Learning to slow down

J: Tech. It’s not just about doing less, slower, more leisurely, and taking time to appreciate things and being present. Adjusting to our new pace of life will have a lot to do with our relationship with technology.

B: Learning to slow down is the ninth point on my ‘What to do in 2016’ list. Getting into a slower mindset now, before we’re even in our new French life, and learning to drive, walk, eat, and do everything at a steadier pace.

J: Ben’s constant underlying anger caused by having to fit into a life that’s not meant for him surfaces when he’s in a rush in the mornings, when he can’t find something, and when he’s driving, as well as when he feels he has to police the kids. If he can manage to shift his mind into a slower gear, I hope this anger will be soothed even a little.

B: It’s a lot to do with obstacles, with not having time to concentrate properly on something that’s in the way or needs dealing with, because there’s something pressing going on or that needs attention after the obstacle. Essentially I’m looking forward to having fewer things happening at once and being able to focus more thoroughly on a small number of things at a time. Eating and not thinking beyond the end of the meal. Going somewhere and not thinking about the end of the journey.

J: I spend most of my days as a full-time mum and housewife, so the change to my day to day life will be less extreme than Ben’s and Mom’s. But I’m functioning within a life of pressure. Some days I don’t sit down. Some days I don’t have quality play time with the kids. I’m juggling the demands of the house renovation as well as my work as a Celebrant. I’m operating within a bubble of stress. There’s not quite enough time. I’m always making to do lists.

B: I think Jen will feel the most extreme change because we’ll always be around one another. The kids will eventually go off to school but me and Moms will always be in the house with Jen, every day. No more commuting off to work, no more weekends driving around to ceremonies. We’ll have far more time together as a family in the house, and while me and Moms are used to going out of the house all day and spending our days around people all the time, I’m looking forward to Jen enjoying far more company every day and being able to be out in the world rather than be tied down to the house or limited to a walk up and down the village centre.

J: We can’t choose to change the pressures and demands on our time right now, but we can make small changes, like putting phones and tablets away when we’re in a room together, to help our minds slow down and connect. Tech changes are the changes I’m really excited about and looking forward to welcoming. I’m already relatively low-tech for my age. But I can’t wait to liberate myself from facebook, a mobile phone, a dishwasher, tumble dryer, and kettle. I want to spend time washing up, waiting for a pan of water to boil, depending on the sun to dry our clothes.

B: Since meeting Jen I’ve seen that there’s a difference between shutting off and slowing down – a difference between escaping from problems like stress or tiredness and actually recovering from them. I fall easily into escape, into reading or videogames or movies or boxsets, and while they can all inspire or excite me there’s something far more powerful about actually just being and breathing. There’s also something counter-productive about when I’m grasping for every opportunity to read or watch, because every other moment becomes stressed, pressured, as I feel the time I could be spending escaping dwindling away. But simply being present for even just 20 minutes in those minutes with nothing but my own brain ticking over is incredibly restorative. This is what slowing down is all about. Just taking time over doing everything, even when it’s nothing.

J: It’s a beautiful sunny winter’s day outside and we feel pressure to go out and enjoy it, go for a walk or a drive. We feel that pressure because we’re all at home together and we don’t know the next opportunity we’ll have for a nice winter’s day outside together. But there’s competing pressure to stay in and paint doors and skirting board, or to go to Homebase to order the wooden flooring or to tick another blog post off the list. We’re not free to just be, to just enjoy, to spend today on life.

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