We are part of the whole which we call the universe, but it is an optical delusion of our mind that we think we are separate. This separateness is like a prison for us. Our job is to widen the circle of compassion so we feel connected to all people and all situations. ~ Albert Einstein
Before I created my blog, I was a hermit bee, living, not in a hive, but in my own cosy wee writing cave, emerging to buzz away happily in other people’s blogs, reading, writing guest posts and cross-pollinating for pleasure in their comment boxes. All the writing honey from my life and my daily detail loving was saved for my coaching column.
When I wasn’t writing, every moment was a chance to gather nectar, the essence of moments spent in my home and garden.
I spent more time watching the birds outside my kitchen window, nature’s bloggers, living and foraging side by side: blue tits and chaffinches sharing the bird feeder happily; gangs of starlings swooping in and squawking loudly, chasing off other birds and swiping all the berry-filled fat, leaving nothing for the smaller birds; dunnocks hopping about in the bushes, silently feeding on the scraps left after the flapping frays, and the serene robin, sure of his territory, sitting on my fence, bobbing his head three times, choot choot choot, doing his business, planting the seeds of trees and bushes that will shelter his offspring someday.
March came and went in a flurry of blog-building, jury duty, illness, kids’ activities and shopping for my eighty five year old dad. I missed birthdays and deadlines, unaware that the weeks were flying by.
April and May settled into routines of burned meals, overflowing ironing baskets and piles of dirty washing.
Wet clothes were eventually dragged unceremoniously from the washing machine and dumped into the dryer. I no longer stuck my face into piles of damp line-dried laundry smelling of flowers and fresh air.
It reminded me of the first time I went for Step 2 of the IAC exam, obsessed and blinkered, neglecting all the other areas of my life. It came as no surprise that I failed first time.
But still I blogged, driven by the urge to create a community, to do something with my writing, to reach out beyond my garden and share more of myself.
I kept thinking, I’d settle into a blogging routine, but never for one moment did I realise that I was becoming worn out and weary right at the start of my journey, a journey I’d hoped to savour and share with all kinds of travelling companions for years to come.
My husband had a day off work last week and we planned to catch up on some neglected gardening. He went to run a bath in the family bathroom after the kids went to school and I found myself heading furtively towards the laptop, thinking I’d just do a quick ten minutes, when suddenly he bounded into the room.
“You’ll never guess what we’ve got on the window ledge outside the bathroom!”
“A nest! With eggs! Four eggs!”
He sounded just like our young son.
We both crept to the back door like a couple of teenagers getting home late, wondering what lunacy had possessed a bird to build a nest next to our garden path, outside a family bathroom where our kids squabble loudly about everything from toilet paper to toothpaste.
We opened the heavy wooden door slowly and took a step out, as quietly as we could. And there she was. A blackbird, with a thin, sharp yellow beak and beady black eye. Aware of us, she didn’t move.
I sneaked in for my camera and stealthily captured the moment, scared that if we stood staring too long in awe at the magic of this little scene, that she’d get spooked and fly off.
The kids came home from school and couldn’t believe it, smiles wild and full of wonder.
That evening, while they were out with my husband, I started to worry. What if the wind blew the nest off the ledge, if cats came prowling, if a sudden noise from inside the bathroom spooked her. I felt I needed to do something, to help in some way, so I got some bread crumbs, opened the back door and gently scattered them on the ground in her direction. With a startled cheep and a flap, she flew off.
Horrified, I closed the door and stood, cursing myself for interfering, for having my own agenda, for doing too much and not letting things take their natural course.
For hours I was too scared to look. My husband and kids came home, asking if she was still there.
“I scared her off,” I said, sadly. “I tried to feed her.”
“She’ll be back,” said my daughter. “She did choose us.”
“Yes,” said my son. “It’s a good place. Sheltered, and bricks absorb heat. She’s clever. She’ll be back. She knows we wouldn’t hurt her.”
I couldn’t bear to look. The hours passed and I couldn’t settle to anything. All I could think about were the little eggs, neglected, getting cold, because I’d overdone it. As usual.
My husband came into the living room smiling.
“She’s back. And there’s this little pile of crumbs next to her. It looks like she’s tried to spell out thanks.”
I threw a cushion at him as the kids teased me, asking if we should put worms on the shopping list and start a university fund.
I gently opened our back door and looked towards the bathroom ledge. As she sat there, her brown feathered body filling out the nest, she turned to me and fixed me with a beady eye. I pulled the back door shut, ever so quietly, and came back inside, smiling, trusting that everything would be OK. Sometimes, we just need to sit still and do nothing but be.
The father showed up, and together they raised four healthy chicks.
This post originally appeared in my Coaching Moments column in VOICE, the monthly newsletter of the International Association of Coaching, edited by Linda Dessau.