One of my favourite sources of women’s wisdom is Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. One of the things that I most love about this book is the lovely inspiration to introduce some good old fashioned traditions back into your life and I truly believe that by punctuating the year with these we can inject our lives with a lot more genuine moments of joy while on this journey in the pursuit of happiness. In her list of Joyful Simplicities for April, she suggests we remind ourselves what it’s like to have fun on April fool’s day. To Turn everything topsy-turvy, to start your day with English muffin pizzas for breakfast, surprise your loved ones and co-workers with whimsy, (Always remember that your jokes should be comical, absurd and amusing surprises never ones designed to embarrass) To meet a light-hearted friend who always makes you laugh for a lunchtime bagel. To pick up your children after school under the guise of attending a dentist appointment only to whisk them off to the ice cream parlour and to have pancakes or waffles for dinner. To finish your day off by carving out some time for yourself to honour the child within. Go play dress up in your own wardrobe just like you did as a little girl on rainy day in your mothers. Experiment with different combinations, explore the possibilities but most importantly, have fun.
With the start of April here I now have a whole new chance to achieve a few more goals dash suggestions. Which will probably be used as little more than a rough guideline as a direction to take in April and spend the next month of my life exploring. But hey, we all need a little inspiration to get us started. I hope you can gain some inspiration from some of the suggestions below too.
Gretchen Rubin in her book The Happiness Project dedicated April to Parenthood: lightening up with the following ideas:
- Singing in the morning
- Acknowledging the reality of other peoples feelings
- Being a treasure house of happy memories
- Taking time for projects
Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy suggests the following joyful simplicities for April to help bring more simplicity to your everyday life:
- Celebrate April Fools Day on April 1st
- Die Easter eggs & hide them in the garden for children of all ages to hunt
- Bake a batch of hot cross buns
- Eat jelly beans
- Trim an old fashioned bonnet
- Take a creative excursion to a hat store to find the perfect new hat, play around with the many different possibilities until you find the one that shows a glimpse of your authentic self in the mirror to purchase.
- Take a creative excursion to a large record shop to discover all the different types of music available, check out some new albums to enjoy. Flip the dial to a new radio station in the car and enjoy the sound of silence when at home alone.
- Resume the restorative pastime of weekend roaming & take a creative excursion to an estate sale to look for vintage linens & a farmers market for plants & herbs.
- Take a Sunday drive in the country to revel in Mother natures Autumn fancy dress, pack a picnic & linger as long as you can.
- Sort through your lingerie drawer, discard ratty old bras & panties & delight in pretty new undergarments, lay down scented paper & tuck in some lavender scented sachets.
- Spend a rainy afternoon curled up under a blanket listening to the rain on the roof
- Pick up a up a copy of Diane Ackerman’s book A Natural History Of The Senses & revel in an exhilarating reading romp that will intrigue & inspire you to become a sensuist
- Pick up a copy of Liza Nagy’s book Aromatherapy: A Natural Choice & learn all you can about the benefits of aromatherapy.
- Plant crocus, daffodils & tulips outdoors for next spring.
- Mull cider & wine on the weekends for an autumn cup of cheer, especially delightful to indulge in after raking leaves.
Trinny & Susannah in their book The Survival Guide: A Woman’s Secret Weapon For Getting Through The Year say that April is the time to take a break and learn how to:
- Pack like a pro
- Where to go for a weekend
- Fab ideas for a few days away
- Rules for picking the perfect trousers
- Getting your chimney swept & checking your smoke alarms
- Booking a dental check-up
- Having a dying session to renew last summers tired white T-shirts
Kim Carruthers in her book Less is More: How to De-clutter Your Life she says April is the perfect time to:
- Reset your clocks for daylight savings.
- Check your smoke alarms.
- Plan your Autumn/winter wardrobe
- Stock up for the Easter bunny
- Sort fans & heaters
Rhonda Hetzel in her book The Simple Home: A Month-by-month Guide To Self-Reliance, Productivity and Contentment says that April is the time for food gardening in containers.
