I had such a lovely day last week – a friend needed some help on her allotment so I went along with my trowel ready to lend a hand. I never need much excuse to be in the garden; I’m convinced that being outside in the fresh air is spiritual therapy for everyone – just think how great you feel after a day out anywhere – so gardening and my friend’s good company was just my cup of tea! Of course it rained at lunchtime, so we sat in the greenhouse, surrounded by tomato plants and lavender cuttings, ate sausage sandwiches which my friend cooked on her camping stove and listened to the rain on the roof – bliss!
My friend loves to make gifts for friends and family so it wasn’t long before we started talking about Christmas presents. Yes, I know it’s only June, but read on and you’ll see why! This year, my friend intends to make hampers with the fruits of her allotment – elderflower champagne, jams, flavoured oils, pickles and chutneys – and many of these have to be made when the crops are ready. My friend could easily buy these items, but she enjoys giving a present that she has made herself and as she is excellent at making them, they are always well received!
My home made gifts tend to be woolly ones. I’m an avid knitter and it’s tradition at Christmas in our family now for everyone to have a new pair of knitted socks. Socks at Christmas? How boring, you say! But there’s nothing quite like a pair that’s been hand made. I love to spend time choosing just the right colours and pattern for whoever I’m knitting for and I know that they will have a gift that is completely original. My brother, astounded when he put on his first pair to discover that they fitted perfectly, exclaimed “They could have been made for me!” – and of course they were!
Christmas has the potential to be more stressful than ever this year. With so many ‘things’ that we can buy, so many ‘must have’ gadgets and everyone feeling the pinch in their wallets, it may be time to think about alternatives. It’s easy to forget what Christmas is really about when you’re bombarded with TV and newspaper adverts, but it’s not just about what you get. It’s about what you give as well – and it doesn’t have to be huge or expensive.
This year, I’m going to give the jams and the chutneys a try. We may not have an allotment but our garden still produces enough to share, and whilst it might mean thinking about Christmas at a time when we’d rather be thinking about holidays, I don’t feel that’s such a bad thing. When big daughter was the same age as small daughter is now, she had a story book in which one of the characters announced ‘A home made gift comes straight from the heart’. Now that’s something that money can’t buy.
Friday, 27 May 2011
Monday, 2 May 2011
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear
is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our
darkness that most frightens us.”
These are the opening lines from my favourite quotation by Marianne Williamson. It’s quite long so I’ll just give you the website link where you can find it (http://skdesigns.com/internet/articles/quotes/williamson/our_deepest_fear) but it’s worth looking up. I’ve been thinking about it quite a lot recently after some conversations with big daughter. Fortunately, she’s a talkative teenager, not one who suffers in silence when she’s got something on her mind.
Her issue recently has been to do with dealing with other girls at school. Having been a teenager myself once, I can see now that their behaviour is all about hiding their own fear. We’re all afraid of something – life changes, losing loved ones, standing out from the crowd – and it’s part of what makes us who we are. When you’re a teenager, not only have you got schoolwork, physical body changes and more hormones than you can shake a stick at making you unpredictable, but you also have to cope with everybody else’s unpredictable hormones and learn to negotiate the social minefield as well. I’m very glad I’ve got past that bit now!
But having said that, getting older doesn’t mean that our fears go away. We find more fears, bigger fears. We worry about our children, our partners, our jobs, our homes. We still don’t like standing out from the crowd (apart from those who can’t resist the X Factor auditions). We take our fears out on other people, blaming them for the things that are holding us back when really the problem, and the answer, lies inside us. The quotation goes on to say:
“We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented,
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 are all meant to shine, as children do.”
That’s when I look at small daughter, fearless, joyful and convinced that the world is here for her to make her mark upon. When do we lose that fearlessness? Sometimes, watching her attempting death-defying stunts on the swings in the park I wish she would be a little less fearless, but then I remind myself that the world will be a brighter place for her if she holds onto it. Her confidence is a bright light and she shines, just as the quotation says. She makes big daughter brave. And that fits with the very last line of the quotation, and that’s what I’ll leave you with:
“As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”