As Christmas approaches, we may find that even in a pandemic, and even for some who are possibly going to be spending Christmas day alone, that we still have ‘to do’ lists.
It’s important that despite the things we want to try to ‘fit in’ to make the most of our time (or just to keep on top of our daily lives) that we also find some ‘down time’ to rest and play. For some of you who like that greater sense of control, perhaps it is actually something to include on your ‘to do’ list. lol 🙂
What I’m saying is that it’s important to rest, to play, to take time out and to not feel bad about it. The shortest day has passed and now, daylight hours for most of us will begin to lengthen. We will be looking forwards to Christmas in a few days, which may be a quieter or more solitary experience this year for many, and then we will approach new year 2021.
These collective events and experiences always intrigue me as there is something of the ‘collective consciousness’ about them. That is to say, unlike in times in our own personal life journey’s when there may be a significant event, date or change point, due to how much of the world lives according to the Gregorian calendar, we share these experiences, even if our individual lives differ significantly from one another.
Come the new year, like it or not, we will be out of ‘holiday mode’ and even if not much else changes, we will have to consider things like how to move forwards with jobs, living situations perhaps and other things related to our own change points and also to changing regulations related to the pandemic.
So use some of this time, without guilt, to relax, rest and play. It’s important for your wellbeing, as long as what you choose to do is actually good for you or restful, so choose wisely.
What do you like to do in your ‘down time’? Do you watch films, play games, go for a walk outside if possible, paint, draw, listen to music, chat to a friend, curl up and read a book or simply lounge about for a while?
I hope you find the chance to catch your breath, to rest, and to look forward in Advent to the True Light of Christmas.
Have you ever seen (or perhaps you have been) a child fully absorbed in play, while sitting in the midst of a mess of toys and games and bits and pieces strewn all around it?
My parents have memories of me being that little child / toddler, and although I love to be neat and tidy nowadays I can relate to that child especially when I am absorbed in some kind of messy craft project. There are photographs from my childhood that show me sitting perfectly contentedly on the floor examining some little toy, object, or the bristles of an old fashioned style broom that my grandmother had that I had pulled apart, completely engrossed in my ‘activity’ while all around me is chaos. In one photograph of me as a toddler, I am wearing a lovely little summer dress and have found my way into a toy cupboard, have crawled into it, am chewing on my chosen toy, but in order to get to that happy state I had pulled out absolutely *everything* else and left toys all around outside the cupboard on the ground. But I am happy and content and have found my ‘sweet spot’ or ‘happy place’ in toddler life! 🙂
As we grow older, for many of us at least, we begin to equate mess with stress. Growing up, the phrase ‘tidy your room’ did give me a sense of anxiety and stress, because as good as I was at getting messy, I needed to put in a lot more effort to get things tidied up.
Now as an adult, with my own place, I like things to be neat and tidy, and aesthetically pleasing, and ‘just so’, and I do get a bit stressed I admit, because it is a daily effort to maintain especially when living alone. How can we have that neat and tidy space around us without having to put in the work of doing the dishes, tidying up, doing all the chores, and maintaining everything – and when you’re on your own it can be hard to keep up. I’ve written several posts about decluttering and tidying so if you’re using some of the extra time you might have in this pandemic year / lockdown depending on where you live, to get your home sorted, then there is plenty of advice to be found in my blog.
At the moment, I am at home in my parents’ house, not wanting to spend winter and Christmas alone as we face a second lockdown in many parts of the UK. Not everything is just as I would like it in my room and I’d love to do a bit of a ‘declutter’ but not everything here is actually mine, so I can’t just do whatever I want with this space. This got me thinking of some things I have said in my blogs in the past, including ‘enjoy your mess, enjoy your tidy’ and the importance of finding balance in whatever season of life, and of our environment that we are in.
