An Afternoon Off

By Alison November 20, 2019 5 Comments 4 Min Read

One of the things I am terribly good at is tuning out all the bodily signals telling me to stop. To pause. To rest. To turn away from the screen and put down the darn mop. To listen. To hush the must-do’s and to allow myself to sit in the quiet silence of nothing.

While I remain a dedicated meditator, still meditation is not “nothing” – it is always something. Sometimes a something that is easier done on one day than it is on the next. Something I am deeply committed to, but never something that has become as natural as brushing my teeth, Still always work. A practise, Something I think will be the kind of lifelong challenge I have no desire to abandon. And though a billion books will tell you otherwise mindfulness won’t always come as naturally as breathing, because for most of us it isn’t and it probably never will be: it will always be something we have to choose to do. Something we must turn our minds to and actively make a decision to do.

But today I don’t want to choose. Today I have the kind of ugly burping thing I now recognise hounds me in times of stress and the need to do nothing at all is touching me softly on the shoulder and saying enough please. No well-meaning rituals. No well-being routines. No dedication to being good or doing what is right or chasing Brocante’s lovely tail. Enough. Just for one day. A single day in which to recognise my own body begging for mercy. For a dose of the kindness I am so endlessly offering everyone else in this house. For the bliss that switching of the harridan in my mind long enough to feel what it is to do exactly what I want to do, instead of that I feel I ought to be doing.

For heckity pie she really is a harridan. In fact I would go so far as to say she is a nagging old hag complete with stringy hair and grandiose ideas of who she should be were she not tethered to me and my rather lacklustre self. She is frequently appalled by my dozy, plodding ways and more than a bit irritated when I get a burst of energy and throw myself headlong into something only to collapse into a heap when energy goes the way energy is prone. She tap tap taps at my head and will not let me be, whining like the crone she is and poking at my eyes with fingers like claws.

So I have decided to give her a day off. To tell her to take her a hike for a while. Though I can’t imagine who I would be if she wasn’t around to mither me, and I’m not sure it would do to find out for too long, I do believe that a little time alone would be the most divine of moments well spent. Just for a while.

Bring on then an afternoon in front of Reese Witherspoon interviewing a litany of amazing women, a just because book from one of my favorite writers, a pot of ginger tea to banish the hopping nerves in my tummy and a room scented with rose and frankincense to soothe my soul.

Above all else a list of things I will not do: no polishing this or re-writing that. No yoga stretches because I feel obliged, no trying to switch into mindful mode because the enlightened woman should be mindful of this that and next doors dog. No fussing over Christmas lists not written or the whereabouts of a wandering child who will come home when he’s hungry. No wrapping of presents already bought because multi-tasking is usually my thing and above all else NO GUILT. About the places and people I won’t be visiting during the holiday season, the grout around the bath much in need of a deep clean or indeed all that I could be doing on the laptop highly likely to weld itself to knees very soon! Guilt really is the most awful bore isn’t it?

Just one day doing the little bits of nothing that wrap me in a hug and allow my body to breathe a sigh of deep relief.

Won’t you do the same?


  1. I just returned from a week in Belize during which I did a whole lot of nothing. It was exactly what I needed and now I’m working on a plan to include a bit of that nothingness each week.

    1. Alison May says:

      We really must get out of the habit of bullying ourselves so relentlessly mustn’t we? Hope you had a lovely time.x

  2. Linda Larson says:

    Sometimes those days are a must, but as you say it is very hard to take the time to make it happen. We are in the midst of a very hectic time, and it is hard to be still. However over the years I have learned that I have to carve out time, or I go quite mad. I wish you a day of peace and relaxation with absolutely no pressure to do anything. Now if only our brains would listen!

    1. Alison says:

      I sometimes wish I came with an off button Linda!x

  3. I did, indeed. Thank you!

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