Tag Archives: rest

Switching Off

As you read this, faithful followers, I will be far away from the internet in a remote French village.  Ah, the magic of blog scheduling.

I'll be somewhere that looks like this.

I’ll be somewhere that looks like this.

I’ve always been a big fan of holidays.  There were a few years when they didn’t really happen because I became overly-committed to “moving ahead with my life” and there were too many other important things to do (read “plays to be in”).  But that phase passed and they are one of the first things to get planned in a year.  Maybe not extravagant overseas holidays but times when we will stop working and thinking about work, and regroup. (In fact we usually just end up borrowing someone else’s house).

And then this year holidays have taken on a new hue with the need to make the most out of time away for just the two of us before our family size expands. (Here’s hoping it doesn’t translate into “We HAVE to enjoy ourselves; are we enjoying ourselves yet? Try harder!”).

As I look at my year, I can easily feel smug about my well-balanced diarising, and pre-planned breaks.  But then when I look at the smaller scale, it tells a more dismal story.

Too often I reach breaking point, or mini-meltdown point (I hide it well) where I’ve taken on too much and I just don’t know how to stop.  Like just a few days ago.  I was in the supermarket looking at meat to buy for dinner and almost burst into tears because I couldn’t decide.  I feel compelled by my commitments to see all kinds of things through which are too much, and the next holiday is too far away and how did I get in this state again?  I am crying out for a better rhythm in the day and in the week, not just the year.

Screen Shot 2013-06-08 at 23.11.47

I was inspired a while ago by a link a friend sent to to a movement called Sabbath Manifesto.  It was started by a group of Jewish artists in search of a modern way to observe a weekly day of rest. (Their website states that “the group are all members of Reboot, a non-profit group designed to “reboot” the cultures, traditions and rituals of Jewish life.”)

I think I might have mentioned them before. I was intimidated by some of their principles – not least because there isn’t so much routine in my life a lot of the time, and Sunday might one week be a day off and the next two weeks might be full of rehearsals or speaking somewhere or travelling.  Hard, inflexible rules seemed impractical.

But then Andy and I were struck by one of their principles – their first commitment is to “avoid technology”.  It sounded strange but deeply appealing.  I have become more and more aware, especially in the last few months, how constantly I check email or twitter or facebook or bloglovin or Google+ – and I’m growing to hate it.  (It has got worse since being preggers and the excellent Lulastic has suggested it is related to my neocortex). So we decided a few months ago not to use the internet at all on Sundays.  Or to try. In fact I have been attempting not to use my computer. And it has been a beautiful and wonderful (if faltering) journey.

It slows me down.  It makes me take notice of my environment more, and appreciate real human interaction.  I read more, and take walks.  I’ve been on spontaneous picnics (I’m more of a planner by nature). I am becoming more aware of my limits and making peace with them.

I feel like it’s doing me, and doing us, some good.  It’s not the whole answer, but it’s a big help.

And now, a whole week without technology feels like a wonderful gift!

Do you have rhythms in your week that help you stay balanced and unstressed?

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Winter Rest for the Soul

January and February can be bleak old months.  It’s cold and grey and there’s no Christmas to look forward to (“Always winter but never Christmas” – it’s like we’re in Narnia before Aslan returns).  One of my favourite solutions is quality retreat time with the people I love most, taking advantage of the new year diary’s vacant pages.

Lyme Regis at dusk

Lyme Regis at dusk

These past two weekends took us out to the green hills beyond the city lights; there was eating, walking, laughing and praying and none of it was rushed.  First the husband and I were out west where Devon and Dorset and the sea all meet, and we ran around after small boys, and squelched through muddy fields. and watched the sun set over the grey sea as our teeth chattered and our shoulders shiverered.

On the beach at Lyme Regis

And when the wrestling and the stories and the football ceased, and the boys slept, there was honest talk about hopes and disappointments, the way we fight against where we are, the more that we ache for, and the risks we are all afraid to take.

Then this past week I left the husband behind to hide away in the New Forest with my two closest girls.  It’s past a decade since we first met, since we collided in the middle of this city and started to weave our stories together, steadying one another one moment, cheering each other on the next.  Oh the crazy, deluded obsessions they saw me through.  Every week we would commute across the city to breakfast together before work, and share the details of our tiny, complex, unfolding lives, and pray that they would grow in good directions. Since those days both girls have lived for a spell in distant climes and I have stayed behind.  They both returned, and one left again and we are scattered more than we are together.

Walking in the New Forest

The past decade has accrued for us husbands, children, and a substantial share of heart-ache.  We have serious history.  And this past week we grasped hold again of those strong roots and steadied ourselves again, laughed and cried and listened and cheered.  And were grateful for each other.  We walked through the lush, tall forest (slightly further than we planned, despite being led by a geography graduate), swapping the baby between us.  And it was good.  And some new dreams began to grow there for me, amidst their cheers.

Where do you go to rest your soul?

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather