Warm fuzzies

I’m among the first to admit my addiction to social media, particularly facebook. It’s a way for me to be instantly connected to my friends and family who are now scattered far and wide. However, I also recognise that it’s made me more self-obsessed. Think about it, every time you log in you’re asked “what’s on your mind”?

It encourages us to share our thoughts, our opinions and quite often our complaints. Sure, we also use the medium to give birthday greetings and share photos, but overall it’s about us.

It got me thinking about something I loved as a teenager. We called them “warm fuzzies”, other friends called them “affirmations”, but the premise was the same. You took little bits of paper, of any shape, colour or size, and wrote messages expressing what you loved about other people. For example, I might write “Jess, you’re an amazing person and I love the conversations we have together”, or “Sarah, I saw what you did for Matt today and it was lovely”. Not detailed or long winded, but they brought smiles to the faces of the people who received them.

Last year I got married and one of my incredibly thoughtful bridesmaids made me the box below. Then, the attendees at my hens parties wrote me notes of advice for my marriage and my life. Not quite warm fuzzies, but each message brought me joy. Reading through I was able to guess who wrote each, reflect on why they chose each message and now I have this fabulous box to open and read whenever I choose.

I think it’s time to bring back the warm fuzzies and affirmations. I’ll use letters for some, but maybe social media is a new tool. I think most people would happily receive a positive post or private message. Let’s face it, we all need more warm fuzzies.

Wedding advice

Messages of love and advice before my wedding. Photo courtesy of Billie Button Photography.

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Letter writing isn’t dead

Notepaper in front of me, great pen in hand, address book on stand by and it’s time. Time to sip think, sip tea and write to friends and family in faraway places.

While email has become part of our daily lives, I’m a little traditional: I still love hand-writing letters.

Living away from family meant as a child I would receive letters and postcards from grandparents, aunties and cousins. Some got as creative as to make jigsaws or write in spirals.

As a teenager I scrawled page upon page of heartfelt messages to friends far and wide. I’d beg my parents for stamps for some, others would be passed to friends in class the next day. When email came along it was inserted in these friendships as well, but the letters continued to flow.

I still have many of the letters I received. Some from great friends, other from people who have now passed away and another lots from friendships that have since faded. Each letter is a time capsule of its own: capturing the emotions and thoughts of a moment in time.

As time has passed, the hours we spent writing as teenagers have been consumed by jobs, children and other life events and the arrival of those handwritten notes in the mailbox is less frequent. For some it’s a once-a-year exchange of Christmas cards, others a birthday message or a note on the birth of a child.

Handwritten letters bring joy at the mailbox!

Handwritten letters bring joy at the mailbox!

Like most people, my intentions to write letters occur more often than the fact. I keep a list of the people I want to drop a note to, keep track of the letters I need to respond to. Then, often on a Sunday afternoon or late in the evening, I get myself comfortable, dig out my stationery and write.

Yesterday I positioned myself at my desk with a stack of notecards, notepaper and inspiration.  Letters to aunties, to university friends, to teenage friends, to new friends. While some of the notes were more inspired and exciting than others, all were filled with love and I know they will give the recipient joy when their mailbox contains more than a bill and junk mail.

Life may get busier, the price of stamps may be on the rise and email may be more convenient, but I’m determined to keep the art of letter writing alive.

 

Time for tea and tea for time

Fragrant leaves covered with hot water, brewing gently. So simple and so satisfying.

My love of tea and tea parties was instilled by my aunties and great aunties when I was just a child. They’d always have tea brewing in a pot, served in beautiful cups. They’d sweeten mine with plenty of sugar – cubes if I was especially lucky – and I’d sit beside them, like an adult, with my own exquisite, delicate cup.

In recent years, a cup or pot of tea has become a calming and motivating ritual. Sometimes it’s a social, shared pot, other times an search for inspiration in a pot for one. I’ve become fond of pots of tea at my desk and tea with my husband after dinner. I’ve acquired a collection of tea pots and pretty cups which make a five-minute break away from work amazingly refreshing, or afternoon tea with friends or family a real occasion.

The type of tea has varied depending on mood and my cupboard is bursting at the seams with a range from green to white, Earl Grey to the smokey lapsang souchong. There’s even a mint slice tea in there. From a Chinese tea set and a pot of Jasmine Green Tea, to a silver teapot and a strong Earl Grey. No matter what time of day or what mood, there’s a solution in my tea caddy.

It’s a remarkable drink, served for both shock and in celebration. As Sir Arthur Pinero said, “While there’s tea, there’s hope”.

Tea in pretty cups feels like a special treat

Tea in pretty cups feels like a special treat (Photo courtesy of Billy Button photography)

And on that note, it’s time to refresh my pot.

 

 

Happy days

As fireworks exploded in light shows of colour and noise, people set their New Year’s resolutions.

Some made drunken resolutions, soon forgotten and never implemented; others were conscientious for days or weeks but as calendar pages turned they slipped away.

This year I didn’t make resolutions, but I did make some commitments to myself as the weeks progressed.

One of these was to commit to the #100happydays project. For those of you who haven’t heard about it, it’s a personal challenge for people to post one photo a day of something they’re happy about. It’s a challenge to strip back our busy schedules and our inclination to whine about the bad things that happen.

One of my happy days posts: Mahjong Lessons

One of my happy days posts: Mahjong Lessons

So, for the past 38 days I’ve lived up to the challenge. Some days it’s been tough, other days blissfully easy. When you think about it, that’s the way it should be. There are days where it seems that everything went against you or you did only the mundane. Conversely, there are days that are just wonderful days where you do exciting things, spend time with people you love and when the stars all seem to be shining on you.

While I’m not sure I’ll able to live up to the pressure of finding a post for each day of the rest of my life, the challenge of photographing a happy thing each day has made me more mindful, more appreciative and more aware of what is that actually puts a smile on my face or a happier beat in my heart.

For more on the project or to set your own challenge, visit 100happydays.com

Words written, read and loved

Curled up, one arm propping up my head, perhaps a blanket draped over me and the current favourite book in hand.

As a child, teenager and young adult this was my default and preferred position. I inhaled books, lived through their characters, learned from the words I so ravenously read.

But, as life has become more busy, the pile of books to read has grown and my reading rate declined. The characters no less lovable, the plots no less poignant, the passion for reading no less alive. I’ve made a resolution to reverse this trend.

It’s time to turn off the TV, take a few minutes under the shady tree and make more time to read. I’ve joined a book club – well two actually – so there’s something compelling me to read books that aren’t just comfortable old favourites. I’m reading more blogs and non-fiction too.

As a child, my Saturday mornings were spent at the library with my siblings choosing books to get us through the week. When did I let that beautiful ritual slip off the radar? Why?

My mission to focus more on the little things has inevitably led me back to the bookshelf. It’s time to lose ourselves in worlds that challenge us, enthrall us, encourage us to grow and, most importantly, think about the world around us. An added benefit is that the writer in me is coming alive once more, inspired by what I read and see.

It’s the small things

  • A cup of tea.
  • A favourite song.
  • An email from a friend.

I’m making a conscious effort to take time out and appreciate the small things.

The hustle and bustle of modern life, longer work hours, commutes and social media have caused me and many others to get caught up in the stress rather than living in the moment.

The challenge I’ve set myself is to be more present in the moment, take note of the good little things and try not to lose sight of what’s important.

This means taking more of a Pollyanna approach to life in some ways, but really it’s just about being grateful for the privileged life we live.

It’s time to be more mindful, use the pretty teacups, catch up with the people who make our souls sing and read books that inspire us.