When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the
great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am
From 5.45 am on Monday mornings to when I get into bed on a Wednesday evening, my life revolves around my job and my family; cooking dinner, walking and feeding dogs, helping with homework and reading; giving lifts to my very own In-Betweener and juggling the all consuming nature of my job with listening to my ever cheerful daughter tell me about her day!
I am completely unable to multitask and need to get thing done before I start another which means that my ability to get things done quikly is zero!To put this into context; - last week, I arrived home from work later than usual to find that my husband, having only arrived home an hour before, had fed the dogs;
the gym with a decent meal inside him (rather than his usual routine of stopping at the Spa or Chippy on the way home, or completely worse (for me at least) McDonalds (sharp intake of breath, and breathe Jenny!!!!); had our daughter doing her homework and was chopping vegetables with dinner all on the go!
When I get into bed on Wednesday evening, I can breathe a sigh of relief and know that I have several days ahead of me when I can switch off from work and put all my concentration into my family, first and foremost, and then my friends and other interests!
However, all too often I find myself waking up on a Thursday , Saturday and Sunday with a feeling of anxiety, fretting about all the things I want to do, all the things I haven't done, and all the things I might never do and all the things I think I "should" do.This feeling doesn't occur on a Friday as that day is set aside to pursue my love of being outside in the natural world with the desire to expand my knowledge of gardening and the mental health field, in the form of voluntary work at a Therapeutic Gardening project for individuals experiencing mental health illness. By doing this, I have given myself routine and structure and a "committment" to someone else.
The problem with Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays is that I am not committed to anyone but myself and my plans. My routine and structure of 4 days a week, when I have to get up at a certain time to walk the dogs goes out of the window and I do not appear to be good at adapting to that change!
I think this uneasy feeling has increasingly become more prominent over the years as I have reduced my hours at work and find myself with more time to pursue the above activities! However, over the years, I have found myself, and in finding myself, I have also realised my aspirations, hopes and desires. Now, this is a double edged sword, because although it is a wonderful revelation to know who I am, what drives me and what I want, it is also a frustration that I didn't know it before, and now have a shorter time to fit it all in!
And there is so much I want to achieve that I honestly feel that I really won't do it all in this lifetime! Ok, maybe that sounds abit drastic, but one example is the fact that I never knew what I wanted to do and fell into the counselling work that I do now, work that is rewarding but which drains the life out of me.
Now I know that my vocation is working with animals and wildlife, in nature and the environment. Raising awareness of issues related to these subjects.
And yes, although I am pursuing my vocation and making it the centre of my life, I know I will never be a naturalist, a wildlife expert, an environmentalist, scientist, conservationalist or marine biologist. So, yes although I can take responsibility for changing the world in my own small way, my disappointment just lies in the fact that it took so long to recognise that I can do this and that perhaps I will never be a wildlife presenter or journalist who gets to go to Borneo to look after orphan orangutans or to Bhutan to search for Tigers!
AND I WILL NEVER GET TO SIT ON A SOFA WITH CHRIS PACKHAM! (if you know me, you know how much I love and admire Chris for his knowledge and passion!)
And therein lies the heart at the subject of this post.
The poem above reminds us that nature and all it's beauty is a part of us, and us a part of it. The same life force that animates us, animates the natural world in which we live, love and thrive.
In every moment we can appreciate the gifts that nature provides, that is the true value of nature.
Birdsound in the morning can lift me away from the treadmill of my pointless, riduclous and idle thoughts. I find it an extravangantly exuberant sound which lifts my spirits and warms my soul.
The lovliness of the birds filling the early hours with passionate song reminds me to just enjoy what I have, what I'm doing and who I am right here, right now. Not everything has to have any more a purpose than that I enjoy it and feel good about doing it, even if it is gloriously pointless!
(like spending hours writing this blog when no-one but me might read it?!)?!
So what I have to stop doing is fretting and feeling guilty about all the things I feel i "should" or "need" to do and just concentrate on those that I "want" to do. Those activities that I value because they enrich my life and the lives of my family, my friends and my community increasing my self-reliance and creativity.