Perhaps reading the title of this blog post, certain ideas or thoughts were triggered in your mind. What did or what does the phrase: ‘The mess you are in’ signify for you? Is it an actual physical mess of your surroundings, is it an emotional or psychological mess, is it the mess of circumstances, of failing health, of uncertainty, of worry, anxiety, fear, broken relationships, grief, death, or a shaken world, of poor job prospects, of financial difficulties, of unruly children, of a struggling marriage, or drifting friendships, of frustrations, pent up emotions, trauma, of stress of planning for Christmas with pandemic restrictions, of political unrest, of loneliness, of struggles with singleness, of the comparison trap, of friends moving on, of feeling ‘stuck’?
Life can be pretty messy sometimes, that’s for sure. But I invite you to imagine the image of the child sitting in his or her messy surroundings, perhaps with their eyes focussed on some little trinket or toy, completely absorbed and mesmerised in the joy of that moment of discovery and of play.
You will notice that in parenthesis in this title I encapsulated the word ‘Now’. What is the mess you are in now? Right now? It is big, it is bigger than you feel like you can handle, or perhaps it is simply frustrating and annoying. Do you know, that while as an adult you are not called to forget about your responsibilities and obligations, you still have the freedom to take a break from them, even if for a moment, and find rest?
You may not be able to deal with, tidy up, pray through or resolve the whole of the mess you are in right now in a moment, in a day or even a year. Broken things take time to repair, especially when they are precious. But in the midst of the mess and the chaos, you can stop. You can look with wonder and be absorbed in something really special – right NOW.
What will it be for you today? What chance will you give yourself to pause, to sit still even in the mess, and to dream, to imagine, to play, to wonder at? What life will you find in your moment right now? xx
I wonder if you share a similar fondness as I have for ‘boxing day’, the day after Christmas?
Many of us have spent the preceding days or weeks in preparation in various ways. For some of us, we have been preparing ourselves spiritually by contemplating the fulfilment of thousands of years of prophecy in the Birth of Jesus Christ, and what this means for humanity and for our own lives. We may have spent time during the Advent season exploring scripture and praying and meditating upon these great Truths that changed the course of human history, and continue to do so.
I imagine, however, that the vast majority of people in a broadly commercial and secular world have been busy with the things that the Christmas and holiday season brings with it such as Christmas meals or get-togethers with work colleagues, friends, acquaintances; tying up loose ends at work; buying presents; decorating our homes; visiting family; shopping, cooking and all sorts of other festivities.
Christmas day has come and gone for another year (and yet the true meaning and significance of Christ~mas is eternal), and perhaps you have had a good day, or maybe it was stressful and challenging.
I wonder if you breathe a sigh of relief as we enter into boxing day, a day where you can rest, knowing that the preparations are done, and you have time before ‘normal’ life sets in again to rest and enjoy.
According to Google, ‘boxing day’ as a term originates as follows:
“The Oxford English Dictionary gives the earliest attestations from Britain in the 1830s, defining it as “the first weekday after Christmas day, observed as a holiday on which postmen, errand boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas box”.”
I used to think that it was so called because it was traditionally when people opened their Christmas presents or boxes. It is nice to discover that it was in fact a day of giving to others for their service as postmen and errand boys, etc.
Today it seems that ‘Boxing Day’ is synonymous with ‘sales’ and shopping, and this is quite unfortunate.
Avoiding the Shops and Sales, for a day of Reflection, Rest and Play:
I’m not sure about you, but I personally like to avoid the ‘madness’ of people rushing after so called ‘bargains’, pushing past each other to get to the ‘boxing day sales’, or spending a lot of money online searching for the next material thing that we and our loved ones probably don’t even need.
It is nice after Christmas to take some time to relax, rest, play and enjoy what we already have, what we have been given, what we truly are celebrating, and to be present with the people we care about and love if this is possible. Even if we are on our own, we can take that time to think, to enjoy, to be grateful, rather than to be greedy.
A sigh of relief:
So as you embark upon the 26th December, what does this day hold in store for you? Will you rush on to the next material thing, or will you take time to slow down, rest, recharge and enjoy and be grateful?
Personally, I’ve spent the morning with my family, praying on my own, and am now snuggled up in a blanket as I type. I have no intention of hitting the shops, but of enjoying the simple things today, resting in the Light that I have been celebrating, and being thankful for the rest and blessings after a busy season.
I hope you are able to put your feet up and enjoy some quiet time today too.
