Wednesday, 8 February 2012

'Don't count your days. Make your days count.'

I am grateful to fellow speaker, author and friend Paul McGee for the following reminder in his latest newsletter:-
'Don't count your days. Make your days count.'

How often do we count the days? Usually it is for one of two reasons - either towards something we are looking forward to, such as the next time we see a loved one again OR something we don't really want to happen, e.g. the end of a holiday!

In doing so we are actually in danger of missing 'now'. As I was poorly when Dominic was a baby I know I missed out on the pure enjoyment of his daily progress. I was always too busy counting the days in panic for when my sick note would expire and I might be told I had to go back to work, when I knew I could not cope with it. I also did not appreciate how precious each day was and how quickly he would grow up. How often as new parents are we waiting for the 'next' stage - sitting, walking, climbing, talking? We are in danger of wishing their childhood away.

Being self-employed does give me the luxury of working at the times I choose and also being of use to my family plus giving me pleasure in the process. Now back in Cheshire near my family, I am involved on a Tuesday morning to pick up niece Sophie from my sister's so she can go to work. My parents have Sophie for that day but it is early for them to collect her and I am between the two homes - the early pick up makes sense for me to do. Sophie has now got used to our Tuesday breakfast routine as we come back to 'Laine's house' for a couple of hours. I have learnt and appreciate the magic of this time. I give her my complete attention and we curl up on my sofa, munch our breakfast and watch a Disney film.

I like it at my Auntie Elaine's!
This week she was wearing the cardigan I had knitted last year. I smiled at the thought of how different life has become in recent months after all the trauma and grief. My favourite bit is dancing with her! She then cleans my bathroom whilst I put on my make-up and asks for lipstick before we head off. We often nip to Morrisons, then for petrol and arrive at my parents for coffee and toast. By late morning I am home again and ready to work and if I am still at my desk at 9 pm that evening, so be it. I can emphatically say I enjoyed 'now'. She is two next Tuesday.

What do you do on a regular basis that you can honestly say you soak up every moment? Or are you always onto the next thing/task in your head? I am probably most productive on a Tuesday afternoon as a result!

As a teacher for years, the demotivated team would start each day with a count down - 'only 4 weeks, 3 days until half-term', as appropriate. For a while I was guilty of joining in with that. I didn't like the disillusioned 'me' that I had become in the last years of teaching. I now accept that it was my responsibility to say what bothered me at the time and do something about it - instead I suffered in silence, muttered and moaned and made myself and those around me miserable! If I knew then what I have learnt in recent years my whole approach would have been different! I loved the children in my care but I could have been a happier, more efficient and content person if I had taken the right approach and actions.

Key to that is speak up! By explaining why you feel as you do and suggest ways to improve it then positive actions can be taken. If they are not, at least you can maybe move on but content knowing that you have no regrets (see last blog on regrets and choices).

I don't think I have ever really been guilty of rushing through a holiday with the 'doom' of back home in so many days. I remember having my nails done last year and the owner of the salon was moaning about everything! Her assistant was doing her best to buck her up and reminded her that she was soon to be having her holiday 'But I'll be back soon' was her retort!

I know that there are more moves within society, business and well being for us all to take time out to relax, meditate, etc. I believe very much in this. When I begin to feel overwhelmed I know I become unproductive. My new website is now designed and waiting for me to update the content. I am very pleased with Paul at Leeds Graphic Designers as he has built my blog into it and remarkably has been able to transfer all of my 667 posts! The beauty of my new one is that I can categorise it, so if you are here to learn about postnatal depression, coping with bereavement or even enjoy my taste in music, it will be sorted out. The snag? I have all of them to go through and categorise! Now that is a task! When I began it on Friday, with my impatience for wanting it all done NOW, by Saturday teatime with square eyes I got tearful! 

So what did I do?
1. Acknowledged that it will take as long as it takes and if it's worth doing (which I believe it is) then it is worth doing. Exhaustion will achieve nothing.
2. It doesn't all need doing NOW - be honest with myself.
3. There are 32 pages to edit, with 20 posts per page. Each takes about an hour. So I have applied the 'small steps' approach and have set myself the challenge of one per day. So far I have done 7 and am happy with that. Some days I may do more, some a little less. Either way, in small chunks.

I know when I am really looking forward to something there is the tendency for the days leading up to it to drag! Simple steps such as re-framing your outlook can help, e.g. change 'Oh no, 13 days to go' to 'Great, less than two weeks to go'. Also fill in the potentially dragging days with events, people and constructive activities! That way the time will appear to pass sooner AND when the happy event arrives you will enjoy it even more because you have been so productive! A win, win situation!

I have been getting some lovely messages from people saying how they are thinking of me as the first anniversary of Clive's death approaches on the 19th February. I am very aware of this and perhaps was allowing myself to dread it. I was in danger of dragging myself down with the expectation that on that day I am going to be very upset and the grief will be magnified again. What do I do that day? Where do I want to be? Who do I want to be with to 'get through' it? How do I 'get though' the awful memories of that evening?

In recent days I have decided to re-frame it. To begin with his sister shared with me that when it was the anniversary of their Dad's death, Clive's reaction was to 'just treat it like any other day'. I also have reminded myself of the wishes in his Will - that his life had to be celebrated, not mourned. The message in his last book was that NOW is the only time we have.

From all I have learned and achieved I now recognise that if I lead a 'mourning' on the 19th I would not only be letting his memory down, but myself and all those who have supported and followed me over the year.

I am not saying that I shall have a wild party and get drunk!  I am still not decided but I do know I shall not count down the days now to it with doom and dread. I shall approach it with positivity, hope and a heartfelt appreciate and celebration for all that Clive Gott was to me, his family and many, many others. I will reflect on the past year and acknowledge what I have learnt and how far I have come. I shall express gratitude for the many blessings I have in my life and for those around me as we all step into the future. Maybe I shall dance - even in the kitchen with Sophie!

Yet again I find myself back to my 3 C's in 'Don't count your days. Make your days count.'

1. Choices - we all can take personal responsibility for making our days count either leading to something great or not as great. Choose how you think about it. We cannot make the time we have speed up or slow down but we can make it appear to in how we live our lives.
2. Communication - when you have made your (positive) choices, then to make them happen, tell others! They can support you and will respond how you do. Moan and they will moan with you - be optimistic and they will also be lifted.
3. Caring - why make yourself unhappy? You probably wouldn't chose to make anyone else miserable so why do it to yourself. Think, act, speak with kindness to yourself and others.

So if you are 'counting' for whatever reason, how can you do things differently to enjoy, appreciate and shine in this life? 

Elaine x

1 comment:

Sara said...

On Livvys anniversary we headed out as a family for a meal. We chatted about how blessed we were to have her in our life. Laughted at the crazy things she used to
do and generally celebrated life.

It's not easy and I'm sure it will hit hard but hold on to the memories.