Sunday, November 19, 2023

Small Pockets of Hope

"Limbo isn't exactly a place for our mental health to thrive. In the
absence of being able to look forward to things with certainty, the best
we can do is create small pockets of future hope in the meantime."

Everyone needs something to look forward to. Whether it's going on a holiday, waiting for the weekend, celebrating a birthday party, lunchbreak with a friend, or a snack in the middle of the afternoon. We especially need them in uncertain times and hard situations when things feel bleak, hopeless, or dismal. As the quote above says, "(i)n the absence of being able to look forward to things with certainty, the best we can do is create small pockets of future hope in the meantime."

Isn't that a wonderful phrase 'create small pockets of future hope'? It gives great scope for the imagination and reminds us that perhaps there is something we can do to make things a little better. Enough to carry on with for the moment.

Many of us have probably learned that skill along the way; we've learned that setting one foot in front of the other, putting our head down and just getting through whatever it is, is how we survive sometimes. The idea that we also can create pockets of future hope for ourselves, and others, is comforting. It's not totally hopeless and we don't have to be completely helpless. Life isn't always full of hard things; then there are the times when life is mundane, ordinary, bleh. We need a little something to keep the excitement in life. Well, maybe not excitement exactly, but we seem to work better, live better, feel better when we have nice things to look forward to. By 'nice' I mean that something is pleasant and still worth noticing, even when it doesn't have the out-of-this-world wow! factor.

Something else I've learned, don't use all the 'treats' up at once. Be sure to keep something in reserve. Save it for later. Because you'll need it then, too. Which means, perhaps, keeping a list of things we know we look forward to and being prepared... from the tiniest to the biggest, from immediate pleasure to delayed gratification to long-term dreams to anticipate. Make a lifestyle of creating small pockets of things we can look forward to.

"Everyone needs things to look forward to—
big things and small things,
on good days and on bad days;
things that will buoy our spirits and make
us laugh and help us feel alive."
SOPHIE BLACKALL, Things to Look Forward To

I want to mention a lovely book in my collection that got me thinking about all this: Things to Look Forward To, 52 Large and Small Joys for Today and Every Day by Sophie Blackall. Written and illustrated by the author during the global pandemic, Sophie Blackall encourages readers not to lose sight of beauty and those things that create wonder and delight. For good days and bad ones. That make us laugh and help us feel alive.

For instance, she writes about Diesel, a neighbouring dog who comes to visit her; she says, "We walk him home and then he walks us home and we walk him home again. And on the way we talk about chasing rabbits and rolling in burdock...". (In case, you're wondering, it's a weed of some kind, not...) I feel a smile breaking on my face just reading that Sophie takes joy in that furry fellow. She also mentions looking forward to learning new things: teaching children while working from home, living with people in small spaces, not to panic, to remain helpful, and learning new words. She also looks forward to watching the full moon on a dark night.

For me, the list could look something like this. I look forward to:

✧ sleeping on clean sheets
✧ browsing a new recipe or seasonal craft magazine
✧ coming home after running errands and plopping on the couch
✧ popping something yummy in the oven (or my mouth)
✧ that first mug of fresh brewed coffee
✧ a snowfall that turns the world into a fairyland

✧ planning something nice for someone - muffins, a card, a phone chat
✧ holding hands with a certain someone on a walk
✧ planting spring bulbs for next year
✧ sprucing up the place for Christmas
✧ turning on the twinkle lights as evening draws early
✧ starting that new novel I'm saving for the holidays
✧ crawling into bed at the end of the day

I'm closing with one of my favourite quotes by British novelist, Iris Murdoch: "One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats." Having a plethora of them to look forward to truly adds to the pleasure of being alive.

Wishing you a beautiful week ahead,
and Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends.

Photo credit:
(Top) Image by R-region from Pixabay
(Bottom) Photo by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Weekend: Old Photos, A Book, Apple Recipe

"Photographs are the reflection of untold stories,
unseen beauties, unexpressed emotions, and the
unheard songs of life."
DEBASISH MRIDHA, as found on GoodReads

Another week has flown by. As for me, I'm in the middle of another sorting project. Last week it was dealing with my growing collection of old greeting cards and letters; if you haven't already, you can read about it HERE. This week, I'm gently working through 25 years worth of pre-digital photos; thankfully they are neatly filed by year in three containers. They start from when Rick and I married - the beginning of our new life together - until we got a digital camera in the 2010s (which changed everything in the world of photography). It's high time to get these paper copies out of their developing envelopes and into simple albums for the time being - may digitalize them down the road. I'm culling as I go, discarding any pics that don't add to the story. Hopefully making my home a little less cluttered and my personal world simpler to caretake.

The photos above were taken when Rick and I got engaged 25 years ago. No grey hairs then yet, and I don't think any wrinkles. But the love was there in spades... it still is.  

