Tuesday, October 30, 2012

on slowing down, step-by-step

happy fall!

and it’s the end of october?


and that’s how i’ve been feeling for the past, well, say 2 years... like time is going by too fast, life is too blurry and i’m too stressed. yes, you may be thinking, welcome to the world of toddlerhood and parenthood... yes, well, although that may be true,  i found myself wondering if it HAD to feel this way. week after week, month after month i found myself saying “whoa, how did this happen?” and i wanted to stop time, stop feeling so rushed, just STOP.  i wanted to know where MY time was going and try to be more on top of it.  i recognize that i really can’t stop time*, but i did feel as if i could make it feel like it was slowing down.  like OUR time was slowing down, like I was slowing down. 

so, about a month ago, after squam in new hampshire, (yes, i still owe you some stories and pictures!) i decided to slow the eff down. ahem. (sorry, mom) 

so that’s it, that’s what i’ve been trying to do, step-by-step.
it went a bit like this:

step 1 - decide to slow down (i like the more colorful version above ;) )  

i wasn’t sure what this would mean or how it would look in the everyday, or with my own work, but i just knew that i needed to declare it, to take some time to figure out how i wanted my days to look as we headed into the fall.  it seemed fitting, it’s the right season for slowing down, spending more time inside and attempting to chill out along with the crispy fall air.  

step two: say it out loud.

this was the kicker for me. i usually keep all of my “grand ideas” in my notebook/sketchbook/lists, but i found that this one i needed to shout it from the rooftops tell my husband,family and friends so that it really stuck.  it felt strange to say i’m taking a break, but that’s just what i did.

here’s how my out loud conversations went-

me: “so i’m thinking of trying to take a little bit of time off for the next few weeks or so... ”

husband: “but will your boss let you do that?” he says jokingly without missing a beat.  apparently he knows this needs to happen too. 

me: i actually stopped to think about this, as my boss (ie: me) tends to be kinda hard on myself , but i say “um, yes, i think so”.

husband: “sounds good to me then!” 

and another conversation, this time with my mom/grammy as i’m dropping off ada for one of my two weekly workdays- 

mom/aka grammy: "so whatcah working on today?" (sidenote: i HATE that question, sorry mom, just sayin’) 

me: “actually, i think i’m going to clean my house, i’m taking a little break from work”...  gulp. 

she: without missing a beat she says “GOOD!” in that nowi reallyknowi’mdoingagoodthing sort of “mom” voice. “you really need that, sarah”

me: “i know” and i drove away feeling really good about this weird abstract still not sure what it means decision.

step 3: stop feeling weird/guilty for needing to take the time

this was a tricky one too, especially after a conversation with a friend early on who urged me to “stay on the treadmill” or it would be hard to get back on and get back to work.  but, i knew deep down that i really needed to take a break, to find a way to a better me.

maybe it’s that my husband is on sabbatical this fall for his own work.  i noticed that with his sabbatic, even though nothing has drastically changed in our routine, there was just a collective relaxing of shoulders in our household, well, maybe mine most of all, but things just feel so much more calm and easy without the stress of his extremely heavy newprofessor imustdoeverythinganyoneasksofmebecasuetenureislooming workload.  it’s eased us all up a bit for the next few months and this really may have been the first lightbulb moment for me.

maybe it all started to sink in when i began reading The Happiness Project.  (so good!, i know i’m late to the game on this one, but my goodness, i’m thrilled i discovered it AND the brand new sequel is on deck on my nightstand).  it really got me thinking and inspired me to make little changes in my own life.

pehaps, it was a dear friend, who, after the death of a beloved family member this summer, moved her family far away from what they knew to be “home”, closer to the home of her heart.  it was something they’d talked of doing in the future, but after suffering such sadness and loss, it needed to happen sooner rather than later.  she wrote to tell me that they had decided to take a “non-acedemic” sabbatic, to slow down and focus on love and life.  sigh. that could have been the kicker. 

whatever it was that spurred me into my “must take some time off” action, i’m just so thankful i could make it happen.  i recognize that it’s not easy for everyone to take some time to re-access, re-think and re-connect, but i am certainly glad that i allowed myself to take this time.  for a while now, i felt as if something important was tugging at my sleeve, and it wasn’t just my 2-year-old.  it was this voice that was telling me now was the time to take a break.  and once i listened and allowed myself some space to “just be”rather than worrying about next big fill-in-the-blank, the most important things in my life came into a clear focus and i’m very thankful.
: : : : : : : : :

so, fast forward to today, and all’s good, really good.  in fact, now that i’ve had just about a month “off”** and i have all sorts of new and exciting-to-me ideas.  last week, i spent my two “work days" in my studio just “puttering” around and letting things seep in.  my favorite kind of “work".  things are feeling good and slow(er) and more calm.  that’s just what i was looking for.

