Before you start…stop! And slow down.

by Lucy

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!

Lots of lovely tomato plants to move outside in the morning

Lots of lovely tomatoes to move outside in the morning

A big bicycle spring clean

A big bicycle spring clean

There's still lots of felled tree branches to stack and dry, but I will enjoy doing this - carefully, as some birds are already making use of the branches and have made this nest!

There’s still lots of felled tree branches to stack and dry, but I will enjoy doing this – carefully, as some birds are already making use of the branches and have made this nest!

4 thoughts on “Before you start…stop! And slow down.

  1. I know I’m reading these backwards but I can’t stop reading – they are wonderful blogs, full of gentle observation, creative reflection and kindnesses. I remember you saying you’d started writing and I put the reading to one side ‘for another day’ – I’m on the same journey in my own way as we all share the same planet and am finding your blogs most inspiring…..see you at the next family party – Love to you both Anne 🙂

    • Thank you Anne! It was important to us to make it a gentle blog and to be accessible to everybody. Although we don’t write about any political allegiances, we feel these changes are the most powerfully political thing we’ve ever done. See you soon! 🙂

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