Gillian Monks

'Making Fairytales Come True'

Category: Musings of the Hearth (Page 1 of 5)

“Mankind is my Business”

Free illustrations of VintageThe above title is a misquote from “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, words uttered by a miserably repentant Marley’s ghost to an intractable and very unrepentant Scrooge.

The full quotation is: “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business: charity, mercy, benevolence, forbearance. These were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the ocean of my business!”

In earthly life, Marley became far too engrossed – obsessed, even – with his own business of financial profit and the power which it brought him. How much money we earn and what expensive items we own do not define us. It is not what we are but who we are that counts, and that is usually best revealed by our actions.

Far too often we become so totally wound up in our own emotions and challenges that we forget what life is really all about – living the best life that we can whilst reaching out to all around us with love… and that includes not just humanity but all the natural world as well!

Every year, during the winter season, we are ALL reminded of this fact, regardless of our religious practices or spiritual beliefs, and given the chance to enter into practical action… lay aside our grievances, fears and prejudices, and extend the hand of hospitality and friendship. After all, it is a win-win activity because when we bring loving and giving into our hearts and our daily actions, we not only communicate good feeling to everyone around us, but we also end up feeling much better about ourselves too.

Yet, even when we do think about it, how many of us do not generously give our caring and love for fear that it will be scorned and thrown back in our faces. Rejection is a bitter blow to deal with. Is it foolhardy to persist in giving and loving when there is such danger of being so wounded, or a sign of emotional and spiritual maturity?

To quote a Christian concept, remember to always turn the other cheek… give people the benefit of the doubt… if nothing else it demonstrates that you are the stronger, more mature character, as well as being the far nicer person.
And, in the long run, it becomes a habit.

So, how will your ‘business’ flourish this Midwinter? What will you be able to enter in your columns of positive and negative this Christmas? What service can you render to others; what gift of smiles, friendship, forgiveness and love can you distribute far and wide – even to complete strangers?

No ‘humbugs’ here, dear friends!
With my love.

Tea In A Box

The most enjoyable occasions can arise from something completely unplanned and unexpected.

This afternoon, my husband and I had a real treat. A friend had very thoughtfully and kindly repaid our hospitality by treating us to afternoon tea in a box from the Cornish Company which arrived on our doorstep a couple of days ago.

Having baked and cooked from scratch for the past half century or so, I always really appreciate something which I haven’t had to make myself. The whole concept of everything emerging out of plastic packets is strangely novel and alien to me.

Just before four o’clock, the traditional time for afternoon tea, I filled the kettle and set it to boil on the Aga, laid a small tea cloth over the dark wood of our living room table, switched on the fairy lights which run across the mantlepiece above the stove and swath our seasonal ‘autumn branch’ in the window and began my voyage of discovery as I opened one packet after another… pale scones, little pots of fragrant strawberry preserve, crisp spicey Cornish fairing biscuits, buttery shortbread fingers, sachets of Cornish tea and – oh, joy! – a tub of Cornish clotted cream!

The water in the kettle began to chirrup and sing. I arranged everything on plates of Mason’s ‘Pink Vista’ – the crockery which we had used each and every day in my childhood home at the cottage at Drybones. I chose a red tea pot to accompany the pale red cups and once the kettle boiled, I warmed the pot and then brewed the tea aa my husband and I sat down to enjoy our treat.

There is something particularly special about a winter afternoon tea which defies definition but leaves a lasting impression… a time when the rest of the day retreats into the gathering shadows… time out of time when one can relax and let go of all the busyness which has gone before.  The light faded outside the window, cups chinked, spoons and knives clattered, voices softly undulated in intimate conversation, amber tea streamed into waiting cups and steam fleetingly billowed in the warm air.

