OK, so if paranoia’s not a thing for you, then this piece will not be of any help in your life. Feel free to pass right on.

But if like me, paranoia is very real and pretty much ever-present lurking beneath the surface, then maybe these tips will be relevant. In my world, I think paranoia has become a learnt behaviour. A default behaviour.

Note that I don’t say ‘avoid paranoia’. In my experience, paranoia cannot be avoided. It creeps up on you when you least expect it.

When I walk into a room, I assume everyone’s hearts will sink when they see me. When I meet someone for the first time, I assume that person will be disappointed. When I spend time with someone, I assume they will be bored and wanting it to be over as soon as possible. I assume most people think I am a failure and not particularly likeable.

Now I have had a fair amount of evidence to the contrary over the years (and I’m really not fishing for compliments, honestly!) and only a little evidence to actually back up this mindset, but paranoia prevails nevertheless. And so I have developed some techniques that are beginning to work to some degree. Let me share them with you.

  1. Enjoy yourself. By that, I mean find ways to enjoy being you. Enjoy being with you. Take time to get to know yourself. Find stuff you feel good doing and do that.
  2. Give equal weight to the positive and the negative. So don’t listen to every bit of criticism and believe that and then find ways to minimise or discount any praise.
  3. Explore all the different ways of reading that comment. So yes, your natural response will be to think the worst, but take time to read the comment in different tones of voice and with different phrasing and expression. You now actually have no idea what the person was trying to say with any certainty, do you?
  4. Remember it’s not all about you. When I read a Facebook comment about someone being upset, I assume it’s about me. Always. I always think I’ve said something or done something. And you know what? It isn’t always about me. In fact, it rarely is. I am not the centre of the universe. The happiness of everyone in the world does not revolve around me.
  5. Smile. Be kind. If you send out the right vibes, then you can change the whole atmosphere in a room. People find it hard to dislike someone who is a genuinely cheerful and considerate person.
  6. Be interested in the other person. It takes the focus of your mind off you. People want to be listened to. To have the opportunity to tell their story. Although don’t pry. That’s not good. But the more you get to know someone, the more you’ll realise they suffer from insecurities too. No one actually believes they are perfect.
  7. Try new things. Trying something new is such a confidence builder. Even if you’re no good at it. Just having a go takes courage and courage is a good thing.
  8. Lower your standards. Let good enough be good enough. You know what – you don’t have to be the best at everything. Or even anything.
  9. Care less. Some people’s opinions really don’t matter. Work out the people that matter to you and listen to them (bearing in mind they won’t always be right either).
  10. Celebrate being you. You are unique. You are the only one who brings what you do in the way that you do.
  11. Never try to be more like someone else. What a total waste of energy. Be you.
  12. If there are some things you really don’t like about yourself, then set about changing them. For yourself. Not for anyone else. Just do it. Don’t just talk about it.
  13. Let yourself be human. Make mistakes. Get it wrong. Be less than perfect.
  14. Learn to laugh at yourself. Not in a cruel way obviously. But sometimes when we mess up, there is a funny side. Find it.
  15. Get out of your head. Lift your eyes. Be reminded of your place in the universe.
  16. Get rid of the negative voices in your world. Stop listening to the people who make you feel crap about yourself. If you can’t ‘defriend’ them for whatever reason, then find a way to distance yourself from their opinions. Their opinions are not serving you.
  17. Try to see if there is any actual truth in what is being said. Acknowledge it. Learn from it. Move on.
  18. Accept and celebrate others as they are, rather than as you would like them to be. Be that person who doesn’t criticise or talk about other people behind their backs.
  19. Accept that life is messy and chaotic. If there are only 19 points, then don’t make something up to get it to a round twenty.



