Every morning, the kids and I walk to school, and say goodbye to my first-grader. My younger daughter and I then return home. We walk this path four times a day for school drop-off and pick-up. A ritual, a process, a part of our day-to-day.
My bright-eyed, lively five-year-old has many sides to her personality. On any given walk to school a passerby may see a seemingly different child each day—fluctuating between chatty, quiet, grumpy, eager, energetic, dragging, smiling, crying. Sometimes I think she has more sides than my attempts at solving a Rubik’s Cube.
Although my daughter’s many personalities keep me on my toes, one consistency that almost every person who observes our walks to school can attest: we are slow. In general, I am not a fast-paced girl. I seem to gravitate toward slow schedules—slow running, slow driving, slow eating.
I appreciate the unhurried state. Yet the day-after-day dawdling strolls at times leave me a bit impatient. I find myself quickening my pace, with a bit of edge in my stride and voice. By the time we returned home, I had shifted from a peaceful mama to a frazzled mama. A fresh perspective was required. A new daily attitude needed.
My daughter lives in an unhurried state. She dresses for the day at her own pace, twirling and spinning between dressing and brushing her teeth. She eats leisurely. No need to rush breakfast. Dessert? She savors that gooey roasted s’more while the rest are wiping their finished sticky faces. She dawdles. She sings. She snuggles and cuddles.
She embodies presence. I droll up an image of her side-by-side with the Zen master Thich Nhat Han—smelling the flowers, tasting each bite of food, washing their hands in complete, utter awareness. Having read several of this monk’s books and wise words, I get the basis of mindful living. But now I also get to live with a child who visibly lives the simple and slow life. The unhurried life. What is the rush?
I awaken. Perhaps it is okay to stop and savor the things of life. Maybe pausing to relish a bit each day will keep me grounded.
We linger at the table. We put on our happy clothes. Hold hands and stroll. Every day we stroll, slowing life to a pace of enjoyment. We stroll because we are where we need to be at that exact moment. We stroll because there are stories to tell. We stroll because life lessons are learned in this daily ritual. We stroll because we have wishing flowers to dream on. We stroll because life is fleeting. The journey—not the finish line—breathes life into our souls.
We can live life in a more unhurried pace. Let’s enjoy the journey. Gradually, we can create new habits, and, through the process, enjoy the sweet daily moments. Here are a few ideas of how to slow life’s pace:
- Create a ritual. Look right where you are and think outside the box. I always assumed that early mornings with a book, journal, and prayer was my daily ritual. Now I see there are everyday routines that allow the unhurried state to flow through. Find what works for you. Look in the most unexpected places.
- Give your attention. Focus on people. The more distracted society becomes, the more I appreciate a good dose of undivided attention. Put down the phone. Turn down (or off!) the TV. Set aside the to-do’s, need-to’s, and the shoulds for a few minutes.
- Move slower. Whether you slow down your walking, eating, or driving—simply slow down. The more you practice this, the more natural it becomes.
- Unplug. Unplug for one day, one weekend, or one month. Whether it is simply putting away your phone or disconnecting from social media for a while, set the intention to unplug. Noise is noise. Sometimes we need a little less noise in our life.
- Breathe. Take three deep breaths. That’s it. Three conscious breaths can sometimes be enough to regroup and reinstate a sense of calm. We breathe all the time, right? Let’s make a few of those breaths mindful and unhurried.
Stepping away from our chronic state of hurried and busy allows us to regroup, reconnect, and recharge. A life less hurried is a life more sweetly savored.
QUESTION: What is one step you can take today to live a life less hurried?
CHALLENGE: Choose one way to slow your life. Set the intention, write it down, and practice it until it becomes a natural flow in your life.
Edited by Megan Roxas and Becky Fawcett.
Image from Shutterstock; graphics by Julie Finlayson.