Monthly Musings: September

Is it just me or is this year travelling at warp speed? It’s the end of September and here are a few thoughts for the month.

Spring – The blosCrabapple blossomsoms on my ornamental plum tree are long gone, but the crabapple tree is just starting to bud. A few more days and it should be a cloud of pink.

Friends – I’ve been reminded of the pleasure of time spent with friends. This month I helped friends and family celebrate their birthdays, enjoyed dinner and conversation with a close friend, and began to make a new friend over lunch. Good food with good friends – one of my favourite things.

Books – Do you love books? Choosing books? Reading books? Talking about  books? It wasn’t until I read Emily P. Freeman’s latest blog post asking for book recommendations that I realised that I don’t have enough book conversations in my life. Coincidentally the only book I’ve actually finished this month is Emily’s new book Simply Tuesday: small-moment living in a fast-moving world. September has been an inconsistent reading month for me. I’ve added a number of new books to the reading list but they’re all still works in reading progress.

Here are a couple of quotes from Emily’s book that resonated with me as someone who needs time to process things. Maybe they will resonate with you too.

Productivity skills have helped me meet important deadlines and release unnecessary perfectionism.
The problems come when I foolishly try to apply these same skills to my inner life.
The soul and the schedule don’t follow the same rules.


Many people are in a season of speed, a time of movement, of action, and go. But that is not where I usually am. And I cannot wait for the world to stop to embrace my permission for slow.
What part of your personality seems to fight against your own perceived ability to succeed? What might happen if your stopped bullying your personality into submission and instead began to welcome it as a kind friend?
So here’s to you, my fellow slow-processors. Take the long way home. Embrace the silence to consider. Give yourself permission to think, to listen, to be sure.

Writing – And as October is waiting in the wings you may remember that last year I joined the Write 31 Days challenge to write on one topic every day in October. This year I’ve decided to take on the challenge again, and I’ve chosen a topic that’s particularly relevant for me at the moment. Check out the first post of the series tomorrow.


More thoughts on how to receive the gift of rest

Yesterday I shared some thoughts on how to receive the gift of rest. Today I’m attempting to get a little more practical. This is not a checklist or a prescription, just some ideas that may be helpful for your own experience of rest.


Are you getting enough sleep? Perhaps that sounds too obvious, but we live in a sleep-deprived world and making sure you get enough sleep every night is a key aspect of rest.

I’d like to say that I’ve got this sorted, but I have to say it’s a work (or un-work) in progress.

Set Your Priorities

If you had to rate all the things in your life in order of importance, what would rise to the top? Those are your priorities. Are they consistent with your values? Are they the priorities you actually want for your life?

If you don’t make rest a priority, there will always be reasons why you never seem to have the time. Rest is a necessity, not a luxury.

Simplify Your Life

I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to over-commit, repeatedly. As a result, I am no stranger to burnout. It is not something I would recommend. Establishing your priorities may help you to decide what commitments or activities are worthwhile, and which ones you may need to stop.

It’s also worth being aware that commitments may have a season. Pay attention to the signs that a season is coming to an end. Ignoring the signs can be costly to your health and wellbeing.

Creating some space in your life will make it easier to rest.


Set Aside Time to Rest

Schedule time for rest. Regularly. That doesn’t mean you have to sit like a lump and do nothing. Choose things that are refreshing and life-giving for you. Choose things that help you bring your focus back to God. Here are a few suggestions:

  • spend the first 5 or 10 minutes relaxing when you come home from work before you start dinner, do the housework or check emails.
  • take a walk in a park or along the beach
  • watch a sunset
  • listen to your favourite worship music
  • have a short nap (set an alarm if you need to get up by a certain time)
  • read a good book
  • do something creative – paint, draw, write a poem, write in your journal, take photographs, play an instrument, sing …
  • take a short nap (did I say that already?)
  • write a note of encouragement to someone
  • meditate on a verse of Scripture
  • sit in your favourite chair, close your eyes and just listen for a few minutes

Stay Connected

Make sure you stay connected with people. This may seem a little counter-intuitive at first, but you need people who know you well, care about you and are willing to hold you accountable when you’re over-stretching and not resting well. You need people who will help you to keep perspective on your commitments, responsibilities and expectations of yourself. You also need to be willing to listen and respond if they express concern that you’re too busy and too tired.

Do you have any other practical suggestions for resting that you’d like to share?

Valuing a Fallow Season

In March this year, I had the opportunity to go away for the weekend with some good friends. We were staying in a house near the beach, and we’d spent Saturday walking along the beach, visiting a weekend market, lunching from the fabulous bakery, relaxing on the sand chatting and reading, wandering through secondhand bookstores. Late in the afternoon we were chilling out on the lounge. The shadows were lengthening, birds were singing outside, and Sting was crooning in the background. It was blissfully relaxing.

Only 24 hours earlier I was rushing around the house trying to make sure everything was organised for the weekend away.  Why does everything seem to take so much longer when you’re in a hurry?  Life was really busy.

Fortunately, it didn’t take long to change gears and relax into the moment, but I was amazed at how much difference it made to take myself out of my normal environment and activities, even for a day or two.  I also realised how rarely I actually do that. I’d like to say that I learned the lesson and started to be more intentional about taking time out to relax, be refreshed, and enjoy some simple pleasures with friends. But … I didn’t. Life continued to be busy, and often stressful, and like someone caught in a swift flowing river I was being carried downstream.

In July I blogged about the change of seasons in life. What I didn’t realise at the time was the type of season I was heading into. To continue the river analogy, by August, I’d hit the rocks. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I was feeling bruised and battered.  The re-occurrence of a previous back problem also meant that I was spending a lot of time lying down, resting my back and trying to manage the pain.  I’d been there before and I had no desire for a tedious return visit.  I wanted to get on with other things in my life, so I found it hard to embrace the opportunity to rest. Recovery can be a frustratingly slow process.

But what I’m just coming to appreciate is that I haven’t missed the change of season, I just didn’t recognise it at first. In an agricultural context, farmland that has been ploughed and left unseeded for at least one season is described as ‘fallow’. A fallow season allows the land to rest and restore its productivity.

For me this is like a fallow season. Aha – a light bulb moment!

I’m definitely feeling a little ‘ploughed’ at present, but I’m also learning to be grateful for this season of rest. So it’s not exactly a 5-star resort holiday, but it’s the rest I need if I’m going to be productive in the next season. And I’m looking forward to that.

Image: Evgeni Dinev /