Joy in the morning

Glittery joy

After what seems like a million years away, I’m now back, in front of my computer and ready to write. The last few weeks have been a blur of Chicago/Fargo/Cornwall/Scilly Isles before finally heading home to London.

There have been lots of celebrations. Both my sister’s wedding, and Alec’s 40th birthday. So big that it needed three parties, two cakes and a whole lot of sparklers around the campfire.

It’s been hectic, but happy. And there have been more highlights than I could have hoped for. From seeing Claire walk down the aisle, to spotting my first shooting star above the Scilly Isles. Hearing Alec’s heartfelt speech for his friends and family to watching his face as he first saw the surprise video we’d made for him, including a knock-off version of Carly Simon’s ‘You’re so vain’ from me. Carly has nothing to worry about.

It’s been a pleasure to be at the heart of so much celebration, but it also reminded me of how important it is to have moments that are just for ourselves.

The flip side of wanting to make people happy is martyrdom. Wanting someone to have a lovely cake for their birthday, but cursing them as you make it. Or organising fantastic surprises but feeling murderous when you don’t get a card or a bunch of flowers to say thanks.

Basically, giving but giving conditionally.

When I’m at my worst, I’m guilty of this. Which pretty much negates the whole point of doing anything nice in the first place. After all, given the choice between a homemade birthday cake or feeling guilty and beholden as your loved one looks on with big smiles, but eyes of steel, most people would rather have shop bought.

So how do we stop ourselves feeling ‘at our worst’?

We make ourselves more important than the guest of honour. Shocking, I know. But far from being selfish, it’s the most generous thing that we can do. We need to decide that feeling good is worth more than the fleeting compliments we’ll get from bringing the best dessert or picking up the most people from the station or generally trying to do everything.

Practically this means things like:

  1. Accepting help when offered (even if you secretly think that they won’t do it as well as you).
  2. Taking yourself away from everyone else to do something that you enjoy.
  3. Stop taking everything so seriously. Laughing at yourself helps.

What works for you? I’d love to know.

P.S. A few of you asked to see some pictures of my sister’s wedding. Here’s Claire, me and my freakishly long tongue at her prairie wedding. Photos courtesy of the lovely Kris Kandel.

Me and my sister on her wedding day

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Happy holidays

Brighton

I’m heading on holiday. Not going to Brighton beach in the 1950s (fun though that would be) but heading to North Dakota for my big sister’s wedding. I’ll be looking out for all things joyful en route.

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Feel better about your relationship instantly

Make_Me_Joyful_Cake

Chocolate Pavlova from What Katie Ate

The last few days I’ve been thinking about the icing on the cake. Not actual icing (much though I love a good daydream about buttercream) but figurative icing and more precisely, figurative icing and relationships.

When we’re in love, we look to our partners to give us support, appreciation, companionship, compliments and much, much more. And that’s fantastic. After all, there has to be some sort of reward for putting up with constant mess, occasional grumpiness and fact that we can no longer have the whole bed to ourselves. I joke. Well, apart from the mess.

Of course, when we don’t feel that we’re getting those things we blame the other person. They’re no longer giving what they’re supposed to and we’re no longer getting what we need. We feel distant and unappreciated. Our love diminishes in direct proportion to the number of weeks since we last received a damn compliment. And as for ‘It’s not you, it’s me’, it most definitely is them. It’s them not doing ANYTHING RIGHT.

The cycle continues. The tears fall. The depths are plumbed.

But this is where the problem is. We’re looking for love in all the wrong places. We’re looking for love outside of ourselves. And that doesn’t work. When love is something that we expect other people to provide us with, we’re precarious. We totter between happiness and despair with nothing but the hope of a kind word to hold on to. And that’s no fun.

Wouldn’t it be better if the love that we receive from our partners is the icing on the cake, rather than the whole glorious thing? 

“Love yourself first” is old news. But it’s vital. What have you done today or this week to give yourself the love you’re looking for someone else to provide? If it’s not enough, what can you start doing to cherish yourself in the way that you want to be cherished?

If we give to ourselves we feel great and the better we feel, the better those around us treat us. It’s a win-win. It’s icing and cake.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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