As we talked and ate and enjoyed our lovely tea, my memory travelled back across the years to my childhood. This was the time when I would arrive home from school, often cold and wet from my mile-long walk down our lonely lane. Uniform and satchel would be discarded, hands and face washed and then my mother and I would sit close to the hearth, drink tea and eat crisp toast, hot buttered crumpets or velvety little Scotch pancakes which she cooked fresh on the planc over the fire.

While the daylight faded outside, the birds roosted and the cats and dogs found comfortable cushions and corners in which to curl up and snooze, we would light the candles (no electricity there) and encircled by dancing shadow we would share our news of the day, or my mother would read aloud to me, or – putting the tea things aside – we would make and write Christmas cards or make decorations like Christmas crackers and party hats. This was our special time, when the dinner was already left prepared and waiting to be cooked in the kitchen, the fires were all stoked and the kindling and logs brought in for the night, the outside work completed – a time to sit… to catch one’s breath… to be together… to dream.

Now, as I watched the grey twilight of the cloudy, mist-filled day fade into the deep blue of dusk, I felt again the warmth and timelessness of those precious post school hours with my parent which now populate my memories with such love and gentle peace. Again, I experience the sense of solid security of the ancient cottage walls protectively enfolding me, the warmth of the clean-swept hearth, the comfort of the joyfully dancing flames in the grate, candle light flickering on shelves of pots and winking back from shining copper pans and kettles, the tick of the clock in the shadows on the white painted wall by the polished oak chest… the scents and sounds of an old living kitchen as it gradually settled to rest through another frosty winter’s night.

Our ‘tea in a box’ had given me so much more than the transient pleasure of consuming some delicious delicacies; it had provided me with a magical key back into the past where memories of a small child ebb and flow into today; meld and blend as the woman I am now is swept away into another time and place. Surely a truly special gift!

A Very Happy Birthday!

As so many of you sent me emails and messages, I decided to respond with one huge  ‘Thank you!’ to you all – I did indeed have a very happy day, in part because of all the love and goodwill channelled in my direction which warmed and deeply touched me.

Late morning found my husband driving us down to one of our local garden centres… sadly, not the one I used to habitually frequent; that has become far too commercialised –  big, garish and a prime example of the rampant consumerism that I dislike with a passion. This other garden centre is further away but much smaller, more intimate and very Welsh.

Oh, joy! The place was filled with winter flowering cyclamen and pansies and many other colourful shrubs and flowers. It was an utter joy to see and scent and experience this glorious show of natural beauty when all around us our gardens, fields and woods are turning to drab and seeming lifelessness. My spirits instantly raised and my heart swelled.

At this time on a Sunday morning, the Christmas displays were very quiet. Happily, I strolled around enjoying all the sights and sounds. There were marvellous collections of fairy lights, large jolly gatherings of Father Christmases, gnomes and elves, herds of deer, polar bears and penguins, small woodlands of synthetic trees and crate after crate of beautiful baubles – many with a natural theme and others to delight a small child with their picturesque traditional fantasy. In one corner, a life-sized Father Christmas drove his sleigh past a large Welsh castle inhabited by animated elves who waved cheerily from every window, zealously guarded by an enormous inflatable green dragon. I was suitably amused, inspired and enchanted.

My sore knee (which has been giving me increasing problems for a couple of years now) was beginning to heartily complain, so briefly, I sat down on a garden bench which was for sale. I did notice people staring at me. I thought that it was because I had sat on something which was for sale, but when I came to stand up again, I realised that the bench had been pulled across the entrance to Father Christmas’ grotto which is not yet open… and there was me wearing my little red cape and white fur hat trimmed with a sprig of Christmas decoration tucked in the side! Mother Christmas in waiting, perhaps?

Now there is a job I would LOVE to do… play Santa Claus for the children… I have the right figure but not the right gender! Perhaps in my next incarnation I may get the chance…

Home again, later that afternoon, my husband, son and myself settled down by the blazing log stove in the drawing room with a tray of hot tea and my birthday cake… coffee and walnut, one of my favourites! Candles were blown out… cards and gifts were opened… outside the daylight waned and drifted into a wet and windy dusk… we talked and read and I gloried in contentment at just being safely at home all together – this was my best gift of all.

