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.


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.


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.


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.


#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.


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 thoughts on “How Instagram is helping me rediscover my happy

  1. Michelle at Bod for tea says:

    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


  2. Jenny says:

    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


  3. Victoria Welton says:

    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


    • Leigh Kendall says:

      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


  4. liquoriceuk says:

    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


  5. ona@redpeffer says:

    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.


  6. Yvette @ BigTrouble says:

    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


  7. meghanoc says:

    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?


    • Leigh Kendall says:

      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


  8. Katie / Pouting In Heels says:

    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


  9. Tim says:

    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.


  10. typhaine says:

    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!)


    • Leigh Kendall says:

      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


  11. thereadingresidence says:

    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


    • Leigh Kendall says:

      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


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