There is an end of term feel in my household. One child has finished at school and is languishing in her room in a Netflix trance. Another, after the high of Graduation, is on the roller coaster of job-seeking. Meanwhile, the third is putting us all to shame with her energetic enthusiasm for her summer internship. Camping stuff is piling up in the spare room ready for packing. Last minute work, haircuts and shopping is being completed before our trip away. The high season garden is looking dry and ready to throw in the towel as the weather ricochets between drought and downpour.
It is hard to maintain my motivation and energy levels in weeks like this. I would like to draw the curtains and take a nap, sleep out the long hot days or open a good book. In a few days’ time, I will. I once worked with a global drinks company. They introduced me to the phrase “corporate athlete” through their staff campaign for “recovery time”. Staff were encouraged to see themselves like athletes who need to take care of themselves by having downtime to relax, eat and converse instead of staying on a relentless treadmill of action. A sane way to work, that gives us a chance to take stock, replenish and reinvigorate.
In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron talks about “snatching time” for art. Taking short moments at the beginning of the day or between activities means you can write, paint, dance in a busy schedule. I like this idea of snatching time and applying it to recovery.
Dad taught me to look up at the tops of buildings in London streets. “The best bits are above eye level”, he would say. So on my walk through London to work with a client, I remind myself to look up and find myself marvelling at the roofline of the Guildhall, the ironwork in Smithfield Market, the detail in the tiles at Farringdon station and arrive feeling inspired. The same day, Leather Lane street market is only 2 minutes away so I choose a Vietnamese lunch box instead of heading for the usual sandwich. In the evening, Gina, my Pilates teacher encourages me to close my eyes and take deep breaths, gently rocking on my feet before I begin my exercises. Snatched time, to centre myself, relax and restore.
This summer, if you are taking a break, enjoy. If you are continuing to work, snatch time. Walk a little of your journey to work, take 30 minutes and eat lunch outside, read a chapter of your book, take some deep breaths. Treat yourself with care, you’ll be in much better shape to deal with whatever comes your way.
See you in the Autumn.