Thankfulness: a commercial

colour run

I was at a festival recently, where one of the speakers said that she does ‘thankfulness commercials’. When her kids start to get grumpy or complain, she makes them stop, and each name five things that they are thankful for.

And you know what? She said that once they start, they never ever can only name five. They just carry on – “I’m thankful for…my mum, my dad, my brother, my house, the sun, the moon, the stars…” etc.

It made me think how mostly, the white noise of my heart is not thankful noise. It is grumbly, complain-y, ‘if only…’ noise.

This week, I am thankful for:

  • A fab weekend away – the Colo(u)r Run, thin-crust pizza, a sandsculpture festival, the sea, and About Time
  • A warm, sunshine-y afternoon
  • Casual weekday badminton (and flexible working)
  • One of my new housemates discovering that he owns a microwave (!)
  • Other furniture gifts still coming in: a dining table, another sofa, a wardrobe, vintage porcelain dishes, money
  • A garden harvest of fat green beans and six beautiful tomatoes
  • A team and job that I love
  • A friend to sit with while reading
  • Winning at this game.
  • Long-distance phone chats
  • Encouragement to persevere, from the book of Hebrews
  • A borrowed umbrella when it was raining
  • This good read
  • The most bombastic crumble ever – plum, peach, rhubarb, fig and ginger
  • My entire church staff helping me to move house
  • My vicar/boss sawing a hole in the back of my bookcase so that I have access to power sockets
  • A helpful contact agreeing to be interviewed for an assignment
  • Cantonese curry. Stroopwafels. Home-baked jam cookies the size of your hand.
  • That man in the queue behind me at Costa, who helped pick up my change that had fallen all over the floor. (He also said it was an ‘omen from the Lord, telling me to relax today’…! Maybe so, Mr. Helpful)
  • My baby nephew. Oh the cuteness, oh the chub.
  • Complete support from ex-housemates (‘do you need any food? Cleaning supplies? Anything at all?’)
  • Indoor picnics with the just-moved-in look

 indoor picnic

And that, my friends, is all.

Have a weekend full of things to be thankful for!

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summer in full swing

Hello my dears, I am off gallivanting to Copenhagen (holiday) and Kent (retreat) and West Sussex (music festival) this couple of weeks, but thought I’d document some summer memories so far:

Went to see this amazing exhibition a few weeks ago, and was moved to tears by the compassion, sense of humour and all-round sparkly wonderfulness of Quentin Blake. What a genius.

This has also been happening in Coventry recently – lots of outdoor sports activities, including cycling round the (in)famous ring road, and one of my friends dressing up as Skippy (a kangaroo, what else)! Fun times. Making me feel proud of Coventry, especially its design and manufacturing heritage.

It was a real-life steam train! That you could actually travel on! Enough to turn any adult back into a child.

Perfect summery dishes: here and here (works just as well with pork, by the way).

Saw this movie a couple weeks ago – so much food for thought.

And, my summer reading.

Finally, a very beautiful, moving video piece: (Edit 5/9/13: Sorry, this link doesn’t seem to be working anymore. You can view the video here however: http://www.simonchristen.com/adrift.html)

Happy weekend! Hope you have some barefoot, hanging out-y fun.

majulah

(Mentos being very silly and funny)

Hey folks. I was going to write you a totally navel-gazing, soul-searchingly deep post about what it means to be Singaporean and all, but on this my country’s 48th birthday, I’m just going to relax. Submitted the third of my four fundraising course assignments yesterday, and I still feel a little like a new mum who’s given birth but her body hasn’t quite realised it yet. My brain is still all jumpy and thinking about word counts and ROI and LTV. I even woke up with the hiccups that I had while doing final essay edits last night! What.

So it’s time to properly wind down for the summer. The last of my stressful deadlines is over. You know, I used to never wind down; up until four years ago I’d never intentionally had a day off in my life. (Going on holidays doesn’t count – that’s like binge-resting.) And in some ways, that was easier, because boy, working is what I do best. When I’m achieving and producing, I’m worth something. It took so much more character and discipline to just start cherishing myself and my relationships, than it did to carry on staying late at the office.

But I’ve found that there’s a real wisdom in that, because that’s how the upside-down secret way works in life. Want to live? Die to yourself. Want to be rich and successful? Learn to be poor and childlike. Want to find freedom? Train to surrender and submit. Want to produce and contribute the most? Take a break.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” – Jesus, John 15.5

So as we celebrate Singapore’s great successes today, I’d like to invite you to remember that progress isn’t linear, but seasonal, and that most of what causes success to apparently just pop up all of a sudden is long, slow spiritual and character formation in secret. Perhaps you can use some of your long weekend to find that secret, still space.

