Today’s title is freely nicked from a hymn I remember singing in my school days. The chorus (which is the bit that has stuck with me forever, or at least 45 years whichever is longest) goes like this:
Freely, freely You have received,
Freely, freely give….
The hymn is actually about receiving God’s grace and forgiveness of sin. Whether you believe in God or not, being able to forgive yourself and others is vital in the world we live in, but today’s post is about that ability to freely receive and freely give. You see, I have been receiving so much recently and it has made such a difference to me.
I’ve received love and support from The Hygge Nook and associated sister groups on Facebook. I don’t post that often, but I do lurk and read, and I love the atmosphere the members create amongst themselves. They share the small, happy things in life, and sometimes it’s just the silliest, most inconsequential little things that give the greatest joy (I cannot be the only one who loves posts about babies, children, dogs, cats or other pets).
I’ve been supported by my Boys. While my daughter is away at University and carving out a whole new life for herself (a source of daily joy and pride to me) I’m at home with three grown men. And, yes, the bulk of housekeeping rests on my shoulders, but not so much to do as to organise. For instance, I may start a load of washing off but as long as I’ve left a message, someone else will put the load out and even take it down to leave on my bed for putting away. Today’s a prime example of being supported. I’m here at my desk, working hard and writing blogs in my spare time while at home a big vat of bolognese sauce is being cooked. Not the fast, mix-a-jar kind but the takes-four-hours-at-least-and-lingers-in-the-slow-cooker-filling-the-air-with-great-scents kind.
I’ve received a boost from the weather, which has started being brighter and warmer for longer. There’s something so boosting about going to work and coming home in the light. And a little golden sunset hints at long, slow evenings ahead. Sunshine vitamins, so important for us all.
I’ve been boosted by my reading fairy lately. Instead of watching TV in the evenings, I’ve taken to keeping my Kindle with me, well stocked up with easy to read books. Last year, during first Lockdown and afterwards, I struggled to find my reading Mojo. My Goodreads Challenge, 52 books in 52 weeks, looked set to never be completed as late as December, when a sudden run on Choc-Lit comfort reading got me over the line. This year already I’ve read 32 of 52 books, and the advice is read 2 books a month to complete my challenge. Don’t worry, I’m not rationing myself to two a month, but I am enjoying reading a wide range of novels, non-fiction, self-help and more. And my reading is giving my creativity a much-needed kick.
Figuring out that most of my health issues are directly related to menopause has helped me tremendously. The list of small, niggling problems (that intermittent spotting, the aches with no obvious reason, forgetting the words for every day items and even the names of people I know I know but just can’t place….) and more that I never even knew were recognised symptoms of menopause and I was assigning to more serious health issues is amazing. It does make me wonder why menopause education isn’t actually taught to us all from a young age. Your Mother is not losing it, just hot and feeling hormonal. Your wife may well find sex uncomfortable, so listen to her and do what you can to help. Your employee needs to open a window/turn down the air conditioning and it’s worth letting her cut her hours to have a worker committed 100% to the company because she has time now to take care of the stressful jobs she was trying to fit in at the weekend.
Freely, freely receiving, you see? There are so many good things happening in my life.
And I know that at some point I shall need to freely give. To help out another friend, to find another group to go to or to start that builds community and creates support, to look at the many blessings I have been given and share them whether that’s monetary donations or (part of my spring cleaning plans this year) a damn good clear out of craft equipment and other hobby stuff to people who need it and will enjoy it just as much as I did at the right time.
My plans this year….
To support The Reader Organisation who have a base near to where I live and promote literacy as a shared experience or solo voyage and definitely as a way to stay grounded, connected and balanced in a crazy world. I can attend their events, once they start up, keep visiting the park and cafe and share their social media. Sharing a book together with friends has to be one of my top hygge activities, and takes so little, just the time, the friends and a good book.
To support The National Literacy Trust, a charity aimed at getting children to read by getting the right training into schools, effecting policy change and boosting literacy across the whole age range. A nation dedicated to achieving great progress should aim to do so with a literate and trained workforce, ready for the next level of technological advancement in the world. (I quite fancy holding a virtual literacy quiz for the teachers and trainers I know….)
To promote awareness of menopausal education on my social media platforms. No, I’m not going to make every post about menopause, just not hesitate to say when it has had an affect on me. And I’ll support groups like Menopause Support Uk, who are pushing for proper training and awareness of the issues for medical professionals, women and the families who live with them. Please, if you can, sign and share the petition.
When Lockdown is over and life returns to something approaching normal, I want to start a stitch, knits and wits group of women who want to create together. Just a few of us, once a fortnight, making blankets and hats for neonatal babies in hospital, hats for the homeless or fidget bears for alzheimer patients. I know I have a few friends who are creative, and gathering together to create together would be a good use of our skills and a good way to bond.
Giving and receiving benefit both the donor and the recipient. The power of generosity, freely given, is immense, while the knowledge of a gift given in love is such a boost to happiness. I am grateful both to have been the recipient of so much support and love throughout my life, but especially this past year, and also to be in the fortunate position of being able to give time, energy and monetary support to others.
Like everything in life, we need to keep it balanced. We need to be both and to accept that, even if at some seasons in our life we seem to be doing more of one thing, there will always be a time when we need to accept the other role. Natural givers need to take the gifts of grace offered them, takers need to step up and give their time or effort to help others. The mother who gives everything to her young children will one day be the recipient of their soft hands laying her in bed and smoothing her brow. It is the way of life.
Today’s header is by Katrin Hauf on Unsplash. I chose it because I love the two cups together, the idea of friends meeting and discussing life in all its glory. Do you know how hard it is to find a stock photo with two cups or mugs in? I liked this one anyway, because of the light background, the little birds (so spring-like) and the fact that the cups remind me of a set I inherited off my mother in law and yet have never used. Come retirement, I will use them every day (they’re beautifully 1950s, pop with bright colours and shimmer)
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. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
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 things 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.
How to Hygge Your Summer: Hygge isn’t just about candles, throws and fireside cuppas (if indeed it is ever actually about them) and this book gives you ideas for creating hygge ready spaces and paces of life throughout the summer.
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.