Shaking off the Shoulds

The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes — ah, that is where the art resides. ~ Artur Schnabel

I opened the kitchen curtains this morning to an eerie brightness and snow falling silently outside.

My kids’ delight in the snow is not contagious. After I packed them off to school, wrapped up, laughing and excited, I sat down at the kitchen table, hugging a steaming mug of coffee as I remembered my own childhood winters, trudging through blizzards to school, with frozen, aching fingers and toes, breathing in damp wool from the scarf I’d been mummified in.

So, no ski slopes, toboggans and brightly coloured bobble hats for me, I’m afraid. Snow’s for Christmas, when the tree tops glisten, Bing and Dean croon, fairy lights twinkle outside on snowy conifers and I snuggle up in front of the fire with a feel good film and something yummy. Today I’m having a snow day. No ice-dancing with other cars on roads like ice rinks; I’m staying in and going nowhere.

It’s all too easy to let the shoulds gently freeze out the To Be list, the fun and the wants, till you can’t even remember what they were – but today I’m giving myself a day off.

A day off from self imposed routines and unquestioned obligations; a day off from marketing emails designed to make me feel anxious and lacking. A day where no-one cares whether I have a niche or not.

But having a snow day doesn’t mean that nothing gets done. It’s often in moments of silence, idleness or mundane activity that inspiration and creativity take us by surprise.

I’ve whizzed through the cleaning and clutter, choosing to tackle the windows to let in more of the bright snow light. I’ve ignored the ironing but cleared out an entire kitchen cupboard instead, just for that glorious feeling you get as you bag up objects you neither love nor need. I’ve listened to an inspiring audio clip from Byron Katie’s new book, ‘A Thousand Names for Joy’ and I’ve done some chatty email coaching, slurping hot chocolate with whipped cream, marshmallows and chocolate sprinkles, glad I’ve not got a  webcam. And the avalanche of marketing emails in my inbox?  To unsubscribe, click here Click…. Click….Click….

While I’ve been sitting here writing, it’s stopped snowing and some of the snow has thawed. I’ve just watched a laurel branch bounce back from under its burden of snow, launching it like a catapult.

That’s how I feel as I shake off the shoulds, the rest of my snow day beckoning me like our snow covered front garden, silently waiting to share its treasure when the kids come home.

I might be tempted to build a snow wolf or make some snow angels with them. Or most likely, I’ll put on the kettle and watch them through the living room window, daydreaming of a new year stretching before me like an empty beach full of promise, a cinema’s COMING SOON trailers, a tempting pile of unread books, hyacinths hidden in a bowl, a brand new journal to cuddle up with and bustling pavement cafes full of people to meet and delicious treats to tempt the senses.

A year of choices, not shoulds.