The Things That Bring Me Joy
This post was inspired by a bowl of soup. Now I know that sounds a bit bizarre, but stay with me. It'll all make sense, I promise. I was feeling a bit low this weekend. I was in one of those moods where you just can't get into a good flow and I spent way too much time putting myself down and doubting my abilities. I was also a bit rundown and devoid of energy - nothing serious, just the sort of lethargy that is unavoidable after an adrenaline fuelled month.
There was only one thing I was craving, one thing that I knew would make me feel better - my Mum's ham and lentil soup. The only problem with that was that my Mum's currently sunning herself on holiday and I couldn't just pop over and beg her to make me a bowl. Nightmare.
Instead, she very kindly sent me the recipe and I popped to the supermarket for the ingredients. I followed the steps she'd typed out for me in a text, and at first I thought I'd done something wrong. It didn't look like Mum's soup and the consistency was all wrong. But I left it bubbling away on the hob while I put the hoover round (I know, I know, soup and hoovering, my life is too glamorous), and when I came back to it, it was perfect.
It smelt like my childhood in a pan. I know that sounds strange, but I find that smells can evoke so much nostalgia, and one sniff off that soup took me back to sitting at the breakfast bar in my parents' kitchen, impatiently waiting for my dinner and chatting away to my Mum.
I dished out a bowl full and sat down at the kitchen table ready to tuck in. And as I dunked a piece of crusty bread into the soup, I felt pure joy. The taste of the hot butter melting into the thick lentils was exactly the comfort I needed, and I could feel my mood lifting with every mouthful of soft vegetables and chewy ham. There was something about sitting down and enjoying a meal that reminds me so much of home and family that made me feel a little bit less lonely. By the time I was washing the bowl up in the sink I felt happier, lighter, freer. And it got me thinking about the other things that bring me joy. The little things that might look like nothing to other people, but mean the world to me.
So today I thought I'd write about them, for a number of reasons. One, because it's really bloody fun to write about things that make you happy. There's something about just thinking about those things that can lift your mood, and I could really do with that boost this week. And also, because it's always good to have a list of those joy making things to hand, prepped and ready for the days when life is busy trying to convince you that everything is bleak. So here goes...
Waking up to sun streaming through the window and a cup of tea from Sam on my bedside table. He's one of the only people who knows how to make a good brew exactly the way I like it.
Dark, rainy nights that give you just the excuse you need to cancel all of your plans and curl up on the sofa with a blanket. That golden light that only comes late afternoon in December. Being wrapped up in a warm coat and scarf on a cold, crisp, blue sky kind of day.
Walking along the canal on a summer evening. Stopping for paint of lager at our local pub on the way home and chatting about minutiae with Sam. The way a beautiful sunset can make me feel insignificant and important and overwhelmed and flooded with love all at the same time. Getting that exact same feeling whenever we look up at the stars on a clear night in Anglesey.
Listening to Sam's parents or brother tell stories about him from when he was a kid. Enjoying these stories even more when they're accompanied by dodgy photos. Squeezing the chub on our little nephew's legs and kissing his cheeks until he starts to get grumpy. The wonderful, magic sound of his gurgly laugh.
Calling my Mum for no reason in particular and ending up on the phone for an hour. Never being too old for a bear hug from my Dad. Sleeping in my old bed, in the bedroom I grew up in, at my parents' house. Finding something funny online and immediately sending it my sister, because I know she's the only person who'll laugh as hard at it as me.
Spending a sunny afternoon in my auntie's garden, relaxing in a way I only do when I'm with my family. Listening to my little cousins laugh and shriek as they chase each other around. Feeling the weight of their heads as they fall asleep in my lap and their sweaty palms held tight in mine as we cross the road. A cup of tea and a slice of cake with my Nan. A tale about the past from my Grandad.
A really great flat white. Preferably from Layne's Espresso. Even better if it's accompanied by their Yorkshire rarebit. The first sip of an ice cold can of Diet Coke on a particularly trying afternoon. That third glass of wine, shared with friends on a mid-week evening as we exchange funny (and sometimes horrifying) tales from the office. The clink of Prosecco glasses as we celebrate birthdays or weddings or promotions or just plain old life.
Getting ready with a gaggle of girls and an excellent playlist. The sort of nights out that can only happen with the people who knew you when you were 18. The Whatsapp group chats that get me through a dry and dull Monday afternoon. The thoughtful text from a very kind friend that arrives just when you need it.
The first glimpse of Leeds after a long drive home across the Pennines. Marvelling at how a city that was once so unfamiliar to me is the place I now call home. The little buzz I get opening our front door after a trip away, knowing that this little house is all ours.
Pottering. Moving candles and photo frames and cushions around to find the optimal arrangement. Stumbling across old photos or cards and feeling nostalgic. Lying on our bed while I listen to Sam play the guitar in the attic room above me. A day spent cooking in the kitchen. Preferably making something slow roasted and delicious.
Weekends with no plans. Getting in the car and just driving, not knowing quite where we'll end up. Singing along with Sam to the same songs we've sung in the car for the past 7 years. The quiet comfort of sitting on the sofa together, engrossed in whatever Netflix show we're binge watching and bickering about what to make for tea.
Knowing that I could dedicate the rest of this year to this list and I still wouldn't be finished.