First Friday in February. For a short month, February always seems to have exercised an extraordinary level of control over my life. Both my parents were born in February and, although they never made a big fuss of their own birthdays when we were little, once we hit teenage years there was a bit more excitement about them.
And then I had the good fortune to give birth twice in February: in 1998 and 2002. Eagle eyed readers will notice that they were both Winter Olympic years and I have to come clean and say that, with my first son especially, a lot of time was spent watching the luge, the bob, the skating and the curling (housework on ice). When you’re a new mother and trying to establish breastfeeding, sitting watching people endangering their lives on ice makes getting a baby to suck on sore, hard boobs seem a little (only a little) easier.
There you are; a little story of my life. Today’s book is about capturing small moments, fleeting memories and recording them in whichever form suits you best. Little Stories of Your Life by Laura Pashby does exactly what it says on the tin. It encourages you to tell the small, insignificant moments of life that actually, in retrospect, show the true pattern of life.
Laura’s Instagram Circle of Pines has beautiful pictures, as indeed does her website, Laura Pashby. She’s a photographer and moments teller, in picture and words. I love that she found her outlet after having children. That search for something to do to stretch mind and creativity while the baby sleeps, or the children play. I wonder how many women finally give in to the creative urge as a result of enforced slowness? I know my first forays into blogging was because I had time once the children were in nursery and opportunity with part time work.
Whatever. Laura’s book, Little Stories of Your Life is a great introduction to telling your story, in words or pictures. In hardback it’s a solid and attractive tome, one you could gift to a friend and be sure it looks as good as it reads. I have hardback and Kindle (I very often have the ebook of books I really like, so I can take the book with me everywhere) but I have to admit if you tell me I can only have one, I am going for the real book.
The book has 9 chapters organised into three sections: Paying Attention, Finding Your Creative Voice, Telling Your little stories. Each section has essays on journalling, recognising your own authentic storytelling style and practical advice on getting started as well as journal and photographic prompts that range from the simple (photograph your breakfast every day for a week) to creating a plot even in a photograph. The time spent considering the composition, the message the photo will give and whether there are enough clues to get the viewer to see the story behind is discussed, these are elements of photography that I have never consciously thought of before, but will do in future. Don’t expect my photographs to improve overnight, but I like the lessons Laura teaches, and I will try.
The writing style isn’t heavy, but neither is it facile and easy. You will walk away thinking about what Laura has written and find yourself applying her advice in different situations. She writes that journalling… indeed, all writing…. can be a form of meditation, mindfulness, requiring concentration and focus. As someone who often writes her blog posts in between letters at work (hence Friday becomes Monday all too easily), I admire the determination to use writing as meditation.
The photographs throughout are beautiful: carefully staged or arranged and with a consistently pared-back aesthetic. The book is pretty enough to just flick through, but working through and reading it is even better.
I like that there is a very comprehensive bibliography at the back. Laura quotes from writers who have impacted her throughout, and it is always good to be given inspiration for further reading.
As a person who struggles to sit still and do nothing, this book is a timely reminder that that isn’t always needed to be mindful, and that meditation can be achieved by finding your flow. I’ll happily take up my crochet, take a walk, take my phone and pen and capture small moments of calm. Having read the book (at speed) for the blog, I’m going back and making the pages of notes that I like to make for any book that has plenty to teach me.
I’ll leave you as always with my flipthrough of the book.
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. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. 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:
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. February is a great time to reset routines and rituals, it simmers with unnamed life underground desperate to burst through. The calm before the Spring Storm, as it were. The book has small and easy ways to make your life flow with grace and happiness, which lead to more hygge.
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. And it’s always the little things.
Planning ahead, early, is How to Hygge Your Summer. It has ideas for taking your hygge with you out of winter and to any place you go in the summer… the beach, the park, your holidays. Hygge is an all-year feeling, so start preparing and let’s hygge the heck out of summer this year!
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.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.
The regular photo I’m currently using between text and my book promotions is a photo by Rinck Content Studio on Unsplash. I love the implied cosiness of the photograph: the two hot chocolate cups, the biscuits and squares of chocolate imply a good bit of chatting going on here. Plus I like the colours: red tartan and real wood. What’s not to like? And the post header is by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash. Apples (and baskets) play a large role in the book, so it seemed fitting to use apples in the header.