Years spin around with quite amazing – not to mention sometime alarming – speed. My life seems to get busier and increasingly exciting. But it is the little things, the simple times, the unguarded, unplanned moments which sometimes catch me unaware and suddenly, I see a reflection of my life… myself… in this unique yet ordinary moment and it is breath-taking in its perfection.

Even the longest life does not contain that many ‘moments’. Be aware of yours… they lurk in the shadows and most unexpected corners, ready to blaze out and stun us with their transitory glory and then vanish again. Be ready to recognise them, to be aware of what is taking place. I know I treasure mine.

So, once again, thank my dear friends and readers, for your support, good wishes and kindness. Collectively they provides just such a very special moment. Love, light and blessings to you all.

Happy Calan Gaeaf!

One of the lanterns my husband has made this year

All the little ceramic pumpkin-shaped lanterns are scattered throughout the house, ready to light at dusk this evening. The real pumpkins have been carved and placed by the outside doors in welcome… a solitary broomstick leans against the wall of the front porch – a visitor, perhaps? The basket of sweets is ready in the hall for the children to come knocking. The Ancestor Tree stands proudly, fluttering many paper leaves on which are written the names of the beloved and dearly departed. The whole house is redolent with the cinnamon aroma of apple crumble cake.

For this is Calan Gaeaf – the Celtic ending of one year and the beginning of  a period of rest and recuperation at the darkest time before the beginning of the next. It is also one of those special occasions when the veils thin between the worlds, between here and there, us and ‘others’, and we can more freely mix with life on all levels.

For me, this has never been a festival of fear and horror but inclusivity and love – ALL are welcome at my hearthside, ALL shall be honoured and cared for. All I ask is that who or whatever joins me and my family this next three days does so in a state of peace and love.

This evening we shall celebrate with the Ancestors Dinner where we all sit down around the table but with at least one extra place set for those from beyond the grave in the Summerlands. This night they may return and join us for one merry evening of loving remembrance and know that they are still held in our hearts and never forgotten. Other years their presence has been tangible and we are always ensured company during this particularly delicious but poignant meal.

Tomorrow we gather with dear friends to light the Winter fires and assess our past year, give great thanks for all that we have achieved and gently open ourselves to the rich delights of rest within the shadows and candles flames of winter… the possibilities of what might come next. And we wait… wait for the knocking at or door and the excited babble of children’s voices as they enact a custom so old that its origins are lost in the mists of time.

But they must not tarry too long out on the dark village streets or else they run the risk of being pursued by Hwch Ddu Gwta, the ferocious tailless black sow who lurks especially at gates and styles and will catch any unwary traveller and carry them off to be plunged into the depths of Ceridwen’s sacred cauldron!

On the third day – the 1st November and the also the first day of Celtic winter – we shall walk out into the woods and greet the new season, connecting with the wild energies of the wind and rain and the treasured gift of being able to be still and rest and regenerate.

Finally we shall return home, draw close around the warm fire and munch on hot buttered crumpets and spicy ‘soul cakes’ while drinking copious amounts of scalding hot tea.

However you celebrate the ending of the year and the beginning of winter, I truly hope that you find much satisfaction and love in your heart and can turn your face joyfully towards the next great occasion – perhaps the most important one of all – the return of the Light at Midwinter, for out of darkness even the smallest spark shows bravely…. but for now, simply enjoy the shadows.

The First Storm of Winter

A wealth of tasty crops and healthy food to be enjoyed throughout the winter.

What a night that was! Gales lashing the trees to a frenzy and howling around the house from all directions and then the advent of an electrical storm, the likes of which I have never seen in the United Kingdom before. It lasted for nearly three hours – silent, ominous, threatening – great blinding flashes of bright white light which flickered and soundlessly exploded around our valley and across the furthest mountain tops.

