Life births, buds, blossoms and blooms, and eventually withers and fades, with the hope (if you should so choose) of resurrection and new life once again.
In all the seasons of our lives we spend much time thinking of ‘what’s next’, or looking back either regretfully or with fond nostalgia. How often though, do we simply enjoy and live the life we are living? Not often enough, I would say.
Let me tell you an interesting fact. One of this year’s winners of The Grammy Awards, Nicola Benedetti, the now world famous violinist, is someone who I went to the same youth orchestra as when I was quite young, and in high school. I didn’t know her personally but I saw her and her sister around from time to time, but our paths never crossed on a personal level. It’s wonderful that she has accomplished her dreams. Before you get any wrong ideas about me or my skill levels with music, I admit, like many other of the youngsters there I was perhaps painfully average at the violin and that was fine by me. It was never such a passion of mine, nor did I have any particular natural talent. My passion back then was writing, literature and anything creative.
Alas, I digress. The point is, some people do ‘make it big’. They have a talent, and work relentlessly hard to hone and perfect their craft and turn it into a skill, and doors open for them some way or another, to be able to share their gifts with the world. That’s really quite special and perhaps rare for most of us ‘pilgrims, poets and dreamers’ (c) who live comparatively average lives.
Some people become stars, and others gaze up at the stars, longingly, and either way that is ok, because each individual is special and each life, however humble, is of immense worth whether or not we feel we have any talents or gifts to share, since simply being is enough. You are a person of worth. That means you are a person of worth whether you are playing on a world stage or sleeping rough on the streets, nothing can erase that Truth.
So, where was I? Yes, daydreaming. 🙂 Whether you have or have had dreams of something or another, or whether you feel you don’t have anything particularly exceptional to offer, remember to stay interested in the things that interest you.
You might be working hard like Nicola Benedetti to hone your talents and do remarkable things, or you might simply enjoy creating an occasional sketch, doodling, colouring in, cross-stitch, model making, creating music of your own, writing poems, reading literature. If it is a more humble path, that is perfectly ok, and it is a gift in itself. Don’t get so caught up in the ‘never’ or the ‘not yet’ or the ‘then’ that you miss the little gifts of life right now.
Most people who become famous by default, and not for the sake of fame, have been pursuing a passion, something they intrinsically enjoy, and working and training to become even more highly skilled at it.
In a world of goals and achievements and accomplishments and ‘fame’, don’t forget the simple joys of being absorbed in the simple pursuits of happiness that you love.
Stay interested in your life, it is pretty remarkable too, y’know? 🙂 . x
Why not make some Christmas gifts for people yourself? Many people love the personal touch, time, thought and effort that goes into creating something just for them. If this is new to you, why not try making just one homemade gift, or part of a gift to add in such as a ‘stocking filler’?
If you are very skilled, maybe you are doing this already, and maybe you could help someone out who wouldn’t know where to start but who would like to give it a go.
We’re all a little more creative than we think, and sometimes we just need that little bit of encouragement to give it a try. 🙂
Some ideas for home made items:
Christmas tree ornament / decoration
A drawing or painting
‘Upcycled’ gifts such as bags, or decorating boxes to make them into gift boxes (I did this a few years ago – it was lots of fun)
Cross stitch / embroidery
Anything else that takes your fancy….
Let me know of any brilliant ideas that you have that I have missed out of this list, I’d love to hear them and maybe even give it a go myself! 🙂
It’s not uncommon to fall prey to our human nature of being ‘near-sighted’ in how we look at our lives. During winter time, this can be especially challenging if you find that the low light levels, and sometimes ‘gloomier’ days have a negative effect on your mood. It can become easy to lose perspective, to become inwardly focused, ruminative and negative.
We might feel like hibernating, hiding away from the world, and we can fall into a gloomy, wintery ‘slump’.
To help lift your mood, and broaden your perspective as the year draws to a close, instead of getting stuck in negative thinking, why not encourage yourself by printing off a few pictures of the highlights, or most meaningful times throughout your year. We live in a day and age where we’re all almost constantly taking photographs, whether with a professional camera, or with a phone, and most of these remain in digital form.
However, there is something nice about having some actual prints to keep and to look through every now and then. I did this a couple of years ago, and I meant to do it last year as well, so I’ll need to get around to printing off pics for 2018 as well as 2019! I put them into an album, and I have it in my living room. It’s easy to show to friends and family if they’re interested, and every now and then I’ll take it out and look back over the year of 2017, and it brings a real smile to my face to see the highlights of my memories, and the faces of people I love, and remind me of fun times I might have forgotten.
