My second day back at work, first whole day, and already a part of me is wondering how 2021 went south quite so quickly. Not personally, but in terms of the country/nation/world.
Yes, the UK is under another Lockdown which looks set to last at least six weeks. And I am in the fortunate position of being in a relatively secure job, with a happy nuclear family around me and parents who, though elderly, are together as a couple at least and ergo not alone. My heart goes out to the many living alone or in unhappy families with little or no job security or jobs in what are fast being regarded as dangerous careers… schools, hospitals and local government amongst them!
But life goes on, and as long as I can breathe I can feel positive. I’m a natural optimist and this year will end better than it began, or at the very least there will be pearls among the hard slog that make life worthwhile. And, to a very real extent, if I can’t exercise control over the wider world to create a calm, equal, friendly society, I can at least exercise control over myself and my immediate surroundings to build a close community that supports and loves one another and works to help each other mentally and physically. That has to be the major aim of my life this year: to do what good I can for the people around me and myself. We will get through this, and we have a chance to shape what life ‘on the other side’ looks like, especially if all the noise and distractions of a modern 21st Century life aren’t there to pull us aside.
I’d already decided on my word for the year half way through December: Creativity. I struggle to acknowledge myself as an artist, in either words or visual media, and yet I am a creator. This year’s beginning my focus is on encouraging the artist within, and on feeling confident enough to say “I create, and what I create is good enough. I am an artist.”
I am therefore, turning back to two texts that I know helped me to live more creatively in the past and that will boost my creativity going forward. One is a year-round love affair, the other (rather serendipitously) will take me three months of work. Just long enough to see me through Lockdown.
Firstly, my daily inspiration will be Simple Abundance, the 2019 updated version. The subtitle of the original version was “A Daybook of Comfort and Joy”. The 2019 version’s subtitle is “365 Days to a Balanced and Joyful Life”. I know I could do with some more comfort and joy, but having a balanced life seems moot to me as well. My hope is to read the daily entry, probably record a pithy saying or useful advice from it and to work my way through the tools as they appear. Daily pages, artist dates, golden mirror meditations, outfitting a Comfort Drawer and enjoying the Joyful Simplicities of life lived monthly in tune with the seasons. Living seasonally has been a big feature for me for many years: it’s the best way of getting through the cold, dark weeks of January and February that used to hit me, post-Christmas, like a ton of bricks.
And my other creative exploration will be The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I read this, mostly because it was so heavily recommended by Sarah Ban Breathnach in Simple Abundance, about 20 years ago, and I occasionally dip back into it when I need inspiration. I have ‘done’ the twelve weeks, in a half-hearted way before, but this year seems like a good time to actually dedicate time and energy to my creative career. I have Plans for the future, but I feel in need of an inspirational relaunch first. I am a Creative, an Artist, and owning that side of me as well as the more business-like, need-to-make-money side is important to me. Hopefully I can really start to see art-as-life-as-business-as-art and integrate the part of me that needs to eat with the part of me that needs to feed myself and others with beauty. I love working in the office with my husband, don’t get me wrong, but I do hope to retire from it sometime and I will want to be able to make something of myself then. I’m thinking Mary Wesley or Georgia O’Keefe. Someone old and kickass creative.
I don’t intend blogging about my progress every day (that would, eventually, grow tedious for all concerned) but I will share my progress weekly, and share quotes, ideas, my sketches or creations etc on Instagram or Facebook, especially on the Facebook page for the blog, How to Hygge The British Way. You’re more than welcome to follow and comment there, of course. And I hope that many of you will feel inspired to join in reading either book, and sharing your experiences of it.
In order to encourage that, and so that people can share and talk about both books in a safe, secure and specific space, I’ve started up a new group, A Year of Simple Abundance, on Facebook. Entry is automatic to any Hygge Nook members who ask, otherwise there’s a set of three simple questions to answer. I hope you’ll come along and join in. Recognising, recording and remembering the small pleasures of life is always an important part of building a happier, more content life. It’s more important than ever this year, I think. I’d love to share 2021 with people who also love Joyful Simplicities and a positive attitude towards life.
The header photo for today’s blogpost is by JOHN TOWNER on Unsplash. I chose it because the shaft of sunlight up ahead represents hope for me…. that we may be on a path to who knows where, and with little to guide us at the moment, but we all need that flash of sunlight, that little patch of heat and light and warmth, to give us a momentary lift before travelling on. This is the one we can see: there’s another around the corner that we can’t see, and at the end of our journey is a warm, cosy, hygge home ready to welcome us in.
Like all my blogs, Facebook groups and other social media content, A Year of Simple Abundance is free to join and ad free as far as possible.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little rhings in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better.
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.