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I’ve never been so scared in my life as I’ve been this week, after the invasion of Ukraine. It’s possible I’ve seen too many war documentaries, have become too cynical or that the pandemic has taught me that the worst will always happen. But at the beginning of this week, I’ve been a crying mess, thinking that everything good in life will soon be gone – and then, what’s the point with even getting up in the morning?

But then I started thinking about how good I still have it and that every day is a gift that should be cherished 100%. Not living my life in gratitude every day for what I have, when there are people who have lost everything, feels disrespectful. So I’ll go on planning my new garden bed, photographing spring flowers and playing music. Nothing in the world will be any better because I give up and bring myself into depression. God has given me this life and I should live it, cherish it, and particularly now, celebrate every good moment.

On Tuesday this week, the 1st of March, I started a daily series on my Instagram, “Beauty every day”, in which I’ll capture and share something beautiful each day. Similarly, I’m now kicking off this “Joyful things this week” series on my blog. It will keep my mind busy focusing on the good things. Some things may sound trivial, but if those trivial things give you moments of joy, then they’re important! In these times, everything that gives joy and/or hope is meaningful. So let’s get started.

The joy of silence

After my burnout four years ago, there was a time when I couldn’t handle sounds (this is quite common in burnout, and probably related to brain fatigue), and my entire being screamed for silence and peace and quiet. Also after I recovered, silence meant a lot to me and during the first summer in this house, my mornings of having my coffee in the garden before the heavy traffic began (you’d be surprised to see the traffic out here), was the best time of the day. Only me, bumblebees, and birds. Absolutely fantastic.

During the roof repair last week, the noise was sometimes unbearable. I handled it by playing music, so that was a good thing! The work was finished on Saturday evening. After that, the silence was so present that you could nearly touch it. I think I spent most of Sunday just enjoying the silence! And during the days that followed, I’ve continued to really enjoy it.

Pancake Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday is celebrated as Pancake Tuesday here. It’s traditionally a feast day for Christians before fast is initiated. You can read more about it in this article on RTÉ. Now, in modern times I don’t think many Christians do any actual fasting, but I know of people who choose to give up something during this period. I’ve never seen any point in doing anything like that myself.

Last year I think we forgot about Pancake Tuesday, but this year I had looked it up and planned to celebrate it. We want to embrace Irish traditions, and who doesn’t like pancakes?

Pancake Tuesday

I’m coeliac, so my pancakes are the yummiest out there! Since I can’t use the traditional recipe, I experiment with different flours and this makes both my pancakes and my apple pies a lot more interesting than ordinary pancakes and pies. This time I mixed tapioca starch, sorghum flour, and buckwheat flour. Very nice indeed, and we enjoyed them with strawberry jam, blackberry jam, cream, and I had mixed maple syrup with whiskey, after a recipe I found on Twitter. All very tasty!

While I’m in the kitchen – I’ve finally come across guar gum, which is a very handy ingredient when you make gluten-free bread. It has a stabilising effect in bread where you don’t have gluten to hold it together. I have plenty of recipes that I haven’t been able to use because I didn’t have guar gum. This is probably the most good-looking loaf I’ve made! And it tastes good too.

Back to phosphor bronze guitar strings

A week ago, I needed to change guitar strings and decided to try a new set I had bought, because my usual set was almost sold out. I’ve always used phosphor bronze strings because they’ve always given the best sound on both the guitar and mandolin. But I had bought two sets of Martin strings, specially developed for Tony Rice. I didn’t realise until I received them that they were nickel. But I put them on to give them a try, and they were absolutely terrible! You don’t have to like everything, even if Tony Rice has his name on the packet.

Two days ago I couldn’t stand it anymore and changed to my very last set of D’Addario phosphor bronze. My guitar sings again… it’s back to its usual good-sounding self and I’m loving it. I’ll never use anything else again! If D’Addario can’t deliver, then I’ll buy Martin Authentic (also phosphor bronze). Life is too short to play nickel strings. Sorry, Tony, but your strings didn’t suit my ears at all.

The joy of guitar strings that sound like I want them to!

Good things happening in the garden

We’ve had some nice weather this week, although it’s been quite cold and windy most of the days. Still, despite low temperatures, the birds are chirping out there every morning. And on Thursday when I opened the door, the sun warmed my face and there was almost no wind. What joy! And there are plenty of little joys in the garden – my neverending source of joy.

After the roof work, the garden is littered with bits of concrete, slices of packaging, and whatnot. I have a LOT to do when the weather improves. But the worst area, where they dropped the pieces of chimney, is beyond rescue. It looks like a small quarry! I’m now planning to dig a quite large garden bed there, in which I’ll put some cuttings, my sage plants that are too large for my planting box, and more. It’ll be a lot of work but will give good exercise, and will keep me busy. I need that kind of busy, and it’ll be good for the insects!

Last but not least… physical exercise

Yesterday I had my first session with a personal trainer. My husband found him when he needed help with his tendonitis, this guy is a physical therapist but also a certified personal trainer. He offers one-to-one personalised training sessions, and it’s not expensive at all, especially compared to what it costs to buy a gym membership at a decent gym here – it’s a no-brainer to do these PT sessions instead. And in addition, I don’t feel comfortable going to a gym because of Covid.

