I was certainly counting my blessings a few months back when Sol came out from behind the clouds to celebrate my 41st orbit around him by shining down on Earth…but alas, the lovely weather did not stay for long, as it never does here on our “green and pleasant land”. Summer very quickly made way for winter, and a new year is now imminent.
The ephemeral nature of our climate, and recent tragic events, got me thinking about how we ought to live for the moment, and be thankful for whatever happiness comes our way, however fleeting it may be. Fellow blogger JM Kayne posted something similar awhile back, and it’s inspired me to share my very own top 10 list.
There are, of course, other things that make my world go round, but I’m only going to mention the most significant…excluding the most obvious, such as family and friends (not forgetting animal companions!), since I’m sure we can all agree that for the vast majority of us, it goes without saying that our loved ones make our lives complete.
When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favourite things
And then I don’t feel so bad
Fortunately for everyone (and unlike My Favourite Things from The Sound of Music), I am limiting myself to ten…otherwise we’d be here forever. So without making too much of a song and dance about it, here we go in no specific order:
1. Favourable Weather
I thought I’d start with this since I’ve just been indulging in that popular British pastime – obsessing about all things meteorological (never trust the forecast!). You might wonder why I’m being a little vague here. Why not “sunshine” instead of “favourable weather”? I do normally prefer hot sunny days, but there are times when the occasion calls for less desirable conditions. Blustery storms are great for cosy nights in…perfect for snuggling under a duvet with a mug of hot chocolate. Strange as it may be, I’m sure I am not the only one who finds the sound of rain and thunder soporific. Plus, I love the smell of petrichor. Someone ought to bottle that scent; I’m positive it’ll make them a fortune! Frosty winters are brilliant too, especially during the festive season when a bit of snow adds to the vibe at Christmas markets and celebrations. Furthermore, cold dry nights are often dark and clear, making them ideal for stargazing.
2. Nom Nom Nom
When growing up, I had a teacher who (worried about obesity) advised her students never to become the type of person who “lives to eat” and attempted to educate us on the benefits of dietary restraint. I am afraid that with me, she completely failed in that regard. What can I say? Food is life, and if you can’t enjoy what you eat, then you haven’t lived. I operate very much by the “stuff face, worry later” philosophy. It’s doubtful there is a single cuisine I don’t like, and (with very few exceptions) will try anything that won’t kill me or put my health in (too much) jeopardy….and guess what? Nowhere on the chonk scale yet, and more importantly…still alive!
3. Listening to Music
If you had to give up either your hearing or your sight, which would you choose? No one likes to entertain the idea of losing one of their five senses, but I used to have a colleague with a proclivity for games of This or That, and so one day (must have been a quiet time at work!) I found myself facing this hypothetical (and may it stay that way!) conundrum. As a designer, I could not do my job without my eyes. Yet, I would also not get very far in my profession without my sanity, and that I would not have if deprived of the “sounds, and sweet airs” that give my soul flight.
Admittedly, not all of the music I listen to can be described as “sweet”, but my taste is pretty eclectic, covering almost all genres – from Jazz and Classical, to Indie and Trance – and most especially Ambient which helps keep me going when I have work to do. Also, I used to be in the choir during my schoolgirl days. We weren’t great and I don’t remember us winning any awards, but every so often, I still break out dramatically (Disney-style) into song…when the neighbours are out of course. I do not think they will appreciate me stealing their karaoke thunder! 😀
4. Books & Reading
Yes, I know that’s two items, but it’s not really cheating since both of them go very much together. As space is at a premium in our little house, we don’t have a lot of books, so most of our reading is done on our Kindles or tablets. All the more reason for me to treasure books…Not only do they take us to far off places and let us live vicariously through the stories of others, but they can be objects of beauty as well, and in this digital age, are coveted increasingly as collectables. Also, the whiff of paper and ink you get when flipping the pages is bliss! I am currently trialling a subscription box for women who like reading, so if like me, you don’t get much opportunity to visit a library or bookstore, this might be a novel workaround.
5. Learning Something New
“Huó dào lǎo, xué dào lǎo” is a proverb my grandmother was fond of repeating to me, and I try to live by that motto. Literal translation: live to an old age, learn to an old age.
A day is never wasted if I’ve gained some knowledge, no matter how little, or how seemingly trivial. It might be through adventuring on holiday, trying something different for a change, an accidental discovery, or simply lyrics to a song I just heard. Even a bad experience can (in retrospect) be viewed in a positive light if I’ve learnt something new from it.
