Sunday, 29 July 2012

Bringing it home

Doing less and playing in the paddling pool (and getting dirt under my fingernails in the garden) are definitely good for the brain.  It has time to breathe, and come up with good ideas, and even admit shocking truths to itself...

I have had an allotment here in the village for 4 or 5 years, and had another near our old house for 5 or 6 years before that.  It was never the most beautiful or well-tended, but it was productive and I enjoyed being there.  But, between a home-based business and a busy boy to look after, the village allotment has been getting more and more on top of me, and 3 months of solid rain have not been kind either!  Frankly, it's a mess, and every time I've been there recently it has just made me sad, not to mention disheartened by all the work there is to be done.

I realise what I  am about to say may not be shocking to anyone except me, but it's taken me at least 2 years to admit this: a whole allotment 10 minutes' walk away from home is too much for me at this point in life.  I wouldn't admit it before because I thought that would mean giving up growing things, and I wasn't prepared to do that; it's a thing I need to do.

But then I sat in my garden at home one evening, alone, as the sun went down.  And the garden told me that it had room for a few vegetable beds, and I didn't need to give up my dream; I could bring it home.

So plans are afoot for some radical changes in our little garden over the next couple of months.  I will take and post pictures - something I'm very bad at doing - because I want to document this change which took so much time and mental wrangling to come into being.

I wonder how many other dreams could be realised if we're gentle to them and consider how we can 'bring them home' to make them manageable and achieveable?  Maybe taking time to allow the brain to work is the first step.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The horns of a dilemma

There I was, in my last post, musing about the possibilities of doing less... and I think the universe may have been listening and having a little chuckle to itself.  For now I find myself on the horns of a 'doing less dilemma'.

Regular work I had been relying on for some time has suddenly come to an end, potentially giving me two free days a week.  I'd been feeling for some time that the so-called work/life balance was tipping a little too far in the direction of work, but without wishing to look a gift horse in the mouth, this feels slightly like a tip too far in the other direction.

Or is it?

If I rush around now and shuffle other work around, go out looking for more, and generally fill that free time immediately, I could probably engineer it so that there is once again no space in my work calendar.  Excellent.

But wait.  It's the school summer holidays.  I've already arranged things so that I get plenty of Mummy time - but if I hold off the frantic shuffling and scrambling, I could have more Mummy time, and possibly, if I'm careful, even some actual free time to myself.  Time to think about how I might want to alter my work pattern (or not), time to think about what direction I might like that work to take (assuming the work is there to be found), time to plan and ponder and to do nothing but sit in the sun.  Or rather, in the shade.  Sitting in the sun makes me wilt.

Suddenly the extra time I wanted is here, and it's actually a little overwhelming.  Maybe it really is time to do nothing and let the answers come to me while I play in the paddling pool.

PS. The blog has a new home to live and work in!

Please come and join me at

Monday, 16 July 2012

Do less

Illness at the weekend and enforced rest led to a lightning bolt of inspiration which said,

"Do less."

Hardly rocket science, is it?  But it seems radical to me as I have always felt a compulsion to be doing something, constantly.  Even my relaxation time involves doingactivity: knitting, sewing, gardening - and does reading count as doing something?

"Not doing" is a bit of a radical step for me.  Bear with me as I explore the difference between doing less and doing nothing, and whether doing nothing actually matters.  I foresee a bit of soul-searching about what counts as wasting time, and whether wasting time is the big sin I always thought it was...

But not today.  Even soul searching is too much like 'doing' today.

Monday, 9 July 2012

When home is not inspiring

Am I alone in fantasising about having a whole day to myself?  A whole day to do what I like!

But then it finally comes and there's a bit of work that needs doing first thing (because of technical problems last week), and then there's the unpaid voluntary work that you never have time for so another hour goes on catching up with that... Then there are a couple of cups of tea to be made and drunk, bins to be emptied, emails to answer and blogs to read, and suddenly it's lunchtime and I still haven't figured out what exactly it is that I want to do...

Because being at home seems to mean doing the things we always do at home.  Maybe what's really needed is to get out in the world and just be somewhere different.  At least in a different place there's less risk of the 'same stuff, different day' syndrome.

So, with apologies to the makers of the BBC show "Why don't You..." (oh dear, dating myself horribly now - please tell me someone else remembers it too?), I shall "go out and do something less boring instead."  If I can decide what it is.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

I didn't notice the sun today

I didn't notice the sun today.

I saw my desk and its glowing screen.  I saw my words and figures as they travelled across the screen.  I saw emails bringing in more tasks to complete.  I saw a bowl of soup spinning in the microwave for a three-minute lunch.  I saw the pot of stew I cooked at 8am because it was the only time I had to make tonight's dinner.

But I didn't see the sun that shone all day, or notice it shining until I lifted my head and it was time to rush to school, and the optician, and the library, and back to reheat and eat the stew.

Today I have to look hard to find the small pieces of enjoyment, but they are there:

  • Finding a few pods of fresh peas in the garden for dinner - the boy's favourite.
  • A long hug from the husband when he came home.
  • Sitting with the boy watching a very rare after-dinner DVD. 
  • Choosing said DVD with him at the library after watching him devour an ice cream in the sun.
  • The minutes of reflection while writing this post.

And two major pieces of work finished - a very satisfying achievement.

Tomorrow I will look for the sun, and truly enjoy the small pieces.  And if it rains - as well it might - I'll notice and enjoy that too!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Know your limits

A good manager knows the strengths and weaknesses of her staff.

For those of us who work for ourselves, that means knowing our own strengths and weaknesses.

I am not good at late nights.  I'm happy to work in the evenings when I need to, but I know I can't do anything too complex or anything which involves detailed work.  I can write, do admin, think general thoughts, but don't ask me to do even the simplest of sums or write a cogent argument for anything.

That can wait for the morning, when the brain kicks in again.  So tonight, I push aside the 'thinking work', do the 'donkey work' and plan to leave off before 8:30pm.  Yet I'm sure there are a lot of other home workers out there who will only just be getting going at that hour.

Home working allows for diversity and personal quirks - another point in its favour!

My second interview at Work from Home Wisdom is up today - please take a look and let me know what you think.