In days of yore, I might have been forgiven for thinking that this was an indication of the outpouring of the Wild Hunt led by the mythical Gwyn ap Nudd as their horses streamed across the dark skies, their hooves striking sparks from the clouds as they gathered speed. In the old days it was the souls of the recent dead which they reputedly went to gather in, but with so much personal trauma and dread currently permeating our rapidly failing society and such a weight of chaos and dysfunction in the abilities of our political leaders I am tempted to reflect more deeply on just what Gwyn and his gruesome band of shades might actually be collecting up. Certainly, there is much about our way of life which is out worn, out dated and in desperate need of clearing away and replacing.

The year grows old, the seasons turn… in less than a fortnight we shall celebrate the Celtic new year and the ending of the old worn out cycle of 2022, and the beginning of a period of quiet, of stasis, of reflection and assessment on what has come to pass this last twelve months. A the dawn breaks on a new day, the savage winds have completely died away and the all the lightening has flickered and flashed away – now peace, stillness and quiet reign once more.

I look out on our little back garden and our fruit and vegetable patch in particular. Last week there were still heavenly scented sweet peas blossoming at the top of their vines and scarlet nasturtiums (which I grow as part of our salad patch to include the leaves and flowers  in our salads) had scrambled from ground level up inti the gooseberry bushes. There were even some pale pink roses left in bloom by the old back gate.

The last flowers of summer?

Now, the land has taken on a somewhat more battered and serious demeanour.

We truly are entering winter, but with good provision of crops from the land. Savoy cabbage, curly kale and broccoli thrive and will stand through the coldest frosts. There is still a patch of lettuce thriving in a sheltered corner. The last of the courgettes and beans have been gathered in and the rest of the tomatoes have just been picked from the greenhouse. Squirrelled away in our freezer are many pound bags of succulent mange tout peas, peppery kohl rabi  and green beans, not to mention all the fruit crops – currents, gooseberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, apples, plums, rhubarb – all now changed into cordials, wines, jams , chutneys and preserves in the alchemy of our kitchen, while in the herbal dispensary, many more plants, fruits and fungus dry or marinade in preparation for the coming chills and ills of winter when our immune systems come under extra strain.

I am filled with immense gratitude for all the wonderful abundance of the Earth, yet am simultaneously awed and humbled by the raw power and absolutely energy which Gaia so easily wields. The storm of yesterday evening so amply demonstrated this.

Just for now we shall make the most of the dwindling daylight, the softer rain, the last hours of golden sunshine when we can still feel the real warmth of the sun’s rays. Now is the time to pause, look about us and attend to the pressing needs of the Earth and all who dwell on her, for Winter is surely coming.

Prioritising

Our Autumn Equinox ‘thanksgiving table’ from a few years ago – just one string of lights and two candles – simple – none of which actually need to be lit.

Some people are asking “Will we be able to afford Christmas lights this year?” while others are asking, “Will we be able to feed our children next week?”

Am I really referring to my own community here in Wales? Can this be happening for real? How have we arrived at this terrible state of affairs?

If I was younger, I think that I would begin a revolution… or at the very least, stand for parliament… but as it is, I choose to work peacefully at grass roots level – hopefully with useful and comforting suggestions which will make the lives of others easier and pleasanter…and more authentic.

I have already begun to address the worry over feeding ourselves and our families with my little recipe and menu book, ‘Eat Cheap’: This booklet is freely available online or to download and print.  To get your copy please visit: https://www.gillianmonks.com/2022/09/06/free-e-book-eat-cheap-or-making-much-of-little-survival-strategies-in-the-kitchen/

Audaciously, I now would like to address everything else, because it isn’t about what we have, but how we choose to view it and use it.

