2 Important Things I've Learnt From Slowing Down
Good morning everyone! Summer is evidently here in Switzerland today as it's 9am and it's already 22•deg! I'm sat outside, overlooking green rolling hills and enjoying my coffee with the sound of birds singing. It's beautiful, it's quiet and it's slow, a bit like what my current season of life has looked like. After a crazy final year at university and then immediately jumping into a trip to California I didn't have too much time to slow down - which is good, I don't do 'slow' naturally. I like to be busy, I like to be surrounded by people and involved in the many activities that those people bring.
I think my real problem is that I love the satisfaction I get from crossing things off my to do list! Be that as it may, since I've been back from LA, life has been very slow - or at least compared to the pace of life I'm use to.
Slow is good. Slow is rest. Slow is needed.
But on the flipside, for some of us who struggle with this,
Slow can be over-thinking. Slow can be digging up the mess. Slow can be intimidating.
I've been very aware that this season of 'slow' isn't going to be around for long, and if anything it might be one of the last truly slow seasons I have for a couple years! So making the most of it has been on the forefront of my mind which made me embark on intense journaling, listening to beautiful sounds in front of breathtaking views, meeting with as many friends as possible, truly giving people and my loved ones time, dreaming up new ideas and figuring out what steps I need to take in order to shape life in to the adventure I see and want it to be.
All of this has been the really fun stuff, despite my inability to love 'slow', I love reflection. Making time amongst the crazy to be reflective has always been part of my handwriting, often it's at 2am because what other time of the day is the world still enough for such an activity? Anyway, I love reflection almost as much as I love to dream about the future. But as with most things, there's a flipside, there are two sides to balance.
The flipside of reflection, when done truthfully, is that it will highlight the mess that may have been previously missed, it will encourage you to do some digging to get that mess out, which more often than not makes a bigger mess.
And then the flipside of dreaming about the future is that it brings worry and fear because at the end of the day, life happens and most of the time - not the way we planned it.. So where's the balance and how do we balance our minds in slow seasons? Although I don't know the answer to this, here are some thoughts I've had...
• Reflection and Mess. Leaving my "stuff" buried in the deeper and darker parts of my soul would be easy right now, but the reason I refuse to leave it there is because of a choice, and kind of silly (but not actually silly) little prayer I made a few weeks ago... I decided before I enter this real "adult life" where I'm soon going to be in a full time job, with a routine, in one country, and then eventually in a full time relationship and then eventually-eventually with full time kids and puppies (also you're allowed to laugh at that) I decided that I owe it to myself, the people I'm going to work with, the friends I'm going to do life with and most importantly, my future family that I'm going to love, to sort out as much mess as I possibly can, so that I am bring good fruit to the party and not the yucky bruised fruit that nobody even likes. And despite my ability to make this 'slow season' look beautiful on Instagram with pretty pictures of the sea, flowers and puppies, there have been quiet and dark moments amongst it all, I don't think Insta is always the right place to splurge the messy dark stuff, after all it's a one-dimensional, filter-adding medium in today's society.. However, I do think it's important to share the real and I'm happy to admit to all the dark truth to whomever asks because it's our responsibility to shape our culture, and be aware that being real with one another is what the world needs right now!
• Dreams and Fear. My creative and imaginative mind, with my natural tendency to romanticize everything is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that often my idea of 'what life should look like' combined with my determination end up making 'it' happen. Not always, but sometimes, and of course it's hard, it requires a lot of work and focusing much energy on intention. Being intentional was one of three goals I made at the beginning of 2016 and I must say, best thing I ever did! It's remarkable how much reward I've found in being intentional about everyday, every conversation, even every thought that I've had... It's proved to be more powerful than I thought, so definitely advise people to try it! But I digress... The downside of a dream is fear. And the bigger the dream - the bigger the fear.
In the summer of 2014 I had "no fear" in a script font tattooed on my foot, and in response to my mother's horror, I told her my reasoning, "because it says do not be afraid 365 times in the bible, so this is my reminder of that, to never walk a day in fear". Cute isn't it? Ha.
Well anyway, the reality of this 'reminder' is that it's just that... A reminder. It can literally be tattooed on to your body but if we don't make the -intentional- choice to believe that there is no fear, nothing will change. And some days the choice is easier than others. But mostly, and for most of us, it's hard. The only thing that makes it easier is turing these intentional choices and ways of thinking in to habits becuase you have chosen to be intentional enough times, and then one day, the habits become your character.
But before this post turns into a short book, I will stop and simply leave you with this;
Digging up mess in the right season might look like a lot of pain, but fortunately for us this pain is short-term, as when we're brave enough to dig, the foundation we create provides for a better harvest and ultimately more rewarding long-term pleasure.
Fears are to be expected, this is life and sometimes it happens while we're making other plans, I'm sure you've all heard that one before.. The beauty in this is holding on to all that life cannot take away from us. Our choices and our ability to be intentional with everything we encounter will always be in our control.. Of course this is all easier said than done, but I guess the the only license I have to say these things, or to write any of them down for you to read, is the place from which it comes. A place where flowers are withered and spirits are crushed. The place that seems hopeless, dark and hidden, a place and space we've all experienced and will continue to visit in the future... It's only natural.
These words shared have come from my intentional choice to pick truth, and in consequence, these choices have shed light on the darkness and have watered the withered parts of my mind & soul, giving me just enough courage to keep seeking.
So as I go forward today, I am reminded to continue being intentional, to always be preparing and cultivating for the life that I have dreamed of, and then rest, well the rest can be found in the words, "do not be afraid".
Have a wonderful day, dear friends! May we never lose our wander! Ash xxx