Fighting the Fear
Sometimes it’s hard to remember all those moments of pleasure that make life worth living. Let’s face it, it can be tough to deal with what’s going on around us. We turn on the news, browse social media, and listen to our friends and family as they discuss the latest depressing, scary piece of information (or misinformation) they’ve heard. It can be enough to terrify us, or at the very least, to sap us of our energy and hope. Worryingly, it can also be enough to make us feel guilty for living our lives as normal, for seeking out the things that make life worth living.
But if we don’t seek them out, how do we stay sane in this crazy world? It’s the little things that bring us unexpected comfort, and that’s why we really need to keep looking on the lighter side and celebrating those moments of pleasure. Because surely if there’s one thing all this misery and fear teaches us, it’s that we need to grab our happiness when and where we can.
Moments of Pleasure
We can’t assume that life will always be peaceful, or even normal. The last few years have shown us that change can come at frightening speed, and rob us of any sense of security or normality. None of us is immune from this. No one has guarantees. We should never take the good times for granted.
There’s an amazing song called Moments of Pleasure (it’s by Kate Bush, you can find it here on YouTube), and it always makes me think that really, that’s all life is at its best. Moments of pleasure. We can’t hope for a constant, unbreakable happiness. Bad things happen all the time, and sometimes it seems we lurch from disaster to disaster, our lives plagued by worries and fears. All we have is those precious moments in between, where we take a breath, close our eyes, face the sun, and realise that we are alive, and for that one shining moment, we are happy.
And these moments don’t have to be dramatic or expensive. They can be anything. In fact, it’s surprising how little it takes to cheer us up and lift our spirits. Here are a few of my “moments of pleasure”.
Horses have been my favourite animal since I was about seven years old. And when I say horses, I also include ponies and donkeys – I love them all. Just looking at a photo of one can make me happy, which is a good job as I’ve never owned a horse or even had riding lessons. I had posters of the native ponies of Britain all over my bedroom wall when I was a kid, and I had an impressive collection of pony books (many of which I still have) and that, along with cadging the odd five-minute ride from schoolfriends who had their own ponies, had to be enough. But even today just the sight of a horse can cheer me up. I’m in awe of how beautiful they are.
Have you ever noticed the birds in your garden? I was looking out of the window this morning and saw a tiny little bird – it looked like a coal tit but I’m no expert so can’t be sure – and I was struck by how beautiful it was. I found this post online called Common British birds in Your Garden and I stared at the photographs and thought, wow! They’re stunning! Just ordinary little birds, and I’ve never taken much notice before, but look how pretty they are.
One of my favourite things is birdsong. My grandson, Freddie, who’s eighteen months old, was sitting with me in my back garden the other week, and we heard a bird singing in the bushes near the fence. You should have seen his face! He was staring across at the bushes, trying to find the source of the noise, a look of enchantment on his face. I sometimes listen to it when I’m working too. If it’s too cold or noisy outside to open a window, I listen to it via Birdsong Radio.
Churches and Church Bells
Another favourite sound is church bells. I even have them as the ringtone on my phone. And whenever we go for a drive out I’m always on the lookout for a pretty country church. I don’t know why. They just make me happy.
The Countryside and Coast
I love beautiful scenic views, the countryside, the sea, pretty villages. Nothing lifts my spirits more than a rural or coastal scene. When I’m in a really low mood, just a glimpse of water or trees or fields can snap me out of it. Nature is a remarkable healer.
I’m lucky to have eight grandchildren now (I know, I definitely don’t look old enough…ahem) and they’re guaranteed to cheer me up. Especially when I get little surprise gifts, like this hand drawn card from my youngest granddaughter…
Or this lovely plaque to hang in my office.
Or when my daughter sends me daily pictures of Freddie. He’s at a fabulous age, and nothing makes me happier than when he toddles up to me, book in hand, and holds out his arms for me to pick him up, sit him on my knee, and read to him. Although, sometimes, he prefers a little exploration and adventure. Like when he discovered the catflap in their utility room…
Look at these gorgeous photos taken by my daughter-in-law a few years ago at Yorkshire Lavender. She got frighteningly close to those bees! My favourite flower is actually the daffodil. It’s a promise of spring and lightness after a dark winter, and I take it as a message of hope. All dark days end eventually…
Magic and Mystery
Don’t you just love the mysteries of life? That feeling that there are things we don’t understand. The what ifs? and the possibilities. The spark of mystical enchantment that keeps us forever unsure, but hoping, dreaming, creating. If we could draw back the veil what would we see? I love the storytelling possibilities.
It’s important to me to have things around me when I’m writing that reflect my interests and loves. So on my wall cabinet you’ll see I have lots of Doctor Who figurines, because I’m passionate about Doctor Who. The whole of space and time and a hero with no guns but two hearts! Who wouldn’t be?
You’ll also find a few hares on there, because I’m fascinated by them. Three of them were presents from my friend, Jessica, and the larger one was from my daughter. I also have a stone hare that sits in the garden – a housewarming present from my friend, Jo.
Then there’s the section that reflects my love of writing and reading, with the Happily Ever After ornament, bought in Stratford Upon Avon just before Christmas, along with the Shakespeare teddy and the Shakespeare bauble. The quill and inkpot were gifts from my sister, and the star reads “Tell a Beautiful Story” and was another present from Jessica. Below those is my small collection of horse and pony figurines.
There’s my “witchy” stuff in the middle, with mugs and trinket boxes and a jar and a witch figurine. On the bottom right is my triple goddess statue and a lump of rose quartz, along with a succulent. Bottom left is my collection of cottages representing Tuppenny Bridge (my forthcoming series), made by Stu at The Indigo Cottage Company.
On the wall to the left you’ll see the Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter, with Rowan the Wrendale Hare sitting below him, and to the right is my Build-a-Bear Eleventh Doctor teddy. Yes, I know! But you know what, I don’t care.
Writing has brought so many possibilities into my life, including some wonderful friends. Spending time with them is a fabulous gift. Before Christmas I spent a few nights in Stratford Upon Avon with some brilliant friends, and we had a great time. I’ve made some great friends in the RNA’s local chapter and I see many of them each month. Now my friend Alys has moved closer I can see her more frequently, and my best friend, Jessica Redland, and I meet regularly. We’ve had lots of fun (and lots of puddings) over the last nine years.
I could continue this post forever. When I think of the things that bring me pleasure the list goes on and on: the husband I’ve laughed with, fought with, and loved for over forty years; the three sons and two daughters who’ve brought me joy, pain, frustration, fun, and a million other emotions that I can’t even put a name to; music I’ve sung along to, danced to, cried to; television programmes and films; trees; my lovely dog; my family; books – writing them and reading them; kind messages from readers, telling me how much they’ve enjoyed my stories; sitting outside in the garden watching my grandkids play; a painting that touches the heart; a poem that reveals a hidden truth; a Christmas carol that makes the spirit soar; a scented candle; a meal out in a pub… When you look it’s all right there, holding your head above water when you don’t even know you’re drowning.
Your Moments of Pleasure
So what gives you your moments of pleasure? What takes your mind off your worries? Who or what puts a smile on your face and gives you hope in your heart? I’d love to hear from you!
Have a great week.