Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Happy and sad...

Have you ever had a conversation with someone where what they say changes your whole perspective on life and the way that you have chosen to live it up until that point...or maybe more importantly, the way that you choose to live it from that point? Perhaps if the words had been said at a different time in your life they wouldn't have meant the same thing to you, and that what strikes a chord with one person, may mean nothing to another. But for me, one of the turning points in my life was a telephone conversation that I had with my sister quite a while ago, and perhaps because what she said coincided perfectly with change inside me that was already beginning to happen.

We were talking about happiness and she presented me with ideas that had come as the result of a conversation she'd had with someone a couple of years ago, although quite incidentally, I don't think that she had any idea that what she was saying would have any real effect on me. And this is what it meant to me:

I think in some ways I have always lived bumbling along in an okayish sort of way, but all the time waiting to the get the part where everything was perfect, all of life was wonderful and 'the big thing' whatever that was that I was waiting for, had happened. But actually what my sister was saying was that you probably never get to that bit, and that actually happiness is the life you are living, if only you can live it with an acute awareness of the tiny things that are around you waiting to be experienced, rather than allowing them to wash over you as you focus only on the larger picture. As we were talking I realised that this was probably something that I had always been aware of, but never with quite such clarity and presence of mind. And very quickly this thought has seeped into my consciousness without any need to actively go and change anything and with that I feel that my senses have woken up and I have allowed myself to notice all that the things that have almost certainly always been around me, but that I had failed to appreciate in a proper way. As we have watched those dear to us as a family struggle with unimaginable pain in this last year it has never felt clearer to me how very privileged we are to be here to experience those small things, and that it is these simplest of things that make life quite so intoxicatingly wonderful; the sight of the snowdrops coming out almost overnight, the feel of my little boy's hand in mine as we walk down the road, stepping out of the door into a crisp and blustery day, sitting at my desk in the sun in a quiet house and looking out over the trees to the tallest landmark, beneath which my son and daughter's nursery and school nestle and knowing that they may be busily engaged in painty overalls or sat on a carpet listening to stories, or the couple of seconds each morning when my head is submerged beneath the bath water and I can hear nothing, clear my mind and need only enjoy the brief sensation of how lovely and warm the water is.

And then this evening I read Jo's wonderful post on her blog French Knots...which for me seemed to say (in a far more concise and less rambly way) so perfectly all these things that I'd been feeling. If you have the time and haven't already done so, then do go and read not only her post, but also the fantastic video link that she has put on there. As the music on the link started I thought that the video was likely to be a little over-sentimental, but as I read the words I quickly realised that wasn't the case at all and two minutes later I had tears running down my face that were a mixture of happiness and sadness.

It is perhaps one of the loveliest things about reading the blogs of other crafters...so often they seem full to bursting with an awareness of the small, but wonderful bits of life...how many photos of flowers on a sunny window sill, footprints in snow, or beautiful sunsets there are out there to look at, each one appreciated and recorded...perhaps having these things brought to my attention daily is one of the things that has made my sister's words sink in so firmly.

So, even though I may have started appreciating the smaller things for what they are (everything!), I've felt in other areas I've continued to completely fail myself and as ever have wasted time in not taking risks because of an overwhelming fear of failing...an idea that I have found can often paralyse the things I aspire to do or be. So how strange to notice at the top of Becca & Bella's wonderful blog a quote that I'd never read before, but the reading of which seemed perfectly timed to make me think properly about the way I had been feeling:

And then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage ... Anais Nin

Anyway, this post feels like a break from the normal run of fabrics and stitchery for me...and I feel oddly anxious about posting it at all, as if I've given too much away, but so many things have changed about the way I am seeing things in this last year, mainly because of the circumstances of some of those close to me, that it seems odd to continue to blog endlessly about making things with no acknowledgment to how things in real life can sometimes change perspective so dramatically.

The roses were sent to me today as a gift from my sister. Iceberg roses. I love looking at the point where the stems go into the water and the little bubbles that form on their lovely greenness.


  1. Florence, what a wonderful post. I had just also just read's Jo's post and seen her links. Finding ways to be happy has never been more important to me than of late and both your posts today have definitely struck a chord. I am in a strange transition phase in my life right now and having to work hard at maintaining perspective - like many mothers whose children are approaching school age I suspect - anxious about my purpose and wondering what next. Thanks for having the courage to share.

