31 March 2014

Relaxation and the feeling of presence

This is one of my favourite photos of Jamie, taken on the evening of his first birthday. Look at that tummy!

He was out in the garden with his dad yelling at the potatoes before he could walk. LOL
And this one is with opa, both having a quiet drink on the front verandah.

It's Jamie's third birthday today. It doesn't seem that long ago when we got a long awaited phone call to tell us that Sunny and Kerry were at the hospital and to come down. I can't imagine not being a grandma now but it was only three years ago that I made that very happy transition. Jamie, Sunny and Kerry are all in Korea at the moment but we'll have some Facetime with them later today. I'm really looking forward to it. Happy birthday, Jamie! We love you.


It makes no sense to me to try to relax after being massaged from head to toe when you know you're going to pay for the "relaxation experience". Relaxation to me doesn't involve people I don't know. I have a better way - it's more simple, it involves the great outdoors, it doesn't come as a bottled essence and it's there for the taking whenever I need or want it. Our backyards grow relaxation. If you let it and if you're completely present, with no phone or tablet, out there fresh air will fill your lungs and bring you back to yourself. The sweet, almost silent breeze, the insects and birds will welcome you back to nature, tranquility and gentle self-awareness.

 Blueberries are still growing.

There is a touch of autumn in the air now. I was out in my backyard yesterday afternoon, sitting, watching, picking, cutting, digging and tying. The temperature is at that perfect state of balance where it is neither cool nor warm. The wind blew the tops of distant pine trees I could see, but in the sheltered confined of our yard, the fences and shrubs kept the wind at bay. I tried not to think about anything other than what I was doing and that feeling of presence stayed with me when I eventually came back inside again. Relaxed.

Sunny, those are daikons front left.

Last week we had a lot of rain so the garden is growing strongly now. Little cucumbers are forming and pak choy is ready for picking. When I share some with the chickens, they go a bit crazy at first trying to reach the green and white crispness first, then they run away to a quite corner to eat their prize. I've pulled up most of the pumpkins and the vine has been added to the compost. They weren't a great success but I think I left it too late to plant the seeds. Next time, they'll go in two months earlier. We have two pumpkins from the vines, another one other was rotten and another still was only half grown and not worth picking. The 'Rouge de Marmande' tomatoes are going like the clappers and the first of the prolific cherry tomatoes are red and plump. Even though the rain brought a lot of growth to the garden, it stopped us planting out our seeds and seedlings. There is still a lot of bare ground out there. No doubt more planting will be done this week. There is always something to be done here. It's one of the benefits of living in a productive home.

It a wonderful time of the year now and I feel the optimism that only autumn brings. I'm writing every day to get the last three books finished and every so often I slip out into the garden to renew my energy and spirit. I hope you have a place like that where you can go to recover from normal life, whatever that is for you, although your relaxation place might not be a garden. It could be a room, your patio, a beach or any place where you feel safe and can just enjoy and appreciate the time you spend there.

Remember that relaxation is an activity you have to engage with. You don't just walk out there and wait. You consciously focus on the space you're in, you stop thinking other thoughts about what happens next or what you're having for dinner. You have to be really present in that space, at that time. If you can do that you'll have one of the many natural things that money can't buy.

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