And just for those of you not living in the Southern Hemisphere and celebrating April in Autumn a suggestion from Meik Wiking’s Book The Little Book Of Hygge: The Danish Way To Live Well which refers to April as the perfect month for hiking and cooking over an open fire and reminds you to pack chocolate eggs if you are heading out over Easter
Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy reminds you that an easy way let your authentic self help you evolve into the woman you were meant to be is to gather different mail order catalogues. Find a quiet moment to yourself, sit down and flip through the catalogues. Cut out the pictures of the women you think are attractive and the clothing you’d love to wear. Don’t even consider whether you can afford anything or whether you can fit into it today. This is a creative brainstorming session. Always remember that dream, your creative visualizations, must come before their physical manifestations. Play with the pictures in your Illustrated Discovery Journal. Create a collage of your ideal woman, find the perfect hairstyle, put together a fantastic wardrobe for home or work. Have fun with this. Pretend you’re ten years old and playing with paper dolls. See what you discover. Does anything in your Illustrated Discovery Journal resemble anything hanging in your wardrobe? Consider this carefully. Now make yourself a promise. Since you have embarked on this adventure to awaken your authenticity and discover your own sense of style, be willing not to buy another item of clothing unless you absolutely cannot live without it. no more settling for something that’s not you or that’s second rate. On the Simple Abundance path you’re going to discover the joy of surrounding yourself only with things you love and the pleasure of wearing only clothes that make you look and feel fabulous and project your authentic sense of style. Let the potent power of simplicity begin to work in your life. If it’s not authentically you, live without it.
Cheryl Richardson in her book Life Makeovers: 52 Practical and Inspiring Ways To Improve Your Life One Week at a Time suggest that this week you might like to try an experiment. She asks you to pick a problem or challenge and instead of ruminating over and over in your mind about what should be done, ask your relaxed brain to solve the problem while you do something else. Set a specific time for the answer too surface and let it go. Create your own mantra to use when your analytical brain tries to take over and when you’re ready, arrive at the intended result time and see what shows up.
Practicing this simple exercised on a regular basis will not only teach you to access your inner wisdom, but it will also train your brain to use this method of thinking more often. Once you learn to spend more time in the relaxed mode, you’ll find that your imagination runs wild and your ability to access wisdom happens in a snap.
For best results write in your journal
The problem/challenge or idea that I’ll practice with this week is ………………
When my analytical brain kicks in, I’ll simply say ………………….
I’ll check back in for answers on…………. at ……………
Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy reminds you that life requires you prepare yourself for the inevitable times that try your soul. This is achieved with a comfort drawer. Comfort drawers are for those nights when you feel as though you would like to pull the covers over your head and never come out. Your refuge should be a drawer in your dresser where you stockpile small indulgences throughout the year. Many of your comforts may have originally been gifts that you have simply saved for whenever a home-grown unhappiness remedy might be required. She recommends the following:
- A box of chocolate truffles
- One serving size fruit cordials
- Miniature after dinner drinks
- An aromatherapy bath treatment to promote serenity
- Various British decorating magazines
- A small vial of Bach’s Rescue Remedy
- A velvet herbal sleeping pillow
- A satin eye mask
- Rose scented bubble bath & talc
- Old love letters tied wit a silk ribbon
- A scrapbook of personal mementos
- A tin of fancy biscuits
- An assorted gift sampler of assorted teas
- The soundtrack to Boys On The Side
Notice the simply abundant pattern of pleasure? Here is all that is required for the spoiling and pampering of a world weary woman:
- A fabulous bath
- Something scrumptious to nibble
- Something sentimental to conjure up happy memories
- Something lovely to sip
- Something delightful to read
Now change your sheets, plump up your pillow and assemble half-dozen votive candles on a tray. Place the tray on your dressing table in front of the mirror, strike a match and ceremoniously create your own northern lights. Play some soothing music and put on your favourite pyjamas or nightgown. Get into bed and luxuriate. If this doesn’t work take two aspirins and sleep till the morning.
When outfitting your comfort drawer, be sure to line it be sure to line it with a lovely floral shelf paper and tuck in some scented sachets so that the drawer will delight your senses. Wrap your comforts in pretty jewel coloured tissue paper and tie them with beautiful ribbons This way when you open your drawer, you’ll see a dazzling array of wonderful presents, gifts of the heart for the most deserving person you know.
Iyanla Vanzant in her book Don’t give It Away: A Workbook of Self-Awareness and Self-Affirmations for Young Women says that there are some things a girl must have if she is to survive being a girl. The following is a list of items you will find helpful on the days when things aren’t going so great. Ask friends and relatives to contribute to the things you need . Keep your survival kit in a safe place. Use your survival kit when you don’t know what else to do to feel better.
