‘Don’t lift the mat’ times

You know them too: the days when you do the bare minimum because it’s all you can manage. Maybe you’re stressed about more important things, maybe you’re too busy, maybe you just don’t have the physical strength, motivation or will to do any more.

Next week, that’ll be me. Next week, the main dog walker/ heavy lifter/ rescuer is stopping his remote job to go back to full time work in the city. I’ve managed before but after a year and a half of having someone else to pick up the pieces, I’ve forgotten what I’m capable of.

So, I’m back to bare minimum living. The furniture, rugs and heavy things will stay where they are and I will half-heartedly run the hoover or the mop around the edges.

This, for house-proud me, is far from satisfactory. But I need to remember the other things I have to do.

Do you ever have ‘that’ll do’ times? I suppose the main thing is, what are you doing around it? If it’s being a new mum, starting a new project, or, most crucially, taking a deliberate break, then forget about the silly stuff and focus on the things that matter.

Just do not lift any of the mats or search the settee in my house. Pretty please.

Enjoy the rested company instead!

What is perfect anyway?

A photo of a beautiful camel

We could just stop there actually. If the photo made you laugh then my work’s done.

A few weeks ago I was with my son at the orthodontist. She asked him to smile and then said, ‘we could make that smile even better’. So next month he’ll be sporting braces. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with his teeth, but these days it seems perfection is hard to obtain.

I wore train tracks on my crowded teeth for two years. By the time I got my twenties I still disliked my smile. Even today I still hide behind my husband’s shoulder when we’re taking a selfie. Honestly.

I love my son’s smile now. That will never change. My brother once told me I had a ‘kind smile’. Unfortunately that was in response to me saying I was ugly so not really a compliment either!

I would argue that everyone’s smile is beautiful, if it comes from their heart. ‘People’ have decreed that Audrey Hepburn has a uniquely symmetrical face. Her life wasn’t perfect though. No-one’s is.

I spend eight minutes every other day making my hair as perfect as I can, smoothing the frizz, straightening the kinks. I tried to leave it be once but the results were an Olive Oil-esque type of crazy!

Didn’t help that my husband called it ‘wild’.

So, what to do?

Look into a mirror and smile.

You are perfect.

Don’t work on your appearance.

You’re already beautiful.

I’d rather be wild and kind than perfected, wouldn’t you?

Look how far we’ve walked!

As I was walking up a hill towards our house in Donegal two days ago, I had a memory of my cousin and me deciding to walk in our bare feet the whole way from the beach on that road. Every ten metres we would stop and cry out, ‘look how far we walked!’ That feeling of achievement carried us the whole way home. This time, however, it was hard for a different reason. This time, I didn’t look back. I pushed on, sights set on a chair to rest in, a cup of tea to drink.

We always have the choice. Looking back can give us the resolve to keep going. But sometimes, that can be too painful and we just need to push on. My family often ask, ‘did you see-?’ Every time, I remind them that all I ever look at is the next five metres on the path ahead.

‘Do what you can’ is what my Pilates instructor says every week. I love that. It makes everything so much less daunting, so much more achievable.

So, look back on all you have done and congratulate yourself.

But then look ahead and know that you can do the same, and more, again.

One wobbly stone at a time.

Last week I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Quite literally. I’d done the too long walk across the rippled sand and now I didn’t have the strength to get home.

My mum phoned dad and he drove his 4×4 over the rough hill road to get me. Problem was, there were a lot of rocks between me and the car. My mum and my sister coaxed me, one stone at a time, until I reached the slope going up to the field where dad was. It was slightly hilarious (my sister was laughing at the thought of me using it for a blog.) The final push was blocked by brambles so dad, Prince Charming style, hacked at them to clear the path. Meanwhile my two were cheering me on from the shore.

Not exactly my most dignified moment, but up there as one of the best family memories. You see, yet again, I’ve encountered love when I was at my worst.

Life is overwhelming, and often seems impossible to get through, like that heap of rocks. But if you just lift your hand, acknowledge you’re not able to do it by yourself, then help comes. I’ve tried it a lot over these past years and I can promise you, it works. You might embarrass yourself along the way but who’s going to remember that?

Like I always say, if I can walk into a wedding in my socks without being laughed at, then you can get away with pretty much anything!

Picnics in hard places.

Last week I was in a slow-moving queue in a sports shop. As I shared an exasperated look with another customer, she turned to her friend and said loudly, ‘if I’d known it would take this long, I’d have brought a picnic.’ We all laughed, forgetting the heat, expense and stress of our surroundings for a brief moment.

Since then I’ve been thinking a lot about how we cope when times are hard, when the wait for things to get better is never-ending.

It’s not a solution but finding small ways to lift our spirits helps. Things like sitting out in the sun with a cool drink, walking through a rose garden, chatting with a friend, going to the seaside, having a picnic. Even if none of those things are physically possible, we can get there in our imagination.

It takes a bit of a push, but it is possible to find ways to make difficult circumstances a little more bearable. The woman in the shop had a hearing aid and was looking after her disabled friend too. And yet, she was able to lift her thoughts to picnics.

What could you do today to cheer yourself up?

Even in the darkest of woods or the deepest valley, you can still have sandwiches.