Nice things – Medicine for a heavy heart and a cloudy head
Nice things – Medicine for a heavy heart and a cloudy head
Feeling overwhelmed? Uninspired? De-motivated and downright down in the dumps? I hear you. You are not alone. And this blog post is for you.
I’d been thinking a lot about how I should adapt the blog in the context of the time that we’re living through. Continuing to talk about weddings and wedding flowers didn’t feel right in the current climate, but neither does allowing any kind of creative output to just grind to a halt. In the end, I decided that I would just start posting things that I myself would want to read. Posts that are reassuring; uplifting; gentle.
So here’s the first. It’s a little resource pack – or ‘first aid box’ if you will – of books, podcasts, websites and blogs that I find to bring great comfort when things feel a little unsteady. Some of them might ignite an idea in you, others will simply be a ‘nice thing’ to take a look at when you’re feeling blue. And that’s ok, because right now we all need nice things.
NATURE ~ BOOKS
‘The Lost Words’ by Robert McFarlane and Jodie Morris has been described as a ‘spell book’, such is the transformative effect it has on all who come into contact with it. The book aims to bring back everyday nature words into our lexicon – such as “acorn”, “bluebell”, “kingfisher” and “wren” – after the author noticed they had been removed from a widely used children’s dictionary. It’s an exquisite celebration of the creatures and plants with which we share our lives, in all their wonderful, characterful glory.
Peter Wohlleben’s ‘The Hidden Life of Trees”, “The Secret Network of Nature” and “The Inner Life of Animals” similarly all explore the invisible connections that sustain the entire natural world; acting as a lens to help us take a closer look at things we might have taken for granted.
Shane Connolly’s ‘Discovering the Meaning of Flowers’. This beautifully written book brings together the historical symbolism of blooms, buds and leaves to create passionate flower arrangements that express particular sentiments. As the weeks go by, foraged flowers will be easier to come by if you want to give some of these a go at home.
‘Planting for Honeybees’ by Sarah Wyndham Lewis is another great reference book that offers practical advice and ideas on how to save the bees and help them to flourish, no matter how small your outside space.
NATURE ~ PODCASTS AND LIVE STREAMS
The National Trust podcast is a wonderful bit of escapism, from a sojourn with the Konik ponies on Wicken Fen and the history of the colour purple to counting puffins on Farne Island. The podcasts are presented by either National Trust rangers or leading experts and vary from mini-episodes of around 10 minutes to longer versions. The perfect tonic to being stuck indoors.
Nest Box. A live camera streaming project set up by Richard Williams to allow everyone and anyone an insight into the wonderful world of birds building their nest boxes. I’m not sure why, but believe me when I say it is utterly compelling viewing.
The Root Simple podcast is described by its creators as ‘low tech home tech’. This is a back to basics podcast, covering DIY living, vegetable growing, chicken keeping, cultural alchemy and common sense. It’s from the US, but feels equally applicable here.
Nothing soothes the soul quite like poetry. My favourite anthology, ‘The Poetry Pharmacy’ by William Seighart now has a sequel – ‘The Poetry Pharamcy Returns’. Offering poetic pick-me-ups for all of life’s hurdles, these are tried and true prescriptions for courage, healing and hope.
Poetry Please is a weekly radio programme from BBC Radio 4 where listeners request poems which are then read by a cast of actors. You can find all the old episodes to listen to by following the link.
At times like this, we need food that nourishes and feels familiar. This is not, I repeat NOT the time to be experimenting with fad diets or calorie counting. Step up ‘Comfort’ by John Whaite (a previous GBBO winner no less) that does exactly what it says on the tin. Midnight french toast anyone?
Nora Ephron’s ‘Heartburn’ and ‘Toast’ by Nigel Slater have to be the chicken soups of the foodie fiction world. Stories told through the tastes and smells of the recipes that shaped each author’s life. Every chapter feels like a big, warm hug.
Nigel Slater is a personal hero of mine, so any cookery book written by him is going to be a winner in my eyes (and don’t even get me started on his Instagram). However, in days where making the most of what we’ve got and using whatever is at our means feels paramount, then ‘Real Fast Food’ and ‘Greenfeast’ are my go-tos. Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s ‘Three Good Things’ (just three ingredients in every recipe) and Yotam Ottolenghi’s ‘Simple’ also fall into this category.
Talk to your florist or your grower and get them to help you – you want the flowers that you’re growing to complement what they’re planning on using. The idea of growing all your own flowers for your wedding is incredibly romantic, but the practical side of what is involved is very different! A nice idea might be to grow flowers for one part of your bridal flowers – such as your bouquet, or a flower crown. That way you still have a lot of the meaning without any of the risk. If you are looking to buy direct from growers, then just remember to let them know well in advance. We often grow for specific wedding orders, so don’t always have a lot of surplus. Either way one thing’s for sure – no matter if you’re buying British or growing seasonally yourself, you wont regret it.
As and when you do feel like stirring the coals of your creative brain (and this might be not for a long time, which is fine), then perhaps take a look at some of the business coaches who I find particularly inspiring. Now could be the time to invest in your business; and sometimes all that takes is a little extra time, rather than a load of money.
Kayte Ferris is the face behind ‘Simple and Season’, a coaching business that offers ideas for simple working, simple marketing and simple living. She offers kits, courses and programmes, as well as a brilliant blog and a ‘, Grow with Soul’ podcast to help business owners grow soulfully, sustainably and slowly in their work and life.
Alice Benham is a digital marketing coach, podcaster and self-confessed “accidental entrepreneur”. She offers both 1-1 and group coaching as well as workshop retreats and a whole host of other free resources.
The Coven is an online community for female founders, freelancers and anyone striving to do something outside of the traditional 9-5. Some of the resources on offer require membership to access, but the new 56-page magazine can be purchased by anyone and is a steal at just £5.
I hope you’ve found something in there that speaks to you. If not – what have I missed? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll add it to the list. Otherwise stay safe and well, and try to focus on the nice things.