This weekend was one of the quieter ones I’ve experienced. It’s been a journey into what I’ve yearned for this year, as a person, a parent and a woman. The joy of just being in the moment, present in the now, is a feeling that can’t adequately be put into words, but I’ll try.
A while ago, I stumbled across the Danish concept of Hygge. It’s pronounced ‘Hu-gah’ with a sort of relaxed roll of the Hu and a quiet emphasis on the gah. Without making a very complex case for it, I’ll just mention that it’s a way to connect with yourself and your loved ones. The Oxford Dictionary describes it thus.
One of the most beautiful posts I read on the topic (and I have read many!) is this one by Susie Lindau: How to have a Hygge Life. As I reflected on this idea, it came to me that life has been one frenzied roller-coaster this year. From moving to a bigger home to tackling health challenges, to watching my daughter struggle with a higher grade’s demands and figuring out a rather daunting set of circumstances on my professional front, it’s been eventful.
Stress tends to creep up on you when you least expect it. One of the first visible signs of it was the tell-tale sprain in my neck and shoulders a while ago. I’d blogged about a severe version of it a few years ago so I was reasonably panicked to step back and take precautions this time.
Another sign was the breakout of acne on my face. Now, a lot of people may or may not know this, but I’ve enjoyed relatively clear skin all through my life. I escaped the whole teen phase of breakouts and pimples, without even knowing why or doing anything special to keep these things at bay. I still don’t have a beauty regimen. So while it could be hormonal( this sudden outbreak of craters on my face), I suspect it’s more to do with stress.
We all know what stress leads to: worry, lowered productivity, a reduced sense of self-worth. For a person who actually enjoys life, this wasn’t what I wanted, at all.
My life runs on schedules. Routines keep me calm. They maintain my sanity in a world that requires me to handle the following, in no particular order: writing, blogging, editing, cooking, walking & fitness, Gy’s school updates, her classes, social media for my work, social media for my personal blogs, laundry, more laundry, keeping the household relatively dust-free and staying in control.
Without a schedule, none of this would work. I did overdo everything a while ago and burnt myself out to the point of exhaustion. Lesson learnt, so no regrets, fortunately.
Even weekends were not really spared from my schedules. They were more relaxed than weekdays, but they still had an undercurrent of ‘get things done’. So, there was no time for Hygge. No time for me to unplug, unwind, re-connect with myself or my child or just live in the moment. Not unless I took a trip away from home for this express purpose.
Until this weekend.
And the way I made it happen was by not planning it.
I’d just read this beautiful article on Hygge and was nodding along to everything when I looked up and saw Gy in the kitchen, looking for biscuits. It was 7 pm on Saturday night and dinner was already cooked and set out. We had the luxury of relaxing.
I had a deadline for an article and an idea for my next blog post which I intended to write. In addition, I was checking my social media strategy for the month gone by and trying to figure out how to take things forward on a new project. And then, I paused. I looked at all of this on my laptop and then looked at my 11-year-old in the kitchen.
On impulse, I called out to her. ‘Do you want to watch a film?’ Her eyes lit up and she scampered over to where I was sitting with her eyes wide, asking, ‘Which one?’ Scrolling through Amazon prime, I came across Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, a ShahRukh-Khan starrer. I’d personally loved when I saw it many years ago.
The decision was made. Turning off the lights, cuddling up on the couch, we turned on the TV and watched the tale of a simple soul who tries to get his new wife to fall for him, while trying to be someone else. The story is poignant, hilarious, and deeply moving. That was 2.5 hours of just us and the movie. Phones and laptops were put away, schedules were forgotten (as was dinner!) and we fell into a deep, gorgeous space of togetherness.
Post the movie, we spoke about relationships, nuances of love and the meaning of some words that she didn’t understand. In this, I saw a side to my tween that gave me an important insight: she was growing up. With a lump in my throat, I hugged her closer, answering to the best of my ability the idea of unconditional love.
Through the film, she noticed how I either dabbed my eyes at an emotional scene or wiped away a stream of tears at another one. She reached out and held my hand, in a moment of quiet solidarity. That meant more than anything else that evening.
A single decision had stretched to 4 hours of almost complete connection to one another. It spilled into the next day with us playing the songs from the movie through the day, humming along.
I’m not an expert on Hygge. I am the last person to hold forth on how to build Hygge into your life. But, from what I can tell, any activity that makes you completely lose yourself in the moment, that allows you to soak in the company of a loved one, is as close to the joy of just being, as anything else. If that means you have to schedule down time into your day or week, do it. You owe it to yourself.
Make time for your loved ones. Social media, work, the internet, that urgent e-mail can all wait.
Live in the moment. Today, promise me and yourself that you will try.
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