  2. And then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage ... Anais Nin

    wow I'm touched that at the same time as me someone else was thinking along the same lines as me.
    Last night I was in conversation about the things I haven't done (like reproduce)out of all my fears which today at an age where I am almost certainly too late I can't be the bud and decide to bloom. well only in other areas of my life.
    you are so right.
    Funnily I only came a x your blog this week and I love reading about your children and the way you relate not just to them but to yourself. At least you have had the courage to have them.
    anyway, that is enough of that but thank you for sharing your thoughts which make mine not seem so overwhelming. x

  3. Hi there, I have just now discovered your blog, and I couldn't read this post without commenting. I only recently had this exact same revelation, and isn't it a happy one to have? And the crazy thing is that it is exactly the way I used to live as a child (and as I imagine most children do). Appreciating the miniature, and actually seeing things and finding wonder in them. I actually find blogging is a great way to maintain an awareness of these things, as i'm now always on the lookout for the 'small wonders' that used to just pass me by. And as for the 'fear of failing' thing...again I totally understand. In fact, my resolution this year was just 'to leap'...to jump in and do things and not be scared of what might happen. So I've been leaping a lot lately - and it's actually quite liberating! Anyway, sorry about the babble...

    Lovely blog, and lovely post. Thanks!

  4. Florence - what a lovely post. I have been so desperately trying to do the same. I often feel this house is slightly overshadowed by my husbands illness, which can take such a tight hold on our lives quite often that I can completely forget that there is a world out there at all!. However, I too have found that blogging liberates some of these feelings. Only yesterday, was i sitting on the sofa thinking about my blog post for the day, when suddenly I thought of just a few things throughout the day that made me smile! I never normally conciously think like this. So I posted just a small blog today called SMILE. There must be something in the air today - but I think it smells sweet!

  5. lovely, thought-provoking post Florence, thanks. Mindfullness is a powerful thing and something we get too distracted from too often. I'm engaged in a constant struggle to "be mindful" (when I remember!) and am also hoping this year to do a bit more of what Bec calls "leaping". I worry sometimes that we are squeezing this ability out of our children by making them fit in with our/societies requirements of them...wouldn't it be so nice if we could all just take things more slowly and actually see and feel what otherwise drifts over us as we rush hither and fro.
    Anyways, off to check out Jos post now.
    Thanks for the Anais Nin quote too, hadn't seen that before.

  6. Your words struck such a chord with me today. I always look to the bigger picture, the day when 'all my dreams will come true', but what you say makes perfect sense. I shall carry your words with me today. Thank you x

  7. Thank you for this wonderful post and sharing your thoughts.
    There is a lot in your post that I can relate to, (particularly about those close to you).
    The video was very moving. One of the most wonderful things about watching your children grow up is seeing yourself reflected in them.
    I could ramble on here but would just like to share a couple of quotes.

    "Enjoy life, this is not a dress rehearsal"

    “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

  8. I'm glad you did post it Florence. It was a wonderfully thought provoking piece.

    I was touched by Jo's post yesterday too and for some reason the video she linked to I cannot get out of my mind. Perhaps because it so simply points out the truth.

    Because I am so so guilty of always looking to the next big thing. Today I am slowing down. Thank you.

  9. Thanks so much for this post. I had a similare epiphany at New Year when I realised that I'd pretty much wasted 5 years "waiting for that big thing to happen" when all the time, wonderful things were happening everyday that I just didn't see.

  10. What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing a little bit more of you than usual. In the past few years, for one reason or another I have tried to live my life in a 'bigger way', to be a little more selfish and to say no to people sometimes...because the most important things live in my house and I want to surround myself with them whenever I can. And you do never know what is there around the corner, so you may as well make this day as good if ot better than any other.

  11. Thanks for this post Florence, it's really struck a chord with me too. Life whizzes by so fast, taking time to notice the small things and find happiness in the everyday is so important. Before O was ill I spent so much time fretting about the future, worrying about leaving my career to be a mother and how would everything fit as she got older and more independent. Then she was ill and that was all we could think about, and it put everything in perspective. Now I (try harder) to take time to enjoy the small things and find happiness in the every day. Things making me happy today: the spring flowers on my kitchen table, O singing 'wiggly woo' and a glimpse of ballerinas on their points at a dance class through the bus window on my way to school.

