the glory of slow

Recent travels taught me the glory of slow. So lately, I’ve been moving about half speed.

Normally, I run at a high internal pace. All the gears hum. And it feels a little like I’m vibrating. Get it done. Do it now. Before time runs out. Before the sun sets. Or rises.

I now understand this is a race I will not win.

With only a few adjustments,  I’ve discovered I’m getting just as much done – maybe even more – than I did when breakneck was my go-to pace and I felt all frenzied inside. I’ve just about done away with a to-do list, trusting in myself instead to know what needs to be done and then doing it … one, and only one, task at a time.

I may not live a life of leisure exactly, but I live more leisurely and delight in this new tempo. Decisions are deliberate. Any movement I make is just this side of meandering. I’ve even been eating breakfast. At the table. On real dishes. I begin each morning with my bed made and end each work day with my desk cleared.

Like changing the shutter speed on my camera,  I’m learning how to manually slow the speed at which I live like the pace at which I shoot, so I’m able to study, frame, and capture the moment.

Life’s more gentle at a slower speed.

So whether traveling afar or walking to the end of the road, go slowly … and let your travels teach you.

 

life lessons: in spring

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Maybe the most difficult time for a flower is just before its bloom.

Still tight and taut, but ready and waiting. Endlessly waiting. Eternally waiting. Impatient. Tense. And probably cranky.

But bloom it does, finally and slowly. Unfurling and stretching, open face forward into the warming sun.

Free.

The release renders the wait all that more poignant and perfect.

Necessary, after all.

So many life lessons learned just out the back door.

Spring hope.

Making Peace

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It seems like I shouldn’t have to try so hard to feel peaceful.

Shouldn’t Zen just sorta flow or something?

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Honestly, sometimes  I turn the most mundane circumstance into Much Ado About Nothing.

So I’ve been working pretty hard to simplify. And again, that feels sort of oxymoronish – should simplicity feel so complicated?

I organize. Purge. Usher all the ducks to their respective rows. And wipe clean my surfaces. (Almost) every morning begins with a clear desk. So to speak.

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But sometimes finding peace … means making peace. With yourself.

I chucked the very-long-list the other day and went for a walk in the cold, bright blue with my camera.

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Peace made.

20/20/20

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Have to. Need to. Must do. Should do. Gotta. Gonna. Do it now.

Wish I could …

Lists. Planners. Schedules. Appointments. Meetings. Agendas. Never, ever enough time.

One of these days, I’d really like to …

Wife. Mother. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Teacher. Housekeeper. Chef. Accountant. Person.

Reader. Writer. Photographer. 

I’m never going to do it all … am I?

I’m never going to please all the people, all time … will I?

When I try to juggle all the balls, I’m going to drop a few … won’t I?

 

Here’s how I find a few minutes here and there for my dreams:

Whenever I’ve got a weekend, or a free day at home,  I make the time for a little bit of everything by chunking the hour into 20 minute blocks.

  • 20 minutes on the lists
  • 20 minutes on the roles
  • 20 minutes of me

What’s on the list today? Call the cable company. Sign up for a charity event. Contact the health insurance company. Make a deposit at the bank.

What roles do I need to honor today? Drive my son to work. Finish the laundry. Bake some cookies for the neighbor who’s just had surgery. Grade last week’s spelling test. Clean the bathroom. Pay the bills.

How will I fulfill my dreams today? Check into a new photography project idea. Continue the book draft. Write a blog post. : )

Twenty minutes at a time keeps me moving and thinking and doing … and getting it done.

I may not be able to do it all, but I can do a little bit of everything – and make time for my dreams too.

Snow Day

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There’s something pretty special about a snow day.

Whisper of disbelief:  It’s a … Snow Day.

Like all of the very best of good fortune, a snow day is really sort of magical.

Dream-like and unexpected.

And, of course, I had all the very best intentions to use this sudden abundance of time so wisely, so well.

But magic simply won’t permit such practicality. Or allow itself to be managed.

Because magic is … well, magic.

With a spirit all its very own.

And so, I wasn’t all that productive … but here’s a list of my very favorite picture books about snow… because the spirit and magic of a snow day never grows old.

