When life starts giving you warning signs, do you slow down? Or do you keep barreling ahead until you crash?
Most people in the western world keep busy until they crash, not having heeded the calls to slow down. Oftentimes, that crash comes in the form of a sickness, an accident, or worse.
Let me share the examples of two women who inspired me this weekend to look closely at whether I'm heeding the call or heading towards a major crash.
I just got back from a business retreat in Buffalo, New York. It was an event led by three of my favorite business strategists. Stella Orange, Rebecca Liston and Sarah Dew. They're brilliant at what they do, and they provided teaching, coaching and inspiration to the 8 women business owners who joined them.
One of the participants was eager to start strategizing the launch of her business to new heights. She has big visions for where she wants to take it, and her mission is a beautiful one.
BUT... the advise she got was to not do ANY business planning, and instead do NOTHING for the next year and a half! The whole group called this "the couch plan."
You see, she's been massively busy for the past 20 years raising her children; one of whom has special needs. In the past year, she achieved the major victory of placing her special needs child in college! As a 20-year supermom, she's nearing depletion.
In true supermom form, she was about to redirect all of her energy from her kids to her business. But the thing is... she's never had a break. She's exhausted. She needs to stop.
And you know what? As the compulsive doer and list-writer that she is, doing "nothing" but take care of herself is the greatest of challenges.
I heard all of this and noticed that a part of me was craving a "couch plan" for myself. Hmmm... perhaps there's a part of me that's feeling a little burnt out too...
Thought #1: Listen to the little voice that speaks of your longing for something someone else is doing... what is it telling you about your own needs?
There was another woman there who also inspired me. She's a natural artist and a mom who's dedicated to homeschooling her 10-year-old daughter.
Check out her story...
She's lately been drawing different scenes in the town where she lives. She does it because she loves to draw. She's also had some fun posting her drawings on Instagram, just for the fun of it.
Get this... people have seen her drawings and have started to ask if they can buy prints of them! In fact, she made one of the fire department and got a call from the fire chief asking if he could place an order for several hundred prints of it!!
She was also invited to come to the farmers market. She thought, sure! Why not? And sold $600+ worth of art!
What inspires me about this story is that she's not pushing. She's not strategizing. She's not striving.
She's simply doing what brings her joy and sharing it. And the world is responding to her energy and asking for more.
Thought #2: Things can unfold with great ease when we allow ourselves to follow the joy in our hearts rather than compulsive doing.
What can we extract from this?
I'll tell you one thing...
I for one, realize that they are powerful mirrors for me to look at myself and ask, "where do I need to slow down? How can I find more ease in my life by following the joy in my heart?"
I'm the granddaughter of farmers. My dad was born on a dairy farm and even though he knew that the unrelenting farm life was not for him, he's always been one of the hardest-working people I know.
Like my dad, the farmer in me keeps busy, barreling ahead. To a certain extent, being busy gives me comfort... BUT it can also deplete me. So it behooves me to extract the wisdom I see in these women's stories before I come crashing down.
How about you?
Do you heed the calling of life urging you to slow down when you need to? Or...
Do you let life bring you crashing down?
Unfortunately, our culture values doing more than being.
"What do you do?" Is almost always the first or second question that pours out of our mouths upon meeting someone.
Our culture places so much value on achievement, possessions, and status... and not enough on leisure, relationships, and a simple life.
As a result we see far too many people only come to "rest" after they've had a heart attack or major surgery. And alcohol becomes the only way that many people know how to "unwind."
How good are you at slowing down?
- Do you take breaks every morning and afternoon in the middle of your work day?
- Do you have leisure time AWAY from electronics?
- Do you take true vacations that feel restful and expansive?
- Do you practice self-care... bodywork, naps, baths, walks in the woods, meditation, connection with loved ones, physical touch, reading inspiring books?
- Do you acknowledge your emotions (anger, fear, worry, grief, sadness, disappointment...) and express them constructively?
- Do you cultivate a peaceful mind?
- Do you practice gratitude and appreciation?
- Do you go for strolls?
- Do you meditate?
- Do you nap and curl up with your cat/dog/loved one?
- Do you say "f**k it" from time to time and just let go...?
The better you get at slowing down, the less likely you are to crash. What can you do today to slow down?
If it's time for you to take a good break...
There's a great opportunity to bask in some R&R in just a few weeks. The Joyful Heart retreat is coming up and it's all about creating a space for you to slow down and reconnect with all sorts of simple ways to ignite joy.
If life has been signaling the need for you to slow down... I urge you to unplug for a couple of days and join us.
The Joyful Heart Rejuvenation retreat is November 17th through the 19th.