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Slow Living: Embracing Our New Normal

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My daughter jumped up to grab some coins for the home school project we were working on. I never thought I’d be homeschooling, but COVID-19 and “safer-at-home” has us doing things I’d never imagined.

Homeschooling is one of them. Slow living is another.

I heard her rummaging through the designated coin jar in another room. 

“It’s taking me a minute to find a quarter, Mama! Is that okay?”

It was the second sentence that made me pause.

“Is that okay?”

Of course, it was okay. Why would she ask that?

But even as I asked the question, I knew the answer.

Really, it wasn’t okay. Because I am always rushing. Rushing myself. And rushing her.

Even now, as we’re easing into this mandatory slow living way of life, I feel like I should be hurrying through the days.

“No problem, sweetie!” I called back to her.

And then I fought back the fidgety feeling that we needed to be moving faster and getting the work done by a certain time.

We have no place to go. Nowhere to be. Nothing but time. So why is it I want to hurry? Why do I resist slow living? Even when there is no other choice?

Despite the fact that my schedule has been cleared by circumstance, I still feel like I should be doing ten things at once. Juggling all the plates. Checking off boxes.

I seriously had to tell myself, “You can relax. No need to rush. We have all damn day. Calm. The. Heck. Down.”

So, I did. I took a deep breath and let myself relax. I reminded myself that space and time are wide open at this point.

We don’t have to hurry. There are no boxes to check. We don’t have to be somewhere at a certain time.

We can just be. Be here. Be here now. We can live at a slower pace.

And you know what? Once I realized that is our new normal for an indefinite period of time, I felt lighter. Relaxed. Free.

It really hit me hard for the first time that slow living is our new normal.

I’ve always been a doer. It’s hard to relax. It’s hard to slow down. I make lists and revise the lists and add to the lists and make more lists before the first list is done.

Slowing down has never been in my nature. But that day, I decided to embrace this new way of life and adapt a slow living approach. 

For the first time ever in my life, I don’t have a long list of “have to’s” and “to do’s” and I’m going to enjoy it as much as possible. 

Or will I?

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Making the Best of Bad Times

Will I, though?

Because what is happening in the world right now is beyond heavy.

It’s horrible. It’s heartbreaking. I can’t watch the news or look at my social media feed without getting emotional or worse, crying.

I’m worried about people who are struggling physically, financially, and emotionally.

Sickness. Death. Hunger. Surging unemployment. People can’t pay their bills. They are overwhelmed. Limited resources. Unrest. Fear. Anger. 

My heart hurts when I look at all of it.

Every day, a thousand times a day, I’m asking the question: What is going to happen?

How are people going to get through this? How are we, as a country, going to get through this? What does our future look like?

I don’t know. No one does.

And Then, I Feel Guilty

I try to keep the TV off and stay off social media for most of my days. I hate roller coasters, especially emotional ones. So most days, I’m in my bubble.

But when I do check-in, usually late in the day, on what’s happening, the guilt hits me.

How can I embrace and appreciate this time to slow down, when there is so much upheaval and suffering all around me? 

I feel guilty for trying to enjoy and embrace this slow time with my daughter as a gift when so many others are hurting and struggling.  

I’m safe, healthy and have food to eat.

I have the privilege of staying home when others don’t.

And it took a horrific pandemic to slow me down.

I feel bad that in the midst of a horrible situation, I’m over here talking about embracing it and choosing to feel good.

What right do I have to try and find meaning, happiness, and joy in the midst of all of this struggle?

Is It Okay to Feel This Way?

I’ve tossed it around in my head a lot. And here’s where I’m at with all of it. 

Guilt is BS. Guilt steals our joy.

So I counter my feelings of guilt by practicing gratitude. Immense, whole-hearted gratitude.

Here’s the deal. I can feel empathy and pain about everything around us falling apart. And at the same time, I can choose joy when possible, practice gratitude and embrace all of the goodness that I can grasp.

Feeling pain and feeling joy are not mutually exclusive.

If we have no choice but to slow down, we might as well make the best of it the situation despite the heaviness of it all. 

We can be sad. And we can make the most of this. If we’re lucky enough to be minimally impacted, we can feel and be aware of the heavy sadness but also be grateful. 

We can make the best of things and appreciate the gifts we’ve been given.

Yes, times are hard for people. But we can help. We can do good by supporting local businesses and contributing to organizations that are making a difference.

Shop for friends and neighbors that are at risk.  We can help pass out meals. Buy food. Send cards. Stay home.

Say prayers. Raise the energy. Be the good.

Because that’s a significant part of life – doing good. Helping others. Finding the good in the bad. Seeing the beauty in the mess.

It’s Okay to Choose Positivity and Gratitude

It’s okay to choose to be positive and practice gratitude. Even when things are bad. It’s okay to try and find the good.

If, like me, you’ve felt any level of guilt, please join me in letting that guilt go. Join me in adopting a positive attitude when possible. In being grateful. In looking for ways to help others.

I’m looking for silver linings. And if you look close you can find them, too.

When I start thinking about everything, yes, it’s easy to become upset, angry, fearful and worried. That’s normal.

And I let myself feel those feelings when they come up. But then I move on. Because if I sit in anger, fear, frustration and worry about the unknown for long periods of time, it does me no good.

We hope things get better soon. But we don’t know what the future holds.

So in the meantime, remember: we are in control of our thoughts and actions.

For me, this means choosing to embrace this easy, slow time with my precious daughter. It means slowing down and being in the moment.

I don’t want to look back on this time and wish I had spent it differently.

I’m gonna be living the slow life. And I’m going to embrace it.

So yes, baby girl. Take your time looking for that coin. No rush. I’ll be right here.

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Related: Don’t Let These Things Steal Your Joy

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