one lovely thing

by haywardhelen

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There are so many ways to change one’s life. I come up with them all the time. With one fell swoop a single change will iron out every wrinkle, leaving a smooth finish. But the loftier my intentions the more quickly they fall over. Whether it’s yoga before breakfast, or decluttering the house, or reading something worth reading before bed. Before a month is up my best laid plans are flotsam, stymied by school holidays, or a work deadline.

And so I have decided to come in from another angle. My aim is simple. It’s to make one lovely thing each day. Over and above those things I feel compelled to do – shopping, cooking, laundry, writing – the plan is to make something each day that feeds my soul. It might be putting a flower in a vase. It might be playing a piece on the piano. It might be a drawing or a dessert. It doesn’t really matter what it is. It’s more about finding time to do whatever it is that feeds me in this special way, while making sure not to turn it into a demand or chore.

I have tried meditating. I have tried being mindful. And yet what I have found is that I lose myself in a way that makes me feel most whole when I am making or doing something at home. Often it flops – my biscuits are sometimes sorry things. Rarely is what I make perfect. Nothing I sew can be mistaken for something bought in a shop. And yet everything that I make have a little bit of me in them.

This feeling that I get from making things doesn’t come naturally. Left to my own I’ll lose precious time online, or wash down cupboard doors in the kitchen. It’s a feeling that I have to set up for, it involves a bit of a chase. Which is why I’m putting time aside daily to make something lovely, for no other reason than that it gives me this feeling that I find hard to describe.

My teenage son mocks my delight in lovely things. The black bike that he leaves propped in our hall is, in his opinion, the most beautiful object in our house. The rest, he says dismissively, is just vanity. But, I think to myself, it isn’t only vanity. Seeking a little bit of loveliness every day isn’t to be laughed at. And if everyone did it, how nice would that be? Just imagine if, instead of asking what each other what we do in terms of work, we asked each other a different question. What is the last lovely thing that you made?