This past month has been a massive one for me and our family of four. We have relocated to Bath, England, and set up all the big-ticket items – car, school, home, work. It sounds so very simple to write them in a list like that, however the reality of coming to a new country and building up a life can be complex and full of unforeseen details. I’d never realised that even a bank account can be a tricky proposition when you are not a native inhabitant of a place. So many things that I previously took for granted require money, time and a whole lot more paperwork than I had first imagined.
As with most large and finicky processes, I have been setting up my life here with a dedicated support crew of people scattered about the world as well as some very effective tools. This month I offer you a list of the 3 things that are saving me as I make this transition.
Being a mum who works from home, life is busy. Add to that an extra long to-do list for completing school admissions, finessing rental agreements, making car purchases and getting tax numbers and things can get hectic.At first, as we travelled on our way here, I thought I didn’t have time to meditate because the list of things I had to do just kept getting longer. I have to make that call to that country, and I have to go to that monument TODAY or I will miss out, I told myself.
It didn’t take long to realise that in fact in order to really be present and enjoy the adventure we were having, something had to be included in the daily routine to ensure that my inner world was keeping up with my outer one. And that meant sitting still and slowing down for even just a few minutes.
Tuning in to that inner stillness and contacting those quiet spaces is a precious foundation on which to build experience.
Meditation is known as one of the most efficient ways of resting the mind and body. The benefits of it are proven over thousands of years and countless experiments: great for cell regeneration and immunity, wonderful for calming the nerves, relieving anxiety and increasing opportunities for clear thinking and even the modern holy grail of happiness.
There are a multitude of ways to learn more.
• For those who feel they don’t have time to meditate there is the just-a-minute series of one-minute audios available for free download. You can put these in a music library and play them through a mobile device anywhere, anytime.
• Audio Dharma is a library of lectures and guided meditations from a Buddhist Centre in San Francisco, again available as free downloadable podcasts. Listen out for one of the founders of the centre Gil Fronsdahl and his milky voiced episodes.
• If you’re really keen, you can attend a Brahma Kumari retreat and pay a donation of your choosing for a day-seminar or even a short stay in these ‘hospitals for the soul’. You will find literally thousands of these centres scattered all over the world being run by dedicated and generous volunteers.
Like with so many things, become aware of it, and the very act of awareness itself seems to transform the situation in a multitude of subtle ways. It’s the buy-a-red-car-see-red-cars-everywhere principle at work (not its scientific name). It’s one fine and simple way of getting back to your happy place.
You might have noticed from reading above, I love lists.
So naturally, having a really clever way to use them and have them with you all the time is of great benefit. Trello is a synchronisable app that runs across most computer platforms and mobile devices. It can be connected to a Gmail account for example so you can add emails directly in to lists in Trello from your inbox.
There are loads of ways to use it but my favourite is to have four ‘Boards’ (like online noticeboards): one for planning the week, one for my action items, one/s for the current project/s being researched, and one for lists in general.
Here’s how it works. Say for example a friend recommends a film that can go straight to a list on the LISTS Board called ‘Watch’ ready for your next movie night.
If you’re walking and remember something that needs doing – you can put a note on the ACTION STATION Board under ‘Inbox’ which is basically a brain-dump until you sort it into the next column on the same board which is called ‘Next Actions’. If an item is awaiting a response to be actioned, but still needs following up, same Board, but listed under the heading ‘Waiting’.
If something needs to be done on Tuesday, that goes on the WEEKLY PLANNER Board which simply has a column for each day of the week. You get the idea?
There’s a heap of tutorials and articles online on the various ways to use it, you can even utilise it as a tool for proper large project planning with teams and timelines and due dates. I’m not paid by them or anything, I just really like to endorse stuff that works to make life feel like it is designed to allow organic processes to occur and precious ideas to be valued.
Get in touch if you want to know more about how I use Trello to organise my life and I’ll happily answer any questions. You can even get really funky and involve Zapier which can set up integrations between apps like Todoist and Trello and do loads of other things, but now we’re getting super fancy and techie.
For some time now it’s been clear that somehow I had lost my ability to really tune in to my playful side. Play had become one of those things that seemed like such a lovely idea but just was not important enough to actually spend time doing (nuts, right?).
And then I watched this wonderful TED Talk by Shonda Rhimes about her year of saying ‘yes’ to everything. In it she links her decision to play with her kids every single time they ask her with increased piece of mind and, perhaps even more significantly, greater inspiration to write the many hours of television content she has responsibility for
Following the talk, and many other hints that fun had become a bit of a relic in my day to day experience, I decided to bring it back and work out how to dredge up the fun-gene from the backwaters of my consciousness.
Photo credit: Stuart Richards on Flickr
Now, every time one of my kids asks me to play with them I simply say yes. No matter what I’m doing, I put it down and I play with them.
This works in so many wonderful ways both for the kids and for me. It allows the opportunity to look up from the haze of the do, do, do to simply be present with them for a few moments and completely commit to whatever silly thing is going on. It connects me to imag
ination and it connects me to them. Everyone wins.
So there’s my top three. I’d love to hear, what is saving you right now?