Slowing Down

August 3, 2009 at 7:50 AM 3 comments

Remember those summer days that seemed to last forever when you were a kid? When you’d forget to eat or had not a care in the world because you were having such a great time doing other things? When you’re living your days with abandon and savoring each delicious detail, recreating this type of flow is easy. You’ll feel and be healthier, more positive, and more resilient against the ups and downs of your life.

After a super hectic year, I’ve been having a slow summer and invite you to craft one for yourself as well. Busy? You don’t need a lot of time. When you see a puppy, pet it. When you feel overwhelmed, remember that you are not THAT important – the world will go on without your deadline being met. Savor your favorite cup of tea by tearing your eyes away from the monitor and closing them for a few seconds as you take a sip. These are the details that make up your life.

As a recovering Type A and perfectionist, I am constantly monitoring and countering my natural tendencies to overthink, overwork, and overdo my workaholism (it’s hard when you love your work so much). I know many of you can relate to these tendencies, as super overachievers yourselves.

The past four weeks have produced some of my most successful counter-strategies to date =). Here are some of the ways I chose to get slow this summer. Do any of these inspire you to find your own busy-life-counter-strategies?

  • Checking email only 1-3 times a week.
  • Listening to crickets and petting puppies.
  • Not watching any TV. Definitely not watching the news.
  • Spending tons of quality time with my family and my love, Andy.
  • Watching over 20 hot air balloons pass by literally over my head, at dawn, in the midst of the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia. (photo below courtesy of Andy Wickless)
My Mom and Me in Cappadocia

My Mom and Me in Cappadocia

  • Hiking through a pristinely silent valley, once home to several ancient civilizations, munching on a fresh-off-the-branch wild yellow plum. (See photo – courtesy of Andy – thanks, Andy!)
Wild golden plums. A couple made it into my happy tummy!

Wild golden plums. A couple made it into my happy tummy!

  • Taking a much needed break sitting on my bum in the middle of aforementioned hike. (See photo below. That’s me in the red hat. Also by Andy.)
Taking a break in the shade of a makeshift cafe in the middle of nowhere. Gotta love entrepreneurs.

Taking a break in the shade of a makeshift cafe in the middle of nowhere. Gotta love entrepreneurs.

  • Celebrating my brother’s farewell to bachelordom and welcoming an AWESOME new sister-in-law.
  • Taking long showers (much to the chagrin of my father).
  • Eating beautiful, lovingly and simply prepared food, slowly. (Right now: four lusciously ripe figs, with the skins on.)
  • Reconnecting with old friends over tea, walks, and more great food.
  • Meeting new soul-friends and acknowledging this uplifting connection. (“Wow! We just met but I feel like I’ve known you forever!”)
  • Buying another gorgeous Turkish carpet, after 5 hours of Turkish-style bargaining. (I didn’t say ALL slow pleasures were free!)
  • Sifting through family heirlooms and enjoying the honor of wearing my grandmother’s antique ring and watch to my brother’s wedding.
  • Marinating on new business ideas and the age-old question: What do I want to be when I grow up?
  • Being quiet with myself, by myself, for myself.
  • Getting a massage. After the sauna.
  • Reading trivial and monumental books alike.
  • Appreciating history as well as the blip that is our own lifetime.

I admit, it’s easy to slow down on vacation or during the warmer days of summer that seem to lull your body into a slower state. But how about when you get back to real life? As I mull over what shape I want my work to take this coming year, I need to keep reminding myself that my work is but one part, one slice, of my life (I said I was “recovering,” didn’t I?).

A lot of us seem to define ourselves by our work. We use words like “lazy” and “free time” to define the time that we don’t spend working. Isn’t that awful? What woke me up to this tendency in myself was when I found myself writing to-do lists consisting of the items “Brush teeth” and “Eat” when I was too ill to do much else but sleep 20+ hours a day. I felt guilty because I couldn’t DO anything, because I was “useless” and “not productive” and this was my subconscious trying to make it right. It was many months later when I realized I was doing a lot during this time – my body was working hard to heal years of stress and the self-inflicted abuse that workaholism brings, teaching me how to rest, and teaching me how to just be.

Each slice of your life should be defined on its own terms, not by what it isn’t. The way I describe this to my clients is to stop defining your life as “work” and “not-work”, and start identifying distinct slices / buckets / categories of activities that you enjoy doing and want to bring (back?) into your life. Make time for these. Without feeling guilty. Or if you do feel guilty, listen to where this is coming from and see how you can learn from that source. Later, as you wean off of the belief that work defines who you are, your life will flow better and you won’t need such distinct rules to ensure your life is fuller, richer, and deliciously healthier.

As for me, I know I want to learn yoga, take hikes more regularly, take more daytrips around the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area, learn how to prepare more Turkish recipes as an homage to my heritage, host the dinner parties I keep promising to friends, and find that elusive new hobby that Andy has been telling me I need. There’s a joke in Turkish about the man who married his mistress and how that left a vacancy. Well, my current work used to be my hobby, my mistress. Now I’m married to my ex-mistress and I need a new mistress!

Suggestions, anyone?

***

© 2009 Delicious Health, Inc.

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“Simla Somturk Wickless, MBA, CHC, CNE, Founder of Delicious Health, Inc., is an integrative health, nutrition, and lifestyle coach and change agent whose mission is to transform Busy Bodies into healthy Balanced Beings (TM). To learn how to increase your energy, tame your stress, and take back control of your health, register for her free monthly eZine at www.enjoydelicioushealth.com.”

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Entry filed under: health, holistic nutrition, living, newsletter article, Simla's Story, stress management. Tags: , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Natalie McDonald  |  August 29, 2009 at 1:04 PM

    Hi Simla,

    How about GROWING food! I can help you when you return to SF. There are lots of community plots around town, or you can try a rooftop potted garden. It is slow, and it is a hobby… btw thank you for your blog, it is moving to read about your journey and passions. -Natalie

  • 2. Simla  |  August 31, 2009 at 12:34 PM

    Hi Natalie,

    Yes, organic gardening has been on the top of my list! Since we don’t have any space for greenery at home (no roof, just potted plants at home), I do need to look elsewhere… I look forward to your suggestions! I’m so glad you like the blog. =) Simla

  • 3. Sandra  |  February 18, 2011 at 9:40 PM

    Endless wisdom here.

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