Primary school teacher Annette Kelly from Carrickmore in Co Tyrone decided she wanted to spread good vibes after suffering anxiety and depression.
So two years ago she created Little Penny Thoughts, a Facebook page displaying inspirational quotes and uplifting mantras in order to help others feel more positive about their lives with a daily dose of cheery wisdom.
The page quickly garnered a battalion of followers - now over 250,000 - and Annette soon released a Little Penny Thoughts calendar to give people an uplifting quote for each day to help set them on the path to wellness and inspiration.
She also organised a Wellness from Within event on April 22 at the Carton House Hotel, Maynooth, which focused on holistic wellness, mindset, fitness and nutrition with guest speakers including GAA stalwart Mickey Harte and this included a panel discussion with mindset experts and motivational discussions about how to lead a more positive life.
“I am very much of a people person and nothing makes me happier than spreading good vibes,” says Annette.
“I started Little Penny Thoughts in 2015 and I wanted it from the start to be a positivity page with daily quotes, uplifting words, and people really seemed to like it and respond to it. It became a hit with people and just grew and grew.
“I suffered a lot with high levels of anxiety which led to depression and quotes were always something that would give me hope and a sense of perspective and possibility.
“I wanted to share the words that gave me great comfort and hope during my own difficult time. I wanted to share day to day quotes that resonated with me to help other people have a better sense of self-belief and to feel uplifted - to get that sense of hope and comfort. I used quotes from famous people, people I know, people I respect and admire, things I came across online. I sourced positive mantras from all sorts of places. Sometimes I create the quotes myself or I use words from other people that really inspire me and make me want to drive things forward.
“I created a book of quotes but then I decided that a calendar would be more accessible and people could start each day with a different uplifting thought so they can start off their day in a positive way.”
Annette and her sister collated a book of quotes in aid of the Michaela McAreavy Foundation which aims to help young people by organising summer camps and other initiatives. It was full of cheery sentiments and quotations that make you feel galvanised in the fight to be positive despite all life can throw at us.
“We raised money for the foundation with the book but we decided to create a calendar that would give people a way to begin each day with positivity. It’s about taking each day at a time and the calendar is a great way to create daily optimism. An inspirational quote is a great way to start each morning.”
The calendar was a hit and more and more people began following the Little Penny Thoughts Facebook page, inspired by Annette’s clever selection of upbeat mantras and positive wisdom.
“I’m an advocate of wellness from within and I’m very much about helping people to take control of their own health through mindset, fitness and nutrition. I organised a special day in April where we had several inspirational speakers and it was a very fruitful experience. Micky Harte spoke about daily resilience and Shane Finn, the marathon runner, spoke about fitness while Conor Devine spoke about overcoming MS. We had a range of speakers and hopefully people will have come away from this feeling more positive about their lives.”
Annette is an ambassador of the Electric Ireland Darkness Into Light ‘Wake Up’ campaign and is helping to encourage people across the province to register for the #DIL2018 5k walk to help contribute to this global movement by spreading a message of hope, self-care and acceptance.
Now in its 10th year, it will see people walk together at dawn on May 12 at various locations across the province - moving from the darkness into the light - to raise awareness about mental illness, suicide and self-harm and to raise funds for suicide prevention.
This year’s campaign, ‘Wake Up’, invites people across Northern Ireland to understand that how we treat each other is a matter of life and death.
It’s all about helping to de-stigmatise suicide and self-harm to instead spread a message of hope, self-care and acceptance - something Annette passionately advocates.
“I’m a big supporter of the movement and I first took part in this event in 2016 in Cookstown. It’s important for me to be a part of this because it really matters to me that we work as a society to overcome the stigma surrounding suicide and self-harm. There’s a real strength in people coming together and it gives people struggling with mental illness hope to see that others really do care about what they are suffering. For families who have been bereaved through suicide it’s important that events like this show there is understanding and empathy for what they are going through. We have to lean on each other to get through the darkness and there’s something so symbolic about waking up in the darkness and walking into the light.
“We need to create a more open conversation about mental illness and empower people not to be afraid to talk about how they are really thinking and feeling.”
Annette says Little Penny Thoughts has been a real life line for her in dealing with her own anxiety and depression.
“It’s opened up a conversation with other people. I put out quotes and I get wonderful feedback from all over the world about how these thoughts have resonated. It gives me a great source of comfort to hear that people have been uplifted. It’s very rewarding. With Little Penny Thoughts I’m hoping to help people build resilience through mindset so that they can feel that they can face whatever life throws at us. I think it’s all about training your brain to see the glass as half full instead of half empty.”
You can find Annette’s Little Penny Thoughts on Facebook or visit www.littlepennythoughts.com.
The Electric Ireland Darkness into Light event takes place on Saturday May 12 at 04:15am. There will be walks in Antrim, Newtownabbey, Ballymena, Hannahstown, Ormeau Park Belfast, Derry, Rostrevor, Lisnaskea, Cookstown and Strabane. Visit www.darknessintolight.ie to register.