Join me as I embark on a “Slow-Down Fast”: a season dedicated to humbly and boldly simplifying and slowing (schedule, habits, activities, thought-patterns) in order to experience a more focused and intimate relationship with God in my everyday life.The “fast” will begin Ash Wednesday, March 9, and end on Easter Sunday.I’ll be preparing and planning for the next two weeks, publishing Slow-Down Fast posts on Saturdays in conjunction with Cheryl’s Simplify theme. To participate in Cheryl’s Simplify “carnival,” pop over to Culture Smith after writing and publishing something about simplifying your life. She’s got a linky up already for today.You can also link up ideas for your own “Slow-Down Fast” here:
Ann’s Slow-Down Fast Thoughts & Plans:
In my book Not So Fast, I talk about capacity. Like it or not, each of us has a limited capacity of tasks we can accomplish and activities we can attend—when we exceed capacity, especially on an ongoing basis, we enter a kind of survival mode as we deal with consequences like emotional drain, stress symptoms, relational strain, fatigue, and discouragement.To think of it in the positive, however, each of us has an ideal capacity and speed, and if we can discover that, we can enjoy healthy, productive lives that allow for rest and worship as well as work—not to mention time with family and friends. When we’re operating at ideal capacity, minor mishaps can be dealt with more creatively because we aren’t rushing off to the next thing and can adjust our schedule to clean up the mess or wait longer for an appointment.Discovering my ideal capacity is an evolving thing. Just when I find what works, my kids enter a new stage of life and my capacity shifts—it may open up with more possibilities than ever before, or it may shrink when the kids need much more from me than I expected.Lately, my kids have seemed to require less moment-by-moment attention and input. Because they need less hovering attention, I’ve had more free time and emotional space (or so I thought); thus, I’ve experimented with my schedule, agreeing to take on tasks and projects I couldn’t have pulled off two years before. I thought I had adequate capacity, so I experimented.In the past, these experiments have often worked well. Lately, however, they haven’t.In the past three weeks, I’ve realized that I’ve taken on too much; I’m operating at maximum capacity—probably a smidgen over capacity. I’m less patient, discerning and attentive. I feel drained. I even missed an appointment on Monday, and though it turned out okay in the end, I spent most of the day scolding myself and feeling like a failure. I knew it was because I had too much going on.I’m living over capacity and exceeding my limits.And I can’t continue like that.What can change? Here’s the start of my Slow-Down Fast “To-Do/Not-To-Do” list:
- During my slow-down fast, Lord willing (which can be assumed with each of these points), I won’t launch any new projects or take on new tasks. If people ask for my help, I’ll ask if it can wait until after Easter.
- Unless we’re faced with imminent issues in that time frame, I will avoid making major decisions.
- When I reach closure on a project or commitment, I won’t fill that open time slot with something new.
- I’ll try to do something fun every day.
- I’ll try to do something relaxing every day.
- I’ll listen to music. I’m not as auditory as some folks, maybe, but for some reason I have neglected this. Of course, I do have young musicians pounding away on the piano two feet away from my desk, so maybe they’ve become my default soundtrack…along with the quiet that follows when they’re finished?
- While I may not post all of my list publicly, I will continue counting “One Thousand Gifts” with Ann Voskamp, picking up where I left off long ago.
- I intend to maintain good habits I have in place (reading, journaling, praying).
How do you hope to slow down and simplify during Lent (or any time)?