It’s 07h55 on a Monday morning and I’m still in bed. No, I’m not sick.

I’ve already been up, fed the dogs and cat, prepared my lemon and ginger water, opened the lounge curtains and then headed back to bed. To write this blog, and yes, part of me feels a little guilty about climbing back into bed. But I’m getting better at ignoring that niggly voice that tells me I “should” get up. My first appointment today is 11h00 so I’ve plenty of time. No-one is being neglected or going without, because I live alone after being widowed 3 years ago. In January this year my Mum died and the last of my responsibility to others died with her. It’s been quite an adjustment because for a large part of my life I have been responsible for, or cared for, other people. Running my husband’s office, our household and finances, caring for Mum after she moved in with us, then constant visits to the old age home when she moved there. My brother and sister live overseas so I alone handled her final years and needs. I cared for my Dad after his stroke and my mother-in-law when she lived with us for 6 months every year, for over 10 years.

I have this label I have somehow acquired that I dislike. That I am “busy”. “You’re always so busy” is usually what I hear whenever I meet up with someone. I guess that’s the fallacy that social media creates when we share our life on it. The reality is that I’m not that busy these days. At least not productively busy and it was this new awareness that dropped into my space a week or so ago. I am, I realize, often unproductively busy. Still repeating habits, routines and patterns that existed for such a big part of my life for so long. I have a beautiful planner that I use each year and every week it’s filled with a lot of non-consequential stuff that I waste a lot of time on. I realized that I am not making time for the important things. The activities that feed my soul. Like writing. Reading. Journalling. Meditating. Learning the art of watercolour. Working on the courses I signed up for.  All these things still seem to get pushed into tiny parts of my life because that’s how it had been for so many years while I was “busy”.

I realized that I am not making time for the important things. The things that feed my soul.

But that’s all changed. I am alone now and I no longer have that level of busyness in my life. Yet very often I find I’m still going through my days in that same way. The animals are content as long as I feed them regularly. In fact Fergus relishes the fact that he gets an extra hour or so tucked up under the duvet while I work. Because my time in bed is not unproductive. I’m not mindlessly passing the time. I’m writing, or reading, or working on my courses. Because what feeds my soul, I’ve realised, are slower starts to my day. I am in fact extremely productive early in the morning, so I am doing things differently. It’s a process. Old habits die hard! I still have a vague guilty feeling that I should be getting up but I’m getting good at ignoring it. The more I do, the more the busyness falls away and I find my days filled with purpose and meaning. I’m naturally waking earlier, getting better at planning my day, productivity is growing as I make time for the pursuits that make my heart sing.

This new way may not work for everyone but it works for me. Last week I went off to our local boutique cinema, alone, for the 14h30 showing of Downton Abby: A New Era. It felt a bit like playing hookey, heading off to movies, sipping a glass of red wine and munching on popcorn in the middle of the day in the middle of the week!

This is yet another phase of the change after loss, creating and adjusting to new routines and habits. I now see that this is in fact a “signpost” on the journey after loss. When you start to get that sense that what you’ve been doing for so long no longer feels comfortable. You know something needs to change but maybe are not sure what. That’s where I come in. Together we can negotiate the passage of change so it’s a little less daunting. If this is something that interests you, pop an email to reconnectme@spiralpath.co.za and let’s chat.

Di Atherton

Author Di Atherton

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