Stop

I keep reading about stillness and slowing down. It pops up in my planner, in books I read, in posts on social media. I’m sensing it in nature as well – the sun isn’t around as long, the trees are taking a break. Even when I’m intentionally trying to be still, my mind races – “when you’re done being still you can…” and then I rattle off all the things I want to do. My body may be still, but that’s about it.

Yesterday morning before church I took Denali on a short walk. I thought about how lovely it was to walk through my neighborhood, through the stillness of the streets, and enjoy a few moments to myself before stepping into the church. I thought about how nice that would be if I could walk every Sunday morning before church – not just while on sabbatical. Then I realized I can – I’d just have to make the choice to get up and not stay in bed a little longer. The opportunity is there, I just have to be willing to take it.

I noticed how beautiful the trees are – one in particular has caught my eye the last few days. When we turned around to head back home I decided to take a picture of it. Aside from the beautiful tree I also noted two other important images – there was not one, but two stop signs. STOP: ALL WAYS. Had I taken the picture when we passed it the first time, all I would have seen was the back of these two signs. Instead, I’m seeing them very clearly – STOP.

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How? How do I stop? In Present Over Perfect, Shauna writes about her struggle to slow down, to be still. As I read, I nod and underline because I totally get what she’s saying. And then I turn the page hoping for a “how to.” I’m about half way through and so far there’s no “how to.” I need someone to tell me how to make it STOP.

Yoga helps – slow breathing, intentional movement. It would help more if I did it beyond the two hours I’m at the studio each week. It would help more if I started my day with it. Maybe I can put up a post-it note next to my bed to remind me to stretch and breathe every morning…

Walking helps – noticing nature, paying attention to my body. I have taken an extra step in my walking lately by leaving the ear buds behind. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s necessary. It would help if I could walk just a little slower. I start out slow, but always end up at a pretty quick pace. Maybe I can put up a post-it note next to Denali’s leash to remind me to slow down each time we take a walk…

Writing helps – reflection and response. It would help if I sat still just a little longer, longer than is comfortable, to see what comes out when I don’t know what to write about. It would help if I didn’t confine myself to just a few moments in the morning, but instead wrote any time a thought came to mind. Maybe I can put up a post-it note next to my writing chair to remind me to linger just a little longer…

Reading helps – understanding the ways other people interpret the world, connecting to ideas that do and don’t resonate with me. It would help if I didn’t look over at the stack of books waiting to be read. Knowing they are there makes me read a little faster, miss some important lines, because I want to get to the next one already. Maybe I can put up a post-it note on my bookshelf to remind me to be present right where I am…

I could have post-it notes all over my house by the time this reflection has ended!

I imagine, for varying reasons, that we all have minds that struggle to stay focused on the here and now. However, all I can speak to is my own experience. I want to slow down, I really do. I want to STOP: ALL WAYS just like those signs instruct. I get there sometimes. There are moments when I just sit and think, “Here I am.” But, there are far more moments when I sit and think, “What’s next?”

It’s hard to stop when there are so many things I want to do – life is so full. There are concerts to attend and meals to host and friends to visit and fall days to explore and quilts to create and books to read and shows to watch and and and… I don’t want to take anything for granted – I want to explore it all. But, I can’t. I can’t do it all. I have to say no. It’s necessary for me to STOP: ALL WAYS sometimes. It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be – this sabbatical, this time of rest. I’m discovering that I’m not going to have it all figured out by the time this is over. But, I’m learning new ways of doing life, of being. Those discoveries will serve me well despite the fact that the answers I really wants may not come for months or years from now. Learning how to be – how to STOP: ALL WAYS – in a world that says GO: ALL THE TIME is a big discovery. And if that’s all I get out of these three months, that will be enough.

peace.


One thought on “Stop

  1. loved this post. i’m working on how to be present and how to take care of myself. i hope as women our generation works on this. i see women that are older then me that were told to care for everyone else so they don’t care for them. they “over function” as one woman put it in the workshop i just took on balance last week. i’m a list maker too.. its hard to not be or to not strive to do it all. thank you for reminding me to stop all ways. love that. -Christa

    Liked by 1 person

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