Many of us have been nurtured and raised in a social and economic system where endless quantities of everything are available, everything is dispensable, and nothing is valued. In the past it has been frequently referred to as the consumer or ‘throw away’ society. This has all come about as a way of falsely stimulating commercial markets. It is ruining the health of our planet and poisoning and destroying the environment in which we live, as well as taking away our peace of mind. We have been brought up to want more… and more… and more… to never really see what we already have and to be always looking into the far distance of what we might like next, more of, or instead of.

Now is the time to stop!

Look around your homes and truly assess what you already have. How can it be used to greatest advantage? How can it be re-vamped, done up, re-utilised? Use what you have to the very best of its – and your – ability. Make the most of what you already have.

Also, take good or greater care of what you already possess. Look after your possessions so that they will last for many years. Choose well and wisely when you do buy something new, with an eye to it lasting for a long time or being flexible to use in many different ways.

Consciously scale back on what you use, have, display and/or decorate your home with. Choose carefully. To coin one of my favourite phrases, make much of little. A single lighted candle in a darkened room has incredible impact. All too frequently we suffer from not being able to see the wood for the trees. A single strand of lights can show to far greater advantage and give a lot more sensory pleasure than a whole rat’s nest of intertwined coloured lights bombarding us senseless.

Perhaps we all really need to see what is in front of us… around us… and be thankful and appreciative of it? We cannot do this if we are completely overwhelmed and in sensory overload.

This year, put up less decorations but what you do use display mindfully, thoughtfully, and make the most of it. Look to sharing a selective little and engendering a deep appreciation of it. Even with small children you can achieve this by slowly, carefully building the anticipation and ‘magic’ of a situation, so that one candle, one bowl of holly, one small tree and one gift assume quite huge proportions – same amount of excitement and pleasure – far less effort and outlay – except in how we present it all and put it across to those around us – and for that we have to give the most precious and expensive gift of all – ourselves.

A Thread Through Time

The seasons turn, autumn is here, and some of our constants have shifted.

Earlier this week I went to our local Honey Fair in the mediaeval walled town of Conwy. It is an annual event which the whole family looks forward to and after the exigencies of the Covid years, it is a real treat to once again see the narrow streets teeming with people and dozens of stalls piled high with sparkling glass jars of golden honey and other bee-related products.

One of the items I always purchase at the fair is my winter supply of beeswax furniture polish. As soon as I retuned to the shady car park with my bulging cotton shopping bags, I whipped out a jar of  polish, unscrewed the lid and took a deep breath. I simply love the smell of it! It instantly transports me back to so many other days when furniture around the home had been newly polished and the house was filled with this unmistakable sharp, clean scent…

Hot summer days when I would get in from school or college and step into the cool, shady living room of our cottage, an oasis of calm tranquillity… where dark furniture shone like satin and reflected the bowls and vases of velvet-petalled roses set about the room. Later, autumn afternoons of grey drizzle when the room was set for tea – winking copper and china on the shining sideboard and table and my little son would toddle in to toast crumpets by a glowing fire. Memories of blustery March days with all the doors and windows open as the house was swept, scrubbed, dusted and polished to welcome the coming spring… or given an extra buff in preparation for lighting the Midwinter candles.

Now I have a particular task for my new jar of polish. A week ago I attended a wonderful family reunion at which one of my darling cousins presented me with a beautiful oval mirror which at one time hung in the home of our grandparents – possibly nearly a hundred years ago. I peer at my reflection in it and imagine all the times my grandfather and grandmother, my father and his little brother and all the other older members of the family must have stopped in front of it to tidy their hair, adjust the angle of a hat – or perhaps simply catch a fleeting glimpse of themselves as they rushed about their busy days. I can almost see them smiling back at me from the captured depths of another era. There would be times, too, when the dark wooden frame got a good polishing, and perhaps the family home was briefly scented with a similar aroma of  beeswax and turpentine.

