Oh how I love September! The promise of fresh starts, gorgeous colours and hues, crisp Autumn morning and back-to-school newness has far more poignancy in it than January, when we normally think of making changes or doing something differently. Of course I miss Summer and it’s not even really over as I gaze out of my garden studio into brilliant sunshine. And yet, it is there, in the air.
I had the incredible good fortune this Summer of taking a particularly long break – a four week road trip to the USA visiting old friends, places I used to live and places I’d always wanted to see. It was fantastic and I was able to properly relax and cut off from work.
The experience made me realise that I had been letting stress – albeit simply stresses – become far too important and so my mantra for this September is to simply do everything I can to get rid of unnecessary stress in my life. This is making some decisions surprisingly easy…
I realised that there were also things I can do to tweak my schedule and eliminate some easy sources of stress.
Toxic relationships – I would normally pride myself on my ability to only nurture good and positive, supportive relationships in my life yet I realised that for some time I had been colluding in creating a huge dysfunctional dynamic among a small group I was performing with. This came to a head over the Summer before I went away and, because it had been allowed to continue for so long, it was not pretty. I am to blame for not having more honest and open communication earlier but also for choosing to be part of this group for so long. I am not any more though there is still a lingering connection with someone due to a service provided to our choir. I agonised over whether or not to continue and realised I was getting stressed all over again. The simple decision is to stop that connection and I feel 100% better as a result!
Bookending my days with exercise – My son has just started a new school which means his days are longer and, by default, mine are too. At first I was going to fill this extra time with work but then decided to fill it with exercise instead. I want to lose some weight and Autumn is a perfect time to do this – far better than miserable January. So, after school drop off it is out with the dog for an hour and before school pick-up it is an hour of either walking, swimming or gym. This leads on to being productive – my next tweak.
Email only after lunch – This week I am experimenting with not checking or writing email in the mornings. I know, and have known for ages, that my most productive work is in the mornings. I get so much more done. When I begin the day with checking email this simply creates stress. Usually when I do this, whatever other tasks I had planned for the day get absorbed by emails and then I tend to leave email on and create that stupid loop of always being available and being too distracted. Instead I am reserving time each afternoon to read and respond to email. This is freeing up time and making more far more efficient.
Remembering to write – I love writing! It’s what I do best and I want to do more of it. Yet often I am behind with blog posts and work writing and forget to write in my gratitude journal. I had got into the habit of writing in that gratitude journal each morning but now, with the earlier starts, I stopped. 2 easy solutions: I am getting up 15 minutes earlier so I can still fit this routine in AND I am scheduling just one hour a day for writing. This is actually advice I gave to a writer friend of mine who is desperate to write his book and says he never has time. I told him to just do one hour a day and write – but it’s also what I need to do myself.
Be kinder – in all things be kind is what I want to practise more of. In whatever way I can – whether that is a kind gesture, baking someone a cake, volunteering to do something and make a change, or in the conversations I have with others. There is always room and space to be kind….