Saturday, May 7, 2016

Permission to slow down

Last night I was at a party speaking to a beautiful stranger about her wonderful sounding life.

She said she was a production assistant, she's married, lives on a nice street, and she's a mom to two adorable children, but you wouldn't know it to look at her - she works out. She said how much having kids changes you and that as soon as she had hers she realized she needed to slow down. As if having a family gives you an excuse, permission, a reason to take it a bit easier.

This remark hit me because just recently I was reminiscing about a weekend when I slowed down. It was in the late winter and I had a sore throat. The sore throat turned into an irritating cough, which kept me awake, and made my whole body hurt. I lost my voice. I had to cancel my plans to go out, catch a play, get stuff done around the house, work on a story, and instead was grounded on the couch with a pot of tea, a pile of blankets, books, and a list of movies I'd been meaning to watch. I spent the entire weekend resting and trying to feel better so I could go back to work on Monday.

Not too long ago a friend asked me how I was doing and I said "this is going to sound weird, but I wish I was sick." And then I told her about that weekend I'd spent in late winter doing nothing but resting and how I wished I could do that now, but I had so much to do that I'd feel guilty if I sat down with a book. For me, being sick was like getting permission to slow down. Although it sounded morbid to wish for illness, I knew my friend would understand my meaning. She sympathized and said she knew exactly where I was coming from. We were in similar boats, adrift on twin seas, and both of us wanted to drop anchor and just be still for a while.

It bothers me that I feel the need to have a reason to take it easy. That when I don't have a reason I feel guilty for not being "productive" and that I'm "wasting time." I lead an active life, work multiple jobs, and have ambitious goals, and I should be able to relax guilt-free, yet I struggle with this on a constant basis.

After speaking with the beautiful stranger last night - working mother of two, fit, well-dressed, and fun - I realized that I didn't want to wait until I had kids, or was sick, in order to slow down. I should be able to give myself permission to take it easy whenever I feel the need. I should be able to curl up and be still and not feel as if I'm going to fail if I don't get everything done as soon as possible.

I hate when people use the phrase "make time," as if time was something you can build with the right tools, but right now it's the best combination of words I can think of for my new goal. I need to start making more time to take it easy and not wait for that winter cold to lay me up. I started trying today.

I watched a movie, and then I watched another one. I flipped through a novel, drank tea, and stayed in my pyjamas. I took a nap and slept for a solid hour. I watched the birds and squirrels jump around in the tree outside my window. I'm hoping this will become a habit.

I could learn a lot from cats. They nap like pros.

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