I, for one, am going to find some bubble tea in Coventry city centre and harvest my friends’ garden (hello, courgettes and rhubarb! Nice to eat choo).

Have a secret, still weekend, everyone.

*

Also, I give you some more National Day-themed links:

Singaporean 90s-kid nostalgia.

Google loves us.

And ok not really National Day-themed, but Singaporean and close to my heart – include an ‘outsider’ in some way this weekend, won’t you.

Excerpts from my favourite Singapore film ever, here and here.

And, wah! Mr Brown got music video.

before midnight

Not much to say today, except that I’m going to watch this film sometime soon. Sorta grew up with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke through my secondary school years — their characters always a few lifestages ahead of me, in some ways marking out a path forward that would involve lots of similar strolling through cities, plenty of wine and randomness, and everyday dramatic conversation with a really good but sometimes also really annoying friend.

I love the vulnerability of Delpy and Hawke, in choosing to keep acting in this film series as they themselves age. So excited.

good and bad running on parallel tracks

bring the happy

It’s been an oddly bipolar week. My friends and I got to do tons of very lovely fun stuff, and celebrate some joyous happenings, while at the same time quite a few difficult things were also going on with us. It’s been a weird one, oscillating wildly between feeling like all is beautiful and we can relax, and feeling thoroughly pummelled by life.

Discovering a bedbug infestation in my room alternated with a visit to this gorgeous home and grounds (they had deer!) with my friends in perfect sunshine on a National Trust Free Weekend. Which in turn was followed by being seriously, horribly slammed with work deadline major crises. But then my dear sister came to visit, and we spent the day out in Coventry. And then it was Earth Day, so we scattered candles across our living room surfaces, turned out the lights, and invited some dear friends over for dinner (made a delish adaptation of this based on what sauces and aromatics I had). Over the course of the week three friends had serious health issues crop up with their loved ones — but yesterday another friend, who has a cartilage injury, got off crutches four weeks early. Plus I got to go watch an arty film (pretty good) with a bunch of friends that I wouldn’t normally do that with, which opened up new topics of conversation and meant that we now know each other that little bit more.

“Good and bad run on parallel tracks, and they usually arrive at about the same time.” — Ron Dunn

I guess most of life is normally like that, lots of different happenings bumping up against each other. But it’s been awhile since my week has felt that extreme, the joy and the pain so sharply delineated.

I could focus either way, and have swung from one extreme to the other many times this week. But I think I’m going to choose to be thankful. That the various raging beasts of work projects have been momentarily tamed; that many of my family and friends are healthy; that I’m seeing some of those friends in Nottingham today; that I have great people to live through it all with — that regardless of how different our situations may be, we are committed to mourning and swearing and rejoicing and feasting together. The fundamentals of my life are good.

When my sister was in Cov, we got to go see this rad happiness mapping project and submit a couple of memories. Bring the Happy started out during the recession a couple of years ago, when city centre businesses were dropping like flies. A theatre company called Invisible Flock decided that they were going to move into a city centre storefront, armed with a couple of big maps of your city, and ask people to log their happy memories on the places where they had occurred, marking them with glass rods (of lengths corresponding to your happiness level in said memory). At the end of the logging period, they would take those memories and transform them into an all-singing all-dancing bells-and-whistles-replete foot-stomping show.

BTH shopfront

BTH overall view

map on screen

walsgrave hospital

The bit I loved was nosily reading everyone else’s memories of my city, from the seriously inane to the life-transforming. The glass rods are a striking visual representation of where people have chosen thankfulness and hope; I was surprised to see a huge cluster of them on Walsgrave Hospital. Participating felt oddly like joining in with some kind of mass prophetic act, speaking hope into the city, hope into our bones.

recent interestingness

pan's labyrinth

Ofelia and the faun in Pan’s Labyrinth

May this roundup fascinate, tantalise and perturb you:

Pan’s Labyrinth. (Okay so I may just be the last person on the planet to have watched this…) Gore and horror elements are not really my thing, but still, what a great realistic fairytale.

Carrot batons steamed and flavoured with honey, thyme, salt and curry paste. From here (it’s rule number 69).

19 things to stop doing in your 20s. You got me there.

Summer is coming. I must make these.

This talk on the different human motivations for green behaviour and how to tap into them.

It’s not every day your church leader gets killed for attempting to assassinate Hitler. Whatta guy. (Also, this is a classic text on living in community.)

And finally, because as a fundraiser I get to keep tabs on interesting events, this! And this (oh please come to England. We will still run, for sure).

Have a good weekend, everyone.

(Photo from here, with thanks.)