Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ten minutes of Time-Out

Lots of the blogs I read are written about family life. Many are written by busy women, many of whom are Mums or Grandmothers or maybe hoping to be at some point in the future. It seems that blogging is something that we do as a pastime, a de-stresser, a way to explore our ability to write and take photos of the things around us.

Somehow no matter how busy a week I am having I make time to sit down and write. But how often do I sit and do nothing? Allow myself to unwind and my mind to go quiet? I was sent on a work course last week and it was about conflict resolution.  It was run by an amazingly energetic woman called Dot Yam and her associate Vivienne. Instead of concentrating on how to stop other people from getting irate and angry it almost solely concentrated on us. How to stop ourselves from getting stressed. How to handle someone who is mad by watching our own body language. How to live a less stressed life outside of work to make us more chilled out in work.

An example was given about sitting on a park bench. The trainer had been asked to take 10 minutes time-out from her hectic day in an office based job. She came up with every excuse in the book about how busy she was, how many emails were waiting on a reply, the reports that needed filing by 5pm. When she did sit on the bench she was edgy and irritated. She felt she was wasting valuable time. And then she chilled. She noticed her surroundings. She heard the different sounds of birds and people chatting happily as they walked past. She felt herself relax. When ten minutes had passed she returned to her desk and on the way had a light-bulb moment where the answer to a particularly troubling problem came to her as a simple solution. The time out had cleared her head and the following hours were more productive than they would otherwise have been.

I left the course inspired, returned the ward and got caught up in answering patient call bells, dispensing medications, making phone calls and arranging discharges and admissions. What I had learned in the course was great, in theory, but could I make it a reality?

Fast forward a couple of days. I found myself reading a blog called "A Year of Change" written by Gina, an American mum of two who has just moved to France for a year with her husbands job. I love reading Gina's stories about the challenges they are going through and the adventures they are living. It brings me back to 2005 when we first emigrated to Australia. We had to find schools, make a rental house a home, survive in a new neighbourhood while Byron travelled to the US. All things Gina is doing right now. One of the things I had almost forgotten about was the sense of awe at living somewhere new. Everything was fresh and exciting. Normal life had not yet kicked in. Now on the two midweek days I'm not working in the hospital I run around flat out pegging out laundry, ironing, stripping beds, grocery shopping, washing the floors, cleaning bathrooms.....normal life. Then I read about Ginas week in this post and how she bought a book and went to a park to read it. This is what she wrote:

"After the bookstore, I found a chair in the Jardin des Tuileries overlooking a fountain.  I ate my lunch and watched the world go by.  Couples strolling hand in hand, families pushing strollers, children chasing birds, co-workers eating lunch together.  This is how I envisioned my Paris life.  I know it won't be like this every day but I will savor these moments" 

It brought back to me the words from the course, the promise of trying to take time out, the feeling of appreciation for living somewhere beautiful. Right there and then I decided that on this Friday I would do the same while the kids were in school. I would sit on the bench opposite my front door and I would sit in the silence of the reserve and breathe deeply while taking in the view of the lake. It would be my Jardin des Tuileries!

Yesterday was Friday. The sun was shining. The kids had a day off school while their teachers had a training day. The house was trashed. I spent a couple of hours cleaning, washing, hanging and then I dragged the kids out the door and we sat on the bench together. They thought I was nuts! So did the woman next door who was sitting on her doorstep talking to someone on her mobile. Little did she know I was off to Paris!

Gareth started climbing a tree. Rhiannon was my photographer, taking photos of the ducks, a Pelican floating by and a photo of me to prove to Gina that I had followed her example. It was fun. We felt silly, we talked, we laughed. We headed home to carry on where we had left off. The beds didn't make themselves any quicker and the floor didn't get washed but I'm still grinning! I guess that means it worked!

16 comments - click here to leave your comment:

  1. I need to try this ten minute time out thing. Although if I sat down for ten minutes my tush would freeze to the bench and my two year old would fall out of a tree. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you. It looks heavenly.

  2. Lovely.... great idea!

  3. Haha! I think I've had too many "sitting on the bench" days lately: my house is a MESS!

  4. Great post! All I can see though is how warm it must be for you to have sun glasses and a sleeveless sundress on ... I am so ready for some warmer weather and lasting sunshine!

    Thanks for reminding me of the days to come with your photograph.

  5. SO much truth here. I'm going to check out her blog (since we are liable to have some things in being on our own overseas adventure). It reminds me of something I'm working on right now in the blogosphere. Something to help me be more accountable to savoring every day I am on this island paradise. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thanks for the kudo's girl. It is so unfair that you are in a cute little sundress right now. Love it!

  7. Great post. I am going to test the theory. Ten minutes to clear my mind. Sounds amazing. Thanks!! Thanks for always leaving such awesome comments on my blog! You are the best!

  8. What a wonderful idea. I think I may just try it. Thank you for the kind birthday wishes on my blog. Here's hoping the luck of the Irish works (it did in the movie Marly and Me) :)

  9. Awww, and I just realized, you may not watch many American movies. If you get a chance, that's a good one though. It was released last year some time.

  10. 10mins sounds great.
    im still trying to work out where you live. not in a stalker way (kev the truckie), im just a local so im thinkin... do i know that bench lol.

  11. To Kev the truckie. Unless you prove you are not stalking me I have no intention of letting you know my address. Not that I plan on blogging it here anyway but if I could find your email address I might consider letting you know....!

  12. hello.... facebook private message. let me also know what days you have off to we can catch up for a cuppa...

  13. I always try to get to myself for a few minutes each day....most of the time I will take a walk when at work. The weekends I may do something as simple as go into my backyard. It is quite refreshing when you can clear the cobwebs isn't it? :)

  14. I felt my self taking deeper breaths just reading this, BRAVO!

  15. Hi Gina . I love this post. Your right, who cares about all the housework, I know where I would be! Sitting on the Bench with you.

  16. What a great resource!