During times of great difficulty, slow down your pace. You do not need to speed it up and take on more projects. You do not need to “be productive.”
“What is on your quarantine bucket list?” I asked my 12 (almost 13!) year old daughter.
I was sprawled out on my bed feeling completely bored. It seemed like we had done all the obvious things we should do in the few weeks we had spent shut off from the rest of society.
While we’d had plenty of fun and gotten plenty of things done, I had moments of “loving this!” and moments of “can I please get back to life?”
It was a roller coaster.
I am a goer by nature and always want to make the most of my time. I want to be productive. I want to look back with fondness and without regret. I want memories that will last a lifetime.
So I wanted to make sure that as a mother, I was creating the memories my children would want from this time of social distancing during the pandemic.
This led me to asking what her “bucket list” would be during our time home.
“To chill” was her simple response.
My initial reaction was to furrow my brow in confusion.
To chill? That sounded both boring and unproductive.
Slow Down During Adverse Conditions
I immediately had a thought come to mind of a talk I heard a decade ago. The talk was about focusing on things that matter most.
The speaker is a former pilot, and he shared the following:
What do you suppose pilots do when they encounter turbulence? A student pilot may think that increasing speed is a good strategy because it will get them through the turbulence faster. But that may be the wrong thing to do. Professional pilots understand that there is an optimum turbulence penetration speed that will minimize the negative effects of turbulence. And most of the time that would mean to reduce your speed. The same principle applies also to speed bumps on a road.
Therefore, it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions.Dieter F. Uctdorf Of Things That Matter Most
I immediately saw the wisdom in my tween’s statement, “To chill.”
I would say we are experiencing adverse conditions right now.
We need to give ourselves permission to relax and focus on essentials right now.
I had read that Shakespeare wrote King Lear, Macbeth, and Anthony and Cleopatra all in a single year during the bubonic plague. No pressure right? If he could do that, I needed to have something amazing to show for my time spent in quarantine.
But maybe my amazing isn’t at the same level as Shakespeare’s amazing.
Maybe I needed to shift my focus.
Maybe I need to slow my pace.
That weekend, I watched a funny movie, I soaked my feet, I painted my nails and toenails, I did a face mask, and basically did very little that was “productive.”
And I felt amazing by the end of it!
I have had afternoons spent organizing things and doing a major declutter purge. I enjoyed that, too. There is something about gaining control over things like that when so much of life is out of our control right now.
But we don’t need to be in a state of hyper-productivity right now. Not every minute. Just because we have more time than we did doesn’t mean we need to fill it up.
If you are feeling weighed down emotionally and mentally, step back and focus on the essentials.
Relax. Study scripture and things that soothe your soul. Do some self-care. Read a book. Watch a funny movie. Spend time just “being” in a simple way with your family.
You do not need to learn a new skill, unless you want to and it brings joy to your life.
You do not need to cook grand and fancy meals, unless you love it and it is cathartic.
You do not need to go on elaborate scavenger hunts, create fun games, and scrub your house from top to bottom every spare minute of your day.
This is a time of adverse conditions.
Take a moment to just do nothing.
Take the time to do something that makes you relaxed and happy.
Reach out to people who bring you joy.
Spend time with your kids that is unplanned, unscripted, and decidedly un-instagram-y.
Make a meal that is un-pinterest-y.
Focus on the things that matter most.
I think that is the biggest takeaway from this whole experience.
Acknowledge what really matters and spend your time there. Not just now, but every day in the future.
Only do the other stuff when it is something that adds value to your life, not when it adds stress or detracts from those things that matter most.
Sometimes it takes a pandemic and us listening to the wise words of our children to really let the lesson sink in and truly simplify our lives.