Slowing down to enjoy the journey

I’m been unemployed* for just over 6 months now. So far, so good. Really enjoying the everyday freedom, a lot. Michael and I have kept busy with our individual creative pursuits, and have been having fun taking day trips together most every week.

So, it’s been good. Really good. You’re waiting for the ‘but’ here, right? OK, here you go.

But, I have come to realize that in my fear of stepping off the career-go-round, I kind of set limits on my newfound freedom. I think I was so afraid of feeling rudderless and lost that I may have overcompensated just a tad.

Lately, a few self-imposed deadlines or obligations that I’ve given myself for different things have started weighing me down, and kind of ticking me off. Call it the “good little Catholic girl” syndrome or whatever, but it’s hard for me to not be or feel productive.

Take this blog, as an example. When I decided to do this, I said to myself, “Self, you’re going to post on your blog two times every . . . single . . . week, come hell or high water.” And I’ve lived up to it, except for one miserable cold and another flat-out creative dry spell. Let me tell you, though, the angst that I suffered over missing those posts made me never want to do that again.

I’ve lamented to family and friends . . . and of course, poor Michael has heard it a few more times, that sometimes posting twice a week puts too much pressure on me to come up with ideas that I actually want to write about. If I’m not “feeling” it, it’s hard to put words to it.

The funny thing is, no one is holding me to that particular deadline or commitment, which is what friends, family and Michael have been telling me. This is my creative expression, fun, joy-getting pursuit, and yet, there I was slapping all kinds of do’s and don’ts all over it.

Such a good little girl. Staying so productive.

I guess I’ve been a bit slow on the uptake, but I think I’m finally getting the message that I really can set my own schedule and do the things I want to do, or that need to get done, in my own good time.

Isn’t the point to enjoy the doing anyway? Especially now.

You know how we always say things like “where did the time go?” “How did I get to be this age so quickly?” Well, I think that’s how. By filling up every minute with all the obligations, commitments, productivity that we can possibly squeeze into a day, so much so that the moments of our lives scream by at mach speed.

I have absolutely no solution for this, especially for anyone still working, except to say that maybe, just maybe, it’s worth looking at all the things we do on a daily basis and perhaps finding a few to eliminate or at least shorten the time spent on them. Maybe you can take a few extra minutes out of things like grocery shopping or cooking (order in), or laundry (buy more undies), or mowing the grass (let it grow). Whatever those things are for you, just try to steal a little time, schedule it in (I know, kind of an oxymoron) and savor those “extra” minutes of your life. Be 100% present and breathe.

I’m just guessing, but I feel pretty certain that none of us are in a hurry to reach the “finish line,” so let’s do a collective sigh, take a moment, and just be.

I think I’ll start by reading more poetry, because I really, truly love reading poetry, but rarely take the time to savor it.

And as far as the blog goes – well, I love doing this. I love writing. But I will only write and post things that feel right to me. I’m using the two times a week schedule as a framework, and when it flows, it’ll be two, maybe more; but when it doesn’t, well – you understand. Your time to read this – which I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciate it – is too valuable to waste on mere drivel.

So how about you? Will you join me on the down slow? And tell me, do you sometimes feel hemmed in, too, by self-imposed rules or deadlines? Or have you found a pace that allows you to appreciate the moments while keeping things on track? And if so, please help guide the rest of us!

Till next time, I’m off to read a little poetry. And in that vein, here’s a favorite that seems fitting and timely. Enjoy!

Judy

*still not feeling the “R” word, but working on it.

 

The Summer Day

by Mary Oliver

 

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean –

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down –

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

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11 Comments

  1. Sharon mills
    July 12, 2017 / 8:10 am

    Wow! Powerful insights, Jude! Being much older than you I have experienced the drive to be productive once retired hence my need to return to work twice! Then multiple volunteer activities all rewarding in their own way. The phrase busy work comes to mind. Though I am still on the volunteer track I have reduced the amount of time I dedicate to these pursuits in order to just spend time with ME. Quite time in the mornings with a cup of coffee and NO TV give me much needed R & R. Love your blogs! They always give me something to think about!

    • Judy McLane
      July 12, 2017 / 10:05 am

      Thanks, sis. You’ve built a fantastic “after career” life filled with satisfying and fun activities and friends. Something for me to emulate! xxx

  2. Rod
    July 12, 2017 / 9:28 am

    There it is. Was waiting for it. Free time. God forbid that we have nothing to do. Hmmm, nothing to do but what we want to do, sounds like retirement to me. Jude, you’re a heck of a lot smarter than I am. It only took you six months to figure it out, it took me two years. I still have a need to accomplish something physical every day but at my new pace. So much more enjoyable.
    Anyway, love your blog. Keep them coming when you are inspired to do so.

    • Judy McLane
      July 12, 2017 / 10:06 am

      Thanks, bro. You’re my role model and hero, always have been, always will be. xxx

  3. Doris Syme
    July 12, 2017 / 11:47 am

    Thank you, Judy. A very good reminder for me…..slow down and enjoy each day more…..
    it has taken me longer than 6 months…I am going on 16 years! Enjoy your blogs so much….do them only when you want to do them, do not make it a job, this is fun and creative. Doris

    • Judy McLane
      July 12, 2017 / 2:02 pm

      Yes, dearest, slow down! But keep painting! ?

  4. Laurel Tucker
    July 12, 2017 / 1:47 pm

    Taking time out to read your musings is always a good thing for me, so thank you for putting it out there.
    This time, to be honest, I had an “uh, not-a-poetry-reader-myself-much” moment. And then I read the poem. And I love it. So once again, my friend, thank you!

    • Judy McLane
      July 12, 2017 / 2:01 pm

      Thank you, sweet Laurel. Sometimes all it takes is one good poem and you’re hooked. Thanks so much for your support. xxx

  5. zina Edwards
    July 12, 2017 / 4:21 pm

    Well said Judy and I am so pleased to learn that you can learn to “be idle and blessed,…stroll through the fields..perhaps a picnic?
    I look forward to my time 🙂
    xxxZ

  6. Brad
    July 12, 2017 / 7:31 pm

    Well I’m no role model because Winnow’s blog was woefully slow in coming and I was shooting for one or two a month!! That being said, I did write out a list of titles and ideas and wrote towards the whole list of them when I could and “felt” it. At least I wasn’t starting from scratch each time, I just resumed…
    But, the idea of bringing business deadlines to pleasure and relaxation doesn’t seem to work so well. I guess the trick is understanding the difference between self discipline and self imposed artificial deadlines. Funny, we know so well how to achieve remarkable skill sets to do our careers but where do we go to learn to not make a “career of trying to relax” but just simply relax as effortlessly as we worked? We should start a class!! It can meet every week st 9:00AM sharp! ?

  7. Terry Devine
    July 12, 2017 / 7:55 pm

    Judy, you hit the nail! I’m sure that is something that has factored in to my delaying retirement. Even now that I’m down to 30 hours a week I’m amazed that I have less time to do the things I enjoy than when I was working full time. Must fill those extra ten hours with something “productive”! Thank you for your insightful musings!
    Gotta go find a rose to smell.

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