It is quite amazing how one small household item can encapsulate so many memories and unite a whole century of family history. How much greater is the impact of one very long life lived publicly and in service to others – and here, of course, I am referring to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.  How many of us have lived our entire lives with the queen as head of our nation’s ‘family’. Whether we agree with having a Royal Family or not, the Queen has acted as a figurehead, an unwavering example, a matriarch, a highly principled and conscientious common denominator running through not just our British society but that of all the Commonwealth countries around the world. I have been stunned by the many messages of condolence which I have received from friends and family abroad, especially America.

The fact is that the Queen has been a constant in our lives. There is no one under the age of seventy living in the world today who can remember a time when Elizabeth wasn’t Queen of the United Kingdom. Perhaps this is one reason why so many people now feel lost and adrift? We have lost the royal, loyal thread which has run through so many decades, connected so many famous people and places, so many historic events, so many eras – our national anchor, mainstay and compass. What comes next?

Time to reflect some more, I think, while I polish my precious mirror…

 

Any Room At the Inn?

Flag of UkraineI have just had an extraordinary conversation with my family. They happen periodically. The last occurred when we sensed that something monumentally threatening was approaching our world, our society, and a few months later, the pandemic swept into our lives.

This latest conversation concerns the horrendous events taking place in Ukraine. I see the heart-breaking pictures of families torn apart, of elderly people, traumatised and in real need of warmth, food and comfort, of bewildered children and physically and emotionally exhausted women, of men crying as they say goodbye to their loved ones on crowded railway platforms,  and I just want to sweep them all up in my arms. Like so many of us, we, as a family, desperately want to do something to help.

We have a decent-sized spare room. We have decided to offer shelter and accommodation to a Ukrainian family – or whoever needs us most. We are currently checking the internet each day so that we may apply as soon as we are able to do so.

My son speaks some Russian, which might be helpful. He also thinks that he will be able to access Ukrainian T.V. via the internet for any visitor to watch. If others in the area also volunteer to extend their welcome and hospitality to these people, then gatherings and events can be organised for them so that refugees do not feel quite so isolated. Various thoughts along these lines are blossoming in my mind – I  have a reasonably-sized living room and dining room which could also possibly be utilised for social events – but I mustn’t get ahead of myself!

Would YOU consider doing something similar to temporarily help out? Is there anyone in my own area of Snowdonia who is contemplating also taking such action? Perhaps we could contact each other so that in our openhearted and openhanded efforts, we don’t feel quite so isolated either?

We all feel shock and horror at what is being perpetrated in the Ukraine. Often, when we hear of such suffering, it is so far away that we feel powerless to help, but here is an opportunity to really get involved – to demonstrate not just our support but our warmth and love.

So, come on all my readers – what can you do to help? If ever you have felt sympathy or compassion for people suffering somewhere else in the world, now is your chance to put those feelings into practical action!

A Cry From The Heart

Please read this – I will be brief. We have all heard of what is taking place in the Ukraine. Might I suggest that we ALL respond in a radical way that is sure to have an effect? When you think or hear of what is taking place, please, please, please simply send that part of our world… those brothers and sisters of ours of the human race who are facing such challenges on many levels – a loving thought, straight from your heart.

It is easy for us to succumb to our own volatile emotions – to respond with horror, fear, sadness and hopelessness, as well as give way to judgement, bias, aggression, belligerence, hatred, and so on. And we feel self-righteously justified in thinking and feeling this way.

But acts of aggression are already generating all these energies – and more. Right now, the Ukrainian and Russian people do not need us all focusing more of the same upon their situation – do not need the corrosive judgement, indignation and anger of the world directed at them – they need our love.

So, please, whenever you hear about or think of the conflict which is currently unfolding in that part of the world, please direct your pure and unconditional love towards them. Some people are lighting candles in their places of religious worship or their homes – light a candle in your heart and keep it burning bright and true.

Do not add to the problem – be a part of the solution.

Celebration Versus Commercialisation

Valentine Cake, baked yesterday afternoon and served fresh for tea.

