Do less, achieve more

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn via freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn via freedigitalphotos.net

You are running late, rushing around, the cat needs feeding, the kids need their lunch, the phone is ringing and your favourite jeans are in the wash. It’s crazy, it’s mayhem and it is a scene to which we can all relate. The issue with this scene however is that it doesn’t just happen once, it happens every single day. And each night, when you go to bed, you plan as best as you can to make sure that you avoid the same thing the following day but as soon as you get up – bam – you’re running crazy again.

My recent enforced sabbatical has necessitated in me challenging this way of existence. The endless running all over the place, the million and one things on the go, the long list of things to remember and the places that you should be and you are not. I had no choice but to take a step back and to allow life to an extent, take care of itself. It sounds daft but it was tough, really tough, to go from being crazy busy to suddenly being forced to rest and yet I was so in need of it, my body was crying out for it.

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap via freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap via freedigitalphotos.net

A few days in and I began to feel stronger again and so I tackled, bit by bit, the odd job that I had left undone. I set myself a goal, one, two or maybe three things each day (over and above the basic needs of my family) and if I felt the stress kicking in, then I just took another step back. At first I convinced myself that I was being lazy. I was used to running around all of the time and just sitting, relaxing, snoozing, contemplating, it all felt wrong to me. I felt that I was letting everyone down by just taking it easy but I also understood that I would never feel better unless I gave myself the time to heal.

I am fortunate. I have the most amazing husband and family and they supported me, as they always do, whilst I took the time that I needed to get myself back to where I wanted to be. And what I realised a week or so in was that in actual fact, I was being far from lazy. On the days before I had taken time out, I had been so busy, so stressed, so wiped out that I was failing to properly achieve anything. I would start something, then flit to the next thing, open up a blog post and then type the first page of a manuscript – I was all over the place and the fact that nothing was getting done, actually added to the stress. When I stopped, allowed myself the time to breathe and then took it slowly, step by step, I finally realised that this was the way to be productive. Even though before I thought I was doing great because I was running around all over the place, in actuality, I was achieving nothing. However when I stopped and took it slow, I managed to complete  more tasks during the day than I had in a long while. It seemed odd, but somehow it made perfect sense.

Image courtesy of dan via freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of dan via freedigitalphotos.net

I understand that we don’t all have the opportunity to take a break but by recognising that I was running on empty and giving myself the time to reflect, I have brought so much more happiness and contentment into my life. No longer am I trying to juggle every single thing, I am achieving what I need to and dedicating the rejuvenated energy that I have found back into my family and my writing. By doing less I am achieving significantly more, which can only be a good thing.

Perhaps it doesn’t make sense for everyone, but it is certainly working for me.

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In case you were wondering…

nubes en el aguaThe last couple of weeks I have taken a much needed sabbatical, both from writing and my day job. This sabbatical has culminated in some decisions that will have lasting benefits for me and my family and one of my biggest discoveries, is that I kind of forgot how to enjoy life. I forgot how to celebrate who I am. In fact, I wasn’t celebrating much of anything. For quite a while now, I have been missing small moments of joy and well-being. That became glaringly apparent when I couldn’t remember how long it had been since I’ve let music into my life.

Music, much like writing, is in my heart. I started playing instruments including the violin and clarinet at a young age and even though I no longer play, music still moves me emotionally. That was something that I had forgotten until last week. Pushing myself to use the treadmill in the garage, I decided to put on my iPod and as the music came bursting through the headphones, I was reminded of how much pleasure I had been denying myself. After finishing my workout, I took some time out to just listen to more music and with each track that played, a part of me came back into focus.

cooldesign @ freedigitalphotos.net

cooldesign @ freedigitalphotos.net

The process of this discovery has been challenging, but I am so glad that I finally realised that I had lost my sense of who I really am. I am not saying that it will be easy, but I will make a place for all the things that are important to me—those parts that have come back into focus. A whole new world has opened up to me. Music and — dare I say it — exercise are part of my ongoing commitment to my family and to myself. As for writing? That is even further entrenched into my vision for the future.

