After last Christmas, I found myself in possession of three new cups.

This is why I was the…

The Queen of Cups

“That keep cup is a very good brand,” he remarked when I told him it started to stink. To be fair, I hadn’t been putting it into the dishwasher like suggested but simply handwashing it. But the stench was getting stronger by the day. I think it was coffee particles that had settled into the plastic lid and fermented there.

I put the cup under his nose and he took a whiff. “Pheww, that’s horrid!” he wrinkled his nose in disgust.

“I got gifted three cups this year.” I began my story and told him about the one I got for my birthday with the photos of my girls. I thought it sucked. You might be shaking your head thinking I’m a terrible mother. My problem with the mug was that the photos weren’t very good and it was from Office Works. It was the sort of thing you’d find hanging out in any old cubicle.

The stinky keep cup was a Christmas present and it was OK for a while. But it could not beat the one I gifted myself, which you can see in the photo above. That one came from Lane Cove Makers Market just before Christmas 2019 and it was specially made for me by an artist, a maker, a ceramist.

Sparklings of Joy

When I grip my keep cup, I feel the patterns of the flowers on its surface. The colour is the one I chose which symbolises creativity for me. When I turn the cup over I see the artist’s signature on the bottom, 2019 Nicola M or Originally Nic I can’t help but smile. I remember the conversation we had before I commissioned this cup. We were not talking about whether the proverbial cup was half full or empty as that does not matter as much as what it’s filled with.

Late last year, I was obsessed with finding Rumi quotes and illustrating them using an app called Canva and pushing them out on Instagram. It was my 40 Days of Rumi before Christmas campaign. A huge-ish, foolish project like the one Rumi prescribes for everyone. Nicola found this habit interesting and she connected with the work I was doing.

During the last few months, my ceramic cup became the embodiment of my thoughts on what cups to fill and what cups to empty. Then I found a quote by a fellow writer.

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” – Ray Bradbury

This is why I limit my exposure to media these days and choose to meditate, a loving-kindness or Metta meditation, so that before I head out into the world my heart is filled with compassion. I dump out the contents of my mind by journaling and I try to do these two things before my first cup of coffee from Lil Lane Cafe.


“…singers and the dancers and the flute players,—buy of their gifts also.
For they too are gatherers of fruit and frankincense,
and that which they bring, though fashioned of dreams,
is raiment and food for your soul.”

– Kahlil Gibran, On Buying and Selling

An online markers market may not have the same flavour of a real market but we are fortunate that through technology we can reach the artisans in our community to appreciate their wares through purchasing and gifting them to the special people in our lives. The buskers will not be there in the virtual space. Don’t let that stop us from finding those performers in our community and engaging with them. Every day my appreciation of colour, shape, movement, storytelling in all its forms, visual, choreographed, musical is growing.

I may never earn a living as a singer or a dancer but I find myself wanting to express myself through these traditions. Of course, much of this has to do with having daughters who are enchanted by the singing, dancing and the visual majesty of the Frozen films.

A good starting place to help my daughters work out their energy and emotions might be through helping them express themselves in positive ways through art and movement. What could be more natural than this? But how to do this without putting pressure on them to become “excellent”? How to take the competitive spirit out of it and let them play? This becomes difficult in our culture. The only solution I can think of is to sing and dance with them and not care how ridiculous we look. When we do find that performer, like the proverbial master who comes into one’s life when the student is ready, we shall be ready to appreciate this teacher’s gifts.

Over to you…

When was a time you bought an original piece from an artist, someone who handcrafted it with love and care? How do you feel when you use or look at that item? Do you feel a special connection with the craftsman?