by Liz Proctor When you were an 8 year old, if someone had asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, what would you have told them? How close are you to having that thing in your life and business now? OK, so being an astronaut, professional Lego builder or the World’s…
Sometimes (perhaps always), you don’t need to see the whole road ahead.
Try something, reach out to someone, take a step without knowing the full and final story – because none of us can ever know the full and final story until we’ve lived it.
And it’s only in living our story that we create it.
Bowl in hand, I wander slowly along the hedgerow, seeking out the freshest (and cleanest!) nettle tips and a handful of the brightest Jack-by-the-hedge leaves. Cooked briefly, the nettles lose their sting and taste like spinach, and Jack-by-the-hedge certainly lives up to its other name of garlic mustard.
Never mind that my ultimate destination is the little veg patch at the bottom of the garden where I’ve planted lettuce and radish and have my eye on some juicy thinnings. Never mind that these fresh greens are destined to be mixed into a bowl of spaghetti and cheese gathered from the supermarket and not from the wild. (But if there was such a thing as a spaghetti tree I would plant it, and a cheese tree would be worth its weight in gold!)
Never mind, then, that my meal won’t be authentically prehistoric. Even with the modern additions, collecting these leaves from the hedge connects me to a way of life that feels right and stirs up echoes of a past I’d like to visit.
But I think I’d want to come back to the present too, if only for the cake!
Are there too many things to do, or is it just that we (or I, at least) have an overriding need to do ALL THE THINGS and – here’s the real problem – do them ALL AT ONCE, NOW?
Everything we do, we do in stages. Even something as simple as making a cup of tea involves a whole series of steps, from getting up off the chair to filling the kettle, switching it on, and so on.
So when we’re starting a new venture, or simply trying to get done all the things that we’re committed to doing, let’s remember that we can’t do them all at once. We can only do them one step at a time.
No prizes for guessing who this post is written for. You, my reader, of course, but mostly as a reminder to myself that I can’t do all the things all at once!
A rat is nosing around the garden in broad daylight, sniffing out and devouring Benjy the rabbit’s leftovers. He is sleek and young and his fur shines in the sunshine. I wonder if I should be chasing him away, but he’s outside, where he should be, not trespassing into the house or shed, or even digging in the compost bin. So instead I watch him, wondering where he sleeps and whether he (or she, of course) is breeding a host of baby rats with whom I may eventually have to do battle.
I think of him sleeping in a nest somewhere, in a cosy nook he’s made for himself, and am glad that, at least for the moment, we can live amicably side by side. If Benjy is willing to share his leftovers, so am I.
Then I read about the weasel that brought the Large Hadron Collider to a standstill and I wonder if perhaps I’m being too forgiving!
May is such a magical month. Forgive me for being terribly British and talking about the weather, but indulge me for a minute.
Glorious blue sky, bright sunshine that calls you outside, seeming almost to reach in with warm soft fingers, take your hand and draw you through the door before you realise it. Trees are beginning to wear a halo of green, though some still stand almost bare after a cold, wet start to spring. Birds are calling, even the boy is noticing the different kinds hopping in the hedgerows, and somehow the screech of two cats yowling at each other is softened and sounds like part of the liveliness of the day.
Perhaps we appreciate it more after a week of grey skies, hail and winter vests. (A week which followed months of actual winter, as opposed to a spring which couldn’t make up its mind.) Perhaps if you live where the sun always shines bright and the sky is always blue, you long for a soft, grey, even rainy, day. But here, today, nothing could be more perfect than the festival of spring that’s unfolding in my back garden.
What does productivity look like? Piles of lists with every item ticked off, things you can point to at the end of the day and say, “Look what I did”? Perhaps. Or it could also look like someone chatting to a lot of people, making connections with them, or even sitting in a cafe quietly thinking.
What does productivity sound like? Silence punctuated by the tapping of a keyboard, people having meetings in brisk, meaningful tones? But maybe it can also be the raucous laughter of three women who hadn’t planned to meet today but find the ideas sparking and plans developing when they do.
What does productivity feel like? Frantic, frenetic activity followed by exhausted satisfaction at a job finally finished? Sounds worthy, but can it also feel relaxed and uplifting?
If we’re to be truly productive in our work (at home or otherwise), we need to make room for thinking time, laughter, movement and fresh air. And maybe we need to redefine productivity to include all the things which have no tangible outcome, but which can often move us closer to one.