A brief moment of peace


I am sitting down, for the first time today really, listening to Barber’s Adagio (the chorale version) and just enjoying the peace. The house is quiet – everyone else is in bed and asleep except for me – and it’s nice to only have to listen to my own demands on myself for a time.

It’s been a reflective sort of a day. Today was Honey’s birthday . . . and although in some ways it only seems yesterday we were up on the labour ward looking in amazement at the tiny creature who’d suddenly appeared and taken over our lives, and now here we are . . . and she’s alarmingly grown up, and an absolute darling with it. Minni Babalou and I spent the day with her today, and she is just such a sweet, thoughtful, bright girl, it was an absolute privilege just to be with her. It made me realise (to my shame) how little time I do spend with her – with all of them – charging around left right and centre ‘getting done’ and taking silence (i.e. non-fighting) as a sign that all’s well rather than an invitation to participate.

We baked her cake together, and it was fun. Not having to rush about, being confined to the house by germs, meant there was no hurry, we could take our time, and for once I had the time and space to actually let her take forever to stir the mixture instead of rushing her onwards with one eye always on the clock.

We had the most fantastic lunch as well . . . homemade chicken soup – last Sunday’s leftover roast veg thrown into chicken stock defrosted from the freezer has given me lunch all week – homemade bread (fresh out the oven – sheer heaven), gorgeous organic cheese from the local, and apples from our garden that I dug out of the store. Made me feel mindful of what’s important – for the first time in ages – and how in the rushing around that we – I – do all the time we lose sight of the grander scheme of things – why we do what we do, what we want, what’s important to us. How the simple, slow things in life often give us so much more pleasure and satisfaction than keeping up the frentic pace set by five active people’s schedules. I wish I could throw the schedule away more often: sadly, I know I won’t – we all enjoy our activities too much to want to give them up, so I guess we’ll continue to pay the price.

It gave me a good pause, and I’ve made a real effort to slow down this evening and just try to take stock a little bit. There’s always so much I want to do, time is my constant enemy – I hear ticking almost all the time, and my mind is always busy with project after project after project, that the impossibility of achieving everything drives me batty. I can feel now how stressed I am by it all – even after taking the decision to slow down for an evening – with the insistent beat of this-this-this and the list of things-to-do I’m constantly running.

I sat down a week ago and scheduled out on my calendar when I would do all the current writing and textile projects I’d got on the pot, and the writing to-do-immediately list took me almost to the end of November. The textile list took me into the middle of January. And then I got hit by an urgent textile commission that had to be done this week – and although it pays well it immediately put everything back a week because I had to drop everything to get it done on time.

When it comes down it, that time is lost (by-and-large) to no-one but me, there is no overriding imperative that means I MUST do it NOW, and there is no good reason why I shouldn’t slow down a little. The trouble is, I know myself. I know that this is just *today’s* list. Tommorrow, I’ll have another idea or ten, and they’ll go in the queue as well. And all these projects and ideas waiting to be realised, sitting in their little triage area waiting for my attention, start to stack up and weigh on me until I’m as totally stressed out as I have been in the last couple of weeks.

And then I’ll get a day like today, which forces me to take a time out, and I’ll wonder what is the issue with taking a day off once a week, and what is it that makes me feel so DRIVEN, that I struggle to be still, to be quiet, and just listen to the sound of the house sleeping around me.

And then I remember the W H Davies poem: “What is this life, if full of care, there is no time to stand and stare”

And then I remember that I still haven’t started the contemporary sampler I want to work incorporating that poem, and I’m back into the loop.


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