For the first time in my life, and at the age of 61, I have a kind of balance in my life. My kids have flown the nest (well two and a half!), my workload has eased, I have no management responsibility and, although tinged with a little sadness, no Dad to care for. It’s an enviable position but it’s been a long time coming. Like the driven woman I am, I can’t just be. I like goals and structure in my life. And variety. So I came up with the mnemonic, SPICES to help me get a good balance of things that matter in my life.
S – Social – connecting with people in some way. Meeting them for lunch, walking or working together. Writing letters and making calls counts here too. I’ve started writing letters again. Email is great but there isn’t much warmth in it. Pity my handwriting is so illegible.
P – Physical – exercise, eating, drinking, just getting some fresh air. With working from home I have found that when I have a large project (often many more!) there have been days when I realise I haven’t been out. I start to feel a bit low and then realise I just need some fresh air. It can’t be good for our wellbeing to be cooped up in offices all day. At least at home I get to look out of the window and see trees. I need to see greenery to be inspired.
I – Intellectual – brain work. I love it when work is challenging, a new problem to solve. But sometimes there is just too much. I am more conscious of my use of time as I get older. Life is too short now to do 60 hour weeks. So that leaves more time for…
C – Creative – cooking, knitting, sewing, writing, reading, film, theatre, blogging. This is my main preoccupation, my oxygen that sustains everything else. I always have to have multiple creative projects on the go. I’ve started to explore some of those 50+ cook books I’ve bought over the years. Cookery books are my bedtime reading. Nigel and Nigella current favourites with Delia for basics, like a white sauce or Yorkshire pudding. I’m reading different authors and works. Mainly non-fiction. Trying to slow down. I have always speed read, even for pleasure. But you miss a lot that way.
E- Emotional – caring, looking after people. You can do too much of this too, particularly as a woman! But you have to keep other people going and I’m fairly resilient myself. Having more time has given me a chance to reconnect with some old friends. You have to nurture friendships and I’ve been guilty of letting some great people fall by the wayside in the past. I’ve also taken people close to me for granted so I try to consciously make time now. It’s a pity it takes so long to appreciate what matters. Reminds me of the TS Eliot quote: ‘We shall not cease our exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time’.
S – Spiritual stuff. This provides context and helps remind me of why everything else I’ve mentioned matters.