As I write it is 11am the day before new year’s eve and I’m tucked up in bed next to the Little Chap, still in our PJ’s.  All three of us have succumbed to our regular winter lurgy, coughing in unison like a frog chorus.  Social plans have reluctantly been rain-checked and the hatches have been battened down.

We’re remaining pretty chipper as the enforced downtime has given us is an opportunity for reflection on the past year and to think about the year ahead.

Last new year’s eve I had an epic meltdown, a tidal wave of tears and realisation that I was living some kind of weird rehash of my childhood with Vince and I in the roles of my mum and dad.  It was overwhelming.  At the time it seemed like our worst New Year’s Eve ever (let’s just say the champagne did not get opened), but as a dear and wise friend recently quoted ‘if it’s hysterical, it’s historical’ and indeed it was.  The following day when the squall had calmed and we sat there examining the flotsam and jetsam from the night before, Vince concluded ‘we have to commit to not being in the same place this time next year’.  I remember in that moment I felt an upward shift in my body at the thought that we could live a different life, and that a year felt like the perfect timescale – long enough to make significant changes but short enough to light a little fire under us.

And so here we are, ‘this time next year’ and we are most certainly not in the same place.  We couldn’t have predicted what would unfold, but in hindsight that one sentence from Vince was definitely the ball-bearing ‘drop’ on our Screwball Scramble of 2018.

Last year tested us to our limits, our stress levels at times were through the roof,  but we’re definitely where we want to be, and we’re looking forward to shaping our new lives this coming year.

I love the new year for setting intentions and for the past three years my New Year’s mantra has been ‘simplify’, I suspect it will always be a key mantra for me and it was certainly the guiding light for all the changes we made this year, but today a new word presented itself: ‘pace’.  I’ve mentioned it here before but it’s come up again having had to cancel much-looked-forward-to social engagements in order to try to get better.

As a mantra ‘pace’ fits really nicely for me as I contemplate the year ahead.  We have some big projects in the pipe-line, a major remodel of our house and two businesses to launch, alongside continuing to settle into our school and village communities, forge new friendships and stay connected with our established nearest and dearest.  All very exciting, but it’s a lot.  Hopefully by keeping a mindful eye on how we pace ourselves we can enjoy all of these things and not become too stressed, stretched or rundown.

The Oxford Dictionary has a variety of definitions for the word ‘pace’ but the one I found most interesting is:

Pace: a unit of length representing the distance between two successive steps in walking

We often think of pace as being a measure of action, ‘he set a fast pace’, ‘she decided to pace herself’.   Fast or slow, in our mind’s eye we tend to see the momentum of pace, but in the definition above we are invited to look at it as a measure of the space between the action.  Debussy is quoted as saying, “The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between them”;  a favourite art college a tip was to look at the ‘negative space’ between two objects and draw that more abstract shape.  Slightly counter-intuitively this shift in attention allows the objects to emerge more accurately than if our sole focus were on observing only the objects themselves.  Considered (s)pacing creates a place where the vital interplay between action and quietude sits.  If music was all notes and no spaces it wouldn’t be beautiful, if running was a fast shuffle it would lack speed and grace, and if the artist neglects to attend to the space between objects she fails to fully convey the relationships within the painting.  One informs the other and when the balance is right art happens.

Culturally we fear being seen as lazy, productivity is king and thus all too often we get caught up saying ‘yes’ to everything and filling our diaries, writing lists of actions (and boy do I LOVE a to-do list!) and darting place to place in a flurry of ‘productivity’.  We feel guilty if we take time out.  These activities in and of themselves are fine and are the notes, the footfall, the brushstrokes of our lives, but this year I’d like to set an intentional pace to all that I take on this year, through the introduction of space.  Being more mindful about how full we allow our weeks and months to become, asking ourselves ‘do our commitments nourish or deplete us?’, ‘is there balance between the energy we offer and expend and the time we take to restore and replenish?’, ‘have we booked some space into our calendar?’  I’d like to see if it’s possible to have a productive, useful year and remain topped up and fresh.

I wonder what is your mantra for the coming year?  Are you hoping to introduce new things or looking to reduce commitments? Are there projects in the pipeline and how might you find balance?

Whatever your year looks like, I hope it’s all you truly want it to be.  Here’s to a joy-filled 2019!



