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Slowing Down for Rest and Rejuvenation
This week I have had some sort of lurgy, although thankfully not Covid. Every joint and muscle has hurt, my head has been pounding and I have alternated between intense shivering (shaking so much I could not hold a cup, but fortunately I can’t stomach tea or coffee so not too much of a problem… you’ve got to look on the bright side!) and profuse sweating – I know too much information. Sleep has become something I dream of, or it would be if I was able to fall asleep and dream.
I will be the first to admit that I am a totally rubbish patient. I’m aware that no one likes being sick, but I hate the feeling of being dependent or having to asking for help. Being someone who is constantly on the move, who doesn’t sit down all day I also detest the enforced inactivity but this week the sofa has beckoned. I drew the line at daytime TV, although I might have been persuaded by a decent old film but alas no, it was ‘Cash in the Attic’ or nothing. I opted for nothing and instead I have spent three days wrapped in a blanket, doing my daily Wordle (all of five minutes) finishing our latest reading group book (Tidelands by Philippa Gregory, okay read, an interesting period of history but too many tumbling dark curls and damp eyelashes for me to really take it seriously), and crocheting some octopuses… probably best not to ask!
Isn’t it strange then when we are really busy the idea of an afternoon reading or knitting feels like something to aspire to but when we actually have the time it starts to lose its appeal. Or is that just me?
When I woke this morning from yet another restless night, I was aware that I felt different. There was a lightness (probably just the absence of headache) that told me I was feeling better. Predictably I leapt up and sprung into motion and began to tackle all the jobs that I have neglected for the past few days, which of course the sensible amongst you will know was a big mistake. Midday and I’m back on the sofa wrapped in my blanket, starting a new book. But I am feeling better than I was, no drugs have been required today, I’m just low on energy… no sympathy required!
I know I am very fortunate to have reached my mid sixties and to have never really had any illness worse than shingles or glandular fever; I’m not on any regular medication and the only time I have stayed overnight in hospital is after childbirth, when I couldn’t wait to get home, and when my youngest spent two nights on a drip on a children’s ward when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
It has made me reflect that the type of malady I have just been through is merely my body rebelling and telling me I need to slow down and take time out which is more important at this time of year than any other. Winter is a time when nature slows down, hibernates and restores itself and we should learn from this, seeking a time of rest and rejuvenation, especially with Christmas only five weeks away.
Now, I love Christmas or maybe it’s more accurate to say I love the idea of Christmas and the anticipation of joy to come. Plenty of good wholesome food, twinkling lights, happy family times, singing carols, playing games and lovely frosty walks in the fading winter light, but we all know that is not the reality for most of us. Increasingly it seems to have become a stressful time, over commercialised and overindulgent in so many ways. Over the years we have pared down our celebrations to just the things we want to do. I have tried to cast aside the last minute rush around the shops – I hate shopping at the best of times so why would I want to do it when everywhere is over heated and over crowed and full of tat that nobody really wants. Although I will often bake a cake (I didn’t last year and no one noticed) and occasionally make a pudding I don’t fill the house with extra chocolates, biscuits, crackers and cheese etc. We don’t eat excessively the rest of the year so why do it when we are already feasting on wonderful meals of roast meats and puddings. In fact, why are there even separate Christmas food aisles in the supermarket? I really don’t understand that one. A tin full of mince pies, homemade or shop bought it doesn’t matter, a bowl of beautiful seasonal clementines and maybe a dish of nuts in their shells. Enough to make it feel like a feast without overindulging, and that’s the only extra food I buy. We have plenty and are grateful for everything we have.
I try to decorate our home using foraged greenery along with baubles etc. we have collected for years, maybe adding to here and there
Over the years we have also totally cut down on gift giving. The grandchildren get presents, maybe a book or a game, but the adults don’t need more stuff. So, we have a rule that homemade is okay, consumables are okay, recycled or upcycled is okay and we don’t spend too much. I absolutely loved the fact that two years ago my 32 year old son collected empty containers from charity shops and then turned them into homemade scented candles for us all, which he then wrapped in his old student essays. It was the best present ever. And last year I finally pared down the Christmas card list too. I like receiving cards, remembering the people who send them so that was a hard one to let go but I was helped by the mail workers strike and realistically I was still sending cards to people I hadn’t seen in over twenty years and unlikely to see again. In the end it is all about being more mindful.
Of course, giving and receiving gifts is a wonderful thing but not if the gifts are surplus to requirements, if they cost a fortune and they bring us stress and definitely not if they add more stuff and clutter to our lives. With all this in mind, I made a PDF of sustainable gift giving a few years ago. There are lots of tried and tested ideas for gifts that literally do not cost the earth and I have updated it for 2023 and it’s my gift to you.
If you are handy with the sewing machine I have a YouTube video on how to make some seasonal fabric coasters that really do come together in no time at all. Gather your materials and set aside an afternoon or two and you can create sets of coasters for everyone.
Or you can buy a course and make Seasonal Wreaths or Beautiful Books for your closest friends, with the added benefit that slowing down and taking time to craft things by hand is one of the best ways to unwind and take time out from the hustle and bustle. And as an additional gift to you there is 20% off all my courses from now until the end of December. You need to add the code GIFT20 at the checkout and if you would like to take advantage of this offer to buy a course for a friend get in touch (email or leave a comment) and I will tell you how.
I hope you find some of these ideas helpful, because if you can acquire, make and wrap the gifts before the beginning of December you are streets ahead of the game.
Finally this week, if you do not already know of Beth Kempton I urge you to seek her out. She is an author of several great books as well as a co founder of the company Do What you Love. At this time of year, she has a lovely gentle podcast called Calm Christmas which is the perfect antidote to the stress of Christmas, full of mindful prompts, tips and inspiration, recipes and crafts and this week’s episode, very aptly, is all about mindful gifts. And if you are really into forward planning and list making she has a free Christmas planner, and she has just started writing here on Substack too.
That’s it for this week as I’m still low on both energy and concentration. It’s taken me three days to get this written just in the nick of time, plus we are dealing with family things that have not been wholly unexpected but difficult, nevertheless. Sometimes we have to just go with the flow but hopefully I will be back next week with a little more energy. Wishing you all a gentle week.
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