The Secret to My Peace: A Slowed-Down Life
Hello Dear One and blessed Easter!
Thank you for coming back to check out yet another Sunday Series. I am so pleased that you are spending a little piece of your holiday with me! I have come to treasure the Sunday Series, as it has always given me the opportunity to pause and reflect on what is going on in my heart, and what I feel I need to share with you all.
I find it fitting that on Easter, I am writing this blog post from a pastel-colored couch. We are still on vacation in Florida, and it has truly been a lovely few days so far. Our unit is one of many in a small retirement community, outfitted with beautiful landscaping, quiet sprinklers, and cautious retirees.
There is something so peaceful and quiet about this atmosphere that has really caused me to reflect on the past year of my life. Holidays also tend to provide an easy pinpoint to reflect back on where we were exactly ONE year ago. In my own story, it was exactly one year ago that I began my journey towards greater health, beauty, creativity, and peace. I am truly in awe of what has transpired in this short year!
As I look towards the future, I feel like my new journey for this year will be a continuation of my current work, but also a reaching towards a slower existence in life. I have a strong desire to push forward towards slower living, peaceful routines, and to get in touch with the rhythmic and ancestral side of life.
So today, this is what I want to share with you all: how can we reach towards that slower side of life, and why we should even bother.
I believe that a quiet and slow existence is truly a satisfying one, and it is one that I so desperately crave in this modern world.
I am no stranger to the hectic side of life: two years ago, my life was overwhelmed with busyness and stress. I was caught up in wedding planning, completing my Bachelor's, and finishing up a prestigious internship at a publishing company.
I was juggling every responsibility down to the hour and writing every last detail in my agenda. I weaved through city rush hour traffic twice a day, changed from gym clothes to school clothes to work clothes every day, and spent every evening weaving together decorations, showing up for volunteer gigs, and attempting to maintain a social life.
Life was... CRAZY.
Although that stage in life of graduating, getting married, and moving is quite exciting, I must say that I am much happier now with my quieter life. I am busy with my blog, but I am not living a life revolved around stress, work, school, and performance. My life is filled with my art, my writing, my husband, and my home.
As life continues to slow down, I cannot help but feel as if my sensitive soul was truly created for this slower pace, and I am sure many of you dearest readers must feel the same way I do.
I have come to find out that many of us confuse "busyness" for success: I know I did! Whenever I was busy with life, I somehow felt I was accomplishing something and contributing. It felt like I mattered.
My identity was wrapped up in the success of my work and the upward trajectory of my career. The rushed and harried life felt like proof of my worth and the core of my identity as a "promising young woman."
I know that many other people struggle with this: our value, meaning, and personal identity becomes wrapped up in our busyness, our success, and in the gold stars from other people. I think this is why so many of us are afraid of slowing down. We want to have value, meaning, and a place in this world, and it can truly feel like the busyness and "success" of our careers, social lives, and education proves our worth to the world.
Because without those things, who are we? Without the busyness, what is life?
Well, I had to face these questions myself when I became a full-time homemaker. My life went from full speed to slowed down in a matter of days. My answer to "what do you do?" was... "oh, I'm just a homemaker." Instead of having a strong and powerful identity to cling to, I suddenly found myself completely out of sync with those around me, and unable to defend myself against the accusations by society.
But instead of feeling frightening and painful, this change in my life actually felt like an enormous weight off my shoulders.
Now I know that not everyone has the opportunity to become a homemaker, but slowing life down was the best thing that ever happened to me. Despite the contrarian lifestyle I lead, I actually feel MORE in sync with my natural proclivities and my natural strengths as a woman.
This lifestyle gives me enhanced ENERGY, motivation, vitality, and joy. It has outfitted my life with free time to explore hobbies, my relationships, and my true passions.. (hello www.mrsmidwest.com ! )
The busy lifestyle is often unsustainable for the soft and sensitive soul like myself. Instead of providing a sense of meaning, or offering increased energy, that worldly "success" leaves us feeling drained and exhausted.
