By golly, how much of a choice gratitude truly is! I say this with the greatest care and emphasis, because you see to continually choose to be grateful when things get a little challenging is the true mark of gratitude. It is easy to be grateful when you are happy, content, not faced with challenges or not being hormonal. But to be grateful when all you’d rather do is pull your hair out?! Well then, there’s a test!
I’m a day late with this week’s journal precisely for that reason. It’s been a trying week punctuated by trials on the work front, and personal challenges that have tested my resolve and belief in showing up for this brand. In the midst of all of that I realised that I was having a rather rubbish week. Not at all a rubbish life. So I made a mental list of all the things that I was well jolly of, and therein lay my gratitude this week. Please allow me to share these small , somewhat insignificant moments with you.
My son has had quite the milestones this week. First it was the two words he’s picked up, which really translate into phrases in English, and then it was the bravery. He’s finally decided at fourteen months that he’s ready to stand up. And so I was treated to two very brave, very assured stands with me as the post to launch himself up and stand briefly unaided. How elated I was! And he for me, because if I’m being honest he really didn’t know what the fuss was about when I broke out cheering and grinning quite like a fool from ear to ear, but he made sure to be happy with me.
With his grandmother still around, my son has the benefit of developing his multilingual skills. Yet another thing I am eternally grateful for. It probably should be no surprise then to find that his first words are in my mother tongue. “Careful it’s hot”, and “good grief!”. I’m not very impressed with the second phrase, and I’ve had a bit of a word with my mother. But I must give my son credit for not only learning it, but knowing precisely how and when to use the phrase. He says it with such conviction and emotion you can’t help but smile every time he uses it. I am one proud mumma, I’ll give you that.
I first discovered Norah’s debut album, Come away with me, when I started university a good two decades ago now, at the introduction of a then dear Kenyan friend Noosim Naimasiah. My love for her has since grown in leaps and bounds. At the end of a long day, when I feel bruised and battered, I pour myself a warm cup of Whittard’s English Rose tea, close my eyes as I sip my brew, and let the mellow sounds of “The long day is over” wash over me. This song in particular never ceases to soothe me. And for that I am very grateful.
While playing with my son earlier in the week (his new favourite game seems to be “let’s climb all over mummy”), Classic FM put on Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, and how glorious that was! For a moment the both of us stopped to stare in the direction of the music, and we smiled at each other before he resumed climbing all over me with renewed vigour. For that brief moment though, I was grateful for life’s small graces that fill the heart with joy at no cost.
In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned that I had been looking forward to defining my life as a working mother differently to any current societal expectations, and how I was grateful for the silver linings to come from the pandemic in the way of added flexibility with working arrangements. I am very happy to report that I’ve now been able to arrange that I work flexible hours that see me working for the mornings, spending all of the afternoons with my darling son, and then making up the remaining hours in the early parts of the evenings.
This week was the beginning of the trial period, and while I can say there definitely is room for improvements from the lessons learned, it has been a glorious way of being more present for my son. I get to spend more time with him; I’m available for more playtime and get to put him down for his second nap. I’m there to witness little moments of bravery and new milestones being crossed, and for the first time in a very long time I feel like I’m not just there for bedtime routine and getting him ready for the day the next morning.
And so I am grateful for the courage to ask for something unorthodox, the courage to have imagined it in the first place, and the courage it takes to implement this new way of being, no matter how tricky getting things right the last week has been.
I think it is the influence of having grown up in boarding school, and perhaps never quite feeling like I belong anywhere, but one of the key things about me is that I am a homemaker. Any friend who knows me well enough will mention this first and foremost when pressed as to my qualities. No matter where I am, how I live, I make my dwellings a home. A place for respite and rejuvenation, a place for friends to gather and be nourished, and a place for happiness to be renewed.
These past few weeks, I have had the pleasure of doing more things around the house to help make it more a home. We have been living in this house for a little over a year now, and it’s taken a little while to make sense of how we actually live in harmony with it, and how in turn it can nourish us. I am finally glad to have figured out how to live here, and with the help of the incomparable Rita Konig, I have been making up this home more in the English style while still keeping to my true sensibilities. She is a true gem, and whatever little free insights I can gather from her have been eagerly lapped up. It is a joy to see it all come together piece by piece.
Work is in progress to install a Chesney wood burning stove in the living room to help cope with the harsh English winters. I plan on installing Toile du Jour curtains in the bedrooms, and have also started pulling together a pedestal display table in the entrance area to create a welcome moment and set the tone for an inspired stay. Which leads me into another area of gratitude:
My upbringing has always been such that I’m more inclined to respond positively to men that are gentlemen. I’m rather partial to a man who opens a door for me, carries the heavy and not so heavy things that need carrying, and generally makes a fuss about making my life a joy. I’m no damsel in distress, but I am a lady, and I fully expect to behave as such and be treated as such. I’m ashamed to admit that it has taken me a little too long to reconcile this fact to myself as an adult that this is a non-negotiable for me in my engagement with the opposite sex.
Much to my delight, I had the pleasure of meeting one such gentleman in the form of a Scotsman while out shopping for the aforementioned pedestal display table. By golly was he a gem! So much so that I found myself losing my footing somewhat around him. His effortless manners and pleasing countenance left me feeling lighter and somewhat happier to have had the encounter with him. It’s so easy to forget our manners and how our actions affect people, and my Scotsman proved to me this week that his breed of men truly still do exist. How grateful I am to have gone in search of a table, and for him to be the answer to my needs!
Quote of the week
I would be remiss to not point out that despite all the little gratitudes I had tallied, I still didn’t have the energy in me to put together this post and show up here. But I noticed it my blog statistics so many of you showing up for your Friday fix of the gratitude journal, and your company humbled me. I realised that while I had been expecting to put my best foot forward, you showed up here for any foot I dared put forward. It is bewitching to think we must always be perfect to be accepted or have something worthwhile to say. And once again this week I’m finding myself drawn to the realisation that in my imperfection I matter still. Thank you for being that little nudge I needed to remember that.
And thank you for joining me for this week’s gratitude journal, and for being the reason for me to show up in imperfect action this week.