I’d call “fears”. It’s about the things that make you uncomfortable, to a greater or lesser degree, on a daily basis. I’ve had to face a lot of those things over the past year or so, especially when my ten-year relationship ended. All the issues with which I have always struggled all...

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You’ll Stumble in My Footsteps

  “Try walking in my shoes. You’ll stumble in my footsteps.” (Depeche Mode, “Walking in My Shoes”, 1993) Every day, you do things and deal with things others couldn’t. Recognise this, and be proud of yourself. The idea behind today’s thought is that, like me, you probably spend a lot of time admiring other people and their skills, their ways of dealing with certain things, and so on.Believe it or not, other people probably feel the same when they look at you. I’m sure my dogs are pretty chuffed that I make food and toys appear from a cupboard every...

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Be Grateful for the Good Things

I had a pretty rotten start to the day. Nothing particularly horrible: for various reasons, I worked late, then was up relatively early to do a day of teaching. Up until last Wednesday, I was under the impression I’d be on leave this semester, so there was an added sense of disbelief when I started my commute to Liverpool for the first time this year. I was tired. I wasn’t sure how the large-group afternoon workshop/ lecture/ seminar would work out, given that I’d been thinking it over and over until 2AM. One of my dogs had a...

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Be More Jaggers

This thought neither asks you to be more like the shady lawyer from Dickens’s Great Expectations, nor does it suggest that you should adopt some of the more comical behaviours that my pony-sized puppy, Jaggers, so eagerly displays the majority of the time. Something that I have learned from little Jaggers, though, is to be optimistic about people, unless they do something that really gives you reason to do otherwise. Even then, remember yesterday’s note: don’t judge people by their mistakes. Jaggers is your classic happy-go-lucky dog. He’s not scared of anyone until they give him a reason to be. He approaches...

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Making Mistakes

Today’s positive thought is evidence of the fact that the positive thoughts you’ll be reading here this year are not (and were never meant to be) revolutionary, original, or particularly clever. They’re quite the opposite: they’re little things. Things that are common sense for many people. Things of which most of us only have to remind ourselves occasionally. They’re things that apply to me that very day. Today’s note is one of those, but it’s something I have struggled with my entire life, and as I wrote this first note of the year, I realised it’s also something that is...

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The Good Stuff: A Year In Positive Thoughts

I have never made New Year’s resolutions, but yesterday I decided that there was one to which it was worth committing. As of today, I am keeping a diary of positive thoughts. Every day, I’ll handwrite one positive note. About myself, about something I’ve realised, or about something for which I’m grateful. It may be a very general thought, or it may be very specific and personal. It may be about something I’ve long felt is one of my strengths, or it could be a positive take on something with which I have struggled in the past and continue...

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I’m Senior Lecturer in English Literature & Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University and a BBC New Generation Thinker. I specialise in literary and cultural histories of women, gender, and feminism in Britain from the nineteenth century to the present day, women’s writing, and widowhood. I also provide support, training, and development for postgraduate and early-career researchers.

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