After attending a bridal shower on Saturday, I drove home and changed into running clothes fully intending to get out and pound the pavement.Instead, I climbed into bed and fell asleep.Four hours later, I woke up.I needed exercise, but I guess I needed to slow down and rest even more.This weekend marks the end of our first week back following spring break. We’ve had to adjust, because our vacation was like a week-long nap—we weren’t literally sleeping all week, but mentally and emotionally we rested.The simplicity of camping offered agenda-free days: We enjoyed naps and chats while lounging on the sand; long, leisurely walks along the beach; rainy afternoons that sent us to the campground’s activity center where we played Scrabble and Monopoly. Our internal winter melted away as we warmed and softened in the Florida sun. Even the rainy days offered a kind of Slow Zone.“Look at your mama finally smile,” my husband remarked to the kids as we walked to the beach one morning.”What do you mean ‘finally’?” one of them asked.”I mean a real smile,” he said. “A relaxed smile.”I nodded. “A Florida smile?””You’re happier when you’re warm,” he observed.“And by the beach,” I added.The sun was especially brilliant the day we had to leave. We lingered, strolling down the beach one last time to a spot we called “the cove” where the kids discovered hermit crabs.But we had to leave the hermit crabs, gulls, dolphins and starfish. We said goodbye to the shells and the sea oats and the waves curling and crashing and skimming toward us gently, soft and foam-edged.We packed up to return to our regularly scheduled program—you know, life—with its classes, deadlines, assignments and appointments. And chillier temperatures.Fourteen hours later, we were home. The pace picked up, and agenda-free moments were replaced by schedules and expectations. All week I marveled how suburban living in a land-locked state hundreds of miles from the ocean or Gulf can suck the life out of me. Since launching this slow-down fast, the most effective week of our slow-down Lent was that vacation week.I’m still smiling, though.Even here, 800+ miles north of that Florida campground, temperatures are rising. Flowers are blooming. We’re back home facing all those classes, deadlines, assignments and appointments, but in the midst of all that can I still take walks, play Scrabble, and read books? Can I still smile?I think so. I miss the beach, but I can slow down enough to smile.