I am now looking in one direction only and that is forwards, to where I will be fully embracing life and all of its possibilities.

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That was a heck of a week…

1ed57-tenthingsbannerThe last week or so has tested me to my limits and I have found it increasingly hard to remain upbeat and positive. Thus, the prompt to find ten things to be thankful for, could not have come at a more prudent time.

Here are ten good things to come out of this week:-

  1. That my car didn’t break down whilst stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway for an hour.

    Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici via freedigitalphotos.net

    Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici via freedigitalphotos.net

  2. The floor tiles have been laid in our new house and they look pretty swanky.
  3. A wonderful weekend with well-timed visits from both sets of parents.
  4. One good nights’ sleep. Yay!
  5. More great progress on the editing of book one. It is really hard work but so rewarding and I am continuing to love every minute of this process.The Beginning Front Final
  6. Vanilla scented candles were on offer so I treated myself to one – yummy.
  7. My ever patient and understanding husband.
  8. The ongoing late summer that is still giving us plenty of warmth and sunshine over here.2013-11-26 10.14.22
  9. The at least twice daily fly by of geese flocks. Their chatter as they fly over is such an uplifting sound.
  10. The never ending love and support of my whole family.love keyboard

Typing the last one really kind of says it all. Life is all about family. It’s all about those who are there for the good and the bad, the ones that will hug you when you are low and celebrate with you when you are high. Family is all that matters and I will always be eternally grateful for the entirety of mine.

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This post is part of the Ten Things of Thankful prompt run by Lizzie over at Considerings.

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For You

For You

I never thought that loving you
Would be a crime

From the moment we first met
I knew that my love would be eternal

My need to protect you
Overwhelming as I held you

The day that our eyes met
Something in me changed

I knew with absolute certainty
That I would lay my life down

For you

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jscreationz @ freedigitalphotos.net

jscreationz @ freedigitalphotos.net

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I never thought that loving you
Would be a crime

I wanted to bring everything joyous and good
Into your life

To give you all that I could
To see you smile, be happy

To know that every single day
You would be in my life

And to watch you explore the world
And I would capture the world

For you

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I never thought that loving you
Would be a crime

But somehow I feel like a criminal
Lock me up

For loving you, for caring
For protecting you

I never once doubted you
Every day I fought for you

I thought that I knew you, cared for you
Better than anyone else cared

For you

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I never thought that loving you
Would be a crime

Yet my punishment is that of
A condemned soul

Physically the pain is insignificant
External ills that will heal

But inside where it matters
Is my heart

The heart that burns with love for you
Every day and especially now

A heart that is broken, smashed, barely beating
Yet still overflowing with feelings

For you

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beautiful white Calla lilly over black background

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I never thought that loving you
Would be a crime

I never thought that we would
End this way

I thought that together we would
Conquer the world

And between us bring nothing
But happiness upon ourselves

Yet a crime I have committed
And so my sentence I will serve

For you

*

© Jade Reyner 2014

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A broken seat and a vacuum cleaner hose

Image courtesy of iosphere via freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of iosphere via freedigitalphotos.net

There are days when it seems perfectly normal to be walking around with a vacuum cleaner hose slung over your shoulder. And there are days when it is almost acceptable to sit in a cinema chair that ‘reclines’ as soon as you lean back (for ‘recline’ read broken via methods best not explored). There are also days when it makes sense to print off a parking ticket for a day when parking restrictions don’t apply. Because for all of us, there are days that are just downright ‘funny’.

I often find myself thinking that things are funny, either in an amusing way or a peculiar way and I have been told on many occasions that I have a rather odd sense of humour. All of the above examples happened over a period of two days however to me, they were just part of my everyday life. I have an unfortunate sense of humour in that I tend to laugh at the most inappropriate times. Like when my son falls over, or I accidentally spill hot coffee all over my husband’s lap. It is not that I don’t care about them, it is just that for whatever reason, things like that make me laugh.

