I love my neighbourhood.

While walking along any street, you will inevitably see a child’s forgotten item – mittens, hats, blankets, stuffed toys – placed carefully on a wall. Everyone does this. So much community and so much love can be communicated in a simple, anonymous, kind, spontaneous gesture.

Imagine the feeling of hope and delight when you return to the general area where you may have left some critical item behind to see it placed lovingly up off the ground where it can be seen and retrieved. Returning the favour – participating in the community karma-building – is such a full feeling. Like giving a gift you know someone will love for the sentimental value. It costs nothing, but you know they will be pleasantly surprised at the thoughtfulness. You know you have made someone smile today.

What an impact. What a miracle.

As I placed the red and white polka dot bow on the wall earlier this week, I reflected that to have the impact I wanted on the world around me just in that moment required consciousness, awareness and stillness. To be able to do something simple yet meaningful for someone else I had to be looking and noticing with enough space in the time I’d given myself to stop.

I’d love to say I had left the house that day in enough time to have an enjoyable, observant walk to school, but I had left quite late, so I was literally sprinting to get there in time. To perform this little miracle, I had to be aware of my environment while flying towards the school gates. I also had to be willing to pause on my focused mission. And notice not just the bow itself, but what it represented, and what it might mean to someone else. Spring is coming. There are many little signs of life out there if we stop and really take notice. Time to be conscious, awake and connected.

The same goes for discovering our values and creating alignment between those values and our goals. Stay conscious and awake to notice those details. Build enough slack in your schedule to find moments of stillness so you can make that connection. This way,  you can find the small, simple ways to take care of yourself and others.

Especially in Spring, I’m noticing we are all becoming very very busy: ratcheting up the social schedule, enjoying the end of a January detox, supporting children’s activities, getting ready for half-term, expressing affection for our loved ones, pouring energy and time into people and projects at work, planning summer travel, preparing our homes for the great weather to come, beginning to take advantage of the few minutes of extra sunshine per day. All around me, I’m noticing people’s energy and adrenaline kick up a few gears. And I’m noticing some of us are already getting a bit tired under the surface, but still building momentum.

What is the difference between the energy and adrenaline we spend pursing goals linked to values that are really important to us vs. engaged in activities that we don’t believe in? For me, if my activities are not aligned to my values, I get worn down quicker. I get tired. I then spend more energy regretting and resenting the time I’m not spending on the things I care about.

Before getting swept up in the excitement of Spring, I’m going to take advantage of a few more weeks of reflective Winter time. I am going to stop and align my goals with my values so I have the energy to throw myself fully into the busy-ness we have planned, so I can really enjoy those moments, and so I have the space to notice and stop when there is an opportunity to care for myself or for others.

What goals and activities do you find yourself spending your time and energy pursuing? Why? How are you feeling in your busy-ness? Energised? Awake? Motivated? Or tired, unwilling, resentful?

How much space do you have to stop and care for yourself or the people you care about?

What will you do today to connect to your community? To connect to your values?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!