Learning How to Slow Down
We get too busy in life. We need to learn how to slow down
I Feel Guilty
My thoughts here today are inspired by a blog I recently read (thank-you Lynn Schneider-Wilkinson!) written by Mary Katherine Backstrom (https://www.facebook.com/MomBabble/posts/1980869248649185).
I’m getting emotional as I begin to write. That’s my first bit of honesty here today. There are tears in my eyes right now (yes men – a real man cries, because it’s ok to be sad). I’m 51, and I’m full of gratitude for where I’m at today. I have a business that’s ticking along nicely (finally…after 12 years of hard work), and I’ve had a wonderful summer.
I’ve created a backyard garden oasis that I spend much of my spare – and working – time in.
The truth is, this summer I haven’t been all that busy. More truth on the subject: I’m struggling with feeling guilty about it.
“For work to be meaningful, it must be brutal.” These were the words of a wise man, Ernie Larson, shared with me by my awesome therapist Martha Peirce. (Yes, I have a therapist. You should too. We all should. Because none of us are beyond learning more about ourselves, and we are too-often blind to truths that others can see. Trained therapists are awesome at seeing what we can’t).
All my life I have believed the lie that work must be brutal. “If you want to get ahead, you have to make sacrifices!” Sacrifice what? Family? Friends? My sanity? No way, no longer.
A little over a year ago I said I’d slow down and take more time for me. I made that commitment in a blog for all of you to read. I didn’t follow through. I wasn’t honest with you. And so I burned myself out, yet again, one more time.
No more. If it means I must adjust my standard of living downward, then I’m willing. I’m finally willing. I will go to any lengths to start living life today. I’m not here to work. I’m here to live. Work is a reality, yes, but it will not dictate my life any more.
Dr. Anthony Laws, one of the nicest men and wisest human beings I have ever met, said it right: “8 hours for work, 8 hours for play, 8 hours for sleep.” Yup. That’s going to be me going forward. It must be, because each time it isn’t, I pay the price.
I need to be up at the crack of dawn. I need to be working until late at night. Work, work, work so hard to stockpile money so that I can retire as soon as possible, and relax and enjoy it.
Relax? Enjoy? I’ve forgotten how to do that. I’ve pushed myself so hard that I’ve burned myself out several times. I have trained myself to no longer know how to slow down, and even when I force myself, I can’t. I feel guilty. I feel “unproductive,” like I’m doing something wrong.
Oh, and my experiment to shut off all my tech at 9 PM? It didn’t work out quite the way I planned it. Because I’ve forgotten how to live in the silence. I’ve forgotten myself. I remember the days, years ago when I was taking my Master’s Degree, where I took the time for me. I read voraciously. I slept well and long. I engaged with life and lived it.
I’ve forgotten how to do that. I’ve forgotten myself. I can’t, I won’t do it any more. The cost is too great.
My Commitment to Me
8 hours work, 8 hours sleep, 8 hours play. Simple.
I’m no longer willing to sacrifice the one thing most necessary for anything else: ME. I’d rather be materially poor, yet emotionally and spiritually rich. I will hold to the truth today that “My God shall supply all [my] needs…” – Philippians 4:19. I have often quoted this, and piously asserted I believed it, while in my heart I feared that it might not be true.
This time, whether I believe it or not, I will act as if I do until it becomes my reality.
Work will no longer be brutal. I will refuse long hours. I will honour the fact that my body is not designed for rising early in the AM, and I will awake at 7:30 or 8. I will cut off my work after 8 hours, and will not have my tech on after 10 PM.
This is my contract with myself. I write this not to make you feel that you should do the same, or to ask you to change. I do it rather to put out there what I must do to become fully me.
I will not feel guilty any longer for the fact that my book isn’t getting written as quickly as I would like it to. Or for the fact that the training program for my trainers is taking far longer than it should. Or that I haven’t worked on my model railroad in almost 2 years. Or that my dozens of other little pet projects aren’t getting done as I would like them to.
No. More. Guilt.
No. More. Shame.
Just me, being me, being fully me, without pretense and without any of the hundred negative thoughts that threaten to draw me back in to the darkness of just existing.
I will no longer choose mere existence and survival. I won’t even stop at just living. I will thrive (thank-you, Martha Peirce), and I will be awesome!
Will you join me?