1.  The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

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2. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

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3. The Big Snow by Berta Hader

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4. Snowflake Bentley by Jaqueline Briggs Martin

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5. Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner

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Photo credit for book covers to Barnes and Noble. 

Note: The links I’ve provided are for the love of literature … not profit.

Seven Ways to Write

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It’s been so long, I’ve forgotten.

I’ve forgotten how quiet my usually ever-racing mind can become  when finally given the opportunity to speak.

I’ve forgotten what it’s like to stare at an empty screen. Without writing on a regular basis, I’ve forgotten how the cursor blinks. And blinks. It’s annoying, all that blinking.

And I listen for the rush of all those words I wanted to write back a only few days ago when time wasn’t my own. At the ready only a few days ago, all those words tired of waiting around for me to find the time – to make the time – and moved on. So now all I hear is … silence.

So starved for attention, any of the words I’ve tried on at first didn’t really fit right anymore.

But I’m not worried.

Because even after all this time of irregular writing,  I remember.

Here’s what I remember about finding my writer’s voice when it’s – temporarily – lost:

  • Just Start: Start somewhere or anywhere, doesn’t matter. Just start. Write and write and write because even if what you write is mostly unusable, you may just find a word or two of truth somewhere among the riff raff you can develop more fully next time you write.
  • Set a Timer: I can do anything for 15 minutes and so can you. You’ll be surprised how quickly the time passes, and you’ll be left wanting more.
  • Find a Prompt: A prompt can be a word, an image, a quote. Pick a theme of interest to you: kindness, courage, fear … and explore it.
  • Make a List: Lists are great sources for a writing jump-start. Animals you’ve loved. Things that make you feel squeamish. Favorite foods. Friends from childhood.
  • People: Describe who helped you when your car broke down. What do you remember about the woman two tables over at the coffee shop. Your toddler. The best friend you could call in the middle of the night. Recall an overhead conversation in line at the grocery store.
  • Places: A setting from your life is pure visual inspiration. Close your eyes and see it. A family dinner. A drive.  A remembered football game. Your last hike. One treasured scene from your last vacation.
  • Memories: Make it specific and small. Firsts. Lasts. Onlys. Those memories once-upon-a-times are made of.

Do you have a strategy for finding your writer’s voice? Please … please share!

 

 

In the Company of Strangers

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I live my life day to day to day – some days more consciously than others – but mostly by habit. Some habits work. Others, not as much. Sometimes I need an adjustment. A refresh. A new perspective. A priority shift.

Can you name ten people who nudge you awake?

I can. And they’re all absolute strangers.

These ten women tilt my head just so. They elevate my thinking, invite me to question, and energize my motivation. I’ve visited with all of them this year in the pages of their books and blogs.

How I love and linger over the artistry and passion in their words. Their photographs.

I’ve read their prayers and admissions, seen into their imaginations, felt their doubts, and witnessed their celebrations. I’ve sat many a morning or deep into the night nodding my head in appreciation of their compassion and humor, the ways they love, and how they parent. Of each, I admire their bravery, talent, and how very boldly they question what is now and what has gone before. And gently, kindly ask us all: What is next?

I’ve been inspired as a writer, photographer, mother, dreamer, doer … and human.

When I was in graduate school, I read The Education of Little Tree, by Forrest Carter. This quote stays within me:

“… when you come on something that is good, first thing to do is share it with whoever you can find; that way, the good spreads out to where no telling it will go.”

So here’s some good … spread it out wide as you can … no telling where it (or you) will go.

  1. Erin Boyle, author of Simple Matters: Living with Less and Ending Up with More – Erin also blogs at Reading My Tea Leaves.
  2. Erin Loechner, blogs at Design for Mankind. Erin’s new book, Chasing Slow, launches in January.
  3. Shannan Martin, author of Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted. Shannan blogs at Shannan Martin Writes, formerly Flower Patch Farmgirl.
  4. Kelle Hampton, blogs at Enjoying the Small Things, author of Bloom.
  5. Elle Luna, author of The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion
  6. Beth at Local Milk.
  7. Linda at Linda Stoll.
  8. Kendra at The Lazy Genius Collective.
  9. Joanna Goddard at Cup of Jo.
  10. Grace Bonney at Design Sponge, author of In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs