Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My Laughing Buddha

I got the idea to have a Laughing Buddha in my house from a book by the late Susan Jeffers (I only found out recently that she died in 2012...) - I love her work. She had such a positive outlook, and her writing is so humane and warm and joyous.

While I was aware that Buddha figurines come with different facial expressions, I had never stopped to consider the meaning of the Laughing Buddha. I light the tealight in my serenely-smiling-Buddha-tealight-holder on a daily basis and love the sense of peace. Now there is a second, tiny, fat Buddha on my desk (moved to the windowsill occasionally), and he is laughing so hard that more than half is face is mouth. [I bought him from a soft-spoken man in a Christmas jumper in an angel shop that Matt the scientist bravely entered with me but had to leave after a few minutes of New Age Overwhelm.]

Jeffers had several Laughing Buddhas in her home and garden, and they acted as reminders to "Enjoy the feast", as she calls it (embrace the blessings of this world), to not worry about the future, to not take life so seriously. 

We were in a garden centre at the weekend, and I was tempted to get one of these guys for outside (or possibly inside - I may have temporarily overestimated the size of my rooms):

Jeffers said her outdoor Buddha never ceased to amaze her, laughing in the rain, in the baking sun - even if a tree fell on him, he would be laughing. "He represents the part of us that is in tune with the Grand Design. He doesn't try to control the chaos.[...] He stays open to a constant flow of 'joyous survival' versus 'turbulent survival'" (p. 194, Embracing Uncertainty, Hodder Mobius, London 2003). I had to think of that when my Buddha sat on the windowsill looking out at the craziness of the storm outside... and laughing.

It is such a small thing (literally, with my Buddha), but it makes a huge difference. There are written reminders and mantras all over my house, and words are powerful, but so are visuals, and the big laughing mouth instantly activates the part of me that may need reminding to lighten up.

Matt got me a maneki-neko with a solar-powered beckoning arm which fulfills a similar purpose - it certainly makes me smile every time I see it!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Warm glow among the greys

 Crows and pale pink light

 Horses in blankets

Artwork for festival brochure/poster on the theme of  Laugh | Nourish | Love

Since returning after Christmas I have only managed one walk in my neighbourhood. I have barely been at home, as it is the lead-up to the annual arts festival we organise. I was delighted to be asked to provide the artwork again this year. (In the photo the colours didn't come out properly, and for the posters and brochures our talented graphic designer gave it all an even warmer glow.)

The theme is a nice antidote to the grey skies and raging storms and short days. But it was exhilarating to go walking in the unpredictable weather, passing horses in blankets and startling a murder of crows, with the sky a thick sheet of clouds that occasionally tore open to reveal the light behind.

This morning I finally tackled the one plant trough that had no drainage holes, where the bulbs had been sitting waterlogged. Between a corkscrew and a pair of scissors (do not attempt this at home - I had no other tools) I managed to bore two holes. Now I can step outside my house without a nagging reminder of things left undone greeting me.

There is a new soap in the shower, the laundry is done, and a semblance of order emerging (let's not go into the corridors of my brain). I am looking forward to a weekend of calm and nourishment - papers,  brunches, cleansing salt scrubs (thank you, Elly!) and good company.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Jasmine and mint

Sunny morning, condensation on the window, mint and cologne

Someone very dear to me whom I have known most of my life gave me money with instructions to buy 'something luxurious', so I got the cologne pictured - because I love jasmine and it is an antidepressant and I want to smell it all the time. I used the essential oil on my wrists before, but the scent doesn't last very long.

This fragrance, together with this eye cream I have in my fridge, is my - material - motivator for the start of the year. I know a new scent and better moisture levels around my eyes won't make me a new person, but an outward change does help to get me out of a rut. And both involve rituals that are part of my morning routine, which sets the tone for the rest of the day (I am with Gretchen Rubin on the impact of making your bed).

As always I have returned from Christmas at home with a head full of ideas and renewed enthusiasm (travelling and being away rewires my brain), and as always I see it all disintegrate or take a back seat now that I am settling back in again. But I know it's there and I can access it. And the jasmine-mint cloud I spray on and the ice-cold eye cream remind me.