Monday, December 06, 2010

Slowing Down

I've always felt like I could squeeze in one more thing - as long as it was a worthy thing.  But you know what?  The more worthy things you take on, the more worthy things seem to appear on your doorstep.  And after a while, you find that you just have to start saying no - or "not right now" to some wonderfully helpful and meaningful things.

Alongside trying to be the best mom and wife I can be, I love that I've been able to help others through Power of Moms and Motherhood Retreats and church callings and neighborhood committees and PTA and writing and speaking and helping friends and family as needs arise.  There's nothing like feeling useful.  In fact, I'd say that usefulness and a sense of purpose are inherent parts of happiness for me.  But when you start to feel used up rather than simply useful and when life circumstances put new time-suckers in your path (like assembling shelves, figuring out where to put piles and piles of stuff in a house with almost no storage space, finding your way around a new town to find all the odds and ends you need to establish a new household...), you just have to slow down.

Lately this quote by Julie Beck (a leader in my church) keeps coming to mind:
A good woman knows that she does not have enough time, energy, or opportunity to take care of all of the people or do all of the worthy things her heart yearns to do. Life is not calm for most women, and each day seems to require the accomplishment of a million things, most of which are important...But with personal revelation, she can prioritize correctly and navigate this life confidently.

And like 10 times now, this wonderful talk by another church leader, Dieter Uchtdorf, has come to my attention:  Things that Matter Most.  This talk struck me when I listened to it live back in April at General Conference, I was drawn to listen to it again a couple times since and there was a lesson in church on this very talk last Sunday.  I think I'm really supposed to be taking the messages in this talk to heart.  It's all about slowing down in times of increased stress and learning to focus on what matters the most.  Here's a quote from the talk that keeps resonating in my mind:
It is said that any virtue when taken to an extreme can become a vice. Overscheduling our days would certainly qualify for this. There comes a point where milestones can become millstones and ambitions, albatrosses around our necks.

So anyway, I had a great talk with April (my Power of Moms partner) a few days ago and we're slowing down on a few things.  We're going to take a little more time to enjoy the process of reading all the wonderful entries to our Power of Moms writing contest while giving our pre-selected authors more time to work on their chapters.  We're going to push off some great things that really don't need to be done right now and save them for the new year when we, along with most other mothers out there, can give them more attention.

I'm going to focus on finding my kids boots and helping them navigate all the new sorts of homework they've got and cultivating new friendships. We're going to plow through a list of things that really need to be done to make this house more liveable (some closet rods - we currently have none, a few more shelves, towel racks and shower curtains will really help - we're living with way too many piles right now).  Then we're going to decorate for Christmas and I'll get going on a little Christmas shopping (but we're keeping it very simple this year) and we're going to actually slow down enough to enjoy our lives for a while.

My sister Saydi pointed out at our last Retreat how important it is that we have time for anticipation and reflection in our lives.  I feel like I've been running and running in so many directions and I keep getting tripped and I never seem to have a minute to rest and regroup let alone to anticipate or reflect or simply enjoy.  It's OK to endure "crisis mode" for a while - there really was no way to really slow down during the past month and we all have times in our lives where, as one friend put it, "you just have to put your head down, put your blinders on and plow on through."  But pretty darn soon, I can slow down a little and enjoy this good life that I have a little more.  And I will.


Cath said...

So glad for you! Sounds like wisdom.

Settling into a new home, new life, new schools, new friends? HUGE. You're in tune. I think slowing down through the turbulence is the right thing.

Jani said...

Thank you for this post. I NEEDED that reminder. I just put a couple of things on my schedule that I am a little concerned about and I needed the reminder that sometimes we really cant do what we want. Hope things go well for you and your family the rest of this december.

richard said...

my sentiments exactly

brittanimae said...

I know EXACTLY what you mean! I read a while back that a major move can be as traumatic for a family as a death or a divorce! While I hope our move hasn't been quite that bad, having that in the back of my mind to remind me that yes THIS IS A BIG DEAL, helped me to be okay with that "scaling back" thing you mentioned (I loved both those talks too). Sadly, two months into our new home, I'm STILL assembling stuff (garage shelving unit and bar stools this morning), so I can't say it always goes quickly, but I also try to make bits of time for reading and cooking and snuggling together, and hopefully in the future I'll be able to appreciate the value of those times even more.

Good luck! You're doing great!!

wilkinson_fam said...

Love ALL the articles you write, Saren. You have such a way with words.

I am a recent contributor at Power of Moms and would love to learn more about opportunities to get more involved with the organization. I know you are busy getting settled (heaven KNOWS that's crazy with four kids), but when you have a moment, I would LOVE to hear more about how I can help out and ease your load.

Thanks so much, Saren -
Amanda Wilkinson

Tiffany said...

Wise, wise words. I think one of the best qualities one can cultivate is the ability to say 'no' at certain times.
Good luck with all your changes.

Patty Ann said...

One of the many things I am trying to do. Slowing down is hard!!

Allyson said...

I just listened to Ucthdorf's talk again this morning for the second time in as many days. It's keeping me grounded during this month that is so full of lots of good things! (And thanks for pushing back the book schedule. What a relief!)

Eyrealm said...

Love it Saren! Slowing down is good advice for all of us!

Jennifer Knight said...

I think we're all revisiting Pres. Uchtdorf's talk - I read it before bed last night when pondering a few decisions for my family. It's so great to have these sources of wisdom and inspiration to draw on.

SADACAD said...

Julie Beck's talk is one of my favorites! It also reminds me of Elder Oak's talk, "Good, Better, Best". We just decided that we are going to have to move, too. We will be experiencing this ourselves in June :). Thanks for helping me know what to look forward to! Miss you guys!


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