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:
- Accepting help when offered (even if you secretly think that they won’t do it as well as you).
- Taking yourself away from everyone else to do something that you enjoy.
- 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.