Each November my pace in life increases. I’m sure you can relate. I get up a bit earlier and go to bed later. The "to do" lists lengthen, our calendars bulge and I swear my heart beats faster when the word holiday is uttered in my presence.
Lately I find myself literally running, often in high heels, to pick my kids up at school because I have tried to complete just one more task before the final bell rings.
During a recent undignified jog I stopped in my tracks and took a deep breath. I was not winded by the run, but I innately reached for oxygen to calm my spirit. I needed to slow down, literally, so that I would not wrap the anxiety of “too much going on” around my little children as I accompanied them home.
I gave into the notion of arriving a minute or two late and laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of my ever-present hustle and haste.
I’ve been pondering this question from various angles for several years now. And although I don’t have the existential expertise to offer a definitive answer, I do have a deep desire to keep the inquiry alive.
Most importantly, I want to understand how our packed schedules and insatiable appetite for activity is affecting our children. Are we managing their lives at an unsustainable pace?
I don’t want to look back in ten years and wonder how we could not have known that four hours of homework, elite soccer, piano concertos and community service represented an entirely unsuitable climate for a 10-year-old human.
The polar ice caps may not be all that's melting these days.... Like the natural resources of our planet, today’s youth are precious and essential for survival in the future – they merit our protection.
But rather than criticize the spinning Habitrail so many of us gamely navigate, I thought it would be nice to toss out a positive reminder that it is completely okay to jump off the treadmill once in awhile.
So I wrote a children’s book entitled, A Moment of Quiet is Nothing to Fear. It is about a happy, energetic and busy girl, Coco, who has a transformative experience when her grandfather directs her to simply “do nothing” one afternoon. Predictably, she taps into the wonder of her imagination and the escape that a mental flight of fancy readily affords.
I chose to publish the story through moregreenmoms for several reasons. First of all, the overall message of slowing down glides right into my belief that there is much to be gained from the pursuit of less.
The masterful stroke of our economy imploding at a time when we are inspired to reconsider the value of simplifying our lives is nothing short of serendipity. It’s time to take it down a notch or two. The decision has been made for us.
Messaging aside, just think of the min-vans across America that skitter from activity to activity every afternoon. Imagine how our carbon cloud could dissipate, even slightly, if we all learned to just stay home one day each week. Just stay home and play or read or draw or daydream.
To create this book, I made a promise to myself to weigh every decision possible to publish responsibly. The artists I hired, the workflows we designed, the printer, the materials, the marketing strategy, even our “brown paper packages tied up with strings” are all distinct choices to minimize resources in a wasteful industry. For more detail, please read a piece I wrote called, "Think before you print."
I hope you will take a look at www.amomentofquiet.com and consider the value we can all attribute, both quantitative and qualitative, to a life with just a little less, that will feel like a whole lot more.
I’m training my children to appreciate the “nothing” in our life. And while I’m at it, I'm working on myself as well.
You know that Simon and Garfunkel song that goes, “Slow down, you move to fast. You’ve got to make the morning last….”? I usually have to start humming this one to myself before I’ve even had my first cup of coffee, especially now that the holidays are upon us!
This Thanksgiving, I wish you a bounty of family and friends, good health and quiet moments to savor your blessings. If you have all that, the rest is gravy!