I first learned to slow down during one of the busiest chapters in my life. For starters, growing up in NYC, moving slow just wasn’t part of the collective programming. Fast was just the way of life. And then grad school happened. By then, not only was I apt at speed-jaywalking my way through life, grad school felt like a brain boot camp that demanded I perform all types of fancy mental gymnastics. Overall, I was sleep deprived, constantly on the go, with a full course load and enough reading and paper-writing to last me for the rest of my life. Here’s the kicker: no matter how fast I moved or how much I did, I felt like I could never catch up.
I didn’t realize the speed I was traveling until one Sunday evening in January, when I was first introduced to the notion of slowing down.
I was invited to a candle-lit women-only movement class where the instructor kept repeating to us: “Move slowly. Notice that when you slow down, you can feel more.” And what do you know, whether it was raising my arms over my head, or doing a single hip circle, she was right. Doing anything slowly allowed for a connection that simply wasn’t there before.
It felt like a major disruptor. I wasn’t quite the same after that. Once I had experienced how good it felt to slow down, I knew I’d discovered an entire new way of being. I was hooked, and I began to put this into practice in other areas of my life, till little by little I began to carve out a new way of being.
I am reminded of that time now, as the world collectively moves through a period of slowing down. While it’s true that on the front lines, there are people working tirelessly and the speed through which things are happening must feel fast and chaotic, the majority of us are being gifted with the opportunity to slow down.
Little did I realize, but slowing down has proven to be the one thing that was missing in my parenting game. My New York days are far behind me; the pace in Western Mass feels way more in alignment with the want I to live my life. And still, even though my life is drastically different than it once was, this pandemic and lockdown has revealed to me that I was still in many ways spinning my wheels.
Before this all happened, I would often feel resentment about having to stretch myself thin between parenting and keeping the bills paid. I resented my friends who only had to focus on their children and their homestead, while their partners focused their energies on work and making money. I resented my friends without children who could devote all their time, energy, and resources into growing their businesses. I felt extremely short-changed. I never admited to this resentment, but it would always be with me, never far behind. What this often resulted in was a struggle to be fully present when I was parenting, because the creative entrepreneur in me was feeling neglected.
In the last recent weeks, having had to close my business and forced to go back to the drawing board, I’ve allowed myself to slow down, and allow the dust somewhat settle. And with this slow down has come a greater ability to be more present with my son. To be more present with myself. This has translated to every part of our day, from the way we wake up and greet the morning, to the time taken to prepare meals, to the long walks around town. Even the way we are homeschooling has at it’s core this element of moving slowly. It’s like I suddenly woke up and snapped out of it. My child is growing before my eyes, and now I have the opportunity to really savor this time with him.
I believe there’s truly no point in trying to fit our old life into this new life. The thing is, when we slow down, it also requires us to do less. The best part? We do less, but we do it better; we are more present, we feel more.