When I heard this label a few years ago I had a good chuckle. I thought: that doesn't apply to me! I'm not afraid of missing out... I simply love Doing things! How could it be a pathology ("dis-ease" state) if I loved Seizing the Day!?? right??
Plus I do recall a time before my daughter (now 6.5 years old) was born when I went through a healing process during which I taught myself how to relax. I had sort of been taught (thanks Dad! you taught me to work hard and I do appreciate that value of mine) that you rested when the work was done. You played when the to-do list was complete. Well I finally reached a point of recognition that those lists were never going to be complete! At that time in my life, pre-kids, it was ME that kept piling on the tasks, taking on more work hours, more patients. Filling my day with so many "extras" I would always want to meditate or read or do creative stuff and I did journal but usually it was when I was in a crisis, not as a daily soulfilling practice - I simply made it so I never had time for these frivolous activities. These were the things one did only when they had time left-over, after being productive.
So I made a commitment to myself to practice slowing down. I joined an Artist's Way workshop - a beautiful process that has you engage in daily morning pages writing and has you take yourself on "artist's dates" - indulgent time once a week spent with yourself doing something that feeds the soul: meditative walks in nature, middle of the day bubble baths, solo visit to the art gallery, a matinee all by yourself... it felt so good! though not without an inner fight at first: "what are you doing? you have so many things to do, you can afford to take this time? the work isn't done yet? what will people think of you slacking off like this? what if someone needs help? shouldn't you be at work?......" The voice of my ego really wanted to make sure I was being productive! It was so identified with me being valuable only when I was Doing Something of Value that it really wanted to push and shove me to do so. But luckily the voice of my Soul spoke in that beautiful soft but firm encouraging voice and I listened - "honey, it's ok to rest! you need to slow down too. When you get quiet and creative that is when you really recharge your batteries, when the voice of your inner wisdom and intuition has a chance to speak and be heard. Being time is the most productive time you can take!"
I swear that teaching myself how to slow down is actually one of the things that also helped me to get pregnant with my first child. That is a story for another time but I truly believe that my fertility with her was a result of my moving into more of my Divine Feminine (the receiving, being, nurturing, wise, intuitive part of ourselves) and out of our Divine Masculine (the more active, doing, striving, pushing part of ourselves). As Christiane Northrup says I became "less sperm, more egg!". Motherhood and that first maternity leave were an incredible experience for me. Having Madelyn as a premature birth (she was born 1.5 months early) really supported me in slowing down. My days were entirely dedicated to simply being with this beautiful delicate little being. My recollection of the time between my two kids was one of finding a balance that was supportive of a quieter time - though life circumstances were also not "normal". We were building a house and so living with my parents for a year and a half until few months before my son was born. We had constant support, living with my parents when Madelyn was 14 months to 2 and a half years. Though it definitely had its challenging moments, to live in community with loving family there to share the load of child care and meal prep was a huge support.
Reality hit the following September when Shea was 5 months old, we now had two children, we were living in our new house (without gramma and grandpa around), I was working again - albeit limited hours, but nonetheless back at work.
When we are challenged or stressed this is typically when we return to our old habits... our old strategies that served us well and were our defaults.
So it was around that time that I was juggling so many balls again that I fell back into my old patterns. Any self care in the sense of slowing down went by the wayside (speeding up comes more naturally to me - no matter how busy I am I always find the time to stay active... we are all different in this regard.) as I couldn't make sense of how I was suposed to get this soulful time in the midst of my new life. As a mom I wasn't just busy with things I placed upon my own plate, but also with things that were heaped upon it by others at any and all hours of the day!
That is until a few weeks later I caught myself literally RUNNING through the mall, trying to cram as many errands as I could in the five minutes I had before my leg waxing appointment! When I did finally lie down in the quiet serene room for my waxing and my nervous system was still buzzing I finally realized how completely silly I was! And I became aware of how addicted to the rush of accomplishing things I was! IT was one of those "aha" moments and I began the journey of learning once again how to slow down within my new life. The conditions of my life had changed from when I was childless and teaching myself to relax. Fewer things were within my control, fewer things remain within my control, and so began a journey that continues today of slowing down, learning to incorporate valuable soulful downtime into my life.
Reminding myself that it is okay to go read before I wash dishes or start supper. Reminding myself to sit and pray or meditate for a few minutes in the early morning before I jump on my computer to get some work done. Reminding myself to say no to demands that don't serve me or my family or that don't really light me up. Reminding myself to delegate, to ask for help, to let my husband take the kids out without feeling I have to be there.
I am writing this today for a couple of reasons. First as a reminder to myself as I just had one of the busiest weeks I can remember: multiple halloween events and parties started it off, three business expos where I represented CCNM, two classes I taught, two presentations I gave, coordination of our Jackrabbits booth at the ski swap, all on top of regular work and family life.
Yesterday afternoon I slept for two glorious hours in front of my fireplace.
This is a reminder not to let my ego get all excited and caught up in everything I accomplished in the week. Having done all of this makes me no more valuable than if I had come home and watched tv every night after work. My self-worth is not dependent on anything I do or don't do. And having done all of this, my soul is just tired and calling for me to rest and remiding me that I actually DON'T like to be so busy anymore. Even though I do my best to stay present with all I am doing in order to really engage in the richness of each experience, I do miss out on the richness of the daily quiet rituals that involve bubble baths or candles or soft music... writing, reading, just Being.
I am also writing this to encourage all of you that might feel you don't have time to stop and rest or that it might not be a productive use of your non-existent time, that taking time to nurture your soul is the most productive use of time imaginable. When we get quiet, take time to listen to our hearts and our souls this not only is an amazing recharge for our tired and weary physical bodies but also allow us to recharge emotionally and spiritually. Giving ourselves the gift of time does a funny thing. It actually feels like it opens up more time and space!
When I take the time to nurture my soul, I feel content, peaceful, and so when I then proceed to make dinner, run errands, fold laundry I do so with a different energy and head space. These become meditative tasks rather than chores I am resentful of for robbing me of my precious "me time".
Things still get done, but at a different pace. And some things don't get done - but it is those things I can delegate or let go of.
Life is tough. It is busy and demanding. The outside world isn't going to stop making demands on us or throwing curveballs our way. When we can remain grounded and centred in our own wisdom, something we cultivate through quiet soul time, as Deepak Chopra says: "when we take care of our internal chaos, the external chaos will take care of itself".