I have an itch.
It’s aggravated by beads of sweat dripping slowly down my back. A fly starts buzzing near my ear, drifting close and then flying away. I’m so hot that my body is shouting at me to go and dip in the cool, refreshing water.
I wonder ... if I lie still, maybe it will all fade and I can stay exactly as I am? Not moving, with my eyes closed and my book open on my lap. Eventually it’s too much and I’m forced to pull myself up, sip the drink that's now mostly melted ice and make my way to the pool.
It's a hard life for sure! Giving in to not doing very much, with days punctuated by good food and lazy meanderings. There’s definitely something delicious about holidays...
Travelling without the kids in August (they were off having their own adventures) to tropical shores was a perfect antidote to the busy-ness of the rest of the year. It allowed me to pause in unexpected ways and remember another way to be.
How has your summer been? Now September has arrived, it can feel tempting to leap back into life. Instead, let's pause together and take a moment to reflect.
3 Lessons to Live By
The start of the summer seems a long time ago, but also like no time ago!
I thought I would feel like there was endless time but it’s been the opposite. Having lots of fun things booked in the diary has meant the weeks have flown by; friends visiting, trips away and family time. Plus tackling those projects that are hard to fit in around the comings and going of term times.
My vague thoughts of expansive stretches of not very much hasn’t really materialised. And yet, there’s been a slowing down of a different kind. A letting go of striving and effort. An embracing of joy and connection.
So what things have occurred to me as I spent time slowing down? As September has crept in, here’s my top 3 reflections from the summer break. I'd love to know if you resonate with any of these.
Lesson 1: Most things don’t matter for very long
One of the smallest but also biggest things I did this summer was disconnect from social media during August. Not completely - I still had posts scheduled and I would periodically check in - but I deleted it from my phone and posted virtually nothing about what I was doing.
This was surprisingly difficult but also deeply necessary.
I wrote last year about how I was finding it creeping into my habits in ways that I wasn’t comfortable with (you can read about that in my blog Life through a lens: The Power of Switching off ). I noticed that same creep this year and felt the same desire to break free.
This decision turned out to bring me some lessons beyond what I was expecting.
First of all, I was able to break the habit cycle. I would notice the urge to post something or jump on a live, but then I would choose to not take action. That urgent piece of inspiration that just HAD to be shared would fade. It helped me realise that most things really don’t matter for very long!
This goes way beyond just social media. It’s also one of the key qualities that emerges when you learn to engage with your thoughts and feelings in a different way.
When I notice that alarm bell in my brain that tells me it’s urgent and I must act in a situation, if I can connect to a pause button then often no action is needed at all. Or if it is, then I’m more likely to make a balanced choice.
Pause before you act so you can decide if it really matters.
Lesson 2: If you don’t take control of what you want to do in your day (or your life), your time will quickly be decided for you
It’s easy to get out of practice at knowing what to do for fun or rest. Your days can be busy but often not with your priorities or things that light you up. We can all fall into that, and life is busy! We all have so many commitments and responsibilities.
It’s easy for things like your inbox or other people’s demands to dictate the direction of the day. Then you’re left wondering why there was no time for you. For me, as someone who supports and cares for others both professionally and personally, that is really easy indeed.
When there are needs to be met, it can feel like doing something for me is not a priority. Maybe even selfish.
In reality, if I don’t control my diary and my time then it will become full and even when I want to do things for me, there’s no space. My mid life body and mind are no longer so easily able (or willing) to cope with this hijack. That spiral of over-giving very quickly builds into overwhelm and resentment. The days seem to have a life of their own and things feel out of control.
That's when I then find myself falling into the “when I have time …” trap - where space for me doesn’t happen! Does this happen to you too? You start the day knowing you need some time for you and you hope that when you get it all done, there'll be a little pot of time waiting for you.
By emptying my diary this summer, I discovered (remembered!) that I get to choose what’s in my day. That doesn’t mean I don’t have things I have to do that I’d rather not. I can’t suddenly abandon all work and responsibility. BUT, before I dive back into being busy, I CAN ring fence time for me. Non-negotiable time that means I fill my own cup.
This is my commitment to myself.
Only you can prioritise your wellbeing and it takes committed action to make it happen.
Lesson 3: Slowing down doesn’t mean you’ll never want to speed back up
At the beginning of the summer I could feel a chasing at my heels. Like an internal motor trying to keep me moving. When I noticed it, I paid attention. What was it trying to tell me? Was I making a mistake by slowing down?
I realised that it was anxiety. That gnawing sensation on your insides making you feel agitated and unsettled. It made me wonder how much of my natural Duracell bunny energy comes from that place, rather than from my calm centre.
I also noticed that alongside that anxiety was a fear that if I slowed down, then I’d never want to pick up the pace again. This was a sure fire sign that I had been motivating myself in an unsustainable way. But it felt scary to ignore it and give myself a break.
Over time, by noticing it but choosing not to act, that sensation calmed down. I realised that when I felt rested and at ease, my natural enthusiasm and passion started to come back all on it’s own. I gradually changed the frequency I was operating in so that ease and presence felt like home, somewhere it was easier and easier to be.
Don’t force it! When you slow down, you can speed back up with ease and purpose.
Is it time for you?
The summer is coming to an end here in the UK, but maybe you’re not ready to speed up yet. Perhaps you need some time to move into Autumn before you can get active again.
Or perhaps you don’t have a choice and life is speeding up faster than you can keep up with.
Either way, one of the best things you can do is gift yourself space to pause in the busy-ness.
My 21 Day Stress and Overwhelm Reset is designed to gently build daily practices that you can draw on to help you find consistent flow.
In just a few minutes a day, I promise you’ll be amazed at the difference it will make.
If you’ve heard me mention this before and thought “I should do that sometime”, NOW is the time.
Join the Be.Membership with it’s amazing resources in a handy app with weekly inspiration and support. When you do, you’ll receive the 21 day programme for FREE!
Find out more and sign up here. See you soon!
Laura @ Be.
"It's not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?" Henry David Thoreau