The first session was absolutely fab! Last we had a chat about my background, goals, and problem areas (such as neck & shoulder tension, lower back pain), and now he tested what were the appropriate weights, and gave me a basic program to get started. Some were exercises I had forgotten even existed. I’m not a beginner at weight-lifting, I’ve done it quite a lot in periods but life was too busy back then and I could never do it consistently. Now I have dumbbells and a barbell at home, I’ve used them and had good intentions but have struggled to make it a habit. Now I’ll go to this PT every Friday instead, to make training routine and get help to focus on the important areas. Hopefully, I’ll also use my equipment at home during the week, but if not, at least I’ll get that Friday workout.

I do this to get active again and build strength, but much of it is to improve my mental health. A good training session is such a stress-reliever and it also makes me feel good about myself, because I do something that is only for my own wellbeing, something that is healthy, positive, and also builds up my body. So it’s good in so many ways and inspires me to take care of myself better generally.

After having been so inactive for a long time, I nearly had to crawl back to the office because my legs were so shaky after the session. Then I had to get up the stairs to the office to collect the laptop and more and then somehow take myself back down again! Hahaha! This old body is getting some proper exercise again, and I’m loving it.

I hope you had some good moments this week too. Take care, and I wish you a good weekend!


Linking with Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share.

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Comments:

  • 5th March 2022

    These are all great things to be joyful about! I’d honestly never heard of Pancake Tuesday and have never had gluten-free pancakes, but yours sound delicious! Good luck on your physical exercise journey!

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  • 5th March 2022

    Sounds like you have been doing a great job to keep your spirits up. The pancakes and bread look yummy. I have found walking good to work out my troubles.

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  • 5th March 2022

    Hi Susanne,
    Sigh – this is what comes by letting a tyrant have and grow power.
    So sad.

    I had to laugh at your reaction to nickle guitar strings.
    You sound like my son, and let me guess, others could not tell the difference, but you certainly could?
    Yep? We’ve been where all those others are in your life. Our son has the same sensitivity.

    For your pancakes, make sure you try my trick of taking whatever fluid you use in your batter and puree in a handful of chopped carrots. This is a discovery I made with my guitar player was only 6 or 7.
    Ref: https://garyawilsonstories.wordpress.com/the-carrot-corn-pancake-incident/

    Hope you have a great week coming..

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  • 5th March 2022

    “Beauty every day” and “Joyful Things This Week” are wonderful ideas. I look forward to following them!

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  • 6th March 2022

    Hi Susanne, I’m glad you decided to focus on beauty and joyful things. Your pancake and bread look delicious. Gardening and physical movements are good for our mental health. Have a great week ahead. Thank you for your #weekendcoffeeshare.

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  • 6th March 2022

    Shrove Tuesday is also celebrated in the UK with pancakes. Hope you have a great week!

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  • 6th March 2022

    Such joyful gifts and looking for beauty everyday is a great way to try and cope with all that’s happening at the moment. Take care and that was a yummy looking pancake!

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  • 6th March 2022

    Love this phrase ‘the silence was so present that you could nearly touch it’. Taken me back to a moment last summer when I got up for a long mountain walk before the rest of the campsite was even thinking of waking. Pancakes look great, will be round in 5 mins 🙂

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  • 6th March 2022

    You are right Susanne! The world is a mess, but we need to live every day with gratitude. <3

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  • 8th March 2022

    Hi Susanne – I’m so glad you found some positivity and joy to refocus yourself. I think living in dread and fear about circumstance we have no control over is so debilitating. Choosing instead to be present in the moment and to look for those little sparks of joy is a great antidote to all the horrible things that are happening in our world atm. And I smiled at your enjoyment of the silence after the builders – I always feel that way when our two granddaughters go home after a few days with us – they are so bright and chatty and the noise never seems to stop unless they’re asleep – so when they go home we just sit for a while and enjoy the peace that descends on our empty nest.

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  • 11th March 2022

    Great update. I always enjoy experimenting with different recipes etc, especially because I know so many people who eat different ways, so I like to have options. Great job on the working out. My hubby is on a program with my cousins wife. She’s a nutritionist and personal trainer. SHe lives in Kentucky but she does things virtually and we have printed workouts etc that she has tailored for him.

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  • 19th March 2022

    So many good things here, as of course is the intent of these posts!
    First, this – “the silence was so present that you could nearly touch it.” resonated with me so much. When silence is *tangible*, when you can almost feel it pressing in on you like a comforting hug. I love that, so much. Sometimes, believe it or not, I get that in my apartment (despite there being hundreds of people in the same building!). And I love it. I crave it. If I had my ‘druthers, I’d be in the middle of nowhere, comfortable in the silence… no, *relishing* the silence. Sigh…
    Your bread looks fabulous – much preferred to pancakes, sorry to say. I so dislike the American approach of drowning them in syrup and butter. I can think of nothing less appetizing, to be honest. Savory all the way! 🙂
    And, I had to laugh with the D’Addario strings. My (now) ex worked in music merchandising and I am pretty sure I have a reusable shopping bag in the car from D’Addario (likely from a conference/exhibition). 🙂 If you need me to ship you more from the US, please let me know. I’m sure he’ll know where to source them!
    I hope the situation in the world improves, despite current indicators, and that these moments of joy become more and more common. <3 Hugs to you.

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