British. : to spend time in a relaxed way doing small jobs and other things that are not very important He spent his holidays pottering around the house/garden.
Being busy is often a response to not knowing what to do or how to process the things going on around you. So when I ask: ‘what have you been up to?‘ maybe your answer is that you have been busy or feeling bored or feeling guilty because you are not up to anything ‘productive.’ To potter around in a relaxed fashion doing small jobs or unimportant things means there is no pressure or deadlines and it can be a healthy way of being.
Pottering around and ‘just being’ are one of the first steps to facing what is happening around us and then adjusting and re-adjusting for an unknown future. It is okay to sit and ponder over the world pandemic; it’s okay to feel anxious because that shows that you are allowing it to become a reality. Doing this is also important for change. It’s okay to potter about or even feel a little potty. I know the feeling when you land up with the chutney in your hands about to pour it into your coffee because you meant to get the milk. It is okay to be absent minded.
What is not good is keeping keeping on going without reflection for too long; denial keeps you stuck. What is not good is allowing the anxieties and worries to engulf you and swamp you; preoccupation drowns you; but it is okay to admit you are not holding it together or feeling anxious or sad. I feel a little molten inside of me; a sticky gooey mess because I know I am not in control and because there is a part of me that feels afraid of the unknown. Many times we feel like we are expected to carry on as if nothing had happened and have an outward show of strength when inside we are melting but it is human and okay to feel. And it is okay to potter about when you are not sure what you feel.
When I say ‘just be’ I mean you to have compassion for yourself in the moment, whatever that moment holds and whatever your reaction – all is okay; allow yourself time and space not to be busy with the pressure of deadlines; allow yourself to potter around: enjoy the sun coming through the window; listen to the birds sing; become aware of the flavors of the food you are eating; appreciate your child’s smile, your spouses laugh – their strange sense of humor. Embrace the peace that slowing down on lock down offers you; even if you are doing something like sweeping the floor, doing the dishes, folding the clothes, tidying up or cooking: focus on each movement you make. Slow your mind down. Switch off your internal radar that is searching for validation or reassurance. Rest in knowing that no-one is judging you and what you are or not doing. Let your heart speak and let your heart answer. May hope and vision lead you on, even when you are pottering about.
As I sat outside chopping the green beans, chop, chop, chop,
my mind was busy thinking about lots of things chop, chop, chop,
but soon I had quietened down, merely observing the knife going chop, chop, chop.
and I began to reflect on how the young beans were so easy to slice, chop, chop, chop while the older, tougher beans took more force to chop, chop, chop.
And in that moment I remembered myself as a young girl
and how easily I caved to worry, pressure,
and other people’s expectations –
Now that I am an older, wiser woman living in the moment
I am tougher and not easily pressured by other people’s projections.
Call me a stubborn old woman – but I have become a tough old bean,
just pottering about.
What have you been up to?
Take care – and take the opportunity to reflect and just be or potter about.