Thursday, January 12, 2012

Reflections: Slowing Down

My mother sent me an e-card today, and as I’ve been working, her message has been rattling around in my head:

Your life is changing so fast.

Take time to enjoy the journay

and to savor each simple step.

I don’t, as a rule, move slowly. Generally, I’m pushing towards something, and if I don’t have anything to push towards, I tend to get stressed. It doesn’t matter if the respite has been going on for a week or for 20 minutes, I get afraid that I am stagnating and will make nothing of myself. At this point, I usually find something to push towards, be it creative writing or working out; I make up a goal, and an action plan, and this soothes my little inner work demon.

The demon has been relatively quiet lately because I have plenty of things going on. I have enough presence of mind to know that wedding planning is a huge goal and decision fatigue will set in if I go too deep or try to do too many things at once, and my drive to Avoid All That Bullsh*t has managed to make peace with my If You Don’t Work On Something You’re A Failure demon, thus leaving me with (a) a goal, and (b) a somewhat reasonable to-do list.

But my mother is absolutely, unequivocally, correct. I don’t want to go into too much backstory, but the short version is this:

I moved away from all of my family when I came to college (that’s just how it happened, no tragic tale there), built a surrogate family sort of community here, and ended up staying after college, because I found a job here and I think we can all agree that, in this economy, jobs with benefits are Good. The job hasn’t been in my preferred industry, so in the meantime I have run another blog of economic research on my industry of choice, written a YA fantasy novel and started two other novels, gotten my second-degree black belt, managed to get a promotion every year, applied to graduate school, launched a long-term fitness plan (which was been going pretty well, actually!), and started planning a wedding. (You see? I wasn’t kidding about my demon.)

There has been almost no time in the past 6-7 years when there was not a major stressor in my life. Some of these stressors are good (new job! Wedding planning! I broke concrete with my hand!), but that doesn’t make them NOT stressful. Somewhere in there, I have gotten accustomed to the stress level, and I am actually scared of what will happen if I try to take my mother’s advice.

(This got a bit more introspective than I was planning.)

The point is, however scary it is, that she is correct. If you’re reading this, you’re probably planning a wedding as well, and (like me) you are focused on the goal: you want to have a wonderful wedding that celebrates you, and have an awesome marriage, too!

But you aren’t there right now. Right now you’re HERE. You’re engaged (or pre-engaged, or just in a good relationship, or maybe you’re not in a relationship at all, and are daydreaming of the future), and you’re planning a massive, emotionally-charged event that is going to be the catalyst for a huge change in your life. So, take a deep breath. The future is going to be wonderful, but take a moment to take care of yourself right now. Go get some coffee – not because you need coffee, because you’re sleep-deprived, but because you’ll enjoy getting up and moving about, and the coffee will taste good and warm you up and make you smile.

Oh, and just in case you’re not in a smiling mood, I present to you this ad for “A Practical Wedding,” both book and blog, which is a wonderful, WONDERFUL place, full of sound advice and laughter:

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