Breaking the Hurry Habit

white-rabbitDo you find yourself rushing through your life? Hurrying through dinner so you can get the dishes done so you can fold the laundry so you can go to bed? Always in a rush to get from one thing to the next? You are not alone.

I recently got laid off from my job. If you’re thinking, “Didn’t you give notice at that job a long time ago?”, you’re right. I gave notice in June and my last day was supposed to be August 31st. But I hadn’t found a new position and my company still needed the help so I stayed on.  And on. And on.

My real last day was November 30th.  So I haven’t worked for over a week and I’ve noticed something interesting.

I’m still rushing.

I thought I would be able to relax now that I don’t have the pressure and the timelines and the deadlines to meet. How relaxing it would be for the first time in two years not to have to be on a conference call at 6am ready to talk about my goals for the day. How nice not to have to report in at the end of the day on where I was with each project. I thought the job was the problem.

I was wrong.

It seems I have this habit of rushing. I first noticed it in the shower the other day when I was vigorously washing my hair. As if I didn’t have the time to enjoy a leisurely shower. I had nowhere to be. I could’ve slowed down and taken my time.

Even right now I’m tightening my stomach and holding my breath.

For the longest time I’ve wanted to do a yoga video I have that’s supposed to help with back pain. I’ve been in alot of pain as a result of forcing myself to sit at my desk for long periods of time without a break. The video takes a whopping 20 minutes. But I couldn’t get myself to do it until yesterday because in my mind ‘I don’t have enough time.’ Seriously? I don’t have 20 minutes a day to take care of myself?

This is actually not new for me. Rushing seems to be my MO. I remember being shown this very clearly when I got together with Cyrus, my former boyfriend. His whole being is definitely in stark contrast to my own. He tends to move more slowly, more deliberately. He has a very calming presence, which is one of the things that attracted me to him in the first place. But calm can be annoying when you move through life as if everything is an emergency…or a race.

I remember the year Cyrus came to visit for Thanksgiving. He wanted to go to the store to pick up a few things. Having worked at a grocery store during the holidays in my past life, I was not thrilled with this idea. So when we got there, I asked him, hurriedly of course, what he needed so I could point him in the right direction and we could get in and out as quickly as possible. The funny thing was we weren’t on a time crunch. I was just in my normal mode of rushing. He wouldn’t tell me what he needed and proceeded to wander somewhat aimlessly up and down the aisles. Looking at this, picking up that. It was infuriating at the time. But it forced me to slow down. To wander. To see there is another way of moving through life.

When I look at my family I can see I have come by this naturally. My dad in particular seems to always be in a hurry. I remember my mom describing his driving. He speeds until he catches up with other cars. Then passes those cars so he can speed to catch up with the next group so he can pass them…and so on. He doesn’t drive to enjoy the drive. He drives to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible.

And I learned that.

As frustrating as this has been, awareness is the upside. I can shift this habit. I can pay attention. I have a choice. I can take a deep breath whenever I feel myself tightening. I can slow down when I realize I’m in a hurry. I can relax my shoulders when I notice them making their way to my ears. And my guess is, this will exponentially increase my enjoyment of my life (or at least my ability to breathe).

I love this quote by Thich Nhat Hanh…

“When we walk like [we are] rushing, we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth.
We have to walk in a way that we only print Peace and Serenity on the earth…
Be aware of the contact between your feet and the Earth. 
Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
 

Kissing the earth with your feet…I like that. It feels like a completely different energy, doesn’t it? One of softness and love. I know it will take some practice to shift this old habit, but I know it can be done. I plan to take it slowly…one soft step at a time.

……………

I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

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Mother Nature Knows Best: Learning to Unplug

IMG_0848I wrote this back in January when we had a crazy ice storm that knocked out the power for four long, cold days. I took the time to describe that experience, but for some reason, never posted it. My guess is, the power came back on and just like that, the crazy pace of my life was back. Ironic really, considering what’s happened since this day. But we’ll leave that for another post. While it seems a little strange to talk about an ice storm just as summer has arrived, the underlying message is as pertinent as ever. So dust off your imagination, turn up the air conditioner (if you have it) and pretend it’s the dead of winter. C’mon…work with me here!

January 22, 2012

The last few months have been crazy…insane, really. Working 10, 12 hours or more a day to still feel behind is depressing at best. Being without power for the last four days has not been easy. But it has its upside. There were a number of things I did that I might not otherwise have made the time for given the choice. I did realize how completely dependent we’ve become on our electronics. And how we seem utterly unable to entertain ourselves without them. I know the panic I felt when I couldn’t work…knowing I was expected to. I almost couldn’t enjoy that first day because it felt so stressful. But looking back it feels like the best thing that could’ve happened.

I spent Thursday afternoon just hanging out with Kyle. We played Mouse Trap, which he did not enjoy. We threw the Nerf football around the house. Well, really he mostly threw it at me when I wasn’t looking then laughed at me when I didn’t catch it. That seemed to be entertaining for him at least. I found a mini Frisbee I didn’t know I had and we played with that for a while. We made dinner on the BBQ so we could have something warm to eat. We watched a movie on the remaining battery power of the laptop. Then camped out in the living room in front of the fire.  While it was frustrating trying to entertain a 14 year old with no electricity, all in all, it was some of the nicest time we’ve had together in a while. I couldn’t work and he couldn’t play video games. We had to interact.

Friday we found out my mom had power at her office so we packed up and spent the day there. Kyle got to play his video game and I got some work done. But we were in the same room together at least…and we were warm! I got to visit some with my mom and my uncle, who also happened to be at her office that day. I don’t remember the last time I saw my uncle. And other than the holiday, I haven’t spent that much time with my mom in a long time. I’m ashamed to admit we’re both so busy with work, we don’t make the time for much else.

Saturday Kyle went to his dad’s and I spent more time with my mom as we worked and visited in her office. That night there was more camping out in the living room with Mitch and Celeste. Hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps made by boiling water on the BBQ. S’mores in the fireplace. All things I could do any time, but don’t. Not having power forced me out of my normal routine into something slower, more deliberate, more thoughtful.

As I sit here watching the battery on my laptop slowly die, it occurs to me I’m not sure I want the power back. I mean, of course I miss being warm in my own home and not worrying about keeping the food cold in the fridge. I have become very attached to my modern life. But I am also loving the slowness. The quietness. The stillness. When you can’t do much, it forces you to rethink things. To question what you’re doing and why. And I’ll admit I haven’t done much of that in the last year. I’ve been going so hard and fast, I hadn’t realize I’d lost the ability to slow down and enjoy it. It just hit me that for the first time in a long time, I don’t feel anxious, worried, in a hurry. And even though I’m sitting in front of my fireplace all bundled up, it feels nice. I can think again, enjoy things, breath.

So thank you Mother Nature! For forcing me to do what I wouldn’t do myself. And for reminding me of my true nature. Do I want my heat back? Of course I do. But am I dreading that fast paced life I’m used to living? I am. While I wish I could say I’ve learned my lesson and I’ll never go back to that harried life again, I know that’s not really true. But I hope I can hold onto the feeling the last few days has given me. And remember that the beauty of life is not in the busyness, the running, the doing. It’s in those still, small moments when time seems to stand still. When I can’t do anything else except notice how wonderful it is to just be.