We are often over stretching ourselves, trying to cover all bases at work, keep the home ship sailing and feeling like we should fit in feeding our wellbeing through yoga, hygge or mindfulness. We think we need to learn to say ‘no’ to plans which we can’t fit in, ‘no’ to things we think we might not enjoy in order to make more time for ourselves and our ‘main’ priorities. Yet these main priorities are often not focusing truly on what we need.
Whilst my husband was deployed and time alone stood before me like a deserted plain I learned an important lesson. To say ‘yes’ to things I felt I didn’t have time for. I’m almost obsessive about time in a day. When I was on my own I became more so, going to bed I could picture the next day in blocks of designated time, each piece of work, a task at home or a meal perfectly slotted in. My problem the next day arises when those timings inevitably start to slip, leaving me feeling behind and chaotic. Letting go of that mindset for me is difficult, but time and time again when I throw caution to the wind and accept a last minute coffee date which pushes my timescale out of sync I ALWAYS feel so much better. It’s a strange thing, I’m actually very spontaneous and will do some pretty adventurous things, but I also like to be prepared.
The word ‘yes’, by the way, derives from Olde English when it meant something like ‘so be it’.
If I hadn’t said yes enough over these past few months I would never have discovered Cambridge Folk Festival after an invite from a good friend. It was such an amazing opportunity to reconnect with the power of music, and the power of women. I now have such vivid memories of the weekend.
One week I had been extremely busy, driving back and forth and spreading myself too thin. When the weekend rolled around I had planned to keep Sunday totally free and watch the entire series of Killing Eve in one go. 8 hours of tv. The dream. Or so I thought. A text from a friend looking for an adventure buddy on the weekend led me to exploring Marlborough and catching up on all things army wife life and beyond. We spent a lovely afternoon pottering through a forest followed by a tasty lunch. What I needed was fresh air and company, not 8 hours of nail biting tv.
On another occasion I waited until the very last minute to decide whether to head to London for the weekend. I’d been invited to two different 30th birthday parties one on Friday and one on Saturday, all my best pals would be there. But I was dog sitting for a friend and had two dogs to entertain. I thought it was too tricky to juggle the situation. After finding a kennel for one dog and calling on my super dog walker for the other I set off for an incredible weekend in London. Staying with my good friend and her partner I felt so happy for them, it was a while since I’d spent time with just the two of them and they are so in love. I returned from London rich on the love from all my pals. On Monday evening the friend I’d stayed with called me, she was engaged and I was over the moon. How special to spend time with them just before they take the next step on their life journey.
The picture for this blog post is a list of things that feature in my ‘perfect day’. At a conference I attended recently one of the workshop sessions was a meditation session. Usually I would bypass that for something more commercial, but that day I said yes to the meditation. As part of the session we were asked to write down what our perfect day looks like. Note how 8 hours of tv is not featured. Then we were told to make a star by all the things that fall to the wayside when we are stressed and feel ‘busy’.
When things get hectic I just about manage to walk my dog, because it would be unfair not to, and eat healthily, because otherwise I’ll run out of energy. It’s scary how much I neglect, and how if I said yes to different things I’d be fulfilling my perfect day more regularly. Even more scary…most of the things I do regularly like answer emails, check social media or watch a (guilty pleasure alert) show like Real Housewives of Somewhere are not on this list at all. Yet they are what I do more of when I’m stressed and busy. The mindfulness session ended with us working on fitting a small element of each of our ‘perfect day’ activities into our day or week.
I’m saying yes to following that through.