We need to let go of the expectation that we can do it all. We can’t. We can only do one or two things well at a given time. To improve our well-being, we need to learn to set boundaries, realize that “less is more,” and practice “going slow to move forward.”  In other words, we need to give ourselves permission to pause.

When we give ourselves some space to pause – we learn to let go of the expectation that we have to do all, be all, and change all. We can also let go of things that don’t contribute to our well-being, such as low priority things on our to-do lists, unhealthy relationships, and habits that don’t make us feel well.

It can be difficult saying no, especially to people we care for, like our students and colleagues who need a little more of your time.  But always doing more for others can leave you feeling depleted and resentful.

This month I gave myself permission to go slow.

In a world where busy is glorified, and there’s a never-ending “to-do” list, the idea of going slow seems counterintuitive. We go quickly because we think we may get more opportunities, more money, school supplies, better students, and so on.  The fear of the scarcity of time drives us to move faster and do more.

But I’ve started to see the fallacy. There is more to go around than ever.  We live in a world of abundance. When we go slow, we begin to recognize all the opportunities, the gifts, and learning available to us.

I like to think of this era in education as a slow down education movement. We have time to get to know our kids, get to know our colleagues, and get to know ourselves. When we slow down, we see more. We’re enabling ourselves not to hurry. It’s giving ourselves the opposite of an over-glorified busyness and, instead, permitting ourselves to take our time, to learn slowly, to teach slowly.

When we go slow and we give ourselves permission to pause, we become more aware. Going slow has been a big part of my ongoing resiliency building.  When I realized that this life was not a race and that my life is mine alone to live, create, and share, I permitted myself not to rush.

Going slow doesn’t come naturally or easily to me (maybe to you too).  I think perhaps my ten-year-old son Benji has inherited my innate desire to move quickly.  The phrase I use more than anything with him is “Slow down.”   I say it so often as a reminder to him to move slower – in his thoughts, with his feelings, in his eating, with his homework, so that I also remind myself.  He really is always moving, thinking and feeling quickly. 

One day we were walking in the forest, and he was off exploring a creek when I heard him yell, and my then my daughter, Gracie, said, “Mom, Benji said the F-word.”  “Uh, oh,” I thought.  What has happened?

He came up to see me, his face clenched and red and tears were brimming in his eyes.  I didn’t get angry or upset, I merely looked at him and asked, “what happened, bud?  Are you okay?”

He paused and showed me he had slipped and soaked his foot in the creek and scratched his ankle pretty badly.  “Ouch, hon, that must have hurt.  It’s hard when we slip, and then we get angry.” 

Once again, he looked up at me, and without a beat, said, “I’m so glad I have a mom who knows mindfulness and is calm with me when I’m upset.” And then off he went exploring again -Benji had slowed down and realized he was safe so he could have fun again.

We don’t want to miss out on the fun; this is why it’s essential to slow down.  We don’t miss the moments to connect, pause, and be present with someone we love.

What do you need to slow down?  What kind of permission can you give yourself to pause?

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