How Instagram is helping me rediscover my happy

A beautiful baby.

Pretty flowers.

Outfits featuring bright prints.

A kaleidoscope of colour!

These are examples of the kinds of things you are likely to see if you take a peek at my Instagram account.

For the benefit of the uninitiated, Instagram is a mobile social media site for sharing photos and videos. You can apply a range of filters to these photos to change the way they look.

I’d signed up to Instagram last year, but never got round to using it. More time than might be considered healthy had already been spent on Facebook and Twitter, and to be honest I couldn’t really see a use or purpose to Instagram at that time.

That changed when it dawned on me that you can apply filters and upload photos you have already taken. Hundreds of photos of my son Hugo were taken on my phone during his life, and I treasure every one of them. As Hugo spent the duration of his life in hospital, all the photos were taken under the harsh brightness of hospital lighting.

So, the real clincher for me in adopting my new social media obsession was playing with photos of my son, enriching the colour. That’s not to mention the opportunity it gave me to share my beautiful son with even more people – I usually link the photos to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, too.

Some of the photos of Hugo I have shared on Instagram have been at a particularly low time. The comments I have received from friends about how gorgeous he is never fail to give me a warm glow at a time when I most need it.

Hugo.jpg

Flowers have been a regular feature on my Instagram feed. For me, it’s about celebrating the beauty in the simple, every day things – even if I don’t know what many of them are called.

Many of the flowers in the photos are from my garden.

When I venture out, I find myself seeking out flowers – whether they are in public beds, table displays or hanging baskets outside someone’s house. Looking for pretty flowers to photograph provides a welcome distraction from the sense of panic I feel in general, and from the fear of seeing babies in particular.

When I go back and look at the photos of the flowers, the vibrancy of their colours helps me feel a little happier for a few moments. A simple strategy, yet effective.

Flowers3.jpg

Clothes have always been a passion for me, with a particular penchant for pretty dresses and skirts with brightly-coloured prints. I started doing an #ootd – or outfit of the day – as a bit of fun.

Selfies are often seen negatively as the narcissistic, self-centered side of social media. My motivation for these outfit of the day selfies is to remind myself who Leigh is, behind the grief. I love clothes, and I especially love clothes that make me feel good. These selfies are celebrating who I am.

Of course, I will never be quite the same Leigh as the woman before February this year, but there are some parts of me hiding in the shadows of the grief. It is good to bring these parts back in to the light.

Before Hugo’s death, I had been known (amongst other things) for my ready smile and infectious laugh. These haven’t been seen very often during the past few months, and my family and friends have enjoying seeing my smile in these photos.

outfits.jpg

Seeing through Twitter what friends were getting involved with on Instagram intrigued me. With my love of colour, the Capturing Colour project seemed particularly attractive. As I came late to the party I understand (please correct me if I am wrong) the project was started by My Two Mums and Capture by Lucy. I had fun taking photos of things that were pink and things that were rainbow coloured, as per the prompts.

capturingcolour.jpg

#31 Days of Paper, a paper-related challenge throughout August devised by The Reading Residence was a particular favourite. Some of the photos I posted in response to the prompts were related to Hugo in some way, and some were not. That was ok. The posts that were not related to Hugo represented other things I am passionate about (books), my character, and my sense of humour. Again it was good to see those shine through.

30daysofpaper.jpg

From clockwise: Home, Animal, Green, Memory, and Smile.

During September, I am looking forward to the Fat Mum Slim photo a day challenge, and am thinking what I can photograph for each of the prompts.

The value, to me, of a free app that at first I dismissed as a bit of a silly gimmick cannot be measured. There is still a long way to go, of course, but it feels good to have little bits of happy returning to my life. It’s a tribute to Hugo, and how much he loved life.

The benefits of my new  Instagram obsession have radiated further than me. My partner has been pleased to see me taking an interest in the world again. My family and friends have been pleased to see my smile again. A friend mentioned that my photos light up her Instagram feed.

I have enjoyed making the photo collages for this post; it was a useful distraction this morning. A bit of electronic crafting (now there is an oxymoron for you).

Instagram is helping me rediscover my happy because it encourages me to see the simple beauty that is prevalent throughout the world. This simple beauty is what makes our lives worth living.

Now, dear readers, I would like to set you all a challenge. You don’t all have to rush to download Instagram – this isn’t a promo post. You don’t even have to take a photo – this challenge is that easy.

All the challenge entails is to take a mental note of just one thing every day that makes you happy, and that makes you who you are. I promise it will make you feel a bit chirpier, even on a rubbish day (and it’s probably even more pertinent on a rubbish day).

I’d love to know how you get on.

