Creating White Space In Life

2016-04-07 12.56.01It is so easy to get caught up in the daily grind. The washing, the meal prep, the entertainment, the shopping lists, the to-dos. Over the holidays I had a lot of time to consider my life and how each day is spent. When I had just one baby at home the days seemed long and sometimes, empty. I did whatever I wanted; the days were slow and fairly carefree, which has only been recognised in hindsight, of course.

Nowadays with school and kindergarten drop offs and pick ups, my days seem surprisingly chaotic and full, and not always in a good way. I’m finding it hard to adjust and I feel like a real wimp for saying so.

My goal this term is to try to create more down time, more white space. I have a tendency to book up every moment, to say yes to everything, to schedule things in. I’ve started writing “home” on some days on our calendar, to remind myself that in between the necessary driving and delivering of children, I (we) need time to breathe. It’s not just to make sure that dinner is on the table (my goal is to have it ready by 5pm in order to get baths and bedtimes happening at a reasonable hour for my Bird, who finds it very difficult to wind down in the evenings… some would say she’s a lot like her mama). It’s also because the poor baby isn’t in any sort of daily rhythm and she is now ten months old (today!). She has most of her sleeps in the car or the ergo or the pram and they are usually short lived, either due to necessity or just because she barely sleeps a wink (like her sister). Overnight she wakes three times at minimum and has done since she was born. It’s fair to say I’m tired, and I’m guessing she is too! Yes, there is yet another reason for us to take things down a notch.

The other day, with reckless abandon, we packed a picnic lunch, got in the car and went for a bushwalk (see picture). I am always shocked to get out there and realise this is where we live. The time spent in nature worked wonders for all of us and when we got back to the car I really felt regenerated. It was then that my decision was made to make a conscious effort to create more space simply to breathe.

Today after school drop off we came straight home. Baby P is having a sleep and miraculously it’s been 35 minutes so far (totally jinxed myself then and she literally started crying as I pressed full stop). The Pixie is home from kinder with a cough and is watching Octonauts. The breakfast dishes have been washed (thanks to a simple but super tip from my mum – to fill up the sink with hot soapy water first thing and dump all the dishes in there as you go) and today my one goal is to do a few loads of washing and hopefully write a few incredibly late thank you cards for gifts we received when Baby was born (OOPS!).

What are you all up to today? I hope you find some time for yourself, wherever you are.

some things i am trying to do

Number one thing: reduce iphone contact time

Number two thing: follow a daily rhythm (and invent one first)

I have read a few books and other things lately, and a couple have stood out more than others.

One book that has left its mark is by Sara Avant Stover called The Way of the Happy Woman: Living the Best Year of Your Life. It sounds a bit self-helpy, but it really truly isn’t. Reading it has given me a great sense of clarity in my life. I borrowed it from the library, devoured it, yelled at the computer when it told me I couldn’t renew it and as such will soon be purchasing my very own copy.

One thing that was impressed on me by reading this book was, despite the keen awareness I have of my childrens’ daily rhythm, I actually have no sense of order or rhythm myself, to guide me through my mornings, my days, my evenings. As a result I often wake at different times, start my day in a variety of scattered and rushed and harebrained ways, and similarly seem to enter bed on the same note: a cacophony of washing, television, dishes, toy tidying, procrastinating and an overuse of my computer and iphone.

Which consequently leads me to my next realisation… or should I say, acceptance: I am addicted to my iphone. I love the damned thing and hate it all at the same time. But having any sense of rhythm just can’t happen with my iphone by my side. They completely counteract one another. I have realised that at night when I get into bed I think I’ll just check instagram before I read my book. More often than not I end up trawling the apps on my phone for over an hour before being too exhausted to read and too wired from my phone to sleep. I used to read so many books, and thanks to my iphone, it’s taking me months to get through one novel, if I ever make it to the end at all.

The first big change I have made to achieve the number one thing I want to do: turn my iphone off in the evenings and leave it in the kitchen until the next morning. YAY! I admitted to my mum the other day that I was doing this – and subsequently finding it really, really hard. That is when I realised that I was truly hooked to the stupid thing, when I was finding it tough to go to bed without it. It’s embarrassing to admit this, but it’s true. While you’re all sleeping lovingly with your partners, I’m spooning my electronic device. Mmmm cosy…

The other thing I watched that spurred me on to make this change was the video you can find here. While I don’t text and drive, I have a terrible habit of checking my phone at the [red] lights, constantly. When I watched the video, I felt such a sadness, that this is what we are doing to ourselves, and I realised I was only one step away from the people on the screen. There is nothing that can’t wait until you get home.

