The Empty Jug
by Janice Hunter, IAC-CC
The only difference between an
extraordinary life and an ordinary one is the extraordinary pleasures you find
in ordinary things. ~ Veronique Vienne.
I stood at the kitchen sink, robotically
washing dishes. I paused, my gaze landing on a hand-painted jug on the window
ledge, raindrops running down the glass. I clung to the sink with soapy hands,
hunched forward, eyes clenched shut, terrified that I might miss another
deadline, that I’d never have another moment of revelation, the inspiration that
flows in and fills me up then spills over into my writing and my online
Washed out and weary, worried about money,
unable to capture moments of fleeting inspiration as they flit and dance through
my day, just out of reach, I stood, suds dripping, tears running down my
A quick wipe with the back of my hand, all
traces gone, I picked up a tea towel and started to dry the dishes. Plates,
bowls and jugs from our years in Greece and Portugal, all different sizes,
shapes and designs. I looked again at the small jug on the window ledge. Cobalt
blue and bottle green, ringed in bands of yellow and rusty red hearts. Sometimes
I use it for flowers; most often, it stays empty, reminding me to be present, to
stay open to inspiration and abundance. I looked down at the draining board and
suddenly realised that not only do I have a lot of jugs, I seem to have been
collecting and cherishing them all my life.
There’s a porcelain one from Portugal,
hand-painted with deer and flowers which we only use for gravy on feast days and
holidays. There’s a little pastel-coloured striped one with a flat bottom that’s
used for milk when we have visitors; it’s the kind a sailor’s wife would keep on
her window ledge, filled with snowdrops. A round-bellied classic white jug for
water. A sturdy terracotta one decorated with a blue glaze and white slip. A
spout-less pink tin cylinder for Greek retsina. An elegant, clear glass bottle
with a gem-blue glass stopper that I use on warm days to keep water cold in the
Pencils in a chipped, speckled stoneware
jug. A spider plant in a blue teapot. I rushed to the dining room and stared at
what I now saw was a collection in my cabinet, in among all the other mismatched
crockery. There, in pride of place, a single-setting tea service with sugar bowl
and milk jug, painted decades ago by my mum’s elderly cousin, the artist who
never married after her fiancé died in World War Two. We used to give my mum
breakfast in bed every year on Mother’s Day, the tea tray laid with an
embroidered cloth and those same dishes.
I remembered my grandmother pouring milk
from a blue and white pitcher and friends’ birthday parties with ice cream and
jelly and always large glass jugs of sparkling lemonade and orange juice. Always
a woman somewhere, carrying a jug, offering something, pouring
All of my jugs are beautiful. They’re all
unique and chosen, loved and special for something. They’re not meant to be
permanently full; they’re designed to be filled and emptied as they pour.
They’re beautiful just as they are, even when all they hold are memories and
promise and a little bit of now.
I took the tea towel and lovingly dried
and put away my crockery, went into the garden and found a few rain-drenched
miniature daffodils and a spray of fragrant white hyacinth to put in my little
heart jug at the window.
Sometimes we wait knowingly, patiently,
for inspiration to fill us to overflowing. Sometimes, we simply need to love
Janice Hunter is an IAC certified homelife
coach who lives in Scotland with her husband and two children. She created and
co-wrote Sharing the Certification Journey: Six IAC Coaches Talk About
Their Journeys, and her blogsite, www.sharingthejourney.co.uk, provides soul food and support
for coaches, writers, parents and home-based workers. Contact Janice @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Janice has compiled all of her Coaching
Moments pieces from the last two years into a free 46-page ebook, 'Coaching
Moments: a Collection of Articles about Coaching in Everyday Life' which can be
downloaded here or from her site.