Friday, April 11, 2008

Life in the slow lane

It has been a really crazy week. I have a research proposal due at work and my usual 20 hour week has come close to doubling. There are so many details involved in proposal planning and with the award high enough to fund a research center for four years, the pressure to perform was high.

After a series of long days, I collapsed on the couch last night overwhelmed and exhausted, yet intent on thoroughly stressing myself out. It was only Thursday and another long day lay ahead, not to mention the many other things I've neglected that will end up filling the weekend hours....gee, I haven't visited with my grandparents for days, I need to be at the milk pick-up, a lunch meeting on Saturday, I need to make yogurt at some point, there's the farmers market and I need to stop at the library, the laundry is starting to pile up, the grass in the backyard is getting too long, we need to buy more kitty food, and before I know it, it will be Monday again, and....

Then my husband entered the room and seeing the panicked look on my face asked if I was ok. I explained that I was a little stressed and was trying to decide if I should throw up or cry. He suggested a walk. I agreed.

As we walked, we talked and held hands; laughed and shared stories. We said "hi" to neighbors and smiled at the cute little yorkie dogs on their daily walk. By the time we returned, less than 30 minutes had passed but I was completely refreshed and relaxed.

So what was the difference? I stepped into to the slow lane. My mind stopped speeding ahead to tomorrow and for that walk, my mind and my body occupied the same space at the same time. Rather than concentrating on work, on things that need to be done around the house, on errands that must be run, or on a million different things that are calling for my attention at any given time, I shifted focus and became present for the moment, allowing myself to truly enjoy some of my favorite things.

And what's amazing is that these "favorite things" aren't things I pay for. They aren't bought in a store or ordered out of a catalog. I don't have to work long hours to afford them or wait until I've built up enough holiday time at work to enjoy them. They are available every minute of every day - in thought if not in deed.

Things like fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, back rubs, surprise visits from my Dad, the way my dog smiles and runs in circles when she realizes that I'm going to take her for a walk, an email out of the blue from my Mom, curling up in my pjs with a good book and a cup of hot tea, the sparkle in my hubby's eye when I've made him laugh, lunch with a friend, the warm sun on my face, Saturday morning bike rides downtown - the list goes on.

To me, these are the things that make life real; that make each day an adventure. It's the reason why I've chosen to work part-time; why I walk instead of buying a car - to have more of these moments. It is in being mindful of each moment that I am truly alive. And these things are available every second of every day, if I only slow down enough to claim them.

Thanks for the reminder, baby!

1 comment:

Theresa said...

Good for you! Life gets better when we remember to leave some spaces in between for mindfulness and enjoyment of the moment!