As the year goes by…

Today is 30th September 2020. At almost this exact time last year, on 25th September 2019, I wrote the following blog post, which you may be interested to read:

livingfully2017.wordpress.com/2019/09/25/the-racing-doesnt-stop-even-when-you-do/

I talked about the way our busy, fast-paced lives can leave our minds racing, even when we physically stop at the end of the day, and the ways in which our use of technology can contribute to this mental and emotional overload, while also highlighting the personal benefits of blogging as a use of technology. I explored ways in which slowing down, creating more space and time to do things that benefit our wellbeing, creativity and taking time out of the usual busy lives we live, can be beneficial to us on so many levels.

And here we are, in 2020, and many if not most of us have found ourselves, by default of the pandemic, ushered out of our busy day to day lives and routines and into a slower, more ‘removed’ kind of a lifestyle.

Of course, there are so many of you who have not had the chance to slow down this year. Those of you to whom the rest of society owes a huge debt of gratitude. Those who are front line or key workers, whose lives have only got busier and perhaps more stressful as you care for the sick, the vulnerable, deliver essential supplies of food, medicine, and so forth.

So many of the rest of us, however, have found ourselves spending much more time at home, perhaps working from home, maybe isolated and living alone, or seeing only immediate family members as the restrictions that the Coronavirus pandemic have brought upon us, continue to refashion the ebb and flow of our daily lives.

Yet, how many of us have been able to embrace this as an opportunity to slow down and look after ourselves and those around us, as we may have wished to be able to do a year ago?

With various health issues, I have often ‘dreamed of’ being able to work from home in the past, but was never granted the permission to do so, yet this year, many other mainly office-based workers like myself have been able to benefit from working from home as the new default in this public health crisis. I have personally found this beneficial, yet I know of others who have really struggled with working from home, and am aware of others still for whom being at home is an unsafe or unsettling environment.

Isn’t is strange when the things we may have hoped for become reality but through very unexpected circumstances? In 2020 we’ve seen our world be turned upside down by the pandemic, and across the world despite us approaching October and the end of the year, countries are still trying to navigated these uncharted waters, and find a balance between protecting public health and keeping economies afloat, all in the midst of some key political and social events in certain parts of the world.

I wonder where you are from and how you have been managing the changes this past year, if any of the changes have been positive for you, or what has been particularly challenging. I wonder how your country has responded to the Coronavirus crisis, and what you think could be done better? What were your thoughts around this time last year?

I’d like to think that looking back in a year from now, we will see progress, on a global scale, and green shoots of recovery, yet there are many challenges ahead, and in many places across the world, it seems that governments, medical professionals, and scientists are at the moment ‘fire fighting’ to address the immediate damage while trying to plan and prepare for the longer term.

We may not have a great deal of control on what happens on a global scale, but as we approach the autumn and winter of this year, we are once again reminded by nature’s gentle changing of the seasons (and as I write I observe the beauty of the juxtaposition of green leafy trees with bright autumnal reds and oranges beginning to appear), that it is time to slow down, reflect and move from one season to the next.

Many of us may have physically slowed down, but as described in my post from this time last year, are our minds still racing and overloaded even when we stop? Have you been given a chance to take time out of the busy day to day of your previous life, and are you yet still overwhelmed by the constant stream of bad news that we’ve been hearing this year?

Do you have any stories of inspiration of how something positive has come out of this collectively difficult year, or how you and your community have responded to help others?

Have you embraced a slower pace of life? In this year where we are all in such need of encouragement and community even as we perhaps are physically isolated, do you have any words of hope to share here? It would be an honour to hear your stories, but in the meantime, try to remember to take every opportunity you can to seek Peace and pursue it, even in the midst of the storms. Be blessed. x

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

World of Flowers ‘Fairy House’.

Here’s a picture I completed colouring yesterday, from the lovely adult colouring book ‘World of Flowers’ by Johanna Basford. I was nervous to attempt the page but took inspiration from a little piece of pottery that I painted last year. I think it turned out ok? What do you think? x

The Power of Small Steps…

I’ve often written about how breaking down a task into its component parts can make it more manageable. This became an absolute necessity for me at a difficult time of my life where various health struggles meant that the smallest task was overwhelming to me and I couldn’t see a way out of the situation as my body and mind were at a point of burn out, exhaustion and in desperate need of repair and recovery.

However, I persevered with the small steps, and I can tell you it has been life changing to approach each day in this way.

I don’t know what you’re facing right now in this rather unexpected year of 2020, but perhaps now that we are in the final third of the year you may be feeling a little weary and wondering ‘what next?’.