there’s still more shifting ahead i think, but i am happy with how things are going...  i’m ready to return here and there, especially here, believe it or not!  in fact, the other day my DAD asked why i hadn’t blogged (what? you read this, dad?!) so that was a sure sign that it was time to return.  

and as of today, i have SO many new things to share here that i have even already written a couple of the posts ahead of time. ha! planning ahead? me? this never happens.  i promise good things are to come.  

i share this little story of mine hopes that it might just nudge you to do the same type of thing if you can somehow squeeze it into your own life.  if it means that instead of cleaning the house while the little one sleeps, you make a pot of tea and read a book, well, that’s just what i’m talking about.  i never allowed myself those little “escapes” and i really regret it.  yes, i had lots of good things going on, book and baby, moving, classes, but i truly felt that i was needing a bit of time to step back and make sure I was happy and on the right track regardless of everything else.  as they say, when mama is happy, everyone if happy... they say that right?  well, i’ve found it to be true.

here’s hoping this post finds you happy, safe and sound wherever you are.  we feel very relieved that Sandy blew right over new england last night, just a couple of branches down in our yard, but power outages or flooding in our immediate area.  it’s truly sad to see that so many others have not fared so well.  i’ve been glued to the news and am sending out love and good wishes to NYC and to the other areas that have been affected.

i’m off to make a cup of tea and play in the studio while the little gal sleeps.

more tomorrow. xoxo *s

*like that girl on that 80s tv show... remember how when she put her fingers together everything around her would freeze?! remember that? anyone?!)

**during my time “off” i’ve been working on the following-
  • potty training an extremely stubborn 2-year-old (this is clearly a full-time (dirty) job, one that i’ve now taken a leave of absence from since the other person involved is not cooperating)
  • a chipped tooth and 2 trips to the dreaded dentist (me), food poisoning (also me), fleas and ticks (our new pooch), and a nasty cold (ada and me).  oh, and this was all in week 1 of my time “off”!
  • traveling SOLO(!) to go down to the outer banks to teach.  it was AH-mazing and i’ll share more on this adventure soon.  today, i’m thinking of everyone down there as they are digging out from the flooding... hard to believe the beach and main road i was just on last week are under 2 feet of water.  sending sunshine and a speedy recovery for the beautiful OBX. 


  1. How random that I was just wondering about you today? Then this appears. I just read The Happiness Project too (i bought the 2nd but waiting to read it) and I'm being indulgent with myself. I usually have grand plans when school starts with all my free time (ha) but this year I am hibernating and doing what I want without any guilt. I have read so many books that my eyes hurt. Coffee. Journal writing. And I refuse to feel bad which is the kicker. Good luck!

    1. SO good to hear, samantha! good luck to you and i’m happy to hear you are slowing down for you too :) thanks for saying hello... ! xo *s

  2. Lovely post Sarah. I miss you blogging too, but am glad you are taking some time to yourself. All the best.

    1. thanks, jennifer! hope all is well with you! so happy to see the article on the shelves! xo

  3. Oh I was so happy to see you had a new post....it put a smile on my face and I couldn't wait to see what you had to say! I am so glad that you have been taking some time to slow down.....and very glad to see you back in this space.

  4. thanks, c! nice to see you here too! :) i can hear you giggling now! hope all’s well with you and yours after the storm... xoxo

  5. So glad to see you here...I wish we could have spent more time together at Squam in NC. And we didn't get to say "good-bye" or at least "see you later"!

  6. Well Done Sarah!
    You can not run your engine if the tank is empty....Thanks for taking time to post, we all love to hear how things are going.

  7. Welcome back and happy November!

  8. I broke my ankle this summer, and it FORCED me to slow way down at my day job. Boy did I need it. I didn't appreciate the injury at the time, but now I can see it as a gift and a message that I need to focus on what is important to me instead.

    Glad to see you back and rested. I love your artwork.

    1. ah, so interesting! thanks for your note and kindness! xo *s

  9. Good for you! It is so hard to take this sort of time to slow down. I hope you can enjoy it, guilt-free. So great to see you at Squam by the Sea....

    p.s. no worries about potty training -- it will happen eventually! Glad I waited this time -- he's doing really well....

    1. hey laura! so good to “see” you here! so great to meet by the sea, and now our election worries are over! good to hear the potty training is going well... can’t say the same here, but i’m letting it go for now :) talk to you soon xooxo *s

  10. One of my all time favourite quotes is this one "You yourself, as much as anyone in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." Buddha

    I think it's wonderful that you are taking time to give yourself love and affection, nourishing yourself. It's so important to take care of ourselves. For a long time I pushed myself very hard and ended up developing a long term illness. My priorities have totally shifted, absolutely for the better. Em :)

    1. thanks, em :) this really is so great to hear. i applaud you too!
      i LOVE that quote, brought a tear... xoxo *s


thanks so much for saying hello! i do my best to reply to comments, please know i read and appreciate each and every one! xo *s