30 October 2017


Finished project, crunchy leaves, boy in a buggy

Thank you all so much for your lovely comments. I am truly touched by your loyalty in continuing to pop in to this too often empty space. Your simple acts of recognition and kindness across the ether are heartening and encouraging, a reminder of the quiet power of a few words,  a hastily written note, a virtual post card.

Words can be so powerful,. Even a simple list can galvanise. After that last post bemoaning my lack of action on those outstanding projects, I got my act together and actually finished one of them. It reminded me that at the beginning of this year - you know how it is with the greyness of January to be negotiated before things start looking up again- I decided to practice what I preach in parenting workshops and keep a gratitude journal. It had been a sad time for the family. My lovely Uncle Connie had died after several weeks struggling to recover after a long stay in intensive care following an accident at home, undiagnosed injuries and subsequent lung damage. Con was my dad's youngest brother, the last surviving sibling, the most cheerful, steadfast and constant of them all. He somehow had the knack of making us all feel favoured and much loved even though we were decades away from childhood and going grey ourselves. I felt hugely privileged to spend time with him during those bedridden weeks, just sitting by him as he slept, or keeping my aunt company as she chivied and cared for him, often pulling him back from the brink. It was an emotional and humbling time.

I first started the journal after Con's funeral in early January. It was no more than a few words every day squeezed into a diary. Writing down at bedtime two or three things I was grateful for helped much more than I expected. Looking back, they were modest everyday things,: porridge waiting for me in the morning, a visit to the theatre, the company of a friend, laughter, unexpected gifts, handmade lavender soap, comfortable boots, gin, earl grey tea, baked beans, kale (really? more than once too). Friends featured often, food and drink more than you might think, outings, labour saving devices, walks, Thames barges. Even St Katherine's Waitrose made an appearance: they are, after all, extraordinarily kind to my mum.

I decided it was time for a top up, before the dark nights kicked in, not least to get in the right frame of mind before the time arrived to turn on the heating and bemoan the lack of light. That was a couple of weeks ago.   My list now includes toast and cocoa, October sunshine and clouds, leaves, afternoons in the park, washing lines, vacuum cleaners, my teachers, fellow sewists, the 339 bus, and cream teas which I had an awful craving for a couple of weeks ago, now replaced by these spelt cookies.

It's been good for me. Bring on November. I'm ready for it - almost.


Gina said...

What a lovely thoughtful post. It has made me think about what I need to be grateful for today... an unexpected cuppa with a couple of friends. It is often all too easy to forget the good things.

colleen said...

I agree - it's so easy to forget the little things that make life cheering, surprising, or just plain easier. And writing things down really does make them more memorable apparently.

VP said...

Such a timely post. I was bemoaning the dying of the light yesterday. I must blow the dust off my gratitude diary... today's entry will include a cat snuggled against my back, the redness of next door's vine shared so generously with our garden, and a mug of coffee brought to me in bed this morning. There. I feel better already.

colleen said...

It does work,doesn't it? I must remember to be more thankful to our cats too. One was nested in the crook of my neck this morning while I stroked her. Lovely.

Liz said...

This post really resonated with me. I've been thinking how we tend to focus on the big events but it's the little stuff that makes up most of a life. Even crap days have something positive wrapped inside them. I'm going to copy you and start a gratitude journal (I know I'll struggle with two or three word entries, I'm such a gobshite).

Sorry to hear you lost your Uncle Con. My Mum's last remaining sibling (she was one of 9 children), Uncle Bob, is about to turn 98.

Val said...

What a nice post and what a good idea.
It is so easy to lose a sense of proportion and not appreciate the essential quiet pleasures that make up life. They get drowned out sometimes and that is not good.
I'm so sorry about your Uncle dying he sounds like he was a lovely man.

Joy said...

I'm sorry about the loss of your Uncle. How nice to be remembered in such fond and loving ways. I like your gratitude journal. I visited with 2 brothers this past summer and for days we mostly held down the chairs on the front porch and talked about "the old days" when we were growing up--whatever came to mind. It was a simple, un-rushed, and meaningful time.

Meadowcroft said...

My grateful list includes you Colleen, for the gift you give us of beautifully documenting and appreciating the ordinary in every day and challenges us all to be observant and kind. Thank you, thank you for popping in when you can and letting us share. J.

colleen said...

Val - lovely to hear from you. Hope the fluffy ones are doing well.

Joy - Thank you for dropping by. I like the idea of 'holding down the chairs". There are definitely some things that shouldn't be rushed.

J - Welcome! How wonderful to be included on your gratitude list.

annie said...

Colleen, I'm sorry, I've only just seen this post and what a lovely post it is. It is those seemingly little things, which make such a difference to a day and which can so easily be forgotten in the rush. Such a great idea to note them down in one or two words. x

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

In my new home I don't have a garden so I don't have a washing line - but thinking of washing on a line gives me great pleasure. They are so full of colour and freedom on windy days.
I too am glad for vacuum cleaners.
Perhaps I should think of starting a gratitude diary. I guess the challenge might be to not say the same things every day.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Now look what you've begun! I must start putting mine on the top of next day's To Do list ... might be inspiring.
And you're quite right, there's always a moment in even the greyest day to feel pleased about. Your shovel brandishing grandson must provide dozens every week !