Nice Life Reminders Pip-Life

Sludge & Sparkle

July 14, 2022

Today, I was at the local grocery shop checkout. It’s at the back of the store and is used by people who park in the adjacent rear carpark, beyond the wonky automatic door.

I was feeling a bit shit, to be honest, after the loss of another close family member this week. I had a bottle of Ribena, a small container of freshly squeezed orange juice and a four-pack of Limonata on the counter.

I was the only person waiting and there was nobody manning the till. A little floral-decorated bell sits beside the register. You are allowed to ding it if nobody is serving. I dinged it gently, and behind me I could hear the shop ladies chatting happily about something. I’d passed them a few minutes before and they were standing at the end of the aisle the flour is kept in. They kept chatting, so I looked at the colourful packaging of the stacks of eggs beside the counter for a while, then at the coffee percolators and various associated spare parts that line the shelves behind the register.

A minute or so later I dinged again and the woman in the adjacent deli section called out urgently “The bell! The bell, girls!”

I didn’t care a bit. I was okay to wait. Fine to be served when the time was right for them. Entrenched in my own world of thinking about and trying to not think about things. No point getting shirty or making a fuss over a short wait to pay for a few things, was my view. Life is rough enough, without dragging other people into an impatient or grumpy exchange, don’t you think?

It made me realise that when hard times happen, the thing that feels most right to me is to edge slowly about, not making any sudden moves, not doing too much, keeping things in the moment as much as possible. It feels like a sensible way to reduce exposure to further risky or difficult things, and life slows to a sort of sludgy pace, punctuated by happenings that seep in from elsewhere, happenings that you try to respond to without making too many waves.

But the problem with this is that all the days begin to clump together in a sort of muddy sludginess that feels like existence, rather than life. Things being ‘not worse’ becomes the priority.

It becomes more and more difficult to remember to look for those little moments of goodness, to make hopeful plans, to prioritise loveliness, to surprise yourself, to step out of the sludge.

When the ladies came to the till a minute or so later they were (unnecessarily sheepish, but also happy).

“I just love my dog!” Shop Woman One said, smiling at me.

“He’s beautiful!” Shop Woman Two said.

I realised they had been looking at photos of the dog on Shop Woman One’s phone and their end-of-aisle conference was about … a beloved pet.

As I left with my groceries, shuffling through the wonky door, I could hear Shop Woman One changing up the discussion, expanding it to funny dog videos she’d watched online. It was lovely to hear them both giggling as I disappeared into the carpark. I immediately missed my own pups dreadfully and hurried home to them.

It’s a reminder isn’t it? A reminder to find some balance between the sludge and the sparkle. A reminder to peek out of the (often unavoidably) muddy bits when and if you can. A reminder that there are beautiful bits tucked all around us, just waiting to be welcomed into each day, if we only take the time to notice them.


your pal, Pip


  • Reply Kerry August 10, 2022 at 2:33 AM

    Thank you for this sparkle. xoxox

  • Reply sarsm July 23, 2022 at 9:01 PM

    I hope your life will soon be filled with more sparkle and less sludge.

  • Reply Angela July 21, 2022 at 6:42 AM

    Pip, your writing is glorious and truly makes such a difference to me. Thank you.

  • Reply Edie July 17, 2022 at 6:37 PM

    I feel you. Hugs xxx

  • Reply Michele July 15, 2022 at 10:13 AM

    Hugs x

  • Reply Lyndsee July 15, 2022 at 6:52 AM

    What a lovely post and a lovely reminder. I love to see people having fun at work. We spend so much of our tiny working, it’s nice when people are able to have connection or pleasure during those hours.

  • Reply kate July 14, 2022 at 6:40 PM

    Gosh Pip and Donna, you both sound like you are doing it tough right now.
    Isn’t it interesting where and when we can realise things about ourselves and our life, often in the strangest or most unlikely place. I hope you are able to see just enough sparkly bits each day to get you through to the other side of the sludge.

  • Reply Donna Bridges July 14, 2022 at 4:43 PM

    After a period of sludge myself , six weeks of homelessness with two mid range kids , a husband with early onset dementia and two cats . We found a home in a location which wasn’t really ideal but beggars can’t be choosers , plus I can have a garden . Anyway sparkles for us were a week later a local knocked on the door with a welcome to town package , including where services and local shops were and where to buy firewood locally . We are very rural now so this involves long drives to the bus for school . Change like this for me is hard as I’ve lived my entire life in the one place .

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