Life Still Isn’t Slow…

I am still reading Chasing Slow. The book isn’t a massive volume and I very much enjoy reading it, but finding the time to slow down, on most days, can be daunting. How apropos that I would need to slow down to read about slowing down. Go figure.

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I, probably like most people, have lived a life that has taken many unexpected twists and turns. I often ponder the fact that when I was in high school I didn’t think I’d go to college five hundred miles away, in Tennessee. When I was was in college I never expected to stay in Tennessee after graduation, but to go back to my home state of Maryland to teach. The summer after I graduated from college, I never expected one of my professors to contact me about a special education job in a school in rural Tennessee. I didn’t expect to stay in Tennesse for the next twenty years. I didn’t know when I married at twenty-four that I’d be widowed and a single parent just a short eight years later. I didn’t know if I’d get remarried, especially to a man that lived in Texas. Yep. I married that guy. After a few years we decided to move to Ohio, and build our own house in the middle of what used to be a farm field. All these things, events, this life I call my own, none of this was part of my master plan. When I was a teenager I thought I’d live in a Cape Cod style house, in one of the New England states. I’d enjoy leaf peeping during the Autumn months, hikes through the mountains, and spend time reading books of poetry by Robert Frost. Alas, the Master Planner, had other plans for me. Better plans. Special plans. Surprising plans.

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Those of you that know me, know I am not a laid back kind of person…and yes, the world needs people like me! I am the one with the to-do list and the daytimer planner. I like things organized, alphabetized, and accessorized. I love a good surprise if it is a fun birthday gift or a Christmas present, but not so much anything else. If I start something I want to finish it. I don’t like loose ends. Yet, here I am in rural Ohio, surrounded by corn fields, and occasionally the neighbor’s rogue llamas.

Life still isn’t slow….but, I am working on it.

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For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Life Is More Enjoyable

Why is it when I long to slow down, the rest of the world seems to speed up? Do I really want to jump on this merry-go-round that spins me until I feel sick? Faster and faster until I have to get off….

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As a young adult, I used to think I had to be where the action was. The real party didn’t even start until late….and I had to stay up to enjoy it. Life was meant to stay busy. Do things. Stay up. Stay out. Stay moving. Life, with all of its ups and downs, has certainly changed that perspective.

There is so much more to see and experience when I slow down to savor the moments. Slowing is not boring, nor is it always easy, but it sure does make life more enjoyable.

  • Shadows of sunlight in the early evening
  • Summer sunsets
  • Chocolate ice cream
  • Bubbles
  • Laughter with my husband
  • Freshly wiped down counters
  • The smell of lavender
  • Cats purring
  • Giving the dog belly rubs
  • A new phone case
  • Checking things off my to do list
  • Sipping tea
  • Emailing family
  • Bare feet
  • Purple nail polish
  • Darkness at 9 pm (which means Fall is on the way!)
  • Grown children that hug and say I love you
  • Help with dinner
  • Folded blankets
  • The warm glow of salt lamps
  • The smell of freshly cut grass

I’ll Just Take It Slow

“…..I later learned that thinking about living is not the same as living” 

Erin Loechner’s words hit me like a ton of bricks.

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How many times have I said (or at least thought to myself) life would be better if. If I finished my graduate degree. If I did some serious deep cleaning. If I got rid of stuff. If I lost weight. If I’d faithfully exercise. If I got a new haircut. Ate whole food. Read more classics. Kept in touch more. If I was a better parent. Friend. Daughter. Wife.

Always those ifs. Draining me. Causing anxiety and stress. Doubting. It is the ifs that will surely kill me.

But, I want to live. I want to live my life slowly and intentionally with purpose.

I want to live in the messy and broken and still see the beauty. I want to be more aware of the gift of time so that I don’t take precious moments for granted….and aren’t they all precious? I want to learn more and read more and highlight the good stuff. I want to be less in a space where I can breathe. I want to live in a house full of love even if my closet looks like a bomb dropped in it and the counters aren’t always clean. I want to live and be healthy because I know I’d feel better and be stronger, not because the numbers on a scale or the ingredients on a package tell me who I am….or Whose I am. I want to live and have fun whether my hair is short or long, lavender, blond, or a golden brown….because the great thing about hair, it always grows back. I want to reach out to family and friends while I still can. Share laughter. And tears. And inside jokes and out of the box thinking, and I love you’s.

A life well lived doesn’t require perfection.

So, I’ll just take it slow.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

 

Saying Goodbye…

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This Saturday in early August started out rather cool and breezy. A robin’s egg blue sky, with white fluffy clouds. The sun was shining and the humidity was low. My husband and I were taking out grandson back to the airport. He had been visiting with us these past two weeks from Texas. At fourteen, he is a big boy, but he has an even bigger heart. He told us he had fun and he would miss us. He confided, “Grandma, don’t tell me goodbye, just say ‘bye…..because goodbye makes me think it is forever”. Sweet, sweet boy.

He is right, sometimes goodbye can be for forever. Well, goodbye isn’t always for forever (and in his case, it is not!)….but, sometimes it is. Sometimes… it… is…

Goodbye. It is a hard word to say. It often gets stuck in the throat. Letting go is never easy. Oh, sure. There are times when saying goodbye is the only real answer, but even when I know goodbye is good, it still is hard.

