I’ve now entered the part of the summer that leaves me wanting to yell “TIME, STAND STILL” at the top of my lungs and hope the universe responds by slowing the pace just a bit.
All my previous attempts with this tactic during summers gone by have been unsuccessful, but I still find myself wondering if maybe this year will be different?
Okay — definitely not.
However, what I have learned over the years is that, while hollering at the universe doesn’t help a fig, making a conscious effort to slow down does change things. Here’s what’s worked for me.
The remnants of a tropical storm recently passed through our area and made for a couple of days that were gray and incredibly humid. Even though it wasn’t all that hot outside, it was enough to leave me feeling a bit sluggish, so I told my husband, “I feel lazy today.”
He told me if I wanted to go that route, I should really go for it, maybe put on a cape and draw a giant “L” on my shirt and be SuperLazy. I couldn’t lay my hands on a cape (and I knew I’d feel silly wearing a bath towel like I did when I was a kid), but I decided his basic premise was right on target.
I went for the lazy. I took everything off the day’s to-do list and lazed around instead. Low and behold, the day seemed longer when it unfolded with no prescribed agenda to follow. I know I can’t do that every day, but every now and again, it’s just the ticket.
I’m far too guilty of being plugged in and jumping to the beat of my cell phone’s chirp, bleep, or chime. Phone calls, texts, social media messages — each different sound prods me, letting me know someone somewhere is contacting me.
Even when my family is together at a restaurant, if one of us has a phone, there’s invariably a moment when someone decides to “look something up.” Before long we’re passing the phones around showing one another funny memes and silly cat videos…and WHOOSH!
I’m tired of losing precious time to the phone or tablet. And turning off the ringer isn’t enough – simply having the phone in proximity changes situations. Now I’m making an effort to leave the phone in the car or on the charger – basically, anywhere away from me.
Camera are always within easy reach these days, and it’s a mighty temptation to record these summertime memories. Quick — snap a picture of the watermelon before taking a bite. Hurry – get a video of those baby ducks swimming along the edge of the lake. Right now – capture that beautiful pink and purple sunset before the light changes.
But taking a picture always puts something (literally –the camera!) between me and the thing I’m photographing. Which means, I’m not looking at the watermelon, the ducks, or the sunset, I’m looking at a screen.
Being present means not being in such a rush to take the picture and instead to notice the world around me, to to engage with reality first. Take a bite out of the watermelon, quack back at those baby ducks, or watch the sunset for a while, after all sunset pictures never turn out quite as lovely as the real thing.
I’ve written about my obsession with hand piecing and hand quilting before, but I come back to being slow again and again. Hand piecing slows me down. There’s no such thing as a pieced quilt that’s hand stitched in a weekend. And the same holds true with a hand quilted quilt.
It’s not that I’ve got anything against sewing machines (I own one!) or long-arm quilting machines. It’s just that for me, sometimes it’s better to take the slower, more intentional way rather than the faster way.
There’s no inherent value in being busy and rushing around helter skelter. Having a calendar that’s filled to the brim with this or that doesn’t make me a better person.
I want to enjoy and remember individual moments, not merely the mad rush getting from one place to the next, from one instant to the next.
Being a little lazy and slow, being unplugged and present? These aren’t magic solutions, and they don ‘t give me more hours in the day or more days in my summer, but they do help me slow down be truly present in the moment and make better memories.