What made me happy in July? Well, I really love working from home so that was a big moment of happiness for me. I’m down to a routine and I can’t imagine ever working in an office again. I’m sure that day will come sooner than I’d like, but for now I’m savoring the productivity and peacefulness of working from home.
I also received my copy of Sanditon. You can see it above, it’s the third book from the left. My Jane Austen Penguin Clothbound Classics series is now complete.
In July, I worked on my various writing projects, read a few interesting books, listened to my favorite podcasts and took lots of nature walks (in the humidity, but you can’t win them all). I also completed another The Great Courses. It was about Prince Albert. Very interesting to learn more about him.
July was a very productive month, but I’m glad it’s August because I want to inch closer to the end of this year and the end of this presidency.
It is difficult to sit down and write about what made me happy in June. It’s selfish and out of touch because June was an awful month for most of us. We are grappling with a deadly pandemic and systematic racism. Among a thousand other problems. And I won’t lie, I’m feeling a touch of depression because I feel helpless. Nothing seems to ever change…but I’ll try to remain hopeful. Don’t worry, I’ll do more than keep hope alive. I’ll vote. And I’ll continue to be vocal. And I’ll continue to donate to the causes that fight injustice.
I do feel it’s healthy to try to focus on a few good things, but out of respect for what our country is going through, I won’t wax poetic about it. I’ll be brief. Here we go: in June, I bought new books, went on several garden walks, listened to The Great Courses (highly recommend) via Audible and my library app, picked up library books and of course enjoyed every cup of steaming morning tea. So I think the moral here is that it’s the little things in life, the small moments of happiness.
I very much hope you had a few small moments of happiness too and I’d love to read them, if you’d like to share in the comments. I hope you have a great Friday and a wonderful new month.
With a pandemic firmly settled in our lives and not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, I tried to make the most of May, one of my favorite months of the year. However, I must admit that I feel silly writing about happiness when the world is on fire so I’ll keep it short and sweet.
May was about fresh air and springtime walks, enjoying flowers at home and spying them in gardens on my walks. I even bought my first bouquet of peonies to bring home and they’ve bloomed beautifully. I enjoyed the quieter pace of life while working from home. I hope it’s been a peaceful, healthy month for you too.
I bought more books to add to my Penguin Clothbound Classics collection. This should be the last ones I buy because I now own the full-length Jane Austen novels in this collection. My goal wasn’t to own the entire Jane Austen set, but the pandemic forced me to do a little bit of retail therapy to support my small, independent bookshop.
I bought Northanger Abbey from the collection which I’ve read before and enjoyed the movie adaptation. I also bought Mansfield Park, which I haven’t read and is up next. I am a little bit weary of this novel because it’s about cousin love (the hero and heroine are first cousins !!). I’m hoping I can enjoy the book regardless. We’ll see.
Oh, and can you spot my new book-inspired vase?
In other news, I’m currently listening to the Catch and Kill podcast by Ronan Farrow. If you don’t know what it’s about, it’s the podcast where Ronan Farrow and his guests (journalists, victims, private investigators, etc.) talk about the Harvey Weinstein investigation process and everything they endured because of it. If I didn’t already hate predators as much as I do, I would hate them even more now. I’ll probably read Ronan Farrow’s book, Catch and Kill, afterwards. If I don’t explode from anger first. Have you read it?
I thought it was so nice of Andrea Bocelli to do this concert for the world. It really brought me hope and made me feel like we really are in this together. I also found the cathedral stunning. Andrea Bocelli has the voice of an angel.
Like most of us (I know that readers of this blog are like-minded individuals) I find comfort in books. I mentioned earlier on the blog that I signed up for the Audible membership. I’m really pleased with it. It comes with one credit per month towards a free audiobook, no matter the length or cost. After that, the audiobooks are discounted for Audible members. It also comes with several free monthly Audible Originals. So far, most of April’s Audible Originals weren’t my cup of tea, but I’m hoping May will have a few that are more my style. Before I signed up for Audible, I used my library for digital audiobooks (which I will continue to use for when I don’t want to purchase audiobooks). I would start with your library before committing to a paid membership.
The Great Courses
I listened to a Great Course via my library’s digital collection. If you need an educational diversion, then I recommend The Great Courses. They have courses on literally every subject on the planet. My course was about espionage which I highly enjoyed.
