To have pancakes or rice and beans with scrambled egg for breakfast. To swim or not to swim. To wear your raincoat or not. That approximately sums up the number and complexity of the decisions we had to make on an average day while on holiday. That, I promise you, leaves a whole lot of head space free to do other things with. Like pay attention to the people around you and the nuances of your surroundings. Or to deal with the overload of amazing sensations that naturally follows being in a place so very different from your own.
It also provides you with an opportunity to reflect more. On how you live day by day, the values that drive your choices and actions, the way you choose to bring up your children. And many other BIG topics that seldom get the chance to surface properly in the flurry of daily life. I treasured that time for reflection and love how a lot of pondering is now on-going. Quietly. In the back of my mind. With whatever head space not otherwise occupied by to-do lists and decision making.
“To wear a raincoat or not” is straightforward on a day like today. I guess that in itself, really, is to be valued. Simple decisions means more head space on a wet Tuesday afternoon. The question we should perhaps ask ourselves therefore is if we can do something to simplify our daily decisions – make them more straightforward. What do you think? How could you make your decision making simpler? And how much head space would you then have available for reflection? Or a book. Or a conversation. Or nuances. Or perhaps even butterfly studying….?
It’s like cloud watching from a slightly springy bed of grass, running downhill “Laura-Ingalls-Little-House-on- the-Prairie” style or being in that cosy spot outdoors, just between sleep and awake where sounds are hushed.
These are places I am taken – if only for a few seconds – whenever I breathe in the lavender scent from our new washing detergent. It seems crazy, but it is none the less true. One whiff of newly laundered clothes and I am off to faraway places with eternal lingering sunshine and humming bees.
While in France this summer we happened to be near Durance – it is a river, but also the name of a fragrance and cosmetics company in Provence. It is nestled between olive, grape and lavender fields and their products….. ah, pure bliss. I instantly loved the brand and its dedication to using only natural ingredients. And the smells. Just amazing.
This may come across as an ad for Durance. It isn’t. It is me enthusiastically encouraging you to think about what scents you have around you and how it affects your state. I never really thought much of this before, but now that I have noticed Ariel’s and Persil’s powerlessness to take me anywhere, I am going to pay a lot more attention to the scented products I bring into the house. It is so worth it when you get to join the Ingalls girls even for the briefest of moments. So while you take a moment to consider if I have perhaps lost my marbles, I will just skip over to the coffee table and sniff my Durance Peach candle.
Sitting in a beautiful linen covered chair gazing at olive trees, every inch of me overjoyed by the continued presence of the sun (in France) I am reflecting on the questions about what to do to recharge and about giving yourself permission. 5 weeks into the school holiday I can now tell you what has worked well for me. The key words being “letting go”. Little by little I have let go of many of the self imposed rules we normally live by in our little family. The focus is simply on being. Just being. Breathing, eating when hungry, sleeping when tired and in between having fun or serious conversations depending on moods, reading books, playing games, swimming. I have let go of analysing why some (unfortunate, sad or negative) things are the way they are and instead simply acknowledged that it is what it is and no amount of analysing will change that. I have let go of trying to come up with solutions and answers. Of planning and fixing.
Although more sleep, beautiful surroundings and loads of vitamin D has no doubt lavishly recharged me, I think giving myself permission to “let go” has had the finest impact of all. I feel the rewards arrive as free flowing ideas – as more purposeful and generative thoughts. And best of all they excite me. Make me look so much forward to putting things into motion, change perhaps how I approach certain things, edit our family rule book (come to think of it, I am not sure who wrote our previous one), put more focus on things that matter like friendships, authenticity and being. And breathing.
Do you allow yourself to let go some times?
What do you feel, notice, think and say to yourself when you are at your best? What’s different from a day when you are at your worst? Have you ever really paid attention to and been curious about the contrast?
If I am at my best in the context of school summer holiday you would be able to see me being fully present in the now, spontaneous, enjoying the little things, shoulders positioned in their rightful, unfamiliar place, feeling content and nourished. You would also be able to observe me glide effortlessly and magically into efficient, big picture, organising mode jumping over obstacles with ease.
In my “being at my best” mode I am able to be creative and engage my kids in activities that override the lure of anything electronic with a screen. I am able to stop and think before the words “not now” slip out of my mouth. I am able to be at ease with my to-do list. I am able to breathe deeply and as I do that my shoulders sink down just that little bit more.
Just writing this puts me in a better state. Other steps I plan to take to promote “being at my best” will follow in the coming days. How are you when you are at your best?