We have been enjoying some extra time off work, including my birthday, which was a lovely and completely relaxing day spent watching the rain, visiting my parents and going to the woods in the afternoon sunshine. These extra days off have been a good opportunity to get some things done, but have also taught me an important lesson.
We have just spent two days doing a lot of outdoor work: I did lots of seed sowing and potting on, while Brian finished pollarding all our tall trees; on the second day we worked together on the ones which needed a rope to help fell them safely. There was nothing wrong with any of these jobs: they’re satisfying, we’re together, we’re outdoors in nature, we’re using our bodies and getting stronger: what’s not to like? But I still managed to feel very resistant to all of it, annoying myself thoroughly, and eventually I worked out why.
For a long time, I have been trying to maximise my efficiency at work, using timetables, deadlines and to-do lists to get the absolute most done that I possibly can. This is fine up to a point, but I’ve allowed this sort of time-stress to get into the rest of life. This blog is partly about being present, mindful and available to every moment in life, and I thought I was quite good at this, but it’s also very easy to get wrapped up in being a productive person and thinking about time in the wrong way. Chasing myself through the day waving a to-do list is not the way I want to live! I just end up tired and not enjoying things which are perfectly enjoyable.
The time to relax is NOT when all that day’s tasks are ‘done.’ I would like to do everything I do in a relaxing way instead. And when I am reading, knitting, eating lunch or just staring into space, I want to stop going through all the things I ‘should’ be doing – because I am already doing what I should be doing: enjoying life, the only one we get!
So I have realised that before I start anything, first of all I should stop – and slow down. I’ve been making an effort to remember this today and have enjoyed things much more: moving plants around, cleaning the house, and giving my bicycle a big spring clean. And I did not do these things with my ‘head down’ being efficient and trying to get them done as quickly as possible so I could go and relax – I did them with my head up, eyes and ears open for everything else going on around me and being relaxed already. I also didn’t think about what task I should tackle next. This must be mindfulness!