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I can hear my fridge humming!

No, I’m not going mad. I am nearing the end of my time of Long Service Leave and I’m marvelling at the slower pace my life has settled into. I have moved so slow and experienced so much peace and quiet that I can literally hear my fridge hum almost all the time… and it ISN’T annoying me!

I’m really happy with what I have and haven’t done.  Somehow I feel that, despite doing not much at all during the past seven weeks, I have achieved more than I could have possibly hoped! I am not one to sit around watching TV too often, although I’m addicted to my Thursday night ritual of Masterchef, Glee, Law and Order: SVU followed lastly by Medium, and maybe the odd Midday movie on Channel Seven! In “taking stock” of what I have done, it would look something like this…

  • I completed a couple of writing courses (the meditation and writing course is tomorrow).
  • I developed my personal blog and started a work-based blog.
  • Did a complete makeover on my garden with my mum.
  • Had a massage from Sr Tess at the Bethany Healing Centre… always a wonderfully unique experience that I will no doubt share with you in a later post.
  • Cooked a number of mains and desserts, including a Oreo Cheesecake which used 450g of Oreo biscuits… yuuuuummmmm!
  • Caught up with many friends, some of which I haven’t seen for many years… and cooked some more.
  • Went to the Easter Show for the first time at Homebush.
  • Walked with my mum on many days in my favourite park.
  • Read Leo Babauta’s ‘The Power of Less’ and started my first habit!
  • Started Covey’s ‘Seven Habits’ Book.
  • Went away down south for a week.
  • Watched a sunset.
  • Did heaps of wedding planning and spent quality time with my man.
  • Gurneyed a fifth of my backyard… don’t ask!
  • Got my bathroom partially renovated.
  • and how could I forget… waking up at 2am to make a cup of tea for Michael because I dreamt he had asked for one. Man was I mad when I realised I was sleep walking!

This list is pretty amazing to look back at… I can say in all honesty that I have no regrets… there is nothing I would have liked to do and didn’t, and I did nothing that I thought was a waste of time!

In summary… time well spent!!!

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The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970)

Abbey GroundsLiving in the present… is, for me, a major feat!

All major World Religions, most self-help programs and logic would suggest that living in the present is the best way to enjoy life and is one of the sources of inner peace. Unfortunately, the author of this blog about serenity is about the furthest from achieving this feat as anyone I know.

I, like most people, find it very easy to sit in a meeting and stress about what work I could and should be doing if it were not for this compulsory meeting. I find it easy to eat breakfast in such a way as to not really remember having eaten it at all… if I even bother to do so in the first place! I know I am not alone in this and it gives me some comfort knowing this is one of the struggles of modern life, and that most of those of us who are aware of the struggle wish it wasn’t the case.

The part of ‘not being present’ that I hate the most is when I talk to others and am not really aware of them as people beyond the role that they can fulfil for me or for my work. Unfortunately, when I am particularly busy this is not only the colleagues I work with, but the many friends and family I meet and often explain away my lack of interest in them as me being “in a really busy patch right now.” At what point did my life get so busy that I worry that talking to my mum on the phone might take up too much of my precious time?

I know there are no simple answers. I am however, reading and attempting to put into practice some practical strategies from a book called ‘The Power of Less‘ by Leo Babauta (2009, New York, Hyperion). Simplicity for me is something I have always attempted to do in terms of my lifestyle and in what I own and buy, but I am discovering just how much of my life is more complex than needed. If you too have a interest in simplicity as a concept or even in just streamlining a bit of complexity in your life, I can highly recommend ‘The Power of Less’ as a book with practical strategies that might help.

Is it helping me, you might ask? Well, I had Kellogg’s Advantage for breakfast this morning if that helps!

Hopefulness does not preclude discouragement, disillusion, frustration; it does preclude bitterness and cynicism.

Hopefulness does not mean that we do not fall; but it does mean that we get up and walk on.

Andrew Greeley (b.1928)

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.

Willa Cather (1873-1947)

Yes, I do plan to write a novel/anthology one day… and actually finish it!

Joanna Maxwell ran this course on Sunday at the NSW Writers Centre and I really enjoyed it. Like the ‘Blogging For Beginners’ course, it was inspiring and useful.

I am one of those people she mentioned who say “I would love to write one day,” but who hadn’t actually had much vision for my writing project. The course helped me work out what my vision actually is and make it more specific and achievable.

As a High School teacher I have had my fair share of training in mindmapping, scaffolding, listing and storyboarding. On Sunday though, I found it interesting to learn about these strategies in the context of my life and my project, independent of the context of teaching, and to see them in a new way.

While in themselves these strategies aren’t particularly serenity-inducing, I’ve been told that if applied properly they can bring about a better quality of life where priorities (the “big rocks”) are both identified and explored… I live in hope!!!

I really enjoyed the mindmapping strategy in particular. As a follow-up to the course, today I decided to combine the things I learnt about Steven Covey’s work, the work of Leo Babauta in ‘The Power of Less’ and mindmapping to creatively explore the “big rocks” in my life and strategies I might use to simplify my work and life, in turn, creating a greater sense of balance and serenity.

I really recommend anyone with the inclination and the Long Service Leave accrued, to take the opportunity to spend some time away from work, clarifying purpose, direction and priorities… it’s well worth the effort!

IDENTIFYING AND MANAGING PRIORITIES: Steven Covey’s “Big Rocks”… very American, but well worth a look!

There are two days about which nobody should ever worry, and these are yesterday and tomorrow.

So with only today to cope with, the burden becomes lighter, for nobody ever stumbled under the burden of today.

It is only when they add yesterdays and tomorrows to the load they are carrying, that it becomes unbearable.

Helen Steiner Rice