Living in the Deep: What it means to live a slow, passionate, creative life

dreamstime_xxl_84965828 teapot creative commons zero dreamstime.jpg

Creative Commons Zero | Dreamstime.com

In the past few years, I have been trying to strike a careful balance between opening myself up to the world, fully living in it, and living slowly. There have been missteps along the way. Taking a part-time job quickly turned into an energy suck. But letting go of it made space for the opportunity to teach English as a second language, which quickly unlocked a passion for working with underserved communities. I almost made the mistake of joining every writing group I could, but I’m trying to choose those that best serve where I’m at now in my writing career.

We can’t be everything to everybody. We have to choose a few things and do those really well. And we all have varying levels of energy. Some people can function in a high-energy state of overdrive with very little downtime. I, personally, suffer from several chronic medical conditions that are in and of themselves part-time jobs. They require management, attention, and downtime.

When I was in undergraduate, my journalism professor told me, when it came to opportunities, “You’re the belle of the ball. Dance with everyone.” And that was fantastic advice for a twenty-year-old. I went to grad school, interned at a daily city newspaper, had lots of awesome experiences.

But then I entered adulthood, post-college, and kept doing it. I was working three jobs and volunteering. I experienced a level of burnout that took a lot of recovery. I was exhausted and sick and no one could figure out why. “Maybe try doing less,” my doctor suggested when all the tests turned up nothing.

So, I did. I started focusing exclusively on writing. And then, later, I added in teaching ESL. I’d like to start fostering for the animal shelter again, if my husband is up for it.

I make time for slowness in my life. Some of the best parts of my day are those sunny afternoons when the animals and I just chill in the backyard. It’s actually very little sitting. It’s mostly herding cats and stopping the dog from digging, but it is so wonderful. It’s my happy place. Well, one of them, anyway.

I make time for moments that involve nothing but me, a comfy spot to sit, a warm blanket, and a cup of tea. I turn thoughts over like a hound turns over leaves searching for rabbit scents. I open myself up the goddess and god and wait for their guidance. I seek the part of myself that is calmness and light in a stormy sea of chaos.

I am often overwhelmed, with too many to-do items waiting in the wings. I read in a simple living book that we’re better served choosing three items to accomplish each day rather than crafting a rambling to-do list, and I’ve tried to work from that. Three is manageable. Anymore and I feel like I’m failing. Three forces me to prioritize. Three allows me to make time for stillness and self-care and all of my other responsibilities, from walking the dog to doing dishes, and space for relationships—cuddle time with my husband, phone chats with my siblings, coffee dates with friends.

I am learning. I am imperfect. I am a work in progress.

This week was an example of that. Overwhelmed by all the things I’ve taken on, I managed to revise one chapter. Not as many as I’d like, but I feel like this book is deepening, opening up to a level it hadn’t been at before, and I am so proud of what I wrote this week. I finished my word-cloud and sent it off to a blogging expert who’s helping me hone this aspect of my writing. I started off strong with visiting others’ blogs, but fell off toward the end, so there’s room for improvement there.

In terms of tending the hearth fire, the new washer and dryer are in! Finally. It was quite an ordeal, but we have a new washer and dryer. We’re still in the midst of the living room redecorating, and creating a message center in our hallway to organize incoming mail, action items like bills and whatnot, and receipts, which are all problem areas for us organization-wise. We have some major projects are on the horizon, but I think we both want to focus on some smaller ones before we tackle anything large like this again.

And so, I head into next week looking for some time to recharge. It snowed today, believe it or not, but the weatherman assures us warmer days are on the horizon, and I trust in the promise of spring.

I have always craved stillness and depth and purpose and magic. I have tried to fill my life with those things. There are, of course, the mundane things—the bills to be paid, the errands to run.

But in the midst of these things, there is magic.

Washing the dishes, the slightly citrusy scent of the dish soap filling my nostrils, Celtic tunes playing in the background, I am reminded that in the midst of the everyday, magic glitters.

We just have to be paying attention.

What about you? How did your week progress? How do you seek out calm and stillness in the midst of everyday chaos?

denise signature

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “Living in the Deep: What it means to live a slow, passionate, creative life

  1. Fred the Needle says:

    what a great post title, it had me hooked because I am following the same path. Well done for honing your writing and for paring down your to do list.. isn’t the saying we are human beings not human doings?

    I understand what you mean about feeling overwhelmed – I wonder if you might be a Highly Sensitive person. You might like to read Emotional sensitivity and Intensity. Most writers are HSP because our natural empathy allows us to step into a character’s shoes and write from another person’s perspective.

