Friday, 25 July 2014

the divinity of ordinary things


The times they indeed are a-changin, as Bob Dylan declared in his famous song. The past few decades have seen the excess and decadence of the eighties, the huge technological and online advances during the nineties, followed by the recession and financial crisis and now the increased unrest about the state of the planet we call home. Instead of dreaming about owning a designer handbag, planning exotic holidays, or pouring time and energy into mindless consumption and one-upmanship, I think it's fair to say that many of us are looking for comfort closer to home and redefining our priorities and experience of joy.

I sense a return to simple but infinitely more rewarding pleasures such as time spent with family and friends, playing a role in and being part of a wider community, connecting with nature, the land and the seasons. Enjoying the experience of real food more often than processed and convenience options and preparing nourishing meals for our loved ones with simple, fresh ingredients. Rediscovering the crafts of our grandparents generation, such as sewing, knitting and woodworking. Reusing, repurposing and making do and mending. All of which are far nobler and more rewarding pursuits than the accumulation of bigger, better, newer possessions and countless extra hours spent at the office clawing up the career ladder when doing so is at the detriment of all the other aspects of life.

It's a small but significant revelation to realise that fulfilment and contentment can be found in the most ordinary of tasks and everyday domestic occurrences. Something as mundane as making a cup of tea is actually a ritual which allows the chance to gather a favourite mug, take a moment to breathe and regroup whilst the kettle boils, then wrap your hands around something comforting and warm. Hanging the washing on the line or walking to work is an opportunity to get some fresh air and take note of what is happening outdoors, be it a bird singing on the fence or the first shoots of spring pushing their way up through the soil. Getting our hands dirty and growing things brings satisfaction from the toil itself as well as the rewards it yields, even if it's on as small a scale as growing herbs in pots on a window ledge.

I think awareness of spirituality, not only in terms of religion but the general state of self, and the practice of meditation and mindfulness will become more apparent. Of course, there will always be bills to pay and no doubt money and power still speak volumes, bringing with them the beauty of choices but no guarantee of happiness or wholeness. Even if we can't escape the rat race altogether it's about slowing down, making time for what's really important, enjoying the little moments in the everyday and holding those dear to us close. Hopefully we can all find a balance, not striving for perfection but a life well lived and loved.

p.s The happy mundane series is having a brief hiatus, not from a lack of gratitude, merely a lack of time :)

Saturday, 12 July 2014

these are the days

The laughter, the chaos, the trails of toys. The crumbs, grubby faces and sticky, jam coated fingers. The endless laundry and the tiny baby clothes hanging out on the line.

The great days and the darker days with tear stained cheeks. The mistakes and the promise of a fresh start with every new morning.

The midnight feeds, the whispers and warm embraces soothing bad dreams away. The dimpled elbows and unruly ringlets. The blanket forts where dreams are shared and mighty adventures planned. Puddle jumping, rock pool hunting, well-worn books and fairy tales.

And the love, mostly the love. The fierce, unending, gut-wrenching love at the heart of it all. These are the days I will remember at eighty two. And smile at life so vivid and tumbling, joyous and whole.

Monday, 7 July 2014

the happy mundane #5

I briefly considered naming this gratitude list 'The Birthday Edition' or 'The Flu edition' or 'The School Holidays Edition'. All of which are relevant seeing as in the past week I've celebrated my 31st birthday which coincided with the first day of the two week winter school holidays and then got sick a couple of days afterwards with a nasty cold/flu which I still can't shake off. I decided against each of these as the one thing that actually stands out amidst all of it is friendship.
Friends that are more like family, since (with the exception of my sister) my actual family is many oceans away. Friends that hand over their no-longer needed baby items and clothes without a second thought. Friends that invite us all to their home to share their food and conversation. Friends that send parcels from the other side of the world containing the most thoughtful gifts. Friends that let me bring loads of laundry over and put it in their drier for me whilst ours is broken. Friends that hold my baby so I can eat a meal. Friends that come to visit and bring a freshly baked cake to share with us. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. You all know who you are if you are reading and I don't know where I would be without you.
Here are a few other things that have kept me smiling from underneath my mountain of tissues and helped distract from the most hideous of hacking coughs (sorry to everyone who has been subject to how annoying this cough is. But believe me, it's annoying me more).
1 // Slow mornings and a generally more relaxed pace of life now we are not chained to the ring of the school bell twice a day for two glorious weeks.
2 // Having my big girl around all day. She's become such a help to me these past few months and  has stepped up to her role as big sister to two with such grace and acceptance it has really taken me aback. She is what makes it possible for me to take a shower of a morning and feed and tend to the chickens at dusk.
3 // Hitting the jewellery jackpot with a beautiful bracelet bearing a tag inscribed with each of my girls names, sent to me by one of my oldest and dearest friends from home and a dainty gold bar necklace hand stamped with the letters L & R & P on a fine chain from Curt.
4 // A birthday high tea celebration with (most of) my main ladies. What a treat to be able to have a conversation blissfully uninterrupted by our offspring whilst indulging in a full spread of sweet and savoury treats.
5 // My one birthday request for the day itself (not having to cook dinner or do any washing up) was fulfilled thanks to Curt picking up pizza for us all then rounded off nicely by a delicious chocolate cheesecake and then cosying up for the evening to finally watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
5 // A garden bench and two huge pots offered up to us for free by our neighbours, which serendipitously completed our new outdoor deck area like it was meant to be.
6 // Hearing Lila reading stories to Rose. She can read now, actually read, and I am so proud of her. It all seemed to fall into place for her during the past month or so and she now picks up and fluently reads any of the books from their shelf or the library box. She is unstoppable.

7 // Taking care of our friends sweet bunnies whilst they were out of town for a couple of days. These gorgeous little creatures stole our hearts completely and I now have two children hell bent on us acquiring our own fluffy friends to add to the family. 
Photos....Warm toes and cups of tea...a thank you in the form of a cinnamon teacake which we devoured in minutes...the very cute Jonathan and Rosie...birthday bracelet...our newly completed deck area.
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