Chris bought me these tea cups a couple of years ago for my birthday.
At the time I had just discovered Pinterest and was pinning all manner of beautiful things. One of the things I loved (and pinned) were teacups. Beautiful teacups and saucers in mismatching patterns. They looked so delicate and pretty. And so, Chris presented me with six perfectly mismatched teacups and saucers for my birthday, and I loved them.
And I put them in a cupboard where they wouldn't get damaged
And I never used them.
(Actually, once. Once I used them, when my friend Sam came back from a mission trip in Africa and I wanted her to have the most British cup of tea possible as a 'welcome home' experience).
I pulled them out of the cupboard the other day and I wondered why I didn't use them, because I loved them so much. It was because a) I didn't yet have a teapot to go with it, and b) I liked them so much that I was a bit scared of using them.
I felt suddenly really annoyed with myself. Annoyed that I had allowed some perfectly beautiful things to go unused for months - even years - and at the same time, I had allowed myself to whinge and moan about all the nice things I didn't have. It's selfish.
But it got me thinking about how much of life can be like that, if we're not careful.
So I don't want to get into mindfulness properly because that, to me, is yet another thing that I am not good at as a parent. Mindfulness can be useful for a person with anxiety though. When I'm feeling panicky about something, I stop and just gently (okay, sometimes forcefully) remind myself of where I am right now. I have drawn a helpful flow chart:
But mindfulness as in 'stop and enjoy this moment. Look at the way your daughters eyelashes look and enjoy the cool breeze as it gently sways the branches of the trees' is the kind of mindfulness I am not good at. I do try, but some days, I just want to skip to the end and go to bed. And I want to go to bed and watch Netflix without thinking 'Oh no, I wasn't mindful enough today.'
But the teacup thing. It reminded me of someone we knew when I was a kid. They had a big house, and in the house was a dining room that was only used for special occasions. So basically, Christmas. And if particularly fancy guests were coming.
Which I guess I understand a little bit. It's nice have a room that is all clean and tidy and full of nice things for your guests to enjoy.
But practically? I don't really get it. I mean that is a WHOLE room. Like, a large proportion of the house. Just gathering dust.
There is no joy being had in that room. Barely any memories being made. It's just ... being saved for a special day that might not even be coming.
There are two areas of life that I am good at making the most of: buying things, and food. I, like many other people, have bought into the idea that I deserve treats. Marketing people love me. They say 'Hey, come in and enjoy a gingerbread latte! You deserve it!' and, occasionally, instead of thinking 'shut up, Costa, I could enjoy a gingerbread latte at home for like an eighthof that price' I think 'Hey! They're right! I DO deserve it!' And I happily hand over money I don't have to a company that doesn't actually know or care about me.
I'm also good at feasting. There are a lot of Bible verses about feasting. I have that down. My attitude is 'diabetes shmiabetes! Give me another brownie. Who cares what state my body will be in when I'm fifty? That's like a million years away.'
(I'm exaggerating but only very very slightly).
But enjoying actual life?
I'm slightly less good at that.
Jellybean teaches me to enjoy life more. I have a lot more fun now she's around. I think children inspire adults to be a bit more carefree. They just seem to intuitively get it. Jellybean wakes up each day and her attitude seems to be:
'Here I am, I'm awake! The world is so huge and fun! Let's go!'
Let's be realistic here. Just like you realise pretty quickly when you get into your twenties that just because you can, doesn't mean you should live off of Doritos with the occasional glass of wine, so you realise quickly you can't say Yes to every mad whim your small child has. That way leads to kids that have no bedtime and are perpetually buzzed from eating a steady diet of Pombears and chocolate digestives, and to a house that still has the Christmas tree up in July.
You can't be the Yes Parent all the time.
But I could be the No Parent less.
I could be the No Girl, in general, much less.
Really, life is short. You can't buy yourself more time. (No matter what the matcha powder selling, green-smoothie-peddling people tell you). And as much as we like to pretend it won't happen, there will eventually come a time when you have no tomorrows left in which to finally do that thing you've always wanted to do.
I say no to things for all sorts of reasons.
No, we can't go out now, it's raining.
No, I can't wear that outfit/lipstick/hair cut because I can't 'pull it off'.
No, I shouldn't chase that dream because I might fail.
No, I can't use that nice object because I don't want it to get ruined.
No, you can't help me with the washing up because you'll get the floor all wet.
No, I won't spend time doing that thing for me, because there are a million jobs I have to do that benefit other people and I can't afford to waste time.
I hope this year I learn to say 'yes' more. To life. It is a generous gift, after all. And I don't say this to condemn or to bring guilt on time-starved people that might be reading this. I mean, I can't follow this advice all the time, either. Because as much as I want to be the Yes Girl, I also have to accept the fact that I am also the Incurable Chronic Pain Disorder Girl, and as much as that doesn't define me, it does sometimes mean that some days are not in the slightest bit fun.
But it does make me want to make the most of the moments in which my trigeminal nerve functions like a normal person's would.
As cheesy as it sounds, I want to make the most of it.
Stop putting things off for the future when I 'have time'.
Don't worry about mess and chaos.
Light all the candles at dinner time and eat with the lights off.
Use the fancy cups.
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