Reflecting weekly on the beauty in every day moments, reasons to be thankful and celebrating small successes with the #myhearty life linky.
You may have noticed I stopped writing my weekly #myheartylife posts? I haven’t stopped feeling grateful or finding beauty in the every day moments but measuring successes as a stay at home Mum was proving a little harder. The #myheartylife linky was created by Mary at The Hearty Life and although she’s now closed it I enjoyed sharing the gratitude|success|beauty journey and the structure it gave me for writing more regularly.
I’ve started sharing #myheartylife posts as part of a weekly positive blogging community called #BestBootForward hosted by Kate on Thin Ice and Chloe at Indigo Wilderness. There will come a point that I run out of previous posts so I thought it would be good to return to my reflections on a monthly basis as I really enjoyed the discipline of a gratitude practice. I’ve been reading a book called ”Better than before” in which Gretchen Rubin explains why some people are good at doing things for themselves and some people aren’t and need some sort of external accountability to remain motivated. Gretchen writes about four tendencies (personality profiles) which relate to your ability to meet external or internal expectations. I fall into the category of Obliger, a person who responds productively to external pressures (even though I hate the anxiety and fear that creates in me) but let myself down constantly by not following through with the things that would benefit me, even things I take pleasure in. Gretchen explains that as an Obliger I need to create a sense of external expectation in order to help me keep a commitment to myself. For example, I’m unlikely to stick to healthy eating choices simply because logic says I should or because it’s sure to benefit my own health but am highly motivated by the wish to be healthy and strong for my boys.
So I’m going to set the intention of writing each month about a few of the things that have brought me joy, some of the things I’ve struggled with and what I’ve learned along the way. I welcome your thoughts in the comments especially about what you’re feeling thankful for.
I am grateful for…
The month of May and double bank holidays. I’ve always loved May for the sudden changes you start to see in the garden and the lightness of spirit that comes with warmer weather. We had a wedding in Falmouth over the second bank holiday weekend with George’s family and extended our stay in Cornwall to spend time with one of G’s oldest friends from school. It was our first break away this year and relaxed beach days with lots of fresh air and play were just what we needed.
George’s birthday was in May too but juggling his various freelance jobs conspired to squeeze the time and energy he had for celebrating so I’m planning a re-run birthday lunch for him in June instead. While George’s month has been filled with work and little downtime Euan’s has been filled with wonder and excitement. He had a school trip to Cotswold Wildlife park and spent the day at Cub camp where his highlight was doing archery. My highlight was special time with my big boy at Giffords Circus where Euan was mesmorised by the difference circus acts and laughed loud and long whenever his favourite circus clown Tweedy appeared. I was so grateful to George for making space in his schedule to have Luca so I could take Euan.
I succeeded at …
Selling more things on Ebay. I’ve been having a bit of an on-going de-clutter (not at all the method recommended by Konmari who first sparked my urge to reduce the amount of tidying we have to do by having less stuff). I’d listed several items on Ebay and was disappointed when they didn’t sell and in fact a few hadn’t even been viewed. I sought the advice of a friend who runs an Ebay shop and she gave me some pointers about how to describe items (who knew you can’t say ”velcro-fastened” shoes without Ebay hiding your listing because it breeches the use of the trade mark Velcro!). My friend also suggested listing as ‘Buy it now’ instead of as an auction. This made total sense when I realised that shoppers looking for particular items want it immediately rather than waiting for an auction to end. I’m not about to make my fortune with the £2-3 items I’m selling but I’m happy to say I’ve just packed up my 26th item. For me it’s more about re-homing good quality items and avoiding landfill than making money (unless it’s the kids toys and then I love being able to give them the money for their piggy banks). Although I could just donate to my local charity shop I think sometimes it just creates a headache for them to get rid of stock if they then find it doesn’t sell. Old technology like DVDs is a case in point and when we had our last purge we used MusicMagpie to recycle them instead.
On a mental/emotional level I succeeded at keeping a commitment to myself to attend a Mum’s group in Stroud run by Hand in Hand parenting instructor Steph Parker. I’ve had to miss the last couple of meet ups as G’s work had been falling on weekends but I made it to the May get together. George appreciates that I’m a better Mum to the boys when I have a little bit of time to myself in a space that provides support and encouragement and practical tools for creating closer connections with our children and skills to handle the challenges parenting throws up more calmly. I’ve written about Hand in Hand parenting before here and if you’re in the season of bringing up children I really recommend looking at the Hand in Hand website. There is a Hand in Hand parenting podcast which is brilliant if you’re an audible learner like me and an amazing variety of resources on their blog . Hand in Hand parenting founder Patty Wipfler has written a book called ”Listen: five simple tools to meet your everyday parenting challenges”.
I found beauty in …
Watching my 6 year old son dance his heart out at Giffords Circus. At the end of the grand finale the circus performers were reaching into the audience to help children over the barrier and into the ring. I turned to tell Euan that children could go down and join them but not before hesitating for a few breaths. It was as if I was the 6 year old child being invited down and my instinct was to hang my head and shyly refuse! For a split second I had wondered if he’d have a moment of uncertainty and want me to go down with him and I knew I didn’t want to for me but that I would for him. What was so beautiful was that the words had barely left my lips and he’d shot up and out of his back row seat and was flying down the steps two at a time. He was so topped up from a brilliant show in which he laughed and smiled and whispered ”wow look Mummy, that’s amazing” over and over that he had no hesitation or fear about joining in. He danced and twirled and this photo just makes my heart sing. I’m so happy he doesn’t have the insecurities I carried through childhood and most of my adult life and still have to activate the mute button on sometimes.
My heart sings for Luca more and more each day as well – turning two has brought with it more words, cute-isms and cheekiness. Luca’s always communicated surprisingly well with few words but it’s delightful now he’s putting two words together to such great effect and accompanying his talking with such sweet little tilts of the head or quirky actions. If he falls and gets hurt it’s a ”ba-bang’‘ and he stops to point at every ”arrar”, ”niaow” and ”gack”* on our walk to school. He enquires ”alright?’‘ if he sees someone is hurt and if Euan cries he silently moves over to him and strokes his head (not always welcome if he’s been part of the cause of big brother’s tears!). Luca’s first three word sentence was ‘‘Mumma milk pleasch” and he’s recently discovered the word ”now” so is peppering his requests with it to great comedic effect. Luca still can’t say Euan (Eudon has been the closest) but happily potters around the allotment calling ”Hiya Dave” or gifting every passer by a cheery ”bye bye”. It really is such a privilege to watch a little human grow and develop new skills every single day of their life. And an even greater gift to know that you have a hand in making their life experience the best it can be. There’s beauty everywhere in the ordinary moments.
What have you found beauty in this month? Are you celebrating your successes or making a regular practice of gratitude? I’d love to hear what little strategies you practice to create more contentment in your life.
* dog, cat, bird in case you didn’t guess!