I come from a line of women who fall over. My mother fell over, my nanna fell over. So, I have a legacy, and I need to be careful.
My mother’s most spectacular fall was as she tried to step off the back of a moving vehicle that was driving along a pebbly dirt road. She miscalculated how fast the vehicle was moving, her legs couldn’t keep up, and she dived headfirst into the road, splitting her face open. Just a terrible, traumatic experience.
My grandmother’s most spectacular fall happened when she was 87 and she fell off a series of concrete steps onto more concrete while she was alone, busily doing chores around her home. I was the first person to visit her after this fall, and, I can tell you, there is not much worse than seeing your beloved nanna, in her late 80s, with the most horrifying bruise splashed over half her face and neck. All I could do is utter, “Oh, sweetheart!” and gather her in my arms as she briefly wept.
This line of women who fall over also work hard. On the day my mother fell over, the family was “moving sheep,” herding a large flock of sheep from one farm to another, that involved coaxing them along a public road. This takes a lot of logistical work, to ensure that oncoming cars are aware that they need to slow right down, and to make sure the sheep go “in the gate” (and in the right gate – it’s no fun rounding up your sheep from the neighbor’s property, and even less fun trying to do it after they’ve mingled with the neighbor’s sheep). My mum worked wholeheartedly, quickly and selflessly.
My nanna didn’t slow down until just before she died. And when she had to slow down, she knew it was time to die. A life of no work and no efficiency is no life at all.
So, my women are quick, they work hard, and they fall over. It’s in my blood. I find myself constantly trying to achieve the next thing, constantly planning a project three projects down the line, constantly trying to tick stuff off my list. I know it takes at least 4 minutes for the kettle to boil for my morning coffee, and I know it takes 4 minutes to make the bed. So the bed is made while the coffee boils. No sense in wasting time.
The other day while hastily carrying boxes down a wooden staircase I fell over. Not as spectacularly as my mum or my nanna, but enough to twist my ankle and shake me up. And enough to jolt me into remembering what falling over looked like on my dear women. Enough to remind me to slow-the-hell-down.
Mindfulness could save my face. Taking those stairs slowly, with my hair tied back so I can see, with a manageable load, focussing on each step, being in the moment – that could save my face. Acknowledging my genetic predisposition for busyness, and choosing to slow it all down – that could prevent a trip to the hospital and facial surgery. Holding my dear women in my heart, and loving their injured smiles – that can be my legacy. Their falling down is their gift to me – the gift of remembering to be mindful.
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- Somatic Self-Compassion Week 1 Practice Cycle: What is Somatic Self-Compassion? - January 4, 2021