You can create a simple photo album, and while you pick out those photographs, get them printed out and then put them together it will hopefully bring back some of those good memories that you’ve made along the way. If it’s been a tough year for you, it might be a good way of reminding yourself of the good times too, even if those pictures are of the simple pleasures of life, such as a flower, or a nature picture if you don’t have so many eventful memories that bring you happiness from the year gone by. There will always be a blessing, even hidden away, if you’ll only look for it.
You could also go further and make a crafts project which you could do on your own, or if you preferred you could do this with friends and family. Maybe you could make a scrapbook and include your photographs in that, along with your own drawings, crafts, captions, and things like ticket stubs from events you’ve been to for example.
You can let your creativity run wild, and make gifts and presents with your photos, such as wall art, calendars, mugs or other keepsakes, either for yourself or to give as personalised gifts to the people you love.
It will make those otherwise gloomy days and nights seem brighter, you’ll have a project to get your creative juices flowing, you’ll feel more alert, positive and engaged, and will maybe even enjoy looking forward to the cold dark nights where you can stay in and work on your project. You’ll hopefully gain a more positive and grateful and wider perspective of your life, of the year gone by, the blessings in it, the meaning gained from any losses you’ve faced and lessons you’ve learned, and be in a better frame of mind as you look forward. You’ll also, by the end of it have captured some memories that you can look back on and share with others too. x
Maybe you grew up enjoying some beautiful festive family traditions. Maybe you didn’t, but you longed for them. Either way, why not start a new tradition, whether you are single, in a relationship, have family of your own or will be sharing your time with friends. Regardless of your past or your circumstances now, you can always start anew.
A few years ago, I decided to start a new ‘tradition’ of my own, if ‘new tradition’ isn’t too much of an apparent contradiction that is! 🙂 I went to Berlin and Potsdam and visited the Christmas markets there, and I bought some tree decorations to hang on my Christmas tree. Since then, I have gone to Christmas markets more locally with friends, and each year I try to get a new decoration to hang on my tree. A few of these are beautifully carved, unique, wooden decorations, and on the back I can write in very small handwriting the date and place so that in the future I can remember where I got them. I like to add one new decoration to the tree each year, and I like it to be meaningful, and from an event or experience such as from somewhere I’ve been with friends or family (or by myself as was the case with the one in Berlin).
The decorations don’t need to be from a Christmas market (I also have some hand made ones I made myself the year I had my first Christmas craft stall), just one new item each year, and it’s nice to see these personal touches adding up, and hopefully if or when I have a family of my own I will be able to continue this on and share it with them.
What ‘traditions’ do you have, or what new things would you like to start? x
We all say it from time to time: “If only I had more time, then I could do more of the things I really enjoy.”
If we’re honest with ourselves and each other, we probably all have a lot more time than we make proper use of, and especially so during the winter and holiday seasons when we have a ready excuse to stay indoors and relax.
How many of us who go out to work during the day, come back in the evenings and have something to eat and then spend the rest of the time slumped in front of the TV, or some other electronic device? One click leads to another, and before you know it you’ve whiled away the hours and it’s time for bed again, and that’s another day in which you wished you had ‘more time’.
Now, what if the solution wasn’t having ‘more time’, but making better use of the time that we do have?
I have this little game I play that helps me to get things done and avoid feeling overwhelmed. I have these ‘daily challenges’ on my computer in the form of various card games, word games and mind puzzles of different degrees of difficulty. If I’m feeling overwhelmed by the things I need to do around the house, I’ll solve a puzzle and then do a bit of work (and within that I break things down further like I’ll put 5 things away, or do x amount of something, etc.) and then go onto the next puzzle, and go on alternating between doing the things I need to do and relaxing / brain training and for me this ‘system’ really does work and keeps me calm, focused on my tasks a little at a time, and efficient. Doing this frees up time for me to have more spare time as well when the environment and living space I’m in is conducive to relaxation, rest and creativity.
Sometimes when we think of revisiting hobbies that we’ve maybe laid aside for awhile, we can feel similarly overwhelmed as when we have a lot of housework etc. to do. But we can make this manageable for ourselves too, and make better use of our time.
Think of your indoor hobbies. What would you ideally do on a cold, cosy winter’s evening? Now think of the amount of time you spend with your devices not being particularly productive. By this I don’t mean blogging, because this is a creative outlet and I think can be a very good use of time in connecting with other like minded creative people, and sharing our encouragement and insights with the world to make the world a kinder, more loving and supportive place online. But instead think of the amount of scrolling you do, comparing your life with someone else’s, looking at the latest celebrity gossip, going from one funny cat or baby video on You Tube to another, or binging for hours on your favourite box sets. I’m guilty of all of the above just like most of us probably are, but the problem is if it becomes a habit that interferes with us living our real and best lives for ourselves. It’s fine to every now and then ‘switch off’ from the world and look at things online, but it really shouldn’t be what we spend most of our free time doing, and I know that I am making changes to make better use of my time as it’s all too easy to get lost and entangled in this inter-web isn’t it?