And then there is the funny peculiar side of things. For me this is when ‘odd’ things just happen. Like coincidences, or when the phone rings at the precise moment that you have been expecting it to ring. That actually happened to me a few days ago. I was sitting working as usual when I had this thought pop into my head that the phone was going to ring and two seconds later, it did. Thankfully I hadn’t got as far as predicting who was going to be on the other end as that would have been pretty spooky but still, funny peculiar.

Humour is important – very important. I know that we are all aware that it takes less effort to smile than it does to frown but how often do we remember that? When I sat in said cinema seat, I was in hysterics. My friend was on the point of disowning me but it just made me totally lose the plot. Every time I tried to move it creaked and as soon as I sat back, the whole thing reclined and almost folded me up in it. After several thoughts about how it had come to be like that, we finally elected to move but that incident which could have easily not happened had I chosen another seat, set me up for what turned out to be a great evening.

Image courtesy of Apple's Eyes Studio via freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Apple’s Eyes Studio via freedigitalphotos.net

There are times when it is hard for all of us to laugh and enjoy life. There are times when we feel like we are walking through treacle or we are on a never ending conveyor belt that just goes round and around. Yet it really is true, that laughter is the best medicine. Whether it be that we are watching an old movie, or a really good comedy or we are laughing at things that we have done or that others around us have done, there is nothing like really having a good old laugh.

Just recently times here have been fraught and when I left to go to the cinema that night, I really wasn’t in the right frame of mind. But give me a broken chair, a good movie and lots of things I really shouldn’t have been eating, and I was in a hugely better place by the time that I got back.

I am not suggesting that it is that easy and nor, I guess, should it be. But to have a time when I just relaxed and enjoyed the ‘fun’ side of life was something that I badly needed. Thus the following morning, when I was walking around with a piece of vacuum cleaner hose over my shoulder, it felt like the funniest thing on earth. And that felt damn good.

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This post forms part of the Stream of Consciousness prompt which can be found by clicking here. (Yup, I am a couple of days late – sorry Linda.)

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No one tells you when you’ve done a good job

Image courtesy of Master Isolated via freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Master Isolated via freedigitalphotos.net

It’s true. They don’t.

Rarely does anyone take the time to say “Thank you – great job”, yet they are more than ready to let you know when you’ve messed up. I sort of think that organisations have forgotten that we are all human beings and that we have our physical and emotional limits. Think of it this way…

If you find a puppy that has been mistreated, you show it love, care and tenderness until it returns to full health. As a reward it will love you back and give you loyalty and devotion. This scenario doesn’t seem to transfer to us however. Most people are given little or no encouragement when it is needed and yet they are expected to give their loyalty and devotion with only the threat of redundancy as incentive.

Starting secondary school (age 11+) is a big thing and my eldest and his friends have been there for just over a week now. As with all secondary schools over here, children feed into them from a number of local primary schools (age 4 – 11) and so this is the first time that he is experiencing any idea of how other children (apart from his former classmates) are performing in comparison.

Every night we talk through how his day went and during the last few days it has become apparent to me that the children from his former primary school, are more than holding their own against their counterparts from other feeder schools. Which is great news.

The more I thought about it though, the more I realised that in actual fact, my son and his friends had been really lucky with the teaching that they had received at primary school. Even if a child is gifted, it still takes the teacher to notice that and then to be able to draw on that gift in such a way as to benefit that child.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles via freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles via freedigitalphotos.net

And so, I decided to say “Thank you.”

I spoke first to his most recent teacher and then I spoke to the headmaster, and I said exactly the same thing to both of them – “Thank you for doing such a great job with my son.”

They both seemed surprised that I had taken the time to say this and to compliment them on the job that they were doing but I would like to think that in some way, it made them feel good. That it made them realise that regardless of the bad days, they are getting something right somewhere, with the children that they are sending onwards. And that is what teaching and every other job is about. Making a difference.

So if we take the time to tell people that they have done a great job, then surely that will make them feel much more positive when the bad days hit. Right?

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