Thursday, April 9, 2015

Slow



I have been wanting to do a "Day in the Life" post for a little while now. I enjoy having peeks into how different people around the world live on a daily basis. But let me tell you, you don't want to see one of my days right now. Suffice it to say that we are treating one of our cats for Irritable Bowel Syndrome in hopes that her condition is that - is treatable - and is not something worse like intestinal lymphoma. Let's just say there is lots of diarrhea cleanup these days and that, my friends, is why I will be saving my DITL post for another day!

In the meantime, I thought I would talk with you about something that is on my mind a lot these days and that is the desire to be slow. I imagine that all of us involved in education, whether as students or teachers or parents of students (or all three, like me!), begin to feel this way at toward the end of the school year.

I don't know how you are, but I am generally a very efficient user of my time. I am not saying this to boast, but just to say that I feel like I am - if not always, then often - working. I don't just sit and wait for Eve to get out of her violin lessons on Monday. Instead I use that half hour to run a nearby errand or I study for my own classes. Likewise, on Tuesdays, I am studying at the library during her 90 minute culinary class. On Wednesdays, I often use the hour of her Latin class to run to Trader Joe's or Target. I am not idle with my time.

But I kind of want to be.

I mean, I think I want to be, but I struggle with sort of feeling agitated if I don't have a designation for my time. I am used to using my time wisely.

It's not that I can't relax, per se, but when I do relax, it's because it was on the schedule! lol! :)

Relaxing time is not actually on the schedule (though some busy years it's had to be!), but I relax only when all my work is done for the day. I have a hard time with spontaneous relaxation, because something will always be nagging me in the back of my mind if I have things I am supposed to get done.

So, I know I can't just wave a magic wand over my life and change everything. The fact is that my younger daughter is involved in our home school co-op which is an excellent resource for our family, but it is also a 20 minute drive away. There is not one nearby that is closer. So, I have resigned myself to the fact that after the end of this school year, I still have two more years of this twice or thrice weekly commute.

This summer, I am planning to have at least one car-free week. I can walk, bike, or take public transportation, but unless there is an emergency, I want to leave my van at home. Just thinking about this makes me feel happier.

I know that for those of you who take public transportation every day, it is not a novel affair. I rode the bus for a number of years before I got my first car and I did not love my wait for the bus on cold, winter days. But similar to the feeling of going somewhere without my purse or keys or other paraphernalia that I travel with on a daily basis, the idea of having someone else get me to where I am going sounds light and free.


In order to accomplish this "feat," the main thing I am going to need is a larger margin of time. I can't get somewhere as quickly on foot or bike or even bus or light rail as I can in my car. This will mean I will just need to plan fewer things in my days. Because, as I mentioned above, that is what happens. I add activities to my days in an effort to consolidate trips and be efficient. But while I will still be able to use my time wisely, I simply won't be able to accomplish as much in a 24-hour period, when my travel time will take me longer. And that, frankly, sounds delicious!

It's only the beginning of April right now, though, and June feels a great distance off. I want to do some things now to begin to put into practice what John Ortberg includes as one of his spiritual disciplines in his terrific book, The Life You've Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People. 



I actually read this book a few years ago (it got a 5 star rating from me then and I still agree with myself!) and I picked it up again recently, since I am not currently involved in a formal Bible study. Chapter 5, "An Unhurried Life," is one I forgot about, but is obviously resonating strongly with me right now.

Here are some ideas Ortberg suggests, in addition to solitude, to combat what he calls "hurry sickness":

  • Over the next month deliberately drive in the slow lane on the expressway. It may be that not swerving from lane to lane will cause you to arrive five minutes or so later than you usually would. But you will find that you don't get nearly so angry at other drivers. Instead of trying to pass them, say a little prayer as they go by, asking God to bless them.
  • For a week, eat your food slowly. Force yourself to chew at least fifteen times before each swallow.
  • For the next month, when you are at the grocery store, look carefully to see which check-out line is the longest. Get in it. Let one person go ahead of you.

When I read these, I thought, "Yeah, I'm going to do those!" and then I got up to hurry to get ready for the day and stopped at the stove to eat the rest of the peas I had left from breakfast (I have a weird weakness for canned peas) right out of the pot. Wow. I could barely believe it when I realized what I was doing!!

In the number of books that I have read about the French, I have read more than once that you will not see Parisians walking around with to-go cups. If they want to drink a cup of coffee, they stop in a cafe and actually sit down to drink it and then leave the cup there and then get on with the rest of their day. This is such a tiny detail, but the idea of it is so foreign to us Americans!

I can think of many things, in addition to Ortberg's ideas above, that would help me to slow down:

Not eating on the go
Doing just one thing at a time - "monotasking"
Practicing listening well
Reviewing my attempts at slowing at the end of my day

I hope to incorporate these with more intention in these days leading up to my summer break when I will have my car-free week(s) and also undertake the task of decluttering, Konmarie-style.

Do you feel rushed in your days? Do you take steps to combat this feeling? If you have any more ideas of things that have helped you slow down, please share them in the comments below or on the Facebook page!

Images: 1, 2


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