About 4 months ago, I realised that my next birthday (20 June 2020 – bake all the cakes and send all the love) would fall on a 20something2020. The thought filled me with great joy, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the number 20. Combined with my very determined mission to celebrate joy in the ordinary (simple joy), I have hit on a plan.
As you have probably guessed, I’m a numbers girl. I got that from my mom. To be fair, I probably also got it from my dad, who has worn, among many other hats, the hat of accountancy teacher.
I definitely don’t mean that I am particularly skilled at maths! I mean, more poetically, that number sequences make me happy. When my ‘work husband’ Jack (of Jack and Lydia fame) sent me a text on the 9th of October last year, for example, and said: ‘Dee, did you notice that today’s date is a palindrome? (9102019)‘, that simple fact made me smile all day. When my eldest was born on a sequential date? Elated! Every time I have to quote his birth date, the very numbers make me smile.
So all the thinking about all the 20’s lead me to the following resolution:
The Simple Joy Plan
In 2020, on the 20th of each month, I am going to actively do something that brings me joy. Even if it is as small as doing a chore that I have been meaning to do for years so that I can finally tick if off my list, or going for a walk during a lunch break. The point is not WHAT I do, but rather that I do it with purpose and total conscious immersion in the moment.
When I discussed this with my friend Jane from Yarn By Hook, she said that the first thing that popped into her mind was 20/20 foresight. I like that: dedicating a whole year to predicting what you will need to do to charge your batteries and then DOING IT!
I want to encourage you to do the same: schedule something in your diary on the 20th of each month! You don’t have to decide what it will be months or even weeks in advance – I still don’t know what I am going to do on the 20th of January :)
This does not mean that you will only have 12 joyful moments. It DOES mean that, no matter how rubbish you think your year has been when you look back on it, you will be able to identify 12 moments in which you actively did something that brought you joy.
A Few Suggestions
- Play an adventure game with the cracks and textures in the pavement. Hint: Keep away from the Lava, remember to read the coordinates on man covers carefully, and remember to claim your ‘bonus of mindful force’ at the end. (Boy 3’s rules, not mine).
- Go for a walk on a windy day and let the wind blow through your soul. Choose a day when the wind is body temperature and not gale-force.
- Put your headphones on and listen to the music of your choice as loudly as you can bear it (and feel the music run up and down your arms and spine in goosebumpy ripples). May I suggest Native Tongue by Switchfoot or Barcelona by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe? Or Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah…
- Take the day off work (planned, don’t duvet day it!!!) and go to your favourite restaurant before having an afternoon nap – IGNORE all the chores
- Meet a friend for a walk-and-talk rather than a sit-down visit (might I suggest having hot chocolate AND ice-cream afterwards?)
- Go for a run around a lake (or a walk… or just sit and look at the lake… or listen to it… basically, find a body of water and let it feed your soul.)
- Give someone an anonymous or unexpected gift to show that they are seen and loved.
- Make something for someone else (you know you want to!).
- Finish a WIP!!
Resources That I Have Found Useful
I will add more to this list as I come across them :)
- Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle (available on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com). I find that listening to the audiobook for 10 minutes a day makes a massive difference to how I approach situations mentally.
- Mindful Crafting by Sarah Samuel (available on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com). I received this book for Christmas and finished it within a week. It covers all manner of mindful (joyful) crafting activities.
- Joy About Town is an uplifting Instagram account by the talented Matt Farci. Matt posts daily graphics focused on helping you move towards a more joyful life.
- Sunshine, birdsong, and a Mindful Exercise by Lynne Rowe – There is a practical mindful exercise at the end of the post.
Joyful LAWIM Crochet Patterns
As my craft of choice is crochet, I am listing some of my favourite joyful makes from this blog.
SOME thinking will be required initially :) But these are the kind of repetitive patterns that allow your mind to wander. They are brilliant for keeping your hands busy when you need to mull something over.
Focused Concentration Patterns
Although written specifically for adventurous beginners, these patterns are intricate and will require total concentration. They are perfect for when you want to take your mind off everything for a bit. Total immersion in the stitches and instructions will help you do just that.
Joyful Gift Patterns
These patterns would make beautiful gifts and they are all relatively quick and easy to make.
- Ammonite Wrist Warmers
- Ammonite Crochet Hook Roll
- Aunty Mary’s Thing
- Sophie Pincushion
- A Touch of Colour Clutch
- Lyme Regis Tea Cosy
As I have already mentioned, I have a few vague ideas about what I want to do on some of the twenties, but for most of them I don’t have a clue yet. And that is perfectly fine. I’ll know, when I get to that 20, what I need to do for ME. If you decide to join me in my little adventure, may I ask that you share your 20’s using #202020 or #202020joy so that I can find them and delight in your moments? And as I experience MY moments, I will share them with you below.
Oooh, I’ve also decided to commission some images to celebrate #202020, and I cannot wait to see the results (and share them with you)!
