It Works!

Intro

If you’re like me, you see the amount of books and articles about how to change your life for the better and you wonder if the ‘three easy steps’ outlined therein actually work.

I mean, we all know that we are striving for a more peaceful, less busy, more organised lives. We all know that we should cut down on what we’re doing. We all know that we should rest more, simplify, find jobs that work with our personalities, remember to make time for ourselves, watch less TV, pay less attention to social media, read more, exercise more, etc.

But sometimes I wonder, does it actually work?

I mean, I wrote a whole book on saying, ‘no’. I wrote about setting priorities and about not letting the need define your response. I wrote about all sorts of good ways of getting more energy back in your life.

Some days I feel like I really need to go back and read my book again.

Others look at my life and tell me I need to go back and read my book again.

Yes, my life now is full. I have plenty to do. I have exciting projects coming out my ears. And from the outside it may look like I haven’t made any progress at all.

But I have.

And I’ll tell you how I know that.

Last weekend was one of those weekends where everything happens at the same time and you can’t spread the commitments out.

On Friday I had my parents 50th wedding anniversary. And the best way to celebrate that was to have a dinner party at our house. So we did. Eleven of us over for a candle-light dinner in my lounge room.

50th anniversary cake
The beautiful cake Elford’s Cakes made. It’s based on the original cake, of course.

On Saturday there was a book fair. Me, in a room full of people, selling my wares, giving a reading and a talk about my publishing journey, from 9 am until 5 pm.

TIA book fair
The view from my book-selling table

On Saturday evening our church had a women’s ministry evening and I offered a writing workshop as part of that. In my house.

Writers workshop
We had such a great time. The food-to-people ratio was pretty good too. 

Now, last year, any one of those events would have been enough to tire me out. And I admit that having all three of them in a row sent me into a bit of a spin. But this year it was different.

This year I could spend the time leading up to the weekend getting organised and ready. I could put some normal commitments on the back-burner and take them up again after the busy weekend was over. I arranged to have the party catered so that I didn’t have to cook, and I arranged my son and his girlfriend to clean up for me on Saturday so I came home to a clean house. I could think this all through. I had the time to think.

This year I had the time to rest afterwards.

On Sunday I chose not to go to church. I sat in bed and read a book (Katherine Scholes, The Perfect Wife, great, if you like literary fiction) and then in the afternoon Moz and I went for a drive.

This year I was fine. I could cope. I felt tired but I didn’t feel completely empty.

And today I’m ready to get back into it. To write this blog. To do my editing job. To potter around and do the banking and make dinner and do all the things I didn’t get done on the weekend, as well as the things that my work-from-home life entails.

I think that last year, or the year before, a weekend like the one just gone would have wiped me out for a week. I would have got sick. I would have used up every last bit of my resources and I wouldn’t have had time to recover.

But now, now that I’ve changed my life, I’ve made choices that work well with who I am and how I do things, now I can cope with the occasional full-on weekend. And I can cope with the rest of life as well.

I’m not perfect. My life is full. Maybe I’m still saying ‘yes’ too much and need to keep saying ‘no’ more. I know I need to keep an eye on it. I’ll need to keep an eye on it for the rest of my life. But I am improving. And my life is improving as a result.

It does work.

I’m so grateful.

Are you missing some of my blog posts? They come out every Monday. Sign up to follow the A Quiet Life blog on WordPress, or you can sign up to my newsletter on www.ruthamos.com.au  and you will receive every post straight to your email inbox. You will also find my podcast, my book ‘My Year of Saying No’, and any short stories or other books will be up there as they come along.

If you would like to support this blog and the podcast then you can head over to Patreon.com/quietlife and help me out for as little as a dollar a month. Thank you so much!

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Overcoming a Roadblock

crescent bay 1

Firstly I would like to say thank you for all your kind comments last week. My love language is words of affirmation so your comments on last week’s post, on our anniversary on Wednesday, and for my birthday on Friday mean so much to me. Thank you for filling my love tank.

We didn’t do much to celebrate our wedding anniversary on the actual day. We went out to lunch together, and for supper we shared celebration cakes and churros with our good friends who were also celebrating a recent anniversary.

On Thursday we celebrated by going for a bush walk. We walked to Crescent Bay. It’s not a long walk by any stretch of the imagination but it was a big walk in my mind.

The last time I had attempted this bush walk was about 20 years ago. We had arranged to go for a walk with friends. I was six months pregnant at the time and I had spent my pregnancy so far lying on the couch and eating. I was not fit. I was not energetic. But I had been told that it was an easy walk, fairly flat, and so I was willing to try.

It takes a bit of time to drive to the start of this walk. Google says 1 hour 41 minutes. On Thursday we took our time, I wrote a short story to start off with which made us leave home fairly late in the morning, then we stopped for coffee and chai, stopped to say hello to Caleb at the campsite where he was working (and to pick up Moz’s sunnies), and eventually stopped for lunch at Remarkable Cave where the track begins.