Commercialisation! Excess consumerism! We do not engage with common celebration because we do not wish to join in with the commercial jamboree which is sapping the goodness from our Earth and poisoning our planet – as well as tempting many to spend more than they have got. This is what I hear from many sensible, sensitive and responsible members of society.

But why should we metaphorically throw the baby out with the bath water? Why deny ourselves and others around us the pleasure of celebrating a lovely occasion, just because we don’t want to buy what is on offer in the shops? Surely this demonstrates that we have all become truly brainwashed by the commercial world into thinking that we can only celebrate something if we buy the requisite formula from commercial outlets?

Primarily, celebration is a state of mind and a general outlook. A public holiday or event or personal occasion approaches and we feel that we would like to take part in it. This then gives rise to ideas of how we might do this, which frequently involve the participation of others. We are contemplating a special time when we are able to tune out from the ‘ordinary’ day and spend a bit of quality time with loved ones, (or are blessed with the peace and space of our own company), enjoying an activity or activities which are just a little different or special.

Speaking as the mother of a family, our celebrations first and foremost involve bringing family and often dear friends together. Before any event, we discuss and agree on what form we wish our celebration to take, and also who would like to volunteer to do what towards it, or what they might provide or donate towards it. We meet and greet each other with the common aim of spending valuable quality time together and enjoying ourselves.

What we do once we are together follows a very simple and often similar formula. We spend quality time together. We talk and share. In the darker months we switch off all the electricity and light candles and/or encircle the hearth and sit in firelight – or outside around the flames of a bonfire. We bake or cook a special cake, dish or meal. We brew a pot of tea or coffee or set out (home made) wine and a cheese board. We play games, spend time in the garden or out in the woods… we watch a performance of ballet of opera on T.V. We exchange gifts – most usually individually home produced with much love and care. Activities and refreshments of food and drink often reflect the changing seasons.

It might not be to everyone’s taste, but it is authentic to us and largely free, for it is what we bring to the gathering within ourselves which makes each occasion so valued and special. It is not just the jokes, the communal song, the music, the conversation we share which warms us, nourishes and supports us and makes our hearts sing. It is the fact that we are happy to co-operate and create these occasions, together, and the love for one another which this demonstrates.

Where in any of this have I mentioned buying anything, or even leaving the home environment, unless it is to go out into the garden or natural world?

I am sure that you all have your personal favourite ways of enjoying yourself and celebrating. But it does not have to involve running with the herd and doing what everyone else does. It does not have to involve great expenditure. Customers tend to buy items to make a celebration. They go through the motions of setting the scene by simply flashing their bank cards. But the amount of real involvement and input, effort and care is negligible – and so celebrations are frequently found to be devoid of any true meaning and so hollow and disappointing.  Then people feel disappointed and let down. Rows often ensue. We need to be reminded that we only get out what we put in.

So, what might you decide to next celebrate? What ‘ordinary day’ might you choose to use to alleviate the grey drabness of this end of winter? There are always personal highs to focus on… even just the fact that it is a stormy day and you want to be cosy indoors – enter candles, cakes and hot buttered crumpets… perhaps reading aloud, singing or listening to lovely music… or getting up on your feet and dancing around your living room?

Looking in the calendar of springtime events in the back of my book, ‘Spring In Your Step’, I see that on the 21st February it is International Mother Language Day.  That could be celebrated in all sorts of ways by reading poetry or prose aloud, writing something, singing, signing up to learn to speak your original ‘mother tongue’ or getting in touch with others who speak the same language. Spend a few minutes thinking about how lucky we all are to be able to communicate, how lucky we are that most of us can speak, articulate, and hear similar responses.

Or simply take a little time to celebrate your good health… peace… the fact that you are alive and have this day. But it doesn’t have to cost you a thing – except thought and effort, perhaps.

Go on, be daring! Celebrate just being alive!

 

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