Over the weekend I was having a chat with someone who’s been having a bit of a hard time coming to terms with some changes in their life. She spent a fair while telling me in some detail about the negatives, the unhappy-making things, and the things that cause her dissatisfaction. The list was long, with most of the issues carried forward over many years and none of them seeming to have any clear pathway to resolution.

It took me back to my mental first aid training last year. At the time the instructor stressed that, as often as not, people just need someone to hear them. That talking through an issue can make a huge difference in terms of coping and moving forward. So I listened.

When the conversation moved on, I found myself asking what sorts of things make her happy. Just simple, everyday things. Her response was, ‘I’ve never really thought about life that way.’ That made me sad.

But here’s the thing: life’s full of potentially unhappy-making events and experiences. They’re there, right in front of us or lying in wait around unexpected corners or concealed in the strangest of places. Every day. But so are happy-making things.

Happy-things don’t have to be epic happies, like successfully completing a project, or finding a solution to global warming, or resolving a relationship issue. They can be things as seemingly-trivial as taking a moment’s pleasure in sunshine on your shoulders, or someone smiling at you on the train, or seeing a dog chasing a ball in the park. It can be anything that, in that moment, makes you smile. That smile – that moment when your face softens and your eyes sparkle – that can be your positive for the day. If you let it.

It may sound a bit self-help and twee, but I’ve found that outlook makes an enormous difference to coping with all the weird stuff that life throws my way. Actively choosing to be receptive to the joy in the small stuff, making a conscious decision to look for happy things, changed how I looked at the bigger issues as well.

So, perhaps, dear friend, since the big issues are so very big and have no endgame in sight, perhaps try changing how you think about life. See if it helps to make a conscious decision to try to take pleasure each day in the small things, in the everyday things – and let’s catch up again next week and see how you’re travelling.

Autumn roses: my smile for today.

Last week I was presented with the choice of 20+ fridge magnets and an invitation to choose as many as I’d like. The magnets were created by a friend from original photographs that he took, in and around Perth. He combined the images with words to create positive messages for himself – and then decided to share them.

The art work is terrific and part of me wanted to grab all 20 and whack them up all over my fridge. But instead I showed some restraint and spent a bit of time sorting through to see if any of them really leapt out at me and said ‘take me home’.

What I discovered is that, although they’re all lovely, only two of them really resonated with me on that particular day. One because it’s who I am and the other because I need the reminder. 

I must have looked at those magnets dozens of times since I put them up. Whenever I open and close the fridge, there they are. They remind me to take a mental step back from rushing around and be present in the moment  – and they’ve made me smile. Every time.

So thanks, friend, for sharing your thoughts and smiles. They’re greatly appreciated. Smiles are huge and happy and lovely and can totally make someone’s day – especially if they’re shared.

So here are my smiles, dear tea leaf readers. I hope they work for you too – and that you share them around 🙂

Life got busy over the past few months. Really silly, mind-numbingly busy. It crept up, tasks and commitments snowballing over us and gathering us up in their wake. It’s the kind of crazy downhill slalom that I find tends not provide much in the line of personal satisfaction, even if I know that the end result will be worth it.

Then, this evening, two things happened: I noticed we still had a giant pumpkin in the fridge – and a friend sent me a link to this video.

Ignoring the pumpkin, I sat down to watch the video. The take-home message for me was that being super busy can end up being isolating.

But we all need to eat – and eating together is more fun. And I have a giant pumpkin…

So, busy or not, the giant pumpkin’s been cut up and vat of soup is underway. Sourdough bread mix goes on next – and will be baked tomorrow when we randomly open our very sandy, discombobulated home to whoever feels like sharing a spontaneous pot luck meal.

Hope you can make it 🙂

Since I’ve rather cleverly managed to end up with several part-time jobs (all at the same time), pups that need vets, walking and endless cuddling, and in-laws to keep an (active) eye on, normal things like grocery shopping, visits to the GPO for stamps, going to the gym, cooking and socialising have all taken a back seat for the moment. Pretty lame excuses, I know, dear Pen Pal, but there it is. So, until I have a little more free time, a quick-fix postcard to keep you going. Enjoy. Perhaps I’ll make the next one a recipe card – that’s almost like cooking, right?

 

 

 

A friend’s baby turns one this weekend, so I thought I’d make a gift for him rather than buying one. I then spent many (!) minutes scrounging around on craft sites, knitting sites and pinterest, hunting for a simple project. As always, I found the sheer volume of ideas for make-and-do overwhelming and stalled out more several times. But in the end I came across some adorable little crocheted animals. It turns out that they’re called amuragmi – and they’re really cute.

This is about when I reminded myself that the last time I made soft toys I vowed to never do so again… but 2012 is a whilxmasknits_dec2012e ago now… and amuragami are quite small… and there are heaps of free patterns available on the internet…. and I managed to talk myself into giving it a go.

The only tricky part, really, is that I’m not really much of a crocheter. I have crochet hooks, but only because I inherited them. To date I’ve made a few granny squares (in the dim and distant past) and a pair of glovens (last week), so making a crocheted toy was an interesting decision. Nevertheless, I boldly chose a simple pattern for a roly poly cat, then set about a YouTube video to teach me how to make a magic loop – which is the first stage of the process.

A few binned attempts later I now have all the elements crocheted and final assembly has commenced. So far the critter doesn’t look a whole lot like a the pattern, but it is kinda cute and I think 1-year-olds tend not to be too judgey, so I’m hopeful it’ll do the trick. Next time a smaller hook size, perhaps, and finer yarn.

Roly Poly Cat - construction phase