I remember that 20 years ago, by the time we had got to Remarkable Cave I already had a headache and wanted to go home. But I pulled myself out of the car and started walking. There I was, hoping for a walk that would be like a wander along the street. Flat and easy. What I got was something very different.

There are just a few places on this walk where the track is very steep, steep up and steep down. Most of the track, in fairness, is reasonably flat. But there are just a few points where flat is not a description you can use at all. The walk did not meet my expectations and I wasn’t sure I could make it.

So that’s how I ended up in tears in the middle of a bush walk. And that’s how this particular walk loomed large in my memory.

And you know, I wouldn’t say that I’m fit right now either. I wasn’t sure how my body was going to cope. But I was determined to try.

If you’re the type of Tasmanian that goes for walks all the time, or a person that jogs for fun, or even someone who is reasonably fit you are probably laughing at me right now. It took us all of an hour to walk in to Crescent Bay and it took us an hour to walk out. We had a lovely hour at the beach wandering along through the waves. (We did not slide down the sand dunes on a boogie board. I wasn’t going to waste energy climbing up.)

It was not a hard walk.

But in my head it was quite a large thing to overcome. It had sat in my mind for 20 years. That bush walk that had reduced me to tears. That was the walk that others say is easy but I that had found so desperately hard.

I had to go back there and try it again. I needed to know I could. And, yes, I could make it. It wasn’t that hard at all.

It is now a goal of mine for this year to get fit enough to go on the walk again in a year’s time and find it easy. To race along the path like it’s no problem at all. Maybe even to have the energy to go dune sliding once we get there. I know I have been fit enough for this in the past, and I intend to be fit enough in the future.

I wonder if there is something in your mind that is a roadblock like the Crescent Bay walk was for me? It may not be a physical thing. You may have tried to write a story in the past and got stuck and now have trouble picking up a pen. You might want to play an instrument but you remember how embarrassed you felt in music class in high school when you took hold of the clarinet for the first time and made that first really awful squeak. You might want to go to uni but you remember just how hard maths was in grade ten.

There are so many places where we can get stuck. But sometimes it’s just that the timing wasn’t right that first time. Things change. We change. Maybe if you have another run at it, you will find that it isn’t quite so hard now as it used to be. You probably have new tools at your disposal, new skills you’ve learned along the road of life. And that roadblock might now only be the size of a speed hump.

Can I encourage you this year to give it a go? Have another try. See what you can learn from the experience. You might just end up having an experience as lovely as my walk along to Crescent Bay on Thursday. I hope and pray that you do.

We didn’t take enough pictures for you to really appreciate the dunes so I have found a website you can look at that shows you the beauty of the spot much better than my pictures do.

Are you missing some of my blog posts? They come out every Monday. Sign up to follow the A Quiet Life blog on WordPress, or you can sign up to my newsletter on www.ruthamos.com.au  and you will receive every post straight to your email inbox. You will also find my podcast, my book ‘My Year of Saying No’, and any short stories or other books will be up there as they come along.

If you would like to support this blog and the podcast then you can head over to Patreon.com/quietlife and help me out for as little as a dollar a month. Thank you so much!

It’s the little things.

This Wednesday Moz and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We were both 19 years old when we married, high school sweethearts.

Now I know that not all marriages that start out that young can hold together. It’s quite a difficult thing. I wouldn’t say that we knew who we were when we got married. I have learned quite a bit about myself since then. And we have learned a lot of lessons together.

I thought I’d tell you one lesson we learned early on. I don’t think it applies just to marriage either, so I’ll tell you how I think it applies to the rest of life.

It’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek lesson. Not to be taken too seriously. But at the same time, there’s a little bit of truth in it.

So, are you ready? Here it is:

Everything is worth one point.

It mostly applies to what Moz does for me, rather than the other way around. Here’s how it works:

If Moz buys me flowers, that’s one point.

If he does the washing up – one point.

If he buys me a new car – one point.

If he books us on a cruise – zero points, he should know by now that that’s not the holiday I would choose. (I just put that one in to throw you off.)

Chocolate – one point.

And so on.

The size or value of the gift doesn’t matter, I just need a steady stream of little things to feel loved.

If Moz chose not to show me his love in little ways, but instead bought something big like a house or car and then thought his job was done, the marriage wouldn’t last very long. It’s the little things that really matter.

Sometimes we think that we need to do something really big to make our lives matter. We need to start a non-profit organisation, do some research that once-and-for-all-time cures cancer, write a best-selling and life-changing book, win the gold medal at the olympic games. We think that if we don’t manage something big like that, that we are not worth very much.

I wonder whether life works more like our one-point rule. It’s the little things, the constant little choices that we make that add up to who we are, that give our lives value.

It’s the smiling at the check-out-chick, even if she’s super slow and packs our eggs on the bottom. It’s the choosing to put our rubbish in the bin. It’s remembering birthdays and sending a little card. It’s holding back on our hurtful comments even though someone in the internet is wrong.

The Good Book puts it like this:

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.

(1 Corinthians 13 The Message)

I hope that Moz and I remember to show love in the little ways this year. And I hope you do too.