- 20 January 2020
- 20 February 2020
- 20 March 2020
- 20 April 2020
- 20 May 2020
- 20 June 2020
- 20 July 2020
- 20 August 2020
- 20 September 2020
- 20 October 2020
- 20 November 2020
- 20 December 2020
Printable Conscious Joy Calendar
Another Oooh: I’ve made a printable calendar that you can use to record all your 20’s. You can either print the image below, or you can open up the printable PDF (which, when printed on A4, will yield a calendar small enough to stick into a Midori or an A5 journal).
20 January 2020
So, today was pretty marvelous! Mr LAWIM and I both took a day of annual leave in honour of the occasion. After much deliberation, we decided to do two things that we never get a chance to do together. The first, and most important, was going for a run in the morning after dropping the boys to school. We have very different styles of running. He runs far and lots, with no walking in between. I run infrequently and reluctantly, with LOTS of sprinting/walking/panting. Nevertheless, he allowed me to set the pace and it was glorious!
The second thing, almost as important, was that we went to see a movie (just the two of us) for the first time in years!!!
Also, I managed to publish a pattern I have been meaning to publish for ages (just in case you were feeling left out today). I’d say that I am pretty jolly happy with how this day turned out :) Now onto our marathon reliving of Downton Abbey x
ps. Should probably do homework and put the boys to bed first…
20 February 2020
This month’s #202020 was a lot more sombre than last month’s one.
Boy 3 managed to break his finger on the 18th, requiring surgery on the 19th. To acknowledge the boys’ surprisingly good behaviour during the ordeal, we celebrated the 20th by going to a local cafe for a Full English Breakfast.
The 20th also saw the laying-to-rest of my friend Emma – well known in our UK crochet community. I could not attend her funeral, so I spent an hour crocheting and thinking about all the ways in which we have brought each other joy. One specific memory was the freezing morning our little group of friends went for an early morning swim at the June 2017 Yarn Retreat.
You might remember the Emma square I designed for that retreat (and which I later used as the gauge square for Ubuntu). It was dedicated to Emma, her courage, and the joyful example she set for all of us.
I love the fact that people are making little Emma squares all over the world and turning them into beautiful creations. Whether you knew her or not, whether you knew about her journey or not, she was absolutely thrilled to be able to be part of yours through this craft that brings us so much joy.
The last thing I did on the 20th was to release a collaborative pattern I have been meaning to release for the longest time: Charlotte’s Sunshine Baby.
This mashup is the brainchild of Misty Babcock, marrying my Charlotte square and the Sunshine Baby Owl CAL (by Vanessa Smith) with her own adapted final rounds.
20 March 2020
What is the thing that makes you shine? What is the thing that makes your heart sing a song so brilliant that it touches other hearts? Find the thing and then DO the thing, because it has the power to change the world. We are all dealing with heightened levels of fear at the moment, and fear is contagious. But so is joy! I hope you will join me in celebrating a conscious moment of joy today, and that your moment will spark joy in someone else.Dedri Uys
Sooo… my Simple Joy plans for March were hijacked by the schools closing due to Covid-19 and the resulting social isolation.
Having already booked annual leave to celebrate the day, I found myself confined to my house (with children and husband) instead of traipsing around London eating all the ice-cream I had planned to. Yes, my plan had been to stroll around central London, visiting as many ice-cream shops as possible and eating all the Mint Choc Chip and Stracciatella I could afford (and my stomach could tolerate). That was Option A.
Option B was cancelling my annual leave to support my colleagues as we navigated the first confusing days of social isolation. My offer was declined :)
So there I was at home, trying to figure out what my defining moment of Joy would be for the day… and then this happened:
My friend Rhondda Mol and I have been working on an idea to collaborate on an Instagram #notacal for a while now. We hadn’t decided on a start date, but with the world suddenly having gone topsy turvy, I called her and we made a last-minute decision to get our act together and start sharing it on the 20th. Not only did we celebrate our own moments of joy (and our kinship through the years), but I believe we were also able to bring some joy to everyone else suddenly cast into the unknown. We were delighted with the response, and you can see some truly gorgeous projects if you look at the #notacal4 hashtag on Instagram!
You can find the round-by-round instructions on my Instagram feed (just scroll back to the image above) or on Oombawkadesigncrochet (full instructions). You can also find instructions for squaring the mandala with a modified version of Sophie’s Garden HERE.
On the home-front (and since I had a day of annual leave), all five of us indulged in a day of playing computer games. The boys LOVED that we were all ‘gaming’.
This was broken up by a delicious lunch in the garden…
…followed by a nap on the camping bed in the dappled shade (for me). The boys tried to nap. It lasted 15 noisy minutes before they returned to their games.
20 April 2020
For this month’s image, Zach decided to go with a mix of things that bring him joy and things he can’t wait to do once the world returns to a more recognisable form of ordinary. A lot of it focuses on visiting his fiance and Disney Land (where they got engaged), with a generous nod to gaming. His list of joys reads as follows: family, friends, faith, and french fries!