    • Denise D. Young says:

      I am definitely an HSP, although I haven’t read any books about it. I’ll check out the one you recommended. Thanks! I like it because I’m so empathetic toward others, and I feel things deeply, although it does have its drawbacks (like being easily overwhelmed!).

      I’d love to hear more about your journey. I am so glad to be on this path toward slow and creative living. It feels right.

  2. www.ginabriganti.com says:

    My love and support are with you as you find all the balance you need to live the life you love to live.

    This week has been a whirlwind for me, as my granddaughter is with her father now, freeing up my time. I accomplished a ton, and still found time for myself.

    Self-care time is essential to live a fully realized life. Bravo for you for knowing that!

    How I find balance is that I never skip meditation, and I give myself Reiki every day. What doesn’t neeed to happen falls away. I find joy in all that I do, which is energizing. Eating foods that give energy, instead of draining it, are also part of my secret.

    • Denise D. Young says:

      Thanks, Gina! Meditation is wonderful. I always emerge from a meditation session with feelings of energy, abundance, and clarity. Strangely, writing often has the same effect, as though when I’m in the flow with a story, it’s a form of meditation.

      I’m glad you’re getting some time to yourself and got a lot done while still finding time for self-care. It is so vital, and I think so many of the problems we face as a society stem from our lack of self-care. Many don’t even know what it is, and it’s often frowned upon to take time for it. I hope we can start moving the broader conversation toward that, one person as a time!

      🙂

      • www.ginabriganti.com says:

        Writing gives me incredible energy! I enter a whole new time space.

        Let’s do encourage those we have a dialogue with to take time for self-care, from the toddler who needs quiet time, to the senior citizen who needs the flip side of self-care that comes from getting to a community meeting place and refilling their stores that way.

  3. ruichan2380 says:

    I recognize so much of myself in what you describe! I too tried to be on every front until I was caught up by adult life. It took having kids to make me realize I could not do so much anymore. As you said, we’re works in progress and we keep learning.

    • Denise D. Young says:

      We are, indeed, works in progress. And learning that I don’t have to be perfect or always have everything together, accepting myself as a work in progress, has helped me so much with learning self-kindness.

      Yes, for all of us there seems to be something that teaches us that we need to do less. For me it was health issues that made me step back and really consider what I wanted/needed out of my life. Having kids definitely helps us to realize what’s important as well!

    • Denise D. Young says:

      I still struggle with trying to do too much, but recognizing that I want a slow, creative, balanced life has helped me to step back and question how I can lead a life that is full and yet open, fulfilling and yet balanced. It’s not about impressing anyone else, but about leading a life that fulfills me and is in line with my values. I am so blessed to be on my current path.

      Implementing the three-point list helps me to stay focused on what my priorities for the day are. Having a list of just three items is doable; any more and it starts to feel overwhelming, or we’re always playing catch up with yesterday’s list.

      Thanks, Amy!

  4. Chris Loehmer Kincaid says:

    Great thoughts. Finding my peaceful place in my head is still a work in progress. But I am way better than I used to be. I think it is mostly the aging thing – it’s hard to figure out what’s really important in life until you’ve lived a bit.

    • Denise D. Young says:

      Chris, you hit the nail on the head! I do think that age helps us see what we really want. In my twenties I was so focused on “being somebody,” and I ended up taking on all of these responsibilities that didn’t lead me in the direction I wanted to go. But now I’m in my thirties with lots of learning ahead and much wisdom to be gained, if only I am patient and listen for it. I’m more about the journey, not so worried about the destination, but a few signposts and milestones along the way. Thank you for your comment, Chris!

  5. Madeline Mora-Summonte says:

    Such a good post, especially for a Monday, and it’s definitely a much needed reminder for me. I have two big goals I’m working on this year, and that focus is helping me figure out what else I really need to do and what I can let go.

    • Denise D. Young says:

      Thanks, Madeline! When a major goal comes into our sights like that, it helps us realize where our passion lies. When we have a clear vision, we’re better able to let go of the things that aren’t in line with our values and vision and work toward what we really want. It sounds like you’re on that path. Go for it!

  6. denizb33 says:

    Great post! It’s true, when we’re young is the time to burn the candle at both ends. Later comes time for reflection, and a bit more slowness, and hopefully a lot more writing!

  7. Heather R. Holden says:

    I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed lately, too. Often feels impossible to accomplish everything I need to. Like that advice you shared about tackling just three things on a to-do list per day–will have to remember that.

    Anyway, good luck with everything you’re juggling right now! Sounds like you have a lot keeping you busy, for sure. Hope the time you’ve taken to recharge has made these things easier to tackle!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.