Slow living is fine and dandy when life allows for the privilege of a relaxed, calculated approach to her many magical discoveries, but one of the biggest paradigms of slow living is that its benefits are most impactful when life actually seems out of control, rushing past, and fast.
The tiniest moments can reap the most vast benefits.
Most of us do not live in a deadline free, always sunny, always fruitful world. Many of us struggle with feelings of anxiety, being overworked, drowning in responsibilities, constantly needing to make ourselves available to others, family obligations, grief, or lack of control. (That sentence on its own sends my mind into a flash of frenzied panic).
My husband is in the military, and while that is something I say with honor and pride, it also means that many aspects of our life are completely out of our control. What choices we do get to make, we try to analyze with a grateful heart and a sense of adventure, and it has led us to be much happier people when we simply accept change as an opportunity (which is easier said than done, and sometimes takes a while to come around to).
Let me give you a current example:
Back in early November of 2019, we got the word that my husband’s next assignment would be moving us to Anchorage, Alaska in the spring. How exciting and terrifying! We slowly received more and more information and longer to-do lists, all the while trying to wrap our minds around what this next phase of life would look like and how we could best prepare our family. March of 2020 rolls around and hello, Covid-19. We were then left with no instructions for a new plan, and the original dates for when we thought we’d be heading north were now evaporating into a fine mist of confusion as we began cancelling hotels, Airbnbs, and move-out appointments with housing. This part was not a huge deal — we figured it was better to be safe, we’d get there eventually, and we’d have a little more time to spend with our cherished friends here in Spokane until the country deems itself safe and the Air Force is ready to push on with our assignment. But here’s where our accepting, understanding slow life kicked into high gear. At the beginning of May, we got some updated info and our move was back on. We’d be leaving in a week and a half. A week and a half to pack, a week to schedule movers, a few days to make new travel arrangements, and a day to say goodbye to friends who have become family. While we remain positive, we are anything but slow at the moment. Our household goods have since been packed and taken, our house keys were handed over, and we were graciously lent a camper to live in while we wait for the final piece of our puzzle that will allow us to leave Spokane and head up to our new home; our new life.
As I write and re-write and read an re-read this post, I am sitting in the borrowed camper, while my husband is back at the office doing his very best to get information about what comes next, or when comes next. I’m struggling to keep my toddler busy, and have granted granted myself grace as I pop in *another* movie. I don’t know where we will be sleeping next, when we will be able to hit the road, or when our funds will need evaluating. I’ve snapped at my loved ones more often than I’d care to admit, I’ve been completely at the mercy of other people’s kindness, and I’ve been completely thrown off my routines and rituals. I’ve struggled with posting this “in real time” or when the storm has passed, and we are out of any danger of my discussing the situation causing problems with the process or getting my husband in trouble (welcome to the military life). But I don’t need to complain. I need perspective; I need slow.
We are doing our best to hold fast (pun intended) to intention. We’ve made sure our daughter gets friend time, we’ve made sure to remain centered and check-in with each other, and we’ve thanked God every step and stumble along the way. Deadlines and quick turn around times have certainly forced us to hyper-focus our efforts, but the truths we’ve learned through slow living have helped us endure this season with grace.
My favorite tools from this hectic time:
- Outdoor time every day
(even if it includes wiping down patio furniture or walking in the rain)
- At least a few minutes of yoga
(even just to check-in and stretch out a sore neck and shoulders after an afternoon of painting our rental home back to its unseemly original color or a cozy child’s pose on the floor squished between a fold-up couch and a suitcase)
- Nightly book and prayers with our daughter
(even if it’s a quick three-pager and a simple Our Father — we are together and communicating, or even if it’s 5 or 6 stories, over and over again, because there’s nothing else to do)
- Gratitude journal
(even if it’s just a sloppy “the sun came up today” scratched before bed)
- The knowledge and faith that this is just a season
(even when the unknowns make it seem like a lifetime)
These few moments of peace every day may seem like fingertips grasping at the wind when compared to the times of blissful boredom when I was able to devote my time on cultivating these practices uninterrupted, but the amazing thing is that the few moments of these practices when squeezed into the frenzied tornado of pre-moving and post-moving anxiety have been more impactful than the days filled with them. And that in itself is inspiring.
A beautiful sailing ship on a calm sea is lovely, but even the smallest row-boat is a beacon of hope in a thrashing ocean storm.
If you are feeling lost at sea presently, I encourage you to dip your toe into slow living practices, and when the sun shines upon you again, you’ll be fit with the skills to swim.
Need some more ideas on slow living practices? Click here to get my FREE list of “25 Ways to Simplify Right Now!“