Haven't been feeling well this week. It's some kind of dizzy going on in my head - and I am in doctor's care. Please don't worry, I'm doing okay, just have to be careful how I go about my days, no rushing to and fro.

The weather has been beautiful, no sign of any more white stuff for now. Fingers crossed for a few more days. The sunrise was a glorious fiery red across the eastern sky this morning. But with its grand work done for the day, the sun must have booked off for the weekend - it's turned grey and overcast as I type.

A good day to cozy up inside, I'd say. Just started the new book by SJ Bennett, Murder Most Royal in which Queen Elizabeth surreptitiously solves another mystery as she goes about her queenly duties. I've had the book a while but held off reading it. The story is set in Sandringham and it's Christmas time. Which makes it a perfect read for this season of the year. It's Book 3 in the series.

Plus, for an afternoon tea treat, I'm going to make a baked apple dish. Saw the recipe on social media, and I jotted down the ingredients; it's simple and sounds delicious:

Simple Baked Apple Dish

Turn oven to 400 F
Butter a baking pan

four apples, sliced or wedged
handful of sultana raisins
handful of flaked almonds
3 Tablespoons coconut
4 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 tsp gr. cardamom
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 Tablespoon butter

Scatter apples in pan
Sprinkle with raisins, almonds, coconut, sugar, spices 
Dot with butter

Bake 25 minutes, or until apples are tender
Serve warm in bowls with ice cream

On this November 11th,

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Photo credit:
Top photo by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life
Poppy Image by Illuvis from Pixabay

Sunday, November 05, 2023

Sorting Sentimental Stuff: Greeting Cards

" need to assess what you love right now and what
is authentic to your way of living in this season of life."
MELISSA MICHAELS, quote found on GoodReads

The last few years I've been going through boxes of old papers, scrapbooks, photos—all in the effort to downsize my personal effects into something manageable as I draw nearer the next decade of my life. At every stage of life it seems to get easier to part with certain items. I've outgrown them; I no longer need them; I've written down the stories to remember them. As life circumstances change, what once was important also changes. In order to move on, and not stay in a rut, this includes adjusting my material possessions.

Most recently, I've been focusing on my stacks of boxes filled with old greeting cards. What fun it has been to go through them. Finding cards from people I haven't seen in years, from people long gone from this earth, from ones I still love and hold dear. 
Traditionally greetings cards are meant to be fleeting sentiments to be enjoyed for a short time, then discarded. Why do so many of us hold onto boxes of old cards? Basically, because they often still tug at the heart strings. I can't bear to throw away cards with such charming pictures and artwork. How quickly the era of the time sifts up just by looking at those cards. And inside, the lovely personal notes—fingerprints of kindness, concern, and friendship that left their imprint on my life—all dear reminders of certain people, places, and seasons that meant so much at the time.

I found the stack of boxes carefully labelled 'love letters' holding all the cards and letters Rick and I exchanged from the very beginning of our life together. There are quite a few—I tell you, we must have kept Hallmark and Carlton in business. I keep the cards on display a long time before they are finally packed away. I've never gone through them, but as we near our 25th anniversary in a few weeks, it might be the year to pop those lids and reread all that we'd given each other in the written word. What I did find hard was going through the pile of sympathy cards from when my dad passed away—twenty years ago next month. It brought back all those memories, fraught with sadness. I'm grateful for the care of my friends at that time, but I won't be revisiting those cards anymore.

All that being said, I no longer want to caretake all these cards. I won't part with them all, but I also don't want to leave a mess for others to deal with... down the road. What to do, what to do? Here are a few things I'm doing with them. And if you care to share, I'd love to know how you tackle your old card collections:

1. If I'm going to cull it, I read the card one last time, think nice thoughts about the person, whisper a thank you, and let it go.

2. If the card fronts are too beautiful to discard, I repurpose them—cutting into gift tags, tree ornaments, or embellishments for scrapbooks, journals, and envelopes. I love to use floral cutouts as surprise inserts in cards and notes I send out. Other cards, such as pop-up cards, make great additions to photo shoots for future blog posts. Or Instagram posts. I know some people make junk journals—old cards would be perfect additions in such a creative project. The cards haven't disappeared but have reappeared in other forms, which is fun to spot. 

3. Write blog posts about them. One thing I have discovered is that when I write down these sorts of memories, often in blog posts and essays, I no longer need all the physical touchstones, including the cards, as reminders. 

4. The cards that still bring me immense joy when I look at them, that remind me of a special relationship or unique time in my life, well, those I put back into the 'keep these' box. Some things are just meant to 'stay' until we no longer need them.

5. Cards I don't need to keep, I remove the personal notes and donate the fronts to our local recycling centre for crafters and schools to use. It makes me happy to think that someone will get pleasure out them one last time.

On that note, I find these words attributed to Albert Einstein a fitting closure for today's musings: "Out of clutter find simplicity...".

Here's wishing you a beautiful week ahead,

Photo Credits:
Top Image by Margarita Kochneva from Pixabay