6. Crafting & Creativity
Again, you can’t have one without the other…I’m never short of ideas, and often they pop up in my head faster than I can make them a reality, either because I’m too tired, too busy, or too self-doubting. If only I could stop time, or at least slow it down so there are more hours in the day! Sadly, that’s not possible. This is why I feel such a sense of achievement whenever I complete a project, whether personal or for a client. A lot of my graphic design skills were self-taught (while on maternity leave), though doing a BA in Journalism did help somewhat as learning basic layout techniques for newspapers/magazines was part of the course.
The crafting side of my abilities took a wee longer to surface, and started off when I got bored with the usual selection of gift bags/baskets in shops. Besides, I was too skint to buy them. I felt I could do better and so began to experiment. The result of my efforts brought smiles to many faces and was so uplifting it soon led to other things (such as decor, cards, bespoke presents etc.), and my Etsy shop Cocoon eventually emerged from the wings. It is currently temporarily closed due to illness and then a family tragedy, but I hope to open it again very shortly and with more products.
Most of my work is done in the loft which we converted ourselves (with a bit of help from friends). This space is itself an ongoing project, and the most recent addition is a mobile craft station David made for me as a birthday present! ❤
7. Vintage Clothing
It’s probably quite obvious from my social media feeds and old flickr albums that I love the paraphernalia of bygone eras.
I like retro (60s to 80s) stuff too, but am more fascinated with the period 1920s to 1950s – the decor, the music, the lifestyle, and most of all, what people from that period used to wear. Many stores now specialise in vintage outfits and accessories, but they’re generally expensive. Nabbing the odd bargain can be immensely satisfying, and eBay searches can yield a wide variety of replicas, but your best bet is still charity shops. Many even have an online portal these days!
8. Stargazing with Hubby
All branches of Science hold my interest, but you might have noticed from some of my photos that Astronomy is a particular favourite. Both David and I are amateurs, though he’s considerably more well-read than I am on that subject, so conversations with him are always intriguing.
We would drive out to the countryside, armed with our telescope and his camera (or sometimes just a pair of binoculars), to observe the constellations. The conditions are not always right as clouds (or light pollution) usually get in the way, but when we’re alone with the stars, I’m filled with a sense of peace and wonder.
9. Nature Walks
Years back, I used to live in the centre of London. In fact, I was born in North Islington, and later (in my twenties) ended up residing in nearby Dalston. There are a lot of advantages to living in a city, particularly when said city is the capital. There’s cultural diversity and you’ll never lack for something to do, but what I missed most back then was the quiet of rural England, and actually began to dream of living in the middle of nowhere. I still do, although it’ll probably make life pretty inconvenient, dangerous even (for instance if you need medical attention).
These days, I’ll settle for being anywhere close to groves and fields where I can have a ramble…so along as it’s full of greenery, maybe a body of water, and no other sounds apart from what comes from the wildlife and natural surroundings. That, to me, would be heaven.
10. Tea & Solitude
Some would probably call me a textbook case introvert, and they would be correct. Unfortunately, many also mistakenly associate a reclusive nature with misanthropic tendencies, and that leads to much misunderstanding of people like me. The truth is, only one quality distinguishes an introvert from an extrovert, and that is a difference in energy flow – the former personality type is drained of it by social activity, whereas the latter is enlivened. A tiny group or one-on-one interaction is fine and, depending on the subject of conversation, can even be gratifying. Regardless, an introvert will ultimately need lots of time alone to re-charge. One way I like to do it, is by unwinding on my own with a refreshing and comforting cup/glass of tea (and possibly, some ASMR 😊 ).
Nothing against coffee (or other beverages, many of which I like as well), however, I am most definitely a tea person. Not that I’m looking to stir anything up, but tea simply has more character. As our resident java connoisseur, my husband will surely disagree. I’ll admit my appreciation of roasted blends extends solely to latte, which to me is merely a fancy name for coffee-flavoured milk with froth on top. Given a choice, I’d still prefer the tea equivalent – Teh Tarik. When it comes to 茶 cha, I am far more adventurous than the hubs. Tea-drinking involves more than just the flavour; there are many ceremonies from cultures all around the world devoted to enjoyment of the full experience. Moreover, tea has a many health benefits, and depending on the type, a cuppa can either perk you up or calm you down…meaning it’s less likely to leave you bouncing off the walls. Yeap, leaves (or petals/fruit) over beans any day.
With 2019 looming, I am pondering the traditional “new year, new me” resolution. It’s such a futile endeavour for most of us, but perhaps it’s because we’re not realistic when setting our goals and try to achieve too much at once, so this year I will strive for only one small thing , and that is to count my blessings by appreciating the good that is already in my life.
What about you? Do any of the above make it to your top 10? Hopefully, the next few hours pass with good cheer, and here’s wishing you many happy days to come!