A Girls Survival Kit
- Rose scented bath salts & bubble bath
- Lavender scented bath salts
- Peppermint scented bath salts
- A bag of Hershey’s Kisses
- A fuzzy teddy bear
- A Barbie doll with two changes of clothes
- A journal or personal notebook
- A colouring book & crayons
- A purple & blue ink pen
- A box of tissues
- A bag of peppermint candy
- your favourite colour nail polish
- A pink cotton nightgown & pair of pyjamas
- A white cotton nightgown & pair of pyjamas
- A pair of pink sheets for your bed
- A framed baby picture of yourself
- A tree
When you feel angry:
- Take a twenty minute rose bubble bath
- Put on your pink nightgown or Pyjamas
- Colour 3 pages of your colouring book, & colour everything blue & green
- Write out exactly what you are feeling in your journal with your blue pen
- Put the pink sheets on your bed, lie down & curl up with your teddy bear
When you feel sad:
- Take a lavender bath
- put on your best outfit
- Have 3 Hershey’s kisses
- Colour 3 pages in your colouring book
- Write out what you feel in your journal (be sure to have your tissues near by)
- Talk to your baby picture, tell the baby all the things you want to hear
When you feel confused:
- Take a peppermint bath
- Suck on a peppermint
- Put on your white nightgown or pyjamas
- Polish your toenails
- Comb Barbie’s hair & change her clothes
- Colour three pages in your colouring book
- Write out what you feel in your journal
When you feel frightened:
- Talk to your tree, tell the tree exactly what you feel & ask it to help you be strong
- Take a rose & lavender bath
- Have a peppermint candy
- Put on your white nightgown or pyjamas
- Paint your finger & toenails
- Talk to your baby picture, tell the baby all the things you need to hear
- Colour 5 pages in your colouring book, use as much pink as you can
When you feel lonely:
- Take a rose bath
- Put on your pink nightgown or pyjamas
- Have 3 Hershey’s kisses
- Write a letter to yourself in your journal with your purple pen, explaining why you feel what you feel
- Read the letter to your teddy bear
- Do 10 jumping jacks
- Colour 3 pages in your colouring book
Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy constantly reminds you that you don’t need to an excuse anymore to make toys a part of your life, if you want to continue to grow as a human being and as an artist, its imperative for you to respect the power of play. That’s why you have to own a toy box. Creating your own toy box symbolically suggest the importance of fun if you are to function at full throttle.
First find the perfect box. A wicker picnic basket, or a small wooden or fabric covered box with a lid can do duty as a toy chest. The lid is the most important feature because what goes in there is your business. These are your toys, maybe you’ll share, maybe you wont.
Now plan a creative excursion to begin filling it:
- Go to a well stocked stationary & gift shop to get some stickers, coloured paper clips, pretty pencils, whimsical erasers & funny cards that tickle your fancy
- A milk jug in the shape of a cow
- A string of chilli pepper lights
- A magic wand
- A stuffed teddy bear
- A beautiful dolls house
- A large jigsaw puzzle
- A porcelain doll
Put your stickers and cards in your toy box until the right moment comes along to use them, place the paperclips, erasers & pencils on your desk, hang the chilli lights on your spice rack and put your cow milk jug in the refrigerator. Laugh when you see your toys and let them visually remind you to lighten up.
Now think about think about the toys you yearned for as a child but never had. Its not too late, Start changing your holiday & birthday wish list, you don’t have to get a dust buster. Tell the people in your life your new preferences.
Iyanla Vanzant in her book Don’t Give It Away: A Workbook of Self Awareness and Self Affirmations for Young Women says that the following toys are essential to have in every girls survival for helping make you feel better on the days when things aren’t going so great.
- A fuzzy Teddy bear
- A Barbie doll with two changes of clothes
- A colouring book and crayons
- A selection of cartoon movies (Michelle A’Court recommends “Frozen”, Lisa O’Neill recommends “Inside Out” and Trinny & Susannah recommend “Snow White”
Now get your toys, go out and play like a good big girl.
Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance recommends creating a Glory Box that differs from the traditional version. She recommends that you use a wicker picnic hamper and fill it with projects you hope to do in the future. For example, fabric you’d like to make into a table cloth or napkins, set aside and stored in your glory box until you have time to sew them or embroidered squares from a thrift shop you’d like to use to recover your dinning chairs some rainy Saturday afternoon. Get the idea? Remember not everyone of your desires can be immediately gratified, you’ve got to learn to wait patiently for your dreams to come true, especially on the path you’ve chosen and remember that faith should be the first thing you pack in your glory box.
If you still want to do a glory box for your daughter, try filling one with your favourite books and giving it to her on her 18th birthday.