I feel like my last few posts have been a bit ‘heavy’. It’s the reality, but we also need to be able to focus on the good things, the little bursts of sunshine, and the brighter rays of light in our days.
I’ll keep this short in the hope that we can continue to build community spirit and resilience, and that some of you will post about the ‘little things’ that have been good in your days. Thank you.
There is a beautiful line in Max Ehrmann’s prose poem, ‘Desiderata’ (things to be desired), that encourages us to enjoy our achievements as well as our plans.
The concept is so simple, and yet equally profound. We desire certain things in life, and we give our lives to pursuing, obtaining and experiencing them. And yet, once obtained we are so quick to move on to the next thing, just as butterfly or a honey bee might flit from flower to flower.
How many of us take the time to enjoy our achievements as well as our plans? We rarely seem to be satisfied, but perhaps we don’t give ourselves time to truly appreciate and be grateful for our lives as we hurry on to experience something bigger or better.
Perhaps you are reading this and inwardly agreeing to the sentiment behind this statement: “Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans”. It is a nice thought, an encouraging quote, but what will you and I actually do with it? And how can this Winter Survival Guide prompt us to use the time we have this season to do just that?
1. Review your year:
We could just sit in quietness and enjoy pondering our achievements, but can we appreciate and enjoy them in a more focused and practical way before moving on to the next thing or things in the year to come?
A good and simple starting point could be to set aside some time, to take a pen and a piece of paper and sketch out the important things you have done, experienced and learned in each of the months of 2019 (leaving room for the time you still have left of this calendar year).
It doesn’t matter from an outside perspective whether the things you have captured seem ‘significant’ or not, the thing that matters is that they are important to you, in your life’s journey, no matter how small or inconsequential you might think they would seem to someone else. That’s not what matters, what matters is the life you have lived this year and the lessons you have learned.
What could be some points to ponder as you consider each month in turn? Perhaps we could start with something like this:
What was the main thing I learned in that month?
Why was this important?
What do I consider I achieved (no matter how big or small, it could be as seemingly simple as sticking to a routine, surviving a challenge or showing kindness to someone)?
How have I grown from these experiences and what will I take forwards?
2. Enjoy your achievements:
As you reflect upon the specific achievements and experiences of each month of the year gone by, take time to ponder them, to be grateful for the lessons you have learned, how you have changed and grown as a person and to enjoy the fact that you are living life right now and learning new things now. Take it in, and celebrate it in a way that is personal to you, even if it is quietly, and even if it is ‘giving yourself a pat on the back’ for having got through a tough time – achievements aren’t all about gold stars and certificates.
Consider writing down and naming the ‘treasures’ that you have gleaned from this year’s experience of life before you move on to the next thing. A life well lived involves appreciating the life that we are living.
3. As well as your plans:
It is a time for looking forward as well as for reflecting and enjoying the moment. Maybe you can spend some time by yourself discovering what has really been meaningful and significant to you this year, understand what is valuable and begin to plan ahead as you reach towards your future achievements and make plans for how you will accomplish them.
So, it’s a dark, cold and rainy winter’s night. You’ve watched all the things you want for the night, you’ve had some reading time, you want something interesting to do and think about.
Why not read your blog from over the past year? I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time writing my blog, in comparison to how much time I ever spend looking back and reading and reflecting upon old posts.
And yet, I feel like having this is such a blessing in my life, because it captures my thoughts about life as I live and go through my days. I think it’s wonderful that I have this record to look back upon and see what I’ve been learning and not just what I have done.
Maybe you haven’t blogged as much as you have wanted to this year, and that’s ok, but if you have written a few posts, why not spend one of these winter nights in just taking the time to read what you have written and get an idea of how you have grown and changed over the year and what you have learned.
You might actually find some really helpful and insightful ‘nuggets’ from what you yourself have written to share with other people. Give it a go, and enjoy the journey! 🙂
We all need that reminder, don’t we? Most people have some kind of struggle, even if only a minor one, in their relationship with food, and obviously what we put into our bodies affects our health, wellbeing, state of mind, energy, mood and so forth on so many different levels.
It’s important to fuel our bodies well for the winter, to remember to eat, but also to be aware of the temptations towards over indulging, comfort eating, or eating too much unhealthy foods. By all means enjoy what you eat, but keep things in balance. Don’t neglect to eat enough, for you’ll need the energy, but also don’t over eat, and try to eat healthily and do all things in moderation.
