What’s keeping you sane these days?

For me, it’s the simple satisfaction of completion: the lists crossed off, the last piece put in place. In this time of limited distraction and distance I’ve found that seeing things finished is very good for my self. In fact, I just read this week that completing a task and celebrating little wins releases dopamine, a reward chemical, in your brain.

Tidying my craft and art supplies (another task completed!) inspired me to invest some time in the stuff I had stashed.

A bag of PEI wool that I’d picked up for a few dollars in a garage sale a couple of years ago is now being trialed in different styles of cushion covers. I’ve even learned a new crochet stitch, the tight weave stitch. Using a big crochet hook with this chunky wool makes the cushion cover appear very quickly; I’m just experimenting with sizes.

I had totally forgotten about this cross stitch kit that I had so it’s been a slow project that I go back to from time to time, especially when I’m listening to podcasts: some favourites are Poetry Unbound, Doc on One and I’m just getting into the Corrymeela Community’s new podcast. For this embroidery, I consider the completion of each begonia as a little win.

I’ve been looking at the ever-widening holes in the elbows of my husband’s wool jumper for two winters now, always thinking “I must find out where to get those patches that landed gentry types in their rambling estates often seem to wear”. Finally, with so much inside time this lockdown, I decided to google that and found, in a bit of a duh! moment, that I could actually just make those patches myself. So I did. And while I was at it, I took care of a tiny hole that was appearing on the worn sleeve of a mohair cardigan that was my dad’s from the 1960s that I now wear.

Looking at the cherry blossoms outside my window is another satisfying exercise and I see that nature and sun exposure help release serotonin, a mood stabiliser. At dusk, in the afternoon sun, when I open my blinds after waking: those pale pink hopefuls look beautiful in any light.

My first thing in the morning walks set me up for the day: it is a bit of time to get my head together and my body moving. You could say nothing changes on this familiar daily route, but the light does, the weather certainly does and now, yes, the seasons do too. Daffodils especially seem to add a bit of zing. A bonus is that exercising produces endorphins, the painkiller chemicals, and there is also that serotonin from a walk in nature and sun exposure.

Beauty, colour, completion, small things put where they belong: keeping the head focused and the heart pumping.

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