Linda has recently retired. She now has the time to embrace life, laugh a lot and do all that she loves. Discover what that looks like for her and let her adventures inspire you…




linda_teaMeeting friends is always a treat. Afternoon Tea is always a treat. This combination varies so much from hotel to pub to cafe! I have ‘tested’ a few venues. For the uninitiated, Afternoon Tea is usually finger sandwiches, a scone with jam and cream, small cakes and pots of tea or cups of coffee. The sandwiches are always very good. The scone is always very good. The small cakes are always very different. Malmaison on the Quayside is very different. I had the pleasure of ‘testing’ it out this week. It offers a complete change with a delightful, warm mini beefburger and a savoury chicken and a salmon wrap. Fab! The scone was fab! To my mind, the quality of the kitchen is always revealed in the small cakes. Their dainty meringue boat with strawberries was delicious. The apricot and panettone pot was lovely. The dinky milk bottle of fresh fruit smoothie was refreshing. Too full for the mini brownie and almond square bites, I took them home.
Copious cups of tea and a coffee were delivered with a smile from the helpful staff. Of course, the view across the river and the Millennium bridge is stunning. Malmaison is in my top five for Afternoon Teas. What a great way to live and spend an afternoon with close friends.


In these days of satellite navigation and GPS, no one should ever get lost. Some people are brilliant at travelling a route once and have perfect recall of the route. I sometimes can do that – occasionally, haha! Mostly however, a car journey to a new place needs a 10% extra time added to cover the time I get lost. I even came top in map reading with 75% once. So why did my mum get lost when I was map reading en route to my first ever major interview? Well, the blue line on the map was not continuous – denoting a motorway under construction! Even after 35 years, I can still get lost at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I recently got lost on my way to the Staiths Cafe in Dunston, with a map, with my tablet and with a vague idea of where to be. Taking a short cut, I ended up in a road with bollards strung over it. Beating a hasty retreat, I arrived 40 minutes late, double the 20 minutes journey it should have taken. Oops! You just have to laugh if you are like me. Always find a way to laugh at yourself in situations like that.


I love the cinema. From an early age of going to join screaming hordes of children for the Saturday morning shows, I was hooked. Taking my children from the time they could sit still…going with the ladies…I love the expectation, the excitement and the joy of a visit. Losing myself in drama (2012), crying with laughter (The Full Monty), a chick flick (Identity Theft), I just love it. Recently Bridget Jones the Baby was a great film. The moment as she is about to deliver her baby and screams ‘I have changed my mind’ is hilarious. I have tried to think of my top 10 adult films.

This is my list as it currently stands – although I’m sure to have forgotten some…Do you include any of these in your Top Ten?
The Draughtsman’s Contract

Last of the Mohicans

Romeo and Julie with Leo DiCaprio

The Commitments

Star Wars

Lord of the Rings



Mr Turner



I try to live, laugh and love each day xxx

Especially for those who dread Autumn as much as I do. I’m talking the mists, the dark, the cold, the damp…If your heart is sinking just at the mention of those things, maybe there’ll be something in here that you can draw some comfort from too.

Albums. Of music and photos. I’m determined to listen to more music. Whole albums I haven’t heard yet but I love one single from. And flicking through photos takes me some place else. Sometimes that can be a good thing.

Books. The ultimate in escapism. I literally lose myself in a book. And bed. I can’t not mention bed. Or a book in bed – that magic combination… 

Crumble. Blackberry and apple of course. And custard obviously. Then there’s chocolate. And cake. And chocolate cake. And let’s not forget candles. Life would not be complete without candles.

Dogs. Or cats if you prefer. Any pets really. Any animal that loves you unconditionally and will let you stroke it for hours on end.

Events. OK, I admit it, I’m a fan of the Facebook event. I love to have something to look forward to. And if there isn’t an event looming, I’ll create one!

Fairy lights. And fresh air. And fresh flowers. I buy myself flowers every week. And fire- indoor and out. There’s just something indescribably mesmerising about flickering flames.

Gifts. So maybe I’m not the only one who finds this time of year hard. Maybe I could make someone else smile with some sort of small, thoughtful gift. Or make myself smile with a small, thoughtful gift to myself.

