By most measures, I have a good life.
I have a husband I adore, a loving family and wonderful friends. I am self-employed in IT and enjoy my job. Our house is utter chaos but at least it’s ours and, hey, it’s lived in!
I have a smile on my face most of the time.
Of course, life isn’t always a bed of roses. Health issues result in regular pain and that sometimes turns into frustration and moping. Here are some of my favourite ways to find joy when life conspires to get me down or I’m feeling frazzled by the mundane.
Putting words onto paper (or screen) gives me great pleasure. I love the way it helps me tease my jumbled thoughts into order and it’s great fun to share an experience, an idea, a recipe or a place with others. It’s also a lovely way to connect with people around the world with the same interests. I invest several hours every week into my blog, Kavey Eats, and over the years it’s become one of my favourite hobbies. Through that, I’ve also become a regular contributor to a food and travel magazine, giving me a way of sharing my words with a wider audience.
Writing doesn’t have to be about an audience, of course. Some say that the key element is to express themselves, even if it’s in the confines of a private diary. Whether you want to talk about food and cooking, politics and current affairs, the trials and tribulations of bringing up a family or your thoughts about last night’s TV, grab a notebook or create a diary or personal website and start writing.
Food & drink
Being a food blogger, it’s no surprise that I love food and it’s something I can find enormous pleasure in. When I’m looking for comfort, I turn to a familiar and nostalgia-inducing favourite. When I’m feeling creative, I try and develop a new recipe. For a more sociable experience, I love eating out and there are just so many fabulous restaurants to choose from. And there’s also great pleasure in discovering a new treat, whether it’s a bar of top quality chocolate, a jar of British honey or a beautifully marbled steak.
As a contractor, I’m able to take a fair bit of time off – it’s one of the reasons I went freelance in the first place – and I love to travel and explore the rest of the world. Of course, I can’t be travelling all the time, so when I’m at home I spend lots of time reading trip reports from other travellers, and researching my next big adventure. Honestly, I get as much pleasure from planning a trip as I do from the trip itself; anticipation of pleasures to come is a powerful happiness generator!
My husband and I have grown our own vegetables in our small suburban back garden for many years. A few years ago we also took on an allotment plot, giving us lots of extra space to grow a wider range of produce. Sometimes, the harvest for one or more crops is disappointing but there’s always something that gives us a plentiful bounty and there’s a lot of joy in the process itself. My husband much prefers it to a gym and it’s far cheaper too!
We always grow at least one new fruit or vegetable a year, alongside our trusty favourites. This year we enjoyed our first physalis, butternut squashes and red apples. Last year, the new tomatillos did very well.
A friend of mine once said many years ago that he didn’t think of himself as creative; creative was a word he associated with other people. Regardless of that thought, he pursued an interest in photography and realised that creativity isn’t always something innate; it can be nurtured through practice and determination. Today he’s a successful and talented photographer who shares his skills with others.
I, too, love photography and have always found it a great way of emptying my mind of everyday worries while I focus on capturing the image I want. I also find it a powerful tool for making me stop, look and appreciate the subject more closely, whether it’s a building or landscape, a person or animal or even a worn park bench!
I believe this applies equally to other artforms so if you’ve always liked the idea of painting, pottery, crochet or origami, stop worrying about not being any good at it and just have a go!
This article on my top tips for finding (and creating) joy in your life was commissioned by Thorntons.