Tag Archives: rest

In Praise Of The Ebb Before The Flow

If you are lucky, a wise person might have told you that life is all about ebb and flow.

We live in a world where we can fool ourselves into thinking that we can flow all the time, anywhere, anyhow, regardless of how you’re physically or emotionally feeling; or that we “are allowed to stop just long enough to get back on the treadmill of extreme productivity”.

We are made to feel that if we need to stop, we’re ineffective, useless, worthless.

We can take coffee, sugar, energy drinks, ginkyo biloba, caffeine, guarena, water, low GI foods, iron supplements, any supplement, get exercise, get massages, rebalance your chakras…to keep going, to fill us up with fake fuel and trick our minds and bodies into carrying on.

When did we lose our respect for pulling back and resting?

Life on this planet is largely dictated by the cycles of the seasons, moon and tides – an ebb and flow, not an unending summer – but even nature would prefer an unending summer, to continuously grow and reproduce.

When I motorbiked across Europe and into Austria to be with family in August 2013, one of our last stop-offs was at my sister-in-law’s beautiful farmhouse in the countryside outside Vienna.  Our brother-in-law asked us to help him pick the plum trees from a neighbouring farmer’s land because the farmer wasn’t looking to harvest them and they would otherwise go to waste.

Plum picking in Austria. Yes, that is an Elder Scrolls Online hoodie - bring it on!

Plum picking in Austria.
Yes, that is an Elder Scrolls Online hoodie – *I got there first!*

The summer of 2013 was very hot and long, and these plum trees were in the full sun all day, all through the season; consequently, the four trees were groaning under the weight of globular, soft and extra-sun-sweetened plums.

One tree had no cover from the sun whatsoever, no shade cast by the nearby buildings to hide in, so it sat in 360 degrees of sunshine all through that summer.  And it showed – the branches were heavy with plums…so heavy that the tree broke in half!  It fractured right down the trunk under the sticky sweet masses it had produced!

We got to this tree and unburdened its fruits – all 75kg of it from just the one tree! – but it was too late, the tree was dying a quick death in the continuing scorching sun, its life purpose entirely fulfilled.

The other trees that had shade, amongst themselves and from the buildings at the right angles from the sun, probably produced about 50-60kg of fruit each and lost the odd branch, which is still a huge harvest, but they survived that beautifully gruelling summer and lived to bear more fruit in the coming years.

Even nature prefers unending summers, and might not like trying hard to survive the winters, but without autumn and the  survival of winter into spring, deciduous leaves wouldn’t fall and create the mulchy beginnings of compost to bring the cycle back around – all the nutrients of the soil would be taken in continuous growth, unless or until it kills itself in growth.

A species set on endless growth is unsustainable.

We must rest in order to grow and produce – we must ebb in order to flow.  It’s part of the cycle.


“The courageous life is the life that is equal to this unceasing tidal and seasonal becoming: and strangely beneath all, stillness being the only proper physical preparation for joining the breathing autonomic exchange of existence.”

Whyte, David (2015-04-08). Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaningof Everyday Words


When did we lose our respect for pulling back and resting?

We lost our respect for the ebb when “being productive” became the mantra for society.

If you’re not being productive, you’re being lazy, which has many negative social connotations, as I’m sure you well know.

The darker side of this is that “being productive” became “generating money”, and “being lazy” became “not generating money” over time.  Time and effort exchanged for money.

Before unions, it was beaten into us that this was the case.

But there is a difference between being lazy and being idle.

Being lazy is when you don’t put in the necessary hard work but expect to get the same results, and expect to feel the same way at the end of it.  Being lazy is when you just don’t care about what you’re doing, or want to be doing it in the first place, so you put in only a fraction of the effort needed, but still expect to get the same results as if you did care and did put the work in.

Being idle is when you deliberately rest, ease back into yourself, knowing and probably anticipating with glee the next flow.


The tricky part is that, on the surface, it looks no different to “laziness”, but underneath it really is very different.

And deep inside, you know the difference – you know when you can’t be bothered to do something when you really need to, and you know when you are collapsing in a heap because you’re exhausted and can’t give any more.

Honour that.



In Hope,


On Being A Stubborn Ass

I’ve been pretty darn ill for the past several weeks with a bladder infection that left me bedridden for 10 days.  Probably didn’t help that I was given the wrong antibiotics to begin with either, although I’m just finishing up the right ones now and I feel much better.

