on stopping

Recently I learnt a few important lessons about stopping:

It’s Friday night & I am home alone while the girls & J are at a party. I’m having time out as the pain from a bulging disc in my back has forced me to stop and rest.

Tomorrow is our school’s annual Spring Fair and up to this point I have been very involved in planning and making prizes and helping to organise class stalls. And now I won’t get to the fair at all. Instead I’ll be on the couch home alone and not helping or doing or being productive.

And I have been finding it very hard: to back out of things, to cancel appointments, to let people down, to ask friends for help and accept offers of help – school lifts, playdates. I am usually the helper!

I write about living simple and living slow – but this gap has helped me realise that at this stage it remains more of a theoretical aspiration than practical reality.

I have taken steps to simply some parts of my life already, but thanks to my forced downtime I am now brutally cognisant that I am usually living fast and furious. Stopping creates open space. And lessons rush into that space. It’s a meditation.

Having had to stop – I found myself confronted with myself and having to consider my choices:

  • how am I choosing to spend my time and thus my life,
  • what work I am doing,
  • what purpose am I serving,
  • how am I raising my girls,
  • am I leaning in to my marriage,
  • am I really looking after my health,
  • what do I consider to be my priorities?

While lying down I watched a documentary on melting polar ice (chasing ice), one on the state of the damaged oceans (mission blue), and another on the disappearing coral reefs (chasing coral).

watching these reminded me of who I used to be. Before working for money, and parenting arrived. I was passionate about our planet. I have a postgrad degree in environmental science. Over the years I realised how much my motivation has faded.

But this forced break allowed me to start to feel again. I’m feeling the need to get involved somehow. The need to stop single use plastics. The need to eat a more plant-based diet again. The need to share the message of our life-giving and threatened oceans.

I am about to start Joshua Becker’s Uncluttered course again in a day or so. Round 2. I have also read his book The Less of More in which the final chapter discusses the whole point of our lives once we have decluttered and cleared and got on top finances etc. It is to serve and give and help.

Maybe this time out and forced rest have enabled me to think about what I can do to get involved. For as long as I can remember I have been searching for work with purpose. This hiatus has reminded me that I must continue to search, and try to do some good along the way.

Certainly stopping is a gift. A gift we should give ourselves far more regularly. Daily. Stopping is the meditation in our day. It is the looking up from our screens. It is getting outside, putting our phones down, sitting quietly and being – not doing. Watching our breath. Thinking deeply. Problem-solving. Creating.

Stopping is vital for creating a good and balanced life.