What do you see?

The garden is green now, and beautiful.  There are primroses, and strong broad bean plants, and a beloved pet rabbit.  It’s our private outdoor space, a refuge and sanctuary.  Yet many times, as I stare through the kitchen window at it, I see none of this.  I see the thoughts I’m having and the things I’m remembering and it’s all clouded by whatever emotions I’m feeling at the time.

I’m not expert in mindfulness, but I find it’s a joyful experience to remind myself what I’m doing and what I’m seeing.  What I’m doing and what I’m seeing now – this is life.  If I live only in my head, life is passing me by.

So I say to myself, this is our garden.  And suddenly I can truly see it again.

I say, I’m cooking stew for my family.  And I breathe, and I begin to see the onions as onions, not as a chore to be done while I think about something else.

When I’m holding the boy in my arms, that’s all I’m doing.  This is life.  I see it.  And it is enough.

 

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How often do you stop?

Can you ever stop when you work from home?  When clients rely on you for your work and your family relies on you for food and clean underwear, can you really stop?

And if you did stop, what would you do?  Could you actually do nothing?  What does “stopping” look like?

I’ve been trying to stop.  It’s taken me a week to work out how.

Lessons learnt from a minor ailment:

Working from your bed isn’t the thing to do, despite what I tried to tell youSleeping in your bed is a much better idea.  It’s actually not possible to do decent work when you feel inhuman, and as well as potentially making yourself worse, you’re simply wasting time that you could be spending recovering.  And quite possibly making stupid mistakes that you’ll have to fix later.  (Of course I would never do this.  Ahem.)

If someone offers to help, say yes.  Whether it’s the school run, making dinner, doing the shopping – if someone else is able do it, and is volunteering to do it, say yes even if you think you could probably manage.  Don’t even think about saying to yourself, “but I should be able to cope”.  Says who?

If they don’t volunteer, ask.  They’re only not volunteering because they don’t realise you need the help, because you always manage.  Don’t be a martyr.

Giving yourself time off is hard.  That’s why you need to take more of it than you think.  I promised myself I’d take at least four days off to recover and spent two of them working the whole time because I just couldn’t switch off.  Now I’ve got that out of my system, though, I’m beginning to work out what “stopping” involves.  I just spent a whole day pottering: walking, writing, reading, trying to sleep (this one still needs practice) and a good helping of staring at the sky.  I saw a fox on my travels and did a lot of not thinking.

Perhaps you can’t do as much work as you think you can.  Not forever, anyway.  Or maybe just not now.  Not if you want to be well and to notice and enjoy the spring that’s just beginning.  Perhaps it’s time to stop, just for a while, until you work out how much work is enough work.

It is enough

How easily we tell ourselves that we haven’t done enough, that we aren’t enough.  But stop and count it up, and you are enough.  Even if all you did today was get from one end of the day to the other, you are enough.

Take one of my recent days, for example:

A poorly boy was tended, nurtured and loved.  He was brought soothing drinks and cuddles, and tucked up tight at the end of the day.

A family was fed healthy meals.  (The ones who were able to eat!)

Writing obligations were kept, and new opportunities were followed up.

A week’s worth of laundry was washed, dried and put away.  (And the remainder piled up for the husband to iron. No need for us to carry all the burden ourselves, remember.)

Clients were responded to, meetings arranged and more obligations kept.

Body and soul were held together for another day.

It is enough. It is more than enough. Living and working: together they make a rounded whole.