The sweetness of doing nothing
This is my first post since I decided to take a break to recover from an operation I had at the beginning of September (although Blogger decided to re-publish an older post when I changed templates!). It seemed appropriate to talk about what I have been doing all month, which is, pretty much, nothing. This may sound like bragging, but I don't think I am being dishonest when I say that not being able to do anything productive has been one the most challenging aspects of my recovery.
There is a character in the film Eat Pray Love that talks about how some cultures are always on the go and never stop doing things, while Italians appreciate taking some time to not do anything at all. They call it il dolce far niente, the sweetness of doing nothing. I come from a very Meditarreanean culture where there are siestas and moments in the day where there is real stillness, but it seems that I have long lost that ability to appreciate it, or at least do so for longer than a couple of weeks while on holiday. This month I have had to learn to feel ok about not doing things that are productive, sit back and get better, and whilst it si still a work in progress (I am sure I will start enjoying it as soon as I have to return to work!), there are a few activities that are the closest to doing nothing and that I have genuinely grown to find pleasure in.
WATCHING YOUR FAVOURITE TV DRAMA
For me this month has been all about The Good Wife. I had always heard it was really good but had never watched it, so I have been slowly working my way through it thanks to Netflix. I love the female characters in the show - they are all very different but all strong, determined and resilient, which are the kind of women that inspire me. Each episode stands on its own with a legal case, but the politics and the relationships that weave through the whole six series are really interesting as well. Not to mention the dilemmas between right and wrong that are often posed by the different cases.
Whether it is The Good Wife or something else, choosing your favourite tv drama and binge-watching a few episodes is actually a great way to spend a lazy morning or afternoon, especially if it is cold outside.
When my friend Mollie turned up at my door with a colouring in book for adults and some coloured pencils I wasn't sure this would be for me, but I didn't exactly have that much else to do, so I started flicking through the pages, a drawing with beautiful palm trees caught my eye and I started colouring. It soothed my mind so much! All I was focusing on was staying within the lines, whar colours I was going to use for different parts of the scene, etc. I think this would be the perfect thing to do after a stressful day at work.
There was a time not so long ago when the word meditation was a bit of a taboo. Thankfully, mindfulness has become part of our every day life and there are plenty of apps out there. Headspace is the one I have been using for nearly a year now, although not constantly. There are 10 free sessions to begin with, and if you become a paying member (it costs less than two lattes a month) you have access to a huge amount of resources. There are daily sessions plus special one offs, like SOS quick sessions for when you get very stressed, or sleep oriented ones if you are finding it difficult to go to sleep one night. Of course, you can always just sit and breathe for 10 minutes, and that is just as perfect!
GETTING LOST IN A BOOK
I tend to be a night reader, which often results in me falling asleep within 15 minutes of opening the book. However, there is a huge amount of pleasure in spending an afternoon tucked up under a blanket on the sofa getting lost in a story, in the characters, cup of tea in hand. I particularly enjoy the quietness, the silence in the room. At the moment I am reading a book called In the Unlikely Event, about a series of planes that crashed in a town in New York over the course of a year. The bottom book from the pile in the photo is next on my list, as it is the sequel to the Millennium trilogy (remember The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?). Can't wait to see what happens to Lisbeth and Mikael next...
Going for a walk and spending some time alone with your thoughts can be both soothing and invigorating. Whilst I could hardly walk to the corner of my street and back 3 weeks ago, the doctors recommended I took walks to build up my stamina and that walk in the morning is the most enjoyable activity of my day. Slowly I have been building up the time and I am managing one hour walks daily. The weather has been beautiful in Oxford this September and it's been lovely to see the trees turn to gold and start seeing the leaves fall. My walking buddy has been my mum, and seeing as we live in different countries, it is such a treat to be able to go on long walks every day and chat about everything and anything!
Now it's over to you. If you have a day with no plans and nowhere you need to go, what do you enjoy doing? What makes you enjoy the sweetness of doing nothing?