This includes my voluntary work which gives me a great deal of satisfation for so many reasons; also walking and running with the dogs and my daughter; keeping this blog which may or may not benefit others, but it benefits me to keep it; Indulging in my creative streak by making cards and presents which benefits my friends and family and gives me the opportunity to foster that creativity in my daughter; baking; reading; cooking with my daughter and spending time with friends.
As I write this, it seems alot to "fit in". But my challenge is to realise that I don't "need" to or "should" "fit it in" at any particular time and that I have plenty of time, the only person putting time limits on me is me! and when I allow my mind to work overtime, I create the anxiety which in turn creates the procrastination, which in turns creates more anxiety!
"SHOULD" is a Weapon word. A word that only creates inner stress and guilt within us. There are things that do need to be done, such as abit of housecare (as opposed to housework!), laudry, helping with homework, getting my daughter to bed at a reasonable time, etc etc. These things can still be done with enjoyment as long as we don't place a time restriction on ourselves!
If I demand less of myself, I can allow myself the more enjoyable and life-affirming "things that just happen" such as an impulsive visits to see a friends, or inviting them to me, or going on a long walk with the family. My best moments, evenings and days out, have been when they were completely unplanned.
When we are constantly aware of time, we are not living in the moment because we are always planning our nexst move!
The irony is, that a big part of my conselling practise is to encourage people to focus on the present, not worry about the past or the future. I'm not always too good at applying that to my own thought process!
The last 2 days have allowed me to apply some of these values. I haven't felt 100%, nothing major, just a headache that gets worse as soon as I move too much or feel stressed.........................
I have allowed myself to be sick! I haven't put any time restrictions on myself apart from the few hours of work I have done!
I am reading the most amazing book at the moment which speaks to me in every way it could and it's message seeps into my every pore!
The Main message of this book is to encourage, empower and teach us how to live a simpler life. Ironicallly
I think maybe since I've been reading it (which, incidently is really only this week as I've had some more time to myself), I may have got myself more stressed which could be the reason for this headache?........
So why would reading a book that is supposed to be informing me that life doesn't have to be stressful in the least, be making me feel slightly restless?..........
Tom Hodgkinson is living the life I endeavour to. A simple, basic, enjoyable and creative life. My stress stems from the fact that I want to be living that life too, and with a few major changes, which are all on the horizon this will be happening, perhaps within a year. However there is much to be sorted out first and maybe reading the book is reminding me that what I am striving towards is actually going to happen but that feels a little scary, exciting and uncertain. Maybe the stress also comes from wanting my husband to want what I want and knowing that he has a slight variation on my aspirations (even though he totally values them) and the knowledge that we will have to
work through that.
(Having found my vocation, I am now on the way to making that the center of my working life with my husband. We have found a vocation that we both want to make a life from, yes we have slightly different ideas about how we are going to make it work, but make it work we will and I hope to record the journey on DragonFly Aspirations!)
I WILL be writing about this book and how it is relevant to me probably for the duration of this blog! I share Tom Hodgkinson's philosophy on life completely. My aspiration is to follow that philosophy as closely as possible. It won't be easy, and will present challenges, but I totally believe in his attitude, beliefs and values and appreciate that I now own a manual that sums them all up so neatly and presisely! It makes life a little easier to know that I have this valuable resource to hand, so that I can keep referrring to it whenever I am experiencing self doubt in my desire to "throw off the shackles"!
Rules for Being Human:
- You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it but it is yours for the entire time this time around.
- You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called Life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant or stupid.
- There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial and error, experimentaion. The "failed" experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately "works".
- A lesson is repeated until it is learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson.
- Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive there are lessons to be learned.
- "There" is not better than "here". When your "there" has become "here" you will simply obtain another "there" that will, again, look better than "here"
- Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
- What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you.
- Your answers lie inside you. The answers to life's questions lie inside you. All you need is to look, listen and trust.
- YOU WILL FORGET ALL THIS.
I am off to walk my dogs feeling extremely smug and satisfied that I have completed post no. 7!