When You’re in a Hurry, Slow Down

When you're in a hurry, slow down

I don’t usually find myself at a loss for words but this week when thinking about what to write for you I’ve struggled. I’m not sure if I’m without words or if there is actually too much to say. It seems like the roller coaster of life has sped up significantly lately and it’s been almost impossible to keep up. So I decided that I would just be honest with you about my journey of late and maybe find some solidarity – or a new friend who has figured out how to stop time and who would be generous enough to share. I’m holding out hope for that scientific discovery.

My favorite director and good friend always says, “when you’re in a hurry, slow down.” This is obviously very good advice and incredibly difficult to take especially when it always feels like I’m 2 steps behind and at risk of letting everyone down.  I’m not good at cutting myself slack – if I possessed the skills and super powers to never have to ask for help or admit I can’t do it all I would never ask for help and I would always do it all. Except when it comes to cleaning the bathroom that’s a job I wouldn’t mind handing over, and maybe the laundry….and definitely the dishes…ok the whole cleaning the house thing is one area where I’d be ok letting go.  The point is, sometimes I just feel like a human checklist racing through my days from one task to the next and missing the whole point of being alive. It’s an old story at this point. Having it all – all at once – is virtually impossible. In the words of another very wise friend “when everything is a priority nothing’s a priority.”

Some people in my life have recently lost their parents and I have not been able to be there for them in the way I would have liked. A good friend is getting ready to move and I have not been available to help her and to get our children, who love each other dearly, together to say proper farewells. My niece has been asking for a sleepover for 3 months and I haven’t been able to make it happen. Our house needs work so that we can sell it. My husband and I haven’t been on a date in I don’t know how long, I eat cereal for dinner more often than I would like to admit and I haven’t been to yoga in a month. I don’t know how to explain Donald Trump to my children and my book is almost finished but I haven’t been able to focus on it for weeks.

I’m not thrilled about any of the above but if I take my friend’s advice and slow down I find a moment to focus on the accomplishments. I shower much more frequently now that my children are a little older than I did when they were babies. That’s gotta count for something, right? The kids have friends who love them and who they love, they do well in school, they have charitable hearts – well the jury’s out on number 3 but he’s got time. They are finding their interests and sometimes they even read books without being told. They are extremely creative and my house is a pile of arts and craft projects to prove it. They play together well 10% more than they fight and I’m comfortable with that balance since we live in a sardine can and we are on top of each other all the time. See why we need to sell the house?  If I were you I would be thinking – really, these are your “accomplishments” – because I was born a big picture kind of person which makes it hard for me to see the value in the small, daily successes. This has been my hardest learned lesson in life and I continue to learn it every day.  The small wins of motherhood and wifedom are way more important to me than the work successes that are often, in the moment, bigger and flashier but sometimes I get so caught up in the things that need to get done that I forget.

In response to those feelings of lost perspective, it was decided that on Friday nights we will turn off all of the devices, tv, computer, etc.  We cook together, eat, play games, talk and focus our attention on the things that really matter – each other. By Saturday afternoon we are back to our crazy routine with playdates, birthday parties, sports, art classes, my work, and other obligations filling our days and nights but Friday night we slow down. Even then part of me feels like we should be at services at our synagogue on Friday night instead of at home but I know the way we have chosen to do this – at least for now – is more meaningful for our family. I suppose the lesson is that there will always be a pull to make a different choice and we have to be strong enough to know what is best for us. There are pressures and judgements that come from every corner and it’s so difficult not to internalize them all especially if you are a people pleaser like me. Being a grown-up is hard.

I’m still never going to be happy about being too busy to be there for the people in my life when they need me or just when I feel like it’s the right thing to do.  I’m working on creating systems and boundaries that open up windows of time for those parts of being a person. I have said before and I will say again that I don’t have any idea what I’m doing but with good people in my life, an open mind, strategy, and ridiculous amounts of optimism I just keep showing up hoping every day that I will be able to figure out the Rubik’s cube of life.

I’d love to hear how you find time, balance responsibilities and handle your challenges with humor and love. Have a great weekend!

My yoga teacher shared this quote in a recent class “Meditate 20 minutes every day unless you are very busy – then meditate for an hour.”

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Erin Mahone
Erin Mahone is the Director of Cultural Arts and Jewish Education at the Weinstein JCC. She has worked for nearly a decade, throughout RVA, providing access to the arts and creative expression for people of all ages and abilities. Erin is also the creator and Chief Oversharer at It Runs in the Family, a one-woman show website containing collective story series with the mission of reducing the stigma of mental illness and highlighting the power of saying the truth out loud. Erin lives in Midlothian with her amazing husband, 3 delicious kiddos, and a fur baby named Kismet.