Celebrating “Slow”

 

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2018 is off to a bumpy start, with various ailments keeping me under the weather off and on for the past few weeks.

But what I’m learning is not just that slow is okay. Okay implies mediocre, acceptable, just getting by.

I’m learning that, perhaps, instead of just accepting slow, we should celebrate it.

Slow isn’t lazy. Slow isn’t a waste of time.

Slow is savoring.

Slow is honoring.

Slow is being present.

Slow is thoughtful, grateful, compassionate, and kind.

Without periods of slowness, I don’t know how we live creative, purposeful lives. We need periods of stillness, reflection, and introspection.

In our society, we’re taught to multitask, work efficiently, save time, do more, more, more. We’re obsessed with more. If I only had more stuff. If I only wrote more words today. If only I accomplished more. And this builds to the destructive phrase, “If only I were more.”

But the thing about slow is that it teaches us that we are enough, exactly as we are.

The obsession with more is the opposite of gratitude. We live in a fast culture of instant gratification, but slowness teaches us to savor a homecooked meal with family or friends. Slowness is sitting with your morning cup of coffee and, instead of browsing the web or checking email, taking time to be with your thoughts. Taking time to reflect.

Slowness is not laziness, but rather a way of adding depth and meaning to our lives.

There will always be deadlines and to-do lists, days where we’re in a frenzied hurry. But there must also be periods of slowness.

So, set goals. Make them SMART. Create deadlines and to-do lists.

But also make space for that which cannot be measured, for joy and delight. For a slow dinner with your significant other or children. For a long walk in the park listening to the birds sing. For stargazing on a clear night. For gazing up at the moon with wonder. For stopping to enjoy the view. For savoring a cup of coffee and daydreaming.

These moments are precious. These moments are magic. Cherish them, and know that much of what matters in life cannot be quantified.

Most of all, celebrate slow. Treasure the times you’re able to just slow down and savor the moment. Stop trying to cram the mystery of your one precious life into some random metric. Simply live. Slow is not lazy. It’s just choosing to focus on the journey instead of the destination. It’s merely shifting our metric from quantity to quality. It’s diving deep rather than skimming the surface.

***

For ease of reading, I’m dividing my #ROW80 goals into three categories: creative living, healthy living, and simple living. Understand that there is a lot of overlap between these, and the three are interconnected and, in many ways, inseparable. But I’m going to try it.

CREATIVE LIVING

This week, as my body healed from whatever mysterious ailment I suffered from, I shook off the exhaustion and aches and continued my steady writing journey.

I began to work through my husband’s comments on Oak-Bound, a fantasy romance novella. The story is close and I hope to submit it by the end of the month. I’m also about a third of the way through the synopsis for this story.

I also responded to blog comments and made sure to visit other people’s blogs as well. I apologize if I missed anyone. I’m trying to get back into a regular habit of responding to comments and visiting others’ blogs.

HEALTHY LIVING

My goal is to ride the exercise bike daily, but this week was more about resting and healing than about exercise. I did succeed in cutting out a lot of the sugar in my diet, so I’m doing better on that front. Keeping less junk food in the house seems to be key.

SIMPLE LIVING

I took another pass at the guest room closet, tossing old crafting supplies and duplicate office supplies. I ended up with a large trash bag full of items I can now part with, and two boxes of stuff intended for Goodwill. I also organized the bookshelves—we’ve gone from five bookshelves at one point down to two, and I packed up two more boxes of books to go to the library. I organized my jewelry and am attempting an experiment with my clothing, outerwear, and shoes in which I try to only own 100 items of clothing. (I might write a post about that experiment later, if anyone is interested.)

I am not rushing, but taking slow, steady steps, letting my life unfold at its own pace. Leaning into simplicity. Gradually decluttering and tidying my home. Listening to my characters and their stories and drawing them into this world, out of the ether from which stories are born.

Sometimes we speed along toward a destination, but I’m trying to embrace the journey, to find beauty in each word, each scene, each moment. If I am to lead a life that blends simplicity and creativity, I cannot neglect the beauty of the present.

What about you? Do you find yourself racing through life and checking off an endless to-do list? How have you embraced slowness in your life—or how would you like to?

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24 thoughts on “Celebrating “Slow”

  1. ruichan says:

    Well I couldn’t agree more! And I think your mysterious ailment was – at least partly – your body telling you yo slow down. 😉
    You know sometimes I even make a to-do list to relax! The latest was called “a day to myself”; I made a deal with my unbelievably adorable husband to give me a complete day when I wouldn’t even have to look after the girls (his first time dealing with them both on his own too!) and ever since I’ve felt much better because it helped me reconnect with the long-forgotten me that’s not a mother or a wife.
    Nowadays it’s like we have to be overbooked, like doing nothing even for a minute is waste of time. I do believe that doing nothing is sometimes a necessary breather for our brains. Its like running: you need to rest before you start again, and you can’t be sprinting all the way!

