Slow isn’t my normal speed. I walk quickly, type quickly, clean house quickly, stack firewood quickly.
None of those are necessarily bad. But there are some things worth slowing down for.
While serving as Survivorship Coordinator at the St. Charles Cancer Center, we hosted a number of stellar activities for survivors and caregivers, including an active cancer hike-and-snowshoe posse.
Michelle, a running coach, approached us one day. “What about a weekly walking group for cancer survivors and caregivers who aren’t ready to take on the wilderness?”
Michelle’s class was officially named Walking for Wellness. But it quickly came to be known as Walking-4-Wellness-But-We’re-Really-Here-For-The-Coffee-Afterward.
Back in the formative days, I served as trail sweep and was responsible for making sure the group behaved reasonably well in public.
Confession: I’ve repeatedly failed as sergeant-at-arms when it comes to public behavior.
Earlier this month, we commandeered a pirate ship in a playground along the river. And in the process, we drove a few kiddos away. Oops.
It’s good for me to slow down from my regular pace and enjoy the friendly chatter of my fellow walkers.
This thought from Iain Thomas:
And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, ‘This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!’
And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, ‘No. This is what’s important.’
In no particular order, here are 5 things worth yanking your hand back for, and I bet you can come up with several more:
1. Outdoor physical activity and coffee (better yet, Chai tea). I walk or hike nearly every day. And my normal cadence is medium-high speed. But with the Walking-4-Wellness group, slow and meandering with multiple photo stops are par for the course. And it’s a very good slowing-down thing for me.
2. Our people. Long before my husband, Gary, was spending most of his days in a hospital bed in our living room, I put away my to-do lists and slowed down with him — playing Words with Friends and chatting while he was awake; reading or knitting when he dozed.
3. Cooking. As a widow, I eat simply. But for Christmas Eve this past year, I was in a vacation rental with a complete kitchen. It took a while to prepare a full meal. But oh, what fun it was to slow down in the kitchen and spend some time cooking with special friends in mind.
4. Gardening. By its very nature, gardening is a slowing-down event. I live in a beautiful little guest house on the side of a steep hill. My garden currently exists of one hanging flower basket, a birthday gift from daughter Summer and SIL Josh.
And although it doesn’t take me long to water my garden and pick off the dead flowers, after a recent discussion with a close friend, I’ve been slowing down and drinking in the simple pleasure of tending to my garden.
Not simply one more thing to check off my to-do list, but one more way to relish the simple pleasures of life.
5. Reading, journaling, contemplating – in gratitude. Brew a mug of tea. Grab a notepad and pen. Sit somewhere outdoors. Read. Contemplate life. Contemplate God and His creation. Capture your profound thoughts in writing.
This insight from Nanea Hoffman:
Note to self: When you are whizzing through your day and your body is full of stress, a good way to slow your galloping mind is to take one moment to be thankful, even for a tiny goodness.
Gratitude anchors you to the present. Then you can jump back into your regularly scheduled chaos with a bit of calm in your heart.
I’ve always been a doer. And yes, things need to get done. Jobs need to be tended to, and bills need to be paid, and scholarship applications and business plans and book proposals need to be submitted.
As surely as things need to get done, what if we could also just be?
Just be outdoors. Just be in a book, in an art project, in a leisurely FaceTime conversation.
Just be in the music, in the daydreaming, in the journaling.
Just be with the people we love because, speaking from experience, we won’t have them with us forever.
Marlys – This so touched my heart. I have been extremely busy this summer, and am slowly learning not to commit myself to more than I can do without stressing about all that I have to do. I have been taking intervals amidst the chaos of life and commitments to get away and just enjoy the beauty of nature and family and friends. Are you coming this way anytime soon? Would love to spend some time with you over coffee/tea, or lunch- whatever?
Love this, Kathi: ” … taking intervals amidst the chaos of life and commitments to get away and just enjoy the beauty …” How wise of you. I don’t have any soon planned trips your way, but would love to get together when I do!
One of my best memories of this past summer will be of the evenings I grabbed my smart phone and took off at sunset to snap pictures of the day’s curtain call. I like the idea of planned and intentional slow down. Too often, when I run out of steam, I waste my moments playing computer games which actually sap more energy for me. “Chasing the sunset” became invigorating and renewsing. Thanks so much for your post on how to slow down productively.
What a lovely thought, Karen … chasing the sunset. You said this well: “I like the idea of planned and intentional slow down.” Not very many of us are good at that, myself included. Good for you.
So beautifully stated but so hard to actually accomplish. A self diagnosed doer, it has been one of the hardest things to DO – slow down.
Thank you for the reminder!
I loved your quote, “And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, ‘No. This is what’s important”.
When it comes right down to it, all that really matters is relationships, loved ones, quiet moments – all bathed in the gift of time.
Thank you again for your reminder!
You are so wise, Allison: “When it comes right down to it, all that really matters is relationships, loved ones, quiet moments – all bathed in the gift of time.” Beautifully said.
Thank you for the inspiration to slow down and enjoy – even if only a moment. Reminder of what is truly important!
That’s the key, isn’t it, Cyndy: “… even if only for a moment.” We think, ‘I don’t have an hour to pause, so I’ll just keep rushing.’ When sometimes only a moment is pause enough. Thank you!
Beautiful, as usual. Thanks.
Thank you for your kind words, Gail. Blessings to you.
Life has been hectic here lately as hubby and I had to move to a new home. We were not expecting to have to move so fast. Yet, in the midst of all the rushing around, we have found time to pause and enjoy the simple things in life. Three turkeys who play behind our new home, lots of hummingbirds and the most beautiful row of trees right behind our home. God provides glorious creations for us to enjoy. 🙂
Well said, Melissa: “Yet, in the midst of all the rushing around, we have found time to pause and enjoy the simple things in life.” Good for you! And good for your turkeys, hummingbirds, and row of trees!
Peter Howe B.E.M.
You took me to many far off and deep places of knowing ‘burnout’, which I’ve mentioned before, all because like you, I guess I could be called ‘A doer’. This post is like a Dr’s prescription of recovery to wellness, I’m sure so many will thank you as I do. THEN, you said, ‘What if also, we could just be’, and therein I do believe is the answer, because God wants us to ‘BE’ – happy, healthy, caring, strong, humble, giving, patient etc etc AND be, like Him. Marlys, I found to my peril that I had to take time to slow down, smell the roses more and find solace, peace, joy and the love that is all around us, much of that time is for me is to ‘be there’ for my Barbara with precious interludes of ‘sketching/singing/composing time’ etc . Thanks so much. Our love, Bx & P.
It’s a challenging thing – this slowing down – for us doers, isn’t it, Peter. But I can tell you that I don’t regret for one single moment slowing down during Gary’s final months on this earth. Enjoy your slow days with Barbara. Blessings.
I have a crazy schedule that most people cannot believe how I keep it up……BUT, it is probably because I know how to pace myself and take time to smell the roses, play with the grandkids, read a book, spend time doing nothing.
Thank you for your lovely post.
How wise of you, Carol, to have determined to keep the balance between accomplishing much and taking the time for roses, grandkids, books, and leisure time. So few of us have found that happy medium. Way to go!