When I was younger, I was very busy. Now in my 60’s, I would still say I’m busy. However, it is a different kind of busy. It’s a more leisurely sort of busy where I am only doing things that I want to do because I enjoy doing them – and I have no problem in changing my plans or cancelling, with notice, if my circumstances unexpectedly change. This outcome is due partly to learning to care for myself.
“Busy, busy, busy” was my usual answer when anyone asked how I was. There was a sense of pride in the fact that I was ‘so busy’. Somehow, I thought, busy equated to important. And I did a lot of things because I was expected to, I felt obligated, I was trying to impress someone, I was actually ‘trying to be good’. There was rarely any time left to do the things I really wanted to do.
It is quite understandable that in the 25 years I spent raising children (and working outside the family home) that I didn’t have time for gardening or even much time for reflection on ‘how I was’, certainly no time to reflect on the quality of my inner life.
I just had to go, go, go from the moment I opened my eyes until the moment I closed them at the end of the day, usually falling into bed in a state of exhaustion.
Living in the colder northern hemisphere climate, as I did at that stage of life, I tried to keep a few house plants in order to give the long white winters a touch of green. When they inevitably died, I would toss them out and buy a new one. I didn’t stop to feel the connection to nature that they provided in the home. Keeping plants alive, indoors, was just one more thing on my long To Do List, something that made me a ‘good housekeeper’. A lot of my busyness through the years has been about being ‘good’ or certainly about ‘being seen as good’. Nowadays I have to feel good about what I’m doing or I don’t generally consider it worth doing.
I still work full time, I still do community service work, and I do still have a few wider family responsibilities, although not near as many. I have a smallish easy to maintain brick and tile house on a very large suburban block. A few years back I was contemplating moving to a unit because the outside of the house was too much work. I used to put in enormous working days tidying up the outside.
Then, due to physical limitations that came with age, I had to find a new way to care for the property.
I could no longer work such long hours or prune the tops of the trees without paying a physical price. I was worrying about getting hurt while working around the property. So I started to choose differently and slowly I learned how to care for myself. I would only work a couple of hours. Behold! I would not have a sore back, shoulders or knees after gardening.
I then found that I enjoyed being outdoors and in the garden a lot more. My ‘working’ sessions became even shorter. After a day in the office, I was often so keen to get out in the garden that when I got home from work, I would get out of the car and straight away get the pruning shears and start snipping here and there, or pulling a few weeds.
Before long I had established a rhythm, which meant that I was spending a little time every day in the garden. The property was in a constant state of looking ‘well cared for’ and, even more importantly, I was enjoying every moment that I was caring for it.
Although most days I am still very tired at the end of day,I never fall into bed exhausted. I take time to prepare myself and the bed that will cushion my rest. I slowly close my eyes to spend the next few hours with myself, resting, recuperating, shedding the day’s activities so that I am ready to rise fresh with each new dawn, ready to experience whatever may come.
Over the last twenty years, I’ve learned so much about loving myself, about accepting myself, about letting go of that which isn’t serving me, about being gentle with myself and others and oh, so many more things that have enriched the quality of my life.
While I accept that I have made the choices I have, I still must honour the person who showed me the way. Without the teaching of the Ancient Wisdom offered by Serge Benhayon and his living example of what it looks like, it is hard to imagine that I would have made the choices I have.
The choice of going to bed at an early hour and taking care of how I put myself to sleep are two simple examples of small changes that greatly increased my vitlality and my joy of life.
I have finally learned how to care for myself. Nowadays both my property and I are looking ‘well cared for’ without any strenuous effort or exhaustion.
Gayle C., Australia
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