What are your 3 beautiful things?
For the last ten years I have recorded on a blog called Three Beautiful Things the best features of each day. Some of these tiny joys are so insignificant (pansies growing between a wall and the pavement, the a child startled by her reflection in a puddle, a council worker installing Christmas lights) that they would be forgotten if I didn’t deliberately contemplate them. Cumulatively, however, they do good work and I want to honour that.
The blog has opened doors, introduced me to new friends and even won a couple of awards. I have also enjoyed seeing people pick up the format on their own blogs. The achievement I am most proud of is that I kept it up through an episode of depression in 2007. It was such a tiny daily goal that I couldn’t fail: three sentences, nothing grand, nothing significant, no thought for any reader (sympathy from a large and daft collie, a colleague bringing me a flapjack on a bad day and sleeping through all my lunch hours). For a long time I didn’t realise anything was wrong but my patient flatmate prompted me and once I examined the disparity between my lists and the dullness of my internal landscape I accepted help and I started to heal.
I know that writing is good for me. The mechanical activity of putting one word in front of another keeps my thoughts away from the bad neighbourhoods of my mind; and the praise and validation I get is a splendid tonic. Blogging encourages your readers to talk back to you and it feels good to build relationships with people who take an interest in me and my family.
The blog gives a skewed view of my life, of course, though I’ve noticed that if something is up I get a concerned message or two, often before I’ve realised it myself. I do try to be authentic -- some days are just awful, but there are always three things that are less bad than everything else (the calm after one of my son’s epic tantrums, being sick (because I felt better afterwards) and the snail that had no idea how close it came to being squashed). Feeling secure enough to to be yourself is a vital part of well-being and I’m sure this regular practice internalises the message that I am enough. The afore-mentioned validation also supports this: it’s just marvellous to be able to stand up and say ‘This is me’ and to have the audience (no matter how small) shout back ‘We like you!’
From time to time people accuse me of being saccharine or twee or boring. Negative feedback is not the greatest but I’m a lot less sensitive to it now. Instead of marking myself with a big FAIL, I can look back at my comments and think ‘most people who take the time to speak up like it, I’m doing all right.’ I’m finding myself strong enough to hold particularly ouchy negative feedback up next to my text and see that yes, I have been focussing rather too hard on my children (start looking more at nature), or yes, I’ve been sloppy in my expression (get more sleep, stop trying to post while ignoring my daughter).
You can read Three Beautiful Things at www.threebeautifulthings.co.uk
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