    • Denise D. Young says:

      This is so true! It’s like we’ve come to judge ourselves by how much we do. And don’t get me wrong, it’s exciting to cross things off our to-do list or have a really productive day. But I think we also need to recognize slowness and rest as vital parts of the human experience–to celebrate them, to honor them. Thanks!

      • ruichan says:

        So true. I work with kids and sometimes they have busier schedules than adults. It’s like they can’t be left doing nothing when nothing is good for them. Some of the kids I see simply are exhausted!
        My point is if we even teach our kids to be ever active how can they hope to cope?

      • Denise D. Young says:

        I agree! Children need time to develop their artistic, creative skills and their imaginations, and they do that best by being given free time, not a constantly structured, on-the-go lifestyle. I think we all have a bad case of FOMO!

  2. Ingrid Walton (writing as Ingrid Senger-Perkins) says:

    I wholeheartedly agree. Slow is good. Quiet is good. I am not one who will ever boast about being busy. We do seem to live in a society where being busy is a badge of honour.

    It seems a lot of people are retreating. Myself and a friend of mine have both made resolutions to slow down and take care of ourselves. I have decluttered and cleaned two rooms. Today I will be doing the hall and landing. Then I will leave it until next weekend.

    I also have illness – hopefully just a cold. Slow and steady wins the race, as shown in the Hare and the Tortoise. 🙂

    • Denise D. Young says:

      Ingrid, I hope you’re feeling better. I agree that we often use “busy” as sort of a badge of honor. And I still catch myself doing this. It’s a hard habit to break. I’m learning that while some seasons are times of flurry and activity, others are seasons of rest and thoughtful introspection. And we need both. Yes, slow and steady is the key!

  3. Chris Kincaid says:

    What wonderful thoughts on the beauty of “slow”. That word does have a lot of negative connotations. I am so glad that you were able to share the positive things in that word and remind us all of its importance.

    I also love your idea of being down to 100 items of clothing. Does that include shoes, socks, underclothes? Coz that could make things interesting. 🙂

    Have a great week.

    • Denise D. Young says:

      Thanks, Chris!

      I am still whittling away at my clothing collection. At first I wasn’t including socks, underwear, PJs, and workout clothes, but I was including jewelry. Now I’m not including jewelry but am debating what to add in instead. I am going to experiment with it and hopefully post my experiences on the blog soon. Stay tuned!

  4. inspirationpie says:

    I love this post. Slow and purposeful is definitely working for you. You got a lot done in spite of not feeling well! That’s wonderful!

    I do tend to create a massive to-do list but rarely get more than a few things checked off. I’ve decided that writing is a priority as well as taking care of my health physically and mentally.

    Jo-Ann

    • Denise D. Young says:

      Like you, I tend to create massive to-do lists and then get overwhelmed. One simple living book I read recommended choosing three items to do each day. She suggested three work-related items and three home/personal related items. (This doesn’t include daily activities such as walking the dog or washing the dishes.) I was following her suggestion for a while and felt much calmer. I need to get back to limiting myself to just a few things on my list each day.

      Thanks, Jo-Ann!

  5. Jennette Marie Powell says:

    This is all so, so true. And beautifully said. Like another commenter, I think illness and injury are our bodies’ way of forcing us to slow down from time to time. Nature does this too, with rainy days, or brutal cold snaps. Thanks for sharing this, and may you continue to feel better!

    • Denise D. Young says:

      Yes, I think my January blahs have been a way of telling me that my body needed to rest. I am feeling better, though recovering from a cold and a little sniffly still. And I agree that nature will remind us of the need for rest and slowness. I think winter is such a reminder–a time for stillness, slowness, turning inward. Thanks, Jennette!

  6. karenmcfarland says:

    Denise, slow is a good thing. There is no shame in slow. It may be in our nature to be slow. Not all of us can run around like a chicken with our heads cut off. No, slow takes talent. Not everyone can be slow. Slow keeps us from becoming unbalanced. Especially when we’ve been ill or going through a period of healing. And that’s what I’ve been dealing with. Uh oh. I can see a blog post in my near future. But seriously, glad you’re sharing this. I can totally relate. Take care Denise! 🙂

  7. Erin Zarro says:

    Amen, Denise. Amen.

    I’m very much a to-do list person, a doer, a multitasker. And I know I need to slow down. So I’ve been trying not to beat myself up over things that don’t get done. There will be time for them. But meanwhile life’s passing me by.

    I got involved in a photography challenge for January and it has helped me to slow down a great deal. Maybe sometime it will be automatic for me.

  8. Lisa A. Listwa says:

    This is such a great post, Denise. We are programmed to think that slow equals some form of “bad.” But there is much to be gained from slowing down. I like this. I need this. So glad you shared this with the #StoryDam chat!

    • Denise D. Young says:

      Thanks, Lisa. I hope you found the post helpful. It was no easy lesson for me, and I think I fought the realization for a long time, but I’m glad I’m finally open to the idea of embracing slow. 🙂

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