14 thoughts on “Pace

  1. susannabauer December 30, 2018 / 3:52 pm

    Beautiful words, dear Michaela!
    Always very motivating and moving to hear your thoughts 🙂
    I wish you all a happy jump into the New Year and I’m looking forward to continuing to follow you adventures

    Much love to you three
    X x X


    • Michaela Murphy December 30, 2018 / 6:02 pm

      Thanks so much Susanna. Your creative energy is a constant source of inspiration to me. Wishing you a wonderful year ahead and I too look forward to following your adventures ❤ xxx


  2. pameladuffy December 30, 2018 / 7:55 pm

    Hugs from my sick bed to yours!
    Having hosted a rather full on family Christmas and returned the last of our kids to her newly bought house yesterday, we have both succumbed to a rather vicious cold/flu-type bug. We are taking it in turns to administer the necessary paracetamol fix 4 hourly but since neither of us need to be anywhere or be doing anything for a few days anyway we are sort of enjoying the total rest and relaxation!
    I will give some thought to my own mantra word for 2019 but what came to mind immediately was the word ‘enough’.
    As one normally afflicted by the need to strive for ‘excellence in all things’ I am questioning recently who or what needs excellence anyway and perhaps ‘enough’ is it’s own kind of excellence?
    I’ll let you know how a different mantra works out for me as I figure it out. Perhaps I’ll even suggest a visit to your corner of the world one day in 2019 and we can compare notes on your pacing and my enough!
    Lots of love to you and yours and get well soon! Pamela, X


    • Michaela Murphy January 1, 2019 / 8:33 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear you’re both sick, I guess at least you made it through the key bits!!
      ‘Enough’ sounds like a great mantra, funnily enough there is a piece of art / calligraphy by Titch Nat Han (I’ve probably spelled his name horribly!) that just says ‘You have enough’ which I’d love to have (I see the irony in my wanting of it too!!!)
      Would love to meet up. I’ve missed your insightful presence. Let’s make it happen 🙂
      Feel better soon and rest up xxx


      • Michaela Murphy January 2, 2019 / 4:12 pm

        I’ll PM you our address! Hope you rally for this evening’s sessions. I’m not working again til next week. And yes that’s the piece! I was replying on my phone so couldn’t work out how to link to it (or look up the right spelling!) Hope you get back to full health very soon 🙂


  3. Anonymous January 1, 2019 / 10:58 pm

    I’m always so happy to see a new blog post from you! My mantra for this year, which sounds harsh, is “Do hard things.” We’ll see how it goes…


    • Michaela Murphy January 1, 2019 / 11:00 pm

      Aww thank you Someone 🙂 What an intriguing mantra in terms of I wonder what it will lead you to experience. Do keep me posted 🙂


  4. Liz Cullers January 1, 2019 / 10:59 pm

    Oooops…didn’t intend to be anonymous above…


    • Michaela Murphy January 2, 2019 / 4:08 pm

      Oh hi Liz!!! 🙂


  5. Min Pullan January 4, 2019 / 1:39 pm

    Just what I needed to hear today as I lie half broken from a month (in fact 2 years) of “doing”. I always put myself last in the equation of things and it is really taking its toll. I really appreciate that you have written down and set an example of what we all need to do. There is simply no space in between at the moment and I will need to change that. Lots of huge changes afoot this year, some wanted and others not. I will need to think about how I pace things. I hope you and your family are feeling better after the lurgy. Can’t wait to see you in your new home. ❤️


    • Michaela Murphy January 4, 2019 / 9:49 pm

      Sorry you’re feeling utterly depleted. Horrible feeling. But yes please take this humble post as an invitation to create more space for yourself. You deserve it you total warrior ❤️
      I’d so love to see you in the flesh, now that would be joy sparking. Rest up and start saying no to stuff xxxx


  6. Alexandra Oliver January 20, 2019 / 6:57 pm

    Oh my, where to start? I read this 20 days after you wrote it. My reason? I wanted to enjoy the read, understand and connect with it. To truly appreciate what it took to write it. Now, I do. Life is full of ups and downs, twists and turns. If it wasn’t like this, life would be so boring! In life, in my experience, and as a wise friend once said to me, life will reward you with what you need, but not always what you want…. sending love and hugs for a healthy, happy life ahead. X


    • Michaela Murphy January 21, 2019 / 2:21 pm

      Ah thank you so much for taking the time to read ❤ I love that quote from your friend, I remember when I broke my arm last year and I felt so frustrated at not being able to do what I'd planned to do, we were desperately house hunting and had to stop for 6 weeks until I could drive again. But when I noted the frustration I asked myself what is 'the universe' trying to teach me here, and I found an invitation to slow down, to not rush headlong into house hunting. And the reality was nothing came on the market that was of any interest to us that whole time. So yes a broken arm wasn't what I wanted but was perhaps what I needed!! Wishing you all good things for the year ahead too ❤ xx


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