No matter where you are at, don’t underestimate the power of small steps, for these can add up to be transformative. Whether the steps you take are in relation to your mental health and emotional wellbeing, physical health, recovery, creating a beautiful home environment, writing a book, accomplishing a task or persevering with your blog, small steps can cumulatively have a life changing effect.

When what you are facing seems insurmountable, and the bigger picture unachievable, create goals and forward steps that are small and manageable and focus on that one thing at a time, and seek enjoyment in it. Little by little, day by day, you will see the improvements.

How do you feel at this point of the year? It’s often a reflective time as the seasons begin to change, as I have written about before, however perhaps all the more so this year with having lived through a pandemic. Are there changes you need to make, or things you need to slow down and take the time to appreciate more or people you need to connect or reconnect with? Have you taken a resigned attitude to the rest of this year or are you willing to take the next small step of setting a new goal for yourself, of giving yourself the permission to take it one small step at a time and enjoy the process and the journey that it takes you on?

Setting a goal is in a way an expression of hope, and perhaps for some of us even of Faith. It means we have more to live for, more to aspire towards, and more to appreciate and give thanks for as we choose to live rather than merely exist.

Maybe today is the day for you to look around you, at your life, and however big or modest your vision is, take that next one small step, keep going, and see where the journey leads as you keep moving forwards. x

Photo by Adrianna Calvo on Pexels.com

Life after lockdown. *An Uncluttered Mind – From Mess to Rest*.

I’m enjoying a beautiful view of the city as I type. What started out as a grey and rainy day has given way to sunshine and blue skies, and as I write I can see cars stream along the motorway bridge, and in the far distance I can see hills, tall flats, church spires and dark green leafy trees.

Above the pale blue there are a few cotton candy like white clouds, and above them some heavy grey clouds moving slowly across the sky, giving glimmers of hope through gaps from which blue skies and sunshine can be seen.

After some days of rain, it is a comfort to see the sun and shadows shine through my windows, making patterns with light and shade on my wooden living room floor.

The steady stream of traffic makes me wonder where people are coming from and going to, although it is not overly busy. This scene in itself, in my peaceful, newly tidied living room with a glimpse of the outside world is beguiling in its simplicity.

We are still living in uncertain and unsettling times. Every time I watch or read the news I see more information about the pandemic that we are living through. I hear of tensions in the world with regards to upcoming elections, misuse of power, racism and injustice and suffering and anxiety about the future as children go back to schools, as we approach autumn and winter time and people fear for a ‘second wave’ of the pandemic getting above the capacity to manage it.

We’ve probably all become familiar in these times with the concept of focusing on what is within our locus of control. Initially writing about life post-lockdown, I am now writing during a time of some restrictions being reinstated in my city due to new outbreaks, and elsewhere in the UK there are local lockdowns.

This past week I have been using my time at home while I await updates from work, to do a big home declutter and reorganisation. I’m glad for the time to do it because otherwise things always seem to wait for another day. For motivation I’ve been watching some programmes on You Tube about hoarding, decluttering, and deep cleaning and organisation.

Just as with clearing out our homes, we need to take time to clear our minds of clutter, and unhelpful thoughts and thinking patterns, and unsurprisingly the state of our immediate environment can affect our inner state in terms of our emotions, thoughts and outlook on life.

While in this pandemic there is a lot that we can’t control, things that we need to look at through the lens of Faith, there are things in our immediate surroundings that we can do to help us to gain more clarity of mind, peace in our surroundings in our homes as we spend more time there and giving ourselves the chance to reflect and consider how to move forwards in our individual lives and to seek out creative solutions. When we are burdened by the clutter around us, we won’t feel as free to think, reflect, solve problems, create, or grow.

And just as in the process of decluttering, tidying and making things beautiful, we face phases of having to look at the mess, sort through and make decisions on what is important enough to keep or discard, and finding a place for each thing in order to simplify our lives and promote wellbeing by reducing stress as our lives become more ordered in our environments, we also go through similar processes as we sort through and process our thoughts and experiences.

So whatever uncertainties you may be facing in this pandemic, and in life in general just now, perhaps you can take a fresh look at what is within the realm of your control, and what steps you can take to change things for the better. A practical first step is to look at your living space and ease the load off yourself by getting things in order, and creating spaces that free you up to do things you enjoy and pursue creativity and seek peace and relaxation during this unsettling time in the world.

If you need help with this, I have several posts in my section on Home and Lifestyle that can help to get you started and avoid feeling overwhelmed. While we spend more time in our homes this year, where possible, let’s try to make some changes for the better that will help us to move forwards with greater clarity of mind, and less anxiety in our hearts. x

Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com