Aside from leaving my phone in the kitchen overnight, the other things I’m trying to do or have done are: leave my phone on silent, put it in the boot while driving, turn it off every now and then during the day, wait until I have my hands free before checking messages, let it go to voicemail if it rings and it’s not a good time, leave it on the corner bench of my kitchen, so it’s not sitting right there while I’m having meals with my family, playing with my girls… just generally trying to keep it further away from me than it usually is. I have also disconnected my email from my phone, which was just another thing to check all the time. Now I have to make a conscious effort to check my email from my computer, at a time that suits me.

As a result of keeping my phone [further away than] at arms length I am beginning to feel freer, believe it or not. It sounds stupid but it’s true. I am letting go of potential “photo opportunities” for instagram or other, I am finding I am less distracted and more able to live in the moment.

It also frees up SO MUCH mind space… wow, there is actually a mind in here behind my iphone. I don’t have to google to find a thought or an answer. Amazing revelations here today people!

Number two thing: a rhythm to my existence. With the iphone out of the way it brings me to my second thing. I’ve been really sick over the last few weeks, as a result of being a bit run down. I’ve stayed at home a lot more than normal, and although I’ve had a bit of cabin fever, I have also had the opportunity to create a bit more flow to my day. I’ve created a morning routine which works around the kids and includes a hot cup of tea and a relaxed breakfast without having to rush off anywhere first thing. I have also started to build some structure to my evenings now that the Pixie is sleeping a little more reliably at the moment.

It’s amazing what a difference just a few adjustments in the morning and evening have made to my life. The washing has been done, the house has been tidy and as a result I have been calmer and felt more in control. Apart from the other day, but we’ll just let that one slide… I’m looking forward to creating more rhythm for myself over the coming weeks. I’m a creature of habit, boring but true.

What are you trying to do less or more of in your life? What are you doing to make the change? Discuss!

 

exhilaration

exhilarate |igˈziləˌrāt|verb (usu. be exhilarated)make (someone) feel very happy, animated, or elated : the children were exhilarated by a sense of purpose | [as adj. ] ( exhilarated) all this hustle and bustle makes me feel exhilarated | [as adj. ] ( exhilarating) riding was one of the most exhilarating experiences he knew.

Does anyone else find themselves overcome with exhilaration and excitement and an urgent sense of I-Have-To-Change-My-Life-Right-Now-By-Doing [such-and-such] when reading blogs/twitter/facebook/other? I find myself logging on to write a new entry on my own blog. Instead of going straight to ‘New Post’ I read my subscriptions. I follow lots of different blogs. Sometimes I click on link after link until I have more than twenty tabs open. I get so excited by projects and things to do and see that I become completely overwhelmed. Which one first? How to fit it all in? How to get it right? Gee, that person really has it sussed! Why can’t I be more like that? What would it take? 

Yes, me!

Me who preaches living a slow life and taking things step by step, one thing at a time.

I find it easy to slowly act out each day physically, most of the time. But to slow my thoughts and practice mindfulness is a battle I am challenged with each and every day.

I read and I click and I read and I click and I open and I close and I tweet and I click and I think and I read and I… Before long half an hour has passed, then an hour, then two, then the baby is awake and my mind is full of other people’s thoughts and rhythms and recipes and ideas of exactly what my life needs to look like to be the perfect-rhythmic-slow-happy-family-life and why it isn’t perfect just the way it is.

Stop.

Breathe.

Relax.

My life is exactly what it needs to be, right now.

I can take ideas from other people’s blogs.

I can write down recipes and maybe even try them sometime, if I want.

I can save projects in my bookmarks and refer back to them when the time is right.

I can find inspiration in other’s rhythms and daily comings and goings.

At the end of the day, though, here I am. Immersed in my own life. Surrounded by my own family. Doing my own thing. Which is, whatever it might be right now, today, in this moment.

Right now, I am away from home. With my family. Baby is asleep. Prince Charming has found himself in a rare moment of relaxation on the couch, watching the AFL grandfinal [snore]. I’m on the other couch, looking out the window, trying not to watch the AFL grandfinal. It’s snowing. The mist is so deep that I can see one tree next to the balcony, and beyond that… nothing. I know that a huge mountain range fills the space beyond the mist and sits, day in, day out in quiet, majestic solitude. Every now and then I can hear big chunks of melting snow falling from the roof.

Ah.

There we go, found myself.

But one last little note… oh – come on, let me! Just to indulge my click-happy self, ok? I’ve been reading Unplugged Sunday lately. I just read this post by the writer of Luna Pacifica, who I mentioned a while ago. I think some seasonal journal writing might help curb my link-clinking and keep me in the present, just a little bit more. And what better time to start, than the beginning of Spring… What do you think? Do you keep a journal? Does it say anything about the seasons?

There – now you can all go clickety-clack on my links instead of the other way around! I’m off to have another cup of tea!