Today I sat down to finally edit a paper I’m writing for my studies at university. I had the printed file of the mark ups, my computer, my coffee, and I was ready. But, I had forgotten the notebook I’d written additional notes in, and after about a minute into this editing project I realised it was a bust. I was frustrated and annoyed at myself, as I was wanting to make progres with this paper. This was the one job I really wanted to not just do today, but right now while I was in a cafe.
However, not all was lost.
I did have a new notebook with me, and as well as other pressing writing projects that needed attention. I sat and wrote by hand. Not what I had planned, but I did make progress, and I enjoyed writing.
While this wasn’t the project I wanted to work on while in a cafe, by going to plan B, I could salvage the day, and get on with creating. Being adaptive to the situation pays off.
Often during the year there are busy moments, but I can’t help comparing them to this time of year – the lead up to Christmas. To me, this time of year feels more hectic than any other, especially in shopping centres, cafes, even simply driving around. It’s like there’s a panic in the air. Deadlines urgently have to be met, jobs cleared before people go on holidays, cooking treats made, and of course Christmas gifts bought. I find it hard to escape the chaotic energy buzzing around.
In amongst this busyness there are times when I find moments of peace within me, and in my own personal environment. This reminds me how this time of year doesn’t need so busy, and how restful and rejuvenating the sense of peace is when I don’t go into this hectic flow. Sure it’s busier with extra jobs of Christmas preparation but I want to approach this time of year with a harmonious mindset instead of being on edge with rushing around.
Peace on earth, had taken on a new meaning for me. While I’d like peace to be on earth, it’s a long way off and a challenge. What I can do is start with peace internally within me. And when I’m in this mindset I find it more harmonious to reflect on the year that was, releasing it to help make room for the New Year. Also in this mindset I find I reassess what’s important in my life, and how friends and family have influenced my year, and my life journey. I list off people and events to be grateful for, which enhance my inner sense of peace, which in turn evokes a sense of joy within me and I keep connected to my personal life flow. This all hits a deep root of what’s important for me at this time of year.
Merry Christmas, may this time be safe, peaceful, and a joyous time as 2017 comes to a close.
“You treat yourself a lot,” a friend said to me recently.
“Well no one else will,’ was my reply.
This is the reality of adult life. Sure I get gifts at my birthday, Christmas, and throughout the year from family and friends but it’s the little spontaneous treats that can lift my spirits and help me to be motivated to keep persisting with the projects I’m working on. If I don’t treat myself then it won’t happen. But despite knowing this I also forget to treat myself, or try new treats, or mix it up for myself.
What do I mean by treats? My puppies get treats all the time. Often they get the same food treat and each time they react with surprise and joy and gratitude. That’s really the outcome I’m trying to create within myself. (But I’m not always wanting food treats.)
Part of the key is for me to come up with a treat which is inexpensive, fun and spontaneous. Like when I’m at the supermarket and blueberries are on special and in season. A perfect treat for no reason except that I deserve it. Peonies are in season and their flowery faces call me, so I buy a small bunch and the cheer they provide in my home lasts for days. I walk bare feet along the beach right at the point where the sea wets the sand. I try a new café. I have a bath. I bake myself a banana cake and smear icing on the top.
There are so many ways I treat myself yet I forget to do it. I get busy, or I’m consumed by deadlines, or I’m exhausted. I’ve got all the excuses but really during these times I’m not in my natural life flow and so I’ve forgotten about me. That’s all right because at some point I’ll remember and I can adjust my pace, re-find my flow, and get back to giving myself the treats. For me that’s part of giving the treat to myself because it shows I’m in the flow of life. I’m relaxed, chilled and I see something that has meaning and will lift my spirit, even if it doesn’t need lifting.
Not only do I forget to treat myself even though I have a variety of ways to spoil myself, the act of rediscovering a treat I’ve not used for a long time is particularly up lifting and rejuvenating for my soul. For instance, recently while on holidays from my day job, feeling unmotivated to write, I decided I’d read even though it was before 9am and reading is what I do in the afternoon. I set my phone to play music – Gratitude by David and Steve Gordon and I read. And read. And read. Then I remembered another treat I used to have. Spending the entire day reading. How decadent! A top shelf treat I’d long forgotten how to reach for – one that’s taken years to remember. I read Ali Walker’s book Get Conscious, perfect for someone like myself who is the constant busy bee and thinker.
Now I’ve remembered this treat in particular I’ll be aiming to do it more often. What treats to you enjoy? Are there any you’ve not given yourself of a long time? I’d love to read about them in the comments below.
I have a Moth Orchid sitting on the corner of my kitchen bench. It flowered ages ago, sometime at the start of the year. I bought it spontaneously as a treat for myself. I kept it because I liked the large green leaves and the white round pot it was in. I’d occasionally empty the dribble of water left in my water bottle at the end of the day after work. I can’t remember when I last watered the plant. It gets no direct sunlight and I doubt any indirect rays either. I was thinking maybe the time had come for me to dispose of the plant for it’s unlikely to flower again – especially since I’d been ignoring it.
I went to pick it up. Then noticed two new stems full of little buds. Instead of throwing it out, I gave it some water, and left it to stand on my kitchen bench. I can watch the buds bloom and be reminded of how I was too quick to ride-off the plant when nature was doing it’s thing and the orchid was blooming where it was planted, and making the best of the situation it was in. A situation not as bleak or as final as I had thought.
It just goes to show the importance of not giving up, and how by taking a step back, providing some space, the flow of life, and of nature, are able to do their thing more productively. I can’t help think there are numerous aspects in my life where I could benefit by taking a step back. For example with my writing. By taking a back step, I allow my mind the space it needs in particular my sub-conscious to come up with new story lines, characters and ideas. Like the plant, my art work needs space to breathe, to grow, to bloom. When painting a still life, I often step back to look at the still life and what I’m painting from a greater distance to see if I need to adjust my perspective and approach.
It’s hard to do, risky even because there’s a chance I might no come up with new ideas to write, or I realise I’ve painted the vase completely wrong (which I have done, and is the photo here). But it’s not the end of the world. No new ideas? Well I can write a different story, or have a break, the ideas will come in time. And so what if the vase is wrong, it looks fine in the painting. The Moth Orchid could’ve died. It didn’t. It thrived.
Sometimes nature and life flow need to be given space in order to have influence. I’m learning that sometimes it’s best to let things be so they can develop in their own time.
What times have you left things alone, and repeat the unexpected benefits? Please share them below in the comments.