I lost my way this week. I have become so fixated on my endeavour to simplify our lives that I have somehow managed to make my days even more exhausting!
In a bid to declutter my home so that I spend less time on chores and more time on the things that truly matter to me personally I have ended up covered in dust, knee-deep in books, toys and all sorts of random things that just don’t seem to have a place to call home. The other day I was hauling furniture around my kids’ bedrooms alone while my husband was away with work. The room looks great now – bright and spacious and organised…but I now have a sore back which goes into spasm every time I cough or sneeze too energetically! I’m pretty certain this is not the contented, peaceful life I was aiming for!
Sure, I knew I would need to dedicate some time to actually removing the excess stuff that has gathered in our home. I had allowed for that. I knew there would be bags to take to the charity shops and I knew I was going to have to put in some physical effort in my endeavour to clear out once and for all. However, what about the life I am missing in the meantime? While I am endeavouring to live a simpler, richer life I have somehow become busier and as hours and days are spent organising and finding a place for everything I am not feeling terribly joyful or fulfilled. I have become so focused on the end goal that I have lost the essence of why I am doing this in the first place! Something needed to shift in order for me to find the balance that was right for me. There was no point in trying to simplify my life for the future if I was failing to actually live right now.
So, yesterday morning after dropping my 3 kids off to school, I put on my walking shoes and coat and headed out in the pouring rain to give myself a good talking to. I left behind piles of laundry and dishes that needed attended to. I had work that needed to be done, an assignment to work on, emails to send, phone-calls to make, meals to prepare, kit bags to pack…the list goes on…we all know the things in our lives that require our attention. I locked the front door reassured that those things would still need me when I returned and with that I took off for the local park in an attempt to gather my thoughts, refocus my mind, tune-in to my body and stretch out my aching back and just spend some time alone away from the noise and things demanding my attention.
As I walked alongside the river, ‘down in the hollow’ where Van Morrison used to play as a child I could feel my thoughts whirling at full speed in my mind. I kept thinking of all the things I needed to get back to. No. Not yet. I walked on, the wind blowing strong. I paused to watch the ducks in the water. Deep breath. It’s okay. I walked on, the rain getting heavier. I was soaked. Time to go home. No. Not yet. I kept walking. I stopped to admire the huge oak tree, it’s branches barren of leaves reaching out like a warm embrace. Wow. Nature really is beautiful. An elderly man stopped to talk awhile, telling me about his morning routine of walking around the park. ‘I need it,’ he said. I understood. We said our farewells. On I walked, this time feeling a bit more of a spring in my step. I watched a bird dine on his breakfast of a worm. I noted the yellow and purple crocuses springing up through the grass. I watched two dogs delightedly chase each other in circles. I don’t want to go home yet. Oh yeah? And so my inner monologue continued. As I wandered around my local park alone, nodding good morning to passers-by, taking in the beauty of the nature around me I felt myself grow calmer. My jumbled up thoughts were ironing themselves out as I walked at a brisk pace and did a few stretching exercises. I reminded myself why I was organising my home and simplifying my life and reminded myself to slow down, step back, take a moment to admire the beauty that is around me. To really see it. It is so easy to miss the important things in our hurry to get things done. We are so used to efficiency and instant everything that sometimes it’s easy to forget that things that truly matter often take a bit of time.
As I returned home after my blustery, wet walk I felt revitalised. I wasn’t overwhelmed when I unlocked the front door. The house wasn’t even as bad as I had imagined it to be. It was respectable. It was good enough. And you know what, good enough is good enough!
So, last night as I tucked my youngest into bed I enjoyed a cuddle with him before we sang our night song. I wasn’t thinking of the things I still had to do before I could go to bed. I was enjoying the moment. This morning, I walked to school with the children and enjoyed a chat with a friend along the way. I came away feeling good. I hadn’t been distracted. These small moments matter. These small moments make up our days and at night when we think back on our day we can pluck out those small moments of joy and say ‘yes, today was a good day’.