“The great benefit of slowing down is reclaiming the time and tranquility to make meaningful connections–with people, with culture, with work, with nature, with our own bodies and minds”Carl Honoré, In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed
It has been a hurried fall. The pace of life, moving from summer, into a fresh school year, for the first time since 2019 without the restrictions that were dubbed “the new normal.” This meant school was REALLY in session, and events after event that had gone into hibernation were now jumping from words on a tentative calendar – to real life. Planning, gathering volunteers, organizing, and attending concerts, markets, community meetings, and more took the place of zoom meetings and working from home. While the joy experienced through re-connection was invigorating — the pace was quickly becoming overwhelming. Work, events, another round of head coaching a local personal development workshop, offering my own parenting workshop and owning three horses meant early mornings and late nights, week after week.
Then came the physical symptoms: migraines, a broken tooth, skin issues, acute back pain like I have never experienced. Gabor Mate’s book “When the Body Says No” came to mind. My body was asking me to slow down, to rest. To spend time doing nothing instead of in hyper-productivity “you can do it all and then more.” The cost of all the “yes’ing” I was doing, was the crescendo of physical symptoms, my body begging me to check in, and re-align my commitments to my inner wisdom.
One night, as I was tucking the horses in for the evening, something that I truly missed, but was actually becoming rare due to my other commitments, I decided to go into Teddy’s stall and just sit on the ground and he ate. I didn’t ask or expect anything from him, I didn’t invite nor deny his actions, I just sat, in the stillness, listening to him munch on hay.
The next thing I knew, he came over to me, and gave me a horse kiss, right on my knee. I used positive re-enforcement training methods with our herd, and to me, this was a little positive reenforcement back – yes, sit, be in the stillness. Release expectations. Be open the gifts that arise in the pause.
Tears rolled down my cheeks as I thanked him for this message – and I sat some more. He held space, head low, relaxed. Eventually, I rose and said goodnight, and he went back to his hay. I left changed. The idea that I HAD to keep pushing, keep going, running around, accomplishing everything, had gone bankrupt.
As the winter has now arrived, in full force with a historic snow storm on from December 23rd through Christmas Day, I am not the only one who has been asked to slow down. The message is for all of us.
“Doing those deeply unfashionable things—slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting—is a radical act now, but it is essential.”Katherine May, Wintering: The power of rest and retreat in difficult times
There are days that I miss the forced slowing down of 2020 and 2021. I don’t think I’m the only one. While I love that we now have the ability once more to do ALL of the things we did in 2019, I wonder if we have forgotten that we don’t HAVE to. That doing it all, is a choice. Perhaps we are being invited now to be intentional about our “yes” so that we have space to create our lives in a was that nourishes us, and leaves us with the capacity to truly give to others, from a full cup.