The Practice of Slowing Down

Slowing Down

Some readers have asked where I’ve been, and when I would start writing again. Little V is already 7 months old–where has the time gone?

It all started with a foot injury in late June. An innocent pair of new, flat sandals did me in this time (two years ago it was a pair of too-tall heels). My podiatrist gave a little laugh at my vanity, but assured me it would be better in two weeks. Fast forward three months later, and the pain from my foot has spread to my heel, ankle, and entire lower left leg. Add on the classic aches and pains of motherhood–back problems and tendonitis–and I was forced to slow down. Way down.

Around that time, I came across this old but still relevant New York Times article called “The Joy of Quiet.” I began to ask myself why I even had an Instagram account. Once upon a time I used to care about winning followers, but sitting on my phone for hours, pretending to like strangers’ photos so that there was a chance they would like mine, just seemed completely pointless. But that’s what many bloggers did, so it seemed necessary to play the game.

And yet…how could I have spent all that time differently? Thinking about the hundreds of hours I have probably spent on social media makes me a little sick inside.

Being immobile has forced me to do things only when they count. I currently can only walk 5-10 minutes at a time, ideally followed by resting/sitting for an hour or so. When every step you take suddenly becomes a precious commodity, you do only what is necessary and important (gotta go to the bathroom…then heat up my lunch…grab a bottle of water…and my laptop).

But the true lesson has been in learning to rest. I don’t mean napping the day away, but gaining the ability to sit quietly, understanding the value in observing, and being content in the stillness of it all. There is a beautiful simplicity when babies can be completely enraptured by something as unassuming as an empty potato chip bag. The bright colors, the artificial smell, the crinkly sound, the way it floats briefly in the air when tossed. Little V has more fun with wrappers than the Fisher Price toys that were gifted by friends. Appreciating a potato chip bag may not add much value to my life, but seeing something through my child’s eyes certainly does.

When a stranger starts to coo at Little V, she will respond by studying the stranger’s face. I’ve often wondered what she is looking at. The eyes? The hair? And then I wonder when was the last time I really looked into someone’s eyes (not even my husband’s, I’m afraid to say). As an art graduate, I was trained to observe. Somehow, in the last decade, I’ve regressed in my ability to notice what is around me.

And so despite my recent handicap, I’d like to think I’ve gained a new gift of slowing down. It does mean fewer blog posts (for now) and more time for Little V. It means going out less and staying home more. But most importantly, to the relief of Mr. Wonderful, it will mean fewer Instagram photos of pastries and tea, and more time actually enjoying the pastries and tea (sorry honey, for all the times our drinks got cold).

Are you happy with your pace of life? Do you think it’s ever possible to “slow down” too much?

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Comments

  1. Christine says

    Sorry that your foot has been injured for so long. Thanks for sharing your insights though!it’s cool to see how you can simplify life so much through your hardship. I think there is a time and season for different paces of life. Within reason though! Right now, I wish I could slow down more in some ways and have more space. Keeping up with a 3 year old and having another on the way is ‘busy’. But it’s a good reminder to make time to slow down even in busy times. One’s heart or spirit can be ‘slow’ or peaceful even when there’s a lot to do, but it takes work and intentional practice I think. Thanks for the reminder and I hope you continue to heal and gain good perspective!

    • says

      I love your statement that we can have a peaceful heart in a busy time.So true. I try not to be over-scheduled and to carefully choose my commitments, but with a baby, two working parents, friendships, planning for a big move, and church participation, there is only so much I can actually NOT do while still investing in the things that matter to me. Similar to Jen, we go out less and write less and do some other extras less in order to have time to talk after work, go to the park with our little one, and even take the occasional nap. While there is a lot to do, I feel like my life is not rushed, and to me that’s what makes a difference.

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