There are so many simple pleasures in life that we dismiss. Not enough time. Too much of an effort. The weather isn’t so good. Maybe next week.
Take this on as a challenge. The next time you have an opportunity to do something different in the middle of the week. Jump at it. It may turn your week upside down. It may delay some of your deadlines. And then again it may not.
I promise you that the time you spend will be rewarded with a great sense of appreciation, relaxation, and accomplishment. For you would have done something out of the ordinary. You would have shaken up your routine. Your busyness will be put on hold for just one day. And the rest of your week will fly by with a smirk on your face.
I am developing a new skill – the art of quilting. Yup – a crazy lady living in the tropics learning to make quilts – primarily used in temperate climates as a warm bed covering – according to google. Crazy maybe, but boy is she having fun. Thanks to the encouragement of a long-time friend whose talent can only be described as inspirational.
It’s a mind boggling thing – a quilt. You purchase yards of fabric, cut them up into small pieces and sew them back together again. My husband shakes his head at the process, but allows me my space as he has to admit that I am happiest in front of my sewing machine. Well let’s just say that it is one of my many happy places.
I learned to sew sitting next to my mom while she was at her machine, quite some years ago. She wasn’t meticulous about her sewing but the outcome was always good. Her advice was simply to measure twice and cut once. And when that didn’t work out so well, she quietly quelled my tears by assuring me that ‘every mistake is a fashion’ which has served me extremely well with my quilting.
I’ve joined a Facebook group entitled ‘Quilting‘ – a group of extremely talented, generous, inspiring and caring women and men who share the love of, you guessed it, quilting. It is a hobby for most and an income earner for others. It’s a space where you can share your successes and be applauded and what you consider to be failures and still be applauded, because as I’ve learned, there is no ugly quilt. It’s a space where you are encouraged to continue regardless, where getting advice is quicker than google and where you feel a great sense of belonging. You seriously ‘feel the love’ in this group.
Why didn’t I do this before? Well for me quilting takes time. You pretty much need to have nowhere to be and lots of time to get there, not to mention a whole lot of love for this art. So, here I am quilting to my heart’s content.
So many times we talk about making the most of every day, every moment. I often wonder however what that really means and whether or not I am living a life of ‘making the most’.
There are moments filled with excitement, moments filled with anxiety, love, adventure, sorrow, sheer joy. Those moments filled with the good stuff should be easy to enjoy – and I even wonder if we actually do. And what about the other moments, where we are not sure what to do, where we become angry or are faced with challenges seemingly beyond our control. How do we make the most of those moments that we would rather they just disappear.
When you can make last minute decisions to spend time with family just because. When you can drop what you are doing and drive an hour to your favourite location on the coast and spend a few un-interrupted days with no specific agenda. When you can drop by a friend for a spur of the moment glass of wine. And those times when you can spend the day tucked away in your personal cave reading, watching videos, sewing, creating. When you have nowhere to be and lots of time to get there. Sure it’s easy to make the most.
I firmly believe though that making the most doesn’t depend on the amount of free time that you have – otherwise we would all be a lost cause. When you are disappointed – how do you make the most of that moment. When you are angry, sad, lonely – how do you make the most of those times in your life. How do you make the most of the times you’d rather forget. Moments that probably make up a very large percentage of this short life we have on earth.
If I’ve learned anything in my plus 44+ years, it’s your attitude that pulls you through every single time. It’s the choice that you make every single moment of the day to keep looking forward, to seek the silver lining, to do what you can to fix those undesirable moments, if you can – and if you can’t, you need to work hard to accept those moments and carry on regardless.
It’s not easy to make the most of every moment of our life, but it certainly is worth the try.
Can you have ‘downtime’ from a life of ‘downtime’? That’s the big question.
There were moments over the past 35 and more years when this word would totally escape me – it wasn’t even part of my everyday or occasional vocabulary. Very rare was it that I would have a moment to spend by myself or for myself. These moments, if at all, would have to be stuck in at the very beginning or at the very end of the day, when alas my eyes would close and I would drift away into a dreamland far far away not knowing whether I actually had this downtime moment of not.
I certainly tried to find that work/life harmony – exercising 3 times weekly, eating right including fruits and vegetables in my diet, savouring the ‘antioxidants’ from my daily glass(es) of wine, sneaking away on weekends to the coast to soak in some much needed sun and sea breeze. It was hard work finding this harmony and I used to wonder whether stressing on the importance of finding time to de-stress wasn’t a big part of the reason we were all so stressed. And most times I would just let the day go by and whatever moments were left in it for me, I would be grateful, joyous and feel ever so blessed.
And so now that my days are filled with whatever I want to do, I wonder whether it is still necessary to seek ‘downtime’. For my days can be quite full (note that I’ve removed the word ‘busy’ from my vocabulary), and tiring. Am I in fact catching up on all the ‘downtime’ moments I missed over the past years. Or am I just in another stage of life where I am able to make that ever so important choice of doing what the hell I want to do.
Stay the course my dear friends. Work/life Harmony is important. We must however manage our expectations as to what this ‘harmony’ looks like. Then and only then will you be able to achieve it.
I have slipped into this new way of life so easily; it scares me. I guess I was super ready for this phase. And, as I learned during my years in the corporate world, preparation is key to success.
”Don’t you miss being busy?” Well, first of all, ‘being busy’ is over-rated. There is much to be appreciated in just sitting still, enjoying the view, the sounds, the people passing by – emptying your mind and focusing on the now, the person next to you, your grandson making funny noises, having his breakfast or laughing at your silly antics and clapping hands on the other end of your iPad.
Oh, and that afternoon nap. Who knew that a short half- hour nap on an afternoon could bring such joy – readying you for your quiet enjoyment of the end of the day, watching the sun set in all its glory.
I have time for everything and everyone, mostly. I have become available – for what I want to do (and this is critical – what I want to do) – and it is empowering. I am still capable of learning new skills, and this excites me.
Do I miss my former work life? No. It played a significant role in my growth and development, and I am now onto new and exciting things.
Do I miss my work friends? Most definitely. But we’ll catch up some day.
And as I look at my new life unfold; I can only count my blessings…
Not having a schedule
Getting up early with nowhere to be and lots of time to get there
Working in my garden whenever I feel like it and for however long I need
Watching the sun set every single day
Noticing the wide variety of birds in and around my garden
Freedom to chat with my children and grandchildren whenever they call
Fridays have always been a much-treasured day for me. A day when years ago I would rush home from work, gather up the kids and head to a dear friend’s home, so that the kids could play with their friends and I would have someone to share the week’s ups and downs with – with a ‘drink in hand’ of course.
Then it became the Friday B-B-que night – where I’d prepare all the food, sit back and watch my boys ‘do the B-B-que’ – with a ‘drink in hand’ needless to say.
As the years passed, and work responsibilities increased, not to mention the kids became teenagers, Wednesday became the new Friday – if only because the ‘drinks in hand’ scenario needed to start a bit earlier in the week.
I won’t even go through the Covid times when every day rolled into one and Friday was whichever day you wanted it to be – signalled by the ‘drink in hand’, of course.
With nowhere to be and lots of time to get there however, my Fridays have taken on a new meaning – it’s the wherever I want to be day and I’m loving it.