Slow Down

I just watched a TED talk by Carl Honore about slowing down.

I recently read Brigid Schulte’s Overwhelmed: work, love and play when no one has the time.

I’ve participated in the National Day of Unplugging.

I reaffirmed the virtues and power of being an introvert while reading Quiet by Susan Cain.

I’ve read about research that shows we are actually more productive when we have reasonable work days and weeks.

And I very much enjoyed Vi Hart‘s most recent Crazy Snail video about wondering whether we should just keep climbing things. (If you are into snails singing songs, see this one which is a bit less depressing!)

Which of course reminded me of one of my favorite books, Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus about how pushing against societal expectations to “just keep climbing” and instead slowing down and looking internally can help you become the being you want to be.

As you can see, I have worked hard at figuring out how and why I should slow down–and how to feel like I’m allowed to do so.

But I’m writing this as other pressing work deadlines push me to distraction.  In fact, I think it’s this feeling that led me to write this.  Slowing down, taking time, daydreaming and making space for creativity and wonder are necessary.  But at times pushing against expectations from family, work, and culture can make this difficult.  Slowing down, for me, remains a work in progress, a practice I must return to over and over as I fail time and again to allow myself these necessary pleasures.

But there have been successes!  This summer I have found that my most treasured moments are those when I let myself completely *be* in the present–sitting on my deck and listening to the breeze, savoring a meal by candlelight with my partner, writing letters to share tiny details, watching a nesting bird, seeking ever-smaller seashells and then nestling them neatly together, digging potatos with my dad, or chatting with a curious dragonfly.

These are the thoughts that swirl through my mind as I realize that my local stationery shop has closed (well, it moved to Durham, which essentially leaves Chapel Hill without a shop!) and leaves me wondering what else we will lose as a culture if we don’t collectively take time to slow down and reconnect with one another and our selves in ways that do not require a screen to serve as the intermediary.

So I am reaching through a screen to you.

I am writing these thoughts–though they are nothing new in a world that has been encouraging meditation for thousands of years–as a bit of encouragement for anyone seeking a “reason” to step back, draw inward or sit still.

You’re grown. You’re allowed.  And you’ll be better off for it.

To help your mind wander, here are a few photos I captured this summer while I was letting my mind wander. Looking closely helps me filter the rest of the world out.  How do you slow down?

grass shells Moth weed bouquet and canned tomatoes spiky bug

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4 Responses to Slow Down

  1. Sheila says:

    I was musing about my too-hectic work days this morning when I came across this article:

    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/08/inquiring-minds-barbara-oakley-learning-neuroscience

    Now I am plotting how to escape my office every day at 2 pm and disappear for a while.

    • Dana says:

      thanks for sharing that link Sheila! We are learning more and more about how our brains work and how out of sync our work lives are with our biological, social and psychological needs. Here’s hoping all this research changes things!

  2. Carrie says:

    That shell photo is beautiful!

  3. Anonymous says:

    The shell photo is so beautiful!

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