Gratitude… my window to the world

I have always thought of my front window as a little window to the world… a window through which I can witness the world outside, the people who pass by, the postman on his way, the neighbours going out to and coming home from work. Also, it is a little window from the outside in… a snapshot of my life for all to see… the boys dancing on a lively morning, me adding a touch of lipstick before I leave the house, the photos on my wall… not clearly visible from the outside in, but there.

I have never been one for shutting myself off from what’s going on around me… I would rather be wide open than hidden behind nets or curtains and so, I have also considered, many a time, what a great little gallery my front window would make. I have hung the boys’ drawings from a little midway line, balanced stained glass and little handmade sculptures on the ledge, both for me to see from inside and others to see from the outside.

I have always felt grateful… lucky to have wonderful friends, family, a home, plenty to eat, work that I love… grateful for so many things, yet it is only recently that I have begun a practice of gratitude. The boys and I share, during journeys in the car, the things we are grateful for on that day. Hearing the things that make them smile and feel happy offers me a little window into their worlds… I see them smile often, but this gives me the chance of finding out what makes them smile on the inside… what we should be doing more of… what matters. And so, with this in mind, I purchased a little heart-shaped chalk board which I am now using daily to share the things that matter to me… the things I am grateful for. By sharing the things I am grateful for, I hope that the boys will continue to do the same. Small boy was keen to join in with the chalks yesterday, drawing a smiling friend on his side of the board. And I have chosen to share my gratitude with the world outside my window… and hope that by doing so others may consider the things that have made them smile as they pass by my home and see the things that have brought happiness into my life on that day.

Today, I am grateful that I have an outlet (BeCreativeDaily) for what’s in my heart and on my mind and I am grateful for those wonderful souls (YOU!) who take the time to read the little snippets of life that I share here. I am grateful that last year I reconnected with my love of art and the renewed sense of curiosity, joy and wonder it has brought to my life. And I am grateful for what, for me, are the simplest of pleasures, such as the grilled tomatoes and avocado on toast that I am about to enjoy for my lunch, but for so many people in the world would be a feast beyond their wildest dreams. How lucky I am.

I would love to know what you feel grateful for today.
Who or what is putting smile on your face and in your heart?
Please take a moment share it here…

With love,
Julia x

p.s. If you like my heart chalkboard and wish to take up the idea of a daily gratitude practice, this is the one I use and would highly recommend…

In celebration of tradition

A collage to celebrate the end of the school year

A collage to celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of the holidays

Yesterday was the last day of term… the beginning of the Summer holidays… the start of six long weeks of school-free time.

Year six-ers walked through the gates for the final time; shirts signed; tears in their eyes. Younger ones hugged their teachers goodbye and some littler still (those brothers and sisters finishing their time at nursery), stood in the playground just a few weeks away from donning the same uniform as their older siblings, lining up for their first days of school.

There is always excitement attached to this time of year. Expectation also; apprehension; anticipation.

Each important stage of life is to be celebrated… so why not the end of a school year… and why not with a new tradition?

This idea of celebrating the end of a school year with a new tradition came when the story behind a curious photograph on a friend‘s Facebook page was revealed. The photograph showed a little girl’s dress hanging out of a window on a stick. I was curious.

School dress flagged up. Photo: Sarah Riccomini Carlin*

What was this all about? The explanation was right there in Sarah’s comments: “It is our family tradition. Every year the uniform gets flagged up! One year was on the garage roof, the next was on the antenna of the car and here it is this year!”

What a fabulous tradition! What a wonderful way to celebrate the end of the school year!

NO SCHOOL yahoo

This was something I wanted to introduce to my own family too. I suggested the idea to big boy. He liked it. He wanted to add his own twist. “Can I write on the shirt, Mum?” he asked me. As I have only a couple of school shirts which still fit the rapidly growing boy, I suggested he write on paper instead and we pin it to the shirt. He was happy to do so and the words “NO SCHOOL YAHOO” were carefully written in permanent pen and attached to the shirt which was threaded onto a bean pole and hung from his bedroom window like a flag. And there it hangs, blowing in the breeze, celebrating the start of our time off together.

There is something rather special about traditions. Something wonderful about those things you do as a kid, year in, year out. Those things that are unique to your family or a few people close to you. Those things that you remember as you grow up, and as you grow older, you wish to continue, to pass on to your own children. With this in mind, I will now look for opportunities to introduce new traditions to my family. I will seek out ideas and find ways to include such celebrations in our year… there are so many opportunities to create these magical moments and memories if only we remain open to them.

What are your family traditions? What traditions did you enjoy as a child?

A few of my own spring to mind:

At Christmas, my brother and I would do a “stocking dance” on Christmas eve. This involved laying our stockings (big handmade creations in white cotton, embroidered with lovely pictures by our Nanna) across each other to form an X and doing a kind of highland fling-type jig. This was where the real excitement began… in the moments before bedtime, before hanging the stockings, before laying awake in bed for what seemed like hours before tiredness took over and sent us to sleep.

Summer holidays were always spent in Wales. In Fairbourne to be exact. At the same bungalow we always stayed in, my brother and I; with Nanna and Gramp and Mum and Dad. In the run up to our trip (which was usually the middle two weeks of the school holidays), my brother and I would make magazines for each other. Dad worked for a newspaper and brought home large unprinted sheets of paper so we could make something to entertain each other on the long drive to Wales. The creation of these mags was done in secret; each of us knowing what the other was making, but never were we allowed to look until we got into the car, seat belts fastened, ready to leave. Days were spent cutting out pictures of favourite bands, inventing quizzes, writing articles, pasting photos. These colourful creations were fun to make, great to read and, looking back, a delightful exchange of love and creative energy. We were doing something together, for each other, with a common goal in mind… to create the most brilliant entertainment possible before the big swop. We wanted to be appreciated. We wanted to be entertained.

A little extra pocket money was also given to us before our hols and tradition had it that this was spent on sweets for the journey. I remember my own personal favourite was the Texan bar; a chewy, chocolate coated treat, which took a long time to chomp through. The other regular in our white paper bags was a Curly Wurly; a lengthy chocolate covered toffee bar, specifically chosen, I believe, for the time it lasted (probably much to our parents’ delight it kept our mouths closed for a long while). Pink Panther (strawberry chocolate) bars were also much favoured, but in later years we were unable to find them and I still have memories of looking out the back window of the car and seeing my last ever Pink Panther lying in the middle of the road, having fallen from where it was sitting in the basket that had been left on the roof of the car when Dad drove off. It is only now, as a parent myself, that I understand how easy it is to leave things in such silly places.

Decorating boiled eggs on Easter Sunday; toasting marshmallows on Bonfire night; going to the Nativity service on Christmas eve. These are some of the traditions I hope my boys will always enjoy and pass on to their own children. I look forward to introducing and enjoying more family traditions as time goes by.

Can you think of some new traditions to introduce to your family?
What are the traditions that you would you like to pass on?

*Many thanks to Sarah Riccomini Carlin for introducing me to this new tradition and inspiring this blog post.