A few of my favourite things

What brings you small moments of joy? Here are a few of mine.

It’s autumn here and the nights are starting to feel crisp, especially in those hours between five and seven in the morning, when the sun is yet to make its way over the tops of the hills across the road. I’m spending a lot of time inside, drinking tea and watching ABC news 24. My partner and I welcomed our first child into the world earlier this month. We’re three weeks into parenthood and the days and nights are passing in a blur of breastfeeding, dozing, nappy changes and visitors.

During prenatal classes at our local hospital one of the midwives suggested writing down five things that you want to keep doing or stay connected with during the first three months of parenting. You keep the list somewhere you will see it often and those five things become your anchors to yourself; small reminders of who you were before you were a parent and who you want to continue to be as you parent. They’re small things to hold onto amid the intense feelings and new responsibilities; like rocks in a river, they remain still and stable, securely rooted in the ground, as the moments of overwhelm and bodily instensity rise, recede and flow past.

One of the ways I like to practice mindfulness is to notice and acknowledge when things bring me joy. Appreciating the beauty of an object or the work of an artist reminds me of the pleasures of life. For me, taking a moment to fully observe and find thankfulness for the small pleasures is a powerful antidote to the misery of the news, the pettiness of our politics and the arbitrariness of the misfortunes that can befall us. These moments also remind me that the challenges of caring for a newborn will pass. Here are a few of my favourite things from the last couple of weeks that have been helping keep me sane. I hope they bring you pleasure too!

Ukulele Nathan's ukulele

I bought Nathan a handmade ukulele for his birthday in February. He took to it with gusto, filling our house with blues licks and covers of Joelene, Creep and She Don’t Use Jelly. I originally bought a cheap ukulele that didn’t stay in tune and lost a tuning peg the very first time he played it. So we took it back and upgraded to this beauty. Handmade in Britain, it’s a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. I love its warm tones and hearing homemade music in our house again. Do you have any instruments at home?

Flora Forager Firebird by Flora Forager source:

You might remember that a couple of weeks ago I experimented with pressing and framing flowers as a gift for my mum. Flora Forager, aka Bridget Beth Collins, takes flower arranging to a whole new level, using natural materials to create adorable portraits of animals and colourful scenes. She is just so clever, you should definitely follow her on Instagram.

Opinel paring knife Opinel paring knife from Usethings

I don’t do a lot of cooking but I like an orderly kitchen. It frustrates the heck out of me when I can’t find what I need. I try to work quickly but it’s difficult when the wooden spoon has disappeared, the egg flip has taken up residence with the tupperware and the mixing bowl is hiding behind the soup pot. Once I have our Opinel paring knife in my hand, I know that at least I’m set with cutting and chopping. It fits so well in my hand and is such a pleasure to use, that I rarely need another knife. We bought ours at a local design store Usethings and I still can’t quite believe how reasonably priced it is.

Handmade baby blanket Handmade baby blanket

My mum made this baby blanket for us - it’s delightful isn’t it! Of course I love receiving gifts but I love handmade gifts most of all. It’s soft and has a delicate leaf pattern that took Mum many hours to master. It almost got lost when we left one of our backpacks at the main entrance of the hospital on our way home. It would have been heartbreaking to lose it without ever using it. Luckily some kind soul handed in our bag with everything still inside, so I’m doubly grateful to have this snuggly beauty! Have you given or received any handmade gifts lately?

Photographer Jade Beall

The art of Jade Beall makes me so happy. She takes beautiful photographs that show the beauty and power of the female body, particularly breastfeeding and postpartum women. Pregnancy is like a second puberty in the scope and intensity of the physical changes that occur and it can leave you spinning, searching for something recognisable in the mirror. The cause of those changes is a cause for celebration yes, but the changes themselves can be difficult to accept, especially on the days when you might be struggling or someone makes an insensitive comment like ‘oh, you’re so BIG!’ Yeah. Don’t ever say this to a pregnant person. Any person really. Beall’s work is so beautiful, it’s balm for the soul, especially if you’ve ever looked in the mirror and been less than pumped about what you see. I could try to describe her photographs but really, just check them out!

Have you been struck by the beauty of something lately? Share something that brings you joy in the comments below.  Join the conversation

25 March, 2015

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