December 12, 2018

But If I Slow Down...

Two days ago, I barreled through my to-do list. It probably looks like yours, errands and groceries and dinner and Amazon one-clicks and checking reading logs and getting the mail. Add in a sprinkling of "transcribe the interview" and "edit the chapter" and "brainstorm the outline" before "pick up boys from everywhere."

As I bustled in the house with grocery bags on my arm, Peter called me a super hero.

"How's my super hero wife? You should have a cape," he said. "All that running around and getting things done."

He was feeling guilty and helpless and removed as he lay in his chair, recovering from a cough that rattles his bones. Seriously, it's a barky one. And then I got what I suspect is a version of that same bug, only mine was a stomach virus. (I mean, wait, do similar bugs carry multiple symptoms?) (Also, remind me why we get flu shots? Actually, don't. I don't love that conversation.)

Anyway, it cleaned me out yesterday, no pun intended. And it left me in bed all day, cancelling what I could and delaying what couldn't be cancelled.

Today, I am in Morning After Mode. It's a full-on aftermath. My brain is foggy, my head is heavy, my ribs are sore, and even as I wrote my to-do list, I kept skipping letters in words. I probably need to make room for another day of nothing.

And as my pen hovered above the page this morning, trying to remember how to spell words like milk, I came to the edge of a new self-discovery.

I might be afraid to slow down.

I might be afraid to stop doing.

Keep the pace. Keep going. If you don't keep up, everything piles up. Laundry and mail and expectations.

If I slow the pace, I won't meet the deadlines and I won't finish the contract and I won't get the next gig and somebody else will get to write my idea and their books will sell and we won't pay the mortgage and I'll be finished as a working writer.

(I believe that particular train of thought is called catastrophizing.)

If I slow the pace, I won't find my stride again.

More intimately, if I slow down, Peter might not call me a super hero, and I'm alarmed by how much that mattered to me.

Or, here's the deepest truth. I'm afraid that slowing down means depression. December slows me anyway, and it always scares me, like I'm about to fall off a familiar cliff that I thought I learned to steer clear from.

Never mind that sometimes depression disguises itself in the folds of the super hero's cape. In the blurry darkness of staying busy.

This meme floated across my facebook feed. And it's basically truer than true.

she was tired

(I'm sorry I don’t know who wrote it, and I don’t mean to plagiarize. The teacher in me wants to say, "This is the consequence of not putting your name on your paper, Internet.")

I'm trying to be still.  Mostly, I'm trying not to be afraid of the stillness.

I think that's where the grace is.


"You must first feel the fullness of your own pitcher before you trust the pouring out of yourself."

~Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

9 comments on “But If I Slow Down...”

  1. This is were I am in my life right now. I’ve realized I can do 110% but maybe it’s not best for myself and family. It’s both freeing and unsettling to say no and lower expectations.

  2. Totally understand and I agree . Too much time alone with ourselves can tend to depress...etc. yet God says "Be Still and Know" ...I've been trying to do that

  3. Whoa. This rocked me to my core. I would consider my December darkness minuscule to yours, but boy, did your fears ring true anyway. So did your mindfulness in the face of it.
    Take your time with the words you want to get to page, we will all happily wait. It will be worth it.

  4. Thank you again for a spot-on post. But don't let the fact that you produce these make you crazy into thinking you have to do so 24/7.

  5. “Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.”
    ― Mary Anne Radmacher It's perfectly ok to take some much needed time to heal, but you have to believe it first.

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