May

may

May arrived and the trees lining our street donned their new, bright green dresses. The fresh leaves are amazingly, improbably green. I see it happen, I notice it get greener every day. And yet, there comes a day when I’m cycling home in the early evening and I turn on our street and the greenness takes my breath away. How lovely it is. It is only by a series of random and completely unplanned events that I’ve found myself living here. I am grateful for it every day.

In other news, there is now a swan family, with six fuzzy cygnets, living on the canal. And a mama duck with near a dozen fluffy ducklings at the pond. As if I needed more motivation to go out for walks.

When the sun is out, all I want to do is be outside. When it’s raining, I don’t complain much, I just think of all the wildflowers in the meadows that are thankful for the drink. How easy it is to be content in the spring!

Magic hour

kitchenlight

Mornings in our kitchen are entirely magic.

It’s the perfect time and place to sip the first cup of coffee of the day while watching the sky change from dark blue to magenta to pink on frosty winter mornings.

To dream, make plans and write lists while the first sun rays fall on the kitchen table.

To cook big breakfasts while dancing to Bob Dylan.

To linger after breakfast on the weekend, with a pot of tea and good conversation.

To read a book while the neighbours’ cat naps on the sunny patches on the floor.

It’s magic.

April

dream_april

Hello April!

I feel like the last few weeks went by in a blossom-induced haze. Every day I notice more trees blooming, their branches heavy with myriads of magical, dreamy puffs of colour. Standing underneath the cherry tree at the corner of my road and looking up has been a gloriously calming, spirit-lifting activity. The magnolia season is here, all too brief but lovely and cherished.

The hedgerows along my running route are coming to life too. Among the blossom and the budding leaves I can spot blackbirds, robins, wrens, and blue tits all going about their business and signing their songs.

In our garden, impossibly rotund bumblebees have made their appearance and the damson tree is blossoming into tiny, white flowers. It creates the loveliest dappled light at mid-morning. With everything stirring to life, we are busy too. We’ve got our seeds and pots ready; we’ll be planting our windowsill herbs and flowers this weekend. Our thyme has survived winter and it’s already thriving; it feels good to have a head start.

The springtime transformation of my world amazes me. This year, it also coincides with a time of change in my life too.  With lots of things up in the air, I’m reading books, listening to podcasts, and drawing inspiration from everything, trying to figure stuff out. Nature’s seemingly effortless transformation as the days grow longer has been helping me stay calm, keep anxiety away, and be positive. After all, if what appeared to be lifeless in the dark, frozen days of winter can now burst into life and beauty, surely I can find my way to grow and bloom too?

When I grow up…

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  • I will live in the English countryside.
  • I will find my passion and turn it into a job.
  • I will finally see Australia, Africa, and South America.
  • I will have a kitchen that is the centre of the house, filled with warmth, family, friends, laughter, and love.

Because it’s my birthday, and on birthdays I make lists.

Things I’ve (not) learned: Coping with news and social media

I really need to stop reading the news.

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I need to stop reading the news.

It’s a thought I’d been toying with for a while but in the last couple of months it became obvious that something needed to change. And so I tried to stop but as it turns out, news is a constant, all-encompassing thing. Vile, awful, terrifying news from all over the world constantly streaming into my everyday, darkening my thoughts and crushing my spirit. To escape the ugliness, more effort is needed.

Even when I stopped having my breakfast with a side of “let’s see what horrible things happened while I was sleeping” on TV, I’d see posts by likeminded people on Twitter or narrowminded monsters on Facebook, or I’d click through from funny cat posts on Buzzfeed. In the past few weeks I’ve really fallen off the wagon. Whenever I take a break, or I’m procrastinating, or I’m at the grocery store, I’m reading bad news.

I do think it’s important, perhaps now more than ever, to stay informed, to not live in a bubble. So, no matter how awful it is, I believe it’s vital that I am aware of what’s going on in the world. But after the first few tweets and news articles, it no longer is about being informed, is it? There’s a rather disturbing tendency to revel in the misery in a way. To keep reading opinion pieces and people’s comments on them, or to fall down the rabbit hole of hashtags, or to read the headlines of hateful publications, or, and this is the worst I think, to have arguments on Facebook. These things only ever work to make me even more upset, sad, and anxious.

My plan is to go back to my peaceful, TV-free mornings, focusing isntead on more positive little rituals to start my day. I’ll also limit the time I spend online every day, no more endless scrolling just to pass the time. I will focus on having more genuine conversations with my friends on social media instead of just retweeting and clicking through to article after article. After all, retweeting isn’t going to change the things that upset me, so instead I will spend my energy actually doing what I can to contribute to causes I believe in and I’ll do something positive for the world.

I know a lot of people are having similar thoughts, and I’d love to hear about how you cope with all the bad news and awfulness in the world.