Joyful moments this week #1
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.
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?
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.
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.