By Donna Ambler on 2 May 2018
I’ll admit I’m an overthinker. Worse still, I continue to beat myself up about things that have happened and decisions that I’ve made – I ponder for way too long.
I’ve always thought the verb ponder has a relaxing feel to it - it looks like wonder, but then you add the image of water lilies and sitting by a pond and it starts to make me think of wandering gently along the water’s edge, without a care in the world. Not at all like the busy mess that is usually going on in my head.
Ponder makes me think of the part of a yoga class when they ask you to just lie with your eyes closed and remove all random thoughts – like what you’re going to cook for dinner or pack in lunchboxes, or all the unfinished projects on your list.
The Oxford Dictionaries define ponder as: to think about (something) carefully, especially before making a decision or reaching a conclusion, as in ‘I pondered the question of what clothes to wear for the occasion’. This makes it sound like a calm, structured process – not a scramble of random thoughts.
I like the definition by Wordpandit of using your mental gears: ‘It’s like putting up a weighing machine in one’s mind, where instead of weighing physical quantities, we weight different thoughts and their pros and cons.’ That’s more like it – I can see all the cogs of the weighing machine moving backwards and forwards and interconnecting and that’s the busy pondering in my head most of the time.
The weighing scale analogy links back to the verb’s origins. It comes from the Old French word ponderer: to consider; and from Latin’s ponderare: to weigh.
One of the reasons my mind is in a scramble right now is that I’m planning for an overseas holiday when we won’t be taking our children. That means there is so much more to arrange before we leave. But I’m hoping that a change of scenery will be good for the soul and good for the mind. We’re going with very close friends and I know we will have fun and relax. So here’s to pondering at a much slower pace.
By Donna Ambler on 12 April 2018
I have lots of things on my To Do List this week; most still waiting to be completed. But I‘ve been really focused on one particular project so they’ve had to wait. That has meant I’ve been on top of that project and all the little things are stacking up – like writing a blog this week.
On reflection, that’s because I am usually too easily distracted and tend to do all the little things first, or at different times during the day. I think it goes back to the old saying ‘A stitch in time saves nine’. I’ve always thought it best to do the little things first–before they become big things. But sometimes you just need buckle down and get on with the biggest task, turn off all the distractions, and focus.
The Oxford Dictionary online has four very appropriate definitions for distract, which it describes as a late middle English word from the Latin for ‘drawn apart’.
- To prevent (someone) from concentrating on something.
- To divert (attention) from something.
- To divert one's attention from something unpleasant by doing something different or more pleasurable.
- To perplex and bewilder.
I really like that the last definition is described as archaic and the example given is equally archaic: ‘horror and doubt distract His troubl'd thoughts’
I’m not usually one to take be distracted by bright, shiny things, but I have to admit that I just hung up from calling the computer shop to book my desktop in for a service halfway through writing this blog. Sometimes, when you are not completely focused on the task at hand it’s easy to see something else as a priority. It might be a thought pattern (my brain chugs along at a million miles an hour most days, cluttered with thoughts about all the things I need to do); or that what you’re doing is either difficult or disinteresting.
I’m also a serial interrupter. I just have to tell the person talking to me what is on my mind at that point in time because I know that it will disappear if I wait my turn. Then the moment will be lost! I just can’t stack things up to wait their turn. I have to act in the moment. I know it’s rude and annoying, but it’s a habit I just can’t break – my through processes keep on distracting me from being completely focused on just listening.
I guess that’s why I multitask. I usually have a few things on the go at once and I appreciate that the current thinking is that multitasking is ineffective, but it’s a tough habit to break. I know other women who agree that housework tasks can take them half a day. You know how it goes – you start mopping the floor and then see a spill on the bench that needs cleaning up, but then you also notice that the dishwasher needs unpacking. Pretty quickly, you have three jobs on the go at once. That’s what being easily distracted does to you.
Our teenagers seem to be distracted all the time these days. It’s a luxury to have their undivided attention, without any screen distractions. We try to teach them the importance of making eye contact and actively listening when they are being spoken to, but some days I think we might be talking in Martian for the amount of attention they give us.
So now that I’m at the bottom of the page I can see a bright shiny object out of the corner or my eye that needs my attention. Best check back on that To Do list.
By Donna Ambler on 6 April 2018
This week I found some really strong inspiration in a blog post by a 37-year-old Canadian woman named Rebecca who is a photographer and mother of four and writes inspirational blogs on a site called simply Simple As That. I found my way to her site via a social media post this morning that made me stop and think about what I want for my children, because she put it all so simply.
She wrote a blog called What if all I want for my kids is an ordinary life? It has clearly resonated with other parents in my local community as I’ve seen it copied several times in the past few hours. She wrote of wanting her children to love and embrace the ordinary things in life, to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. She wants to take the focus away from scoring the most goals, having a report card with straight As and kids getting anxious about the number of likes on their social media posts. She wrote:
"I want them to love deeply, not to be liked by many.
I want contentment, security, love, gratitude, and kindness to be the measure of their success—not their number of Instagram followers or the prestige of the college they get into or the paycheck that comes with their chosen career.
I want them to know what a treasure each ordinary day is."
I have to admit that parenting teenagers rates as the single most difficult thing I have ever done. The highs and lows are excruciating and then I sit back and realise that in a few years they’ll be gone – before we even figure out what we're doing wrong.
The Oxford Dictionaries define the verb want as to have a desire to possess or do (something); to wish for.
I wish I could get through to our children how much we love them and to encourage them to spend more time in the fresh air and less on the PlayStation. Just like Rebecca, I want contentment, security, love, gratitude, and kindness to be the measure of success in their lives. But I guess I need to make those my own measures first.
At a friend’s birthday last year, her daughter described her as the family’s ‘memory maker’. That struck a chord with me and I wish that my children could see that the memories we are making now are what they will look back on and (I hope) cherish as adults. The simple things we do and time we spend together, unencumbered by other people's standards, expectations or judgments.
For so many of us, life is too busy and we just want to slow down and appreciate the simple things. It’s Friday, so perhaps we will take some time out tonight to enjoy the sunset and be in the moment – that’s all I want for now.