Secretly, I’m a bit of a fan of Valentine’s Day. Not the version with cheesy cards, boxes of chocolates and high expectations – but a softer, gentler day to appreciate. This week, I’ve been building up a casual list of the simple things I love. This isn’t a list of people, places or big topics. The focus is on little day to day things.
What are the specific-to-you things that make you happy? That are particular to your unique mix of tastes and habits? It’s a bit of a gratitude cliche – sure. But just try it, in the back page of a notebook perhaps. Write a couple of small, niche things you love then add more realisations as they occur. Making this list is a good reminder of the things that make you ‘you’ – especially useful to read over on those days where spirits might be low or you feel pressure to act as someone else.
Since today is all about love (we’re told), it seems a good point to reclaim some of the loves that are genuinely and un-apologetically about you. For example, here’s a few of my loved things:
- Crusts of bread. In my family, we fight over the crust. Any homemade loaf has to have its crust sliced into quarters so we all get a precisely even share. My dad and I have an alternating arrangement for who gets the crust on a supermarket loaf. The more I’ve met of the outside world, the more I hear we are a bit unusual. I would quite happily eat a loaf that was entirely crusts. There’s nothing better than a toasted crust for breakfast (topped with organic peanut butter, marmite and slices of banana in case you were wondering).
- That tiredness that comes from doing something practical – lately this has been accompanied by paint on my clothes and under my nails.
- Pasta, mixed with pesto (from a jar) and eaten straight from the pan.
- Fitness classes where you can dance badly and feel fabulous.
- A hot soaky bath (already discussed here).
- Fruit and nut chocolate (which my mum craved when expecting me, so it’s basically my earliest food love).
- Blankets – I can’t even sit on a sofa without one.
- A vase of flowers and a magazine, waiting for me when I get back to my childhood bedroom. Grateful for this gesture of love from my mum every time.
- Looking under a pretty mug in a cafe to see where it’s from without spilling any tea (Oliver Bonas do some great mugs by the way!).
- Pudding after a main course (somebody please tell me – what is the point of a starter?).
- A cup of tea in bed as the sun rises.
- Cake – specifically my mum’s chocolate birthday cake (via Mary Berry), Christmas cake (via Delia Smith) and cherry and almond cake (also Mary Berry).
- Escapist and gripping historical fiction. Doesn’t have to be well written, I just want a lot of plot and a lot of costume detail.
- Working while listening to podcasts.
- Having my hair blow dried by someone who knows what they’re doing (likewise manicures).
- Coffee table books on interiors – specifically decorating styles circa 1700-1950, contemporary luxury hotel and resort designs, countryside escapes.
I could go on, but you get the gist. It’s not just about the material stuff, but looking for the recurring triggers that make my soul light up. For example: appreciating things I find beautiful, making things, being active, absorbing storytelling, enjoying certain flavours, feeling free and also settled. I know I need to prioritise those ways of living my day. They are the fundamentals on my loved list. What’s on your’s?