Post Comment Love

36 Comments on How Instagram is helping me rediscover my happy

  1. Katie Haydock
    January 16, 2015 at 10:07 pm (5 years ago)

    Your insta-feed is actually one of my favourites to follow and look out for!
    It is always so bright and hopeful 🙂 you have brightened my day more than once xxxx

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      January 17, 2015 at 11:48 am (5 years ago)

      Aw, thank you! With hundreds of photos of Fat Cat, too! I’m glad my photos have helped brighten your day, that’s lovely 🙂 xxx

      Reply
  2. Michelle at Bod for tea
    September 11, 2014 at 1:44 pm (5 years ago)

    This is such a touching post – it’s wonderful to read how Instagram is helping you to rediscover a little happiness from the beauty of the everyday – the filters really are fab aren’t they? Like you I LOVE vibrant fresh flowers and you’ll often find them on my feed too x

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      September 11, 2014 at 5:21 pm (5 years ago)

      I love Instagram, and playing with the filters too! Good bit of fun. I look forward to seeing more pretty flowers on your feed. Thanks for reading and commenting xxx

      Reply
  3. Jenny
    September 9, 2014 at 9:01 pm (5 years ago)

    Ahh that’s amazing. I am obsessed with Instagram. I am the same it just feels me up with so much love and happiness and pretty things to smile about. Been really sad about leaving the USA and being back in the UK I am homesick so it always helps me look at the bright side of things and share my own photos too! Thanks for linking up to Share With Me I hope to see you again tomorrow for another great round! #sharewithme

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      September 9, 2014 at 9:07 pm (5 years ago)

      Aw hugs for your homesickness. I’ll be back linking up tomorrow 🙂 thanks for commenting xxx

      Reply
  4. Victoria Welton
    September 6, 2014 at 2:34 pm (5 years ago)

    Oh Leigh, I am nearly in tears, what a wonderful way to help you through your difficult times. I have to say that I think Instagram is quickly becoming my favourite. No words, no sniping, just lots that is right with the world. Long may it continue! Lots of hugs to you. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo 🙂 x

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      September 6, 2014 at 4:22 pm (5 years ago)

      Absolutely! Instagram is a little haven of happiness. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment xxx

      Reply
  5. pottymouthedmummy
    September 5, 2014 at 12:16 pm (5 years ago)

    Oh Leigh this is lovely. I am so very happy you got stuck into Instagram and it has helped you so much. Your smiling face does brighten up my feed xx

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      September 5, 2014 at 1:03 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you lovely, I’m glad too – I’m really enjoying it. It’s a completely different side to social media with seeing just pretty things and the better side of life. I’m glad my smiling face helps brighten your day, too. xxx

      Reply
  6. Becky | Spirited Puddle Jumper
    September 4, 2014 at 9:15 am (5 years ago)

    What a lovely post 🙂 I find Instagram so inspiring, and I love catching up visually with people’s lives, and it’s something Twitter can’t do. So glad you’ve found joy in it at such a sad time x #sharewithme

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      September 4, 2014 at 1:39 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you. I really like going to Instagram just to look at pretty things – a bit of a virtual sanctuary. Thanks for commenting xxx

      Reply
  7. liquoriceuk
    September 3, 2014 at 8:57 pm (5 years ago)

    Lovely post Leigh – so glad Instagram is helping you rediscover your happy place. I love the photos of Hugo and all those lovely vibrant photos of flowers that you post there – your photos of Hugo are so beautiful and there is so much love that shines out of them x

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      September 4, 2014 at 8:05 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you! The photos of Hugo give me bittersweet joy xxx

      Reply
  8. ona@redpeffer
    September 3, 2014 at 5:48 pm (5 years ago)

    That’s lovely. I too signed up for Instagram for ages before realising that I actually really liked it. Can’t get me off it most days now. And I think it’s so special to be able to make it a happy place for you.

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      September 3, 2014 at 6:00 pm (5 years ago)

      It’s becoming my favourite social media, too. Thanks for reading and commenting xxx

      Reply
  9. Notmyyearoff
    September 3, 2014 at 7:41 am (5 years ago)

    Its amazing how the simplest colourful thing can be so therapeutic. You look gorgeous with your hair down by the way 🙂

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      September 3, 2014 at 7:52 am (5 years ago)

      It really is, the simplest things are often the best. Thank you for your kind words, and for commenting xxx

      Reply
  10. Yvette @ BigTrouble
    September 3, 2014 at 6:28 am (5 years ago)

    What a lovely, honest post. I’m so sorry for your loss. Hugo looks every bit as beautiful and precious as you describe and it is wonderful that you’ve found inspiration and comfort in his photographs, and also the things that are in your life right now. Thank you for sharing this, and I will do my best to note what makes me happy and makes me, me. Thank you x #sharewithme

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      September 3, 2014 at 7:51 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you for your kind words about Hugo. I’m pleased my post has made you think to look for what makes you happy, too. 🙂 xxx

      Reply
  11. meghanoc
    September 2, 2014 at 1:57 am (5 years ago)

    now I want to follow you on instagram. 🙂

    I like instagram because its a way to document life. It reminds that the things I am doing are worth documenting, that the life I am living without my daughter is really worth living. Some days are more of a struggle than others. Your challenge reminds me of the #3GoodThings you did. You inspired me and I did that on facebook (i think I’ll post about it soon). I may try this challenge. Is there a hashtag to use? so we can see each others posts?

