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Slow up to show up

Going slow is not my natural gear, yet I cannot pinpoint the time when it began to feel so unnatural.

When did moving at a sprint become more natural than slowing?

When did resting shift from something enjoyable to an unnecessary luxury for the ‘less’ busy, one that I felt could not afford unless becoming unwell?

As we experience each of our life seasons relative to those that have gone before, I can safely say that last year I found another level of ‘hustle.’ This is something I have mixed feelings about as there were few times in the year that I felt truly present, there ‘in the moment.’

Moments sped up and those that were not, I sped past in my haze of ‘busyness.’

For some of you reading this now it may be what each year looks like for you and perhaps this is the way you like it. For me, my lack of presence was unsettling and sustaining this level of hustle was beginning to take it’s toll on my physical health. My energy was spread in so many directions that at times I felt like my head was spinning. This feeling become the norm as I strived to do it all.

Could I manage it? Absolutely! But I no longer wanted to.

Deep down I don’t believe that being able to ‘manage’ need be our yardstick for whether we remain with the status quo. Simply because we can shoulder it, does not validate continuing to do so.

We are all going to experience seasons in our lives that feel like a sprint and others that feel more like a Sunday stroll. Some of this we create for ourselves, spreading our ‘yes’ across many requests and other times it is just how it is – the old adage of ‘when it rains it pours.’ And this is part of the natural ebb and flows of our lives. However, it was so tempting to make this pace my new norm, and therefore not just a season.

There is nothing wrong with working hard to reach goals and chase down dreams and while doing so experiencing seasons of ‘next level’ busyness. But what if it is not just a season?

Regardless of our life circumstances we all have responsibilities and therefore commitments to uphold, places to be, and many things to do.

This. Is. Life.

In a world that revers the ‘busy,’ and burnout is often touted as a badge of honour there is little airtime given for slow or even just slower. Is it any wonder that we might find ourselves needing to relearn how to see rest as productive? The slow as necessary?

This year I am on refreshment leave from my part time teaching position and it is the first time I have taken leave that is not maternity related – it feels strange. While acknowledging the privilege of being in the position to take a year out, I have found slowing down challenging, so challenging that in many respects I have yet to.

I have painted walls, re-organised spaces in our home, gardened, and even started this blog around everything that comes with being a mother and a wife. ‘You’re easing yourself into slower’ I keep reminding myself. There is some truth in this, yet deep down there is a growing awareness that I am yet to flip the script on rest.

It is early days and like learning any new behaviours, skills and/or habits it takes time. I am intentionally beginning to build slower moments into my week and learning to frame these as productive. I am starting to slow my yes.

Yes, this requires genuine effort and a quietening of the people pleaser within.

Creating space for slowing still feels foreign and counterintuitive as if I am swimming against the current of our mainstream messaging. When we are immersed in a cultural narrative of scarcity –  not enough time, money, relationship, influence, … we are certainly going to feel it when we begin to swim in the direction of abundance with the belief there is enough. I know my efforts here will not go unrewarded and neither will yours.

There are many things I wish to accomplish so creating this space for greater clarity, to reframe and challenge some of the ways I have previously operated when in a busy season is important… and essential. A work in progress, as am I.

‘Slow up to show up’ is my mantra of this season. A reminder that slowing enables me to better show up for those I love, the things I love to do, and for me.

Rest is important. Slowing is a necessity.

To better look after ourselves and one another we need to rewrite the wearing ‘busy as a badge’ cultural narrative. Let’s edify, encourage, and support people who share their ‘go slow’ moments with us as much as we praise their achievements. Let’s begin by prioritizing, embracing, and normalising the ‘go slow’ in our own homes, social circles, and communities.

In ‘Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less’ author, speaker and leadership strategist Gregory McKeown writes, ‘What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measure of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?’

If you are in a particularly busy season, acknowledge this as just that, a season. Then put things in place to ensure you have an opportunity to refresh on the other side of it. If you need permission to slow, look no further than within. And if you have managed to work ‘slow’ into your week irrespective of your season, teach us your ways! Like many things in life, I am sure it doesn’t have to be one or the other.

I hope you create an opportunity for a little ‘go slow’ in the days and weeks ahead.

Clement Falize