Life in the adult world can be stressful at times. Goodness, life as a teenager and even as a child can be filled with challenges, depending on one’s circumstances and disposition. Today, however, I had the good pleasure of spending the afternoon with my little God-daughter, and my friend who is her mum who I have known since university days before her two children were born. We were belatedly celebrating her 10th birthday at the same place I took her to the previous year. Her choice, so I know she liked it.
Last month she had her birthday celebrations with friends and family, and today I got to celebrate with her, and be reminded to smile at all of the things a happy child has going on in her little world.
As adults our problems come and go, we stress and worry, we make big decisions. But today, this little one’s decisions featured around whether to choose chocolate or vanilla ice cream (in the end, she went for a scoop of both, in a big wafer cone, and couldn’t finish it although it clearly tasted amazing!); how to wipe all of the ice cream off her face; which toy, toys or outfit to buy with her £20.00 that she brought with her; and best of all hoping for things to work out as she desired – think of what our hopes are as adults, what do we really want to happen, and then contrast it with this little girl’s hopes for the day – she hoped and hoped that it would rain! Not because there is any shortage of rain here, it rains frequently…too frequently most would say – but because one of her birthday presents that she brought with her on today’s outing was an ‘umbrella hat’…basically this is the top of an umbrella (multicoloured of course! think rainbow, or ‘Skittles’, a different colour in each ‘segment’), with an elastic headband attached, and just the right size to fit over a child’s head! 🙂 It did rain, and it was splendid. She wore her little umbrella hat with pride, and when we were indoors again she didn’t take it off until absolutely necessary, and she didn’t have a care in the world about what anyone else might think, as she was oblivious to that notion – for her the hat was just what everyone needed, and she was the only little girl around, and the only person around who was wearing one!
Imagine for a moment living life that way. Enjoying the ice-cream, spending a long time playing with toys in a big toy shop, unable to decide what to buy, and in the end not buying anything from the shop at all, of hoping that it will rain so that you can wear your one of a kind rainbow umbrella hat! Yes, I know, life isn’t that simple for us adults, but don’t you think that sometimes we make it far too complicated for our own good?
Why don’t we think of our favourite things more often, things that don’t cost the earth, that don’t have to be worthy of taking pictures of, but just to enjoy those simple, fun and happy things that for a child make life worth living? Today might be a good day to try out that umbrella hat for yourself, or to enjoy the ice-cream and not worry about getting chocolate on your face! Keep smiling 🙂 x
I usually approach the daily prompts from a creative writing perspective, however, the word ‘grit’ seems to have pushed a playful button in me, so I’m going to veer from the well trod path and play a word association game, and I have no idea how it will go…so, come and join me wordsmiths! 🙂
to get this sand out of my shoe
I rub my gritty eyes to help me see more clearly
As they grit the road
It seems to be snowing
Shall we just stay at home and watch that gritty new drama?
It makes me grit my teeth
And it sounds like my shoes on a gritty gravel path
Here I am once more with grit and determination trying to get this sand out of my shoe!
Grit – Grain – Sand – Beach – Waves – Water – Sea – Boat – Travel – Journey – Voyage – Ship – Map – Compass – Treasure – Gold Doubloons – Pirates – Eye Patch – Sight – Vision – Binoculars – View – See – Eyes – Features – Face – Person – Head – Shoulders – Knees – Toes – Body – Mind – Think – Feel – Love – Desire – Want – Obtain – Give – Kindness – Character – Determination – Grit! 🙂
I took this photograph a couple of months ago while watching some seagulls at the beach. There were pockets where the combination of air temperature and wind direction caused thermals so the birds could simply be buoyed up, suspended in air, almost as if ‘riding the surf’ in the sky. It was fascinating! I had never seen anything like it before with so many birds (this is just a snapshot)….they stood on the ground waiting in a large group, and just at the right moment they embraced their place in the thermal and literally floated on air! I don’t know for how long I watched them, but they did this for a LONG time, and it was like watching children at play! This picture barely captures the delight of these birds at play, but I hope you find some enjoyment and inspiration from it nonetheless! x