TV adaptation of Belgravia
I’ve already mentioned this on the blog, but period dramas are seeing me through this pandemic. Belgravia is doing a nice job of keeping me going. I also watched Doctor Thorne (Anthony Trollope adaptation) on Amazon Prime. Loved it.
We’ve now entered the phase of reckless impatience here in the USA. People no longer wish to be confined to their homes and have decided to protest. I am told these protestors are in the minority. I would hope so. I imagine even one small group of protestors can make life even more difficult for our tired, underpaid, under-protected and overworked healthcare workers.
In the spirit of staying upbeat and positive, I thought I’d share with you a few of my current pleasures while complying with my stay-at-home order.
The TV adaptation of Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia.
Belgravia is a well-made historical drama with an incredible cast. Period dramas are seeing me through this pandemic! A new episode is released every Sunday. I watch it with a pot of tea and a sweet treat. It really gives me something to look forward to all week long. In fact, I’m in a good mood just thinking about this week’s upcoming episode.
My current audiobook.
I’m listening to To Tempt a Viking by Michelle Willingham. The narrator, Deirdre O’Connell, is fantastic. She has this Irish lilt that is oh so lovely and soothing in my ear. This book is the second in the Forbidden Vikings series. I enjoyed the first book, To Sin with a Viking, so very much that the sequel was an automatic yes for me.
Life shall remain somewhat upbeat as long as there is chocolate. I’m sure someone else, much wiser and more important than me, said the same thing.
I finally signed up for an Audible account. I don’t know why I was so late to join the audiobook game because audiobooks are the best thing ever. I can listen to books while I clean, cook or do the laundry. Or I can listen while I do nothing except lounge around!
Like most of us, I’m pretty stressed. I’m also extremely worried about my future. I can’t concentrate on writing because of the worries lingering over me. During this pandemic, I’m not going to become the next Shakespeare or Da Vinci, that’s for sure. However, there are a few things that I’m enjoying during isolation. (Many thanks to Sophril Reads for this idea.)
Even though I’m not commuting to the office, I’m still enjoying my podcasts. I listen to them (usually about women’s history) while I make breakfast and tea and throughout the day as I work. I think I’m enjoying listening to them much more than before because I don’t have the stress of the commute weighing me down. I don’t have to worry about balancing myself, plus all of my work stuff, while standing on an overcrowded, jerking metro.
I can’t explain to you how nice it is to drink a cup of tea in the morning without worrying about hurrying up or not finishing it because I need to rush out the door. Plus, it’s such a treat to drink tea in my fine china during the workday.
I’m not going to lie. I wear my loungewear all day. It is glorious.
To cheer myself up, I keep an abundance of flowers around the house. I don’t leave the house often, but when I do it’s for the grocery store. I pick up at least two or three bouquets. This way I always have flowers in constant rotation.
Now that we have nicer weather, I keep the windows and patio door open while I work. Sometimes I glance out at the patio where I’m highly amused to see squirrels scouring about and the chirping birds dancing on the tree branches. Being so close to some type of nature during the workday is a stress reliever for sure.
I hope there are a few things that are cheering you up during isolation.
March was awful (awful!!) and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you why. Instead, I’m going to focus on a few small moments of happiness and I hope you will too.
I decided to treat myself to a book subscription to Persephone Books. The first book, Mariana, arrived in March. It’s good luck that I received the book before the bookshop closed due to the virus. I also bought a number of books to support booksellers, both local and in London. This cheered me up immensely.
Some other small moments of happiness were books and reading in general, my community banding together to see us through this pandemic and our talented, selfless health care workers.
And tea. At least there is always tea.
Your turn! What were some of your small moments of happiness last month?
Who was St. Valentine and why do we celebrate him on February 14?
It’s actually unclear who the real St. Valentine was. One legend goes that he was a priest in Rome who was executed on February 14, 273 AD because he refused to comply with the ban on marriage imposed by the Roman emperor.
Marriage ceremonies were relatively new during this time. Perhaps the emperor didn’t like that his men preferred marriage and spending quality time with their wives over going to war (just a guess). If that’s not a good reason to celebrate love on the day St. Valentine was martyred, then I don’t know what is.
Happy Valentine’s Day from this romance writer! xoxo, Jane