Hey! I'm Emily... homebody, amateur philosopher, professional photographer, mama and wife. This is my little world-- a place for me to preserve the little snippets of my life that bring me joy, make me think, or show my creative leanings. I'm so happy you're here. If you get a minute, please introduce yourself in the comments. If you like what you see, you are invited to follow my blog through your RSS Reader. Just click the link at the bottom of the page to add me.
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Wednesday, September 22

Slowly, Slowly.... Stop and Take It a Bit More Slowly....

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{This is sitting next to my computer. It is the tiniest, most perfect little pumpkin from the farmer's market. I love it. And the books it stands on.}

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{And see what is on my desktop screen behind the pumpkin? Love my mime.}
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The most profound change in our home and our lives, here in Kate's House (what Noah calls our home:)), is the conscious decision I've made to SLOW DOWN. In every facet, in every way, but most marvelously, in my parenting and my time with Noah.

When I made the decision to make drastic changes in order to find my "center", I went on Amazon.com to my long-neglected "wish list" and treated myself to two books I had always meant to read. The first was In Praise of Slowness, by Carl Honore, and the second was Mitten Strings For God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry by Katrina Kenison. Both had always appealed to me, but ironically, I never seemed to have the TIME to let myself read them. These books on MAKING TIME. Irony. Ha.

So along with more of Gift From the Sea, I tasted bits of these other two books over the course of a four or five week period. It was fantastic, miraculous, beautiful how intricately and perfectly each book complemented the others, in complete coincidence. That's what's called SYNERGY---(The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects). Total synergy that the universe would see fit to bring so many disparate pieces together for me at one time, and have them all work in harmony to gently, firmly change my whole mindset about life.

The critical key each book gave me when I agonized over the question "HOW HOW HOW do I find that center? That still axis? HOW?" was to STOP. Slow down. Find a bit more solitude when you can... But even when you are in the midst of your everyday life, kids and husbands and obligations all still pounding at you, SLOW DOWN.

Nowhere in my life has this new concept been more profoundly inspiring to me than in my life as a young, stay-at-home-ish mama to a toddler.

Me, before:
Filling the days with outings when I got restless, letting Noah talk me into small toys at the store, trying to run extra errands every day but then running out of time for lunch--- fast food became the solution far too often... In the times we were home, mama would try to fit in little bits of work at the computer, in spite of telling herself she was only "Emily Southerland Photography" after bedtime or when Joe was around... There would be playdates, fun new "educational shows" to record for Noah to try out, stolen moments online while shoo'ing the kiddo away to go play... Googling swimming lessons/soccer lessons/etc. and thinking that it was time to begin that kind of "enrichment"....

Me, now:
Since Joe has begun his job, I have begun a gentle, simple little daily routine with Noah. There is not a lot of strict structure, but there are elements to the day that I have always valued, but never seemed to "have time" for. Now, there is nothing but time. Why? Because I no longer FILLLLLLL the time with meaningless wanderings/external activities/restless habits...
Now, we play. Noah helps me with chores. We read more books. He is learning how to amuse himself while I sew a bit each day. The TV stays off as much as possible and music is much more present. We go outside for little bits of time. Many days, we don't even get in the car once. Some days there is art, and other days there is just lots of imaginative play and an eager little "helper" as I go about my tasks. We have spent FAR less time going here and there, stuck with fast food lunches. And when we DO plan outings, they have more purpose, and are infrequent enough that they are now a great deal more special. And I don't buy him little toys/treats/doodads every time we go into a store. He simply doesn't need the junk, and I am tired of inadvertently teaching him to CONSUME at every turn. To be material instead of self-sufficient.

This new pace... this new FLOW to our day, is largely inspired by the wonderful reflections of Katrina Kenison in her book, Mitten Strings for God. She has been able to put into words what I have been yearning for, and in such a way that she empowers me to make these changes. She writes, "Most of the mothers I know feel they should spend more 'quality time' with their children... At the same time, we despair of finding those extra moments in our busy days. We are two-career families, stretched to the limit... Our obligations and routines seem to fill all of the available time we have-- for our children and for ourselves. But they do not necessarily leave us or them feeling emotionally nourished." pg. 168
Oh how this was ME. She was describing ME. How would I ever manage to find more TIME in my crazy life??

