The Easter break is finally here. The rush of the term is finally over and I can breathe again. A big, huge sigh of exhausted relief!
And suddenly I have some time on my hands. It's a great feeling and made even sweeter by the fact that for the first time in a long time I actually have REAL time. Usually in the school holidays I am packing in the stuff I never get around to doing when I am working and racing through my to do list. I go to the dentist, see family, catch up with old friends, try to write my novel, clean my house. The list of orchestrated fun goes on.
But no. This holiday is slightly different. This holiday is all about just being and taking the days in my stride. Relaxing properly.
A recent convert to mindful living I've been slowly trying to change my life. So far I've made some significant steps to a better existence. My attitude to work is the biggest change. Instead of mindlessly driving myself into the ground trying to do a great job, I'm still doing my job well but with a few simple tweaks. I'm doing what I can manage rather than giving myself unrealistic targets that predictably I fail at achieving fully; I am taking enjoyment in my time there rather than rushing around like a hysterical loon and wondering where the time went; I'm caring much less about what people think of me and focusing on my strengths.
A change to my diet has also weirdly inspired my mindful approach. After experiencing a period of poor health at the end of last year, I vowed to get a bit more healthy and improve my general sense of well being. Having ZERO willpower to just eat less and move around more, I changed my eating habits by starting the 5:2 diet. For me, this diet is not just about weight loss, it's actually becoming a way of life now. The control and self discipline required to fast over those two days has forced me into the present and massively improved my concentration, my sleep and my energy levels.
Ridding myself of mental clutter has also contributed to a better me. I found that social media was becoming an ever growing presence in my life. I was checking Facebook a lot and without realising it, this was negatively affecting my mood. It isn't exactly an enriching pastime and reconnecting with every Tom, Dick and Harry from my past was nice at first but not necessarily conducive to a mindful life. Letting go of this was difficult but I can honestly say I am much happier being in touch with the people who matter to me and are part of my present.
When I started to look at mindfulness, I tried the standard things that experts recommend. I firstly embarked on daily meditation - this was short lived. For some inexplicable reason I just can't meditate - I like the idea but finding the will inside me to do this is an insurmountable obstacle. The same happened with colouring. I loved the idea of merrily scribbling away with my crayons but the reality is when I do have time, there is always something better to do.
Rather than meditating what I like to do is sit and be in the moment - with a coffee, a quick sit down in my armchair, watching my little boy play, sitting in a hot bath, eating something sweet - all of these things I make a habit of doing regularly and 'really experiencing' them. The trick is not to pressurise myself into being mindful - to me making this another tick on my daily to do list has a negating effect. Instead, I dip in and out of mindful activities, grabbing comfort from them when I can. This way mindfulness is part of the natural me.
Just the simple process of accepting that this is my life and that is okay has made a huge difference to how I feel. Having spent so long living in the far past and the distant future, a happy now felt inconceivable at first. But now I am here, living firmly in the here and now - I could never return to those turbulent days.
What is truly fantastic about all of this, is that the worries of my life have not changed in the slightest. I am still a mum, I still work hard, I still care for my husband. All that was before remains as it was. The difference is how I perceive things - attitude and outlook are everything.
This is my life and I intend to live it in a way that makes me happy.
Follow Jude's blogs about her family and their battle with blood cancer (Myelofibrosis) at http://livingwithmyelo.com