saturday upsides: the small, ordinary pleasures of home

Happy weekend, everyone! It’s time to celebrate Saturday Upsides!

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Yesterday, I was reading a lovely collection of short stories, Who’s Irish? by Gish Jen, and I came across this quote about life as a mother and homemaker that really struck a chord with me. Maybe it will for you, too!

whos irish cover
“It was absurd to be made happy by this small shared anticipation. Before the table actually got set, there had to be an argument about whose turn it was. How could this make Pammie happy? But it did, even as it drove her batty. She liked her busy boredom, too, if only because it readied her for the moment when Adam presented Inka with a rattle shaped like a football, or when Phoebe invented her own version of Duck, Duck, Goose: House, House, Home, this was called. You had to be a little bored to have those moments break over you the way they could. But if you sat waiting in a good dark night, they opened and opened like a brand of newfangled fireworks that lit the clouds, and the ground below, too, and all the faces turned upward, then fell with a sparkling rush right into your hands.”

– an excerpt from the story “House, House, Home” from the collection Who’s Irish by Gish Jen

I treasure the small, ordinary moments of life at home with those I love!

What are your upsides this weekend?

saturday upsides: special delivery to the nursing home

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Happy Saturday, everyone! So we all survived the end of the world … hooray! There’s an upside right there. 😉

Another upside: today is my brother’s 23rd birthday! Happy birthday, Greg!!

happy bday gb

We are going out to brunch, per our special sibling tradition, and we’ll be going out to dinner as a family. I’m excited to celebrate the birthday of my amazing brother! My first-ever memory is when he was born. I was two-and-a-half years old and I just remember standing in the living room of our old house, telling my mom to “Call Daddy, call Daddy!” My dad was at work and my mom was home with what she thought was the flu {it was two weeks before her expected due date} when her water broke … my dad rushed home and we just barely made it to the hospital in time! My family always jokes that I almost delivered my brother that day!

do good feel good

My final upside for this lovely Saturday is based on the idea “Do good, feel good.” There’s nothing like those warm-fuzzies you get when you feel like you did something nice for someone else — I find it especially powerful during the holiday season. It means so much to feel like I could make someone’s holiday a little brighter!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of my friend Jewell, who passed away two years ago in February. She was an incredibly sweet and compassionate person and I used to visit her at the local nursing home, where we shared many meals and long conversations. Here we are about a year before she died:

me and jewell

And here she is wearing a scarf I made her for Christmas:

jewell

I used to enjoy making Jewell homemade Christmas gifts and cards, and last Christmas {the first once since her death} I really missed her. This year, I had an idea: I could still give a gift to Jewell by doing something kind for others in her memory.

So I whipped up a batch of sweet treats {my butterscotch pudding cookies & holiday white chocolate pretzels!} and spent an hour making homemade cards. I used crayons, stamps, stickers, and markers to make my own designs, and I also “upcycled” some Christmas cards we’d received in previous years by cutting off the front picture and gluing it to a new piece of cardstock to make a new card.

more cards

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I made sixteen cards in total. Then I packed up some treats on a plate, gathered all my cards together, and headed out to the nursing home for a Yuletide delivery!

special delivery!

I could feel Jewell’s warm spirit with me as I delivered the cards and cookies to the nursing home residents. They were so happy and waved and hugged me and said, “Thank you!” and “Merry Christmas!” I hope Jewell was looking down and smiling.

Want to do a similar project in your town? Here are some examples of notes I wrote in the cards:

  • Hope your holiday season is filled with joy and peace! Love, a friend
  • Someone is thinking of you this holiday season and sending warm wishes your way!
  • Merry Christmas! Have a wonderful season filled with warm memories, hope and love!

Now I’m off to finish wrapping Greg’s birthday gifts! 🙂 Have a fantastic day!

saturday upsides: even chores have silver linings

Happy Saturday! I can’t believe how quickly this Thanksgiving weekend is flying by. We’re having a wonderful time visiting Mike’s family, and it’s been a nice mix of productive work time, relaxing lazy time, Christmas shopping time, family time, and of course eating yummy food time! I need to do a bit more grading before we head back to school on Monday … I tend to put grading at the bottom of my to-do list {maybe because I really dislike giving bad grades and sometimes I simply have to.} The great students more than make up for it, though. Which brings me to my topic for today’s Saturday Upside, linked up with Bonnie at Recipes Happen:

even chores have silver linings

We all have those chores we don’t like to do, those small tasks that we procrastinate on. For me it’s grading and cleaning the bathroom. Mike really dislikes doing laundry. Another friend of mine hates doing the dishes.

But the thing I’ve learned about procrastinating is that it just makes the dreaded chore bigger than it needs to be. It gives it power by letting it take up your brain space. The dread of what needs to be done later taints the present time, which is time spent doing other things you do enjoy. And then, when you finally do get around to completing whatever it was you were procrastinating on, don’t you often think, I guess that wasn’t so bad/didn’t take so long/wasn’t as difficult as I was expecting? It happens to me a lot. It would be so much better if I would just bite the bullet and complete the chore before the procrastination lethargy settles in!

Something that helps me is to try to find the silver lining even in life’s chores. Maybe that means putting on my favorite new CD or Pandora playlist and dancing while I clean the bathroom. Mike folds laundry while watching one of his favorite TV shows. Even washing the dishes could be time spent daydreaming about your dream vacation or mentally plotting out your Christmas list or listening to an intriguing podcast or audiobook. Hate to exercise? Call a friend and have a catch-up chat while you walk around the neighborhood. Or power-walk around the mall while you window-shop!

“Silver linings” can also be mini-rewards you give yourself. Like I said, I have lots of terrific students, and I often save the papers from my best students for the end of my grading stack, as a little reward for me at the end. {It always makes me so happy and proud to see my students trying their best and shining with their work!} Maybe you could break chores up with little treats: a good cup of coffee or tea, a chapter of the great book you’re reading, a square of dark chocolate, a game of fetch with your dog, a phone call to a friend. It also helps me to think about the end goal of whatever I’m doing: the students I hope I am helping become better writers, for example; or how important it is to keep the bathroom clean and wiped down to stay healthy, especially during the winter cold/flu season!

And sometimes it helps to get down to the basics: if I feel annoyed at having to clean my apartment, I’ll remind myself how lucky I am to have a place to call my own. On those days I don’t feel like getting up and going to work, I think instead about all the people who are trying so hard to find work, and how lucky I am to have a job to get up and go to!

What could be the silver linings in some of your least favorite chores or tasks?