“Sigh. If I ever took a picture like this everyone would know it was totally staged. Yet, you live this life every day. Genteel tea, lovely china, screeny porches. It’s stupendous”
A friend of mine replied with this statement in response to a Facebook post I had created by impulse one weekend morning after snapping a picture with my iPad. Her words were lovely and sweet, yet they bothered me a bit too.
Despite her implications, my life is ordinary by anyone’s standards; except mine of course. I have no wealth. I can pay my bills and live within my income with some splurges, but I certainly worry about debt. My current car is held together with spit and duct tape (figuratively) because we can’t take on a car payment right now. However, I can easily buy what we need, as well as what we like from the farmers market or local stores. I have no fame; the world doesn’t know my name and I like it that way. Can you imagine the pressure to “be” J.K Rowling, the President, or some other well-known public persona? I have friends, true friends, beyond the borders of my city and even country; and I love talking on the phone with them for hours.
My family is my joy and priority, but not to the exclusion of all else. However, I have been known to yell at my kids, make a lousy dinner, and I fail miserably at keeping the house neat and orderly. There is always a pile of belongings on the steps leading up to the bedrooms.
I believe that I am just one of the many variations of normal and average.
This means anyone can have that picture of a quiet morning with a cup of tea (or coffee), and I think we all should.
I have teapots and cups because I love them. Some were handed down from my mom, by way of her mom and favorite aunts. The rest, I have purchased along the way; new or used. Some of my favorite teapots are from thrift stores. Almost all can go into the top rack of the dishwasher (I loathe handwashing dishes), so there is no excuse not to use them.
A couple of years ago, I had some health issues. Nothing extreme, but serious enough to force me to reexamine some of my habits and behaviors. My sleep in particular was significantly affected, and I found myself awake early in the morning almost every day; a real calamity for a former night shift nurse by choice and professional late sleeper. I got into the habit of sitting in the same chair every morning, and sipping a cup of herbal tea while I read something light or uplifting. This became a routine that brought me comfort and allowed me to ease into the day rather than “hit the ground running” as per my previous habit. I found myself more alert, and better organized once I had this quiet transition between waking and working.
I have continued this pattern, although I don’t start so early anymore. I spend at least 45 minutes to myself, although I have up to two hours on the weekend. Sometimes I cheat and go longer because I am a book addict. I sit in one of two chairs, both positioned so I can look out into my yard at the trees (and bare spots on the lawn). Most often, my tea is in a mug, seasonally appropriate of course. My reading material consists of Victoria or Teatime magazine, my latest book, and always the blogs I love, listed all in one handy app.
This is something anyone can do; and everyone should do in some fashion. Quiet time to ourselves is critical and doesn’t have to involve anything fancy or even advance planning. However, and this is not a new idea, we should also use the “special or good” frequently. If you are a single woman having a meal alone, why not break out the crystal wine glass and gold rimmed plate, on the weekend at least? If you are a busy mom of kids, why not have your morning coffee in a hand-painted cup before starting the breakfast and bus stop prep? If you don’t have any, search the garage sales, thrift stores, or eBay. You only need one or two.
Create your own nest with a comfortable chair or even a corner of the couch.
Make sure there is a side table for books, magazines, reading glasses, and of course, space for your beverage of choice-it doesn’t take much. My sister has always said, “budget for flowers”, and I think she’s onto something. I have started getting a bunch of very inexpensive roses from Trader Joes about once a month. If you trim the stems right away and prep the water, as well as change it frequently, these will last almost two weeks. I have even cut rosemary and budding lavender from my herb pots to display in a tiny vase.
All of these simple details are both visually appealing and restful for the busy brain. Your nest is a reminder to allow yourself time in the peaceful quiet. This is an easy and inexpensive way to help prevent burnout and mental fatigue; especially for the self-employed. You can use the last few minutes of your quiet time to plan your day and finalize lists. Don’t be surprised if you find the creative ideas flowing as well!