On taking a break

I’ve had a break from writing over the summer. It wasn’t intentional, I just ran out of steam. I started my blog just over a year ago, and at first I was going great guns, posting two or three times a month, then my strike rate slowed to twice a month and then to monthly. I last posted at the start of June and in the second week of July I became a little twitchy. The voices of should and have to started whispering in my ears, but I didn’t have anything to say. A week or so later they won out, and I sat down to try and write. I began several different pieces but didn’t get anywhere. Starting from a place of should is never going to produce your best work. Perhaps I did need to stop for a while.

Taking a break, whatever it’s  from, is a good time to evaluate. Remind yourself why you began in the first place. Is that still the case? Is there something that needs altered or realigned? What are your values, and is what you’re doing in symmetry with what you believe? Decide afresh what matters to you. Write it down and place it front and centre in your day, on your desk, your mirror, the bedside table. When I began this blog I saw it simply as a place to ponder, reflect and share whatever thoughts I had on any given subject. This time of reflection has allowed me to distil that breadth into a narrower field of vision, giving me a specific lens through which to view my writing topics.

Once there I felt in need of fresh inspiration. Instead of writing I have re-read some of my favourite books, found new authors to enjoy and listened to podcasts which have refreshed me and reinvigorated my creativity. I’ve given myself the permission to take time away to sit at the feet of others and drink in their genius.
And now it’s time to begin afresh. Tempting as it would be to simply admire the work of others, and listen to the voices constantly telling me someone else will always do it better so why bother trying, I choose to believe that there is room for each person’s creative input to this world, and so I will offer mine. There are enough people spreading hate and violence, negativity and darkness. We need more people to stand up for joy and peace, to celebrate beauty and hope, to find and share the quirks, colour and spiritual splendour of life. I pray that’s what you’ll find right here from now on.

Are you needing to stop doing something for a time? Embrace the break. Silence the voices of should and have to. Let yourself rest and be still.

Then ask yourself those key questions about why you started, who you are and what you value.

Find inspiration – read, listen, look, pray.

And finally, refreshed and reinvigorated, get going!

Confessions of a Listaholic

Hello, my name is Tara and I’m a listaholic.

I am a maker of lists. I don’t just mean the usual lists of grocery shopping or things that I need to get done at work on any given day. I am a maker of lists on an industrial scale. I have lists for work, lists for when I come home, a list on my phone for Christmas and the beginning of a list for an activity next year. I have lists coming out of my ears.

Even today, on a mid week day off after a working weekend, a day that I have been anticipating for rest and relaxation, there is a list. And a list that keeps being added to.

Last night I began to ask myself some questions about that. What is that all about? On your list of things to do, why do you even write down a reminder to do your #100happydays picture for Instagram?! Why does it matter that much? Who would notice, who would care, if something slipped off the list or didn’t get done?

I would know.

And the eldest child, big sister part of me would be quite unhappy. Responsibility and dependability are what we bring to the party. If that goes, what will people think? That I’m unreliable or, god forbid, lazy? That won’t do.

But I’m tired and weary and my body and soul just want a rest. Down time. No lists!

In the back of my mind I know that even if I set the list aside there would still be the spectre of Really Should. You have a whole day off, you really should do the hovering. Look at the mess in the kitchen, you really should tidy it up. All those things on the list you just set down – you know you really should do them!

I give in to Really Should all the time and, you know what? She’s a bully. And if you give into bullies then they just keep bullying. But if you confront them, they often have no power at all.

“Oh yeah, Really Should – who says so? That’s right – no one.”

No one says I really should except for me.

So here’s what I’m going to do today – I’m going to gag Really Should and embrace Really Must. I really must sit for a while and do nothing but stare out the window, allow silence to fill my world and let my soul be entirely at rest. I really must go outside for a walk, take time to smell the roses and listen to the birdsong. I really must resist the temptation to add those things to my list!

I don’t anticipate throwing the list out entirely as I’m not sure that going cold turkey would be helpful and might induce panic. But I am determined not to let the list beat me over the head. I want to find the ability to truly rest, while still embracing the fact that I am someone who likes some order and to get stuff done. Can I do that?

Am I alone in this lunacy? Does anyone relate to a Life of Lists with a side order of Really Shoulds?

If you’re out there perhaps we can form a support group. I’ll add that to my list.