Winter time is the perfect time to reignite your enjoyment of your indoor hobbies. And you don’t need to spend hours at a time doing them if that isn’t practical. For example, I enjoy playing the violin, particularly using it as an instrument to worship God with. It brings me joy, but it can for a long time sit in its case, untouched in the corner of the room, because I think ‘I’ll get back to it someday.’ But shouldn’t every day of our lives be that someday in some way? What I mean to say is that everyday should be the day to do something meaningful and worthwhile. And so maybe I’ll play my violin for ten minutes one night, but that in itself is a beautiful gift to be able to do.
I also love adult colouring in, and have taken this up as a hobby which I do not just for enjoyment but also to develop my skills in art and creativity, and there is a whole community out there of people who display their wonderful creations online, on forums, on YouTube videos, and whatever you may think of adult colouring in, believe me, there are some fantastic artists out there (‘colourists’) who create masterpieces of the highest quality, and this is something that I aspire to. And notwithstanding that, it is a beautiful way to relax. Instead of thinking that I need to spend hours pouring into this hobby, maybe I can spend 10 or 15 minutes working at it in the evenings before turning the TV (or in my case, ‘laptop’ as I don’t have a TV) on. Doing a little of what you enjoy everyday, over a life time all adds up, and it can bring joy to others as well as you share your gifts.
What about crafts? Isn’t this the perfect opportunity to put your talents to use and make some homemade cards or decorations or whatever craft you do, to give as gifts to the people you care about, as well as exploring the possibility of selling your home made items to raise money for charity? A few years ago I had my first ever craft stall at work around Christmas time. I decided to use the money raised to give to a homeless charity in the city. Last year I decided to try out a new hobby, making jewellery particularly beaded bracelets and necklaces with charms, and I spent the wintery nights preparing a good collection of these which I later sold to raise money for the same homeless charity as well as a children’s charity. Now, this wasn’t anything extravagant, or needing a great deal of skill, but it was a fun way to try something new, to use my time (even while watching my favourite programmes – don’t you just love hobbies that allow you to multitask?! 🙂 ) and to encourage other people and do something helpful at the same time.
Some of our hobbies can be just for the sheer joy they bring in and of themselves, of honing our skills, learning new techniques, connecting with other like minded people, or even passing on what we’ve learned to our friends, family and the younger generations.
My God-son and his dad enjoy spending time together doing wood-crafts. Some of them are quite simple, but turn out beautifully like little model rocking chairs crafted out of wooden clothes pegs glued together. Think of the wonderful memories you could make, as well as the wonderful gifts, from spending time connecting with people or even on your own giving yourself time to grow, learn, improve and contemplate.
What are your favourite indoor hobbies that you’d like to pick up again? Could this wintertime be the chance for you to rediscover them? I’m curious to know what people enjoy doing – painting, music, reading, writing, arts and crafts, model making, jewellery making, pottery, embroidery, quilt-making, baking, making Christmas decorations, knitting, sewing, weaving, photography, scrapbooking, wood-carving…..? I’m sure there are so many more that I have overlooked, and many more that I may never even have heard of.
If you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about what your favourite hobbies are, and I hope you have and create the time, even if just a little time at the moment, to get back into the things that make you feel that enjoyment and creativity! 🙂
Last week I wrote about how I went for the first time to a little place where you can paint pieces of pottery. This was a birthday treat from my mum, and we had an enjoyable ‘crafternoon’ getting creative and a little messy (or at least I was messy, with paint all over my hands!) painting pottery.
It was the first time I had done something quite like this, but it was a blast. Not only did I have a blast, but our pottery did too. It was dipped in some kind of a green glaze (all you potterers out there will know the technical terms for these things, I’m just a ‘newbie’) and then put in the heat of a kiln, and after a week it was ready for me to come and collect.
Here is how it turned out. Just my first ever attempt so hopefully if I have another go I can learn more about technique and do something a bit better. But it is full of fun and happy memories.
So a little piece of encouragement from a little piece of pottery – if in your life you find that the heat is up, the pressure is on and you’re in a ‘fiery furnace’ – stay strong, endure, persevere and let it pass – you might find that you emerge on the other side, stronger, shinier, more vibrant with your true colours radiating brightly for all to enjoy. Be encouraged, friends! 🙂
This post will be a little lighter, brighter and more colourful than my previous post today (which was a little bit ‘heavy’).
Recently I tried some pottery painting with my lovely mum. I have to wait a few more days to collect the finished pieces as they have gone into a kiln and will come out all glazed, bright, shiny and new!
Here is a sneak peek – the colours will be much more vivid once the pieces are finally ready.