Remember to stop and savour the snowflakes

Snow this week in London has caused late journeys, frozen toes, and hours of scraping windscreens free of ice. I’ve been in a hurry to get to meetings and carry on a normal life this week, the frankly the snow has been a pain in the backside. It took me 20 minutes to liberate my car from inches of snow. I then had to negotiate an ice rink of a car park that almost robbed my proud little car of its oomph. And you can’t get in my hallway for dripping boots, soaked gloves and padded coats.

I hadn’t stopped to enjoy the snow at all. I didn’t take a red sledge to the hills behind my house and hear my daughter’s pink-cheeked whoops of joy as she careered down the slopes. I didn’t join in with the neighbours as they shovelled our road back to black (a precipitous task, given the three-day snowfall we had). And I didn’t rush to find a carrot suitable for a snowman’s nose. It was as if the snow hadn’t happened at all, for all the attention I had paid to it.

Snowflakes reminded me to appreciate everyday precious moments    (pic: istockphoto.com/djedzura)

Until last night, that is. I was walking along the road to get my car, avoiding the slippery pavements packed with ice. And I suddenly realised it was snowing again. It was nine at night, and the streetlamps illuminated the fragile puffs of white tumbling out of the sky. It felt as though that snowfall was a show specially created for me. I stopped on the street corner and looked up at the marvel of those perfect little snowflakes. Collectively they may be a nightmare. But individually they are delicate little things of beauty.

They brought a tiny tear to my eye and a warmth to my heart. A former boss of mine, watching me run around like a mad thing, always said to me: “Remember to stop and smell the flowers.” He’s not around any more, but this phrase lingered. And last night’s snow reminded me to appreciate the divine magic in the things around us that we take for granted.

The snow is fluffier this year. Not so great for snowmen. And not too good for train operators or commuters. But absolutely perfect for pulling a lost woman back to the present. I may have disconnected from the world temporarily. But those little snowflakes had a big role in making me feel alive again.

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Tonight’s the night to do something ‘once in a blue moon’

There’s a blue moon tonight. Not literally blue, but the kind of moon that only comes along now and again. A special kind of moon, when there are two full moons in a calendar month.

What would you do once in a blue moon…?    (pic: istockphoto.com/DougLemke)

I’ve been thinking I should honour the blue moon somehow. Do something I’ve been promising to do for a while. But then I realised that what I’ve been promising myself for some time is to take my focus off doing and instead concentrate on being. To remove that necessity to be busy. And instead enjoy the purity of a moment.

So tonight, for once in a blue moon, I’m going to just be.

Can mindfulness with our children prevent parenthood regrets?

The biggest regret of parents is not spending enough time with their kids when they were young. They regret working too much, not appreciating that their children would grow up in a flash, not taking enough photos and not going on holiday enough with them. They also regretted worrying about the little things and not letting themselves go and enjoy the moment. That’s according to a survey commissioned by Huggies Little Swimmers nappy brand and published in the Daily Mail.

Mindful of how two-thirds of parents would do things differently if they could, I was more determined than ever to enjoy a half-term break with my eight-year-old daughter mindfully and fully. While she is still young and wanting to play with me.

I was more mindful on holiday with my daughter. With special moments, you either use them or lose them. 

I resolved to pay full attention to how many dives, handstands and lengths she did in the pool (instead of surreptitiously reading my book while pretending to watch her). I applauded when she came down the scariest of scary water slides. And I cheered when she was chosen to go on stage to take part in a tongue-twister competition. I savoured every minute, took as many photos as possible, and I can say I had no regrets about being fully present in the here and now.

Because I, like the parents in the survey, can feel time slipping through my fingers. I blinked and my baby is suddenly nearly as tall as me, and has picked up skills in persuasion, manipulation and negotiation. Each moment I spend with her is tinged with the reminder that this moment won’t come again. And there will be a time when moments like this don’t happen again.

So, I have no regrets about reading that article as a reminder to myself to be mindful. To remember that the human existential condition is such that we only have now. We can either live it fully or let it slip away unnoticed until we feel sad when we spot it in the rear-view mirror.

And the one main regret I certainly don’t have from my weekend away is my decision NOT to go down that scary slide.