Friday, 20 January 2017

Perspective {finding contentment}

So, this week I finally got back on here and told you that it was a time of new things for me. This week, one of those "new things" was a thing of pure joy, along with some lessons learned on the way.

Last week I decided that I needed to exercise more. I used to do a Davina DVD, but our DVD player isn't working in the lounge. I KNOW I will feel the benefit if I do it, but thought of lugging another TV downstairs, then finding somewhere to plug it, before even STARTING to exercise, has admittedly, put me off somewhat.

I know.

I am lazy.  I should put in some more effort and just DO it.


I decided, instead, to take a more leisurely adjustment back into bodily exercise (which, as we know, only profits a little.... *aherm*)

Walking at a fast pace is supposed to be a good workout, and far better for your knees than running. But, have you ever tried walking with a gaggle of small people. Half the time you spend walking at snail's pace. Another fraction is spent RUNNING after a child who is speeding away, hat on and hood up, oblivilous to your calls of impending danger. Then there are the multiple moments where you stop and observe things. Don't get me wrong - stopping and learning is BRILLIANT. I encourage 100%.  I just don't reccomend it as a pace of walking to induce weight loss or a cardiovascular workout of any consequence.

For years, this kind of walking has been my only way to walk.

Enter "the mid-teen-age" child, who is now responsible enough to be able to keep and eye on siblings.

You may hear my sigh of utter delight from across an ocean.

Dear mother-of-only-small-people. your day will come. Enjoy the days of only having little ones. At least endure it. Because, it doesn't last for ever, and one day you will realise that you and your husband can go out ALONE and leave the children behind for short times. BLISS, I say. PURE bliss.

The solution then hit me. I could go out for a walk every morning, at MY pace, with two children capable of keeping up with me. It would give them exercise, and me exercise. On the times we go out together, the others get their little bursts of exercise in sporadic moments of running, in between the snail pace of walking. Add to that the fact that they seem to literally bounce off the walls, run up and down the stairs, and generally burn off way more energy than me, even indoors on a winter's day.

Now, I live in a small village. I know, from experience, that the one pavemented route around the village is about a mile, maybe a little more. the village is only one circle-sort-of-shape, though. You can either go around it clockwise, or anti-clockwise. Not very inspiring for a would be regular walker.

I thought outside the box a little. I could walk OUT of the village in a few directions, then simply turn and walk back home. It would allow for some variation and take us in a new direction. It was also easier without small children or a pram, as one of those routes would require road walking, on a very quiet road. One day last week we took that route, and it was interesting to realise that road went up more of a hill than you notice when driving. It also gave us a lovely view of the village, and we spotted things we don't normally see.

The next walk took us to the furthest bounds of pavement out of the village in the opposite direction. It's the route we go usually once a year, to go blackberry picking. Again, a nice walk, but a "there and back again" scenario (suddenly feeling all Hobbit-ish.....) Whilst we were right at the end of the walk, by the village Church, one of the children noticed a public footpath sign, leading down through a field.

"What's down there, Mum?"

"Ummmmm, I don't know!"

Again, because it involved stiles, and gates, and fields, it wasn't somewhere I'd ever been with small children, prams etc. I kind of thought where it MIGHT lead, looking over into the other side of the village, but I wasn't completely sure. Public footpaths are fickle things.

I concluded that rather than trying it out that particular day, I would thrust my enquiry about good old Google, and see if I could find an OS map showing us the public footpaths near the village.

This I did.

And this is when an exciting revelation took place.

There were a number of public footpaths and bridleways around the village that I didn't know about!!! All of a sudden, potential walking routes were opened up to our horizon! One in particular captured my interest, and I determined that would be the next walk on our list.

The next day dawned, and once we had finished "morning time", it was break.  We rushed to don hats, gloves, scarves, and the welly boots we figured would be a necessary item of footwear.  Off we went, with just a "photographic memory" concept of where I needed to go.

