I never planned to be a ‘list’ sort of a blogger, and I suspect I’m writing this list of simple pleasures as a reminder to myself as much as in the hope that anyone else will read and enjoy it. I’ve been feeling a bit out of sorts this week, tired, full of self doubt and feeling unsure about the future. I’m not on the whole a real worrier, so I don’t always appreciate how exhausting it can be and am feeling renewed respect and understanding for those who live with anxiety as part of their everyday lives.
I do however regularly practise gratitude, a simple appreciation of the good parts of a day at its end or a reminder of my good fortune at its beginning, and I credit this habit with usually being able to see the bright side. I did use a little app called What’s Good for a while and I found it really helpful as a reminder and in establishing a routine – take a look if it’s something you’re trying to achieve. If you prefer a pen and paper you might like to take at look at Happily Zen’s downloadable Gratitude Journal, and indeed you might enjoy looking at the prompts which prove how simple it can be.
Gratitude is more or less exactly what my Mother and Grandmother encouraged me to do by ‘counting my blessings’ as a child. It’s so easy to endlessly aspire to more of everything in our lives, but as I stopped to think about what my favourite simple pleasures are I realised that they are pretty much the things I am most often grateful for, but that they vary from season to season. My summer favourites include:
- Family mealtimes, outside if the weather permits. A little culinary collaboration is a wonderful way to appreciate each of our strengths and weaknesses. I am rather good at coming up with and initiating plan, while M is most excellent at picking it up and running with it should I have become distracted by another most pressing project (which happens often!). However we get there I love the hours we spend in chatter and banter while eating en famille. The lighter evenings somehow induce us to spend longer at the table, though we frequently discuss watching something on the TV all together we rarely get around to switching it on since the time tends to drift away until the darkness reminds us it’s time for bed.
- Listening to the birds sing as I wake in the morning. Leaving a window open overnight and being roused from my slumber by their cheery tweeting gives me a sense of being connected to nature from the comfort of my bed. I’m not much good at identifying who is singing what though and this is something I’m hoping my Insta-friend Jackie (Woodland Bird) may be going to help me with in the future.
- A glass of wine in the evening sun while watering the garden. My sense of smell is pretty rubbish, but at this time of day even I can enjoy the scent of my beautiful roses. Stopping to sniff each variety, brushing my hands through the rosemary and lavender, and maybe even snipping a few blooms for the house (yes, the sweet peas above are from my garden!). My absolute favourite roses for the last couple of years have been David Austin’s Desdamona which are pure white and have a sort of luminosity at dusk.
- Summer fruits. A properly ripe nectarine or peach, the sweetest Galia melon or a sun warmed local Cheddar strawberry is the taste of summer for me. I don’t ever feel the need to add anything to them when they’re at their best. I don’t have strawberry plants at the barn yet, but must do so next year as picking them in the garden of my childhood just over the hedge is such a happy memory.
- Watching the chickens sunbathe. The chickens make me smile at any time of year, but watching them doze as they spread out their wings and luxuriate in the warmth of the sun helps me appreciate the very same. I’m less inclined to dig myself a hole in the dirt in which to enjoy it, but their pleasure often prompts me to spend a few minutes being conscious of the rays shining upon me.
Well, this little list has me smiling again, so mission accomplished from my point of view! It’s all pretty basic isn’t it? I don’t need a yacht in the South of France, luxury hotels or Michelin starred restaurants. It really is the simple things that give me the greatest pleasure – although I can appreciate the other things too 😉
What about you? Anything simple pleasures that you especially enjoy during the summer months that I should try at the barn?
In the spirit of slowing things down over the summer I won’t be writing a monthly letter until September, but if you’d like to receive it then feel free to pop your details in below. I will continue to blog and be around on social media where I always welcome your company. x
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