Slower

Pausing:

 

It’s quiet here

now in this pause

this breath between earlier and later

 

the dogs lie content at my feet

traces of sand from this morning’s walk on the beach

caught in their paws

 

the Christmas tree is up at last

with only two days to go

I forgot the advent candles this year

 

it doesn’t seem important

the forgotten things

not this December

 

I am too tired to care

for what has slipped my mind

fallen through the spaces on my list

 

I have strength only for

the dew glittered spiderwebs

the sound of the wind

 

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A little over a week ago we returned from a short holiday in Mauritius (thanks to a generous gift from my mother-in-law). It was a wonderful time, filled with hours of rest and reading, and a little bit of exploring and adventure too. It’s been a long year, and we are tired. The holiday was well-timed, an opportunity to settle our minds and gear down before the buzz of Christmas and New year. We enjoyed some meaningful conversation and lots of laughter with our boys. I didn’t have to cook, clean or take care of anyone.

One of the things I love most about time away is the space it creates for me to make shifts in my thinking. My mind tends to develop well-worn tracks of thought, loops that wind round and round on the same spool. Over time I find that some of these loops are no longer helpful; some are downright destructive to creativity and insight. But it’s so hard to turn down the volume of my life long enough to interrupt them, to find new stories to inform my life, fresh narratives to shape my choices. Being away from home and breaking the patterns of everyday life, makes it easier to access new ideas. It gives me a perspective that helps me to see what’s working and what needs changing. I come back not only with renewed thoughts, but with the courage and motivation to make necessary changes and to rise above the sluggishness of mind that so often takes hold.

I only put my Christmas tree up today. There are lots of things I haven’t done. And it doesn’t bother me. It would have, not so long ago. I am realising that I am limited in my capacity to do and be. I am beginning to see (finally) that I have to make choices about what is important. I want to be a joyful person. I want to radiate something of the beauty that I believe is at the heart of life. I can get so caught up in everything I think I should be doing, that my mind becomes full of a whirring that drowns out the sound of that beauty, and leaves me drained and discouraged. I become restless, unable to settle my heart into stillness even when I have the opportunity to be at rest.

Since coming home, I have slowed my pace. The easing up on activity has helped to quieten my mind. I think perhaps that is the key: a quiet mind. Some seasons are full of things to do, good things. A quiet mind can carry me through seasons like these, keep me focused on what really needs doing and what can be left.

At this moment, I can hear the wind outside, and my dogs breathing quietly at my feet. My cat is curled up next to my laptop, purring. The wind chimes my dad made are tinkling gently in the garden. I feel grounded and settled, present in this moment.

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