What Katy Did - or didn't do ....

A bout of illness scuppers Katy's plans for a busy week off from work, but the days in bed allow her time to reflect.

This week, it's less a case of What Katy Did, than What Katy Didn't. Yes folks, the time has finally come, and I knew it would, when I have no fun things to write about. This is because due to the law of sod, my week of holiday (a much-needed break from the office) nicely coincided with my being ill. What joy.

Not ill for the entire week, but ill enough on two of the days to render the rest of the week a write-off due to having virtually no food inside me and hence no energy.

What I had planned to do, which to be fair is still not all that exciting, was to sort through my wardrobe and chest of drawers to find unwanted clothing and shoes that I can sell on Ebay (I hope to make enough money to then buy the GHD hair straighteners I so desire but can't justify forking out £100 for), paint the hallway and landing a pleasant shade of Egyptian cotton, plant some spring flowers in my garden, dust and thoroughly clean all the rooms in my house, go through the piles and piles and boxes and boxes of old magazines that I never refer to but still have not been able to recycle (1997 Zest magazines might come in handy, and the millennium edition of Vogue is bound to be worth a bob or two one day), and lastly, visit my allotment each day to finally get it all dug over and ready for planting. The first half of the week was perfect allotment weather too - bright and sunny.

But alas it was not to be. I spent almost the entire week either sitting or lying in bed, reading books and magazines. And once I had finally accepted my fate, I started to like my new non-busy state of being. I got through the entire book For Tibet, With Love, about a female journalist who becomes interested in Tibet and its issues, and starts campaigning for change. I also made good progress with my Audrey Hepburn biography, which had sat by my bedside since November. A kind friend also bought me two recent issues of Psychologies, the best women's magazine around, in my opinion, as rather than focusing on external issues - clothes, make up, plastic surgery, which celebs have are the thinnest etc - it is stuffed full of articles about our internal life: how the brain works, our emotions, human conditions, relating to others, discover the 'real you' - basically, bite-sized self-help books rolled into one.


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But what was most interesting about my week of inactivity was realising how much I often do cram into a working week. I'm always brushing it aside but friends tell me I do a lot and perhaps they are right. There's something to be said for a night at home curled up with a good book rather than being out partying. Not that I'm saying I've gone off partying for good, but right now I seem quite content to finish work and come home thinking 'ahh, I have nothing planned this evening', which makes a refreshing change.

As Buddhists would no doubt say, only from stillness can we learn about ourselves, our wants and our desires. Filling every waking hour with activity is fun but if you never have time to stop and process it all, it just turns into a blur of theatre, drinks, shows, dancing, exercising, working, with none of it really being appreciated fully.

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So my new thing, for now, is to “do more and more of less and less” - advice from Sangharakshita, founder of the Western Buddhist Order. Amen to that (or should that be Om?).

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