With such a wet autumn, my writing seems to have been focusing on the need to get outside whatever the weather, but today I find myself taking the opposite position.  Sometimes it’s just as important to rest, even when the blue skies and crisp, clear mornings of late October are calling to you.  Sometimes, it takes a real effort to say, ‘No!’ to nature and quash your urge to rush out into the sunshine, to launch a full frontal assault on the garden ‘to do list’.

It has been a difficult week, involving long car journeys and sleeping on sofa beds and I am tired, achy and desperate to get back into my normal routine.  A cold wet day would suit me perfectly right now, but the sun is taunting me, luring me into the garden.  When I visit the chickens they are in urgent need of cleaning out.  The lawn looks more like a hay meadow.  There are soggy, rotting leaves all over the patio, partially concealing a couple of unspeakable huddles of fur, feathers and wiggles; gifts left by the cat in our absence.  My glorious, multi-headed sunflower has been felled by the wind and is sprawled across the greenhouse roof.  Where on earth do I start?

The answer is, by turning back into the warmth of the kitchen and switching on the kettle.  The deciding factor here is not the weather, but what my healing body and mind need right now.  If I choose to go out I will inevitably be drawn into tackling some of the smaller jobs, picking up stray plant pots blown by the wind or shovelling up the corpses.  In the manner of all addictions, the pull of the ‘to do’ list will lure me on to ‘just’ cutting up the sunflower for the compost heap.  Before I know it I will be collapsing in a frustrated heap over a partially cut lawn and clogged up mower.  No.  The garden can wait.  In fact it will all still be there in the spring if necessary, except maybe the bodies, which will have been tidied up by a legion of helpful mini-beasts.

With steaming mug in hand and snuggly blanket drawn up around my shoulders, I settle onto the sofa.  I am facing full west; the afternoon sunlight bathes my face and sparks brilliant scarlet lights in a spray of honeysuckle berries outside.  The plum tree, which I planted to give us shade from the full summer glare, has dropped all its leaves now and carries a plump dunnock or sparrow on each dancing twig.  They chatter and shuffle in an avian version of musical chairs, swooping between the tree, the dense cover of the privet hedge and the thatch of delicate jasmine fronds by the window.  I can’t help but laugh at their antics and feel the lightness that comes with such small joys.  The evil ‘to do list’ fights back, as I mentally add ‘refill the bird feeders’ to it, but I resist, reminding myself that delegation is a wonderful thing. My only concession to The List today will be to text a neighbour who cut the hedge for me last year.  That I think I can manage.

Do you ignore what your body tells you and delay resting until you’ve ticked off some more of your own To Do List?  Who are you pushing yourself for?  Where are your own needs on your list of priorities and why?  Taking yourself to the top of the list is essential to healing.  It’s not selfish.  You matter!