Hot water bottles, hot drinks, hot baths. Hot, hot, hot basically. There is nothing more miserable than the cold seeping into your bones.

Inspiration. There’s a lot out there.  Those uplifting quotes friends share on Facebook. Blogs. Podcasts. TED talks. Seek inspiration out and let it work its magic.

Jellies. I have a thing for jellies. Those little brightly coloured pots of wobbly fruity deliciousness – and some have zero calories if that’s your thing!  And juice too – I’ve been craving orange juice with juicy bits this last week. It makes me feel so alive!

Karaoke.  Just singing along to your favourite songs basically. We’ve just discovered a feature on the TV that helps us out with lyrics, which is a joy…

Leaves. So the colours are stunning – and different every single day. And then there’s a wonderful freedom in kicking leaves up into the air. I just can’t help myself. I feel like a child every single time.

Mugs of tea. Constant mugs of tea. Our cupboard full of pretty little boxes of different types of teas and infusions is an instant comfort to behold.

Nature. Incredible all year round. We just have to open our eyes and look at the world around us. It will never cease to inspire.

Oranges. Again, it’s that craving for Vitamin C thing, I think. And the colour orange is so passionate and warm. And anything that smells of orange is so refreshing and zesty and life-giving. The more orange I have in my life, the better.

Pyjamas. Oh yes, as soon as you get through that front door and know you don’t have to go out again that day, it’s off with the clothes and on with the pyjamas. I know I’m not alone. Loungewear has developed into a whole industry. Some people have more sets of pyjamas than they do clothes!

Quilt. Getting lost in a duvet – all snuggled up and cosy. No cold air can get in. You feel cocooned and safe and warm and protected from the world.

Rhythm. Slightly weird I know but I have a thing for rhythm. Music that makes it impossible to sit still. I tap my foot. I nod my head. I move my shoulders. The rhythm consumes my body. It makes me move. It reminds me that my heart is beating.

Slippers. In fact, I’m currently on the lookout for the perfect pair of slippers, Ones with a good sturdy waterproof sole so I can get out to my writing studio in all weathers. But also ones that are so soft and furry on the inside that you sigh at the total bliss of it all each time you slip your foot inside. 

Throws. One of my all time favourite things. You simply can’t have too many throws. They have to feel just right. Supersoft to the touch. And tassels are great too. I’ve just bought the most exquisite throw in a luxurious peacock bluey-green – oh my word, the joy is indescribable!

Umbrella. I had one of those dome umbrellas when I was a kid and I loved it and a few years ago, Helen H bought me a proper grown up dome umbrella (if there is such a thing). I’m not a great fan of umbrellas, I have to say, as I hate rain and would just not go outside in it if at all possible. But if I had to, this umbrella would make going out in the rain almost pleasurable. In fact, I may give it a go…

Velvet. I’m so into touchy feel stuff, it’s untrue. I have a velvet dress now and a velvet coat with the most comforting of pockets to slip your hands into – velvety on one side, satin on the other. Stroking velvet brings me a huge amount of comfort.

Walks. In wellies. In the woods. Which I probably wouldn’t do as often as I do if I didn’t have dogs.

Xmas. Don’t judge me. Of course I don’t normally resort to ‘Xmas’, but I needed something for X, you see. And in fact if I’m being completely honest, I’m not a huge fan of Christmas. It’s complicated. Emotionally complicated. And having five kids to buy for on a pretty limited budget at times has been a nightmare, added to the total stress of all the shows and parties and general social pressure at a time when I naturally want to just hide away. I have discovered in recent years that what works for me is embracing it all really early and not saving it all up to cram it into one special day. Keep it simple. Have no expectations. Enjoy the simple pleasures along the way. So when I put my tree up in November, don’t judge. I’m doing my best.

Yoga. Yoga is actually my therapy. It reminds to get out of my head and into my body. It reminds me to breathe. I have to commit to classes. I know I could do it on my own but I know that I don’t, not really. I need a teacher. I need people.