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      September 2, 2014 at 5:00 pm (5 years ago)

      And I you! What’s your handle? Mine’s @positive_leigh. Yes, Instagram reminds me of the good things too, and yes, some days are definitely better than others – I think that’s reflected in my feed. Let’s think of a hashtag to use – #babylossmamas maybe? You could also try the #fmsphotoaday project, which is fun xxx

      Reply
  12. The Polished Widow
    September 1, 2014 at 9:53 pm (5 years ago)

    I much prefer Instagram to other social media sites, seems a little more positive and less vacuous! I always love seeing your pics of Hugo, just beautiful xxx

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      September 2, 2014 at 8:27 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you. I think I’m beginning to prefer Instagram because it’s more positive. Thanks for commenting xxx

      Reply
  13. Katie / Pouting In Heels
    September 1, 2014 at 6:22 pm (5 years ago)

    Lovely post about one of my favourite things! It’s strange because I’m all about ‘the words’ but sometimes, let’s face it a photo can see a million words in an instant.

    Like you, I adore Instagram. I love the way people share things that they love, things they have noticed which have inspired them or just found extraordinary enough to photograph.

    I am so pleased it is bringing you happiness and look forward to seeing many more of your ‘happy snaps’ in the future 🙂 x

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      September 1, 2014 at 6:27 pm (5 years ago)

      Absolutely, I think Instagram is about sharing life’s joys, and that’s a special thing. You’re right, photos can often say more than words. Thanks for taking the time to comment xxx

      Reply
  14. Life at 139a (@LifeAt139a)
    September 1, 2014 at 6:21 pm (5 years ago)

    Hey lovely, didn’t realise you were new to Instagram too – loving your ootd posts and wish I could wear scarves the way you do – I tend to fiddle and faff with them so there’s really no point! x

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      September 1, 2014 at 6:26 pm (5 years ago)

      Yes, I’m a newbie! Thank you re my ootd posts and the scarves – they help brighten my day. Thanks for your comment 🙂 xxx

      Reply
  15. Tim
    September 1, 2014 at 4:55 pm (5 years ago)

    For me, the big thing that sets Instagram aside from Facebook and Twitter is the lack of snark and general negativity that can take over sometimes. Insta’s a happy place full of pictures that bring a smile to my face.

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      September 1, 2014 at 4:59 pm (5 years ago)

      You’re right, Tim – Instagram is free of bitching and griping, which also helps make it a happy place. Thanks for commenting 🙂

      Reply
  16. typhaine
    September 1, 2014 at 4:40 pm (5 years ago)

    Re: the narcissism behind the selfie trend — I have read interesting and though-provoking pieces arguing that selfies are an effective way to (re)gain control over our lives and images. Your post very much points in that direction.
    (and i love the cat print!)

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      September 1, 2014 at 4:58 pm (5 years ago)

      Ah that’s an interesting perspective about the selfies, I didn’t know that. But it. Retain lysis pointing that way for me! Thanks re the cat print – I complemented it with a bird print scarf for a bit of fun 🙂 . Thanks for your comment xxx

      Reply
  17. thereadingresidence
    September 1, 2014 at 3:05 pm (5 years ago)

    This is a lovely post, Leigh. I do enjoy Instagram, too, and it’s been great having you joining in with #31DaysofPaper. You’re right, it needn’t be huge things, but we need to recognise the little things we do that will brighten our days and moods and do more of it x

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      September 1, 2014 at 3:19 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you. I really enjoyed #31daysofpaper, it did me good. It really is so often about the simple things in life – it’s just sad it too often takes a tragedy to make us realise that. Thanks for commenting xxx

      Reply
  18. Sarah MumofThree World
    September 1, 2014 at 1:28 pm (5 years ago)

    What a beautiful post. Who knew something so simple that we all take for granted could make such a difference to you, but it’s so good to read that it is. Long may it continue.

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      September 1, 2014 at 1:31 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you! It’s amazing how the simplest things can help you the most. Thanks for your comment xxx

      Reply

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