It was a crisp, cold morning, with icy puddles all over the place. The first part of the walk was familiar to us, but then we crossed the road and headed up a lane that I had seen thousands of times, but never actually walked up. Shameful, given how close it is to my home!! We enjoyed observing all sorts of nature on our route, and easily followed the signs for the public footpath (given that road signs in the UK can be reliably unreliable, and tend to disappear just when you need them most, I was pleasantly surprised). At a couple of points, we could look back towards our village. But it was odd. It took us a few seconds to work out exactly where we looking at! It looked like a completely different village, observing it from a completely new angle! We found some landmarks and eventually worked out what we were looking at. When we eventually turned the corner to head back towards the village again, we saw things in the distance that we don't normally see, once again because we were simply looking at it from a new perspective.

That whole walk made me feel excited and refreshed about where we live. Now we could go for an interesting nature walk, seeing the seasons come and go and the different wildlife of our vicinity, just a dander from our home.

When we got back home, the neighbour was at the front of his house, and I chatted to him about my "discovery".

"Yes, that's where I walk my dog every day!"

Yikes! I felt like a bit of an idiot, as THAT is where all the dog walkers seem to go (I did often wonder, when I saw them walking up the road from the village, WHERE were they GOING?!) Not that we have seen a dog walker there the two days we have been so far.  To add to my enthusiasm, he then told me that there are a couple of other ways to vary the walk, and places to explore up there, including some woods.

Maybe this is not something that floats your boat, but it made me think of something that we ALL need in life.

It got me thinking about how perspective is SO important in all that we do. It's especially easy for mums to become bogged down by the mundane. Doing the same old same old, as a matter of routine. It's not that we don't have joy in doing it, but it's just "the same" all the time. But when we take the time to step back from all that we do, and look at it through fresh eyes, and from a different angle, we find new joy and enthusiasm for what we are doing.  A new perspective leads to CONTENTMENT.

Maybe you need to stop and look at your life from a third world perspective? Our "needs and wants" - those things we feel are lacking in our life by way of "stuff", suddenly seems less important if we consider how truly wealthy we are. We have so much in life that we often try and find ways to simplify and declutter, when those in other lands live a life of joy with SO much less. Contentment with what we already have.

Maybe we need to look at our life from the perspective of someone with ill health. Someone who struggles to do the things with their children or family that we can do without a second thought? Someone who has to say "no" repeatedly to their children, when they want to do something that is just beyond the bounds of their physical capabilities? Suddenly, the small inconveniences of activities that wear us out, or we're fed  up being asked to do, we are thankful that we can even accomplish at all?  Contentment that we can do what we do.

Maybe you need to look at your home school life from the perspective of someone who doesn't even have the liberty TO home school, or even get to school at all. There are still countries in the world where it is illegal to home educate, or else there are very strict rules about the "dos and don'ts". (Brits, be thankful you don't even live in some US states, where it's for more regulated than here!) Don't lose the joy you should have in keeping your children with you at home. Change things about a little, or add something new into your daily routine. Think back to your reasons for choosing to home school, and get a fresh joy for the opportunity you have. Contentment with the opportunities that we have.

Maybe you need to look at your Church life from a persecuted Church perspective? The World Watch List from Open Doors,  tells of the countries where there is most persecution for being a Christian - 11 are severe, another 21 very high, and another 10 are high. Believers in some of these lands can't even tell their CHILDREN of their new found faith in Christ, because the risk of them being taken away, or killed, if they told someone else, is simply too high. THEIR OWN CHILDREN. Can you imagine that? Maybe you can be doing more to teach your own family about the Lord. Maybe you can get more involved in your own Church, and find a way to reach out to those in your own community.  Contentment with the freedoms we have.

Maybe you're looking back over on your life, after things going a route you didn't expect? Sometimes it can be hard to see  things exactly the way they really are. Perhaps you need to just step back and see God's hand, and that He is always there. Nothing has changed. Perhaps you need to dig into God's Word and find precious truths that remind you about who God is - see how you are to live and why. Then you are just seeing it all from the perspective of God and His perfect Word. Contentment with our circumstances.

You see, changing your perspective will lead to contentment. A fresh look at your life will allow you to see that God is good, you are blessed, and you have SO much to be thankful for!

Whatever it is in your life that you feel is mundane or tedious, try just stepping back and finding a fresh way to look at it. You may be pleasantly surprised to find the renewed joy that you will have by gaining a fresh perspective, and the contentment that comes hand in hand with that joy!

I am certainly looking forward to stepping out and exploring more of the local countryside, all the while being thankful for so much in my life that enables me to do that at all.

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