Lessons in Simplicity

I have this bad habit of wanting to do more than I can.

I like to keep more things than I can manage, schedule myself for more commitments than I can make, plan more grandiose plan than I can achieve, and put myself in more difficult challenges than I can manage. The root of this, unfortunately, is a lack of humility or a lack of contentment with who I am and what I can reasonably achieve.

In a world where we are always connected, slowing down and allowing ourselves time and space to breathe, enjoy life and reset our frame of mind is increasingly difficult. We are more likely to listen to a podcast than the swooshing of the dishwasher while we clean up the kitchen. We are more likely to turn on the news than fold laundry while we sing.  Yet our humanity requires a bit more time to unwind the hard work from the week.

cerco_de_artajona2c_navarra2c_espac3b1a2c_2015-01-062c_dd_10One Sunday a few friends and our family went for a picnic in Artajona (featured images from Wikipedia and Navarra.es tourism). It has a beautiful castle, medieval city walls and a gorgeous church. We packed a picnic with charcuterie, cheese, wine, fruit, bread and of course tortilla de patata. We spread out blankets and let our kids play in the rocks while we lay down and enjoyed the sun, the breeze and the surroundings. It was a perfect summer day. The point was not to play ultimate frisbee or do something entertaining. The point was to truly relax and allow ourselves time to reset from the week.

san_saturnino_de_artajona

Finding these moments of stillness is essential, especially for families with children when noise is the status quo. While picnics are an ideal summer activity, they are not by any means the only summer activity, nor is summer the only time to find this kind of peaceful reset that we are in such deep need of.

A few suggestions:

  1. Once a week, choose 3 hours for slowing down, for doing nothing. If you do not have this, you will lose your cool.
  2. Determine places that have natural or built beauty, places that allow you to enjoy the surroundings and appreciate what you have.
  3. Bring or buy something to eat and enjoy.
  4. Don’t journal, read or have any activities planned. It’s winter and the only option is a public place, consider a beautiful art book or poetry. Simply breathe, and notice what you receive in your senses. Notice the smells, the sights, the colors and shadows, the people, the textures, the weightiness, the history, the sky, the taste of your food.  If you are at a café, drink you coffee slowly, tasting every bit on your tongue.
  5. Remember times and memories that this experience brings up, and make small acts of gratitude for what you have received.

In our world, we don’t get the opportunity to have this kind of reset every day, but we can at least aim for it once a week.
paseo_en_las_afueras_de_artajona2c_navarra2c_espac3b1a2c_2015-01-062c_dd_02

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