It doesn’t matter – just start somewhere.
As I was tidying out the dusty relics of careers gone by, I found a folder of assembly scripts and reflections I wrote years ago. One of them, written 10 years ago, caught my eye and I wanted to share part of it with you:
I’ve hit a point over the past year where it’s started to scare me as to how quickly life is ticking away. Especially how difficult it is not to wish away the days so that I can get to the weekend, escape some of the stress and tiredness of the week and spend time with family. I’ve been working hard over the past year to try to be happy in the moment, whatever it is, rather than looking forward or back all the time, even if that moment isn’t particularly enjoyable.
There’s one thing I keep trying to be better at, that I keep trying to learn to do, that I’m working on every day… appreciating the moment.
It’s so hard to do! As soon as you start thinking about what’s happening right now and really focusing on listening deeply to the people you’re with and looking at the world around you, your mind starts to drift. You’re thinking about what you want for dinner, what you need to do later and your to-do list has taken control. Even though I’m not great at it yet, I’m starting to notice more around me: the buildings I pass on my commute to work that I usually sleepwalk past, the taste of the food I’m eating that I usually inhale whilst responding to emails, the sound of birdsong or the laughter of a child I would usually be oblivious to.
I’m still working on this. I have good days and bad. The day before yesterday, I was really focused on slowing down the moments, I felt positive, the day was beautiful and I was taking it all in. Then, yesterday was not good. I was tired. I was stressed by the hours of work still looming, needing to be done before I could sleep. I don’t function well when I’m tired. I don’t think straight. I spelled my own husband’s name wrong (he’s called Andy – how hard can it be?). I entered my work photocopying code into the cashpoint (and felt annoyed when it didn’t work!). I was completely absorbed in my own little world until on the train on my way home. Glancing outside, I noticed trees covered in blossom and realised how quickly the day had gone (not to mention the year). It had disappeared in a haze of rushing around, consumed by too many thoughts of too many jobs. I hadn’t enjoyed it. I hadn’t stopped at all.
It’s taken me over 30 years to learn the lesson that life can pass you by whilst you’re busy getting things done.
It’s taken me over 40 years to learn that it doesn’t need to be this hard. Reading over my words from ten years ago, these phrases stood out: “Working hard… try to be happy… trying to be better at… trying to learn… working on every day…. It’s so hard to do.” Wow. I was certainly working and trying! I was trying so hard to throw myself into mindfulness to make the most of every moment, being as present as I could, in the hope that happiness would tap me on the shoulder and say “Hey, I’ve arrived!”. I didn’t slow down enough to realise that happiness was already within me shouting “Hey, I’m already here!”
I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be where I am today. I wouldn’t change the long days and the sleep-deprived nights. I wouldn’t change the stress, the deadlines, the pressure, the daily fight/flight. I wouldn’t even change the losses, the grief, the trauma and the tears. All this has made me who I am, taught me lessons I needed to learn and enabled me to know how to help others, whatever they may be experiencing in life.
If you don’t know where to begin, it doesn’t matter. Start somewhere. I’d love to share simple techniques and easy ways to help you to find some rest, calm, relief and clarity in your day – sign up for the newsletter and be the first to receive free content, downloads and special offers.
Thank you for taking a moment to read this – I really appreciate it.