*Saying goodbye to habits that took years to form. Habits I was comfortable with holding on to, even after they no longer served a purpose.

*Saying goodbye to stuff. Too much stuff. Clothes I will never wear again. Books and magazines I will never read again. Things that will get dusty and musty because even though I know they are no longer necessary, it is painful to let them go.

*Saying goodbye to relationships or friendships, that have changed through the seasons of life, time slowly unraveling them.

*Saying goodbye to dreams, that won’t ever become a reality because they just don’t fit anymore.

*And the hardest and definitely most painful goodbyes, are to those we love. When their chapter has ended, but for the rest of us still here, the story continues on without them.

Continuing to work on making changes as I continue to chase the slow…….

Making Room To Breathe

Chasing Slow already has my attention. The author (Erin Loechner) had me at the very first sentence of chapter one. “I married a man with an expiration date”. Her husband has a brain tumor, my (late) husband had an incurable heart condition. She married him knowing he had an inoperable tumor. I married mine, having no idea.

Life has a funny way of working things out. Or not. Funny might not be the word, maybe I should describe it as “interesting” instead. Challenging? Difficult? Exciting? Mundane and marvelous at the same time? As a young person, I remember thinking (and sometimes saying out loud), “I wish I knew what decision to make. I wish I knew how things would end up”. I was naive.

Knowing the ending would cripple me…. It would stop me in my tracks. I might give up if I could see the obstacles ahead of me. Often times it is those obstacles, those mountains, in life that have trained me in perseverance and steadfastness. To keep my eyes on He who knows no boundaries. No, I readily admit I don’t always know what I am doing. There are more days than I care to admit that I just find myself “winging it”. But, I do know this… I serve a God that is not chained to calendars or clocks. He is the Master of the big picture. The Creator of the perfect plan. The One who is the midst of the day to day and all its struggles, as well as the glimpses of the divine.

I look forward to reading this book, and to practicing chasing the slow. Chasing the slow isn’t about the frenzy, it is about the slowing down. It isn’t wondering why this happened, or how I got here, but searching for what and Who is real. Appreciating. Celebrating. Elevating, the moments I am given. Cleaning up and clearing out, and making room to breathe. It is making a conscious effort to slow down and savor this one life. Choosing to walk away from the harried to make room for the Holy.

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Slowing Down and Being Intentional

I am so excited.

Over a book.

Yes, a book. I read the first bit of it online.

I’ve been wanting to get this book since it came out earlier this year. It will arrive by Wednesday.

It is the book, Chasing Slow, by Erin Loechner. She talks about appreciation. Gratitude. Being intentional.

Yes. I have been attempting to work on those very things for the past several years, but who doesn’t need the reminder? To know there are others that struggle with these things too?

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As I sit here typing, my eyes glance around the kitchen. Notes and magnets askew on the refrigerator, the Keurig needs the water tank refilled, pet nose prints on the windows, and finger prints all over the stove and dishwasher. The counter needs to be wiped down, again, and my feet feel the grit on the floor. Why are my eyes always drawn to the negative? Instead, I want them to focus on my granddaughter playing in her high chair, smiling like only an 11-month-old can, a glass of cold green tea, and the feel of cool air conditioning (after having just recently been fixed).  I am choosing to make a change.

My soul craves the slower life, the more intentional life. I have been blessed with so much, and yes, I am thankful in a big way. But, am I thankful in the-everyday-way? Do I own my things, or do they own me? Do, I schedule my life, or does my calendar rule me? My life often feels hurried and I’m left harried. That is just not what I want.

I don’t want a wild race to next week, or next month, or even next year. I long to slow down and be intentional. I want to savor the days and make them what I want, not what I must. Slowing down is about more than just getting rid of “stuff”, it is also about changing my mindset. I am sure I will try and fail, then have to dust my self off and get back at it. What am I motivated by? How can I make this one life something I enjoy and not just one I strive to get through?

Over the next several months I will be working hard on simplifying, slowing down, and letting go. I plan on posting periodically about this journey.  You will read about the triumphs as well as the messy stuff. I suspect this journey to slow will not be an easy one for me……

What Makes A Perfect Life?

Today I read an article entitled,  Appeal to the United Nations. The article, dated November 2015, discussed how more couples are choosing elective abortions when they find out that their baby has Down Syndrome. The article went on to state, couples who went through screening and found out their child had Down Syndrome terminated the pregnancies at these rates:

United States: average of 68%

Europe: average of 98%

Netherlands: 74-94% after Down Syndrome was diagnosed in the last 23 years

Iceland: during the period from 2008-12, in which Down’s was diagnosed, 100% of the pregnancies were terminated

Denmark: 98%

Beyond just my sadness over voluntarily choosing to not continue with a pregnancy because a child isn’t “perfect”, are the ethical and moral implications of this decision.

When is it okay to say, “this child won’t be born perfect, therefore it is okay to not have this child”? Who has the right to determine the quality of life or what makes life worth living? Does a genetic difference make it okay to stop a pregnancy?

 

 

Does perfect genetics equate to a perfect life? I don’t believe so…

No one is perfect, and in fact, it is often times our imperfections that make us so unique.

I believe all life is valuable and worthy.

Matthew 18:1-2, 10  At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them…See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.