Planting, watering, fertilising are all small pleasures I can share with my daughter. Tending the garden gives us a heightened awareness of the changing seasons – now one of growth and renewal. I enjoy the challenges of a rental property with concrete areas – using pots, Gumtree bargains, hardy plants. I love herbs for my cooking: parsley, oregano, thyme, fennel, tarragon, rosemary, dill, and coriander (although tend to kill the last two!). I also grow strawberries and daisies. This year I’ve planted corn. It’s exciting to see the new foliage looking lush. Gracie enjoys harvesting the leaves of the herbs and smelling the burst of aroma as they are cut.
I love spring and the extended sunlight and the busy noises of birds preparing for new life. Already it has been warm enough to visit the beach with friends. Feet initially shivering in the water and then comfortably scrunching the sand between my toes. The children splash each other and scream with all their might. We collect shells together. “This is a pretty one. Look at the spirals.” We, mothers, smile benevolently at our charges and chat with indifferent disregard to the pressure to be the perfect mother. All the worries of the world dissolving in the rush of crashing waves, seagull calls and dazzling light bouncing off the water.
At another beach, for dogs, Blackie runs with his mates. Forgetting his age he chases the brindle staffy sprinting ahead with the red ball. Swimming, rolling in the sand, looking lazily for me, running back. Digging holes with Gracie. The sun lightly touches us, a gentle breeze. Gracie and I wander the shoreline, watching the ebb and flow of the sea, while Blackie again picks up the chase. Our footfalls lead us to the café and I order hot chips with salt and tomato sauce. Sitting on the bench, blowing on the chips for my little one so they are cool enough for her to touch; idly watching others visiting the waves and sandy shores in their swimmers, kaftans, and towels.
It is dark and quiet. The string lights hanging from the blind sheds soft light. Two books have been read and now Gracie is breathing rhythmically and contentedly beside me. Blackie is running and snorting in his sleep. Gentle sunny days have flooded my being and now at night I feel calm and relaxed. Slowly I leave Gracie’s bed for my own. This is heaven. My angels happy, loved and resting (for as you would have guessed by now Blackie is more angel than black dog). Listening to their breath, I feel the cool night air through the flyscreen and enjoy the occasional hoot of an owl.
Mindfulness allows me to more intensely enjoy a happy time. By focusing on the moment. Saying to myself – I can worry or think about that later. If I’m feeling “down” as opposed to “intensely depressed” it can give me a break from feeling like that by doing something I enjoy and focus only on that activity that I’m engaged in, not engaging with my melancholy thoughts. Mindfulness breaks things down one moment at a time. It can take away the big picture catastrophes away for a short time at least and allows you to re-experience the pleasure in the small things.
For a description of mindfulness go to franticworld who argues that many people find this practice useful. In fact, it is meditation while awake and living.