Whilst lying in bed, with a pillow between my knees, a hot water bottle at my feet, and anything and everything on Netflix to distract my mind from the hot and stabbing pains, I did however learn several important lessons that I want to share with you:

1 – I am a stubborn ass.  Really, really stubborn. 

I’m a terrible patient.  I find it hard to really rest and be idle, even though I’ve been shown before how necessary it is to incorporate some idleness (is that a word?  Meh, it is now) into my life.  Whilst I’d normally say that this is a lesson I’ll have to keep relearning, I think it’s about time I actually did more to bring this into my life.

And I can’t be the only one who has this issue with idling.  There are loads of articles out there telling us to stop using busy-ness as a social status except that, certainly for me, it’s not a social status to be busy.  For me, being idle means that I’m not working on bringing my dreams to life, and the sooner I can bring my dreams to life, the sooner I can make some of the big changes in my life I’m wanting to make.  Being idle, therefore, becomes my barrier to fulfilling my dreams.

But the barrier isn’t idleness right now – it’s illness, which requires genuine rest and humility, and the willingness to ask for help when you really need it.  Which brings me to my next lesson:

2 – There are few things more humbling than when you’re forced to surrender to what you need instead of grasping and clinging on hard to what you want.

I want my goals and dreams badly.  I love working towards them, and I want to work towards them all the damn time.

That’s what I want.

It’s not what I need though, when I’m doubled over and controlling my breathing in the hope that it’ll make the stabbing pain stop.  Which brings me to another important lesson:

3 – You can’t always get what you want, but you can (usually) get what you need. 

‘Nuff said on that point.

4 – Never, ever, ever underestimate the glories of being able to wear any knickers you want. 

When you’re unable to wear knickers (too uncomfortable, they pressed on my bladder), or even go au natural (had to focus too hard through the pain to, um, prevent accidents…that’s not comfortable either, that’s even worse than pressure on the bladder!), you’re pretty much going to have to wear incontinence knickers.  Whilst I praise them for their wonderful comfort and in being my “safety net”, I’m also very happy to now be back comfortably in my knickers and not need to wear the salvation knickers again any time soon.

*Touch wood*

5 – Notice the signs.

You can’t predict when you’re going to be struck down with illness, but you can become more aware of indications that you’re heading for some kind of a fall.

I was doing everything that I thought I could to look after myself except give myself the one thing that I needed the most but really didn’t want – complete rest once a week or fortnight.  Dropping everything.  Even the stuff I desperately want to do and bring into my life.

Wanna get a bit woo on this?  Every day I spend literally 1 minute picking out a Deva Card to give me a little something to think about and watch out for in my day.  For an entire week leading up to this, I picked out “Mercy”.  Every day for a week.

An interesting coincidence, certainly.  I don’t wholly subscribe to the whole “signs from the universe/angels” thing, that idea is there to bring comfort to us that coincidences are orchestrated from a “higher power beyond us mortals” to “put you on your right path”.  But I do appreciate being pointed to qualities, musing on it and its meaning, and then keeping it in mind if I happen to need it soon after seeing or thinking about it.  I have found that it has paid off to have this little ritual just enough times for it to be worthwhile (plus I can happily muse for hours on thoughts, theories and philosophies!).  And by “paid off” I mean it’s given me a fall-back plan or helped cut the chase to resolve issues on the fly.

Like this time, seeing “Mercy” for a week: reminded me to have mercy on myself and just give in when I really needed to (after fighting it and having a few tantrums along the way!).  It reminded me to stop punishing myself – because even if I wanted to do stuff, doing so would come at a price that was getting too much to bear.  I got up one morning a week ago and spent 20 minutes cooking breakfast for all of us, it’s one of my favourite activities.  Afterwards I was in agony for 6 hours, desperately trying to calm my undercarriage down.

“Mercy”: stay in bed and ask for help.  And then ask for more help.  Even if I hate it.  Even if I’m a stubborn ass.

Even if it makes me feel so worthless and useless to do so.

“Well, then that makes you my extra pet for a week,” my other half said to me.  He believes that all pets are useless, although they’re nice to have around as extra fluffy company.  I laughed and cried and told him how much I loved him for making me laugh through the pain.

Take heed of the signs and dare yourself to fall back.

^^ that’s a little love note to me too.

I am on the mend now, thankfully.  I hope you are all well and that you take a little time out soon to rest up, whether you think you need it or not.




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