I know for many people this seems too ‘glib’ and it’s not easy because of your deeper struggles. But remember you are important and worth taking care of, which includes in how you treat your body and in what you eat, so stay well, warm, healthy and happy. x
Do you have a tendency to rush through your lunch breaks? Do you eat and drink ‘on the go’, and ‘wolf down’ your food while rushing to the next thing? Or do you spend most if not all of your lunch breaks at your desk, and rarely actually get up and go for a walk or take a break in which you can actually slow down, stop, think….enjoy?
Maybe you work in a fast paced environment, where everything around you is ‘rush, rush, rush’. But do you honestly think that rushing all the time is actually more productive, time saving, and better in the long term? Could small steps everyday help to improve your wellbeing and avoid burnout…..and indigestion?! Or if you’re not really at risk of that, perhaps they could just help you to live better and enjoy your life more?
I don’t think all the rushing for rushing’s sake actually does save time. It simply ‘ramps up’ our nervous system and fight / flight response, but for what?
Maybe you have somewhere very important to be, very quickly, but I presume for most of us this is an occasional occurrence rather than our daily situation. So take a break, put down your work, and enjoy your lunch. Be grateful, enjoy the taste, smell, and texture of your food. Breathe deeply, eat more slowly, and when you do go back to work you will hopefully feel better, more refreshed and relaxed, and energized for the rest of the day.
Slow and steady wins the race….it tastes better too! 🙂
Following on from my recent series (which is awaiting a final concluding blog post) on my personal / writing retreat, I have a few words that will hopefully encourage you that even if you don’t feel you have the time to take a retreat, even if that is in your own home, and even if it is a mini retreat over a weekend, you can plan what I’d like to call ‘mini mini-retreats’…or maybe micro retreats if you prefer 🙂
This is something you can achievably plan to incorporate into your week, your weekend or even your daily life. What do I mean by a micro retreat? It’s simply time that you have set aside to focus on an aspect of your life that is important to you, giving it the care and attention you long to. You may, like myself, only have rare occasions where you can deeply delve into creative projects you are involved in where over a space of a few days or even a week you are immersed in that creative experience and set aside time without having to worry about other commitments. However, on a regular basis, you can still ‘go on retreat’ in a focused and meaningful way, even if the breadth and depth of your experience differs from a longer time spent in this way. In some ways, because it is shorter and more focused time, you may reap unexpected benefits and glean new insights into your self and life.
So, think about what you’d like to focus on. Like me, you may have many different aspects of life that are important to you that you’d like to give time care and attention to. Perhaps self care, meditative time in nature, prayer, reading the Bible, reading generally, blog writing, spending time alone, painting, writing, photography, journaling, model making, music, or simply just getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You can be flexible with how you fit such times into your daily and weekly life. All you need to do is set aside, protect and honour that time. In business speak, ‘ring fence’ that time for a specific purpose. Whether it is 15 minutes, half an hour, an hour, or half a day, you can modify and change things to suit your own life. But once you’re in that time, treat it as you would a retreat – no distractions, find a place by yourself, undisturbed, make a warm cosy drink and spend that time giving attention to that one specific thing that matters to you. You can have many ‘mini mini retreats’ or micro retreats in a month, week or even a day. Let it be a time you make special for yourself, and give your full attention to that purpose, with gratitude, intent and a deep focus. And most of all enjoy the time, and seek to be refreshed, as you seek to live a life that you don’t want to ‘get away from’, and learn to live fully right where you are.
Do you find yourself trudging through your working week – whether you work for an employer, work from home, or are your own boss – wishing that the weekend would hurry up and arrive already? If so, you may not be doing yourself many favours. Think about how much of your time is portioned up with work, whatever type of labour that may be. If you work a standard 7 day, 9 – 5 work week, then that is a huge chunk of your time. It is wonderful if you love and enjoy your work and find meaning and purpose from it, but I personally think that even if you aren’t doing exactly what you always wanted to, a lot of the value you find in work will come down to your attitude – do you view the challenges and opportunities in work negatively? Or can you view them with a positive attitude? You will have come across people, perhaps the majority of people who always have something to moan or complain about with regards to their workplace, even if they have relatively good conditions. Are you one of those people? Do you tend to comment that you can’t wait for the weekend to arrive? If so, try to look at things differently and if you already do, then find ways to inspire other people…inspire them not to wish their lives away and find the positive in their work day – and if you can’t find something positive – then be the change you wish to see and create it! Enjoy your day 🙂