I am 45 going on 46. I am at the start of midlife. This is the time many people start saying they wish they had a magic wand to slow things down, which I totally understand. Not only do I want to slow down my kids growing older, I want to slow everything down.
Fortunately, we do have a magic wand. We have the power to slow things down, and we all know this intellectually. Slowing down is hard because life pushes us along at a brisk pace. If we want to slow down, there are no short cuts. Being present in life is hard work and requires constant vigilance. I am going to share with you some ways I am learning to be more present so that I can savor this time.
Connect with your Teenager
Do you know who Murr, Joe, Sal and Q are? Well I do, and let me tell you, it is not something I would typically brag about. These are four best friends who have created a popular TV show called Impractical Jokers where they all have the best time embarrassing each other. My 13-year-old son loves this show and was completely insulted when I could not tell the four guys apart. Considering the fact that my son strung the most words together when discussing this show, I decided I better hop on the bandwagon. Now, when he watches the show, I watch it with him and savor the joy of watching him laugh until he cries. I have learned who all the characters are and can engage in somewhat “intelligent” conversations with him about it.
Connect with your Elders
I love being around people who are older. Not only does it make me feel young, but I am comforted knowing that they have insights to share. I know that they have been around the block and have experiences I have yet to have.
I will never forget the time my parents slept over when my kids were still little. My dad was reading a book to my son and my mom was reading a book to my daughter. Rather than surreptitiously skipping pages in the book in order to finish it faster so bedtime would arrive more quickly (as I was guilty of doing), they were slowing things down. They were making the bedtime story process take longer! It was astounding to me. My parents were living in an alternate universe where their sole purpose in life was to savor their grandchildren.
Earlier this week, my mother-in-law and 16-year-old daughter had a 15-minute conversation about The Odyssey and Macbeth. I had no idea my daughter could talk about literature with such depth. It took someone older who was savoring time with her granddaughter to create the environment for this sort of conversation. I saw what was possible if I slowed down.
My New Year’s Resolution for 2017 was to get over my desire to be exactly on time to things. I was like Goldilocks, I didn’t want to be too early and I didn’t want to be too late; I wanted to be exactly on time. Well as we all know, this goal is impossible. My blood pressure was rising several times a day as I attempted to be exactly on time. Now, I have decided to leave 15 minutes earlier than necessary. For example, if it takes 15 minutes to get somewhere, I leave a half hour before I need to be there. I cannot tell you how much this has helped me. Often, I do encounter detours, construction, or other delays on the way, and I relax and listen to my music without panic. The less you have to rush in your life, the more you can slow down and enjoy the moment. When rushing, life is a blur. When taking your time, you can actually see the colors and details around you. You can BE in the moment. Which is a magical way to slow down time.
Connect with yourself
While I love Flywheel, I disagree their motto “Never Coast”. Ok, fine, during their 45-minute class you can “never coast” but please leave that motto at the door. Any productivity book you read (and I have read dozens) tells you to try to make your life easier. The more systems, rituals and habits you have in place, the easier it is for you to get the job done and the more access you have to creativity and connection. Think about it, if you are riding a bike, when is the time when you can take in the beauty of your surroundings? When you are coasting of course. Otherwise you are pushing hard to get up hill or flying downhill. My question for those who are always pushing or flying is –what are you pushing your way to? What are you flying away from? What is wrong with coasting and being present?
So, you may ask, how do I slow down and connect with myself when life is so busy? Introduce these activities into your life—and do only the activity—no multitasking!
- Take a bath
- Do slow yoga
- Take a walk
- Learn to knit
- Complete a puzzle
- Color or Draw
Be a rebel. Throw off the fitbit for a nature walk. Watch stupid shows with your kids. Post about the awesome 200-piece puzzle you just completed. Let’s change the norm from busyness to presence. OK, gotta run (just kidding …).