  12. Really beautiful post, and so thoughtful, recently stuff has happened to me, which I have not blogged about which has made stop thinking about what will happen, and deal with what is happening, I find that so hard.

    Thank you for sharing how you feel, and you have put your thoughts so well that they radiate to everyone :)


  13. What a wonderful post. I had a crappy day yesterday. I mean, there were tears involved. I sometimes lose myself in the smaller insignificant moments and let them overshadow the really great life I actually have. Thanks for writing and reminding us all to count our wonderful blessings and enjoy the the life we've been given.

  14. Dear Florence, thankyou for being brave enough to post such an insightful and personal post. It takes great courage to share these deep and not always easily expressed or linear thoughts.
    I understand your fear of failing so well as it is a feeling I continue to overcome. I have a number of quotes that really help me conquer the paralysis of inaction, they are...
    "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do." - Eleanor Roosevelt
    "Fear will take you out of action, but action will take you out of fear." - Rebecca Fine
    “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, and the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no one could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” - Goethe
    Also a wonderful piece written by Marianne Williamson and used my Nelson Mandella in one of his most famous speeches. "Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
    Thankyou again for your post (and please excuse my very long one), you have touched many hearts today. xx

  15. I love this beautiful post you've written. I've been a bumbler throughout my life, too. But I'm learning a whole new way to look at the little things and celebrate life in creative ways. And much of that stems from reading blogs which make me think and focus instead of continuing my bumbling about in the world.

    Thank you so much!

  16. Hi everyone in Florence's comments post. I expect I am one of the "older" bloggers and it is very hard to take a leap into the unknown. I have missed many, many opportunities which I regret now, so if you want to do it, have it,or just enjoy it, then do if you possibly can. Remember that Life if a Gift, that is why we live in the "present"

  17. A beautiful post, Florence. On some of my darker days, I like to just think of things in 20 minute units. It gets things into perspective again somehow. The present is the gift...

  18. It is hard to live for the present moment and you have to practice. But it also good to have happy memories and the fun of anticipation so don't let go of the past and the future completely. This blog will give you a place to think about yourself and achieve a new perspective of your life.

    I am so glad that you feel able to share these thoughts because it can mean a great deal to other people when you articulate their own issues so beautifully.

  19. I love that you have posted this Florence.
    I also read Jo's post last night and watched the video link. I found it very poignant and moving. For the last few years i have thought a lot about simplifying my life and of appreciation of the plentiful and the amazing in everyday.....the richness we have that costs nothing, life in the moment, in the here and now. I love your description of holding your little boys hand. Life is so very precious, life is a gift. Soak up each experience, take some risks and may you blossom dear dear Florence.

  20. very beautiful and thought provoking. that video is lovely, it's what being a mum is all about.

  21. lovely post florence. yours is the third piece i have read tonight which has brought a lump to my throat. thank you for sharing

  22. Hello Florence, thank you so very much for popping by my blog to say hello. It is small things like the effort you made that mean so much to me personally. Your words in this lovely post resonate a lot with me. Perhaps its having little ones who are growing and seeing things for the first time that makes us see them in a new light. Its so fulfilling to look at the world in this small, private way that the big, nasty stuff seems to receede for a while. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts- I really enjoyed it!

  23. I am nowhere near as articulate as some of the people who's Blogs I read or have read and I could never try to be. But all I can say to this post is Thank you..

  24. Florence! What a wonderful post....I always wonder what others are thinking or not thinking out there.?. You are definitely among the few that dare to think about the more serious matters of life. Oh, I wish we lived close and could have tea together and chat about life, crafts and kids. Hang on, girl! Thanks for the post!

  25. I always have to read your post before I do mine, and this one was amazing
    x Bless you xx

  26. I thought this would be just the right post for my first ever blog comment - I was really touched by what you had to say x

  27. How lucky I am to have stumbled upon your blog this morning! Your words are poignant and true. I enjoy looking at all the craft blogs, too, and hadn't thought of the aspect of how, as a group, they focus on the beauty of small things. So right! Thank you for taking the time and having the courage to share your thoughts!

  28. Hi just stumbled across your blog and was reading through and found this post. I totally agree and totally rate what you have written it is so true. We can miss those little things while thinking about the whole big picture
    thanks for sharing
    see, your conversation with your sister was good and you passed it on, and it had total relevance to me as well . A chain of thought I think has been created amongst people reading from this x Dominique


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x

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