Zumba. And then there’s Zumba. I’m so bad at it – so stiff in my whole body. I really need to learn to lighten up and to relax and to become more fluid and to shimmy! But Zumba makes me smile. Zumba is sunshine and Brazil and Pitbull and that crazy teacher in fluoro leggings and silver sparkly trainers…



Linda has recently retired. She now has the time to embrace life, laugh a lot and do all that she loves. Discover what that looks like for her and let her adventures inspire you…




the-joineryRecommended by a friend, today I set off for The Joinery at Burnopfield. Just before the Hobson Industrial estate, hidden on the left is a cafe and gift shop, promoting homemade cakes and pieces of joinery ( of course! ) A pasted palace of wooden tables and chairs painted in pretty pale colours greeted me. The staff were extremely friendly. They were quite happy to allow me to order decaff skinny milk one shot coffee with chocolate sprinkled on top. Well it was either that or green tea with a slice of lemon. The cappuccino came in a large, pretty mug – very good value for money. The coconut cake was soft and tasty. I shall return regularly, as it’s a great local cafe, which I have to support (and test all the types of cake). Handmade gifts were on sale, too.

My friend Rosie bought me a book called The Rosie Project. Quietly chuckling at the thought of her husband with his scientific job echoing the protagonist’s science job, I opened the book. That was where the similarity ended. Deciding he needs a wife, this guy creates a 16 page survey and sets off on a mission. On meeting Rosie, he rejects her but eventually fate interferes and they become a couple. This book made me laugh out loud a few times. Its hilarious observations of life with someone with Aspergers are brilliant. Even on the first date, he conducts an experiment, as his date only likes apricot ice cream for her pudding. He orders mango and peach ice cream, as no apricot is on offer. He turns to do a blind taste test on her but discovers his date has gone. Oops! I cannot remember when I last laughed so often at a book and resorted to reading parts aloud!

Last weekend, I looked at the brilliant blue skies and thought ‘coast’. Every now and again, I need to walk on the sand, paddle in the sea and gaze at the azure sky. I always feel chilled and happy after a visit to the coast. I love it! The scavenging seagulls, the excited chatter of children and the happy faces, not to mention the decision to have a picnic, fish and chips or even just ice cream, all add to the fun. We are so blessed in the North, living so close to the sea. Alnmouth is just divine.

I try to live, laugh and love each day xxx



Linda has recently retired. She now has the time to embrace life, laugh a lot and do all that she loves. Discover what that looks like for her and let her adventures inspire you…



One way I spend my time is with words. For those of us who grew up with Scrabble, we know how much fun making words can be. I was invited to play ‘Words With Friends’, a Scrabble app. I began with one game with one friend. This soon grew to six ongoing games with the same friend – we were hooked! One day, waiting impatiently for the other player to recharge her tablet, I decided to play with someone from the app, not really thinking about the jump from a known family friend to … a man! I was shocked but hungry for another game and so began playing with another Words With Friends app member. One year later and twenty five games on the go at any one time, I am besotted! My husband complains he is an app widower.

lindas-walkMy dearest friend has asked me to join her on a charity fundraising Alzheimer Walk again. How is that a laugh, you ask? Well, last year’s first event participation saw me walk five miles. I never even noticed I was walking. Five miles of non stop talking, laughter and joke cracking, wit and repartee – the time just flew by! If you are asked to do this, my advice is to go with a fun loving friend. Such a great way to spend an afternoon. Oh did I mention we raised £300 between my friend, three family members and myself? It gave me a feel good factor, was great exercise and hilarious fun.

I love to lunch, coffee and cake. The Hearth at Horsley is an intriguing place to lunch. Innovative soups and inviting cakes are a great reason for a visit. It’s a great place to stop off to look at the interesting work of local artists and crofters which is on display to view or purchase. However, as competitive as I am, my real love is the triangular peg game on each table. Like solitaire, you take a peg and hop over another. The challenge is to end with a single solitary peg. I love this game. I have only won once. Such are the small pleasures and victories in my life.

I try to live, laugh and love each day xxx