She acknowledges that it is not easy, or even natural for most of us these days... she admits, "For me, this adjustment is not second nature; it requires a deliberate turning away-- not only from the popular culture at large, but also from the well-defined responsibilities of my daily life. It demands, instead, a willingness to answer a much fainter call, a call that is easy to ignore or to miss altogether... ." She says that she, like most of us, was groomed to be supremely productive, and that productivity was the measure of WORTH. "Yet the to-do list that I update each morning does not begin to reflect my feelings about what's really important."

Oh my, that is TRUTH, and bears repeating:

The TO-DO LIST we all keep does not begin to reflect our feelings about what is really important. 

So why are we so chained to it?

The truth is, we don't have to be. And so I've chosen NOT to be. Oh, the to-do list is still there. It will always be there. But somehow, in slowing down, peeling away some of the extras I thought I needed (playdates, errands, projects)... somehow, as slowly as I tackle my to Do List these days, it actually seems to get checked off more. And BETTER. I am more mindful of what I choose to spend my time on, every minute, and therefore there are far less lost minutes.

I cherish this new mindset.

And you know what? Noah is THRIVING under it. He is THRIVING. And I can tell. I call sense the profound shift in energy and spirit in our home because I have SLOWED DOWN.

I have kinda of painted myself into this corner where I have a reputation for being insanely busy, all the time. I did it to myself. It WAS truth. And it has been truth for so long that I think it would surprise most of my dearest people to really see how untrue it now is.

I am no longer insanely busy.

Or, if I AM, sometimes still, it is because I CHOSE to be so, and was mindful of what it would take to commit to the things that fill that particular day in my calendar. Like yesterday, with the jam and the sticky and the dishes and the TRIFLE too.... Sweaty kitchen goddess that I was for two hours... It was hectic. But I chose it. And it was not sandwiched between seventeen other commitments that day. In fact, Noah and I had a beautifully unscheduled day leading up to his nap and my kitchen madness. And once the kitchen was cleaned up from the craziness, the rhythm immediately jumped back to SLOW.

It does that all the time now, after mindful chaos. It jumps right back to SLOW, and feels so right. I choose to stop filling my day with noise and mindless running here and there and filling every minute.

A cherished line from Kenison's book, one that embodies this feeling in my home these days:

"On this day, we did not rush forth. We stayed home instead and worked and played in this one good place."

Amen. Amen. Amen.

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(A hurdle still to overcome, however, is this absurd inability of mine lately to GET MYSELF TO BED. Check Facebook and email again? Why yes, of course I will. As soon as I click "publish". Can you belive I am also contemplating watching a bit of the Biggest Loser opener?? At 12:42am?? BED, girl!! BED!!)

5 comments:

  1. Brandi-lee6:00 AM

    You speak so much truth and so much wisdom Emily. I can always tell the difference in my children, my family when we get caught up into bad habit of life.

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  2. I am constantly reminding myself to step back, and BREATHE. The moments are so fleeting while these boys are so young. I don't want to miss a single smile, or have my child look to me and me be too busy to react back. Seeing a smile or getting a hug and an I LOVE YOU is enough to convince me that we all need to step back and BREATHE.

    Ironically, I also checked out mitten strings from God before, and I couldn't finish it because I was TOO BUSY. I think I have some new library material to check out! :)

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  3. Love the book suggestions, I will put those on my list. haha ;) Have you seen the Mormon Messages youtube video "Voice of the Spirit"? It totally goes along with this life change concept. Ever since I watched it I have been more and more mindful of 'spending my labor (time or money) for that which cannot satisfy.' Which hello! That's most things, cannot satisfy, not like your family can. I'm loving hearing about your Aha! I can sense the peace you have now.

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  4. I love this ;)
    thank you.

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  5. Mitten Strings is one of my most favoritest reads EVER! In fact, after reading it from the library, I had to buy my own so I can savor it regularly in small doses. Many reminders in there that I need to hear.

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