What I did before breakfast

Poppy in the RainBefore breakfast, I clipped dead poppy heads.

We have a whole choir of luminous orange poppies out the front of our house. When we first moved in I found them over-bright, brash, but I’ve come to my senses now. They wave their glorious flags for a day or two before the petal tatters float to the ground, leaving stems tipped with a black cross.

New buds are emerging all the time – a hundred of them – and I like to clip the spent stems to make way for them.

Last year I attacked the stems with my secateurs, overwhelmed by the task ahead of me, holding bunches of three or four at a time and clipping off more than a few buds by mistake. As I worked I felt pressed for time and slightly grumpy.

Today, I took my time. I snipped each sturdy stem individually. I noticed that the old stems were a different colour – everso-slightly more yellow than grey-green. I was accompanied by humming bees who breakfasted on the blooms that were out. I chanted quietly as I worked, straightening up to say hello to the dog-walkers, to nod at the teenagers on their way to school.

During breakfast, I had a tinge of familiar guilt-and-panic. I’d been lazing around all morning – I should hurry up and get to work!

And then I remembered that I’d actually spent three quarters of an hour working already, doing a job that was on my list of things to do. By five past nine, I’m already most of the way through this blog post.

When we change, the part of us that behaves in the old way can kick up a lot of fuss. It wants us to stay the same. It thinks it’s helping – we probably learnt our old behaviour in order to keep ourselves safe, or alive. Entering into new territory always makes us feel vulnerable – we really don’t know if we will be okay. Imagine belonging to a tribe who’ve done a ritual every morning, going back generations, to make the sun comes up. Easier to do the ritual than risk it, isn’t it?

Is it?

The twinge this morning was from the part of me that feels like I must work hard and feel stressed in order to earn enough money and look after myself and be safe. This must-work-hard part is feeling pretty threatened by this new state of being – this relaxed and trusting way of being in the world.

I am trying to be kind to it – reassuring it, asking it to trust me, to just wait and see. It’ll continue to have panics, and sometimes it will push me back into my old behaviours. That’s okay – change takes time. And if I can get out of the way, change is marvellously inexorable.

What parts of you are ready to change? How can you stand aside and let yourself be transformed?


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Poppy in the Rain by John ‘K’ with gratitude

10 thoughts on “What I did before breakfast”

  1. Hi Satya, enjoyed reading your post today. It made me think about the rush to start the ‘working’ day. A short potter in the garden before, after and during the working day can be very relaxing, therapeutic and creative …. particularly when working from home.

    1. Thanks Máire. I’m also heading towards the point where money-earning-work and other-work (gardening, writing blogs! etc) feels more and more the same – feels good. Enjoy your pottering.

  2. Hubby was stung by a wasp on his finger yesterday. It’s swollen and painful and he had a restless, uncomfortable night. This morning he barked at me about something trivial that was not to his liking. I barked back “are you trying to pick a fight with me?”. He defended himself and I challenged him with a few more words…… Then we both got quiet. I remembered the story of the dog in the woods who tried to bite the friendly passerby. She was offended until she realized the dog’s foot was caught in a trap. Judgment turned into compassion. I then chose to look at my husband’s aggressive behavior in this way and my ego’s stance dissolved. My heart softened and the air between us changed from hardness to harmony and respect…. 🙂

  3. Thanks Satya, for your reminder to “look.”
    I hover over my hummingbirds. When it’s too hot, I bring in their feeder every few hours to cool it off in the frig. I call them when I take it out to hang. The hummers come buzzing right next to my face as if to say “thank you” and then proceed to dine. I try to be grateful for the sometimes vibrant and sometimes mute specks in my life that make it “hum.”

  4. Beautiful post. I love how you describe the process of trimming the daisies.

    I could stand to let go of the “must-work-hard” feeling, too, and being to approach life and tasks with more relaxation.

    1. Thanks Andrea. It’s been a long journey for me… but it seems to have been taken away without me having to do anything. Good luck in loosening yours!

  5. This month of May has been an intentional month of noticing, of quieting the part of me that is kicking up a fuss at change by looking within each day for at least one gift to write about. Thank you for the beautiful post.

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