The joy of an ordinary life

I’ve just finished the most remarkable book, and read a beautiful essay, and a lovely blog post. And they’re all saying the same thing: let’s find joy in the everyday. Because really, what’s the other option? Hanging on for a big break, or something epic to happen, or a holiday? No thanks!

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The gratitude of absence

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about how the things we should be most grateful for are often defined by their absence. Do you know what I mean?

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What I’m grateful for (right now):

Because I just skimmed an article that said when you’re feeling kind of grouchy (which I am, for no particular reason other than Monday morning drudge that is too boring to detail) the best way to snap out of it is to summon some gratitude. So here’s mine, in no particular order:

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Living in Hout Bay

When we moved to Hout Bay from the Cape Town City Bowl, I kept waiting to miss our old ‘hood. I had loved living in town so much – the vibe, the constant stream of things to do, the feeling of being in the heart of Cape Town with a lovely view of Table Mountain. But then we moved to Hout Bay, and a year and a half later, I’m still waiting for the day I wake up and wish we lived in town again.

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The beautiful ordinary

When I was younger, I was all for extremes.

I remember one of my favourite quotes in my late teens and early twenties was from Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’:

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

Now? Oh my goodness that sounds exhausting. Doesn’t it? I’m all for the beautiful ordinary. (more…)

A sense of style

I had the most amazing morning last weekend: I went clothes shopping. For myself! This might not sound like that much of a treat but I’m not exaggerating when I say I haven’t bought myself new clothes in over a year and a half. I was planning on getting pregnant, so there was no point. And then I was pregnant, so there was no point. And then I was overweight, so there was no points. And then breastfeeding. But now, although I am still not quite back to normal and although I am still breastfeeding, I am sick to death of looking frumpy. So I went on a shopping spree!

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My favourite life advice

When Mark and I walked the Camino, I asked some of our friends to give us their favourite poems so I could learn them as I walked… This one was my absolute favourite, and gave me such a feeling of calm and presence as I walked (closely followed by Oh! The Places You’ll Go! by Dr Seuss, which is slightly less calming…)

It feels particularly apt at the moment, when the world outside can seem extraordinarily busy and hard.

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A few wonderful reads

As far as I’m concerned, forwarding a link to an article is the highest praise I can heap upon writing these days (aside from waxing lyrical about novels, of course.)

What could be more of a compliment than suggesting that my friends or family – who are all oversubscribed and overstimulated – read something? Here, then, are a few great reads from the last few weeks, and a couple of bloody hilarious ones too.

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The things we take for granted

I just finished re-reading The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver (what an extraordinary book) and there’s a line in it that has stuck with me for the past week or so… I’m paraphrasing because obviously I can’t remember it word for word (I blame lack of sleep for robbing me of this super-power!) but it’s something along the lines of:
It occurred to her that her life, up till then, had been perfectly lovely. It would have been nice if she’d noticed. (more…)

A generous spirit

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about generosity. Hout Bay, where we live, has been ravaged by fires over the last few weeks – terrifying multi-day fires that rage across the mountains and an even more terrifying fire in Imizamo Yethu, the informal settlement, that displaced 10 000 people. That sounds so removed, doesn’t it? Displaced. What it actually means is that 10 000 people had homes on Friday last week, homes filled with clothes and toys and books and TVs and things. And the next day those same people had nothing.

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