Busy Doing Nothing

Sometimes I wear my “busyness” like a badge of honour. Being “busy” equates with success and achievement. On holiday, I noticed that I was far happier  when I was “not busy”. Those days when I sat by the pool, meandered around the garden or strolled down to a local cafe to mooch and enjoy an espresso with Mr T were some of the loveliest days I’ve had this year. We relished having nothing to do, nowhere to be and no-one to please but ourselves.

I came home with a sketch book full of ideas, swatches for new designs, hundreds of photos taken with my new camera and I refound my creativity. It’s the first holiday in years when I haven’t felt homesick within a few days of arriving. The beautiful gardens surrounding our holiday cottage were so wonderful we didn’t feel the need to stray far from home. We didn’t “tick off” many tourist destinations, we hardly ate out and we spent very little. What did we do? We swam, Mr T cycled. We visited the local towns and markets, bought local cheese, meats and honey (oh yes, and wine of course). We cooked simple meals, we talked, listened to each other and in the interests of full disclosure I should tell you we spent  more afternoons than we should enjoying a “siesta”! We watched TV coverage of the Tour de France (and saw some of it in the flesh), we didn’t feel the need to apologise for wasting our time in such trivial ways.

Since we came home, I’ve tried really hard to spend time doing “nothing”. Every day I have taken an hour out to go for a walk or tend the garden. I’ve been happier, less stressed out by deadlines and negotiating commissions. There have even been days when I’ve pulled the cobwebs off the deck chair and sat in the shade under the hazel trees to read a book.

This time, usually early in the mornings has often been the best part of the day. Disconnected from the internet, phone on silent I have been more aware of nature and more aware of the people who matter. For the past week, each day has begun with a walk in the local forest. I wasn’t aware of the concept of “Forest Bathing” until recently, but the idea that being outdoors is good for mental and physical well being isn’t a surprise to me. Ask any gardener, and they’ll wax lyrical about how much better they feel after an hour of weeding, dead heading or pulling up weeds – even the mundane tasks improve our moods!

The other thing I’ve noticed is this: No-one has noticed I’ve been disconnected! Nobody has noticed that I haven’t been answering emails, posting online, commenting or responding until late in the morning, sometimes not  even in the afternoons. In short, my day has started later and yet I’ve achieved the same, sometimes more in less time and in a better frame of mind.”

Slowly, very slowly I’m losing the need to appear busy to outside observers. I don’t feel the need to justify how I’ve spent my day or have something concrete to show off. Busy doing “nothing” is probably when I’ve been most creative, happy and above all, content.

I just wish I had learned this lesson in my twenties, not my fifties!


Leave a comment


  1. You’ve inspired me… I think I’m gonna lay by the pool this weekend an give myself a break :)


  2. Quote: “…more afternoons than we should enjoying…” Don’t ever apologise for that! I’m pleased for you. As an early retiree married to an older one, our only deadlines are my care calls at 1015 twice a week, and 3 other afternoon calls. The bliss of both being night owls who are “allowed” long lie-ins will never be taken for granted! Since we abandoned “normal” living for extra care apartment-living, our lives have transformed. Pete is currently making a fab made-from-scratch meal while I write this…it is heaven!


  3. Tracey

     /  August 11, 2017

    Shirl, it seems to me that the hardest lesson to learn when you live with chronic illness is not to be resentful of the enforced inactivity. It seems to me that you and Pete have mastered that art so well. Enjoy your weekend. Tracey x


  4. Tracey

     /  August 11, 2017

    Enjoy your weekend, thanks for stopping by and saying hello x


  5. Thank you Tracey. Pete’s off to watch beloved Oldham play footy in Wallsall while I write. I’m having an away day at home with just one care call. Part of being on enforced idleness is finding the right things to do. I’m at my creative maximum and that is good. Have a lovely weekend, Tracey and Mr T and a really good week to follow, Shirl D x


  6. Sounds like a wonderful holiday and so glad you’ve transplanted some of that wonder back into your everyday life. Nothing is something very special indeed.


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  • A throwback to when @andreaellisonphoto & I visited the guys from  @nine_meals_from_anarchy in 2014. So much has changed since then, but I'm still wearing that granny square cowl, coat & wellies combo for gardening! Oh and I lust after a greenhouse this big - think of the possibilities!!! I'm still not comfortable in front of the camera, but Andrea always brings out the best in me. I ♥ all the photos she's taken of me and my crochet!
#grannycoolcrochet #grannysquaresrock #grannysquare #instacrochet #crochetgirlgang #30wears #girlgardener #permaculture #organicgardener #ninemealsfromanarchy All the rhubarb!  My neighbour's crop is showing promise! I'm thinking gin, crumble, maybe some rose petal and rhubarb cordial, rhubarb and ginger jam ... more gin.......I do love rhubarb!!!! My creative space. Today I had a bit of a spring clean & tidied my desk . I took this photo to remind myself how tidy I can be! By Friday it will be a chaotic mess again. You can also see some of my "must haves". Flowers (from a gorgeous posy bought last week in a beautiful posy bottle made by Victoria at Little Wren,  handcream, lip balm and a scented candle - this is a new @willowandhoneyuk candle  bought today from @thelittlecraftcompany it smells divine and the wooden wick crackles in a very satisfying way! I'm working on a new commission for Inside Crochet using super bright shades of cotton, using a lovely wooden hook bought from Beyond Measure at Woolfest last year. On the notice board, a few favourite photos, some paperwork & the ladybird pattern that came free with issue 99 of @insidecrochet . I've put it there to remind me that once this book is finished I can have some fun! There are lots of people tagged in this post - too many to mention - but I love buying lovely things from real people & my workspace reflects that admiration for women who run their own businesses & do it well! Explore the tags and you might discover some new favourites! Flowers everywhere! Bunches of cut flowers in my kitchen, blooms in the bathroom and a desk covered in crochet florals. This spring my designs have been influenced by love of the outdoors.  This is a sneaky peek of a new design, commissioned for issue 100 of @insidecrochet , believe me, this is an issue you will not want to miss!!! #instacrochet #crochetflower #girlgardener #knittersofinstagram #grannycoolcrochet #haaktechniekenbijbel #uncinetto #horgolás Goodbye winter, hello spring! I spent most of the weekend in the garden, tidying and prepping the greenhouse, pricking out seedlings & watching the first Gardener's World of the new season. The greenfinches are skirmishing, the sap is rising, buds are forming and it's light enough to step outside when I wake up. Happy days!
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