Once again, my plans have been hijacked. And then my backup plans were hijacked! I asked my colleagues what I could do for my moment of conscious joy, and Sarah had a brilliant idea: a home spa.
So when I got home, the boys massaged my feet and hands (varying degrees of meh and I’m-going-to-gag) and painted my nails (and theirs) while sipping surprisingly tasty cucumber, mint, and lemon water. This was followed by a delicious meal courtesy of HelloFresh and Mr. LAWIM (Beef Kofta With Couscous and Harissa Yoghurt).
Christiaan kept apologising because it wasn’t ‘special or extravagant enough’, but that is not, and has never been, the point of these moments. My little 20-minute living room mani-pedi and my restaurant-quality meal after a long work day and a looooong commute, was JUST what my soul needed.
20 May 2020
I stumbled on Gin’s gorgeous artwork when she shared a photo of her Sophie’s Universe WIP. I fell completely in love with her style and was so pleased when she agreed to create a #202020 image for me.
If you find yourself with a cup of tea in your hand and a few minutes to spare, I suggest scrolling through her Instagram feed! Not only is she a very talented artist, but she’s also a beautiful human being :)
Today was filled with little moments of joy.
We filled the paddling pool for the first time this year. I got in with the boys, but it was VERY cold, so I didn’t stay long. After that, I tried to bake a sourdough bread for the first time. It didn’t turn out particularly great, so I will keep trying. After THAT, I called my mom and we had a lovely hour-long visit filled with talk about yarn and plants and photos. We concluded our day by eating dinner outside. The highlight was definitely the Malva Pudding (it’s like sticky toffee but without dates).
In between all of that, I managed to release the pattern for my Hide and Seek in the Hydrangeas shawl (first published in the November 2018 Issue of Inside Crochet Magazine). The shawl uses the Look At What I Made colourway of Scheepjes Our Tribe and has a beaded edge. It contains SO many memories and good moments.
20 June 2020
For June’s image, I chose to use one of my favourite photos of Sophie’s Universe. Just because. But also because we announced the Sophie’s Universe 5 Year Anniversary Make-Along yesterday, so it seemed appropriate :)
Today, I started the day with baked goods. I baked my first batch of Sourdough Dinner Rolls and they turned out pretty great. I should probably mention that my sourdough baking has improved dramatically since last month’s attempt. I also received a box full of brownies for my birthday – which happens to be today!
And seeing as this birthday was the thing that sparked this year-long mission to celebrate all the twenties, it seemed only fitting that I do something brave and scary… like a Facebook live…
After that, we drove up to Milton Keynes to spend the day at the BMX track with friends. It was sooo good to get out of the house again as a family, and even better to see our friends (for the first time in over three months).
All in all, a beautiful socially-distanced 39th birthday celebration!
20 July 2020
This month’s image is all about mandalas! I love them so much!! This is a neon rendition of my Mandala Wall.
We spent this month’s 20th driving to Cornwall. I spent the drive checking on my sourdough starter (she came along, because what if she died while we were away???), embroidering my Sophie Tote, and taking photos of the scenery.
I cannot tell you how happy that drive made me. We were so sure that we wouldn’t be able to go camping this year, and then it happened! Our campsite was a dubious pop-up with very limited amenities, but we had the most amazing time. I don’t think we have ever walked and explored so much in one week. Our only regret was that we couldn’t get a table at Catch Mawgan Porth.
So, although the camping technically happened after the 20th, I’m counting it ALL as my #202020joy for the month (maybe for the year).
20 August 2020
This month’s image celebrated the loud, raw, unapologetic belly laugh. It celebrates that out-of-mind moment when you are physically incapable of worrying about the past or the future. It celebrates a reprieve from hating your accent or your chin (or whatever else you don’t like about your body). It celebrates being alive!!
The image is a manipulation of a screenshot from Scheepjes’ 165th Birthday Celebration video. It captures the moment I wished them a happy birthday and accidentally dropped my (3 hours of work) birthday cake prop. You can see the video HERE.
And this is what my cake looked like before the drop.
So… today Boy 3 and I went to the ‘salon’ to have his ends trimmed. We may or may not also have gone for a breakfast date.
After that, I indulged in a bit of crochet walking. I have started an Unseen Mandala in Whirl, and I love how my clothes match the yarn. I also LOVE my curls! Would you believe me if I told you they just showed up? I have had straight hair my entire life. Then, the other day when I cut my hair and let it air dry, CURLS! Lots and lots of curls :)
Our most important joyful moment was when Mr LAWIM’s 40th birthday gift finally arrived (2 months late) yesterday. Just in time for a delicious barbeque dinner. I wish you could have seen the bliss on his face as he prepared and cooked the food!
The cherry on the cake was finishing the day with a tub of Netflix and Chilll’d all to myself.
May we make peace with every moment of 2020 – especially the ones that feel like enemies.
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