A slowed down life.... BY CHOICE.
I think that careers, work, education, and busyness are not bad altogether, and we DO have season in life that are busier than others (think... "newborn baby busy.") But I also believe that we have a level of choice in the matter of our busyness... probably more choice than one would originally assume.
Again, not everyone has the choice to slow down EVERYTHING, but many of us needlessly pile on extra busyness, stress, and responsibilities on top of an already harried lifestyle.
Today, I encourage you to slow life down. If you are feeling overwhelmed, worn thin, or overworked, I encourage you to reprioritize your life. Don't mistake a slowed down life for laziness: remember that we are not all cut out for this busy modern lifestyle.
Begin finding joy and peace in the routines of your life and replace entertainment with true rest. Take more time to sleep every night, and pause for a bit longer when you're stirring a pot of boiling pasta. Pause to hold your spouse a little longer in the morning, and have no guilt about saying "NO" to new requests for added responsibilities.
Begin rethinking your life strategy, and reflect on whether or not your goals truly match with your vision for your life. Remember that life is a series of moments, and if you can never stop and enjoy the moment, you are truly not enjoying life.
If you want to slow life down, stop hurrying, stop rushing, and stop being overly BUSY. Having a packed social schedule on top of a 40hr work week AND regular chores and responsibilities is enough for any person to feel burned out.
Slowing life down is a way that we can be gentle with ourselves, and it is a way that we can begin to heal from the stress of life. So many of us gentle and sensitive souls can become sapped of our joy and sense of self with every added piece of busyness in life.
Too often I have seen people push at their full capacity for years, only to faint in a heap of exhaustion years later, unable to leave the house and crippled with depression, anxiety, and stress.
I have begun to question the sustainability of our modern world. The rushing too and fro, the intense pressure, and the unanchored social lives we lead seem to be creating higher levels of stress and frustration in our individuals.
This is why I have come to believe that even if someone popped out of the sky and offered me the role of CEO of a Fortune Five Hundred company, I would say NO. It is not worth all the money in the world to me to give up this slower life.
A tidy and clean doublewide in the hills of Virginia will always be more appealing to me than a New York City apartment. Because in this slowness, in this peace, I have been able to discover my writing, my art, the love for my husband, and my desires for the future more than I ever did with the distractions and glamour of city life.
We are all slowly learning that we cannot put a dollar amount on a peaceful life.
Many believe that the key to happiness is money, status, and material goods. But for so many of us out there, true satisfaction can only be found in a life free from stress, wrapped in family, and lived for our Lord.
I think many of us also get caught up in a cycle of debt and consumerism that pushes us towards higher levels of busyness.
We don't always have to be worried about the next big success, promotion, or valuable opportunity. Instead, we should be taking more time to focus on how we can pause and enjoy life, and how we can be content in our current situation, without casting forward a longing for the distant future.
A life lived in the moment, and a life lived in the present can reveal untold swaths of peace and joy to our lives.
I truly believe that life is short, soon passing, and temporary. Spend your life in the moment, and learn to slow things down. As we increase the speed of everything in society, including our technology, our transportation, and even our walking gait, it can be easy to feel stretched thin.
Try to pace yourself through life and remember that it is not a race. I know a lot of self-help gurus and life coaches will encourage you to push to be the best and most intense version of yourself, but I really hope that you remember that we're not all cut out for that busyness.
If you have a quiet and gentle soul like myself, living life aware of your energy limitations can be incredibly freeing. Of course we must work hard in life and ensure we are being wise with our time and generating income to provide for our needs. But I think that a lot of added stress in the form of robust social media use, intense longing for material items, and a packed social calendar or work schedule can truly cause a drain on our lives.
Consider today, what a slowed down lifestyle would look like for you, then work towards it. Reflect on your energy levels, and begin journaling and dreaming of the life you ACTUALLY want to lead: not the life that society and our culture tells you to desire.
Sending you all my love today dear friend. I think we are about to head to the beach... so I'll be signing off.
Stay fresh and stay slow friends!